Give ’em the good new fashioned

My girlfriend had been telling me for months that there was something secret and special planned for the wedding.

“Is it a flashmob?” I asked. “It’s probably a flashmob.”
“A secret is what it is.” She replied.
It was a flashmob.

As the years have passed, I’ve naturally attended more weddings. Each a little different, each their own. What I’ve come to appreciate the most is how each couple tailors their marital unity to their distinct personalities. It’s neat to see all the little touches they add, whether in presentation, vows, even food. This wedding was entirely the summation of these two individuals tying the knot together.

The vows were incredibly sincere, and made absolute sense for a couple who’ve been together for the past 15 years. While distinct people, they’ve grown together in many ways. A myriad of nicknames and bits found their way into the vows, while I didn’t know the couple well enough to be in on them, I still got the gist. I don’t know that I managed to straight up cry, but there were definitely a bunch of moments that yanked on the ol’ heart strings. The vows made sense in a modern context, talking in a wider sense of trust and understanding, a desire to grow together, work as a team and see the best intentions in one another. I mean, they were worded much more sweetly than that, but the gist is there.

Everyone involved in the running of the wedding was absurdly pleasant. Nothing close to any drama. There was the wedding party (denoted by their silly tiny hats), helping out with little tasks around the place. Making sure the bridegroom ate, drank and had anything they needed.  The servers taking around finger foods were lovely, incredibly friendly and super helpful. The bar staff were great, and the DJ kept things rolling on. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a wedding where both the Tetris theme and Die Antwoord have played, but it was that kind of wedding. Get on board already, geez.

The food was excellent. Instead of a personal meal, they had servers coming around with all sorts of hors d’oeuvres. The bride assured us all that nobody would go hungry. She was right. The hors d’oeuvres did not stop coming. There were calamari sticks, meat and veggie skewers, potato cake things, mushroom risotto, pad thai in takeout containers, these amazing fig and blue cheese concoctions, warm pumpkin soup in little shot glasses, and my favourite, the seared tuna. Even with my reduced appetite, I still managed to try everything. Except maybe the desserts. There was a literal wall of desserts, and I had no hope in trying more than three or four things.

We had such a great time. The music kept going until the early hours of the morning, and the dance floor stayed full the entire time. All of the couple’s friends were great, very easy to get along with. There was nothing contentious whatsoever, just a wonderful night of excellent people getting hitched. And a flash mob.

If you have to ask, it’s probably a flash mob. And it was a fun one.

A Leonardo original

Last night I left the house only to shovel the footpath. I returned over two hours later.

Yesterday was a total whiteout. It snowed all day long. The streets were covered. Some dude in our neighbourhood was going double time with his machine, doing his self-imposed duty to keep the footpaths clear. At some point I looked out and realised our footpath was still snowed over. Snow was still falling. I thought if I at least shovelled, it’d make things easier to work on later. I wrapped up and grabbed the shovel. I put on some music and went to town. The show was so soft. I found that in lieu of shovelling, I could kind of just push the shovel and send snow flying. It was less intense on my back/forearms, and made quick work of the task. Our neighbours are older, so I thought it’d be a nice deed to shovel their footpath too. Satisfied with a job well done, I walked out back to return the shovel. I looked at the picnic table sitting in our backyard. It was totally covered with snow. Maybe I could use that snow to make a lil’ snowman.

I’d never really done a lot of snow sculpting before. I scooped snow together and tried to make the ball base. It wasn’t coming together quite like I hoped. It was too difficult to roll the snow on the table, so what I had was more of a mound than a ball. I stopped and thought, wouldn’t it be funny to make a massive penis? Give the upstairs and downstairs neighbours a good chuckle when they came home? I worked on the balls, set up good foundations. I wanted the sculpture to top out around head height (pun surprisingly unintentional), so I could work on it from the ground. I realised that if it was gonna be a truly impressive sight, I had to establish some solid girth.

Having not done much snow sculpture, I totally loved it. I’m not a big visual art guy. I had a blast when my girlfriend and I had a modelling clay evening, but that was a specific style of sculpture. With the right consistency, snow sculpting is amazing. Last night’s snow was so soft. Unlike other mediums, I had basically unlimited materials. It was easy to pick up (and if I ever needed more, I could just shovel and dump the pile on the table) and shape. I realised that there were all kinds of techniques. If I was shaping vertically, I could shave away with firm downwards karate chops. It worked really well. If I wanted smooth surfaces, I could polish with my gloves. My fingers don’t go right to the end of my gloves, so there’s always a little tip at the ends. I found that I used these tips to do most of my line work or whittling. If I rapidly rotated my wrist, I could get a real Edward Scissorhands thing going on. If I made a mistake or wanted to change something, I could just pack more snow on, then whittle away at it to get the shape just right.

Hours passed and I lost myself in my task. I started really getting into the shaping. It was cool to be able to look at it from all angles, consider proportions, etc. I knew I wouldn’t quite get the girth to length ratio exactly as I wanted because of the height limitations, so I tried to decrease the size of the balls to help my shaft perspective. I stood on the table and looked down. Was it even on all sides? What kind of gradient did I want for the head? Were all sides even? What did I want the ridges to look like? Was I gonna do veins? I decided it could use little a frenulum, as a treat. My girlfriend came out at some point, worried I’d slipped and hurt myself. She offered hot cocoa when I finished. I had such a blast, and it might finally be time for me to own some waterproof pants so I can try again.

Anyway, here’s what you came for, in all its glory.

Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

To be clear, I had no idea how the event would go. It was uncharted territory. An attempt to celebrate life, and explore the mix of darkness, humour and sincerity that keep me going. The basic conceit was that the party was a mix of funeral and wake. There was a bell anyone could ring. If they rung the bell, it was their turn to give a eulogy for me. Whatever they chose to say. In an attempt to give a modicum of respect for the dead, I also kept the floor available for anyone who chose to share a eulogy for someone they’d once loved, or a memory from their lives. Nobody took that option, but it was there just in case. Who knew if it would be a farce, or incredibly sombre. Knowing my friends, I assumed the former,but I would’ve accepted the latter. It was in every part, the former.

My girlfriend and I had done some last minute prep. We hung black streamers from the centre to the corners of the room, draped like the roof of a tent. We put a black foil curtain over the entrance to the living (/dying) room. We made charcuterie. We had havarti, gouda and aged cheddar. We bought chorizo, maple smoked ham and sliced salami. We had crackers, pickles and olives. As a birthday present my girlfriend had ordered me a ton of Cookie Time snacks for sharing. As always, I love being able to share my favourite foods with people, and invite them to try things I grew up with. They were just as delicious as I remembered. Friends brought with them a heap of snacks, and ultimately we have more snacks left than we started the party with.

It took a long time for people to show up. I got antsy. Had the theme kept friends away? We had a start time of 7:30pm, in the hopes that it’d get people arriving closer to 9pm. A friend arrived just before 9. By 9.30pm, another friend arrived. I was nervous. At around 9.40pm, some more friends arrived. Then more, and more. The living room was thriving with conversation. Suddenly, I heard the bell ring. My friend stood on the table and gave her eulogy to The Bone King. As my mortal enemy, Wingding, she lorded her victory for all to hear. She stood in exultation and beamed with pride that she had finally conquered her arch nemesis. It was wonderful. Soon afterwards, another friend gave a heartfelt eulogy extolling my virtues. Mostly though, he wanted to shoehorn in a pun. It seemed only fitting.

One of my good friends stole the show. He’d prepared a written eulogy based on absurd and notorious injokes. Our shared love of Manischewitz (a bit that keeps on giving) and my well-known hatred of Marmaduke. He (lying), talked about our ritual of “Mani and Marm Mondays”, where we’d get together to drink Manischewitz and read Marmaduke comics. He then explained in excruciating detail, a Marmaduke comic from panel to panel. Egads I hate Marmaduke, and I love my friend for digging in so deep.

Just after midnight, when the party was in full flow, I gave my own eulogy. It was fucking great. Every joke landed just as I’d hoped they would. It’d been so long since I’d last done a speech, and I forgot just how much I love the process. Understanding how to read the room and deliver words for maximum impact. I got to share personal bits with friends who understood and appreciated them. I had my moments of sincerity, and got to truly thank everyone for being there. There was a point where I looked around the room. It was filled with people I cared for so deeply. They were all shooting the shit, chatting or playing games. Everyone was well-fed, and we had abundant drinks for anyone who needed them. I was so happy with how it went, and if my real funeral is anything like it, I’m gonna die a very lucky man.

As for now, I’ll just have to settle for living a very lucky life.

How does this thing work again?

Let’s face it, I’ve lost track of how to keep this place neat and tidy. I’ve been writing for years, and at first there was some semblance of organisation. I did a catch up every 100 posts. I’d do a NYE round up of the previous 365. It’s not the 31st of December, but I can’t be bothered waiting. I used to be considerably more strict about order, and it was likely for the better. I’m not saying that I Have My Doubts has dissolved into a flagrant dung pile, but that I’ve steadily lost interest as the years have continued. I’m honestly toying with the idea of closing up shop at some point in 2020, unless sentimentality takes over. This project has been by my side through the wonderful, weird and woeful, and I regularly question whether I still need it. Who’s to say? But that’s not anything I need to decide today.

Today is about getting the band back together and reliving a tradition that dissipated years ago. 2019 has been a mixed bag of mostly highlights. While many suffered heavily this year, I found myself buoyed by some life changing upswings. Let’s get into those topics.

Career:

Egads, things turned around. I had a bunch more disappointment flow through from 2018. Application after application gave me rejection after rejection. I did interviews and came away with good impressions, which failed to materialise. So of course the one job I didn’t interview for was the one I got. It involved a bunch of last minute hustle, which all came up Milhouse. Now I work in Described Video. I love my job. I’m happy to go into the office. I get to be creative all day long. It’s a combination of writing, performance and audio production that seems to be at a crux of every skill I wanted to harness. What a weirdly fitting position to be in. The pay is excellent, and the work life balance of four days on/four days off is unbelievable. After struggling for years, the gratitude I have for this role is staggering. If anyone expresses the slightest curiosity for my work, I’ll gladly talk their ear off. I’m passionate about it, I love the craft and I’m so happy to finally be doing something that helps others. It’s Ikigai pure and simple, and I still can’t believe I’ve found it.

Health:

This was a big one. After years, maybe decades, of suffering through undiagnosed depression, I finally got a diagnosis. Turns out all that time I thought I was depressed, I was. Getting my diagnosis was a cluster of factors. Firstly, a couple of friends posted openly about their experiences with medication. On some small level, I had a personal stigma against trying it. I’ve long carried a deep seated mantra that if I can’t do something on my own, I don’t deserve to have it. Stupidly, mental health got sucked into that moronic morass. Secondly, I’d been seeing an OHIP sponsored therapist, and we weren’t clicking. We’d been looking into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a method, and the results were minimal. During one session, the therapist talked candidly. She said that I was entirely understanding CBD and using elements of it myself, but the methods weren’t helping. She said that there’d be nothing wrong with bouncing between therapists, but I’d be wise to consider that maybe medication was the way to go.

I talked to my GP, and she was amazing. She consulted me on every decision, carefully taking the time to explain anything and everything I could want clarified. She gave advice, but ultimately left choices up to me. Together we worked out which medication would be best, and it worked. My bioaccumulation period was mercifully gentle, and the medication did what it needed to. It softened sharp edges. It froze spiralling thoughts quickly enough that I could work out what was worth caring about, rather than getting overwhelmed. It helped me take stock of my life, and turn things around. I’m not gonna say the power of positivity was my saviour, but releasing the constant tension in my brain did wonders for me. I worked through my issues slowly and methodically. I came to terms with what I had the power to change, and things that weren’t worth the significance I gave them. In no small terms, it turned my life around. It was the best decision I’ve made in years.

Comedy:

I know “less is more” is a common enough expression, but it sounds like quitting talk. In 2019 I did very little comedy, and mostly gave up. The desperate creativity my depression forged fell away with the medication. My thoughts are less jagged, but my mind feels less sharp. It’s been a worthy sacrifice, but it has driven away my thirst to do comedy. I’d wager that while I became happier, 2019 has been a low point for my writing in general. It’s felt obligatory to an extent that it hadn’t in previous years. The saving grace, I guess, is that I’m producing a friend’s podcast at the moment. Perhaps that’ll ignite something, or at least I’ll get the joy of enabling someone else.

Relationships:

2019 felt like the first year that poly paid off for me. I’ve been able to more adroitly narrow down what I’m wanting out of it, and that’s really helped. I’ve realised that I don’t have a ton of bandwidth for full on relationships. What I’ve been seeking are close friendships that may or may not involve sex/romance. To that end, 2019 has been a resounding success. I’m going into these connections without expectations. Some of these people I’ve kissed, some I haven’t. Some I’ve gone further with than others. They remain in flux. Just because I’ve shared romance or sexual activity with someone, it doesn’t mean that’s a mainstay of our friendship. Maybe we’ll do it again, maybe we won’t. In either case, it doesn’t change the friendship. I’ve been enjoying that kind of intimate entanglement with others, to whatever extent it encompasses. Finally, after years of instability, it’s felt like I’m starting to understand how poly fits into my lifestyle. All good things.

Pop Culture:

Look, I’ve watched a fair bit in 2019, but most of it was Pre Cats. Cats was an insane fever dream that should not have happened, but defined the laws of nature and decency to exist in abundance. The screening was unreal, a collapse of order in the highest level. It was thrilling and unexpected at every turn. This film is unquestionably abysmal, and I will see it again in theatres. I cannot wait for it to become a mainstay of midnight screenings, in the vein of The Room and Rocky Horror. Also I think I made a personal pact not to see Disney movies in theatres anymore. We’ll see how long it takes me to break that oath. I’m fucking tired of big tentpole franchise films. It’s cool that they exist, but I’m okay with Marvel sitting a few years out. These live action Disney remakes are needless nonsense, and Star Wars films have stopped being special.

It’s almost 2020. I ordered a nice new cheese slicer. Things are looking up.

Adam’s ribs could’ve used a barbecue sauce glaze, I tells ya

We’ve been trying to sort last minute Christmas plans, and it made me remember something.

About six years ago, when I first moved into this place, I joined a pre-existing tenant. We were flatmates, she got me a job as a children’s gymnastics coach. We threw a misfits thanksgiving together. I invited a few of my friends, she invited hers. Fun time. It’s a tradition I’ve continued as the years have passed. We did a good job of apportioning different meals for people to bring. We had a turkey, lots of mashed potatoes, veggies, bread rolls, gravy, all that good stuff. We had drinks and good company. Perfect, eh?

My flatmate’s friend invited her boyfriend, who invited a couple of his friends. They brought nothing. They had neither food, nor drink. They didn’t think ahead to buying before a holiday. They ate heartily, drank our booze, and stayed for maybe an hour contributing nothing. They weren’t even neat or interesting people, just mooches. We had a bunch of food, and when they got up to go, my flatmate’s friend was like “go ahead, take some stuff for the road” (without asking, I might add). They wasted no time in grabbing paper plates and piling them high. They loaded them up until they sagged, and walked out the door. After they left, my flatmate was heartbroken. She’d spent all this time making her first turkey, and she knocked it out of the park. She’d been talking all day about the leftover chicken, mashed potato and gravy sandwiches she’d be eating for the next week. Her friend had welcomed people in that she barely knew, and they’d sucked us dry. She got one sandwich the next day, and that was all the leftovers we had. I think she may even have cried, she was that devastated.

I don’t know that there’s a real point to that story, other than those dudes being dickwads who either couldn’t read a room, or chose not to. It hasn’t changed my stance on welcoming in near strangers. Just because they were dweebs, that doesn’t mean everyone else will be. I don’t know how many good friends of mine came from one random interaction at a party. Who’s to say I won’t meet some of my favourite people as strangers brought by friends? Everyone we meet is an opportunity, and that feels worth taking a chance on.

I was thinking last night that I would’ve made a pretty good rabbi. I mean, this would be contingent on me being religious, which I’m very much not. I was at a friend’s party, and noticed they had both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations around. I thought that was kinda neat, and didn’t realise that one of my friends who lived there was Jewish. He and I chatted for a while about the holidays, what they represented for him, etc etc. We talked about our barmitzvah experiences, and the training that came with them. I told him of mine; I spent six months learning to lead a service, and another six months learning my specific Torah portion. It was 20 minutes of speaking in a more archaic text of a language I could read, but not understand. Then working with the rabbi to put together a speech about the various themes and metaphors in the piece. My friend gave me insight I’d never had. All the training was essentially putting together a sermon, thinking about how to make ancient texts relevant to a modern day audience. We were rabbis for a day, and that’s exactly what the barmitzvah was.

I realised that in another lifetime, that’s what I could’ve excelled at. It’s basically half of what I do here, minus the bollocks pop-cultural stuff and angry rants. This notion of trying to draw connection between people and themes. Bringing out and highlighting other aspects of life we may have elsewise overlooked. Finding new ways to look at and take in the world around us. It’s all stuff I would’ve fucking loved, if I’d felt an inkling of spirituality.

And, y’know, if pork didn’t taste so good.

Love chaps, baby love chaps

Turns out the fashion show was great.

I’m sure it wasn’t standard fashion fare. I’ve, perhaps undeservedly, created this expectation of what fashion shows are in my head. To me they’ve always seemed like this assumed upper class, gate keeping sort of phenomena. I think of a certain amount of stoicism and high art perspective, when maybe it’s not that. I think of exclusively thin bodies, draped with weird and impractical garments. I think of clothes and rules and propriety, and what any of them mean. Also mostly I think of rich people and needless extravagance.

I mean, sure. Needless extravagance, plus weird and impractical garments were on full display last night. It worked. The event, perhaps because of its non-traditional fetish roots, worked for me as a bridge between my expectations and desires. The pomp and design choices were intentionally gratuitous and fun. Everything was so overblown, that it subverted what I thought fashion shows were. To me, it seemed almost more of a theatre performance, which perhaps is what fashion shows have been all along. We were flanked by billowing silk (looking, I’m not sure what the material actually was) curtains. Laser lights shone around the room. The runway was raised, but within arms reach of the front row. Models interacted with the audience. Particular groups of models walked set to differing music, which accentuated certain themes and ideas. I stopped seeing the clothes as the point, but rather the overall canvas created by the models. They were art, and bringing together so many components: visual, auditory, physical and mixed media, really stood out to me.

The designs took such a side step away from reality, that they were two feet forward into the absurd. The models all either had some type of blue face paint, or wore strange masks. Sometimes fetish wear, sometimes more masquerade style. Small plastic trinkets were stuck to peoples’ faces. A gift and bow here, a fleur de lis there. Outfits brought together a range of ideas and materials. One I liked featured a model with an orangey-blonde afro, who wore a big fur coat that transitioned to thinner fabric as it flowed. She had green harnesses and garters beneath that glittered. Models had odd accessories hanging off them. One had some kind of beaded tail object that seemed half way between a scorpion’s tail and anal beads. She started ducking her head in and out of it, and eventually removed it to slam it to the ground. A model walked with her hands bound in some kind of sleeve, led down the runway by another model. It seemed like a deconstruction of traditional Disney princess tropes, though maybe I’m just reading into the choices of colour.

I never really thought about the potential for comic timing in fashion. If the audience starts seeing only the front of an outfit, it’s entirely possible to hide something funny or cute on the back. One model walked out confidently, and it wasn’t until she passed me that I noticed a big heart shaped cut in the back of her dress showing her bum. One had criss crossed lacing running all the way up the back of her legs. Another’s legs/heels were covered totally with red stockings. My more knowledgeable friend informed me that it was probably a custom made piece, specifically moulded to the shape of the heels. There was an aerial act, and a French new wave (nouveau wave?) performer who kicked ass. I honestly had a blast, and I think it’s safe to say a door I considered closed may well not be.

Still, the clothes could’ve done with more pockets, y’know?

Failing anything, it’s a carte blanche to harmlessly gossip with friends. Who doesn’t want that?

Did everyone have a lovely night of death and intrigue last night, or just me?

I went to my first murder mystery party. I had half-baked expectations, but realistically I didn’t really know how it would play out. In my head we’d all be free roaming around a house with directives, trying to pick at people’s brains in private conversations. Instead, we were led through a structured game as a group. There were eight specifically defined characters all linked to this murder scenario. Each round we were given more information about ourselves and others. We had details we were encouraged to keep to ourselves, and other details we had to share each round. Nobody was allowed to lie, but at the same time you were encouraged to talk around things, change the subject and/or mislead without actively stating the facts. It was like one big gossip session, and it was a blast.

Okay, so the scenario was that we were all friends who’d come back for our 5 year high school reunion. We were chilling in a malt shoppe waiting for one of our friends, Rock N. Roley. Roley was a big shot music star, and he was coming back to play a show while he was in town. The plot thickened, however, as Roley had been quite the ladies’ man back at school. He’d had flings with almost everyone. More intriguing was that on homecoming night, his car had stalled on the train tracks with Betty Sue in the passenger side. He’d escaped unharmed, but she’d been killed on impact by a runaway train. Then unbeknownst to us, HE had been killed in a copycat crime earlier in the evening, while we waited at Maltie’s Falcon. Instead of our friend, the door opened and a goddamn COP was standing there, talking very film noir.

The game was old enough that it came with a cassette tape. Some kind folks had uploaded it to youtube, and it introduced us to the wider scenario. In around four minutes, it gave us a ton of information and maybe red herrings? Oddly enough the train crossing had been green from both sides, instead of stopped. Roley had been in his hotel room, visited by a mysterious woman with a dark scarf and glasses. There was an external lock placed on his door, but when locksmiths broke in, they discovered he’d escaped over his balcony by tying sheets together. The plot thickened. A strange man next door had also left his room, but in the afternoon a bomb had gone off there. Lots of shit was afoot.

Truthfully, it was super fucking convoluted, and a shit ton of fun. For instance, my character had tried to commit suicide on homecoming night by jumping off a bridge (but landed in a goose feather barge and hurt my wrist instead?). A few other characters knew that I’d weirdly been in the hospital, but didn’t know why. So I had to try and hide my motive, while they wanted to bring truth to light. I couldn’t directly lie, right? Then I got given a Hail Mary to throw others off my scent. A different character said we’d had a date at Lookout Point that night, then he’d dropped me home and later found out I’d been in the hospital. However, I had zero knowledge of the date he and I had. It wasn’t in my booklet. When he brought it up, I could truthfully say “I have absolutely no memories of going on a date with you that night”, then turned it around as an accusation that maybe he’d slipped me something or gotten me drunk. Every time he tried to circle back to it, I misdirected without breaking the rules whatsoever. My character had also cheated on a big exam, which led to me getting this great job out of college. Another character knew it, but I also deftly sidestepped away from that information coming to light with good ol’ subterfuge.

I can imagine that these old How to Host a Murder box games are cheap as shit now second hand on Amazon. In fact, I’ve been kind of loathe to spoil important details in case anyone ended up picking this game up. If you’re looking for a cool and different night out, I totally suggest grabbing one. Then you can all blame the wrong suspect like we did.

Happy plotting, everyone.