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?

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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.

Feels just like I’m falling for the first time

First day of work.

I’m excited. It’s weird that my first day of work is in the same building I’ve been travelling to for the past three years. Same floor, etc. A wholly different job though, which couldn’t be more thrilling. I’m starting on the evening shift, 4.30pm – 12.30am. It’s been years since I worked an evening shift. I think the last time was about eight or nine years ago at Sky TV back in New Zealand. I’ll be flip flopping between the evening and day shifts ad infinitum, in a four days on, four days off schedule. Some variety, which means my job duties will vary too. I’m starting off tonight with a live DV (Described Video) being broadcast nationally across Canada. The pressure is there, but I’m psyched for it. It’s been so long since I had skin in the game, where there were consequences for my actions in my work. I didn’t think improv would become part of my job, but that’s all kinds of cool.

I stopped in yesterday on my day off just to shadow my co-worker. He’s been working for the past four days, and he’s already picked up a bunch. I tried to absorb everything I could as through osmosis, learning what I liked about his process, and what I’d do differently. It’s awesome to see how professional he sounds after such a short amount of time. All of my co-workers seem like really adept dudes, and it’s rad seeing how they approach things from a different perspective. It was interesting watching my co-worker describe, and comparing it to how I’d describe the same actions. He did a great job of keeping things simple, not trying to prove anything with excessive vocabulary choice, but to make everything as clear as possible for a visually impaired audience.

At the same time, I was champing at the bit to get in and do some work of my own. I think that’s a good sign, right? That I actively want to be working. I’m keen to get in, get better at this job and start providing an excellent service to enhance viewing experiences for those I can aid. Seems like a fulfilling application of skills I’ve picked up, and have yet to fully develop. For once, I’m content to work through the process stage by stage, instead of trying to instantly go full tilt and make big mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m planning on learning from them. Slow and steady is my mantra, in order to develop an arsenal of skills in lieu of just half-baked enthusiasm with little to back it up.

A lovely development of starting out on the evening shift, is that I get to see my girlfriend during TIFF for once. As she does each year, she’s working the festival. It means mostly evening work, starting later in the afternoon. I’m usually a 9-5er, so this means we can spend the mornings in one another’s company. We can share coffee, have breakfast, and do day prep in each other’s presence. September is usually a split where we go our separate ways. In the first half of the month, she has TIFF in the evenings. In the second half of the month, I go nuts at JFL42, seeing as many shows as possible. This month, we might actually spend time together. What a crazy concept.

In any case, I’m gonna try make it to the gym before work. Time to pack my bag and get my skates on. I don’t wanna be late.

I guess Talk Like A Pirate Day is only three weeks away

It’d been a long time since I last helped host a party.

My girlfriend’s birthday is tomorrow, and she wanted to have a weekend get together in lieu of a big shindig. An “open house” was her idea. Welcoming a big group of people to stop by any time between 11am and 11pm for as long as they liked. A quick drop in hi? Perfect. A lengthy, leisurely hello? Also perfect. Time spent with friends, food and drink. Firing up the barbecue whenever people wanted to eat. Grilled meats and veggies, tons of chips. Mixers and spirits to share. Non-compulsory potluck style, people could bring whatever they wanted to share if they so wished. A neat idea.

It was fantastic in execution too. Nobody showed up until the afternoon, and numbers never got overwhelming. There was a natural flow, with people coming and going as they desired. When it started getting a bit loud inside, we shuffled everyone out to the backyard. We got the grill going and tossed on some sausages. Music played from her computer to a portable speaker. We plugged in a lamp once things got dark. We improvised as we went, and it all worked out. There was tons of food for everyone, and an abundance of leftover chips. A few friends brought booze and happily offered it to others. When things got cold we grabbed them our clothes/blankets/onesies to borrow.

I was in my element. My fervent hope was that my girlfriend could stand back from hosting duties and spend time with her friends while I took the reins. I wanted to take care of our guests and make sure they had everything they needed. I got to have a bunch of drinks and cater it up. If people needed drinks, I made sure they knew all their options. I tried to keep food flowing, putting new sausages on the grill once others came out. We had a butterflied jerk chicken that cooked up beautifully. I somehow walked the fine line of considerate intoxication. It was fun having a ton of tasks. Moving between the grill and the kitchen, checking our glassware supply, keeping a steady stream of clean dishes. Dropping in for a drive by pun or joke, keeping conversation flowing. I got to do all the hosting I wanted, while still enjoying the hell out the get together.

I wonder what excuses I can come up with to have another party…

Look, that poison craving/Every Rose link wasn’t intentional, but I’ll take it

I think there’s a lot of power to the phrase “Holding resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person.” It’s pretty valid.

But also, who’s to say I don’t sometimes have a craving that only poison can satisfy?

Case in point, my girlfriend and I were walking down to some thrift stores to see if I could scope out a potential costume piece for Halloween. I stepped out the front door to check the weather. It was sunny, but there was also this massive dark grey cloud blanketing the sky. I heard the rumble of thunder. Now, I don’t mean I heard one big crack, the rumbling was pervasive. It went on and on in a way I haven’t known thunder to act. Minutes and minutes of low level rumbling. I went back inside to assess if I needed to bring my big floppy sun hat.

I was in a kind of pissy mood for… reasons, and for me this translated into a singleminded problem solving mode. The walk was meant to be a lackadaisical traipse through neighbourhoods, stopping to smell each and every rose. Because of my mood, that faded into the background. I imagine “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was playing low level in my brain. I didn’t want to bring contingency plans for rain. I had my keys, wallet, cellphone and sunnies. Still, the thunder rumbled along. The dark clouds clawed for real estate, and pulled themselves across the sky. I turned to my girlfriend and commented something to the effect of “It’s like we’re in a horror movie, and there was a sign saying “Beware all who enter here”, but we ignored it. Then there was another sign saying “Hey, didn’t you read the sign before this one? Turn back.” But we didn’t. Then another sign cropped up that said “Hey idiot, turn the fuck around already” and we were like hmm, I guess the sign making industry is really booming around here. Then we were likely to be eaten by a grue.” [Okay, the gist was there, but I definitely punched it up in post – Ed]. My girlfriend asked if I wanted to stop in to get a second coffee of the day. I looked at Wallace Espresso, looked up at the sky, and thought out loud.¬†It’s probably gonna take about four minutes to get a coffee, but we might be 10 minutes from a torrential downpour. If we walk instead, we can get to Value Village and be there when it rains. I did not get my second coffee, we crossed the road, and the heavens opened.

Here we were, hiding in the little nook of someone’s front door, and things got biblical. Surprisedpikachu.bmp. Massive gobstopper drops of rain thudding constantly on the ground everywhere. Cars slowed, people frantically ran for cover. Folks shielded from the rain all pulled out their cellphones to film. Keep in mind that it’s been blindingly sunny for the past few weeks. This was out of nowhere. Well, excessive thunder warnings notwithstanding. In my pissy mood, I looked around in a huff and was like¬†well, what did I expect?

I started to think on what we could do. We didn’t have umbrellas, coats, anything. We would just get totally soaked if we tried to make a run for it. The thrift shopping wasn’t especially useful or necessary, it was just something to do. Were we at the ridiculous point of evolution where, if the rain didn’t let up, the logical course of action was to go on our phones, locate a stranger with a car, get in said car and have them drive us home? We were maybe a four minute ride away from our front door. Everything about it was totally absurd. Then my girlfriend turned to me and asked “so how long do we wait until we just call an Uber and go home?” We waited maybe a minute.

So we went home, had a big difficult talk about important relationship stuff, and I felt less pissy. The weather let up and it turned into a surprisingly nice day.

I didn’t come here to write a big ol’ metaphor, but sometimes they write themselves.

They specified 20ml of pee. I was like “I have so much more to give”

We have a quiet day, so I’m taking a little field trip to the Hassle Free Clinic.

It’s been a long long time since I last had a sexual health check-up. I think they’re vitally important for most anyone to be aware of, but especially if you’re seeing multiple partners. I would hate to think I was unintentionally transmitting a condition to anyone. The thing is, once you’re engaging with more than one partner, the knock on effects grow exponentially. You’re no longer just worrying about how you’re affecting a partner, but you’re thinking about their partners too. And if your multiple partners also have multiple partners, your responsibility grows. I’ve been lax, and I’ve felt shitty about it for a while. For so long, I didn’t have other partners, so it felt like I could let it slide. That’s less of the case now. While I happen to be using condoms and other contraceptives, that’s still not 100% preventative. It’s been difficult finding the time to drop in, which has been awfully enabling. Sometimes if it’s important, it’s more about making the time. Sex is great, I want to keep doing it and sharing that experience with others, so it only makes sense to check that the experience is all I’m sharing. It’s far from my first checkup, and it won’t be my last.

I’ve never had an issue before, but I think it’d be obnoxious at best to assume I won’t. I want that information to make informed decisions and own any potential conditions I contract. I’m very fortunate that I haven’t been made to feel stigma around my proclivities, which I’m sure is a gendered thing. The last time I came here (which, after signing the drop in sheet, I discovered was 2013! Jesus Christ), the guy was like “you have only had one or two partners since your last checkup, and you used condoms. I’m not sure this is that necessary”, but as a medical professional he did his job anyway.

It’s pretty packed in here right now, and the wait is probably around an hour. In the office staff’s words, it’s quiet at the moment. For years I felt kind of iffy about what my previous tester had said, but I get it. There are a ton of vulnerable people who need this service, and if I have alternative places to go where some of these folks might feel unsafe, then I’m gumming up the works a little. I could go to my GP if I booked an appointment. I mean, I’m not gonna leave right now, but he had a point. Last time I visited I didn’t have a GP, but I do have that option these days. If the system is to work best, I’d better serve it by exercising my options.

If my last checkup was any indication, I’m likely to be asked about my sexual activity. They’ll probably ask about partner genders, and specific styles of intercourse we’ve engaged in. They’ll get me to pee in a cup (and boy oh boy, have I got some urine locked and loaded), and let me know of anything to be aware of. To be totally candid, I’m getting interested in exploring how my attraction to same sex individuals manifests, and it would be cool to gather knowledge of what I should consider. Sure, that know how is all on the internet, but it feels easier to digest when obtaining that info from a medical professional.

Oh geez, I’ve been called already. Hassle Free indeed.

It had to happen eventually. My Bar Mitzvah was a looong time ago

This week has been a total gift.

I came back from my camping trip with a renewed sense of self. I felt confident and assured in my own abilities. I was at peace with my place in the world, knowing I genuinely liked myself and what I brought to others’ lives. Having had so much unencumbered social time recharged my batteries in a big way. There was a resonant positivity that framed my vision, and even coming back to the office that supplies the bulk of my stress wasn’t a big deal. I guess this is what happens when you take a holiday. I feel like I’ve brought that enthusiasm along to every interaction I’ve had in the past few days.

You know what? This week has been downright unusual. A bunch of stuff has been going on, despite the short workweek. Yesterday I powered through a bunch of extra stuff. I’ve been applying for jobs and taking on extra curricular duties. I’ve also been maxing out my time spent relating to others. Moving on quickly from conversations in order to prioritise work efficiency and get the fuck home hasn’t been my central goal. I’ve brought with me the lackadaisical but easy types of connections I formed over the weekend.

I chatted with some woman in the kitchen about her kids’ development around water. I prompted a chat with others waiting for the elevator on weird and specific elevator behaviours. I talked with a former team member who hasn’t been out of reach, but gave me a new perspective on our old departmental arrangements. I’ve complimented people on their outfits and stylistic choices. I just got off a bus where I noticed the person sitting next to me had a weird anime sneeze, and it was a real amicable chat with a single serving stranger. I talked with the RPM instructor post class, and she told me I’d be a good fit to run classes, that I should look into it. Maybe I will. Some cash on the side and getting paid to keep fit. It sort of feels like I smiled at The Universe, and it nodded back.

I’ve realised how many people I’ve lost touch with. Not out of a lack of love, but timing issues and low batteries. Spending hours grabbing tea with someone I really like made me realise it’s something I need to prioritise. My list of people I’ve made plans with in the past few months, then one of us cancelled, is hovering somewhere above 20 individuals. All of which I could easily spend a good eight hours with one on one. I got home last night, exhausted and with a strong desire to play Magic and retreat into the internet. Instead I found myself sitting on the couch with my girlfriend just shooting the shit and checking out Natal Charts. Goofing off. I realised pretty quickly that it was time better spent than on a video game, no matter how much I love it. I’ve been retreating a lot lately, but I’m not sure why. I think moving away from that is within my best interests. Who is it that I want to be, and how can I most embody that? If I’m gonna thrive, I think the answer is through finding connection.

Folks, I think I’m finally growing up.