I don’t know where we were, but we were driving on the left hand side.

I had too much boredom coffee today, which means one of two things: I’m either high or dying. In any case, let’s get this show on the road!

I had a sex dream last night. It was pretty tame, but if you’re not into going down this route (both those puns entirely intentional), the last exit is on the right.

Coolsville, daddio. I don’t have a heap of sex dreams. Or if I do, it’s rare for me to remember them. I’m not a teenager anymore. It’s not like the sight of an open avocado is enough to send me into an eroticised tailspin. My mind is no longer a rabid howler monkey intent on flinging its shit at whatever sticks. It’s more like a chimp. Closer to human, but still not afraid to flay a face or two. When I do have sex dreams now, they’re more controlled. A tighter narrative than errant flesh and flowing water. Let’s go.

I’m not sure where I was in a geographical sense. I was travelling for work, but I was at a bar for sure. I was chatting with the bartender, nursing a whiskey and in walked Scarlett Johansson. I know what you’re thinking. Couldn’t my subconsciousness be more imaginative? It’s got unlimited pasture in which to run free. Not only did it not need to be a celebrity, but dreams are abstract. It could’ve been a humanoid alien or something. Get creative for (literally) my fuck’s sake. Anyway, in the dream I played it cool and kept sipping my drink and minding my own business. She sidled up to the bar and ordered a vodka on the rocks. We started chatting and it was obviously a dream, because I was not only quippy, but charming. We hit it off and soon enough I had to leave. I said she was welcome to join me. She did.

Two things somehow made even less sense. 1) I knew I was off to do some work. Would I ditch work IRL to spend time with a movie star? I mean, probably. In the dream though, I was resolute in heading for an office. Secondly, we decided to drive. We’d both had a bunch, but in dreamland our intoxication didn’t seem to matter. She had a rental, some smooth black convertible. It was her car, I knew this, but for some reason I jumped in the driver’s seat. We zipped along the highway and got caught up in traffic. Things in the car were steaming up. We were both pretty touchy and started working all up on each other. Hands darted down to laps and grasped hold. It was obvious we were both into it, but neither of us cared to go down on one another in the middle of the highway. My desire to get to work dwindled. Did we want to rent a hotel room? Find somewhere to turn off pull up the roof and get to business?

We stopped and tried to work out a strategy. I said that we clearly weren’t the only people who’d have these qualms. How often did people want quick and easy places in public to take some down time? What if, I posited, there were hidden locations you could access purely for having sex? She pulled out her phone and made some calls. We turned off the highway and headed to an office somewhere. We were in a boardroom chatting to the small team she’d assembled. There were engineers, architects, lawyers and accountants. I laid my plans out on the table. We talked specs and locations. There was agreement all around. This was not only a solid idea, but had long lucrative legs.

Cut back to the highway. We were both back in the car, but she was driving this time. We took a left exit that led down to a secluded swamp. I pressed a button on the remote and a hidden tunnel opened up. We drove through and saw a large cavern with hundreds of little alcoves. We drove into one of the alcove and a door closed behind us. Lights sprung on and we were in a private room with a bed, cross and a bunch of toys. I looked over to her and raised my eyebrow (it was a dream, so somehow this wasn’t seen as seedy and reprehensible) and asked her “so should we road test the equipment?” She grinned and hopped onto my lap.

If only this was as feasible in real life.

Advertisements

Am I too contrite to make an Aziz An-sorry pun? Looks like I’m just trite.

I want to talk about the Aziz allegations, because I think it’s worth putting thoughts out there. I’d like to emphasise that I’m not aiming to grandstand, to throw out some pointed think piece to put people in their place. My experiences aren’t relevant enough for that, there are better voices to listen to. Still, some conversation (is that what it’s called when I put words out into an echo chamber?) is better than none.

With all the allegations flying around right now, I’m sure everyone has a list. Some desert island top five of celebrities who you’re only wanting to hear squeaky clean things from. That may not even be the best way of putting it, ’cause frankly we all want to continue to believe that our faves are beyond issue. However, this ever-relevant piece by Ijeoma Oluo stands true. Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of dudes that I really, really don’t want to hear shit about. Aziz was on my list, as I’m sure he was for most. He’s made some great television, written a well-received book on dating, had compelling stand up bits and half-staked his career on the notion that he’s one of the good guys. It’s to the credit of his work that a bunch of people likely responded to his allegations with oh, is that it?

Pieces like this from the New York Times: Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader. Seeking to find fault in the victim’s behaviour, her lack of verbal rejection or conviction in getting the fuck out of an uncomfortable situation. Making it her problem that she wasn’t more direct in avoiding an unpleasant interaction. I get it. I want to keep on enjoying his material guilt free. The most prevalent reaction I’ve seen online has been that’s not assault. It’s just bad sex. I get it. I understand this reaction 100%. Why? Because I’ve been Aziz before.

I can recall a number of times in my early sexual experiences where I entirely ignored clues of disinterest. Whether this was out of ignorance or wilful desire, there’s no question that I was placing my wants over the comfort of others. Taking a soft “no” as a “not right now”. Slipping my hand between a partner’s legs and being rebuffed, only to try again ten minutes later. Pushing for sex when I got the sense she wasn’t interested, but I was. I don’t think I ever pressured a partner enough that she relented and gave in to get it over with. I did, however, fail to create a sexual environment where enthusiastic consent was imperative. I’m certain that I’m not the only guy who could admit as much. In fact, I’m quite sure that similar stories are likely more of the norm than we’d care to admit. I’m sure many guys wouldn’t even see fault with my behaviour. That’s why there’s fault in how Aziz acted. That’s why the culture of sexual consent in our society needs a major restructuring.

My initial response to the Aziz allegations was resigned frustration. As I said above, I’ve been there before. I’d hoped that someone like Aziz would be better than that, which clearly was hoping for too much. I was embarrassed that Aziz, who was 33 at the time, was behaving like a 21 year old. I was embarrassed that this behaviour in my mind was classified as that of a typical 21 year old. Unlike most of the allegations that’ve come out, this one has resonated with me the most. Why? Because these aren’t the shocking actions of a serial abuser like Harvey Weinstein. According to many of the female voices I’ve heard, they’re pretty run of the mill. That’s why it’s important men listen to what’s being said and swim in how it makes them feel.

If they’re not embarrassed or frustrated, maybe they should look at why that is. This movement marks a departure from what we all considered normal and a necessity to explore past experiences for egregious activity. We need to look at what we’ve done in order to learn how to be better. It’s important to sit with guilt, to use it to recalibrate both expectations and behaviour. The system is broken and fixing it is gonna take wilful intention and education.

Do I think Aziz is a monster who deserves to be stripped of his career? Honestly, despite what I’ve said today, I don’t. I think his story deserves to be out there as a cultural learning moment. I think he needs to have a long look at his past experiences and create meaningful change from here on out. I think if his heart is really where he’s made it out to be, that he should use his platform to admit fault and be a role model for the great many men who think he did nothing wrong.

As for me, I’ve spent years trying to unlearn what I took for granted. I’m not done yet. The movement may be called Time’s Up, but for a bunch of us it’s just begun.

More like High Confide-lity.

It’d hardly be an exaggeration to say that “nostalgia” was one of my six senses. It’s likely on a higher rung than smell. My nose is a fickle friend, but my brain is so laden with memories that touching, seeing, hearing or tasting something is enough to make me tumble back in time. My friend recently started a dating podcast. It’s in its infancy, but both episodes released so far are fantastic. Of course they are, she’s a real life matchmaker. In the most recent episode, she has a conversation with her husband. It’s great. He’s a wonderful dude and he so eloquently and systematically lays out perceptive analysis of himself and his dating experiences. At the same time, so much of what he said resonated intimately with my own experiences. It was like being 20 again, but with the filter only meaningful life experiences can provide.

I was a different person back in my 20s. Naturally some core attributes were still the same. I’ve always loved words and puns, been obsessed with pop-culture. I’ve been fiercely passionate about the things I’ve cared for since I knew how to form an opinion. At the same time, ten years ago I was still very much learning who I was. Hatching from the shelter of an educational system and crawling out into the adult world meant some harsh lessons were incoming. I had to grow and change in order to truly be my own person.

Yeah? I’m sure you’re asking doesn’t everyone? Sure they do. My particular struggles focused around one thing: Confidence. In some areas I strutted by comfortably. I knew I was smart, capable and likeable. Dating though? I had all the experience and wisdom of a child. Years of being overweight had crippled my self-confidence. I questioned why anyone would find me interesting or attractive. I’d say that I crashed and burned, but frankly it was so rare for me to put myself out there that I rarely had the chance. I’d get these deep and debilitating crushes where one conversation was enough to make me obsessively swoon. I’d waste an alarming amount of emotional energy fretting about how to navigate my interest, how unlikely it was that there was reciprocal attraction, etc.

Po, my friend in the podcast episode I linked above, addresses this well. He mentions how outward approval can become your sole motivation in dating. This hit hard. I used to care so much about how the other person thought about me that I’d disregard how I felt about myself. Clearly I didn’t matter, only they did. If I wasn’t the kind of person they wanted, I needed to be. I’d have to change myself to be commensurate with their desires. Po also talks about pedestal-ing, or infatuation causing you to build up the subject of attraction to a level of idolatry. This would happen to me constantly. I’d see myself as some kind of lower life form, which ironically is the least attractive thing a person could do. My response to my own feelings were directly pushing away the people I wanted to get closer to.

Worse, this had a negative impact in any relationships that followed. By seeing the object of my affection as more important than myself, I developed the habit of forcing myself to mould around their desires. While it was great to invest in someone else and care about them, the unfortunate side effect was disregarding my own needs. I’m sure you can see how this would effect long term relationships, right? Of course they all imploded. Unhappiness does that. I’d become gradually more wound up and embittered and that would seep into my view of the relationship. By exclusively catering to them, I also divested them of the opportunity to give back. People who love each other enjoy being able to help their partners and I was stripping them of that recourse.

I’m on the precipice of my 30th year, and certain things are becoming abundantly clear. Time is a gift. I’ve learned that piece by piece with each passing solar cycle. Each rotation only drives the point home. Perspective is everything. It not only helps us understand why the past occurred the way it did, but how better to shape our future. Dwelling with dread doesn’t serve us one iota, but reflection can help us better see the best path forward.

Or am I blatantly trying to justify watching High Fidelity for the 80th time?

In retrospect the heart swelling could just be from the immense quantity of bacon I ate.

I am a shadow of a functioning human. After seeing a mostly unremarkable year off with a downright remarkable party, today has been spent stewing in my own fragile state. I partied hard, slept little and paid the price. In my eyes, an equivalent exchange. Enough about me being a mope though, how was the shindig?

Firstly, some scene setting. One of our friends decided she wanted to go all out and have a mega fancy house party for new years. She and her boyfriend planned everything and set out making it happen. They painted the basement and turned it into a big plounge area. They set up a dance floor with visualisations on the projector and lights everywhere. They’d asked for $20/$10 from all attendees based on what they could afford, in order to cover costs. They used the money to stock the place with all manner of necessities. There were all kinds of hors d’oeuvres: mini quiches, shrimp cocktail, charcuterie, cheeses, crackers and chips. Frozen snacks like samosas and a fuckton of pizzas. A host of mixes, juices and soft drinks. The bar was filled with a ton of champagne bottles and spirits. Most importantly, there was a chocolate fountain. Like I said, it was a fancy fucking soiree.

The party also had varying zones. The ground floor was the general party zone. It was all about fancy dress, dapper attire. At a certain point in the evening, many stripped down to lingerie, underwear or classy lounge attire. The basement plounge was a space for cuddling, clothing optional garb and, if people felt like it, consenting light sexual play. There were bedrooms upstairs that had been rented out in which guests were welcome to engage in more intimate interactions. The couple hosting had written a lengthy mandatory rules post covering the importance of consent and acceptable behaviour in different areas of the house. It was pretty rad entering a space with a certain understanding that people would be on the level.

It all went off without a hitch. The party was fucking stellar. I got to catch up with a ton of great friends and met a bunch more. I got to sync up LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yourself Clean” like I wanted so the beat kicked in as the clock struck midnight. I drank, well, obviously a bunch. I chowed down constantly and had a pretty happy tummy. Also with everyone all dolled up, there were wall to wall babes. We all dressed to kill and looked like it. After the formal wear came off, it was wonderful to feel so comfy in my smoking jacket and underwear. My girlfriend and I ended up crashing in the plounge sometime around 6am. An unbelievably great night.

Today was spent working my way out of purgatory by being a useless fucking lump. My head hurt, I felt nauseous and threw up until I had only bile left to give. It was biblical. Friends being friends, helped. One of my friends made me a Bloody Caesar for some hair of the dog remedy. A guy gave me a quick five minute reiki massage that helped a ton. People pitched in to make omelettes and bacon for everyone. I ate all day. We lay about the living room and watched The Jerk, Shrek and Brooklyn Nine Nine on the projector. In my state I took maybe 45 minutes to make frozen pizzas, after foolishly assuming the Fahrenheit based oven was in Celsius. 220° F isn’t enough to melt cheese in 15 minutes, apparently. So after a while, we ate pizza. I had another Caesar. I ate chips even though I didn’t really want them. We eventually ordered Thai. After a day of doing absolutely nothing, I feel mildly queasy, but my heart is swollen with love. If this is any indication of the year to come, it’s gonna be hard to beat.

Tomorrow I start keto. Even if this year rocks, this month will be an uphill climb.

I, for one, plan on dancing myself clean of 2017 tonight.

New Year’s Eve. Not that all new years are created even. My 2017 was a trying time. It was a year where things felt stagnant. I’ve never experienced such a strong sense of inertia. I had a lot of dismay around my career and the lack of progress. For the first time in quite a while I actively worried about where I was going with my life. There was a general sensation of “fine but unexciting” which I’m guessing is what adulthood is all about. Towards the end some wheels began turning, which makes me think that 2018 could be a year of meaningful recalibration. A personal state of the nation and mission statement towards living the life I want. 2017: Not a total trash fire, but a necessary pit stop.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Here are some neat things I did in 2017:

  • I turned 30. To celebrate, I visited my friends and family back in New Zealand.
  • I ticked Los Campesinos off my bucket list.
  • I visited Montreal. Twice.
  • Trained for Tough Mudder on my own and saw massive results.
  • Had a Portland vacation/culinary awakening.
  • Saw my most JFL42 shows ever. 33 gigs over ten days.
  • Made a bunch of new friendships and greatly deepened a few existing ones.
  • Conducted my first ever business pitch meeting, despite being terrified to do so.

There was more, of course. It’s impossible to sum up the ebb and flow of an entire year in a bunch of bullet points and still capture its nuance. I mean, I took a bunch of great poops too, but I somehow they didn’t make the list. Speaking of shit, I thought it’d be neat to look back at some of my New Year’s celebrations that weren’t so happy.

The year 2000 had been riddled with hype. The banks were gonna reset, the world would implode and we’d all ride a wave of mutilation into Armageddon. Instead, I developed a rampant and highly contagious skin rash. I had to be doused in anti-bacterial cream and, being 12 years old, had no grand plans in any case. One of my friends and I rented an N64 from the video store. We played Super Smash Bros all day and night until the Willenium approached. We loaded up on V (a popular guarana based NZ energy drink) and went down to the wharf to watch the New Years fireworks. They were all kinds of uninspiring and I was quite dismayed that the world didn’t end.

Somewhere between 2008-2010 we had a house party. I was surrounded by friends and I was in my early 20s. We’d all planned to be… not sober? Unfortunately we spent $60 on duds and spent the entire night anxiously waiting for them to kick in. The evening shat the bed big time and we drank while mourning the times we could’ve had. Oh to be young again.

In 2011 I was in New York with a group of friends. I finally found somewhere that had Four Loko and I grabbed two cans. I drank one and a half cans (or approximately Six Loko), which kicked in quickly. My friend’s teetotaller boyfriend kept plying me with alcohol and I got way too drunk and emotional. I’d broken up with my longtime girlfriend a few months before leaving for the vacation and hadn’t really processed it. I started loudly weeping, but fortunately my friends just laughed at my misfortune and I didn’t harsh their buzz. Then we went to The Katz’ Deli and I almost got kicked out for significantly failing to understand their ticket based order system.

Last year my girlfriend and I were travelling to New Zealand on the 31st of December. We kissed in Los Angeles at Toronto midnight while eating sub-par, overpriced airport sushi. Then I failed to sleep on planes for the next 20 or so hours.

Let’s raise a toast to everyone’s New Year’s plans being better than any of the ones I just mentioned.

See you next year.

It was gorge-ous, in case you were quarry-ous.

Adventure day! After many days in a row stuck in Toronto, escape was on the docket. Destination: Elora, a little town maybe 90 minutes out of the city. Where do I start? Well, nothing could keep us from repeating the town’s name in a sing song voice à la Master of None.

With no aux capabilities on the stereo, my girlfriend was forced (enabled?) Into bringing out her teenage CD wallet. We zoomed along the 401 highway cranking a Much Dance compilation and Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill. We weren’t merely travelling, but time travelling. It was interesting getting used to a) driving again, b) driving in snow and c) driving again in snow on the other side of the road. I’m not gonna be melodramatic enough to say that everything changed, but some things threw me off a little. First off, right hand turns on a red. I can’t even remember if there was an equivalent rule back in New Zealand, but it felt like stealing bases. A free pass! The left side being the driver’s side was odd. Mostly when reversing. Every time I had to back up I’d instinctively turn to my left and end up facing the door. Then I’d turn to the right, grab the headrest of the right seat and turn my wheels the wrong way.

Elora was small, walkable and cute. A ton of niche stores with the kind of stuff adults buy to make a house look well travelled. First stop was the Elora Brewing House. It was exactly what you’d expect from a brewery, which I mean only as a compliment. Tasty pub style food and a range of beer on tap. I had a chicken sammy with bacon jam, lettuce and tomato. The home made tomato sauce was super flavorful with a strong ginger taste. The hot sauce was potent and I’m bound to feel it again later.

We checked out a couple of the boutiques around town. The Mermaid Emporium had heaps of inexpensive and nice looking jewelry. Not merely that, but an extensive collection of custom door knockers, handles and coat hooks. Have you ever had a hankering for hanging your coats on a line of dog butts? If not, we wouldn’t connect on any wavelength and I question why you’re reading this. My girlfriend and our travelling buddy bought a couple of things and we set out to see what else the town held. We looked into a bunch of windows, then settled on a cringeworthy looking gift store. It had more than the usual complement of Live Laugh Love placards and some eerily targeted divorce wine glasses. I guess there’s a market for everything.

The gorge and quarry, two local attractions we’d been keen to check out, were in opposite directions. People had suggested the quarry would likely resemble a large hole filled with snow, so the gorge sounded slightly more promising. In the summer it offered zipline routes, but covered in snow there were instead just empty tracks. We walked through them, playing in the snow like witless children. We stood on the zipline platform and witnessed the beautiful vista of the frozen gorge. We followed the track to a walkable over-bridge and saw an even better view, lit by the pink hues of fading sunlight. The cliffs were steep, indebted and chipped away through time. A small river ran through the mostly icy depths, opening up as it ran past the bridge. We messed around in the snow a bit more until frostbite threatened to claim our appendages. We hopped back in the car back towards home, content with a fun day out. So fun, in fact, that I forgot how much I wanted a fish sandwich until we were too far to turn around. Well, well, well, Elora, I guess you haven’t seen the last of me!

Sleighing it.

This place has descended into chaos and I love it. It’s a total mess, which couldn’t be more indicative of our frenetic and magical cohabitation. It feels like Christmas, but more so it feels like our Christmas. We have our weird little blue tree with its Star Lord topper. The central heating is causing our hand drawn pictures to periodically fall to the floor (blue tak and all that). Our sense of time has fallen away after a night out at a friend’s place. There’s no structure and bedlam is the word of the day. Bedlamham?

No festive ham, but we are having ribs. This recipe, to be exact. We had an 11am Skype date with my girlfriend’s mum, so waking up at 10am I got to work prepping the ribs. I lathered them in garlic, salt and pepper, then mixed the sauce. It couldn’t have been easier, just a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce and 180ml of coke. Put the ribs in the slow cooker, drenched them in the sauce and left them on low. They’re five hours in and smell divine. They’re gonna be unbelievable flanked by sweet potato fries and maybe some broccoli if we’re feeling sporty.

My girlfriend got me a nice little stay at home kit for Christmas. It had dark hot chocolate mix and home made cookies/marshmallows that one of our baking-ly gifted friends put together. We started the morning off with special hot chocolates, mixed with a liberal application of Baileys cherry chocolate. If this all sounds idyllic, keep in mind that it involved me accidentally tripping one of the fuses in the kitchen. The guy who lives downstairs (and thus has access to the fuse box) is away for some amount of time (hopefully just today) so a section of our place is without power. Oopsies. I had to plug the microwave/kettle into the hallway. Accordingly, making my breakfast meant crouching down on the floor in my giraffe onesie, taking my porridge out of the microwave to stir in peanut butter, then putting it back in. Looking around I saw the stack of pictures that’d fallen down, the kitchen table used as storage space, the microwave and kettle on the hallway floor, our weird little tree. I smelt the ribs cooking away. I don’t know that I’ve felt more at home in a while.

To truly go with the theme, we’re gonna have our own little home made Jewish Christmas. We’ve still got Kill Bill: Volume 2 in the chamber ready to fire off at will. In lieu of ordering Chinese food, we’re gonna cook up a stir fry and pig out (before pigging out on pig ribs later on). We have no reason to put on clothes for hours and only leisure on our schedule. It may be lawless chaos, but I have no complaints.

Wherever you’re at, whatever you’re up to. I hope you’re double-fisting merriment and cheer.