Life’s a lich and then you die. Better pack a phylactery

Apparently I could have a fractured wrist.

It’s convoluted, but I went to a walk in on Sunday. Got an x-ray yesterday. Today the results were faxed to my GP. My GP is on holiday, so another doctor called back with my results. Supposedly it’s fractured and I’ve made an appointment tonight to have it checked out. Pray for Mojo.

With my feeble limbs-a-flappin’, I’ve had idle time for idle thoughts. While trying to sculpt a dumb lich pun yesterday (as you do), I wondered about being a lich. Would that be an enjoyable (un)lifestyle? It could be all sorts of snazzy to have mind control, immortality (tied to my handy phylactery of course) and the ability to summon skeleton friends. Thing in, liches are undead. I don’t think they need to eat, sleep or have sex. I’m not sure where the boundaries lie, but do they have internal organs? Muscles and tendons? A heart? You can have all the power in the world, but from the perspective of a human, what good is power without the pleasure it can provide? I’m not a rich person, but I imagine people do it so they can enjoy the finer things in life. To some people I guess this would be respect and admiration, or the ability to abuse your station in order to manifest your desires. I don’t know that this particularly appeals to me. I’d love to have access to all the best things, but not enough that I’d give up my connections or desire to struggle. Without conflict, these things have precious little meaning. I’d want to feel creatively actualised, following pursuits or passions. More than that, I’d want love around me. Do liches love? What warms the cockles of the icy space where their heart once was?

This is a thought experiment, so we can go further. What attributes would I love to have? The ability of flight? To be able to swim the depths of the ocean? Endless stamina? Telekinesis? Cool light-up body parts? A chitinous exoskeleton? An incurably curious mind? Mental alacrity? Super speed? What would I give up of my humanity for them? What would I not want? When I start putting words to what I have to lose, I’m coming up short. Like the original thesis, it’s all the stuff I feared losing to lichdom. My brittle bones? Tactile sensation? Taste buds? Soft skin? Tenderness? My capacity for heartbreak? Memories? Emotional resonance? It reads like a list of what it is to feel. To be human.

Could I give up humanity?

Maybe I lack conviction. Perhaps it’s having been encultured with a human perspective. It’s possible that I don’t possess the ambition to think on a large enough scale. I’m not sure I could give it up. I love my humanity. The knowledge that I’m fallible is what keeps me trying. None of this is worth anything if you don’t have to sweat, bleed or cry for it.

I suppose that’s worth an injured limb or three.

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Now that’s over with, can I get a redux?

I’ve consumed a lot of coffee today. I can’t give you a good reason as to why. Suffice to say I’m underworked and understimulated and one of these seemed more fun to fix than the other.

The outcome was twofold. Firstly, I listened to a hell of a lot of K-pop. I’ve been joking with a friend of mine about attending a K-pop gig for a while. At some point, it stopped being a joke and became something we decided to commit to. A couple of weeks ago we found a gig and put down money for the tickets. I was talking with a co-worker today about actually learning K-pop music. To date, I’d only really watched a multitude of videos on silent while eating gamjatang. If I was gonna dance to K-pop, the experience would be exponentially more enjoyable with added familiarity. Plus I’m not into half-assing most anything. I found a playlist on Deezer and started listening.

I fucking loved it. The ballads are kind of boring, but the more danceable stuff is a glorious fusion of world musics, brought together under a catchy mantle. I’m getting irrationally excited for this gig, but that may just be the unhealthy amount of coffee speaking.

I did say twofold, didn’t I? The other fold was as thus. As a kind of book-end to my online dating experiences, I wrote the following post for my Facebook friends:

 

After deciding to leave online dating, I had a thought last night.

I miss the experience of dating, of creating new/deepening emotional connections with people. Also being Toronto, I have a myriad of friends I don’t get to see enough.

In an intentional manner, I’d like to both recreate the experience of dating and further casual non-sexual intimacy with the people I love in my life: My friends.

I want to start going on “dates” with friends. I want to have new experiences and dig deep into all those squishy feelings I have for so many of you. I want to do stuff, but with the conceit that “this is a date”. Let’s play with the set-up that we’re trying to bring the best out in one another and grow closer as a result. Let’s learn more about each other and connect on an emotionally intimate level. To be honest, I think this is most of what I’d be looking for out of internet dating, but the fun part is getting to do it with people I already know I like.

Let’s go to concerts, events, active excursions, personal scavenger hunts, play 21 questions or spend a day doing our best Green Card re-enactment.

If this is something you think would be fun, let me know. The next time I’m itching for a date, I’ll reach out. If you have no plans one evening and want a date, message me.

It should go without saying that gender couldn’t be more irrelevant. In case it hasn’t, dudes, very much get at me too.

 

I hope this has given you whatever closure you were seeking. My life may be an open book, but that doesn’t mean it’s without chapters.

Am I the only one who remembers “Honey to the B” era Billie Piper?

I quit Bumble.

Not only that, I deleted the app and closed my account. I think I might be done with online dating.

I used Bumble for under a week. I was excited by the prospect of a woman making the first move. During those six days I swiped through literally thousands of women. On average, I’d guess that I swiped right once every 20-30 women. If you don’t speak Bumble, right-swipers are people you’re interested in chatting with. Alternatively, far-right swipers are far less desirable. Why did so few women meet my criteria? Why am I such a prize that I can be so selective? Let’s get some stuff out of the way first. I went through this when I first installed the app, but just in case, here’s a shortlist:

  • Most profiles only have photos. If you can’t write a bio, then I know nothing about you.
  • Your Instagram and Spotify say some stuff about you, sure. However, if you still can’t put the effort into writing anything about yourself, how could I see you as someone who’d put effort into a relationship?
  • If people did write profiles, they were often homogeneous. A yogi looking for a partner in life who loves to laugh/is funny, enjoys tacos, the Leafs, travel, craft beer, has a dog, is tall, wants something meaningful and doesn’t play games. Or they’d use an obviously copy/pasted quote. Or endless emojis. If this app is anything to go by, women on the whole are honestly, Basic. I’m sure dudes are too.
  • Of course attraction comes into play. If someone met my criteria but I didn’t find them cute, they’d get the swipe left too. I don’t think that differs from real life.

So, thousands of women. Let’s say 2000 as a ballpark figure. It’s probably not far off. If I’m matching one out of every 20-30, let’s round it up to about 100 right swipes. Keep in mind, those are right swipes that (in my very selective criteria) have been screened for resonant personalities and/or interests. Not only people that I liked, but people who I thought may have reflexively been interested in me. So of 100 right swipes, how many matches did I get?

Zero. Not one. No interest in me whatsoever.

I thought about it. I was constantly updating my profile. As I flicked through more profiles, I learned more about common structure. I changed certain aspects to be tighter, wittier. I added or dropped aspects that seemed unnecessary or unappealing. I caved and mentioned that I was from New Zealand (something I know people enjoy, but doesn’t feel like success on my own merits), just to see if it would attract more attention. The big caveat that I refused to budge on was announcing right at the top of my profile that I was poly. Available, but partnered. If that was gonna be a dealbreaker for someone, I wanted them to know right away so I wouldn’t waste a minute of their time. No part of my excursion into dating apps was with the intention of misleading a single soul. I knew this would be an issue for a bunch of people. Maybe that was why I wasn’t getting much interaction. I’d scared people off by being poly?

I suspected there was more to it.

As an aside, it was both neat and weird seeing people on there that I knew in real life. If it was a friend, that was cute. It was interesting seeing how they presented themselves in a dating format. In virtually every single case of finding a friend’s profile, my brain said they’re funnier, smarter and prettier than that offline. I guess I’m not the only one who sucks at summarising themselves into a digestible soundbite. It’s hard to be 3D in Flatland. Occasionally I’d see people from my workplace and that felt invasive. I didn’t like it one iota. These women had a right to privacy and I felt like I’d unintentionally broken that. I know I hadn’t done anything wrong, but it didn’t feel that way. I can’t imagine what it’d be like using a location-tracking app like Happn in a large corporation. I’d rather not think about it.

Anyway, this morning I found myself looking at a familiar profile. It was someone I briefly dated before realising we had better chemistry as pals. I knew for a fact that she’d been with her beau for some time now. I was also pretty sure she’d left most of her dating apps. I messaged her:

Me: “Hey hey. You just came up on my Bumble. So now I’m wondering, just how many dead profiles have I been swiping on?”
Her: ELL OH ELL.
Her: My past lives on in the Matrix!

I thought back to all my friends and co-workers I’d seen. One of my old physiotherapists, even. None of the pictures were fresh. The profiles seemed a tad stale. Had I been upturning a tomb of dead profiles? Users who’d deleted the app, but not their profile? A lot of people had complained about bots on the service, fake profiles. Were they just remnants of those who’d been and gone? Was I merely causing a ruckus in an echo chamber? What was the point?

I chatted with my friend and the more we talked, the more I realised that the service really wasn’t suited to me. There was no matching algorithm to ensure that those who you swiped through suited you in some fashion. Bumble was just throwing everyone in their Rolodex at you so you’d be overwhelmed by the illusion of options. I thought back to my days using OkCupid seriously. It’d be pretty rare for me to look at profiles below a 92% match. I was pretty picky in that top 8% too. Why waste your time with an unsuitable match? Why settle and go through the motions with someone who was just “fine”? Dating someone wasn’t important enough to me that I wanted it to be a chore. Things would happen organically, right?

Today I thought back to my years using online dating. At a guess, I’ve maybe sent out something in the realms of 800+ messages. Every single message I sent out was unique. The thought of delivering a canned line felt abhorrent and a terrible way to start a connection. I probably got about 40 back, most of those being thanks but no thanks (which I always appreciated. At least I could move on instead of wondering what if). I had one or two relationships. I met a couple of long-lasting friends. The bulk of my time, however, was sending effort, intention and emotions out into the aether and getting nothing back.

Like all my friends I saw on Bumble, I don’t come across well online. I’m either too goofy and childish or pretentious and cold. Thing is, I’m all of those things in different contexts. As everyone is, I’m well-rounded and nuanced. I’m three dimensional. In person I’m charismatic and self-confident. I can read social cues and shape the conversation around them. I understand the implication of tone and the weight of words. I can be charming face to face because that’s the world I understand. I’m a social guy and I don’t take a lack of interest personally. If getting more familiar with someone is the worst that can happen, that’s a pretty high floor.

So I think that’s where I am. For the time being, my online persona can take a knee. I miss the energy and excitement of dating, but frankly I’m pretty fucking chuffed with my girlfriend. I’m in no rush or hurry to meet others. If it happens organically (or good friends wanna try their hand at some old fashioned knitting circle matchmaking…), that’d slot into my life a lot more cleanly. If it doesn’t, I’m very far from being unhappy.

And in a week, maybe my thumbs will be strong enough again for a quality thumbs up.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

I’m not sure why, but I’m in a real punchy, combative mood at today. I just feel unsettled, like there’s a crest within arm’s reach and I’m simmering in the boring body of the wave. As if all I need is to break through to what lies beyond and I’ll be surfing on top of the world. Whatever expectations I had getting out of bed, today has fallen short.

Maybe I feel cheated after waking up. I had some bananas party dream. A huge group of us had rented out a mansion on an island and everything was top shelf. We were stocked with high end liquor, the place was spacious, stylish and lavish to the extreme. Pretty sure there were several hot tubs. Even cooler, there were random platforms and hidden areas strewn throughout. Some areas were accessible only by descending ladders or climbing ropes. It was like a video game. Every now and again there’d be a cool looking nook or cranny that required a leap of faith, coupled with pulling yourself up. At some stage during the weekend, a guy from work (who I’ve never hung out with outside the office) tapped me on the shoulder and told me to follow him.

He began an assortment of parkour manoeuvres and I responded in kind, keeping a few steps behind him. We jumped off structures, there were flips, tunnels where we crawled on our bellies and an actual cave. With no trepidation, I jumped down the hole and looked around. It was a glorious video arcade. They had everything. All the Capcom Vs series, the classic MAME consoles, every permutation of DDR you could imagine, a wall of shooting games, pinball and those fairground games where you win tickets to exchange for prizes. It was a dream come true, but as I woke to the real world, my dream had not come true. There was no arcade. Just my bedside table and a clock with twenty minutes until I had to get up. I felt cheated.

It’s silly, because at the end of the day I don’t have much to complain about. I’m going to a space pirate toga party tonight. Knowing the crew (pun actually not intended), it’s surely gonna be bacchanalian as hell. There’ll be a ton of friends I haven’t seen in ages. The kind of folks who attend these events are raucous, but not necessarily inconsiderate. I’m sure there’ll be heaps of awesome costumes, stellar performances and wicked conversation. I’ll have a bunch of drinks then get rowdy myself. My kind of party, my kind of night.

At the moment though? At the moment I’m almost craving an argument. I want someone to come at me so I can snap back and reduce them to rubble. It makes no sense, right? I’m not that kind of person.

Maybe Bumble is making me angry. Perhaps I’m tired of self proclaimed yogis (get yourself a girl who can do this), people who are fluent in sarcasm and dog moms. People who use Instagram as a stand in for a personality. Those seeking a “partner in crime” or “something real”. The foodies, fitness freaks and fun enthusiasts. Anyone writing “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose” unironically. I’m here chastising people and realistically I’m no better. Before I thought better of it, my profile picture was of me and an errant lynx I found wandering around the workplace. Of course people are gonna see that as me with a sedated big cat and see me as an asshole, even though the real story was far from that. I’m doing the same with them too, right? Drawing quick inferences from a few pictures and words? I hate the system and I want to know more that 500 characters will give me. Also it’s weirding me out that I keep seeing people who work at the same company. It feels seedy and intrusive. Like I now know a side of them I wasn’t meant to. That’s a vulnerable position and I don’t feel right having that information.

But mostly I’m missing my arcade. That’s the worst betrayal of all.

Am I not the quintessential bumbling idiot?

I might be addicted to Bumble.

As I said yesterday, I’ve been listening to a lot of dating podcasts lately. To be more accurate, I’ve mainlined 30 odd episodes of Why Oh Why in the past four days. Also as I said yesterday, I have this sort of apathetic attitude to dating. It’d be nice, but I’m also not lacking in anything and can’t be bothered putting much effort in. Still, the more that Andrea Silenzi talks about her experiences with all these dating apps, the more curious I am about trying them. I’ve dabbled with Tinder once or twice. Never seriously. First time around I got stifled by the 500 character limit. The second time was while during my trip to Portland. I was trying to use it to make friends. Turns out that wasn’t what people on Tinder were looking for. As I said, I was never particularly serious about it. This time around using Bumble… I don’t think I am either.

BUT SWIPING SURE IS ADDICTIVE.

I once again had trouble with the 500 character limit, but made do:

“First off, I’m poly/non-monog and patnered. I’m available, but if that’s a dealbreaker for you I’d feel awful wasting your time. If not…

Cool with No Chill.

 I love weird foods, new words and odd experiences.

TL;DR: I’m Abed Nadir and Chris Traeger’s miracle baby.

No hook-ups.”

I think that covers me fairly well. My age range is set from 28-38. I don’t expect a lot of bites, but that also doesn’t matter. I’m not most people’s flavour and I don’t have the time to be. It’s not the kind of thing I take personally.

As I’ve discovered previous times, there’s this weird de-humanising element to the whole proceedings. I’ll typically arrive on someone’s page and look up their bio. No bio, swipe left. Love to laugh? Swipe left. A lack of full sentences? Swipe left. Too many emojis my phone doesn’t have? Swipe left. The words “Partner in Crime”? Swipe left. Solely a pull quote from a song/movie? Swipe left. Then I’ll check out the rest of their bio. Boring or has trouble standing out? Swipe left. If it’s neat, I’ll scroll up and look at pictures. If I don’t find them attractive, I’ll swipe left (rude right? As if I’m such a catch. Still, Kon Mari would spend an eternity getting nowhere on Bumble). If I think they’re cute, like their bio and/or just think they have a cool job, I’ll swipe right. It sounds like I have a system, but then again, sometimes there’s something indefinable that prompts me to swipe right. A gal’s profession was “copywriter” and her bio merely said the world “Tolerable.” I don’t know why, but it seemed contextually witty to me.

It’s weird to me how quickly I’ve evolved filters to transform these women into points of data. If they correspond to the parameters, that’s a swipe right. Most of them are probably fine people. I’m sure those who I swipe left on won’t cry themselves to sleep over it. I’d have a hard time believing they’re not doing well on dating platforms. The format seems biased towards the exceptionally pretty and the exceptionally witty. People look two dimensional on paper and it’s tough seeing a fully formed human on the other end. Like every other time, I’ll probably swipe for a day or two, then get bored and go back to Magic Shandalar. Until then, I’ll be doing reps on my thumb.

Of course the garlic thing wasn’t a real and specific reason I dumped someone…

I’ve been listening to a lot more dating podcasts lately than the amount of dates I’ve been going on.

It wouldn’t be hard, I haven’t been on a date in many moons. Don’t get me wrong, I like dating. I think it’s super exciting getting to know someone, seeing sparks fly and being pulled into the intoxicating orbit of their fresh perspective. There’s an intense pull to wanting to show off your best side for a new person. It’s neat to discover a whole swath of experiences they bring to your life and it’s gratifying to share your own with them. There’s a thrill to meeting for the first time and engaging in your own little will they/won’t they kind of melodrama. If things do go well, there’s a certain electricity in having all of those ‘firsts’ one after another. Dating can be the best, bringing a host of promise into your life.

Dating can also be the worst, right? Let’s not collectively get caught up in the rush and forget how shitty dating sometimes is. You’re putting effort into communication, filtering and sifting in order to figure out if there’s a spark or not. Sometimes the other person is flighty and avoidant. Maybe there’s an ambiguity to the way you met and you’re Facebook friends. Then you’re trying to figure out if that person in their Facebook photos is a friend or partner. Or you finally get on a date and in the first five minutes an iceberg of a dealbreaker surfaces and you spend the rest of the date fruitlessly trying to steer clear of it. Or perhaps mid-date you start cross-referencing past partners/dates and become fully aware of your terrible dating patterns. Maybe you find someone who you could talk to for decades and they turn out to be a selfish, uncommunicative partner in the bedroom. Maybe it’s a potential partner who looks good on paper, but you soon discover that they’re actually an asshole. Or attractive people whose looks compensate for a personality deficiency. Or a lack of flirtatious chemistry. Or fundamental conflicts of values. Or they’re scared to try putting garlic in the homemade mac and cheese.

Like I said, dating can be the worst. I still love talking and thinking about it though. I’d probably like to start dating again at some point, but clearly not enough to actually pursue it.

I’m in a wonderful long term relationship. I have a loving, communicative, fun and compassionate girlfriend. We’re also polyamorous. Thing is, the main thing I’d want from another relationship was emotional intimacy and witty banter. Those are both things I can and do get from my friends. Sure, sex with someone else could be (and has been) enjoyable, but it’s really not much of a motivating factor for me. Hence the lack of incentive to put effort into dating.

Buuuuut, I can’t deny how much of a pull there is to that sense of being wanted and/or desired. The level of gratification when someone finds you compelling is undeniable. It’s a compliment right down to your core. It makes you feel so goddamn special and puts you on top of the world. Obviously I get that from my relationship, but at the same time it’s different. It’s something deeply known and appreciated, but it’s not the take-you-by-surprise fulfilment that makes your day. If I was to date again, that’s what I’d look forward to.

Until then, I guess I’ll just listen to dating podcasts.

Is a break up a kind of joy division

I do delcayur, we’re in Charlotte. More accurately we’re on the floor in the lobby of the Charlotte airport. Charlotte airport, as we discovered, is not a 24 hour airport (or what I just understood as An Airport). It shuts at 10pm-midnight and you’re left to your own devices until 4am. In short, we got booted from the terminal and back to the airport entrance. We’ll have to do security, etc, all over again. It’s 4.15am and after a short sleep, my own devices are apparently my cellphone and bluetooth keyboard. I’ve taken watch of our group and belongings while my co-adventurers are taking a nap. I got three or four hours lying on my back with a travel pillow, earplugs and a face mask. Frankly, that’s more than I expected. In an hour or so we’ll go back through security and maybe find some manner of amenities that’re more appealing than a 24 hour Starbucks.
Our first flight from Toronto was a fucking blast. What I thought would be around 2.5 hours took an hour and a half. We blitzed it. Strapped in, take-off, drinks service, rubbish collecting, landing. That was it. Aside from some charming sass from the service staff, that’s all we had time for. My neighbour was not a Chatty Cathy like I am. She sat down, plugged in her phone and listened to music. I sat there, put on some tunes and innately judged her. At some point she began taking photos of the skyline at night for Snapchat or something. I saw her workshopping captions. “#MYCITYISBETTERTHANYOURS” was apparently not good enough (and I’d agree, non-Cathy). “#CITYVIEWS” didn’t pass the muster either. Pretty sure she settled for “#LOVEMYCITY” or something equally uninspired. Ugh, more like #6IXHAPPENS, amirite? #NEWAYS, I was in a characteristically chipper mood and really found myself getting into a couple of albums.
For some unknown reason, The Wombats’ A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation has become my de-facto travel album. Not sure why. It’s an album I’ve always found juvenile and punchy. It’s inextricably tied to a previous relationship, but found new life beyond its passing. Maybe it’s ’cause in travelling, I unlock a certain childlike energy in myself. I’m embodied by a kind of bounciness that this album delivers and so, while it doesn’t reflect how I now see the world, The Wombats help me tap into a deep vein of rambunctious enthusiasm. Moreso there’s an attitude it embodies. The whole album may as well be called The Ones that Got Away. Each song is an ode to some great love or fixation, fictional or not. It’s silly, witty and no doubt problematic in today’s landscape, but that doesn’t retroactively negate all its value. On the contrary, it makes me remember what life used to be with a youthful outlook of love and romance. As the opening line of “Kill the Director” sounds “I’ve met someone who makes me feel seasick…”, that sensation becomes so intimately familiar. Lord, I can recall so clearly my head-over-heels infatuation with any girl who’d so much as look my way. A wind blowing was enough to give rise to a new crush or puppy love. A girl had the same coloured pencil case as I did? It was a sign. We both liked The Lion King? It was a sign. I heard her singing the chorus of Ace of Bace’s “The Sign”? It was a sign!
I’d fall in love every day with this unquashable energy. It’s not like this was just primary school. Intermediate, college, university. Every damn day there’d be another object of my affection and my heart would write a new song. She’d become my everything as I saw our lives playing out in tandem, then entwined. Hell, before I really knew what love was, I wanted it. I was a hyper-romantic kid with no idea of what that meant, but carried by the whims of my heart. These days, it doesn’t really happen. I don’t get crushes the way I used to. I love and adore my girlfriend and, oddly enough given the poly thing, it’s very rare for my heart to grab me by the eyes and yell “OI, LOOK AT HER OVER THERE. YOU COULD HAVE ANOTHER SOUL MATE.” Rational adult Leon just knows why it wouldn’t work out and shorrcuts to there. Excuses and logic are on hand and falling down the rabbit hole of “yeah, but what if?” is so much harder when you’re grounded. Listening to The Wombats, with their sing-song doo-wops and saccharine self-deprecation remind me of what was (and possibly what’s still lurking under a few crusty layers of cynicism).
The truth is, I have met someone who makes me feel seasick and I get to wake up beside her most every day. I don’t know if there’s much point in dreaming about what I already have. I think I just get to be happy and fortunate. Is there a lesson in any of this? Can I distill the sensation I get from listening to The Wombats, to tap into that giddy youthful energy and bring that back to the relationship? Could I put aside life’s stresses and remember to stay playful? To constantly crush on my girlfriend with intentionality? To keep that deep sense of loyalty, but also in ways bring it back to dating once more? To reinvigorate not just every time I hear this album, but every year from here to the end?
They say that absence makes a heart grow fonder. Let’s see what a week can do.