I digress in excess on progress.

Is it weird how much of our lives are spent online now? I don’t know if I’m talking sheer time or the amount of activities we’ve relegated to digital spaces. The point is, we invest so much of ourselves in this platform. It’s a marked change from 20 years ago, but then again, so is gender. Things change. I wonder then how much we’ve changed accordingly. Have our expectations altered given our constant connectivity? Working in television, I know our expectations have definitely altered. Immediacy is the name of the game. We want things straight away on our schedule, whether this is entertainment or communication. Waiting is pretty much insufferable now. Whether it’s streamable content buffering, a release schedule or a response from someone. If you’re online, why aren’t they? Is this everyone? Or am I the lone arsehole here?

I wonder if we’ve all become more or less insufferable than 20 years ago. It’s impossible to tell, because it’s not 20 years ago, our memories aren’t that great and we can’t peer into alternate realities through some high tech pensieve. I know for certain that I expect more than I ever did, because my expectations have been continually surpassed. The world kept delivering beyond what I assumed its capabilities were. Accordingly, my beliefs of what should be capable rose. Ironically in a world that’s transcended my hopes, I’m disappointed constantly. I’ve become entitled to this idea that the world now owes me the sensation of being impressed. With artificially inflated standards, I should know that’s not gonna happen. Still, I often catch myself getting angry with a world that doesn’t owe me shit.

Oddly enough, the older generation often has the opposite problem. They’re angry that the world has progressed beyond their comfort levels. In their ironic twist, we’re achieving what they fought for and it’s making them feel insignificant. How many times have you heard the refrain of “in my day we had to…”? Safe spaces, non-binary genders, a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and identities. “You want safe spaces? In my day we had to deal with polio. You can’t handle someone calling you a boy? We were lucky if we lived to 30!” I’m being deliberately being both facetious and straw-manning. The point is, people don’t have the same struggles because you beat them. Thank you.

The wars we fight revolve less around literal bloodshed (though let’s not undermine the fact that many minorities still face disproportionate fatalities in our society) and more about wars of identity. Struggles of freedom to be who you are, they’re a good thing. Believe it or not, this is actually what you fought wars for. Your generation died specifically so that this generation could have their battles be ideological. I’m telling you folks, you’re winning. Is the concept of people wanting a safe space that offensive? Are you really that against the fight for acceptance? Or would you prefer that they suffered the same indignities you hated? Because that seems like a shitty thing to wish upon others.

At the same time, I often find myself being a shitty person without realising it. I spend so much time reading the thoughts and feelings of others online and reacting. I might read something and feel inflamed. I get these uncontrolled, unmeasured reactions in the heat of the moment. Thing is, I’m not interacting with somebody else, I’m seeing their words devoid of their delivery. I’m taking the distillation of their thoughts, lacking the emotions that birthed them, then basing my reactions on how my brain filters how I’d perceive those thoughts in my head. So I’m reading those words in my brain without taking into consideration their gestures, inflections, cadence, or backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to see why we come to so many misunderstandings when we really don’t put much effort into understanding one another. But, of course, that would take too long and immediacy is the name of the game.

We could be living in a utopia folks, but it’d take a lot of patience and hard work.

Where did “It’s 2016” go?

What? How? Fuck. Wait, WHAT? No. No. NO. Fuck. FUCK. Fuck.

I’ve got nothing.

I don’t know what happens now. It’s a bleak day here in London. The sky is black, the heavens have opened and I heard crows. Dark wings, dark words. I’m not convinced the earth isn’t crying right now. I haven’t really slept. I curled up on a small couch just before 4am, terrified that what seemed to be happening, was. I hoped that by going to sleep I’d wake up to find it had all gone away. Instead I tossed and turned as my mind did back flips. Imagining foreboding realities where a soulless demagogue rode a wave of hateful rhetoric, giving voice to the bigoted, oppressive, angry and violent undercurrent of a global superpower. I woke to find those nightmares made flesh. This is not the same world as it was when I closed my eyes. Existence has been compromised, Cronenberged. Nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.

We’re all complicit in some way. We laughed at his insane ramblings and disconnect. Mocked his inability to capably voice policy. We clicked, watched. We paid attention to an entitled misogynist megalomaniac who’s never been told “no” in his life. Whatever our intentions or views, we helped give him the spotlight and this platform elevated him. People who conflated notoriety and popularity with intelligence and ability saw him as someone worth listening to In this society where we’re judged by likes, retweets and impressions, how would they know any better? We made him and I am so sorry.

I’m so sorry for every non cis male who finally got the chance to put their support behind a female candidate. I’m sorry for every generation to follow who’ll think their dreams aren’t viable on the basis of their gender. I’m sorry for people of colour, LGBTQ+ folk and anyone else who faces discrimination or systematic oppression because of who they are. I’m sorry for anyone who’s afraid, angry or hurt right now. I’m sorry that you weren’t heard or that nobody listened. I’m sorry that apologising won’t change a fucking thing, otherwise I’d never stop.

What happened to hope? Progress does not mean going backwards.

Is this regular behaviour? I’m starting a movement here.

Is anyone remotely surprised by Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment? The guy has proven repeatedly to be racist, aggressive, dishonest and misogynist. Is the idea that he treats women like they’re coffee mugs really out of left field? We’ve seen Trump’s type again and again. They’re the same entitled shitbags who’d flout the law and get bailed out by rich parents. They’re the kids who never learn from their mistakes because real consequences don’t exist in their lives. They’re the ones who are taught that the world is theirs for the grabbing, and they go on to treat everyone like shit, because they feel like the world owes them something. They’re also the first to get outraged by infringements on their worldview, because they don’t believe in boundaries.

I live in a bubble, so I don’t know what the other side sees when they go on Facebook. I’m sure there’s a large contingent of men loudly proclaiming “men don’t talk like this”. Bullshit. I went to high school. I know what it sounds like when immature men are deep in the throes of raging testosterone. I know the kinds of things they say. Yes, women are objectified (in the purest sense of the word- treated like non-sentient objects) by high school kids, for sure. In truth, I haven’t heard this kind of locker room talk in years. Most male locker rooms I’ve been in are usually full of silent, hurried men trying desperately not to look at one another. Because toxic masculinity and gay panic. That being said, I’m certain that there are 25+ year old high schoolers who never really grew up and still act the same way they did in the midst of puberty. Men like Donald Trump.

I’m thankful that I don’t seem to know guys like this any more. It’s a wonderful existence to not be constantly reminded first hand of the shittiness inherent to a patriarchal society. This is not something to get complacent about. This kind of rhetoric is obviously still floating around and it should be guys like me, those who are lucky enough to have grown up, to help inform these kind of Cro-Magnons that they should have evolved by now. It’s not enough to desire change without stepping in and helping where we can. Do you think men who treat women like things are gonna listen to their opinions? Or are they more likely to open their ears to someone they can’t push around?

Are you someone who can stand in and say a few words the next time you hear talk like this? If you are, the next time you hear the words of a teenager coming from the mouth of a grown man, let him know why that’s not okay, why that language is damaging on a personal and societal level. And if he doesn’t listen, wait till he leaves the locker room and shit on his spare clothes.

Because that’s what moral fibre is for.

Talking about talking.

Well there goes that experiment. Barring yesterday’s gig review (I needed to get it done and I was too lazy to write twice in one day), my attempt at doing a week of dialogue was a mixed bag. It’s not a skill I’ve refined, nor did I put a lot of time into each entry. Writing dialogue is simply an area I’ve often been interested in, but haven’t veered towards. Thus my week (six entries in all) involved trying a few different scenarios on for size.

Each entry involved very little pre-planning. Most of them I toyed with in my head during my workday. I tried to imagine basic scenarios with some kind of differential. There didn’t need to be conflict per se, but I knew things would work better if the characters could be parsed from one another. The one stipulation I had for the week was to not mention gender. Why? Because I don’t know whether my dialogue comes across in a gendered fashion. I was curious about gender neutral notion, to see how characters would evolve stripped of descriptors. The goal was to have them sculpted by their views/opinions and not to have that coloured by preconceived assumptions. How much does a character’s gender shape how you internally define that character? I don’t know how important it really is, being a socially constructed concept and all. I’m not gonna claim some kind of “I don’t see gender” mantle, I definitely had gender in mind when I wrote. I’m curious to hear if any of you readers placed certain genders on certain characters and how that matched up to my views.

I quickly learned that I have a habit (as I’m sure most people do) of creating characters as a mouthpiece for myself. I wanted to move past it as best I could, but “best I could” meant that characters were often pop culturally obsessed or intentionally possessing widened perspective. I didn’t want to straight up write two dimensional cardboard cutouts, but simultaneously was writing each entry in just over 30 minutes, which didn’t give a hell of a lot of time for development. It’s damned hard to tap into the kind of empathy that lets you think like an entirely different person. I feel like the characters that felt less developed were those more distanced from myself. I tried not to set up straw man characters, to make sure they were at least more nuanced than sticking to one central conceit. Still, a few came off a little stagnant.

It’s really evident how much I was stumbling by reading the first few lines of each conversation. I began each piece with one line and in my head improvised the dialogue that would flow from that point. I didn’t know how well I’d deal with conflict. The friend calling the other friend out on being narcissistic, tensions of a date that wasn’t working out, the introvert vs extrovert conversation. That one was actually the piece that had me sweating. I’m pretty extroverted and don’t have a lot of experience looking at things from an introverted lens. I didn’t want to short-change either side, but didn’t have as much capital of experience to put behind the introvert. How was I supposed to drive their through line of action without creating a narrow petulant teenager?

The other tension that surfaced was attempting to not make everything a lesson or have some kind of greater resolution. Characters didn’t have to evolve in half an hour. Situations didn’t necessarily have to come back around into a verbal ouroboros just because it was a neat bow to tie. People don’t. Situations rarely have a clean ending. Yet I have this predilection for personal growth and change that’s almost patronising. Once I start writing characters, I want the best for them. Killing my darlings is hard and while they don’t all have to be Mary Sues, I just want them to be happy. I want characters to undergo challenges, to face up to them, get hurt and come out better off in the end. Most of all I wanted conversations to feel like they could’ve come from real people. Like my characters could come off the page enough for people to identify with a little.

Is dialogue something I’ll dip back into? I think so. It’s a nice way of working out how to set a scene rather than falling into my patterns of stream of consciousness ranting. I want to try different differentials and see how they work. I’d like to play with age, status, gender and feel out those tensions. Like everything else I do in this project, my fervent wish is to improve, to experiment more and understand the hows and whys of stylistic changes.

Cheers for coming along for the ride.

Let’s be real here. There is no alternate reality in which I don’t see Space Jam 2.

Why do I feel like I’m locked into a week of dialogue now? I don’t even think I bothered to think of characters this time.

S: But what if they don’t get the most important part of the franchise?
R: Jordan’s retired. He could come back. He’s probably just living off legacy sales of nike stuff. I’m sure he could make time in his busy schedule for a project of such artistic import.
S: Jordan? I’m not talking about Jordan. Clearly Bill Murray is the crucial cog in this well oiled machine.
R: Aside from the Loonie Tunes? And, like, the awakening for furries worldwide?
S: Do you think Bugs ever does that girl bunny dress up thing for Lola? You know, for spicy nights in the bedroom?
R: I wonder if that was an awakening for people who like dressing in drag. Bugs Bunny: Drag icon.
S: It is pretty fun, you know.
R: Space Jam? Once a year I get this insane itch to watch it again. Maybe some things should never be unearthed though. “What is dead can never die” and all that.
S: I was talking about dressing in drag. It’s fun. Drag parties are fun.
R: Oh?
S: Yeah, it’s fun to get into the spirit of the whole thing. Borrow something from a friend and dress like you normally wouldn’t.
R: I’ve never gone to one. How many years do you think we still have them for?
S: What do you mean? Still have them for?
R: Well with non gender binary kind of stuff making its way into the mainstream, how long is there gonna be a novelty to wearing clothes from another gender? Like, isn’t it gonna be pretty arbitrary if everyone can wear what they want whenever they want?
S: I guess. I never really thought of that. Wait, does that mean I need to feel shitty about this now? Like, am I offending people by doing the drag party?
R: I don’t have a good answer for you. I really don’t know. Do you know non-gender binary people?
S: One or two.
R: Maybe ask them? I can’t sit here and pretend to know. I’m just here thinking about the validity of Space Jam in 2016.
S: Was there validity to Space Jam in 1996? We both know the website holds up in any case.
R: Michael Jordan was a pretty big deal. Like, everyone loved him. I loved him and I didn’t even play sports. He just seemed awesome.
S: It’s funny, but the target audience for Space Jam 2 would probably be more excited for Bill Murray than any basketball player. I mean hell, I’m one of them.
R: Why is Murray so important to you here? Is this because of that Wes Anderson binge you did last summer?
S: There’s just something about Murray. Remember the original? He was this wistful benevolent spirit just wandering through the film spreading joy. Think about it. He wasn’t even playing a character. That Neuman guy from Seinfeld? He had a character. Bill Murray though? He was just Bill Murray playing basketball in Loonie Tunes land. I like to think that’s what Bill Murray does in his spare time, y’know? Just traipses in and out of various intellectual properties for the sake of something to do. I’m pretty sure he’s just Dream from Sandman, but for movies.
R: Do you think Bill Murray ever dresses in drag?
S: I can’t think of anyone more comfortable in their skin than Bill Murray. I’m sure he just wears whatever is around him. Like, if Björk’s swan dress was on his living room floor you can bet your sweet ass he’d put it on and act like he wasn’t wearing a large fake swan.
R: Yeah, but wouldn’t you too?
S: You’re right. It’s a pretty awesome dress.
R: Think they’ll get Björk for Space Jam 2?
S: We can only hope.

Truancy and unseemly behaviour.

Did you know that dabbing a little clear nail polish onto runs in pantyhose can stop those runs from spreading further?

How do I know this? Because developed a run in my pantyhose last night. Why was I wearing pantyhose last night? Because it was part of my costume. What costume was this? Why a sexy schoolgirl costume of course. Why was I dressed as a sexy schoolgirl? Because the party had a school theme, obviously. What else was I supposed to wear?

Real talk though, dressing in female clothing is fun as fuck. Failing anything it’s a chance to experience how another gender dresses. Before last night I knew that runs in hose were a thing that happened. I’d heard female friends complain about them before, but never paid them any mind. Oh, they happen alright and it’s alarming how quickly one little hole expands. Before I’d even left the house, nay, before I’d even left the room where I put them on I already had a run. The tightly woven fabric snagged a little splinter off my wooden floor and the process had begun. Given that I was walking around without shoes the whole night, I could see this virulent gap growing next to the pad of my foot. I was worried that by the end of the evening my toes would be exposed to the harsh air, unprotected by this thin mesh. That’s something quite nice actually. The feeling of the wind on hosed legs is pretty pleasant, something I’d never know if I hadn’t garbed them in sexy thigh-highs.

I mean, there was more to the costume than just pantyhose. On the event page I inquired if anyone had a skirt big enough to fit me. A friend chimed in with not only a skirt, but a whole costume: Thigh-highs, a garter belt, two choices of skirt and a tie. All I needed was a white shirt. I couldn’t remember if I owned a white shirt other than my good white shirt and I certainly didn’t want that one getting ruined. Especially after the whole debacle with that fucking shirt in the first place. I went to the local derelict mall that’s on loan from the 80s and bought one. Now, the only cheap (sub $5) shirt I could find was a women’s M. On my frame it was impossible to close the top three buttons. Suitable, I thought, given I was looking to up the sexiness quotient anyway. I purchased the shirt assuming that at worst I could always flex, hulk out and tear the shirt for kicks.

My friend and girlfriend helped me dress as we cycled through options. The shirt was certainly tight, but also restrictive enough that reaching above my head was not really an option. Like, what if I had to catch a high flying frisbee or something? We used another shirt I owned that I’d never much liked and tied a neat little bow for some scandalous midriff. I was showed how to bunch up pantyhose before stepping into them. They fit smoothly and the mini rubber tops stopped them from slipping. The first skirt was perhaps the length of my middle finger, so I got the smallest undies I could find in hopes that they’d be short enough not to show. Just, as it turns out. My friend clipped the garter in and I had a peek. My bum was framed pretty nicely, which had my girlfriend drooling a little. Perv. We ended up swapping the skirt for one with a little more length. You know, since the slightest provocation would have me poking out the front. I was the only one who didn’t know how to properly tie a tie, so the gals sorted that out. Looking pretty sassy, I grabbed my school bag and we headed out the door.

The party was a blast and it was fantastic dressing up. The big lesson I learned came as we were walking up the road to the party. I had something in my shoe, so I lifted up my foot, pulled off the shoe and shook it out, only to hear the gals cracking up. I’d just unintentionally flashed the whole neighbourhood. How unbecoming.

They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.

Disclaimer: I don’t know how this will turn out, I’m not expecting much. I could wake up tomorrow and think what the fuck did I write? I don’t know. I just can’t not write something.

The Ghomeshi verdict was released today and the not guilty verdict landed with a resounding thud. There’s an emotional drainage going about that’s all too severe. I’m not a particularly informed or knowledgeable person on matters of sexual assault and trauma. It’s a reality that, on the basis of my gender, I haven’t had to deal with on a personal level. However, the stories my female friends have shared are nearly endless. As a guy whose daily life doesn’t feature an endless barrage of threatening behaviour including (but not limited to) assumptions of ignorance, ineptitude or weakness, expectations of emotional labour, unwanted sexual advances, physical, verbal or emotional assault, I figure my options are to believe one of two things:

  • There is a global conspiracy involving women crying wolf in a ploy for attention, sympathy, exposure and power.
  • Or that these “stories” happen frequently, day in and day out. That the portion I hear about is an infinitesimally small percentage of  these occurrences. That by virtue of gender, women have to deal with things that men would never think of because it’s so far out of their experiences. That spaces we men consider to be benign or safe could hold very real threats to women for no more than their “crime” of existing.

I can understand (which is not the same as agreeing) how so many men could not believe the second option. If something doesn’t fit into your lived experiences or world view, it’s hard to empathise with it. Most people don’t believe in mythical creatures like dragons because we haven’t seen dragons before us. It’s easy to dismiss them as works of fiction. If you’d met a dragon that would change your outlook, right? If a dragon had swooped down, lunged or breathed fire in your direction, that’d be terrifying. Just because you didn’t suffer physical injury, a narrow escape would still leave you pretty shaky I’m sure. I could see it being all the more terrifying because you didn’t think it was something that even could’ve happened to you.

Then what if you tried to tell people, but their response was “that’s silly, dragons don’t exist”? You had no marks or physical scars from the encounter, no proof beyond your word that it’d happened. They’d never seen a dragon, they had no evidence that they loomed among us, but their lack of evidence didn’t suddenly make your life threatening experience any less real. You were legitimately fearful for your life and nobody would listen to your fears in a judgement free capacity. What if every time you told people, they chided you and told you that you were crazy? You’d suffered through the terror of slavering jaws and searing hot flame, but because it didn’t fit into their life’s experiences they didn’t have enough trust or faith in you to give your trauma the benefit of belief. If you kept hearing that you were crazy, would you keep coming forward with your admissions? Or keep it to yourself out of fear of your personal credibility being reduced to zero? If being honest and forthcoming about your experiences would equate to nothing more than opening yourself to slander, insult and lowering yourself in the eyes of the public? I’m sure that’d make you feel alone, vulnerable, frightened and insignificant.

The dragon thing seems glib, but living in a culture that consistently undermines the experiences of victims is anything but. I’m not the most observant fellow out there, but even I’ve witnessed instances of women being made to feel uncomfortable in public spaces. Encroaching of personal space, vulgar, sexual and undesired advances. Men prioritising their desires over respect for women’s autonomy. Treating them like objects and a means to an end instead of free willed people. It happens constantly and so often the male response is apathetic or dismissive. Because we don’t have to deal with these issues, clearly they’re not issues at all. “Bitches be crazy”, ad infinitum. Emotional outbursts are criticised as unreasonable, an unmeasured reaction. Of course these reactions are judged as illogical. The male logic often follows that these things don’t happen, therefore a visceral reaction doesn’t adhere to the laws of logic. Fuck this. An unwillingness or inability to look beyond things within your world view does not mean your view is always right, it just makes you smug.

You may not be able to see the world as they do, but that’s because they navigate life with their own series of rules for survival. In 2016 we still live in a society that tells women they need to mitigate their behaviour in order to curb the impulses of the men around them. What if I told you that you constantly had to be prepared in case someone felt like stabbing you? If they decided they wanted their knife in your belly, it was your own fault for being there when that impulse overtook them. How would that make any sense?

I already feel like emotional weight stopped me from making sense a while back. For fear of invoking some “bitches be crazy” parallel, I’m gonna bring this train into the station with a simple suggestion:

If you’re a man who believes the “crying wolf” option, try finding an important woman in your life, someone you trust implicitly. With their explicit consent (and it’s understandable if they wouldn’t want to talk about it), try asking them if they’ve ever experienced situations that’ve made them feel threatened or unsafe. Try to listen (the word “listen” should be triple underlined) in a judgement free capacity to what they felt, why they felt that way. If this is a person you trust on most matters, why should this be any different?

Why is it so hard for men to just believe women? Is it possibly because deep down you fear what their truth says about the world we live in?