Your boogie is a wonderland

Egads. I’m still waking up and it’s 9.30pm.

Long night out. It seemed like everything was happening last night in Toronto. German Sparkle Party has become a rave mainstay over the past few years. Having sprung from a weird viral video, people get dressed up in the sparkliest attire they can find, and dance their booties off. We didn’t go there. There was Krampus Ball, a rave with live performances, based around the half-goat/half-demon. It’s flashy and creepy, with some top tier costuming all around. We didn’t go there. There was a (pretty affordable) fetish party, and I’m sure at least two other big events that we didn’t go to. We went to the Everybody party, and had the best fucking time.

Last night was the first anniversary of their parties. Over the past year, they’ve become some of my favourite spaces. Endlessly welcoming and supportive. Good vibes incarnate. Most attendees are pretty chill, and in the rare case that people are being shitty, there are safety people who’ll de-escalate or get rid of anyone who’s being a menace. My girlfriend and I wore matching sparkly outfits. A tall friend gave me a disco style jumpsuit that was too short for them. It fits me perfectly. It’s also polyester, and thus mostly composed of sweat. I drank absurd quantities of water, and had to get near nude most any time I wanted to go to the bathroom. Everywhere I looked, I saw another friend. It was an easy sign that we were in the right place. Without exaggeration, there were probably 20 or so friends I got to hang out and/or dance with last night.

Post party, we all went back to our friends’ place to relax. They’d been looking forward to hosting, so we had blankets, pillows, snacks and soft toys galore. They have a projector set up in their lounge. We watched youtube clips, listened to music and threw on a few movies. It was the best. We all went on dumb riffs and bits. Friends shared stories of vulnerability and growth. We mostly lay around and got comfy. A friend had a bunch of chocolate chip cookie edibles and they coasted us through. It was gratifying to be able to spend so long hanging out with people without tiring of them whatsoever. We hung out for HOURS. Enough that my girlfriend and I finally dragged ourselves out of the house just before 1pm. Today has mostly been a throwaway day, and I’m absolutely fine with that. I had nothing to accomplish, and I’ve EXCELLED at that. This writing was literally the only task I needed to do, and now that’s in the can.

Like I was, every ten minutes after drinking twice my body weight in water.

Get fucked, Jack Astors. That was my main point

I read this article today.

If you’re too lazy to click, it details how an immigrant family moved to Toronto 50 years ago with $48 in their pockets. They just made the single biggest donation to Scarborough Health Networks in their history. I technically saved you the click, but the first paragraph spells all that out in a more concise and orderly fashion. Weirdly, my first thought went to anti-immigrant sentiment. Very little makes my blood boil like anti-immigrant rhetoric. Most of us immigrated at some stage along our family’s history. At what point does “I got mine” and refusing new entrants become acceptable? In my mind, it doesn’t. Look, I openly admit that I know nothing about managing immigration on a national scale, but I will go to my grave convinced that inviting a myriad of cultures into the fold always does more good than harm.

Sure, I have Canadian citizenship, but for all intents and purposes, I may as well be an immigrant. I came from another country never having lived here before. I’ve gone through my share of culture shock. There have been things I’ve acclimated to, and others I’ve shunned in favour of preferred practices I came with. I’ve shared elements of my country’s culture with others. Mostly, like Marmite and Pineapple Lumps, they’ve been middling successes. Still, I love inviting others to enjoy the things I adored about my upbringing. I’ve been working, and contributing to the economy. I’m now in a position where I feel like I’m providing a service that helps people, and that makes me happy. There are a ton of misgivings I do have about Canada. It’s very conservative and stuffy in a lot of ways. There seem to be layers of needless bureaucracy in many areas. Banking lags considerably behind the systems back home. It’s insane that we’re still in a First Past the Post system in 2019, and the political system seems shambolic, ripe for the populist style of right wing government that’s been plaguing the world in recent years. There’s a weird reverence that people seem to have for big box US stores and chains, which is kind of worrying. Toronto’s gentrification is accelerating at a rapid rate, with the youth and artists being pushed out of the city. Things are becoming homogeneous, safe and boring.

At the same time, imagine how this place would be without immigration. One of the best things about Toronto is that it’s rife with wonderful cultural neighbourhoods. If I want to get Ethiopian (and when do I not?), there are 3-5 places within a 15 minute walk of me. There are Greek, Italian, Portugese, Indian, Korean and Chinese clusters of places, which all have their own delights. People care about their culture, and it’s awesome to see/explore. If not for immigration over the years, I imagine Toronto would be all glass towers, Jack Astors and Second Cups. It would be the soulless mire that Tory/Ford seem so intent on fostering.

Immigrants bring innovation. They have new, refreshing ideas. Everyone has different ways of doing things, and that’s a help, not a hindrance. Learning more about other cultures only strengthens us all. It’s not just about trying delicious food (though personally, that’s huge for me), we’re far better off with diversity. Sometimes immigrants feel lonely, and seek to maintain their own culture. It makes them feel safe and secure. I’ve heard a lot of bullshit when in Rome rhetoric from people saying they should just acclimate to the Canadian way of life. Are the people saying this making an effort to welcome these newcomers? Make them feel like they belong? Are they trying to explore these new cultures? Or are they entrenched in the misguided idea of their own cultural superiority, and refusing to look outside it?

We all have so much to learn from one another, and hate cannot survive empathy. Diversity has only ever enriched my life, and I implore everyone to seek it out where they can.

Your regularly scheduled reminder that polar bears are black with clear fur. Definitely not green

It’s been over six years since I’ve been to the zoo.

I know this, because the last time I went to the zoo it was for a specific event. My friend’s birthday to be exact. It wasn’t long before I left New Zealand for good, and I figured it’d be nice to take the day off to spend it with her. Flashback to two weeks earlier, when I found $70 lying on the ground outside a masonic temple. I then decided to use the money to make pot baking, and take it to the zoo for my friend’s birthday. Flash forward to the day before. Someone who won’t be named helped me buy it (I’ve never in my life bought pot from a dealer. As a 32 year old, I still wouldn’t know how and it’s my secret shame), and someone else who won’t be named helped me make a delicious infused chocolate caramel slice. We took a whole clip container full of the slices, brought a picnic lunch and had a marvellous day getting buzzed watching animals’ natural splendour in artificial habitats. It was an A+ experience, would do again.

I used to love the Auckland Zoo. I went there a ton of times. We’d go on class field trips maybe once every few years. My grandparents would take my best friend and I there each summer. I once helped out a crew for the 48 hour film competition, and we got special permission to film a bunch of scenes there for free. I’ve been here in Toronto for over six years now, and I still haven’t visited. Let’s see, what do I remember about the Auckland Zoo? Bullet Point Time:

  • I went there once for an intermediate school trip. I bought a cookie from the cafe. It cost $3, which at the time seemed OUTRAGEOUS for a cookie. It was marbled, chocolate and vanilla. The cookie had a similar consistency to short bread. You know the kind where you take a gentle bite and a piece crumbles off into your mouth? I really loved the cookie, despite its high price, and vowed to get one the next time I visited as a special treat. Unfortunately, enough time had passed between visits that the cafe no longer sold said cookie.
  • The playground had this really cool Chinese dragon. It got a bunch of facelifts and new coats of paint over the years, but it was always hugely popular. I remember being surprised at just how spiky its back was. Like, that thing was solid concrete. It’s probably why it’s lasted so many decades, but I’m sure it led to a bunch of bumps and scrapes.
  • The polar bears. I used to love seeing the polar bears, but their history is kind of sad. The zoo could never really get the enclosure right, and the bears suffered. One drowned, another got shot trying to escape years back. A ton of them developed skin lesions and died. I remember being surprised to see green polar bears, but that was apparently part of their affliction. They phased them out in 1995, after realising they couldn’t give them a humane home.
  • The aviary was amazing. It was this big enclosure with mesh fencing stretching in an arc above. The birds were free to fly in the space, and there were pathways that took visitors around. It wasn’t uncommon for a bird to land in a tree not far from you, so you could get a good look at them. They all had (comparatively, if we’re talking about cages as the alternative) a lot of room to fly, and it was neat to see them interact.
  • Eventually they made an ape enclosure that was relatively similar. The various monkeys all had a ton of space to move, swing and interact. There were water features and cool stuff to do for them. They had a ton of facts about the different species, and it was awesome to be able to see the size/scale first hand.
  • I always thought it was cool to see the lions being fed. They’d toss the lions these absolutely massive steaks. I definitely had my eye on those steaks. I wonder if I could actually eat one as an adult. I doubt it, but I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me one.

The Toronto Zoo is technically accessible, it’s just really far away. Once the weather warms up, I might take myself there on a day off. I’ve heard they have polar bears and everything.

If you’re a pick up artist, you can pick up the bill right?

I was thinking earlier about that book The Game.

Y’know, the Neil Strauss pick up artist book? When I was 20 and lonely, that book hit hard for me. I was stuck in a weird place. On one hand, I loved this idea of being attractive and enticing to women. I craved the knowledge of how to be so, so charming that they’d want to sleep with me. I read these accounts of men sleeping around, dating up and connecting with a range of women. It sounded so exciting and scandalous. I didn’t like the methods. They felt dehumanising, turning intimacy into a numbers game. There was something odd and cult-like about the way they’d live in what start-up folks these days would call “incubators”. The idea of having a routine felt awful and mercenary. If clicking with someone was turned into finding the right thing to say to unlock a puzzle, what was the point? I’ve always been attracted to people the more I learn about them, and if reciprocal engagement was based on me running social tricks that others had made up, then it wouldn’t really be me they were interested in, would it?

There’s a concept in a lot of artistic endeavours of finding your voice. In stand up it’s working out how to be true to the unique standpoint you have. To do the type of comedy that both gets laughs and makes you laugh. In clowning people find their archetype, work out their status and how to play with it. Writers often find their calling and style. I think what I’ve discovered lately is that I’m starting to find my voice in life. There are so many better writers. I’m not being self-effacing. I know how to put words together okay, but I’d never say that writing is my forte. I’m not the funniest person, and I don’t really know that I have the soul of a comedian. I’m okay looking, but there are more handsome men out there. I have a solid moral compass, and also I see others doing kind things without thinking that I’d love to have as a natural reaction. I don’t always own a room. I make mistakes. Hell, it’s insane I’m not better than I am at Magic considering the amount of time I’ve spent playing over the past almost two decades. That said, I’m finally at the point where I’m comfortable with myself, and leaning in.

Recently I’ve been going on dates and getting closer to people a lot more often. I don’t use pick up lines or try to get people into bed. I’m just me. I joke around and treat people with kindness. I have a weird sense of humour, and I don’t sell out my values to try and impress people. I’d rather just date someone else. I know that money doesn’t impress me, and I’m not drawn to those who think it’s important. I’m very happy being vulnerable and letting people vent. I enjoy spending time hearing about others’ problems, learning about their lives. The people who I tend to be drawn to are quite different, and sync with varied parts of my personality. I know that I’m a human cartoon character, and that this is unlikely to change with time. I’m becoming the person I both admired and didn’t know existed when I was a kid.

If I think back to all that The Game kind of stuff now, I realise I have the kind of life that I sought from that lifestyle, but it’s one that makes sense for me. I don’t pressure anyone into sexual encounters, and instead operate on a Fuck Yes or No philosophy. If they’re actively looking to connect intimately, then fuck yeah we will. If not, zero harm. If they never want to, who cares? We’ll just spend time together hanging out. If they do, then that’s great. If I’ve shared intimacy with someone previously, I have no expectations that they’ll want to each time, or even again. Sexual play has become the icing on the cake of making deep friendships where sometimes we want to kiss. I’m certainly not standoffish or emotionally distant, but I let my partners dictate how physically affectionate they want to be.

I think it’s important to regard your trajectory. To see who you’ve become, and where it could lead. To sit in your identity and analyse it. None of us are truly immutable, and we all have the potential for happiness.

Except, well, pick up artists can go fuck themselves. I’m sure they’ve got a routine for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, they could’ve asked Jeeves, but I was right there

The past few days have been spent trying to stave off sickness, but also cabin fever.

I’ve felt cooped up. I’d hoped, as ever, to use my time off to see friends, hang out, eat delicious things and have heart to hearts. Instead I’ve snotted everywhere. Yesterday I was sitting at my computer frustrated. I don’t like relaxing, I like doing things, solving problems and finding solutions. I had this thought. I was in front of the internet. Aside from providing a massive platform for fostering hate speech, it’s also very good for finding answers. I realised that I had nothing important to do, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be useful. I’m okay at Navigating the Netscape and Exploring the Internet. I’m pretty decent at doing research on things I’m intent on figuring out. Why couldn’t I lend that skill to others? I made the following post:

“Okay friends, here’s the deal. I’m at home sick. I’ve got nothing important to do in the next few hours and I’d like to help some of y’all out. I have the internet and whatever brain capacity isn’t being used. Do you have information you need? Something you’ve been trying to find on the internet? A guide on how to do something? Unsure of where you can buy a certain something that’d improve your life? Trying to figure out the name of an old song you used to love? For the next couple of hours I’d love to lend a hand to the best of my capabilities. If there’s something I could make easier in this thread, let me know.”

A friend chimed in. They’d recently gone through surgery, and they were wondering what the best heart rate app for ios was. They needed to rest, but the information would be useful for their recovery and prep for any further doctor’s visits. I hit Google and Reddit. I looked up threads of heart rate apps, and ranked lists. I sought personal recommendations or balanced reviews. I hadn’t really thought about heart rate apps. Apparently they use a combination of camera and light functions to analyse heartbeat through your fingers/thumb. Some are tied into hardware; chest equipment, etc. Signs seemed to point to Instant Heart Rate as a constant overachiever. I presented this info back to my friend. Hopefully it proves helpful to them.

Another friend posted. They said they were having trouble with getting an overabundance of robocalls. I looked up Toronto/Ontario robocalls. I found a Do Not Call registry that these places are supposed to abide by, or elsewise face repercussions. I got my friend’s number and added it to the registry, adding mine too. I’ve been getting upwards of ten a day at times. We’ll see if this sorts them out.

Someone needed 75 cupcakes for their birthday, and wanted to know where to get them. I searched Google, Reddit and Toronto based lists. I found ten or so places that offered gourmet cupcakes. I created a list. I jotted down how many flavours each place had (and how adventurous those flavours were). I did the math on how much 75 cupcakes would cost, whether the place required orders of full dozens or not. If not, I worked out six dozen and three cupcakes. I figured out delivery costs where I could, and the relative costs for mini cupcakes if offered. I presented the list to my friend in the hopes of making their party planning easier.

One of my friends wanted to know where to learn clawhammer banjo in Toronto. I found lists of banjo teachers, and zoned in on the teacher who a) taught clawhammer specifically and b) was recommended on several lists. I gave my friend a link to Toronto library books on the subject, and found a page with free online lessons.

A friend had been going through a bunch of medical stuff, and wondered if it was possible to get concussion assessments without visiting a doctor. I looked up a few places around town to try and get an answer. I called somewhere and asked a stack of questions. Was it possible? What would it entail? What was the cost? Were there any things that were good to know before seeking consult? I found out as much as possible, and relayed it to my mate. They’ve had a rough time, and being able to help in any way was terrific.

It was an unusual offer to make, and I’m really glad I did. The straw breaking the camel’s back is so common, and I know just how much one tiny thing can tip the scales into a spiralling situation. It was nice to give, considering I had little else important to do. Selfishly, I felt considerably less helpless in my sick state, and that was pretty damn empowering.

It’s in all of us to give. I’m just glad I figured out some way I could.

More like vent-y two, amirite?

There’s a trend happening on social media at the moment, where people will post side by side photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019.

I thought I’d give it a try.

Since navel gazing is one my my favourite hobbies, I thought I’d cast my brain back a decade. Who was I? Where was I at in life? What guided me?

In 2009 I was living and working in Rotorua. After lingering in Auckland post radio internship, I got sent off to “the regions” to level up. I brought all my worldly possessions, a lack of worldly knowledge and an shit ton of entitlement. I was an Aucklander, from the Big City, why was I tarrying with these common folk in a dead arse tourist town? Those weren’t my words verbatim, but they probably weren’t far off. I thought I knew everything. I mean, I was 22, of course I did. It was my first time moving out of town, and I had more than my fair share of baggage. I saw it as a temporary displacement. I needed to earn my stripes, do some good work and get back to where I knew I belonged. Really what I needed was a dose of growing the fuck up, but you’ve seen the picture. Don’t worry, I got there.

The whole experience shook me to my core. I was so used to things just happening for me. I was smart and things came easily. I’d enjoyed school and university, and managed to get through both without too much struggle. It’s not that I didn’t work hard, it’s that I saw myself as constantly deserving of success. It made sense with the way things had gone. I had this innate feeling that I was gonna do well, and evidence hadn’t presented otherwise. I’d hit a bump post university where I was stuck working my government call centre job full time for five months. I naively thought that was rock bottom, then a scholarship came my way and I got catapulted to a position of privilege. I worked hard, people in the industry with Names started to know who I was and what I did. In my head, it was just a matter of time.

Maybe it was, but I was 22. My perception of time was very different than it is at 32. I expected I’d be down in Rotorua for maybe six months, a year tops. I’d be back in the big leagues before I knew it. That was where I was meant to be. At 22 I’d drive back from Rotorua to Auckland maybe once a week. Sometimes more, depending if there was a concert mid-week. Two and a half hours’ drive, I’d sometimes do it closer to two. At the time I’d memorised the entire trip, and could visually recall every single intersection in my brain. At 22 I devoured content voraciously. Every week I’d download several albums and listen through them. It was of the utmost important that I was at the forefront of indie music developments. It was imperative that I had an opinion, because I was 22. I had an opinion on everything. I was always online (before that was the norm), and most of my nights in Rotorua were spent drunk in front of the internet.

At 22 I loved drinking. It was at the uncomfortable point between an interest and a hobby. I drank desperately. Desperate to escape fears that maybe I wasn’t going somewhere. I was “stuck” in a small town and the only friend I’d made there was off 4chan. I had no luck with women, and I was at the stage of life where I thought that defined me. I was incredibly insecure, and I have no doubt that I carried the stink of it. I felt lonely, isolated, and- once again- entitled. I didn’t want to be a Nice Guy, so I was an edgelord instead. It’s the kind of mind frame that’s a roadmap to incel culture. At my core, I just wanted to be wanted. But I looked past my lack of real confidence and blamed external sources. I had so much potential, and somewhere in there I had the potential to become a real piece of shit. Like so much of my life, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who thought when I didn’t, and weren’t afraid to speak up. I had friends who’d known me since age 1, and they course corrected where I wouldn’t.

At 22 I clearly thought I was the protagonist, years before realising we’re all here to help each other. I was deserving of far less than I had, and I wanted so much more. At 32, I’ve earned the lines in my face. I’ve started to realise what’s important in life, and what’s fine to let go of. Some might say I got bailed out again by stumbling into a job I love, and that’d be fair. The difference a decade makes is that I’m now humbled, not emboldened. I’m no longer lonely or isolated. I’ve found so many connections that I deeply treasure. I look for opportunities to help, rather than take. I’m thankful rather than expectant. I love where I’ve ended up, instead of feeling inadequate for not being somewhere else. It took ten years, but those were ten years well spent.

Egads though, I miss having 22 year old joints.