Am I Billy Corgan? ‘Cause I’m practicing my future embrace

I think I over-coffee’d. Let’s go.

I’ve been wondering lately about the state of this here writing project. It often feels like something I’m compelled to do through obligation, rather than desire. I don’t sit down to the keyboard with a brain full of ideas that scream out for a canvas, I sit down with the hopes that something will be on this page once 30 minutes are up. It was one thing when I was working my old job, desperate for a scrap of creativity in my life. I’d get to the end of the day, and process my feelings on the page. My frustration, anger, stress, angst, and angostura bitterness. Also bizarre observations. For some time I’ve been possessed by this reckless need for an outlet to all the murk that’s been clogging up my brain. These days, there’s a lot less of it.

I don’t know if it’s just that happiness doesn’t sell, but it’s like I don’t know what happened to all my complaints. In general, I’m quite okay these days. My work now encourages the kind of creativity I craved, and at the end of a workday I find myself having spent most of it on the job. I feel dried up and satisfied, instead of having kept it all crammed in. I’ve found it harder to access the font of imagination I accessed out of necessity, because I’m now able to channel that into something I care about. What am I saying?

I’m saying nothing new, effectively. As ever, I wonder how long this project will go for. I’ve long just assumed it’s indefinite. For many years, I needed it to function better. It helped as a form of self-therapy, and let me work through a bunch of stuff. Of course it was mostly nonsense, as it is now. It’s not like becoming happy helped me transition from a goofy rascal to an upstanding citizen. I’m still on my bullshit big time, it just smells different. Not better, different. The idea of putting an end to I Have My Doubts is old as time, if we’re talking the past six years that is. I don’t know if I’ll ever pull that trigger, but I think it’s okay to constantly check in with behaviours and whether or not they contribute meaning to your life.

As it stands, I think I’ve written straight up garbage for the past few months. Really. The idea of a struggling artist is tired and worn out, but I certainly think my content was more interesting when I had more conflict in my life. I’m not being self-deprecating, and I’ll freely acknowledge when I’ve put something to paper I’m proud of. I know that the best stuff I tend to put together comes when I’m feeling sincere, heartfelt and vulnerable. Nostalgia, pain and romance seem to be my M.O. I don’t know how much of that I’ve been going through lately. I’ve been having a genuinely nice time, and my work/life balance has allowed me to feel less hectic. I’ve slowed my roll, and it’s siphoned off some of the steam that pushed me. Look, I’m not complaining that I’m happy and more even keeled, it just hasn’t translated into great writing.

This post is another in a long line of check-ins that effectively say the same thing. I don’t know whether or not this is forever. It’s important to think about what this project is for. Am I writing content for others? Or sifting through my brain, and getting thoughts in order? The answer can be both, but I don’t know that it always is. I think that’s okay, and that I don’t need to have a concrete answer. For the time being, this page is the best way to work out if I’m still alive, and I think that’s as good a reason as any to keep going. It keeps me accountable. I’m sure that every now and again I’ll be able to look back and see where I was. That seems like a gift to future me, and I’m here for it now.

That’s enough for me.

Yes alarms and yes surprises, please

Last night I set my alarm for work.

My girlfriend and I were readying for bed. I say readying, but I was naked, with the covers pulled up to my neck all cosy-like. I looked at my alarm. I thought out loud “I think I’m gonna set my alarm to 7am instead of 7.15. I wanna make sure I arrive early to prep for my shift.” She blinked and looked back at me, surprised. “Oh?” She remarked “that’s a big difference.” I thought to myself and agreed. I hated my last job. I dreaded going to work, knowing that nothing but disappointment and coffee were going to greet me at my desk. I’d think about the endless emails and urgent changes. I’d think about how we were permanently short-staffed, and the revolving door nature of the department meant we’d never not be. I’d think about my co-workers, and how much they struggled day to day. I’d think about how emotionally drained I’d be leaving the office, to have a break before heading back to do the same thing the next day. I’d think about my weekends, the desperate urgency that accompanied my reprieve from work. Most weekday mornings, I’d think about all of this before I even stepped out the door. I’d get up late, arrive when I felt like it, and leave early. I had no shits to give.

These days I think about what shows I’ll “get” to do, not “have” to do. I think about the kids with low vision who’ll get to watch cartoons because of my work. I think about my bike ride, my heart racing as I zip up hills. I think about my co-workers, all super friendly guys, who look out for one another and offer help whenever they can. I think about my bosses, who trust us as professionals and provide us with whatever we need to get our jobs done. I think of work life balance, and achieving it for the first time. I think of the difference between the unrealistic expectations of the past job, and the support I get in this one. I think of the specialised skills this job requires, the bizarre convergence with my own, and how much I’m learning. I think of how easy it is to get to sleep these days, without my brain freewheeling excessively. I think of how manic I was all of eight months ago, when I seriously thought I was losing touch with reality. I think of the constant cycles of negativity that used to reverberate around my skull. I think of the ex co-workers I still talk to, how they’re always in a state of crisis. I think of how much I like doing the work. Repeatedly doing retakes to get it right. I think about the complete lack of hesitation I have in staying late. I think of all this, and set my alarm to arrive early for my shift.

I think I’m happy, and I think I like it.

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.

I just wanna stop, and thank your baby

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada.

As someone who technically immigrated (I was already a citizen, does that count?), Thanksgiving doesn’t have a lot of cultural resonance for me. I’m largely unaware of the historical context of the holiday. I’ve heard that it mostly revolves around Colonial settlers taking land from the natives, which in turn has been whitewashed for a more positive narrative. Seems not worth celebrating, but okay. Aside from the concept of eating- a concept I’m intimately (don’t ask how intimately) familiar with- parts of it still feel foreign to me. Turkey: Turkey isn’t a common meat of choice back in NZ. I’d say that lamb probably occupies its space in the cultural holiday consciousness. A big leg of lamb with gravy and mint sauce. Choice as, bro. Cranberry sauce doesn’t really appear much back home. Neither does pumpkin anything outside soup. I’m not used to sweet pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is still a so-so dessert in my eyes and heart. Pumpkin beer is weird. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have never appealed much to me. Not because I have any fundamental issue with sweet caffeinated drinks. I love quirky sweet things. I’ve just rarely enjoyed anything I’ve gotten from Starbucks.

As an aside [should’ve been an alternate name for this writing project -Ed], I had the first PSL that I’ve ever enjoyed, yesterday. It was from an independent cafe in Simcoe County. I saw their sign for PSLs, and I asked them if it was the usual syrup. “Oh no, we make all our syrups in house. We use pureed pumpkin and a bunch of spices for this one.” I was sold. If I was gonna have a good one, this seemed like my best shot. Turns out it was yum. Very sweet, so I have no earthly idea if the underlying coffee was any good. Still, new experience!

So aside from eating, I’m a Thanksgiving newbie. The past few years, we’ve had an off and on again tradition of Orphan’s Thanksgiving. It’s an excellent excuse (as if we need one) for the aforementioned eating. It’s a better excuse (as if we need one) to have friends around, and a questionable excuse (do I need to repeat myself again?) to drink a lot. We’ve usually had this running game going at our Thanksgivings, that at any point someone can make a toast, and everyone has to join them. The toaster will say “I’m happy for ________”, everyone cheers, raises their glasses and has a drink. It gets silly and abstract, and that’s part of it. This year I’m working. I opted to take a shift so a co-worker could spend the evening with his family and young children. I’m pretty much missing out on big Thanksgiving events. Boo hoo.

That said, I’m not without thanks. This year has been huge for me. Massively transformative, and I think it’s worth holding gratitude for that. This year marked the lowest I’ve yet sunk into depression. My brain was abuzz with thoughts that, while not entirely incorrect, spiralled out of proportion and took over my conscious mind. Ordinary operation function became difficult to maintain, and my mental health dipped into dangerous territory. Seeking help and taking anti-depressants turned things around in such a huge way. I regained a lot of what made me, me. The meds enabled me to take control, instead of losing myself. They helped me get more in touch with what I wanted, and finding ways to head towards those things. I hold enormous amounts of gratitude for my friends and girlfriend who destigmatised their use, and allowed me to not feel shame in accepting help. I’m so thankful to have a doctor who actually listened to my concerns, trusted me, counselled me, while ultimately putting the choice in my hands. I’m thankful for my boss at the time. While the job itself caused me no end of existential stress, she really came through with compassion and lenience, allowing me to take the space and time I needed when I needed it. If I needed to work from home, leave early for a consult, if I felt mentally foggy and couldn’t finish the day, she trusted me to know what I could do, and to speak up when I wasn’t able to work. I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful for finally finding something professionally that lights me up. I really do love my job, and even when I’m not doing my favourite kind of programming, I’m still tremendously happy for the floor to be so high. I’m so grateful to be providing a service that actively helps people, that furthers accessibility, especially for children with low vision. I’m thankful for my bosses, who trust me as a professional and provide me with the resources I need. I’m thankful for my co-workers, who are all lovely guys, only too happy to share tips or knowledge. Although it’s wholly new territory for me, I haven’t faced one iota of condescension since beginning this role, and it makes me feel so much better about the job I’m doing.

I’m so thankful, as ever, for the community I’ve found here. I’m surrounded by warm, creative and explorative people. It’s rare that I’m ever truly bored, lonely, or unstimulated, and most of that comes with the support my friends give so freely. It constantly makes me want to give back as much as I can.

Mostly though, I’m thankful to have so much gratitude in my life. I want to hold onto that for as long as I can.

Core blimey, that’s a hell of an apple

Greetings from Simcoe County!

Today here at I Have My Doubts, we’ve gone rural. Small town edition. There’s a Giant Tiger here and everything.

Months ago, a friend was attending a Stag and Doe here, and invited me along. It was a swell day away. I met her parents and kicked stones, dawdling around the quiet streets. I had a great time, so I jumped at the chance for another visit. This time the county fair was on, and I figured that was excuse enough. We Go Train-ed here and I, in a dastardly fit of unintentional malice, forgot to tap on at Union Station. Don’t dob on me, but I didn’t tap at the other side either. It was a genuine mistake not tapping on, but there was gonna be an $85 fine if I got caught. We actually tried scoping out spots along the line, but we didn’t have time to jump off the train, tap, and get back on without missing our connecting bus in Aldershot. No conductors came past to check, so I ended up getting a free ride. I feel like an outlaw CoolGuy right now, so I’m basking in it. I rarely get to feel so Devil May Care.

Part of the selling point of the fair was an AC/DC cover band. My friend and I tried to work out if we knew ten AC/DC songs. I listed the ones I knew: Back in Black, Thunderstruck, Highway to Hell, You Shook Me All Night Long, Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution, Whole Lotta Rosie, Hell’s Bells. That was it. Seven songs. The gig was fun. They were aggressively just okay, which is what made it so fun. I was filled to the brim with sarcasm, and I thought about it. What was I gaining from that? I had nothing to prove. Putting distance between myself and what I was watching made no sense. Why not be participatory, and enjoy it for what it was? It’s not like I’d be seeing the real band any time soon. So the lead singer wasn’t quite nailing his impression, he was impassioned. The band were putting their all in, and that was well worth celebrating. Also I’d forgotten just how much I love th track “Hell’s Bells”. Its effortlessly cool. The guitar line is so subtly sinister without trying. The chorus is almost throwaway. Like they’re don’t give a shit, but somehow put together this atmospheric experience. It’s a rad track. ACaDaCa have a bunch of goodies, when you think about it. There are also a ton of formulaic tracks, but honestly who gives a shit? I danced a bunch with my friend and her mum. We had a fucking great time.

The show finished at 9.30pm. NINE THIRTY PEE EM. We still had hours to wander the fair.

There were food stalls, midway rides and games. I knew one thing, I wanted a candy apple. It’d been literal decades. I remembered really enjoying one as a kid, and for years I’d been wanting to relive that experience. I mentioned it to my friend and her family. Her mum immediately noped out. “Only if you want to say goodbye to your teeth.” I laughed, but honestly didn’t really get what she meant. Ten seconds after purchasing a candy apple, I entirely got what she meant. Firstly, getting through that candy exoskeleton was a chore and a half. Just physically demanding. The initial bite was legit work, pushing hard with my clearly underutilised jaw. I’m a chatterbox, I thought I had jaw strength on lockdown. Apparently a candy apple is a big ol’ challenge. Once I managed to push through however, the candy stuck straight to my teeth. Like a ginormous K-Bar (for my Kiwi readers). Half the practice of eating the apple was peeling layers of candy from my teeth, to enable another bite. A trying experience, though overall I liked it. I think. Maybe this isn’t the first time in decades I’ve had one, but I keep forgetting what a trial it is, then get coerced back into it by innate goodwill towards candy apples. Who knows? I also had a bacon battered corn dog, which may actually have been keto. A Lot, is what it was. Just pork wrapped in saltier pork. I don’t regret having tried the experience, but I didn’t drink nearly enough water to compensate. At the rate I’m going today, I could drink The Nile.

We played Skee-Ball and won zero prizes. We went on The Musiq Express, a little sloped rail ride playing music. The cars bobbed up and down, while ascending and descending a small slope. They went pretty quick, enough that my friend pointedly sat on the inside so I didn’t squish her through centrifugal force. Then they went backwards. It was a neat, simple pleasure, and we had a goddamn blast.

I’ve never been to the CNE. It seems obnoxious and overblown. A county fair though? Just my speed. The right amount of tacky and fun, with goofy lights and silly stuffed animal prizes. A++, would visit again.

Complimentality

I had a great time at JFL42. One of my favourite things was the amount of time I spent hanging at Comedy Bar on late nights. I ran into a bunch of comics that I’d seen perform. I made an effort to let them know, with specificity, just how much I’d enjoyed their sets. I figure that feels nice to hear. Then I thought to myself, why don’t I extend these kind of compliments to people I actually know?

So I made a Facebook thread to do just that. I asked friends to comment if they’d like a compliment. Here are the compliments I gave, with names and identifying details removed. This should give some idea of the fantastic people I’m surrounded by:

  • You’ve introduced me to so many things I adore, and you’re my first port of call for anything pop-cultural. I love gossiping with you, seeing comedy with you, and I’m a massive fan of everything you write. Also every JFL42 is that much sweeter, because it makes me thankful I met you.
  • I’ve never known you to be anything but utterly true to yourself, and I think it’s something more people should strive to emulate. I felt this really strongly being at your home, and seeing how you’d filled it so utterly with your creativity.
  • Your friendship has defined my life. I would not have developed my sense of humour or taste for the absurd without you. We’ve had countless adventures that helped me experience things I would not have, and you totally brought me out of my shell. You always stood up for me, and encouraged me to be as creative as I could, which makes sense because you bleed creativity. I love you utterly, and I always will.
  • You are a fucking force of nature. No matter how much life conspires to push you down, you refuse to take shit from anyone. It’s unreal how quickly your brain works, and the connections it draws. I have never met anyone even half as good as you at making puns, and I totally include myself in that. No matter how many times I tell that I admire your writing, I worry that you’ll never understand just how much I do. It’s very evident that you’re a force of good in everyone’s life that you touch, and I’m sure we’re all immensely grateful to have met you. I know I consider it a personal triumph to have been able to spend more time with you recently, and I’m always thankful when I get to.
  • You’re one of my absolute favourite people. You’re so funny and talented, and it kills me that you don’t realise just how much. I’ve almost never not seen you walk into a room and win everyone over, and the rare occasions where this doesn’t happen seem to stem from your aptitude in reading emotions and trying not to take up space. You’re incredibly insightful, and I’m always glad to hear your perspective, because it greatly widens my own. I’m constantly amazed by your ability to get shit done on a dime. When you want to do something, you just do it. No hesitation, and I wish i had your drive in making things happen. Not only that, but I know just how much work you put into taking care of others, and it’s just one of the many reasons people love being around you so much. I’m excited to get cracking on our upcoming projects, and can’t wait to see what we put together.
  • I barely know you IRL, but I’m very glad that hasn’t stopped you from chiming in on FB. You’re always stopping by with something insightful to say, or a really interesting link. Don’t think I don’t notice, because I clearly do. Thank you. I’m always happy when I get a notification from you.
  • Obviously I adore your hugs, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I feel like you subscribe to this notion that you’re spacey and quiet. I seem to find that when you talk it’s usually well considered, and really adds to the conversation. I wish more people (myself included) would learn to listen. I’ve been utterly impressed at how deeply you’ve been diving into photography, and it’s staggering to see just how much you’ve grown. Every time you have a new shoot, I can’t believe how good it looks. Between composition and balance, things just pop when they’re seen through your lens. You’ve been doing really creative shoots and constantly come up with out there, unintuitive ideas. I’m so impressed at your ability to learn and grow within your craft, and I’m always stoked to see of your work. Also, selfishly, all of the best shots of me over the past few years have come from you. Every time I change my profile picture, it seems to be one of yours.
  • I got really stoked when I found out you’d be part of that podcast recording. You’ve got an incredibly friendly temperament, and have been abundantly warm to me every single time we’ve hung out. I’ve only known you for a short time, but I’m really impressed at how you carry yourself. I haven’t had a ton of spare time lately, but I’m looking forward to hanging out with you and your lovely pup again soon.
  • You’re an abundantly bright and friendly person who makes a clear effort to make others comfortable. A lot of the time I’ve known you, you’ve been under a state of personal upheaval, but I’ve never once seen you take it out on others. I can only imagine what that takes, to offer that generosity seemingly without trying. We’ve had some wonderful time spent together, and I’m so glad I got to experience my first beef dip at Harry’s Charbroiled with you. That was a fantastic evening, and it’ll always be first to mind when I think of you. Also, you’re a great dance partner!
  • When I met you, you were co-hosting a fantastic storytelling evening. You were a published author, and ran an entire conference. I was amazed to see not only how capable you were, but how little interest you had in half-arsing things. I got to know you more, and discovered both how sweet and genuine you were. You’ve always been so open with me. It’s a quality I long for all of my important people to have. I see the intention you put towards everything you do, and I love it. I always try to make it to any party you put on, because people know they’re entering a space where effort is celebrated. You create a space, fill it with atmosphere, then gift that to others.
  • You’re a rainbow incarnate. You bring joy like it’s your god-given mission. You’re the first to open your arms and let people in. Your hugs are so good, that the sensations linger long after you’ve let go.
  • I don’t know if we’re capable of producing an awkward silence. I’m always thrilled to spend time with you, because it’s effortlessly stimulating and hilarious. You’re one of my absolute favourite conversational partners. I’d be intimidated by the constant scale of your ambition, if I didn’t know how beyond capable you were. I admire how enthusiastically you throw yourself into adventure, and your willingness to play along. I think my life gets incrementally better the more I see you.
  • I couldn’t believe how quickly we slid from one conversation into regular chats. You met me when I was going through a pretty shitty transition, and I was in a weird state. Somehow that didn’t deter you, and I found myself with a new friend in the building. I love how much you seek out knowledge to pursue your passions. It’s a joy to see, and I’m a little envious about it myself.
  • It’s rare to meet someone who operates on so many levels simultaneously. You’re a bratty prankster, and I love every minute of it. If nobody else is on your team, I usually am. I’m never worried about filling time when we hang out, because we don’t even need to try. Conversations just flow. They’re punchy and interesting, vulnerable and hilarious. You really know how to tell a story top to bottom, and each one is captivating. You’ve got this talent for noticing peculiar details that few do, and they add rich colour to your words. I love hearing the way you talk about music, themes and ideas. Just how deeply you read the lyrics, and lines between them. You get touched by art, and bring that back to others. You, more than anyone else, fostered me towards radical intimacy with my male friends. It was something I’d always kept at arms length. I always feel safe sharing difficult feelings with you, because I know you’ll treat them with care. In fact, the only thing that makes me happier than being able to say nice things about you, is knowing how much you’ll fucking hate it. I love you man.
  • I think you may be the most enthusiastic person I’ve ever known. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and utterly refuse to compromise who you are. There’s a reason people always love being around you, and it’s because you lift them up with you. It’s impossible for anyone to feel dour when you’re on a mission to cheer them up.
  • I feel like many people with your knowledge and experience would resort to arrogance, and it’s a marvel that you don’t. You have stories aplenty, and it’s obvious that you’re an endlessly curious person. Also FB algorithms are weird, and I often see your posts on Marvel threads. You’re consistently giving measured and thoughtful responses to angry male nerds who shoot from the hip, and I make sure to read your comments whenever they come across my feed.

It’s been really cool to have a deeper think about the ways in which I appreciate those around me. It’s a pretty cool exercise, and I’d recommend y’all try it sometime.