If your date solely eats red meat, get the fuck out of there

A friend of mine works as a dating coach. Jumping on the 2009-2019 trend, they started a post wondering what dating advice people had learned in that time.

I’ve got nothing else to write about today, so why not this?

I feel like in 2009 I’d barely started dating. At that time I’d been in one relationship, and it was kind of disappointing for all involved. I think we liked each other, but we certainly weren’t deeply in love. We were drawn to the idea of being in a relationship. We had fun together, but sparks had trouble getting off the runway. I’ve always been a weird dude, but I was far more of an off-putting kind of weird than the innocuous and endearing kind of weird I am now. I didn’t draw women in. Not to mention, I reeked of desperation. It wasn’t a good look. Or smell. Now it might sound that I’ve taken to being unnecessarily rough on my past self. The truth is, I had so much to learn, and that’s taken the better part of a decade. I feel like I’m still learning. So what lessons have I learned?

Firstly, it’s okay to not have great dates. I’m not talking the kind of shitty stuff that happens to women constantly, where they feel threatened or unsafe. I’m talking about dates that feel meh all over. You just don’t get the butterflies, or getting conversation rolling feels Sisyphean. Maybe you have an okay time, but neither of you are excited. That’s not a bad thing, it’s part of the process. Average dates help you learn what you do and don’t want in a partner. After an average date, can you pinpoint what it was that put you off? Or things that you did like, but less than the things that you didn’t? That stuff all helps you to get a picture of your desires, and ways they manifest. Then you can start looking for those aspects in others.

Kind of a corollary to that, not all dates will be winners. That’s kinda the point, and it’s entirely okay. Personally I find an unremarkable date to be a gift. The sooner you know you’re not into someone, the quicker you can both go your separate ways and seek people who light you up. I’d much rather have an average date that results in knowing where I stand, than someone appealing in many ways who also carries a load of red flags. Mixed signals are tricky to parse (and unfortunately are also part of the whole deal), they can really mess with your head. Finding people who really click with you is hard, and we all want instant gratification. Sorry, dating isn’t that easy. Even if you’re ravishingly attractive, you still need to wade through a lot of bullshit.

Next, get used to not taking rejection personally. I know it seems like the most personal thing in the world, but I can assure you it’s more about that person than it is about you. We can’t expect that others will be drawn to us just because we’re drawn to them. We all have a complex network of desires, and some things are quite specific. If you’re not hitting the marks for someone, would you want the kind of relationship that resulted from it? A constant imbalance where you wondered how long you could hold onto that person, irrespective of what they sought? It’d be worse than you think. I’ll put it this way. Say you just don’t like flaky pastry. There’s just something about the texture and buttery nature that feels weird in your mouth. If someone offered you a high end croissant, would you expect to like it? Maybe it’d be okay for you, but it wouldn’t hit the spot like a great cookie or doughnut for you. That wouldn’t mean the person who made that croissant was bad at making croissants, they just weren’t your thing. Everyone has a flavour, and everyone has different tastes. It’s unfair to expect them to always align. I know rejection seems like it’s gonna tear you into shreds, but most of the time people don’t like being mean. Rejection is more innocuous than you’d think. Often, this is how rejection plays out:

You: Hey, you have a really endearing smile. Would you like to grab a drink?
Them: Oh sorry, I’m really busy at the moment (unless they follow up with a legit attempt to propose an alternate time, this is a gentle let down nine times out of ten).
You: No worries, have a lovely day.

For all the notion of waiting for the right time, it’s not usually about the right time, it’s about whether or not there’s interest. If there isn’t, that’s not something you can force or manipulate. In fact, that’s a great lesson too. When it comes for dating, don’t manipulate. Just don’t. Anything fake won’t last, or be truly satisfying.

Be yourself. It’s common advice, but so often it comes off as cheesy. It’s doesn’t have to be. I tend to think of it more as not wasting your time trying to be things you’re not. Don’t try and delude someone into thinking you’re different than you are. What’s your goal? Entrapment? Are you trying to make them fall for someone who doesn’t exist, then hoping they’ll love you so much that when you turn out to be someone else, it’s too late for them to escape? Fuck that noise. Be authentic. Don’t post photos in your profiles that look wildly different from your everyday. Don’t wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t say things you don’t believe because you think they make you sound cool. Don’t agree with sentiments you oppose just because they’re coming from someone you’re attracted to. Let’s go back to the first point. It’s okay if things don’t work out, and the sooner you know, the sooner you can stop wasting each other’s time.

Most importantly, be compassionate. Everyone’s having a hard time, be gentle when you can. Learn to communicate your feelings in a mature fashion. Own what you feel, use “I” statements and don’t try to push blame on others. If you want a relationship to succeed, then work together on it. If you’re making earnest attempts to understand one another, and consider each other’s feelings, then you’ll be able to deal with difficult situations without breaking every time. If you’re not, then maybe it’s a sign that the compatibility simply isn’t there, and you’d both be better with others.

I’ve certainly learned a lot more than that, but I don’t have time to write another book tonight. Plus Jordan Peterson ruined white dudes writing advice books for everyone.

Guess you could say I was drawn to it

No nonsense entry today.

Okay, correction. I’m plowing ahead with my entry and I’m not stopping till I hit the end. That’s what I meant by no nonsense. You can be rest assured, dear reader, that there will be nonsense. This is me we’re talking about. I took on the ungainly task of writing every day for at least 30 minutes over six years ago. I’m still writing. There’s no way I’d be able to fill that much space with good quality, thought provoking writing. I don’t have it in me. I do, however, have a cup of coffee and a metaphorical fire under my arse, so let’s think about some stuff.

I discovered the site watchcartoononline the other day, and I’ve been diving in deep. I don’t need help finding a stream of recent cartoons, but this site archives years and years worth of animation. It’s been a massive treat looking back at the shows I loved as a kid and seeing how they stack up. So far, honestly, they’ve been pretty great. I hit up The Mask first. The jokes were so so, but the scripting on that show is INSANE. Not since Popeye have I seen a character with such an onslaught of verbal diarrhoea. He simply doesn’t stop. It’s impression after impression for sorta non-jokes. The really impressive thing though, is Rob Paulsen. He’s a goddamn savant when it comes to voice acting, and this madcap character makes use of his absurdly wide palette. It’s non-stop accents, impersonations and characters, and he gives it the whole time. The dialogue is frenetic and almost feverishly quick, and I can definitely trace elements of my humour back to this show’s style.

Samurai Pizza Cats was a similar awakening, but more so. A quick note on Samurai Pizza Cats, Saban adapted the Japanese show Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, but were provided with very few usable translations. So they just completely rewrote the scripts as a wacky farce. It’s insane. It’s a show about, you guessed it, samurai cats who work at a pizza parlour. They didn’t bury the lede. There are puns galore. The writing is intentionally gratuitous, overstuffed with asinine alliteration. It’s ostensibly for kids, but the quantity of jokes that would’ve gone over their heads (talking about inadequate pay for writers, gentle references to sex workers, referencing classic North American pop-culture) is insane. It’s so meta, self deprecating (a line in the intro “they’re stronger than old cheese, they’re stronger than dirt” as a reference to an Ajax commercial) and there are a bunch of characters stuffed with campy pomp. It’s such a good time, and watching it revealed how integral it was to developing my meta humour. The idea of calling attention to the inane and unnecessary really spoke to me. It’s exactly the kind of comedy I like to see in the world, and hope to inject. Without a doubt, this show was one of my pillars.

Last night, I watched Animaniacs. This was a big one. It came at exactly the right time for me, when my brain was elastic, with endless potential. I was thrilled by this show. So many jokes were conceptual on a level I’d never seen. I hear people talk about their first time watching sketch comedy with a type of reverence. Animaniacs was my sketch comedy. Unbound by the laws of reality or physics, it swung for the fences at every turn. It wasn’t afraid to challenge kids, or shoot above their heads. One of the episodes we watched last night was an oral history of the Warner Brothers (and Warner Sister) filtered through a lens of old Hollywood. There were jokes that still went over my head. I remember being a kid, watching this show and not getting jokes, then asking questions to find out more. It made me inquisitive and curious, with a hunger for knowledge so I could get more attuned to the funny. I wanted to understand the references. Also, as an adult I think Chicken Boo is the funniest goddamn thing in the world. I used to be so angry that people couldn’t see that he was clearly just a chicken, and now I’m rooting for the chicken always.

Y’know, for an entry about cartoons, there was very little nonsense. Here’s Chicken Boo.

Time to parcel on some knowledge

What dumb shit did you write in school?

I was listening to a podcast, and someone mentioned a high school essay they wrote. I had a thought, and almost physically recoiled. I remembered my schooling, and the excessive amount of essays I contorted into talking about subjects I already liked. In intermediate school I got put in a gifted stream. It was an elective class outside of our ordinary ones. We’d get together weekly, and were led to work on individual projects of our own design. I felt uncomfortable being moved away from the regular streams, and in no way did I think I deserved to be there. The rest were really smart kids. They loved science and computers. They had a host of extracurricular educational hobbies. I was just some goofy kid who loved superhero comics. I immediately knew what I had to do: Dig in. I decided to do my project on comic creation and the process. I think I really sold our teacher in charge on a piece about production. However, I really didn’t want to do research. So I read a bunch of fluff pieces, and put together a lionised account of Lee and Ditko creating Spider Man. Compared with the rest of the final projects, it was dismal. I’d drawn a dumb little comic, and I was a terrible artist. I didn’t care, I’d gotten off doing the bare minimum. I was relieved.

In high school I got put into the extension class again. I didn’t know why it kept happening to me. We did extension science and English. I flailed helplessly at the science, but in English? I did great. We were given Shakespearean sonnets to learn. I rote learned mine in an hour and said it out loud repeatedly. Soon everyone in the class knew mine. Hell, I still know it off by heart. I know it’s called “O Mistress Mine”, but I’ve got no idea what play it’s from. We were instructed that we were going to film a play. I got cast as Macbeth in a very truncated role. I learned my lines in a day, and turned in a gloriously gratuitous performance. I wasn’t in my element, I made it my element.

In university, I repeatedly warped the assignments around my sensibilities, almost rebelling against taking things seriously. We were to write an essay on a sentimental object in our lives. I wrote about Transformers bedsheets I got as a kid. I turned a feminism essay towards porn, and video game boob physics. I wrote an Environmental Feminism essay on mass production as a result of men’s inability to give birth. I talked about the curves of sleek cars and Coke bottles as commodification of the female form. I turned in an exam essay on creative revolts in the comic industry. Almost every project I put together revolved around subjects of interest, requiring the least amount of effort.

I think what I’m discovering, is that I spent my education trying to do as little work as possible, while getting results. If the schooling system was trying to teach me something, it was that nominal results didn’t really translate into anything tangible. I could get all the good marks I wanted, but I wasn’t really learning in the process. I was doing my best to not change, and teaching myself terrible lessons along the way. I wish that I’d known years back that there’s no way to shortcut the process. That real results came from advancing skills, not abstract marks for turning in projects. I think I’ve finally started to learn, but egads I wish it didn’t take this many decades.

Some gifted student, eh?

Never be That Guy™. You always know when you’re being That Guy™, and you need to stop it. Just stop it, Guy

I don’t often write about polyamory. I have my reasons.

Firstly, when I initially heard of polyamory, it was from people who found it difficult not to talk about polyamory. They found ways to shoehorn it into almost any conversation, and I found it more than a little grating. I don’t want to be That Guy™. Secondly, I know that in a mainstream sense, poly is still a relatively new idea. Some people find it intimidating, challenging or even uncomfortable to think about. I get it. I often did when I first heard about it. Rest assured that I don’t follow these bullshit Gold Star Poly mantras of thinking that it’s the be all and end all. I firmly don’t believe that poly is for everyone. I think that people navigating their relationships in a variety of different ways is healthy, and if a system works for you, that’s a personal thing. I also don’t believe in prescriptivist shit. If there’s some combination of systems that’s your sweet spot, I’m glad you’ve found it. Today though, I want to talk about poly, because it’s given me the best dating advice that I wish I truly understood much earlier.

Be genuine.

It sounds simple, it’s not. I know that when I started dating, I had this internal scarcity model dictating my actions. It felt like having sex, being in a relationship, these were things I was missing out on, and I desperately wanted to enjoy them. The efforts I went to were staggering. I’d constantly think about my interactions, and how I wanted to present myself. I’d focus on whether or not a situation was potentially romantic, and if I saw an inkling of it, I’d lean in. I wouldn’t lie in the pursuit of having sex, but I’d definitely lessen aspects of myself in order to agree with people more. To try and put our compatibility on a pedestal. I’d worry about what I said, and whether this would make people like me less. I’d fret about what to wear on dates, the implications of my clothing choices and what they said about me. I’d be swept away on a wave of anxiety if I thought I’d messed up. In my mind, the risk of losing out on something that could be more was a tragedy. People who were interested in me were a rarity, and if I missed out, chances were that an opportunity wouldn’t come around again any time soon.

There’s a lot that was very wrong about the above. It’s not like I didn’t care about these people, but I definitely objectified them. I turned them into a goal I pursued. Of course I wanted to spend time with them, get to know them and grow closer, but also I was very much driven by a fear of being perpetually alone. Also at a base level I was diminishing myself, trashing my self-confidence. The underlying idea was that I was not worth affection, and thus I needed to trick and scheme my way into someone thinking I was. Gross all over.

I no longer operate on a scarcity model. I’m older, more relaxed, and confident [a reminder that we stan the Oxford comma here, when it makes sense -Ed]. Poly has enabled a lot of this change in behaviour. I know that I have someone to come home to. I’m in a stable, loving relationship and I’ve stopped seeing my value in whether or not I’m dateable. I know I’m dateable. I’ve been dating someone for over five years. Being in this relationship has assured me time and time again that all of my little oddities and eccentricities are features, not bugs. I’m a lovable dude to the right people. However, I’m not gonna find the people who like my specific strangeness if I act like someone else.

It’s entirely changed the way I navigate potential romantic connections. I don’t try to appear more appealing by changing myself. I’m okay having disagreements, because I don’t try to force things down a romantic path. If we’re not compatible, that’s okay. There’ll probably be other people who we will be compatible with. I’m done with spending time around people simply because I’m attracted to them, and hoping that I’ll fall for their personalities. I don’t prioritise sex these days, because being able to have connections where I’m able to be my genuine self means that sex is a bonus. The real goal is increasing the amount of time I get to spend having great conversations and doing neat activities with people. I don’t try to date anymore. I just have adult friendships. Sometimes those friendships become intimate, and that’s the cherry on top. I let these connections be what they are. There are a number of people with whom I’ve shared kisses. Some of these may end up resulting in sexual connections, some may not. I don’t mind. Getting to know someone you admire, hearing about their lives, and seeing what the world looks like through their eyes is a real reward. If sex is going to happen, it’s gonna happen when you’re both ready, comfortable and enthusiastic to do it. Why rush that timeline? If you’re both being your most genuine selves, and you’re each attracted to those genuine aspects, it’s probably more likely that things will get intimate. Far and away, I’ve found these connections so much more rewarding than any I had when I was dating out of fear.

So no, it’s not poly advice, but I doubt I’d have learned it if I wasn’t poly.

Oh by the way, this is a sponsored post for Kind Bars. Soz

Your regularly scheduled reminder that progress takes time.

We all have the capacity to change and grow. You’re allowed to learn new things that shift your opinion, and this is a great thing. Just because something doesn’t gel with your current world view, that doesn’t mean it’s immediately wrong. I know we don’t all have the energy to create space for regressive voices to learn at all times. Still, if the goal is to hope for a better future, the more we can work towards fostering understanding rather than “scoring points”, the closer that future gets. Signed, someone who still has a lot to learn.

I truly feel like I’m learning new stuff all the time. This year in particular has had a ton of growth. Last night I went to a lavish party with a particular group of friends. We tend to get together for fun excuses to get dressed up. Earlier this year, we visited a couple who’d moved to Montreal and had a post New Years event. This was at a huge low point for me. I’d deeply sunken into my depression, and come to the realisation that I wasn’t thrilled about being alive anymore. No melodrama, I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t have a desire to go on living. My mental health had staggered for so long, and was bottoming out. I felt fortunate to be around friends, but it was hard to feel happy. Look, having fun is more enjoyable than not having fun, but there’s a noted difference when the things that used to bring you enjoyment begin to feel neutral. It’s a close knit group, and I made no secret of how much I was struggling. They were warm and compassionate about that, we all shared what was getting us down and it was cathartic. It also wasn’t some magic switch that made everything better. I still struggled.

Last night at this party, it was notable just how much things had changed. For the first time in years, I’m at a stage where I feel truly happy and grateful for everything around me. The medication has really turned around my mental health. I’m at a new job that I love. It’s challenging and requires constant creativity. I’m exhausted when I leave work, but it’s a tangible, pleasant exhaustion. Like the satisfaction you get after a good day of manual labour. I have a wonderful partner, and because of the work/life balance my job brings me, we get to spend a lot more time together during the days. We can wake up together, even. It’s such a mundane thrill. I have so many supportive friends, and I’m feeling better about the other intimate connections I’m making. I feel confident and engaged all the time. It’s an unbelievably positive place to be, and nine months ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

Recently, I read some post about the difference between being “nice” and being “kind”. It stuck with me. I don’t have a clear through-line, but I want to work on becoming a kind person. Nice often seems to stem from propriety. Being contextually pleasant, and doing small gestures. It’s almost like being nice is something to garner social status. That’s not what I’m looking for. I would like to be kind, and I think it’s an actionable goal. The way I see it, being kind is embodying a belief that people are worthy of compassion, and aiming to teach them that. It’s doing things for people because you want their lives to be better, and knowing when that’s in your capacity. It’s not ceding of yourself, compromising your needs for others. It’s finding ways to make it effortless to care, and to help. In my head, being nice is posting a supportive comment on a Facebook post. Being kind is letting that person know that you have space for them if they need it. Being nice is giving platitudes. Being kind is understanding what that person needs- whether it’s venting or advice- then giving them what they need rather than what you personally want to give. Being nice is offering help. Being kind is allowing that person to say no if they need, and not to feel bad about it.

As I said, I’m still learning. If things go well, I’ll never stop.

Will we get to keep our free healthcare? Who knows?

Let us get INTO it. Let us GET into it. Let US get into it. Let us get into IT. LET.

Wow, that Leader’s Debate was garbled nonsense last night. Scheer regurgitating pre-meditated takedowns on Trudeau rather than really talk about his party’s platform. Trudeau seemed to aptly deflect. Not hard, Trudeau easily has stronger presence than a wet dishrag given sentience. Scheer does not. Somehow Trudeau failed to make headway. Those two mostly talked over each other, with May chiming in every now and again with her environmental platform. The Bernier guy was supremely out of touch, unsurprising, given that his platform revolves around racism. Singh gave a number of cogent points, and from what I saw, most capably navigated the debate. There was some other old white dude there, and he talked little enough that I don’t know if it’s worth finding out who he was. Mostly though, they acted like children. They talked simultaneously, trying to shout one another down or loom with stronger presence. It was more than a little embarrassing. It’s a pity that Singh will never get a chance to lead, considering he seems to really have the wisdom, compassion and conviction of a strong leader. It sucks that Canada’s racist enough to be blinded by a turban. In under two weeks we’ll find out who emerges victorious, and whether or not this country falls prey to the same kind of bullshit populist politics that seem to be taking control worldwide. All my fingers crossed, the answer is no.

Will Canada become a shitstorm if the cons win? Who’s to say? I’m of the belief that it’ll greatly impact the lives of the most vulnerable, just so rich people can get more tax cuts. Like in Ontario, where child support agencies are struggling after DoFo’s provincial government slashed their funding by $80m. I’m guessing that everything they’re currently blasting the Liberals for (having staff with racist, misogynist, bigoted past posts) are behaviours currently held by the majority of their party. I also guess that they’re gonna continue to ignore the effects of climate change. I’m horrified by the idea of a pro-life dipshit being in the driver’s seat of this nation. Before Trump, I’d hold fast to the notion that there’d only be so much damage one political party could inflict. Turns out, wealthy monsters aren’t healthy for leadership, especially when they’re being puppeteered by more nefarious forces. Scheer is quite obviously a mindless single celled organism, and Harper is prodding him along (given that he still holds the party purse strings, and has accepted a leadership position in the International Democratic Union).

I’m certainly not worried about myself. I’m very fortunate to occupy a relatively safe space within society. I’m earning a decent living, I have no dependants and I’m not at the high or low margin for tax purposes. These policies rarely will greatly affect me. It’s not myself I’m worried for. There are generations to follow who’ll miss out on things we took for granted. They’ll have to fight tooth and nail for opportunities, and their lives will be irreparably held back by the decisions made in parliament. We’ve already seen the damage DoFo has done to the Ontario schooling system. Courses cut, teens left without enough credits to graduate, forced into default classes. Their futures derailed so that corporations can get tax cuts. Their climate eroding, due to the greed of uncaring businessmen. Their elders choosing myopic rhetoric over effective policy. Taken advantage of by those who care little for them. Used shamelessly.

I sure know how I hope the vote goes in a few weeks. Do enough Canadians want the same? We have two weeks of Hell before we find out.

If you forget, does it really count as learning?

Oh hey, I’m awake!

Desperate times call for me to be writing now, at 8am on a bus. It’s my first weekday day shift, so I get to see what all the 9-5 fuss is about. Sure, I used to start at 9.30am, but that half hour is a world away. There are spare seats on this bus. I don’t even need to nestle into a hirsute armpit at an odd angle. I have my own seat. I don’t even have a seat mate. Two seats to myself, even. Bag on my lap just in case anyone wants to sit down. We might be only one stop away from the station, by who knows? I’m not used to all this room to roam. The train platform will be the true test of time. When I wanted to get to work on time for 9.30am, the first two or so trains were crammed. It’s 8.20am now and… Welp, first train, no seats, but nigh infinite standing room. This is anecdotal for sure, but day one of 9am works. I even have a pole to hold onto. What luxury!

Imagine if the entire entry was just me talking about my train trip. My locomotion commotion, if you will. I’m not sure I can do much better, but let’s see what’s in my brain today.

At work yesterday I described a bunch of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That episodes. It’s an awesome show I’d never heard of before. Aimed at pre-schoolers, The Cat in the Hat teaches them about science. It’s fully in the spirit of Seuss’ colourful and absurd worlds. It’s formulaic, but kids love repetition. The two kids, Nick and Sally will have a problem that involves science. The Cat shows up and tells them about some place he’ll take them where they can learn. The kids will be stoked, and ask their parents if they can go. The parent will say yes, and make some kind of pun, then they fly away on the Thingamajiger. It’s a setup that lends itself to all kinds of adventures. Yesterday’s episodes were about stuff like gravity, water flow, how to build a shelter, magnets, etc. Important stuff for kids to learn. I can only imagine this show would’ve been my everything in those early ages. It’s colourful, safe, and has a bunch of jokes. The stuff they learn is pretty cool. The magnets episode involved magnetic blue and orange rocks in a river. They had to turn their blue and orange canoe around in the water, so the same coloured end of the canoe would be repelled by the rock, and they could float harmlessly past. I checked in with my brothers, my niece and nephews are all watching this show. How cool is that? They’re all gonna be smart cookies, with a thirst for colours, learning and puns.

Good news, I’m still awake! I’m just about to arrive at the office, and who knows what I’ll do today? If a magical cat shows up and promises to whisk me away to a fantasy land though, you know I’m following that whimsy.

What will I learn today?