Is, was and always will be

The Addams Family has aged well.

It’s a really sweet family movie about a group of oddballs who love each other a bunch. Sure, the kids perform actual torture on one another, but it’s all just harmless fun. Gomez and Morticia’s relationship is wonderful, and immensely healthy. They support and respect one another utterly. They’re passionately in love, and the passion is evident in their love life. The whole family openly show their adoration, and they have a ton of fun together. They’re buoyed by family money, so nobody has to work. As a result, they live in a bubble where they just get to do what they want. It’s low stress, and their lives seem to be scored by MC Hammer. What more could you want? It’s flagrantly silly, and immensely watchable. If you’re doing any kind of Halloween film catch ups, add it to your list.

Okay, now some errant stuff that’s in my head:

That’s about all that’s in my head right now. I’m on the third day of a four day stretch. My mind is unravelling. I think my girlfriend and I are gonna try for a double feature at some cinema today. The good films from TIFF are finally getting released. It’d be amazing to see Jojo Rabbit, and if we could round out the evening with Parasite, that’d kill most any reason I’d need to revisit the movies for the next month or so. Then again, Knives Out isn’t far off, and that’s supposed to be a riot. I’m vaguely tempted to see Joker if I can get it on a double feature, primarily because I want to understand that whole “ringing of the death bells” bit on Twitter. If I don’t, I’ll just catch it streaming sometime.

Here’s something I thought was really neat. Every year around this time, The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn does a show called “Schtick or Treat”. Up and coming comics do sets as more famous comics. The link I shamelessly put at the start of the paragraph instead of somewhere more intuitive like here, has one of these sets. It’s a perfect set. Comedian Jeremy Kaplowitz does a set as 90s 38 year old Jerry Seinfeld doing bits about his 17 year old girlfriend. It’s a great way to highlight how the rich and successful get to sidestep societal norms without consequence. The impression is spot on, both vocally and stylistically. I’m sure it won’t really affect Seinfeld himself, but it does ground just how creepy the whole relationship was by trying to present it in an unremarkable fashion. Seinfeld seems to get a pass on a lot of stuff just because he’s beloved, and it’s kinda weird that he’s repeatedly enabled. I think it’s well worth watching.

And Zendaya is Meechee.

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.

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.

If we’d mixed in tobacco, I could’ve called it a spliffy day

What a swell day.

My girlfriend had a swell day yesterday. Positively spiffy. We were locked in for lunch with her mother at 1pm. I wanted to get in and do my writing. Put it out of my mind for the rest of the day, y’know? She wanted to have sex, and she won. I don’t mean this in a braggy way. We’ve been in a relationship for over five years. I’m sure it’s a well known phenomena that in long term relationships, you’re usually not having as much sex as you’d both like. Both of us get busy, or aren’t in the mood, or get bogged down by mental health stuff. Of course it doesn’t mean we don’t want to, it just gets harder to prioritise. Of course it’s important, to keep up that kind of intimacy within a relationship. Keep those good chemicals flowing. I can only imagine what having kids does to a sex life. But we did it, we did each other, and it was honestly a fucking great way to start the day.

Then we went out for lunch with her mum. Don’t worry, I showered first. It was nice. Her mum is doing keto at the moment, so we went to a keto friendly place. The food was basic, but tasty. The Simple Kitchen. It’s the kind of place I would’ve loved when I did keto for a few months. All the ingredients are displayed openly, and they have concessions for different dietary restrictions. They do a variety of coffees like mushroom coffee and buttered coffee. It kinda sucks, because the pilot coffee they stock there is decent, but the coffees they made were middling to meh. Go for the tasty, filling food. Go elsewhere for coffee. We don’t catch up with my girlfriend’s mum all that often, but she’s a warm, kind woman. It was neat, actually. She’s started making changes in her life, discovering things. She recently went on a trip, and realised just how much that new town resonated with her. It felt like home, immediately, and she’s considering moving there. She has an RV, so it’s entirely possible for her. Imagine that, you’re retired and your children have gone off elsewhere. You decide to upturn your dietary habits, you consider moving somewhere else. Breaking established patterns at that age takes a lot. It’s fucking cool to see. We had a nice lunch, did a quick walk around Roncy (to find better coffee, truth be told) then went home. She’d knitted us a cute little pumpkin, which also kind of looks like a plump orange. It’s perfect, ’cause we can use it all year round.

As an aside, our coffee machine has been iffy lately. It’s been using half the water, and we have to turn it on again. I figured it was slowly shitting itself, and I was kind of okay with that. I didn’t pay for it, who cares, right? Then I thought wait a minute, that’s totally not sustainable, and why am I treating something nice as disposable? That’s why we got into this whole mess in the first place. I looked the error up, and it turned out it just needed to be descaled. I read the instructions and it was simple. but then I couldn’t find white vinegar and got discouraged. Again, in my head I left it to rot. Then my girlfriend pointed out that we did have vinegar, and it wasn’t as much of a process as I thought it was. It was easy enough to do, it just took time.

So we had a quiet afternoon. She chilled out on her phone, I played Magic, did a load of washing, ran the coffee machine about five times to descale/clean, and then we were ready for our evening. We were gonna get stoned, have snacks and watch Between Two Ferns. A while back I picked up a packet of gluten free brownie mix for a special night. We went to the supermarket to load up on snacks. We got some chips, gummy worms and soft jubes, and ice cream. We got those brownies in the oven, lit up, and sat down with snacks and a film. Part way through we finished baking the brownies, I drew a big peen on half, then we split the toppings between sprinkles and sea salt. It was a wonderful night. We got to snuggle and pig out, and the movie was absurd amounts of fun.

More days like these, please.

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.

Did I just have a date within a date with that corn dog?

I went on a date the other night. It was lovely.

It’d been a while, not sure why. I haven’t been doing much to seek out intimate encounters outside my anchor partner. Or maybe it’s just that everyone I’d been growing close to had been poly, are interested, but are also in relationships that are currently closed. Which has been fine. Emotional intimacy has always been far more important to me than physical. In those instances, it’s just been nice to have new friends. This person, however, is poly. So we got to have an actual date. It’s something that’s been in the works for ages. We’ve hung out at parties, but never one on one. She has a weird schedule. I now have a weird schedule, and for the first time ever, our free time coincided. I asked if she wanted to grab a food, or a drink, or overthrow the bourgeoisie, or do amateur parkour, or get stoned and watch a dumb movie, or go to Tilt. She said Tilt, the local arcade bar, sounded great.

I vowed to do wreck my face doing amateur parkour on my own damn time.

I think we were both there for about half an hour before I noticed her. Not because she wasn’t worth noticing, but because she was wearing all black and playing a game in the corner. Somehow, in a room full of garish fluorescent lights, she’d discovered camouflage. She played D&D with the barman, so I got to meet him too, and he was really friendly. Their DM used to DM our games of Call of Cthulhu, and was by far the best DM I’ve had for any game ever. We all gushed about how great he was. Then she and I grabbed beer and a seat. We chatted. We chatted for a long time, actually. Seeing as we’d never hung out one on one before, it was the perfect time to get to know each other better. I mean, it’s kind of the point of a date.

More importantly, the fact that we were sitting meant I had the perfect excuse [you didn’t need an excuse -Ed] to order a corn dog. As an aside, I love corn dogs. They’re a favoured treat of mine. I’m not wild about fried food, but back home when we got fish and chips, you ordered a “hot dog” and got given what North Americans call a corn dog: A battered hot dog on a stick. It’s one of my exceptions to my ambivalence about fried food, likely because of nostalgia. I’d never tried Tilt’s corn dogs, but I can now confirm they’re fucking fantastic. The batter is made in house. It’s pretty thin, but with some nice crispy flourishes. Also, they’re huge. I’m used to corn dogs on popsicle sticks. These ones come on skewers. You know the type that people use for BBQ kebabs? Picture a hot dog on that, except the only available bit of stick to hold is 1-2cm long. That’s a lot of dog. It was meaty and sumptuous, and a truly fantastic snack with beer. Have I now written a longer love letter to this corn dog than I have to this date? Maybe, but that corn dog and I shared something that no date and I ever will. R.I.P.

Anyway, it was fun to chat. She’s funny, and we’ve got a lot of geeky interests in common. A theme of adulthood that I’ve noticed, is I’m not actually aware of what most of my friends do to pay rent. I hang out with them because I like their company, but their jobs have never defined who they are to me. So I got to hear what she does for work and what she likes about those things. I got to learn how growing up was for her, familial connections and perspectives. She had been to the nigh legendary Florida theme park: Gatorland. I’d heard tales. She told me more.

After a while, I chimed in that while I was having an excellent time hanging out, I also wanted to play some vidya games. We played an isometric D&D style crawler called Gate of Doom. It was super button mashy, but nostalgic and silly. The magic system was quite unusual. All four characters had the same spellbook and system, but you had to wait until your magic bar filled up. The spellbook would flick periodically between spells, and whatever was active was the one you had access to. I kept turning into a walking flower, which was kinda neat. I had some kind of stun pollen with a radius effect. We beat the game, and my hand damn near cramped up. We played some Puzzle Bobble, and evened up at 5 wins. We chatted some more, and it was last call.

I think one of the more important things I learned from the date, is that I’ve finally reached a certain level of confidence. It always used to be that I was too afraid to make a move, and that nothing would happen until my date was like “dude, are you actually interested? Do you want to have sex or not?” Then I’d be all “oh, of course. That’d be great”. It largely came from feelings of inadequacy and not knowing how to navigate those spaces with utmost consent. These days, a better knowledge of consent has informed massive change. I’ve realised that I can just ask, and in ways that leave things very open for the other person to say no. A lot of the time these things happen organically, and I think societally people have assumed that organic was the only option, anything else was clunky and took you out of the moment. I haven’t found that. I’m getting better at reading signs, but still like to clarify. There was a point where we were sitting close to each other. I think her hand was resting on my arm, mine resting on her leg. I realised and said “I just want to check, do you like this kind of touch”. She said yes, definitely. Simple and clean. I knew she was interested, she had every opportunity to be like hmm, maybe not at the moment or actually, maybe no and that would’ve been fine. Instead, I actively knew we were on a wavelength, that she was interested and the waters weren’t muddied. Consent is the fucking best, and anyone who thinks it ruins the moment maybe hasn’t learned how to ask in a non-intrusive manner.

Since things were winding down at the bar, we were both still awake and having a good time, I asked if she wanted to keep hanging out. She invited me over, and we spent a bunch more time together at her place. I left some time after 6.30am, and since she lives with one of my friends, I got to give my friend a good morning hug when she got up to go to work. Since I live maybe 5 minutes walk from her, I got to go right home and to bed.

Is it time to bring back I Have My Dates?

Cryogenically frozen in time

Story time, friends.

Earlier this year I started taking anti-depressants. Great decision. Should’ve done it years back. Changes have been fantastic across the board. I’ve regained my ability to establish boundaries, be assertive, be supportive, and make space for others. I even use the Oxford comma now. Instead of being tossed to the gutter for days by one stray thought, I can look at that thought, say “yep, that’s a thought”, and keep walking. I don’t speak lightly when I say that this decision in many ways gave me my life back.

One catch. Since I started on the meds, there’s been one side effect. I can’t cry. No dice. I’ve been safe behind a synthetic wall. I didn’t want to lose touch with those too human feelings, but it’s been a worthy trade-off. What I’ve gained is so much greater than what I’ve given up. No question.

This past weekend, I cottaged with friends. COTTAGED. The place had a dock atop a large, still, lake. In the early hours, I crept out to see how sunrise was doing. Early Hours, I said. A burgeoning golden crown in the sky. Curious, I walked down to the dock. As the path wound through the trees, I caught glimpses of the lake. It looked purple. I took off the literal rose-coloured glasses I wore, and saw a bold baby blue. I was intrigued. As the trees parted, they gave way to an unreal sight. Fog rolled off the shore, where it coalesced at the lake’s centre. I donned the glasses, and saw hues of candy colours blend with the sky. It was truly phenomenal.

I hurried to the lounge, where people chatted quietly. I caught everyone’s attention and said, “Listen folks, please trust me. Grab warm clothes and come down to the dock now. Something magical is happening.”

I stood at the dock’s edge and waited. One by one they walked down. One by one, they were rendered speechless. Jaws dropped all around. “Right?” I whispered. My photographer friend arrived, turned, and ran off for his camera. We marvelled at this utterly unearthly scene. I walked onto the dock for a closer look. I took it all in again. Awareness came to me. I spoke, “I’ve never thought to check before, but this must be what the other side of sunrise looks like.” I felt something stirring. My eyes twitched and my throat tightened. It was all too beautiful, and I didn’t know how to process my awe. I wept. The floodgates opened, and I felt tears coming hot and fast. I gasped for air and doubled over.

My girlfriend noticed, and realisation spread across her face. She wrapped me in a hug. She called to our friends, “Leon’s crying.” Concern warped their expressions. She continued “He hasn’t been able to cry for six months.” Realisation spread further. I felt myself enveloped in my friends’ arms. I kept bawling. A few lingered for solo hugs, and I came back to my breath. I felt open, awake. It’s a memory I’m sure I’ll keep close for years.

So it turns out Mr. Photographer didn’t realise what was happening, and snapped his shot. It’s raw, and such a perfect moment. It takes me right back, to feel that weight and release again. I’m sure memories all fade eventually, but this one carries a whole story.