Look, that poison craving/Every Rose link wasn’t intentional, but I’ll take it

I think there’s a lot of power to the phrase “Holding resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person.” It’s pretty valid.

But also, who’s to say I don’t sometimes have a craving that only poison can satisfy?

Case in point, my girlfriend and I were walking down to some thrift stores to see if I could scope out a potential costume piece for Halloween. I stepped out the front door to check the weather. It was sunny, but there was also this massive dark grey cloud blanketing the sky. I heard the rumble of thunder. Now, I don’t mean I heard one big crack, the rumbling was pervasive. It went on and on in a way I haven’t known thunder to act. Minutes and minutes of low level rumbling. I went back inside to assess if I needed to bring my big floppy sun hat.

I was in a kind of pissy mood for… reasons, and for me this translated into a singleminded problem solving mode. The walk was meant to be a lackadaisical traipse through neighbourhoods, stopping to smell each and every rose. Because of my mood, that faded into the background. I imagine “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was playing low level in my brain. I didn’t want to bring contingency plans for rain. I had my keys, wallet, cellphone and sunnies. Still, the thunder rumbled along. The dark clouds clawed for real estate, and pulled themselves across the sky. I turned to my girlfriend and commented something to the effect of “It’s like we’re in a horror movie, and there was a sign saying “Beware all who enter here”, but we ignored it. Then there was another sign saying “Hey, didn’t you read the sign before this one? Turn back.” But we didn’t. Then another sign cropped up that said “Hey idiot, turn the fuck around already” and we were like hmm, I guess the sign making industry is really booming around here. Then we were likely to be eaten by a grue.” [Okay, the gist was there, but I definitely punched it up in post – Ed]. My girlfriend asked if I wanted to stop in to get a second coffee of the day. I looked at Wallace Espresso, looked up at the sky, and thought out loud.¬†It’s probably gonna take about four minutes to get a coffee, but we might be 10 minutes from a torrential downpour. If we walk instead, we can get to Value Village and be there when it rains. I did not get my second coffee, we crossed the road, and the heavens opened.

Here we were, hiding in the little nook of someone’s front door, and things got biblical. Surprisedpikachu.bmp. Massive gobstopper drops of rain thudding constantly on the ground everywhere. Cars slowed, people frantically ran for cover. Folks shielded from the rain all pulled out their cellphones to film. Keep in mind that it’s been blindingly sunny for the past few weeks. This was out of nowhere. Well, excessive thunder warnings notwithstanding. In my pissy mood, I looked around in a huff and was like¬†well, what did I expect?

I started to think on what we could do. We didn’t have umbrellas, coats, anything. We would just get totally soaked if we tried to make a run for it. The thrift shopping wasn’t especially useful or necessary, it was just something to do. Were we at the ridiculous point of evolution where, if the rain didn’t let up, the logical course of action was to go on our phones, locate a stranger with a car, get in said car and have them drive us home? We were maybe a four minute ride away from our front door. Everything about it was totally absurd. Then my girlfriend turned to me and asked “so how long do we wait until we just call an Uber and go home?” We waited maybe a minute.

So we went home, had a big difficult talk about important relationship stuff, and I felt less pissy. The weather let up and it turned into a surprisingly nice day.

I didn’t come here to write a big ol’ metaphor, but sometimes they write themselves.

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They specified 20ml of pee. I was like “I have so much more to give”

We have a quiet day, so I’m taking a little field trip to the Hassle Free Clinic.

It’s been a long long time since I last had a sexual health check-up. I think they’re vitally important for most anyone to be aware of, but especially if you’re seeing multiple partners. I would hate to think I was unintentionally transmitting a condition to anyone. The thing is, once you’re engaging with more than one partner, the knock on effects grow exponentially. You’re no longer just worrying about how you’re affecting a partner, but you’re thinking about their partners too. And if your multiple partners also have multiple partners, your responsibility grows. I’ve been lax, and I’ve felt shitty about it for a while. For so long, I didn’t have other partners, so it felt like I could let it slide. That’s less of the case now. While I happen to be using condoms and other contraceptives, that’s still not 100% preventative. It’s been difficult finding the time to drop in, which has been awfully enabling. Sometimes if it’s important, it’s more about making the time. Sex is great, I want to keep doing it and sharing that experience with others, so it only makes sense to check that the experience is all I’m sharing. It’s far from my first checkup, and it won’t be my last.

I’ve never had an issue before, but I think it’d be obnoxious at best to assume I won’t. I want that information to make informed decisions and own any potential conditions I contract. I’m very fortunate that I haven’t been made to feel stigma around my proclivities, which I’m sure is a gendered thing. The last time I came here (which, after signing the drop in sheet, I discovered was 2013! Jesus Christ), the guy was like “you have only had one or two partners since your last checkup, and you used condoms. I’m not sure this is that necessary”, but as a medical professional he did his job anyway.

It’s pretty packed in here right now, and the wait is probably around an hour. In the office staff’s words, it’s quiet at the moment. For years I felt kind of iffy about what my previous tester had said, but I get it. There are a ton of vulnerable people who need this service, and if I have alternative places to go where some of these folks might feel unsafe, then I’m gumming up the works a little. I could go to my GP if I booked an appointment. I mean, I’m not gonna leave right now, but he had a point. Last time I visited I didn’t have a GP, but I do have that option these days. If the system is to work best, I’d better serve it by exercising my options.

If my last checkup was any indication, I’m likely to be asked about my sexual activity. They’ll probably ask about partner genders, and specific styles of intercourse we’ve engaged in. They’ll get me to pee in a cup (and boy oh boy, have I got some urine locked and loaded), and let me know of anything to be aware of. To be totally candid, I’m getting interested in exploring how my attraction to same sex individuals manifests, and it would be cool to gather knowledge of what I should consider. Sure, that know how is all on the internet, but it feels easier to digest when obtaining that info from a medical professional.

Oh geez, I’ve been called already. Hassle Free indeed.

To ront o’ not To ront? There’s no question

Hey frands. I’m going camping this weekend and there’s a good chance I’ll be out of service range. I’ll be writing daily entries, but I might not get to post them until Monday evening. I don’t imagine I have many white-knuckle diehards waiting on my every word, but there are also people who’d maybe assume I was dead if I didn’t post for three days. I’m probably not going to die in the next three days. Probably. No promises. Anyway, it’s my sixth Torontoversary today.

I love my Toronto.

I love my Toronto in the Summer. I love the cavalcade of camping, cottages and concerts, getting out of town in a borrowed car. I love seeing parks come alive with aimless relaxing. I love seeing slackliners taking their daredevil balance bollocks to stupid new heights in Christie Pitts. I love clicking “going” to park movie screenings I’ll never attend. I love that I’ll always see someone with a bespoke hula hoop. I love saying “y’know, this is the year I’ll finally get a bike”. I still don’t have a bike. I love the literal one time I get out to Hanlans each year. I love the precious angel woman who sells boozy freezies. I love how strong they are. I love seeing the Toronto skyline in the dusk, while I’m wearing nothing. I love seeing Pride come alive. I love those nights that never end, warm as the day. I love my lunchtime Harbourfront runs. I love seeing a plethora of dogs as I zoom past. I love it when a fellow jogger waves back. I love trying to race the streetcar, and mostly losing, but sometimes not. I love messing around on the Salem Avenue Parkette outdoor gym equipment. I love watching enormous lines at Bang Bang, knowing full well there are other easier places to get the same thing. I love keeping that a secret. I love seeing kids so buzzed to be out in the sun. I love all the burner fundraisers, dancing around crazy art cars. I love Peach Season. I love celebrating my anniversary with my girlfriend.

I love my Toronto in the Fall. I love looking at the weird ornamental gourds in corner stores. I love avoiding the madness of TIFF, but seeing how it lights the city up. I love JFL42. I love seeing upwards of 20+ comics in 10 days. I love planning and plotting for maximum efficiency. I love waiting until the last moment to buy cheap turkey for Thanksgiving. Walking that line until it’s under $1 per pound. I love forgetting to pull out the same cans of cranberry sauce and gravy I bought at Loblaws for 20 cents a few years ago. Does that stuff ever really die? I love the commercial real estate place at Dupont and Christie that just gives out a shit ton of free pumpkins every year. I love Fall fashion, long coats and sweaters. I love drinking beer in the Fall. I love seeing whatever crazy Autumnal concoctions Blood Brothers comes up with. I love pretending that humans hibernate, and eating my bodyweight in hearty fare. I love Fall apples.

I love my Toronto in the Winter. I love seeing Christmas lights coruscate in the snow. I love crunching across the ground in my big boots, feeling invulnerable. I love those clear days before the endless darkness of February. I love watching it all from indoors with a “special” hot chocolate. I love getting weekly Pork Bone Stew in Koreatown, at my secret favourite place. I love the genuine kindness that emerges in people. I love seeing people knit for the homeless, leaving new touques out in public with a caring note. I love New Years house parties, surrounded by the people who make Toronto feel like home. I love cosy movie nights with friends and thai food. I love getting my hermit on, staying in and playing Magic. I love complaining about Lousy Smarch Weather that lasts for months. I love it when Winter ends, every year.

I love my Toronto in the Spring. I love that it only takes single digit temperatures for a starved patio crowd to get back out there. I love seeing the city wake up and emerge. I love seeing people line up for pop up gimmicks. I love getting back out for brunch. I love remembering what air tastes like. I love how excited everyone gets about sports, as I watch from a detached distance.I love going out for drinks and dancing, shaking off memories of ice. I love feeling alive and renewed. I love how full of promise the upcoming year seems. I love thinking about the upcoming cavalcade of camping, cottages and concerts.

Mostly though, I love that I’m here, and that this was a choice. I love that I made the right one.

A capital O kay

One more holiday down.

Ottawa was, fine, I dunno. It was weird coming from Toronto, carrying a bunch of expectations with me. I was looking forward to vibrant neighbourhoods and cool little spots to stop into. Ottawa was ostensibly a city, but didn’t really transcend the town vibe I assumed from the start. I think I could’ve done a ton more research and salvaged some neat, enriching experiences and local eateries/cafes/bars. Overall it was just kinda, dull, maybe? It was awesome that my girlfriend could have the experience of going through her old stomping ground, but that was mostly it. I think it got tricky for her to recommend spots because, well, she wasn’t in this stage of her life when she lived here. Ottawa existed in her teen years, and what a teen seeks from somewhere is vastly different to that of an adult. Could Ottawa be done in such a way that it’s a total blast? I’m sure it can. I didn’t have that experience, and I’m not certain I’ll aim to visit again any time soon. There are other places higher on my hit list.

It’s tricky, because I still haven’t worked out how to introduce tourist friends to the Toronto I love. In my head, Toronto lives and dies by its neighbourhoods. There’s so much local flavour, so many diverse restaurants and cuisines, interesting independent businesses and cool as shit bars. Whenever I’ve brought people through they’re like “yeah, Toronto’s fine” and I wonder what I’ve missed showing them. There’s a minor realisation that I think often comes back, in knowing that the Toronto I reside in has less about just the stuff within reach, but the ways in which I access all of it. My Toronto is less about the physical locations, and more about the spaces carved out by community. Local themed dance parties, burner aligned groups throwing fun events, weird cinema shit and retrospectives, the comedy scene, sex positive stuff, storytelling, arts and culture. It’s not like I even spend my time here going out to restaraunts and bars. I do that sparingly. My Toronto is made by what people DO with the Toronto that’s there. It’s about the opportunities provided by the wealth of shit going on, not just that there are spots that do that shit. If I were to bring someone through Toronto on any old weekend, would they find it dull? I’m sure some of them have.

I think it’s also tricky as always to holiday with partners. My girlfriend and I obviously love each other deeply (or else that’d be a waste of five years), but that doesn’t mean we spend every moment together. We normally hang out between stuff, or once every few nights. It’s rare that we have a solid couple of days in each others’ presence. We have very different ways of doing things that don’t always gel, and like I’m sure every other couple, there are tensions. Ours are pretty minor, and I’m thankful we do a good job of treating each other with patience. Still, that doesn’t mean we always want to do the same shit when we travel. So we compromise and try to work out how to split the difference. I’m not sure what we were trying to get out of this trip. The wedding was the biggest part, and that was a profusely enjoyable experience. It’s a huge boon being able to travel somewhere without having to shell out for an extra internet package, and even the public transit was on the same system. At the same time, Ottawa may not have been culturally different enough to make it worth picking up souvenirs. Like, what specific Ottawa experiences did we need to have that wouldn’t be easily replicated elsewhere? I’m not sure, otherwise I maybe would’a done it. As with most holidays, we’re on our way home and I’m kind of ready for it. I saw some stuff, ate a ton and I just want to get my regular poop schedule back in order. I had a lot of bread, which is anything but regular.

So yeah, I’m going home, but I’m already back on my bullshit.

Black and green was a ballsy choice

What a wonderful wedding. I want to make a mental note not to overuse the word “wonderful” in this entry. I could go rampant with it unless I rein in those impulses. I mean, it was, but I’ve gotta think of different words. I’m ostensibly a writer, so it’s time to visit synonym city.

Spoilers, the wedding went off with only a single hitch: The happy couple. It was a top to bottom heartfelt and good-humoured occasion. But I almost didn’t get there on time. I’d been doing all my prep. I had my own day where I walked around looking at stuff, eating things and chatting with people on the street to get their suggestions. It was exceedingly swell. I got back in the early afternoon for wedding prep, and spent most of my time eating Berlin style street food, knocking back a cold brew and watching Magic the Gathering drafts on YouTube. I’d smartly decided to wear a black shirt and dark green suit to a summer wedding. Bright fucking idea there, dingus. I was sweating before I left the apartment. I mean, geez, I was sweating when garbed in only socks, knee brace and underwear, alternating between the humid bedroom where all my clothes lived, and the lounge with its AC unit. I was all prepped, and made my way early down to the bus stop, to catch the first of two connections. I waited. The bus didn’t show. I checked my app, it was still coming, then it just disappeared. Fuck. I had a connection to make, in order to get out to some shopping centre in the middle of nowhere and meet the groom’s dad, to get a ride to the even more out there venue. I looked at my app to see when the connecting bus was coming. 6 minutes, then 36 minutes. If I got the second, I’d miss my ride. Google said it was a 15 minute walk. I took my jacket in my hand and fucking BOLTED. I ran the whole way, cursing and stressing and sweating. I got stuck at a traffic light, and saw numerous buses go past on the street where I had to catch mine. Fuck. Fuckety shit. The lights went green and I picked up speed. I arrived at the right street, only to see the bus at the corner about to leave. I did a quick check for oncoming traffic, then gave a metaphorical middle finger to the concept of illegal Jay Walking. I ran for the bus, and got on just before it left. I sat down and soaked in sweat, relieved, but still residually stressed. I made it to the wedding, y’all.

The wedding was splendid, and immaculately planned. We stood around and chatted, then took our seats for the ceremony. Everything felt immensely personal for this couple I barely knew. It was lovely to see how they’d weaved their personalities into every inch of the proceedings. The celebrant was dressed as Elrond (from Lord of the Rings), there were readings from sci fi texts and poems. The vows were realistic and actionable. It really was lovely. We were ushered into the next room for pre-dinner drinks, and I tossed back a few white wines. The meal was delectable. A lot of attention had obviously been paid to the menu. Almost our entire table had the bison, with a gorgeously rich gravy, heirloom carrots, asparagus, roasted capsicum and a substantial portion of risotto. Fucking yum, with a pleasing range of textures and tastes.

As a virtual stranger, it was interesting navigating a space with so many earned connections. I was the only one at the table who didn’t know everyone else. I had to read the room a little, but it was a fun crowd, conversation came easily. I found the many speeches immensely helpful, ’cause they made the bridegroom into well-rounded 3D people in my eyes. I understood who they were to their friends and family, and really got to know a ton more about them. You know how people say you find depth in someone at their funeral, it was sorta like that, but an affirmation of life. It was very clear from all the speeches just how beloved and kind these two were. Thoroughly touching, and it spoke to the company they kept. I didn’t see one iota of douchebaggery, just warm interactions all night long. As a weird aside, since I started taking anti-depressants back in February, I haven’t been able to cry. I just can’t access that emotional space. The groom’s mother’s speech though? Egads I was on the cusp of it. Then post speeches we hustled into the next room for hours of Big Dad Energy dancing. Cheesy pop sing-a-longs and 90s techno galore. Most of all, it was a total rush seeing my girlfriend get to spend time with the people who defined her teenage years. Some of her closest friends, and most formative people, all celebrating what they’d built together.

In a word, it was wonderful.

Given the venue, this could be a bait and switch for a high class weeding

WEDDING DAY. IT’S PREP TIME. Almost.

My girlfriend left at some unearthly hour. I woke at 8.30am to find the metaphorical equivalent of a curtain blowing in the wind. She was outta there, a breakfast bowl sitting on the kitchen counter, hairbrush lying dormant in the lounge, bags open, but most of all an unusual stillness. She’s getting her hair did with the wedding party. I, on the other hand, don’t have to go anywhere until around 3pm. So yes, it’s prep time, but strewn between my own fun activities. Funtivities, if you will.

I don’t have a ton to do, even. I polished my shoes before we came. My suit is hanging in the closet. With my total disdain for ironing, I pulled the coatrack from the front door and plonked it in the bathroom. I took my mildly wrinkled shirt from the closet and put it on said coat rack, then turned the shower up to max and closed the door. I left it on for about 10 minutes, hoping that the steam will do my ironing for me. It’s 9am, it’ll have all day to dry and straighten out. Who do I think I’m kidding though? I was dumb enough to buy a long sleeved black shirt for a summer wedding, and I’m gonna sweat all the way through that to the suit. Ironing probably does matter when I’m gonna be a portable swamp. It’s a nice shirt though, I like it.

Getting to the wedding is probably the biggest obstacle. We checked the venue out yesterday and it’s lovely, but very out of the way. I don’t have a car, an Uber is upwards of $40, and it’s not accessible by public transit. I’m lucky enough for the father of the groom to be giving me a ride from some shopping centre (that’s still an hour’s travel away). So I’ll be walking in the 25 or so degree heat, garbed in full suit (no tie) for 15 minutes to get to a bus that gets me to the shopping centre to then get a ride. One day I’ll maybe get to a point of fiscal comfort where a $40 Uber ride is not a big deal, but chances are Uber will no longer exist by then. I expect to be a sweaty mess all day long, especially considering the venue is basically a greenhouse. Don’t worry, they have Big Ass Fans installed. No, really, the brand is literally called Big Ass Fans (which is great for me, because much like the beknighted Sir Mix-a-lot I’m also a fan of big asses).

I’m expecting an awesome day. The couple are super nice, and all the groomal party are friendly as fuck. I know the menu kicks ass, because we got to pick our meals in advance. It was long enough ago that I’ve forgotten, but I trust past me’s tastes. My girlfriend has been working hard on her speech, and she’s gonna kill it. I’m one of the weird few who genuinely really enjoys the speechifying part of weddings. Hell, I love weddings in general, ’cause it’s hard to find too many people in shitty moods. I get to meet soon to be former strangers while they’re buzzing with positivity (and probably a glass of bubbly or two). There’s a 600+ song playlist, so likely a few dancefloor bangers in there. I get to be friendly and charming in an environment where there’s sure to be little to no douchebag quotient.

Even better, I get to have my own day of adventure before any of that. LET’S GET TO IT.

I hope you have a fucking great time, sincerely

Fair warning, I’m gonna talk about some sexy type stuff today. If that’s not your thing, enjoy the rest of the internet until tomorrow. ‘Cause it’s not like there’s anything sexy on there, right?

I haven’t talked about sex in a long time. Why? I’m not entirely sure. It might be that my parents sometimes read, and gosh forbid they know I’m making whoopee. Really though, that’s not it. Am I afraid of tarnishing my image as an irreverent little scamp who makes puns and talks incessantly about 90s pop culture? Not quite. Am I too busy clutching my pearls to type the word “orgasm”. I’m not. Am I constantly scrambling for topics to write about day by day? I am. This however, is not an act of desparation. I had a couple of chats over the weekend, and I feel like I’ve got some stuff that’s worth hearing for some people.

Sex is weird. People are weird, therefore bringing multiple people together to simulate making more people is exponentially weirder. Also sex is tied up in so many bullshit social morasses that it gets tricky to keep your head above the mire. The muck is fine, sex can be wonderfully dirty, and that’s can be great. Not here to yuck anybody’s yums.

I’d wager that socialisation plays into how we feel about sex a lot more than we may think. Sure, the media and advertising shapes a huge amount of our views as to what we find sexy, ways to have sex and what good/bad sex looks like. My guess is it goes a lot further than that. I can’t speak to womens’ experience, but it seems like there’s a gratuitous amount of pressure placed upon image. Hell, I’m listening to a podcast right now where Allie Ward talks to an expert on Beauty Standards (the study of which is called Kalology, apparently). The ins and outs of it are more than a litte absurd, and I’m sure all women know intimately more about the struggle than I do. I’m not here to talk for them. It’s not like men are entirely exempt, and I’m sure Marvel Studios have done wonders in making men feel inadequate too (remember the surprisingly buff Chris Pratt workout pic?). Equality, this is what we’re shooting for, right?

Look at me, vamping like a food blog. What I want to talk about today is partnered orgasm pressure from a male perspective, and how it’s letting us down. Because I don’t think us men talk about it enough. This is also probably gonna be a very het-oriented view. I apologise.

As men we’re often told that our sexual prowess is one of the many things that defines our masculinity. We’re supposed to be virile, dominant, borderline animalistic. Raging horndogs with big ol’ dongs. That’s male sexuality, apparently. If you’re a good partner you fuck good, your partner’s eyes roll back into their head, they cum buckets with ten orgasms, and your sperm is so mighty that your partner instantly has quadruplets. That’s the manly thing to do.

Unsurprisingly, this creates a ton of pressure. Here’s the thing about arousal, it’s all mental. If you’re all stressed about having to be a certain something in the bedroom, there’s a high chance that will affect performance. It’s tricky to get it up and keep it up when you’re anxious about whether you’ll be able to get hard enough. Or if you’ll be able to sustain it. Or if she’ll enjoy it. Or like, what if your dick is weird? Or too small? Or you don’t feel dominant and animalistic? GOOD LUCK, BUDDY.

I’m gonna take the charitable assumption, and guess that whoever I’m talking to wants their partner to have a good time. That most want congress to be a mutually fulfilling, satisfying and pleasurable jaunt. So I’m gonna share something I heard a while back that helped shift my perception.

NOBODY HAS EVER GIVEN ANYBODY AN ORGASM.

It was from famed sex educator and porn star extraordinaire Nina Hartley. She said that orgasms aren’t given, they’re facilitated. You can be the sexiest goddamn entity in the world, you can be physically doing everything you can, you can tap into all your partner’s favourite sensual triggers, and they can still not orgasm. It’s because you’re not making them orgasm, they are.

Remember when I was saying arousal was mental? No matter what you do, if your partner can’t bring themselves to a place where they can let go and access their orgasm, it ain’t comin’. It’s not necessarily because of what you’ve done or haven’t done, but sometimes it’s out of reach for all of us. It happens. Releasing to the point of orgasm isn’t always accessible, and neither does it define the experience. I’ve had many bouts of amazing sex that haven’t resulted in an orgasms, both for myself and/or partners. That hasn’t stopped it from being amazing sex.

Take from it what you will, but the important nugget that I took from this lesson was to get ego the fuck out of there. It’s not about you. The be all and end all is how you can help your partner access a place where they can let go. Any concept of virility or value tied to an ablity to “induce” orgasms is fucked up and unhelpful. Get that shit out of there.

Make your partner comfortable. Ask them what they want. Your “job” is to help them have the experience they’re looking for. They’re connected to their own nerve endings, chances are they have an idea of what makes them feel good. Do you have go to techniques that “always work”? There is no “right” way to do things. Everyone is different. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily apply across the board. Listen to your partner, look for body language and try to interpret what that means. If you don’t know, ask. The socialised notion that we should all “just know” is super fucking harmful, and likely holds so many of us back from more fulfilling experiences. If you’re gonna ruin the moment by showing genuine interest, maybe you both could do better with different people.

If they have an orgasm? Great. If they have ten? Great. If they have an excellent time? That’s what we’re looking for. If we’re all enjoying sex, maybe we won’t be so scared of whether or not it’s happening the “right way”.