Did I just have a date within a date with that corn dog?

I went on a date the other night. It was lovely.

It’d been a while, not sure why. I haven’t been doing much to seek out intimate encounters outside my anchor partner. Or maybe it’s just that everyone I’d been growing close to had been poly, are interested, but are also in relationships that are currently closed. Which has been fine. Emotional intimacy has always been far more important to me than physical. In those instances, it’s just been nice to have new friends. This person, however, is poly. So we got to have an actual date. It’s something that’s been in the works for ages. We’ve hung out at parties, but never one on one. She has a weird schedule. I now have a weird schedule, and for the first time ever, our free time coincided. I asked if she wanted to grab a food, or a drink, or overthrow the bourgeoisie, or do amateur parkour, or get stoned and watch a dumb movie, or go to Tilt. She said Tilt, the local arcade bar, sounded great.

I vowed to do wreck my face doing amateur parkour on my own damn time.

I think we were both there for about half an hour before I noticed her. Not because she wasn’t worth noticing, but because she was wearing all black and playing a game in the corner. Somehow, in a room full of garish fluorescent lights, she’d discovered camouflage. She played D&D with the barman, so I got to meet him too, and he was really friendly. Their DM used to DM our games of Call of Cthulhu, and was by far the best DM I’ve had for any game ever. We all gushed about how great he was. Then she and I grabbed beer and a seat. We chatted. We chatted for a long time, actually. Seeing as we’d never hung out one on one before, it was the perfect time to get to know each other better. I mean, it’s kind of the point of a date.

More importantly, the fact that we were sitting meant I had the perfect excuse [you didn’t need an excuse -Ed] to order a corn dog. As an aside, I love corn dogs. They’re a favoured treat of mine. I’m not wild about fried food, but back home when we got fish and chips, you ordered a “hot dog” and got given what North Americans call a corn dog: A battered hot dog on a stick. It’s one of my exceptions to my ambivalence about fried food, likely because of nostalgia. I’d never tried Tilt’s corn dogs, but I can now confirm they’re fucking fantastic. The batter is made in house. It’s pretty thin, but with some nice crispy flourishes. Also, they’re huge. I’m used to corn dogs on popsicle sticks. These ones come on skewers. You know the type that people use for BBQ kebabs? Picture a hot dog on that, except the only available bit of stick to hold is 1-2cm long. That’s a lot of dog. It was meaty and sumptuous, and a truly fantastic snack with beer. Have I now written a longer love letter to this corn dog than I have to this date? Maybe, but that corn dog and I shared something that no date and I ever will. R.I.P.

Anyway, it was fun to chat. She’s funny, and we’ve got a lot of geeky interests in common. A theme of adulthood that I’ve noticed, is I’m not actually aware of what most of my friends do to pay rent. I hang out with them because I like their company, but their jobs have never defined who they are to me. So I got to hear what she does for work and what she likes about those things. I got to learn how growing up was for her, familial connections and perspectives. She had been to the nigh legendary Florida theme park: Gatorland. I’d heard tales. She told me more.

After a while, I chimed in that while I was having an excellent time hanging out, I also wanted to play some vidya games. We played an isometric D&D style crawler called Gate of Doom. It was super button mashy, but nostalgic and silly. The magic system was quite unusual. All four characters had the same spellbook and system, but you had to wait until your magic bar filled up. The spellbook would flick periodically between spells, and whatever was active was the one you had access to. I kept turning into a walking flower, which was kinda neat. I had some kind of stun pollen with a radius effect. We beat the game, and my hand damn near cramped up. We played some Puzzle Bobble, and evened up at 5 wins. We chatted some more, and it was last call.

I think one of the more important things I learned from the date, is that I’ve finally reached a certain level of confidence. It always used to be that I was too afraid to make a move, and that nothing would happen until my date was like “dude, are you actually interested? Do you want to have sex or not?” Then I’d be all “oh, of course. That’d be great”. It largely came from feelings of inadequacy and not knowing how to navigate those spaces with utmost consent. These days, a better knowledge of consent has informed massive change. I’ve realised that I can just ask, and in ways that leave things very open for the other person to say no. A lot of the time these things happen organically, and I think societally people have assumed that organic was the only option, anything else was clunky and took you out of the moment. I haven’t found that. I’m getting better at reading signs, but still like to clarify. There was a point where we were sitting close to each other. I think her hand was resting on my arm, mine resting on her leg. I realised and said “I just want to check, do you like this kind of touch”. She said yes, definitely. Simple and clean. I knew she was interested, she had every opportunity to be like hmm, maybe not at the moment or actually, maybe no and that would’ve been fine. Instead, I actively knew we were on a wavelength, that she was interested and the waters weren’t muddied. Consent is the fucking best, and anyone who thinks it ruins the moment maybe hasn’t learned how to ask in a non-intrusive manner.

Since things were winding down at the bar, we were both still awake and having a good time, I asked if she wanted to keep hanging out. She invited me over, and we spent a bunch more time together at her place. I left some time after 6.30am, and since she lives with one of my friends, I got to give my friend a good morning hug when she got up to go to work. Since I live maybe 5 minutes walk from her, I got to go right home and to bed.

Is it time to bring back I Have My Dates?

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Well it ain’t sham-dalar

I’m swimming in spare time, but I did also drink a ton of coffee, so I’m very distractible (for a change). I want to get this done, so it’s a regular ol’ stream of consciousness deal.

Yesterday was great, today’s been great. I guess it’s hard to have a shitty time when you have regular four day weekends, but I haven’t gotten bored yet. Turns out there are other people with non-standard schedules. A bunch of them are my friends, too. It’s neat. I met a writer friend for brunch. We hadn’t caught up in ages, and tend to do a lot of JFL42 stuff together. She’s always a blast to hang with, and it was worthwhile comparing JFL42 must sees, etc. More importantly (because let’s be real), the food was awesome. As soon as I mentioned brunch she was like LEON WE’RE GOING TO DONNA’S FOR ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES. I didn’t argue. It worked out. The sandwich was incredible. The meat was succulent, and a lovely jalapeƱo spice pervaded each bite. There were crispy onions and soft, thinly sliced wedges of parsnip. It looked like cheese, but the texture was awesome. We had a pea salad on the side, which also featured solid quotients of both crunch and spice.

Then it turned out I was around the corner from another friend who I was gonna have a late lunch with. I biked a literal two minutes, and hung out at hers. We put on sunscreen, then headed out to walk the streets. Our goal was to hang in a park, and we did errands while we walked. She’s trying to learn Latin, so she picked up a copy of Winnie Ille Pu she’d booked from the library. I stopped by CAFE (a local pot shop) who’s been forced into weird sidewalk sales stuff by archaic provincial laws. I put an order in for a gram of indica (it’s been great for powering down and getting rest after late night work shifts) that I’d be able to pick up half an hour later, then we kept walking. I got some cash out, my friend bought a spinach pastry, she got a “Fat Mac” slice from Apiecalypse Now, and we lazed in Christie Pitts park. It was fucking great.

I have the rest of the day off, with zero commitments. I’m realistically gonna get pulled back into the world of Shandalar, a 1997 Magic the Gathering game that to this day is still the best MtG video game ever created. One of my favourite streamers Gaby Spartz plays it periodically, and it whets my appetite. The system is so old and clunky, and it features rules that’ve been long since updated in the card game. I’ve played the game so much that it’s a total nostalgia blast. It’s a fun RPG where you wandering the land trying to take down evil wizards and their cronies by battling them in a card game. There are elusive mythical cards you can find out of nowhere, and old ante rules means you can lose your top cards suddenly. It’s exciting, and a weirdly compelling game to view on Twitch.

Oh shit, she’s playing right now. I think I know what I’m doing this evening. See ya.

A cotton candy world sounds pretty sweet

I’m still thinking about that weekend.

I’m still thinking about that weekend because it was so unbelievably stuffed with treasured moments. There was something about being sequestered away from society, from societal pressures like time and propriety, that opened up some mental headroom. I could be as goofy as I liked, without fear of judgement. Whether I was doing absurd extended bits, ruminating and contemplating, or sharing genuine heartfelt talks with close friends, it all felt like each moment was bigger than itself. Each day as I sat down to write I tried to think of what was worth scribing, and felt weirdly overwhelmed. It’s not that everything needed to make it to the page, but that there were too many great jokes, observations and lessons that deserved a wider audience.

Though when I talk about this first joke, forget everything I said about deserving a wider audience.

I had this dumb recurring bit going on about the opening three seconds of Limp Bizkit’s “My Generation”.

Fred Durst, when his tour bus is stuck in traffic: “IF ONLY WE COULD FLYYYYYYY”
Fred Durst watching Liar Liar, and voicing his concern over the lead character’s predicament: “IF ONLY HE COULD LIIIIIIIE.”

It’s a relatively versatile setup, as long as you can keep finding words that rhyme with “fly”.

I made a number of stupid jokes, come to think of it. Like, “What would you call a dance popularised by the U.S. Boxing team for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? The Haymaker-ena.”

I also had some pretty lovely moments. It was late (or early, depending on your time perspective), and I started giggling uncontrollably. My girlfriend asked me what was so funny, and I replied that I was so excited about a compliment that I was gonna give one of our friends, because I knew just how happy it would make her. She entered the room a little while later and I told her that I had a compliment for her, and I was biding my time for the right moment, but I knew it would make her day. As a comic, who rarely wants to be the butt of a joke, she got on edge a little. I knew that like comedy, I had to use timing and delivery to really nail it so she could get the most out of it. It was like a little mini-game. I waited for hours, and in the cool blue light of pre-dawn, while the two of us were in the kitchen, I pounced. Gently, of course. I turned to her and quietly said “I was thinking about the meal last night, and I’m already nostalgic for it. Everything was so delicious, and made it larger than life. I was also thinking about how you brought such clear intentions towards making it happen, how you asked people to take care of certain parts, and inspired others to bring their flare into it. When I sat down at the table I looked around and realised that everyone sitting there had contributed somehow, that it was a real communal effort and we were sharing in the bountiful results. Then I looked at you, and thought how you’d drawn us together for the meal. I sat in that moment and appreciated the hand you’d put in, knowing we wouldn’t be there without you.” She turned to me, overwhelmed, and gave me a hug, saying how nice that was. I pulled her close and whispered in her ear. And that’s the compliment I knew would make you happy. It was a very sweet moment.

Another amazing moment came a few hours later. For some context, in the evening a few of us had walked down to the dock in the middle of the night. Fog was everywhere, rising as mist from the warm water into the cool air. It rolled off the banks to coalesce in the centre of the lake. It looked ghostly and spectral, these rolling hazy waves above the water. I walked back down at the first traces of sunlight to have a look. As I descended through the tree cover, I saw the surface of the lake as a gentle, purple pastel. I arrived at the dock, and took in a magical sight. Cotton candy pastel hues lit the sky and illuminated the rising fog. I realised, this was the other side of sunrise. While warm colours lit the rising sun, the shadows it cast across the sky left a glorious soft residue. I pulled everyone down, and we stood there speechless. I was overcome, and I cried from joy. Since I’d begun taking anti-depressants back in February, I’d been incapable of crying. No matter what happened, I just couldn’t shed a tear. Yet this sight stirred something in me, and I doubled over, gasping. It was literally breathtaking, like we’d ascended to a different plane of existence.

Come to think of it, maybe we did.

Just call me Tim the Toolshed Taylor

And so this cottage weekend has come to an end.

I’m sitting here at a table loosely populated by leftovers. A box of peaches with two remaining. The remnants of a smores kit. Half consumed cans of drink, and a breakfast plate that’s been picked at, but still has a sausage and eggs left to give. We’re in the process of tying things together. The floor has been swept, dishes drying, bags of rubbish sit outside the front door, read for their trip to the tip. Our first carload have left, bound by timelines. We’re the cleanup crew.

It’s been a stellar weekend. I think this is the closest I’ve ever felt to living in a commune. Everyone doing their part, helping out. We’ve had amazing meals, and I think it’s because people have been taking care of side dishes, doing their little specialties to enhance the meals. There’s been bountiful food, and I’ve eaten beyond my needs day by day. Outstanding. Cleanup has been effortless, with people tagging in on dishes, drying, setting the table, all without being asked. Stress hasn’t made itself known, and it’s testament to the people who’ve made this weekend what it became.

My friend and I had a fun experience last night with the new Tool album. We’d both been psyched to listen to it, and wanted to make it into an event. It’d personally been so long since I’d made a big deal of an album release, and it was neat to bring outselves back to a place that we used to inhabit. We went out to a little shed, put two speakers equidistant to get proper soundstaging. We turned off the lights, except for a small string of fairy lights. We both lay down side by side on the bed, closed our lines and listened. It brought me right back to being a teen again, taking in an experience with wide eyed enthusiasm. We lay there and took it all in, wordless expressions of interest. Heads banging, toes tapping. There were one or two moments where we both gasped with surprise at certain riffs and sounds. It didn’t instantly stand out as a classic album, but having that experience really shaped how I took it all in. I’d previously listened to a few of the tracks at work, real secondary or tertiary listening. By giving it my primary attention, I noticed so much more. I think without the listening party, I possibly would’ve heard the album a couple more times, then given up the ghost. Now, I think I’ll pay closer attention, and dig for those things that really stood out in the shed. Or “Tool Shed”, as our friend dubbed it.

This weekend has amassed so many experiences I didn’t know I’d appreciate as I did. We canoed out to a little island, made smores around a fire, shared heartfelt moments stacked atop one another. It’s been top to bottom wonderful. Everything I needed and thensome.

It might be coming to an end, but definitely a case of gone, not forgotten.

Hark, the Bone King cometh

What’s in a name? I’m Leon. I’ve always been Leon. Nicknames slough off me like water from a duck. They don’t hold or stick fast. Not sure why.

I’ve always been one to strip bones bare. Sounds like a red flag tinder profile, but really it means that I love BBQ ribs a whole bunch. Last night we had a big communal cook-up. Ribs on the BBQ, grilled mushrooms, corn, hot dogs, peaches, and a simple side salad. We sat around and had our bellies filled by the work we’d all pitched in. Everyone at the table had helped out somehow, and the rewards were bounteous. It turned out I had different standards than everyone for when a rib was considered “finished”. My friends’ bones piled up, and I flayed them one by one. I finished with a stack high to the heavens. Like a throne. A throne of bones. I was the Bone King.

Of course, this happened in my head. Nobody else had picked up on my clever moniker. So it was my duty to bring them onboard. This was a nickname that could stick. I tried incidentally sprinkling it a few times into conversation. Y’know, “hey, mind passing the chips over here to the Bone King?” They were all “wait, who’s the Bone King?” I was like “thats me, I’m the Bone King. Y’know, all those dinner bones?” My friends exchanged uneasy looks. I tried it once or twice more. It didn’t land. After a particularly egregious one my girlfriend gave me a sidebar. “I’m not sure this Bone King thing is landing. Maybe it’s not happening.” I looked in my heart of hearts and stood firm. “I know this can work, I just haven’t found my moment. By the end of the night, I’ll have it.”

It was evening. There’d been a bunch of pot going around. We were all quite high. We’d all slid into colourful, comfy clothing. I wore my lion onesie, with these dainty rose tinted glasses; gold chain draping from either arm across the back of my neck. People commented on the aesthetics of my attire. I shrugged and said something to the effect of “that’s how the Bone King rolls”. Gentle chuckling ensued. I stepped outside to a spritely bonfine. We played around, making smores. Some tended the fire. I grabbed a bold stick and struck a pose. I referred to myself once or twice as the Bone King. Still not a whole lot of rececption.

Hours passed. I’d put down my rose tinted glasses, and they’d become absorbed into a silly joke about a toy car wearing them. People were still laughing about Lightning McQueen in his rose tinted glasses. I grabbed the glasses, unaware I was cutting off their joke. Someone started to protest my theft of Lightning McQueen’s apparel, and I realised the only choice was to commit to the bit. I methodically applied the glasses, draping the chain over the back of my neck to the sound of the room’s protests. A friend called out “are you challenging Lightning McQueen?” I pushed the glasses to the bridge of my nose, squared off against Mr. McQueen and exclaimed “Hey Lightning McQueen, you come at the Bone King, you best not miss.” Rapturous applause exploded as I walked out the door for a smoke. Thus began the legend of the Bone King.

And I finally made that goofy nickname stick.

I can’t afford to be here for a long time, I’ve got packing to do. Good times await

I’m a free agent now, baby.

I’ve got six days off and they’re all mine. I logged into my work email (bad call) and removed myself from a bunch of distribution groups (good call). I brought home my work coffee machine and plugged it in. So now we have an actual decent machine instead of just relying on the french press. I’ve been scatterbrained, moving between playing Magic, coordinating plans for the cottage weekend my girlfriend and I are going on with friends, and pulling out stuff to pack. Packing has yet to occur. I’ve had coffee and maybe insufficient food, so my mind is moving at 1609344 kilometres an hour. Need to pack clothes, food, booze, weed. It’s a cottage, so it’s not like we’ll die of exposure if we miss something. It’s gonna be rockin’, rollin’, reeling and Barbara Ann.

I got to clean out my desk yesterday and hoo boy, I’d hoarded a bunch of shit for a rainy day. I had a ton of disposable cutlery, etc. Straws, coffee stir sticks, knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks. I had varietals of sugar, white, brown, coconut, splenda. I had coconut oil and oatmeal packets. There were random bits of makeup I’d lifted from the old building after everyone else had left. Dental supplies from hygienist freebie bags. A Tommy Wiseau bobble head (that I gifted to a greatful co-worker). Paper towels, ziplock and plastic bags, gift wrapping. There was some prime stationary, a solid swingline stapler, tape dispenser, calculator, a bunch of promo pens and white out. Paperclips, bulldog clips, pushpins. Notepads and post-its. Manilla folders and notebooks. Also cardboard cutouts of Emily Deschanel/David Boreanaz & Tea Leoni. In short, lots of useful junk that has no place in my new job. Dumping it on the table for people to take was all kinds of cathartic.

Maybe in six days I’ll have enough time to digest the new Tool album. Is there ever truly enough time?

In terms of “enough time”, I’m hoping to finish this, get packing, maybe go to the gym, pick up vitamins and whatnot from the health store, and get a new bag of coffee for the trip. All in the next three hours. It’s not gonna happen, is it?

I’m gonna have limited internet connection over the next few days, but hopefully should be able to at least post updates. We’re going to a cottage, not an empty field.

You know what? I’m finished with this. I need the time. Catch y’all tomorrow.

There’s still time, I could be heroes!

Today’s been busy, so I’m gonna rely on some tried and true bullet pointing. Who’s in?

Here are some things I liked about today:

  • I watched this video about an influencer saboutaging a dumb reality TV dance show first thing in the morning. It kind of made my day.
  • I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm.
  • When I walked into the front of the atrium to grind my morning coffee, I stood on the glass platform as I usually do. I looked down, and realised that there was a self-contained glass box underneath me that never gets cleaned, as evidenced by the weird big mess that was there. Like a coffin for spills. I like finding out new stuff.
  • I got to get out for a lunchtime jog today.
  • Five people waved back to me on my jog today.
  • I saw a dude walking three huskies.
  • One of my co-workers used the word “delineation” in a meeting.
  • I got to chat with a longtime DV person, and she had a bunch of interesting stuff to say.
  • Another of my co-workers introduced me to K.Flay and her album Solutions. It was a fun listen.
  • I got to eat strawberries at work, which rarely happens. It’s not even that I like strawberries much, but I do like variety.
  • I ran into a guy I’d done a bunch of job applications for and got to tell him about my new position. He seemed genuinely very stoked for me.
  • I listened to half an episode of Netflix’s Daredevil so I could witness its Described Video. The DV was astoundingly good, even if I’ve long since given up on the show. Not only was it beautifully worded, but they found a fantastic balance between the dialogue and descriptions. The DV in particular is important, ’cause the show’s about a blind superhero. A+++, would recommend ‘watching’ with your eyes closed.
  • I drank a can of clamato that’s been sitting in my drawer for fuck knows how long, and it hadn’t gone off yet.
  • It was my penultimate day in this job.

Things that I liked less about today.

  • We started the day with a shitty meeting that was shitty. Nobody was particularly impressed by it.
  • The meeting sprawled into a bunch of extra work throughout the day and my schedule got totally blown out. I’ve been playing catch up all day.
  • The strawberries, while novel, were not very good.
  • I’ve had fewer poops than usual. Like, a normal human’s quantity of poops.
  • The TTC car I boarded was stuck between stations for maybe ten minutes. I had a podcast to listen to, but it still wasn’t ideal.
  • It was really sunny, so my jog was extra exhausting.
  • I hit a bunch of stop lights on my jog, which meant it took longer. Technically this gave me a bunch more breaks though, so that was kind of nice.
  • I still have an entire day at this job.

ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY.