Straight dude has hot take “for once”

I never really “got” the concept of hating all your exes. If everyone you dated in the past was a piece of shit, maybe the unifying factor is that you have terrible taste.

Or, like, stop dating men?

I intended the above statement as a joke, or maybe an intro/segue to some kind of stand up bit. I posted it on Facebook to gauge a reaction and, well, it got reactions. Mostly I think it was received in the spirit it was intended. Also friends chimed in with super valid comments on the complications abuse/trauma bring to the table in relationships. A friend mentioned the cycle of abuse and how it changes the way people see their own boundaries/what’s acceptable from someone you date. It can colour patterns of partner choice and cloud self-awareness. There are definitely shitty exes out there who take advantage of vulnerable people in frighteningly vampiric capacity.

Also many people are shit at dating.

I’m not saying I’m an expert by any means. I’ve done a bit and learned a lot. I’m extremely fortunate not to have dated any abusive, irreparably terrible people. For the most part, my past relationships have ended because of the realisation that we just weren’t truly compatible where it mattered. It sucked to breakup, but it was exceedingly better for both of us in the long term. We weren’t bad eggs by any means, we just weren’t good for one another. I’d wager that a lot of angry ex-haters probably fall under a similar boat without understanding it.

First and foremost, if you were dating someone in the first place, wouldn’t it be because you liked them? Who is out there dating people they don’t actually like on a fundamental level? If you don’t share interests or values, why would you be surprised and/or hurt when it doesn’t work out? I’m not knocking sharing consensual sexual engagements based on mutual attraction, but where in “we fuck good but don’t share values” is the part about realistic long term dating prospects? I don’t believe every relationship needs to be a forever one.

It’s 100% understandable to have shitty relationships that help you learn boundaries. Isn’t that the point of dating? It also makes sense that there have been some really raw past relationships that’ve burned bridges beyond the point of collapse. That said, if you point blank hate every single one of the people you’ve dated, perhaps that also says something about how you filter and choose the people you date? At some point there’s a responsibility on you to make decisions about whether or not a relationship gels with your needs/wants. If you’ve broken up with a bunch of people and learned nothing from them, it’s not entirely a potential shitty ex’s fault that you’re not considering who you are in a relationship.

The unpopular/unspoken truth of relationships is that a big part is being able to tolerate each other’s shit. Whether it’s being perennially late, dominating emotional labour, not doing their fair share of tasks, failing to consider their partner when making decisions that affect them, or whatever else it may be. We’re all flawed, we all have some modicum of baggage. We’re all just a little bit shitty; we’re human. I feel like part of a successful relationship is when people understand their partners flaws, their own baggage and accept them. They do the work of trying to find compromise while attempting to get better as time goes on.

Yes, there are 1000% shitty abusive behaviours that go beyond mere “flaws” or “baggage”. I do feel like a lot of us have blind spots, whether willingly or not, where we fail to recognise our responsibility in the degradation of a relationship and straight up don’t own our shit. Then when there’s a breakup it’s all the ex’s fault and personal culpability flies out the window.

I’m not saying it’s everyone all the time (and I feel like I know many, many considerate people who probably kick this concept in the arse), but I do think that a large proportion of people put everything on the other partner and when the ship sinks, put that blame in only one direction.

TL;DR – Check yourself before you wreck yourself.


Was that enough of an info dump for you? Well now you know how I feel

I just had my first session with a new therapist.

This doesn’t mean I’m replacing my beloved current therapist, it’s just another potential option. My therapist is The Best. She’s incredibly perceptive and her style is very complementary to my way of processing. If I could see her on the regular I would. But I can’t. Or rather, I could but it would cost me a lot. She’s not cheap. So while my benefits can currently afford 3 of her sessions per year (which frankly isn’t enough to deal with a lot of things), I don’t want to not have those sessions. I do want to jump further into therapy as a means of finding ways to cope with unhelpful thoughts and patterns. I got a call a few weeks back saying that I’d finally come off the waiting list for an OHIP sponsored therapist. Today was the first of potentially a few sessions.

Introduction sessions with therapists feel kind of weird. There’s protocol and bookkeeping that needs to happen. They’ll tell you of the boundaries in place. Confidentiality is assured, except in a few key circumstances. Primarily this revolves around you being a potential threat to yourself or others. If you have suicidal thoughts that your therapist deems sufficient as a precursor to taking action, they can notify authorities and have you escorted to emergency to gauge whether you’re at risk. If children under your care are potentially at risk, therapists can also alert authorities. If you’re unsafe to drive in any capacity, whether that’s admitting to a habit of drink or drugged driving, being off certain necessary medications (like epilepsy medication. Which is fine to come off, but in that case you should not be driving), etc. If you could harm yourself or others, that is a valid concern. With that out of a way, the session turns over to you.

A therapist is only as good as what they can divine from what they’ve heard. The more they know about you, the wealth of information they can utilise to find ways to help. So they ask questions. It’s kind of like a first date, but a shitty one-sided first date where you’re monopolising the conversation. They keep asking questions, but you don’t get to interject. They’re also jotting down all of your answers too. It’s sort of checklist-y, but with good reason. It’s the most efficient method to get a base of understanding. An intro often happens over a couple of sessions where the therapist will dive into your background and mood.

Today was background. She asked about my upbringing, family structure past and present. She asked about relationships. Was I in one? For how long? At which stage? That kinda thing. She asked about my history of education and employment. What had I done to get to where I was? History of therapy and treating mental illness? Personal struggles? Drinking and drug use? How often? In what quantities? Did I have close friendships and a support network? Was I physically healthy? How did I think cognitive behavioural therapy would work for me? What were my expectations of our sessions?

You’d be surprised how long it can all take. There’s a little probing here and there, perhaps clarifying or asking for further information on something you’ve said. Going back to the first date notion, what the introductory sessions are used for is to see if the relationship of care would be a synergistic fit. Some people’s issues and personality don’t mesh well with particular methods of therapy. You want to find someone whose style complements your own. It’s the most effective way of ensuring the sessions are time spent wisely. If something doesn’t feel quite right, chances are it’s not. Intuition works pretty well with this sort of stuff. If you’re actively looking for therapy, please shop around and find someone who’ll be able to tailor their skills to your issues. Therapy is amazing. It can be life changing when it works. That said, “work” is the important word. It’s a lot on both sides, but it’s so goddamn worth it.

Let’s see how “date two” goes…

Stan by your man

Like any film character before a monstrous transformation, I don’t feel so good.

Must be nice, is all.

I dunno. Would my life be served by shifting into an inhuman creature? Maybe. It seemed to work out for that sexy fishman in The Shape of Water (spoiler, I still haven’t seen The Shape of Water). If I could get extra appendages or the ability of flight that’d be pretty slick. I know a lot of animals have cool abilities that humans would only dream of. At Te Papa museum my girlfriend and I visited this wicked exhibit on insects. There was a type of flying insect that basically had precognition. Or at least it could rapidly analyse the vectors other organisms and predict their actions. Spider Sense, by any other name. How cool would that be?

On the topic of Spider Sense, I guess it’s worth thinking about Stan Lee a little. Like most men in positions of power, I have no doubts there were times he abused that power. I’ve heard allegations of sexual misconduct and I think we’ve seen enough of this to know they were likely true. I also know that it’s hard to place the sum of a person’s worth upon one aspect of them. We all have nuance. I’m not gonna all out galvanise the guy. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the myriad of times he pushed others out of the spotlight to improve the way he’d appear. At the same time, it’s not possible to trace the sheer hope and inspiration his creations (many co-created with the talented Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby of course) brought to those who found solace in his work. I’m sure a lot of what we consider trope-y was at the time revolutionary and boundary pushing. The X-Men stand in for almost any marginalised group. I know personally that my own resolve was strengthened by the notion that despite insurmountable odds at times, I’d never really be alone. It’s notable too that both Lee and Kirby, of Jewish birth, changed their last names for the purpose of mainstream acceptability. These characters they made, fighting for the downtrodden against oppression, existed in a world with the spectre of WW2 a faint memory. Whatever realm of moral compass I have, I know that being brought up with an array of heroic opinion leaders formed a large part of it. None of us are saints, but if we can leave this place a little better for having lived here, that seems like a worthwhile use of an existence.

I don’t know why I pulled the escape lever on that paragraph, it’s not like I have anything better to follow it up with. I’m feeling a bit green. Last night my stomach was topsy turvy. I thought I was just suffering the effects of an overspiced pasta dish and rice for two means in a row. I don’t eat a ton of complex carbs, I figured, my body was having a rough time processing them. My throat was scratchy and a little warm. I tried TUMS, then covered my bases with some oil of oregano. No dice. Who knows? I drank a lot Saturday night. Maybe I made out with an uncooked chicken and forgot about it. Today my throat has been uncomfortably hot and my energy levels have plummeted. Just all over fatigued. I’m fortunate I had very little work today and could easily work from home. It’s a luxury. I guess the real luxury would be working a job where I didn’t feel I needed to “show up” for the day when I was ill, because I didn’t want to pass my work onto my co-workers. But that would take a major societal overhaul whereby we stopped venerating martyrdom and suffering for the sake of your job. I’ve been in the position long enough that it’s a breeze for the most part, but tons of my newer co-workers still stay after hours, take lunch at their desk or skip eating for hours because they’re too busy. Maybe, as much of a luxury working from home is (and it is), it’s still part of an overall fucked up system.

Look, if I’m about to Hulk out, I’m here for it.

See you in the stars, Stan.

Walk a smile in their shoes?

Ever have one of those days where you smile and the world smiles back? MUST BE NICE.

Joking, really. Today’s been kind of the ideal Saturday. It’s been so good, in fact, that I might even spend this entire entry talking about how good it’s been. I have that power and I’m all too willing to abuse it.

It’s been a great Saturday, but not a long Saturday. Why? Because I decided that, post Rocky Horror Shadowcast, it’d be great to get 2am pork bone stew. IT WAS GREAT. It also meant that at 3am I walked home and, drunk as I still was from the work Halloween party, thought it’d be swell to play some Magic. IT WAS. I HAD ONLY GOOD IDEAS LAST NIGHT, apparently.

So my day didn’t start until about 10am, but it began with playing Magic, just like Richard Garfield intended. I drafted a sweet deck and, after a couple of games, thought it’d make sense to do an 11.30am Body Pump class at the gym. TURNS OUT IT WAS. THIS GOOD IDEA TRAIN KEEPS ON ROLLING. I don’t know why the caps are necessary, but if I’ve only been having good ideas, it must’ve been a capital idea.

Body Pump, like every other Les Mills class, has not changed. It’s comforting to know that no matter how many new releases they bring out, I can still sweat out toxins from the previous night. If you’ve made it this far without knowing what a Body Pump class is, it’s pretty simple. You have an empty bar and a bunch of weights. Each track works a different part of the body and you swap around the load depending on how large the muscle group is. The instructor will be all “we’re doing a squat track. This is your heavy one. Put two to three times your warmup weight on the bar.” So you do. And every track is murder. But you leave flushed with endorphins and it all seems worth it. Did you like how those last three sentences started with conjunction? I SURE DID. After that Body Pump class I’ve got conjunction in the trunk…tion? I go infrequently enough that I frequently forget how much weight I use for each track, so sometimes I get punished by my own ignorance. I don’t think I’ve managed, in my entire life, to make it through an entire class without skipping reps. There are just too damn many of them. I always shit the bed on the bicep track, because I have wimpy biceps and it’s a downright slaughter. Still, I left the class feeling like I could punch the goddamn moon.

Naturally after such a solid workout, I wanted a big feast. With everybody else busy, I resolved to make a massive sandwich and soak up any residual booze in my body. I bought ham and mushrooms, then set it up. The mushrooms were chopped and thrown into a pan with olive oil, garlic, a little chicken stock and red wine. The bread was topped with cheese and tossed into the toaster. I chopped sundried tomatoes and fried up an egg. Putting it all together was an altogether decadent experience. The toast was crunchy, the cheese gooey and the egg runny. The mushrooms had bite to them thanks to a hint of cayenne. The sandwich was dense, flavourful and walked the sweet/savoury line. I played some more Magic with my sandwich by my side for luck.

The day has already kicked every kind of arse and it’s still only up from here. I’m skyping with one of my favourite people, who I haven’t caught up with in maybe a year. I’m getting dressed up and going to a friend’s annual spooktacular Halloween house party. Then after that, my girlfriend and I are heading off to a Halloween themed warehouse rave. This is why Saturdays exist, so some of us can feel like we’re touching the divine.

You’re damn right the world’s smiling back. I better brush my teeth for good measure.

A bunch of nonsense, as always

It’s so easy to forget things.

Today I remembered something important that my life has sorely been missing for years. You know what? You can use this one too, no charge. I’m potentially about to improve your life, so pay attention:

You can write on any banana without hurting its feelings.

It’s true. No matter what you write on a banana, they’ll shrug it off. You can be as crude or twisted as you like and they’ll still keep their sweet demeanour. They’re that thick skinned. You can call them “dickface” or “ass clown” or “Bertie McFuckface” and they won’t bat an eye. You can even call them late for dinner and they’ll stay chipper as ever. A banana is fucking smile shaped. Goddamn.

Bananas truly are the gentlemen of fruits.

You can draw anything you want on a banana. Give it a face or genitals. Turn it into a little zombie banana that slowly rots. Bananas could be ersatz jack o’ lanterns all year round. They’re even penis shaped so you could call them “jack off lanterns”. They’re still too thick skinned to care.

If you’re going to the bathroom late at night and scared, you can bring a banana for company. I know it sounds gross to bring food to a place where you shed it, but what could even happen? A banana is bathroom invincible. There’s nothing you could get on it you couldn’t clean off.

Bananas also make good swimming buddies. Did you even realise bananas could float? They’re entirely waterproof. If you’re going out to the local lagoon and you want to bring a back pocket snack, a banana will save your ass.

Here are some other things to know about bananas:

  • They’re the same shape as a boomerang, but they don’t come back, so they’re basically half a boomerang.
  • Bananas release a gaseous plant hormone called Ethylene which helps other fruit ripen. You know that friend you have who always points out when you’ve been talked over or sticks up for you? That’s what bananas are to other fruits.
  • Have you ever seen a banana be racist? Don’t think so.
  • Bananas always give GoFundMe donations as anonymous, ’cause they don’t want the credit.
  • I’ve never slipped on a banana, so I’m pretty sure that myth is just a smear campaign from Big Plantain, bananas’ jealous cousin.

Look, what I’m really saying is to consider the banana for once. We’ve all been negligent once or twice and that’s only human. Really though, knowing what we know now, it’s downright incorrigible to not take care of a fruit that takes so much care of you. For the low, low price of $3.44, three of these could be yours.

Think of someone else for once. Like Jesus. Jesus saves.

But if he lived, he could’a saved bananas too.

From now on, I decree that all baskets be made of cheese

I now own several suits. I guess there was intention behind it, but it really just feels like they turned up one day. It’s gotten to the point where I now have more suits than occasions annually for which I’d need a suit.

Last night was one of those rare occasions. Every year I go to a fancy Toronto Library fundraiser called Hush Hush. Look, I’m not a fancy person. A large majority of the stuff in our place is second hand or scavenged from sidewalks. I seldom throw down a ton of money on new clothes, when I could just go to a thrift store instead. I’m not a fancy person. I just ate cabbage with tinned tuna and cottage cheese. I’m not a fancy person. It’s uncommon for me to go to the bathroom at home with the door closed. I’m not a fancy person. I have an alarmingly high threshold for eating food off the ground. I’m not a fancy person. I spend many minutes watching gifs of children falling over. I’m not a fancy person.

Look, what I’m trying to say is that this annual party is kinda special. It’s nice to get all fancied up on occasion. This year my girlfriend came too, which was a treat. She had a new dress that made her look like a goddamn princess and I… well, I had one of my several suits. The gendered fashion disparity was no more evident than at a shindig like Hush Hush. The women were garbed in all manner of interesting and provocative dresses. The dudes almost uniformly wore suits with shirts. Some guy had a bold red suit and another had fluorescent green socks, but they were the outliers. Hey, I looked fine, I’m not dumping on that, and we certainly looked a pair together. She just looked a little more extravagant than I did and that was fine. I was there to eat, drink and play games.

The food was great. I don’t know how to say that food options had been more interesting and varied in previous years without dumping on what was there. It still tasted great, it just wasn’t as exploratory. That said, there was this very tasty thinly sliced strip loin atop smoked carrots and some kind of spinach puree, topped with crunchy potato shavings. Of course there were sliders, because what do rich people love more than smaller versions of something that already exists? Sliders were great. Little truffle mac and cheese baskets came around and I grabbed them most every time they did. If I wasn’t explicit enough, they were tiny baskets made of crispy cheese, filled with truffle mac and cheese. Someone we chatted to earlier in the night told us to stay away from the vegan Philly cheesesteak, and look out for the tiny chicken Wellingtons. She was on the money. The Wellingtons were hard to track down. My girlfriend found one over the course of the evening, though I swear I saw sliders 5+ times. The vegan Philly cheesesteak? The “steak” didn’t have the taste or consistency of steak, and the “cheese” sauce tasted similarly uncheesy. I get that it was from a vegan cookbook that was being featured and they wanted to be flashy, but it just wasn’t a comparison. I think the A&W burger is the only vegetarian/vegan substitute I’ve had that tasted anything like the original. Why make so many substitutes and not just entirely different dishes? Beats me.

The booze was free flowing and all included in the ticket price. I mean, aside from the food that’s kinda the point of the event. For the most part it was great. They had three different bars set up, so you could always check out a different side of the room to see if it had shorter lines. A local distillery supplied their boutique black strap rum, moonshine and gin. There were speciality cocktails just for the event, though by the time I found out they had them, they’d already run out of the central ingredient. Wouldn’t you be pumped to try some kind of black strap rum, peach and habanero concoction? Alas, me too. The only bummer was getting stuck in a drink line for half an hour (of a four hour event. It was a while) ’cause multiple lines converged into one and everyone was ordering 5+ drinks for friends. Still, moonshine and ginger kept me buzzed all night and the wait for spirits didn’t do enough to damper mine.

Being a fundraiser for the library’s digital collection, they had a bunch of cool gizmos to play with. One selfie station made animated gifs that could be emailed to you. Another had a ring of cameras to take pseudo 3D photos. One more had a built in ring light for super defined shots. They had photographers walking around too. There were 3D printers making keychains for guests to take home. They had three VR games set up for partygoers to try. There was a big TV hooked up to a SNES/N64 emulator, so Mario was going all night. There was also a neat little arduino based light game that was simple to learn and neat to play.

So I ate a ton, drank a ton and played a couple of games. If this is what being fancy is like, maybe I need more suits.

I’m not some garden variety phallustine

To my chagrin I’ve learned that I’ve gained more family followers over the past few days. Come for the heartfelt Montreal sentiments. Stay for the puns and poop jokes. If anything over the past few weeks, I’ve learned they’re ingrained family traits. Here be dragons, you’ve been warned.

Between the solo/partnered time I’ve had here, it’s also held a higher concentration of familial familiarity. Familialrity? I’ve been noticing/recalling patterns, reinterpreting my past and recalibrating for my future. If we’re talking family traits, food is a big part of it all. My family, extended and all, loves food. Food is love. We cook, share and enjoy. We talk about meals we’ve had, where to check out and, for better or worse, what it does to our waistlines. Our family is obsessed with weight, image and all that jazz. We’re constantly encouraged to eat more and more, but there’s a pervasive fear of gaining weight. An “undue” amount, y’know? We talk about how “good” people are looking, how “bad” we are for eating certain things. Applying a moral compass to inanimate objects like dessert, etc. I swear it’s borderline highschool shit.

Having thought about this stuff on end for years, I know know that at least I come by it honestly. I don’t regret any of my proclivities for bold flavours or experimental cuisine. If you’re thinking about the calories over the taste, I figure you’re doing it wrong. Moderation is a personal endeavour, but there’s no weight as severe as the guilt above your head of taking it too far. With lifelong struggles over weight and body image I know full well that society hates the overweight. HATES us. Despite any well-meaning comments and euphemisms, it’s judgement all the way down. It’s bullshit, and so often the judgement comes from a totally clueless place where you don’t understand the struggles of others. Despite what you think, someone else’s weight is none of your fucking business. You have no concept of what’s going on in their lives or what their relationship with food is. Whatever that relationship is, it’s theirs, not yours. If you’re unsure of your relationship with food, as ghastly as it sounds, please be prepared to exercise self-compassion. Cool it with blaming yourself, deciding what you can and can’t wear or do. Your value has nothing to do with whatever a scale might say. Throw it the fuck out and decide what healthy means for you. There are far more important things.

Au contraire, I have reasserted the kind of love that flows freely throughout my lineage. Despite any of the above, people care and are present. So many interactions have cast my mind back to how we were raised. The boundaries instilled in us from a young age. How we were encouraged to take care of the dishes post meal or try as best as possible to be hospitable to others within their own homes. To be kind and considerate, to listen and actually hear what people were saying. To practice compassion and adoration to our partners. To give love in abundance and reaffirm how lucky we are to have them in our lives. I don’t think I’ve had a relationship that’s lasted five years. I can’t imagine how it feels when you’re homing in on 40 years together. How slight annoyances must become points of contention. Irritation morphing into outright contempt. I’m sure it’s so easy. What’s harder then, is embracing the faults of your beloveds. To be slow to anger and quick to understanding. Letting the heat of the moment take you will leave you stranded in a constant state of frustration. If you’re together until one of you dies, you don’t want to spend another 15-20 years stewing in resentment. It’s a rapid route to a living grave.

It’s something my own partner has taught me unbelivably well. That blame is in abundance and leads you nowhere. Flights of unnecessary fury only build walls higher and displace compassion. Being emotionally earnest is a reward in itself, knowing that openness pays back dividends. Having someone you feel free to be yourself with, to embrace one another with fullness, doubles the warmth of that embrace. Owning one’s feelings, faults and failings is unimaginably freeing, and it’s hard not to bring that authenticity back to the relationship. Fuck posturing, be yourself and love who you’re with. If you’re not, why be with them? Set them free and find your bliss.

Who’d’ve thought that “don’t be a dick” would take 700 words to say?