It looks to be, as they say en Francais, “definistration”

The world is a layered place. By age 32, I think I’ve come to terms with that.

It’s mostly good. If things were too simple, they’d get boring. I’m a total lover of multi-faceted, complex things, but I also really dig single use utensils and niche words. We all contain multitudes, right? One of my favourite things about the English language is just how many words there are, while simultaneously, I appreciate other languages’ ability to craft meaningful but convoluted signifiers of an experience. Schadenfreude being a prime example. What I’m proposing, is that English needs more evocative and specific words to really level up. Without further adieu, valid elements of the human condition that could do with their own monikers:

  • The simultaneous tension and excitement of sharing media that resonates deeply with you, with someone you care about. You know, like watching a film that’s always meant something to you with a prospective partner. What if they hate it? What if you realise in retrospect that it’s super flawed and hasn’t aged well? What does that reflexively say about you? Will they feel differently about you if they don’t like it?
  • The joint relief and concern when nobody takes the seat next to you on transit. Hey, it’s awesome that you don’t have to share space. It’s way more relaxing that way. At the same time, is it because you look weird? Or unapproachable? Do you have a gross habit or smell you haven’t yet noticed?
  • When you desperately, desperately wanna get messy and leave the house on a Friday night, but there’s nothing happening that fits your desires.
  • When you have a free night with nothing to do, but you don’t wanna dip into your rainy day activities backlog in case you won’t have any left the next time you have a night with nothing to do.
  • When something during sex sends you over the edge, but you’re not ready to reverse engineer why, because you’re afraid of going down a weeeeird rabbit hole.
  • When you’re given a gift you don’t want from someone with good intentions, and you’re trying to work out how long you need to hold onto it before you can throw it out.
  • When something tastes odd, but you can’t stop yourself from eating more.
  • When you realise that what you’re currently saying won’t land well, but you can’t do the mental gymnastics in time to change your sentence, so you just say it anyway.
  • When you can’t stop listening to a certain song on repeat, then one day you just don’t like it anymore.
  • When you’re dreading doing something, then it turns out better than you’d expected and after it’s over you’re still waiting for the axe to drop.
  • When an actor you despise is great in a film and you don’t know how to process it.
  • When you want something to be better than it is, so you create internal reasons why it was, even though deep down you know it wasn’t.
  • When you spend hours trying to remember something on principle, when you know you could look it up on the internet and figure it out in a matter of minutes.
  • When you stalk your exes online for reassurance that they’re doing well.
  • When you’re on a first date with someone you know from online, and you feel like you have to ask questions you already know the answer to because it would feel weird admitting that you’ve both stalked each other’s profiles.
  • When you connected deeply with someone at a party and talked for hours, but forgot to ask each other’s names.

Hell, I’d settle for an adequate way to describe a partner’s ex who you’re both still very close with.

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That, my friends, is how we do a shameless plug

For a change, I’m worn the fuck out.

It was totally non-intentional. I had zero plans last night, then made the last minute switch to have plans. See, it all began when I woke up thinking it was Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t, but it was hard to shake the feeling. I was like is there any way to lean into this unnecessary delusion? I looked up some events and saw that there was a Bumble pre-Valentine’s mixer happening. Free drinks, all you needed was a Bumble account. I thought back to when I got really into dating podcast Why Oh Why? The host went to a couple of events and they sounded fun/silly.

I was borderline interested, but then thought back to that time I installed Bumble. It was sub-optimal. I swiped and swiped, often coming across friend’s accounts. Each and every one of those friends had stopped using the platform, so it turned out I was scrolling through what were likely endless dead accounts. Or maybe that’s what I told myself to feel better about my lack of matches. Who knows? My thumb still gets phantom pain from all the swiping. I figured I was better to stay home and have a low key night. The cat has been incredibly fussy lately, noisy at night. A decent sleep would do me wonders. I went home for a quiet night.

Around 9pm, I saw that one of my friends was attending the event. I was not dressed, I hadn’t eaten dinner and leaving the house was probably not in my best interests. We chatted, she said to come along, and if it was a total bust we could just grab a drink. I hadn’t been out all week, so I figured why not be adventurous, y’know? I hastily made dinner, showered and concurrently pre-drank. I ordered an Uber and managed to get there for 10pm. Real feat, that. I walked in the door and saw my friend standing there. It was loud, very loud. I seriously wondered about my ability to hold a conversation. It’s basically the only tool I have in my arsenal. “We have to leave immediately” my friend whispered. With no questions, I did a 180 and we grabbed her coat, then left. I figured that her judgement had always been impeccable, so if she said we needed to leave, we did. We walked to a Liberty Village craft beer bar and grabbed a table.

Adroitly, she pointed out the issue with the dating app party. On these apps, you have the benefit of relative anonymity. Creeps can’t message you because of the filters. You’re protected somewhat. When you go to a dating app party it’s kind of like going to a regular bar, but there are no pretentions of what people are there for and EVERYONE IS THIRSTY. It’s goddamn oppressive. It sounded less than ideal, and from the two minutes I spent there I already didn’t like it. Having left and gone to a craft beer bar, however, we didn’t have those problems. We just had good beer. I even ordered a cheesecake. It was gas.

It was fucking great to catch up, and I can’t imagine the kind of time I could’ve had at the party that would’ve been better. She’s a top notch human, and conversation has always been incredibly easy. So easy, in fact, that by the time we’d had two beers and settled up the tab, it was later that we thought. Look, we hadn’t checked our phones, but how the hell does it just BECOME 1am? On a school night, no less. We hurriedly got out of there and gapped it to the bus. I got home and the cat still hadn’t been fed. She was all kinds of ornery (not really, she was just loud. I think that’s her natural state). I fed her and managed to get into bed for 2am. The cat was not ready for bed. Throughout the night, in very regular intervals she started caterwauling and scratching at the door. Again and again. My earplugs were long since worn out, so I just suffered, maybe managing all of 3.5 hours sleep. I’ve been half past dead today, and no amount of coffee has been able to exhume me.

Tonight I have very deliberate plans of zero plans. Maybe I can actually follow through this time.

And I ordered these from Amazon. I will sleep someday.

Do wanna be All By Myself

Yesterday I had no meaningful interactions with a single other human being. It was wonderful.

Lest this reads as a hermit’s manifesto, it happened organically. I had half-arsed plans to do things with other people, and they didn’t come to fruition. I also had some potential errands to run. I needed a costume for a party next week, and I was tempted to go out and find some nice coffee beans to keep around home. Easy errands. After a late night of hard dancing, my legs were shot. Still, I’d only been to the gym twice that week. I figured I had nothing urgent to get to, I could have a smoke and do a basic upper body maintenance workout, then pick up those two things. I made a post gauging interest in having a Make Your Own Pizza night, in case anyone wanted to come over.

The gym went quickly enough. A friend recommended this artist BØRNS, and I gave his albums a listen. Fun bouncy electro stuff. His second album, Blue Madonna, was a real good time. Pretty cheesy/campy, but with a fun slick 80s vibe. Very theatrical, but also supremely goofy. It’s great music to make a workout tick by. I kinda zoned out and got stuff done, but mostly spent an age stretching. I can’t emphasise enough how integral stretching has become after a night out dancing. If I were a smarter gent, I’d stretch before too. Thing is, I normally have to be a drunk enough gent to dance in the first place that stretching is my last thought. Stretching post was time well spent. My legs don’t feel like they’re gonna drop off today. Bonus.

My mind wandered and this scene started playing out; two strangers in public who were listening to the same song simultaneously. That was it. I had no idea what song, where they were, just that. The same song. Maybe the song would make them think back to certain memories. Maybe they’d have entirely different views of the song, read lines with alternative meanings. I thought back to the time when I went to a silent disco. There were three different DJs. The DJ you were listening to was denoted by a coloured light on your headphones. You could look around and notice others on your wavelength, see that they were dancing to the same beat. What if you were in public and noticed that someone was dancing as if to the song in your headphones? What if it was actually the same song. That’d be crazy right? I showered up, still with this idea playing through my head. It looked like pizza was not a go for people that night. I thought about seeing a movie. The Favourite was on at 7pm, friends wanted to see Spider Verse and I was happy to see it again. I asked if 9.15 worked. I had all day and I wanted to take my time. My friends were busy, so no Spider Verse, but I still had stuff to do, right?

I still wanted my costume shirt and coffee. I could hit up Black Market, then walk East towards M Street Coffee to pick up some Phil & Sebastian beans. Deal. Black Market is a great place. A bargain basement where most everything is $10, nothing over. I found a couple of shirts, but none of them fit. I’ve also had a side hustle of trying to get a cheap burgundy leather jacket for a few years. I found one that mostly fit. Mostly. The shoulders were a little narrow and poked up when I zipped the jacket. It looked dumb done up, but kind of fine while open. The rack said $5.99. Was $5.99 a fine price for a consolation “close enough” jacket. Seemed that way. I took it up to the counter, and it turned out to be $10. It was a leather jacket, was $10 still a fine price for “close enough”? It was. I tried it on again this morning. I might be KonMari-ing that shit. Unless it’s exclusively for costumes. I tried a couple of other stores for this ugly orange shirt (Nic Cage, Leaving Las Vegas), but their tastes didn’t stray so low. Apparently.

Turned out M Street Coffee was closed, so no deal on the beans. Since I was near Chinatown, I figured I’d drop in at some of the stores. I had ideas of cooking liver and other offal while my girlfriend was Down Under, and the Chinatown shops were filled with the stuff. I got myself a big ol’ pork liver, some fancy apples and a big jar of kimchi. I’ve never kept home kimchi and I’ve got no idea why. I love the stuff and it keeps well. A friend messaged about her storytelling night at 7pm. It was already 5pm and I’d had no time to chill. Was it worth busting my ass to get there? She’s an excellent writer who gives a lot of herself in her work, but also I’d been on my feet for hours. I was even allowed to stay in and not get roped into Saturday night partytime. The stranger song idea was still in my head, and I wanted to get it down on a page. I told her I’d need time to decompress, and if I could make it out of the house, I’d make a beeline for the event.

I didn’t make it out of the house in time. I got back, took ten to catch my breath, then started writing. It wasn’t a fast process. When I do this kind of writing, my normal writing, it flows a lot easier. I don’t have to think about reasonable structure, if I’m reusing words or expressions too much. I don’t have to think about tenses or pronouns, perspectives, etc. I can just write. Fiction is so far out of my wheel house, even for a low stakes story, that it takes eons to get anywhere. I lost hours to yesterday’s writing. I kept writing, deleting, writing, editing. I was maybe 500 words in before I even figured out what song they’d be listening to. A friend had recently written about her and her boyfriend bonding over it. The song had some sweet sentiment, but also it was well known enough for people to catch on. I didn’t even plan for lyrical coincidences, they just happened. Nothing about the idea was well thought out, so I had to think as I wrote. It was sort of exciting.

Then it was somehow almost 9pm and I hadn’t even eaten dinner. While everyone opted out, there was nothing stopping me from having a pizza night. I had a little tub of gravy in the fridge left over from the other day’s pork roast. Had I ever tried gravy as a base instead of tomato? Why not experiment? I pre-heated the oven then went to the supermarket to grab bases. I remembered that people had suggested bacon to cook with liver, so I grabbed some. Back home I spread gravy on the base, and put it on the pizza tray. I thought about caramelised onions with the gravy and roast pork tenderloin. I chopped the bacon up and threw it into the pan with the onions. It was all coming together. Sundried tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, cumin, cayenne and a slathering of cheese. It was magnificent, decadent and exactly what I wanted. My friends had opted out, but there was no reason I couldn’t watch a movie by myself. So at around 11pm I sat in front of my computer with a delicious pizza and watched Roma.

It was fucking perfect, and I was in perfect company.

All for mon, Montreal

Writing this from our Air BnB. It’s cosy, warm and tastefully decorated, reminding us all of the vast rent disparity between Montreal and Toronto. My room has bunks, a mural of children playing in winter, and a painting of the universe on the ceiling. It’s either a kid’s room, or a very creepy fuck den.

You know what? It felt weird to fly with weed. No matter how legal it is, I’m still left feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I went through customs with my pipe and weed just sitting in my bag’s front pocket. They scanned, there’s no doubt they saw it. At the time I was like “it’s fine. I think. No, it definitely is. Weed’s legal now right? Right? Yes.” Turns out yes, it is. There was no problem. There was so little in the way of problems that, as soon as I got off my bus at Lionel Groulx, I took out my pipe and had a quick puff. It wasn’t weird, I didn’t get odd looks. I just did my thing. Then riding the metro was that much more fun. I got to the Air BnB and clunkily tumbled through a discussion with the host, who spoke very little English. My very little French was a good enough match that we managed to find the words together for an extended conversation. She primarily used this extended conversation to shit on Torontonians in an extended capacity, so I’ve already had the traditional Montreal experience.

I also had the distinct pleasure of arriving hours earlier than any of my friends. That’s not even a dig. It was awesome to have time to myself, to sniff out whatever it was I wanted to do solo. Which, as it happens, was walk around for hours in the snow, eating and drinking as I roamed. I had lasagne at a bakery, got a cookie from a patisserie, then found a brew pub and chilled right out. With a few heady ales, I remembered just how much of a lifeline Wifi is on holiday. I’m not gonna lie, I legit just kind of got drunk by myself in front of the internet. Just. Like. Home. I even watched my favourite Magic streamers. What else are holidays for?

Eventually my friends arrived and the drinks kept flowing. We got wine drunk, then spirits drunk, then cheese drunk. I finally tried my Amaretto and coke combo, which, as advertised, really did taste like Dr. Pepper. I tried Grand Marnier and coke because, well, coke was basically the only mixer we had. My cocktail savvy friend chimed in with a couple of drops of fig bitters to round out the flavour, and it turns out she knows her stuff. Then we got into a round or two of Rum Can, which is its own specific thing. In short, we sat around chatting and drinking for many many hours.

The rest of the night was standard group shenanigans. One of our friends did her daily physio exercises, with another friend supplying sips of wine through a straw at regular intervals. We met our friend’s childhood soft toy, which was a nightmare incarnate. A dilpidated blue rabbit with a dead stare and faded fur. It hung from a string with all the physics of a limp corpse. We ate 11pm spaghetti, which should be a feature of any good party. We danced to Paul Simon with the volume cranked to 11. It was such a great night, and we’ve STILL got another two nights to go.

And I get to spend those nights sleeping in a maybe very creepy fuck den.

The song ended with the chorus from Edwin Starr’s “War”, sending mixed signals

When I was ten years old and away at camp, our cabin gave ourselves a military theme.

Why? I dunno. We were kids and thought guns were cool as hell. Like I said, we were kids. I guess I’d already said “when I was ten”, so I may have underlined it one too many times. Who knows though? Maybe you assumed I was some boy genius rooming with a bunch of teens. I don’t know how your brain works. Probably because I’m not a boy genius, a boy or a genius. As always, I digress. We gave ourselves a military theme. To be clear, “gave ourselves” means exactly what you think it does. We weren’t assigned themes arbitrarily. We weren’t assigned themes whatsoever. Cabins didn’t even have themes. That wasn’t part of the deal. Our cabin just decided that a) themes were cool and b) ours was gonna be military.

Cabins didn’t have themes, but at some stage we made theme songs. I think it was for some kind of activity or competition. Ours went “Cabin 14 likes the wars. If you slit our throat we’ll slit yours.” Verging on 32, I still think that line’s hilarious. We really committed to our arbitrary theme. We got hyper competitive and tried to win everything. We aced the talent show. Though we weren’t super physical, we still tried our hardest at sport type activities. When it came time for a campwide game of capture the flag, we got ultra serious. We dressed in all black for camouflage, made rambo style headbands by tying t-shirts around our foreheads and made lines on our face with mud. We tried to be strategic, choosing lesser travelled paths over the river, taking the backways wherever possible. We posted lookouts and sent members on reconnaissance missions. We got the flag and crept in behind home base. Once we were close enough, we made a run for it, evading the cabin leaders and winning the prize. I can’t remember if that was the time my best bud and I won Most Spirited Campers, but it felt like we were kings. It’s one of my many treasured childhood memories.

The youthful naivety still gives me a kick. War was this totally foreign concept. We grew up in New Zealand. It was a world away from any real conflict. Ideas of compulsory military service was unheard of. It’s not like the military even held any cultural relevance. New Zealanders aren’t big into war. Gallipoli was the only major campaign our country was involved in. Waaay back in 1915 and we still mourn every year. My brothers thought war was awesome. I didn’t quite get the military bug. If it wasn’t about dinosaurs, robots, medieval or superheroes, I wasn’t interested. Still though, I thought tanks were pretty cool, and I always wanted to fire guns like people on TV. Whenever I fired a gun at targets, I loved it. I’m not gonna lie, I still think it’s cool and fun to fire guns. Weapons still seem rad to me. I’m almost 32 and I’m just a big kid.

I’ve always drawn the line at actual violence, and that line has stayed firm. We all contain multitudes, right? We can hold many simultaneous views. Honestly, I think the machines of war are mostly pretty cool. Bombs, guns, vehicles, advanced surveillance technology. It’s all neat as shit. At the same time, I 100% wish they’d never be used against other humans. I consider war to be a total atrocity. So many needless deaths, tossed away for a cause that wasn’t theirs. So many kids who never got to grow up and out of that reckless mentality. The fantasy of renegades taking justice by force. Who could they have become if not for war? If that energy and passion were directed elsewhere? It’s fanciful to the extreme. We’re gonna continue to kill each other one way or another. Let’s be real. I’m not serving hot takes here. We all know war is bad, etc etc etc. I think I’m just getting whimsical and carried away. I can’t imagine my 16 year old self being dropped into a warzone. I’d be in no way equipped. Regardless of my “training” back in cabin 14, I would have died. Without question. I don’t have the mettle for warfare and I never did. They’d fly me back in a coffin, having accomplished nothing. Like so goddamn many others.

It was nice to be a kid. I wish everyone got to do it.

An absolutely zensational outcome

I came into this weekend with only one expectation. It didn’t happen.

Consequently, or maybe distinctly in spite of that, it’s been a wonderful weekend. Wait, “consequently” doesn’t really work, because it was a thing I really wanted to do, and not doing it cleared the way for other things I wanted to do. The only plan I had for this weekend was to go with friends out to Pursuit OCR and play. We decided to head along on Saturday. I’d thought ahead about how my body would feel and set this as my weekend centrepiece. Friends from home wanted to get brunch, so I deliberately moved it to today, as a nice, relaxing option after exhausting my body. Even my gym workout, that usually would be a Friday activity, was moved. If I was going Saturday, I wouldn’t want to be exhausted from a workout one day prior. So it was sorted. Saturday play at Pursuit, Sunday brunch with friends, open plan around that.

Then I stumbled into Friday night’s date. It kinda came together organically. So I got a surprise evening with a lovely individual. I’d figured I didn’t want to drink too much and affect my Pursuit times, which helped me reign in the amount I drank on the date. Then after the date, having not re-confirmed plans, chatted with my Pursuit friends and discovered it’d be more convenient for them to shift it a day. They had busy plans Saturday morning that’d tire them out. I got my Saturday back. With total freedom, I decided to have an easy morning, go to the gym in the afternoon (since it’d been a number of days since I’d been active), then cook a nice meal with my girlfriend in the evening. As I tumbled through the day’s motions, plans eventually came together for one of our friend couples to come over and try edibles for their first time.

It was a swell night. Since it was a pretty new experience for them, we took things slow, little pieces at a time. Mostly we just hung around and chatted, ate snacks. We gauged how the effects were coming in for them and encouraged them to speak up if they’d had any concerns or worries. With all our needs within reach, it was a really sweet time. We played music and made up for the fact that we’d all gotten overloaded and busy towards the end of 2018. It gave me this appreciation for a certain spectrum of adulthood: This notion that we were in control of a situation, and had the resources to take care of others. If our friends got into enough of a weird headspace that getting home would be too difficult, we had a spare bed. If people were hungry, we had ample food. Whatever needs required meeting, we had them. We could put those worries out of our minds and just revel in each other’s company. It was a chill way to spend the night, knowing that today’s plans were to brunch, then go out to play at Pursuit.

I woke up sore from the gym, and ready to chow down. Brunch was fantastic. The couple we met, one of them was a good high school friend. His partner came onto the scene almost a decade ago and I’d taken an instant like to her. She grew up in Toronto, so we get to catch up with them periodically. It’s always a delight. We went to my favourite neighbourhood dive and scarfed up big plates of egg dishes. We drank too much coffee and swam back through nostalgic conversation. We listened to them talk on their travels, experiences and food. It was also just great shooting the shit. They’re good people and it feels pretty fortunate to see them whenever they shoot through town.

Getting home laden with a full belly (and a head jammed with coffee), I checked up with my friends about Pursuit. It got to 2pm, the pickup time we agreed upon. No sign of them. I messaged them. They’d just gotten up. They called, and hadn’t realised it was so far out of town. Also they were exhausted from the previous day’s activities. I thought back to the Mulaney bit about “cancelling plans” being this generation’s heroin. “We mainly wanted to make plans as an excuse to hang out” my friend admitted “do you just wanna come over tomorrow night for dinner?” My body racked with DOMS, I immediately relinquished the one plan I’d made, and I’ve spent the afternoon relaxing. It’s kind of amazing what you achieve when you put expectations out of the way.

Is this how I discover Buddhism?

Day one, number two

Ready for an exercise in laziness?

Late night, little sleep, we’ve been lounging around all day. After a teenage themed New Year’s party, I characteristically threw up a little. It’d been a while. I lay on the couch with a hangover most of the day, until I eventually managed to keep down some bland crackers. By GAWD they were the best bland crackers I’ve had all year. Eventually I came back to life to hold down solid food and I’ve been eating ever since. Do what you love, love what you do, eh?

My girlfriend and I slept over in the party plounge, along with a bunch of others. We’ve been hanging out and watching movies, ringing in the new year surrounded by love, laughter and other platitudes. We watched Paddington, and it was as great as I remembered. Oh, have I mentioned how much I love Paddington yet this week? Probably. We can’t change our true natures. We’re lounging around with pillows blankets and chips watching Avengers: Infinity War. It’s a pretty good movie to pay half attention to. Hence whatever lacklustre excuse for writing this is.

My friend has a bidet. Twice today I finished pooping, got up and looked back at the bidet, incurably curious. I mentioned it to my friend, who suggested starting slow and working my way up. Beware its power, she said. Later on I had to poop again. I drank last night. It happens. I finished up my meagre pooplet and looked to my right. There was a little dial with dots of increasing size. I went for it. I turned it up by a few millimeters. I heard a quiet bubbling, but felt nothing. I notched it up more. The bubbling increased to a mild rumbling. I felt a chill underneath my butt, but nothing had touched it yet. I kept notching it up, I passed the “low” setting, the rumbling increased. Shit was getting tense. I wasn’t sweating, but I was close. I notched it up a little bit more. It was getting loud. The stream hadn’t hit me yet, but it felt close. My bum was cold. My heart was tight. It was so loud. I cranked it up a little bit more aaaand… NOPE. It was too much pressure. Metaphorically. I chickened out, turned the dial right down and jumped up off that seat. Not today. Not today.

Oh hey, the movie’s ending. Much like my failed bidet attempt, that was unremarkable.

Much like this entry.