There must be Venn intersections between Subway and the PUA community.

Ever have those days where some spectre from the past looms unexpectedly in front of you? You’d forgotten it existed until a comment or sight causes memories to rush back? We all have regrets, whether mild or severe, but without a time machine it’s impossible to erase the past. Today I remembered that pick up artists existed.

I remember reading Neil Strauss’ The Game with rapt attention. In whatever pale defence I can muster, I was all of twenty years old, virginity firmly intact. Not to shit on virgins whatsoever, but when life around you seems to echo that your manhood is defined by your ability to make yourself desirable, it’s hard not to drink the Kool-Aid. I supped from that well heavily and as such, the notion of finding a way to easily relate to women was not only enticing, but enthralling. This book was saying that I could finally explore the connection I’d been seeking? I could be in a relationship, despite crippling anxiety of putting myself out there in a sexual capacity? It wouldn’t even cost me five easy payments of $49.95? Given that I didn’t even pay for the book, this was all icing on the cake.

So I read and was absorbed. Not least because Strauss painted himself well as the protagonist going through his own Pygmalion transformation. It was hard not to identify with the elements of self-improvement (and despite all the toxic shit in there, it wasn’t 100% without merit. There were a cluster of positive messages about respect for your own self-identity and the path to self-confidence). I can’t look back and say how well written it was (and I’d find it hard to burden myself with a re-read), but at the time the story had me hooked. It had clear antagonists and a journey following a steady through-line. Nuggets of development came to Strauss throughout the plot and, as someone down on myself, it was enough to make me take notice. To think that if only I worked at it, I’d be able to find someone out there looking to get to know me intimately. For a lonely guy, the promises of abundant emotional riches felt impossible to ignore.

Of course, by the end of the book I found it hard to endorse Pick Up Artist techniques. They were heartless and manipulative, reducing women to physical attributes and stats rather than three dimensional humans with their own motivations and personalities. The numbers game of running the same routines again and again took any kind of organic element out of meeting someone. The idea of throwing “negs” (backhanded compliments) to weaken their defences and play with status, peacocking, or that stupid fucking “C or U shaped smile” bit to make yourself seem interesting held zero appeal. If you were trying to get a girl’s number, would any part of the exchange consider her agency? Or was it just about finding any cute face to lie next to you for a night? Lonely as I was, I never wanted to “trick” someone into liking me. Plus why the fuck would I want to be going out clubbing?

I’m not remotely knocking people who just want to go out and let their slut flag fly. If that’s what you’re into, you’re getting zero shame from me. My big issue, as someone with a propensity for long term connection, was with the sustainability of PUA sparked relationships. At its core, Pick Up “Artistry” is about trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. You’re running pre-written scenarios and inserting this new person as the second character. Any creativity you’re exhibiting is someone else’s, like a comedian stealing jokes. What would you think the outcome would be? What happens down the line when they discover your wittiness starts to run out? That you’re not the cocky dude you’re putting out there? Would you expect them to fall so deeply for “This Charming Man” that they’d forgive you down the line for being a different person altogether? Why represent yourself as something that you’re not in order to use somebody like that? Because every part of this equation seems to be about what you want and zero about her needs.

This kind of mentality seems to be endemic to the dating culture at large, the idea that representing a persona is the key to having people like you. To pique their interest then trap them into loving you. It’s fucked up. The hard truth is that if someone wouldn’t like who you really are, then they’re not right for you. Don’t delude yourself into chasing after people who like the person you are. That’s a dip into an ocean of misery. I’m not breaking ground telling people to be themselves, but if you’re in search of long term happiness there’s no other valid path. Maybe instead of working the numbers game with verbal trickery, take that time to work on yourself. Become an interesting person who’s interested in others. Treat people with kindness, respect and humour. Find what it is that fascinates you about the world and dive in deep. It may sound intimidating, but working on yourself is way more effective and rewarding than working on others.

Then maybe I can finally forget that this PUA bullshit exists for once and for all.

Good things happen to those who… wait…

I need to start writing now, otherwise I know how the next half hour will play out. I’ll tab between Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, ostensibly looking for something to write about. Realistically, it’ll be procrastination by any other name. I’ll go to the toilet even if I have no need. Maybe stand there and shake it in case something comes out. I’ll refill my water bottle, even if I’m not thirsty. You can never be too sure. Plus if I have water to drink, that’d justify future procrastibatory toilet trips. I can’t forget the kitchen, because that’d be on the menu big time. There’s nothing like opening a fridge to forage for snacks, finding nothing, then checking the pantry to no avail. Lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe I’d be lucky and find a pickle or something. Cheese would also be a hot ticket item. Realistically I know I’m more likely to leave having consumed a spoon of some spread (be it peanut butter, cottage cheese, honey or marmite). Having completed that noble quest, I’d return to the keyboard and continue refreshing Facebook.

As always, it’s a challenge to put words on the page when there’s nothing urgent or exciting going on. It’s a Friday night and I’m at home with no immediate plans. I’d tried to set up hang out time with friends, but with that having fallen through, the amount of energy I want to put into shaping tonight is minimal. I’m helping friends move a ton of stuff into storage tomorrow, so a big night is less desirable. Plus I’m not drinking until Tough Mudder. Oh, and I’m cutting out bread-y things and most sweets too. Why? Because having fun clearly was overrated. It might seem overkill, but I’ve forever been dreadful at moderation. Saying no in an absolute sense makes it a lot easier than falling prey to my ability to justify eating delicious things purely because they’re delicious. I’m not demonising sugary or fatty foods, just my ability to consistently eat things that aren’t them. SUMMER OF NO FUN IT IS.

Alternatively I could put together a list of things I’d like to do in lieu of “anything fun”. Considering the money I’ll save by not drinking, I could do some rad stuff. A bucket list for the next two and a half months before Tough Mudder, eh? Let’s see what I could get up to…

  • Sleep in a tent. I’ve got a cottage weekend away with friends planned, which’d be a good chance to knock this one off.
  • Go for a long bike ride. I don’t own a bike, but I’d sure they’re easy enough to borrow or rent. I’ve always been interested in biking through the Don Valley parkway. It was a nice walk that looked way more enjoyable on wheels.
  • Flying trapeze. I used to love flying trapeze. The only place I know that offers drop in classes offers them on Fridays at 7pm. It’s a bit of a hike and with work finishing at 5pm, it’d be tight getting there in time. We’ve got summer hours at the moment, which means we can leave early on a Friday. Why not take advantage of it and give it a swing?
  • Improv classes. Well this one’s cheating, ’cause I signed up the other day. I’m taking a weekly class for two months in the hopes that it’ll help me brush up on my front-of-brain skills. I’ve got no illusions of becoming a performer, but there are myriad ways improv skills could help in my everyday life.
  • Cook something special. I have no idea what yet, but this summer is the perfect time to flex my culinary muscles and try a dish I’ve never done before. Something that intimidates me. I could try home made sushi, fresh laksa, make my own ice cream, some kind of extravagant mushroom pasta.
  • Get back into indoor Rock Climbing.
  • Try an epic hike with friends.
  • Rent a car and visit a small town with my girlfriend. Stay in a cute little B&B owned by lovely old people. Desecrate the room with filthy sex.
  • Finally get around to re-watching There Will Be Blood.

Endless opportunity abounds if only I put my mind to it. Or more accurately, if I can stop procrastinating for once.

Fortunately I steer clear of that kind of bullocks.

At times it’s all too easy to sink into the green mire of envy. You can’t help but covet the looks, skills or sexy, sexy oxen of others. Spending so much time worrying about what others have that you forget all the glorious shit you bring to the world. It’s hard not to know that feel when society’s central message is that you’re not enough, but you should always strive to be. So for today I’m going to dig deep into self gratitude. Looking into all the things about myself that I’m thankful for. Or maybe even the things that I’m not.

I’m thankful that I look okay when I run. First and foremost, if you have the wherewithal to get out and be active, then power to you. I won’t reach as far as to say I look cool, but jeebus it could be far worse. My legs don’t splay akimbo, my arms stay by my side without flip flopping like a muppet. I have a slight angle as I move rather than being bent over or ramrod straight. I don’t glow beet red or puff like a Big Bad Wolf. I’ve somehow reached a point where I have a modicum of composure and I’m super gracious of that.

I’m thankful that I’m the least threatening seeming person alive. Just have one of those faces, y’know? I’ve never sought to intimidate people with my presence and frankly, I’d be a shit enforcer of any variety. So I’m glad that my image reinforces what’s on the inside. I’m basically a carebear made flesh. Of average stature with cartoonish features. I hate making people feel uncomfortable and I’m fortunate that it’s not one of my default settings. I’m also fine that I’d never ironically have the nickname Tiny.

I’m stoked that all of my sexual proclivities (at least the ones I’m aware of) are legal and consent based. I don’t tread lightly here. Kids and animals really don’t do it for me (even dat sexy, sexy ox) and that’s a godsend. How shitty and guilty would you feel if the activities that ignited drum fills in your heart caused misery to others? If you knew that you’d never be able to experience that which set your world alight because you felt it was fundamentally wrong? If there was this part of yourself you had to shut away in a sealed vault forever? That sounds heartbreaking, which isn’t to condone these activities whatsoever, but to point out that people have no say in what excites them. It’s a lottery for sure. I’m in a position with a loving, supportive partner who’s really open to trying things. My family and friends would be there for me if I discovered I that my sexual orientation had changed, without question. Not everyone is that lucky and I understand that’s not a privilege that people are afforded by default.

I don’t have any food allergies, which means I can be as gluttonous as I desire without medical repercussions. Well, if I ate my neighbour’s entire sexy, sexy ox in one go, my stomach would probably rupture. My lack of allergies means I can enjoy cuisine from all across the globe. I’m able to adapt to any requirements friends have at parties without being disadvantaged. I don’t need a personal food taster, plus since I’m so nonthreatening, it’s not like people are champing at the bit to assassinate me anyway.

It goes without saying that I’ve got every other privilege under the sun, which is amazing. Because of genetics, heritage and my socioeconomic environment, I’ve been able to blossom in a world unencumbered by the hardships that for many are a sad reality. I’m not gloating, I instead want to point out that I understand the number of aspects in my life that have aligned in order to mean that my life is not constant suffering. That whatever issues I face aren’t the issues that burden others. That when I complain (you know, constantly) it’s done with an understanding that a multitude of things are going my way and I’d be an asshole not to be grateful.

Also her farts smell real bad. Just another feature.

It’s Valentines day, and I think discussions of romance have been pretty scant around here as of late. Mentions of “love” or “relationships” have been reduced to a few token mentions of my/the girlfriend, hardly a sentiment overflowing with evocative imagery or flowery prose. I haven’t been talking about how things are going between us, ongoing tensions or resolutions. Peaks we’ve overcome or trials we’ve faced. Really though, I haven’t mentioned anything purely because things are going so well, and that’s boring to hear.

On the other side of the equation though, things going well feels anything but boring to experience. I remember the early days of the relationship fondly. One of our biggest issues was that we were terrible at watching things together. In short, every time we lay down to switch on a movie or show, we realised we could be fucking instead. Pure, adrenaline fuelled passion while we were figuring one another’s bodies out. Discovering sweet spots, how to drive one another wild. Steamy and unshackled, almost furious with desire. Throwing ideas at one another to see what stuck. Once again, fond memories. The unspoken element however, were nerves. Being unsure of how things could go, often being afraid to ask. At times, holding back or pushing too far. Communication, endless communication that to this day I still cherish. Asking before pushing blindly into new territory. Enthusiastic consent, or offering suggestions. We worked at it and improved on our chemistry together, discovering all the areas where we meshed. Aiding one another through the areas that needed help. The sex is less frequent now, as spare time, physical and emotional energy have been in shorter supply. It’s also a lot warmer, deeper (emotionally. My dick didn’t somehow grow an inch or anything) and satisfying on a whole different level. We’re still more than happy to try new things, but the way we communicate about them is much smoother, there’s no ego about it. We’re great together, we both love our sex and simply being able to touch skin night after night is one of the greatest daily pleasures I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It’s not possible to take something for granted when it brings you so much joy.

This time last year we had a pending move on our hands. Time was wrapped up in prepping, packing and dealing with the associated stresses. A see saw of excitement and dread. So much potential hidden under piles of exhaustion. Once it happened, the stress seemed to fall away and we stumbled joyfully through the new boundaries of living together. Thankfully because of who we both are, it couldn’t have been easier to navigate. Learning about how to make space for one another, the tensions of desire for intimacy and a need for solo time. I don’t want to sound too saccharine about it, we had tons of fun. It allowed me to see a whole different side of her. Yeah, I knew who she was before we shared a home, but it wasn’t the same. When we’d visit one another there was an implied necessity to be “on”. If we were hanging out it sorta felt like we had to be our best selves, constantly try to remind the other why we were so rad to be around. Living together the artifice is gone. We have nothing to prove, we know we love one another and that ultimately we’re on the same team. We want the relationship to thrive and grow. Part of that being the ability to accept one another as we are. To accept the things that at first glance aren’t our favourite aspects, but are just another feature of the person we’d each love to spend the rest of our life with. To know and trust that we can talk things out. That if something truly bothers us, our partner is likely not being intentionally malicious, but blissfully ignorant. Using our words.

I’ve found myself sharing my life with a gorgeous soul through and through. She has a passion for the things she holds dear that’s awe inspiring to behold. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be one of those things. She’s smart and sensible, in ways that complement me. We work well as a team. She’s boisterous in all the right ways, always happy to look for the adventure in the simplest of errands. She shares my love of play, whenever we can find it. She’s a goofball, makes me laugh deep resonant belly laughs till I cry. Seeing her smile lights up my world. She’s so giving in everything she does. Her heart’s in her hand always, in her touch or desire to help those she loves. She cares so much and it warms me to my core, inspires me to look for the good in others. She’s beautiful and sexy and catching her eye is enough to make my heart quiver. It’s so effortless to be in love with her, because I can’t imagine any alternative. She makes me say things that could only sound cheesy if you hadn’t met her. I tell her I love her time and time again every day. I mean it every single time. My biggest worry is that no matter how many times I do, it won’t convey the depth. Then again, words never could. That’s something I’ve got the rest of my life to keep working at.

So that’s “the girlfriend”. She’s one hell of a dame and I’m one of a lucky fella. Happy Valentines day Lioness. Once again (but never enough), I love you.

Still waiting for the kind-hearted pirate doctor film Eye Patch Adams.

In lieu of anything important going on right now, here are some short snippets.

  • I was really tired this morning, so for the first time since I returned to Canada I had coffee. It perked me up instantly and I was so confident that I peed in the middle urinal. If you weren’t sure already, that’s a ballsy move. I basically deserve a medal.
  • I haven’t been going out a ton. It’s been nice for a change. It’s also been a nice change for my wallet. My tuna/cracker lunches have been simple and cheap, saving a ton on lunchtime meals. I guess I’m paying for it in mercury poisoning. Next time everyone starts complaining about their mercury being in retrograde, it’ll be a very real concern for me.
  • Being a hermit has also meant I’m not shelling out for alcohol and meals. It’s a massive difference. Consequently my Magic the Gathering expenditure has gone way up. Suddenly it feels simple to be more blasé about spending money on something I want. It’s like wait, I can get all of these things I’ll use for ages and it’ll cost me less than the price of three beers? In short, I don’t know if I’m really saving any money. Net result zero.
  • I’ve done a few RPM classes at the gym lately as a way of getting in winter cardio. RPM people are different from normal gym people (though when have gym people ever been normal?). There are the hyper dudes who always pull their sleeves up and leave puddles on the ground beneath their bikes. Good on you for the effort, but if you’re that anti-sleeves, why not buy a tank top or something? I’m also unsure about the level of commitment required to buy those clip-in shoes. I guess if you’re a career RPMist you probably get more pull from them? How much do they help? Also what kind of disposable income do you have (that’s not already going to Magic cards)? Also what was with the woman who spent half the class looking at her phone? If something on your phone was that important, wouldn’t the lights, music and instructor be really distracting? Also how good was your subterranean reception? I need your plan.
  • Speaking of RPM, having heavily worked quads sure makes sex an uphill battle. It’s like a post-workout workout.
  • Apparently weather is so crummy today that we have freezing rain. I don’t know precisely what freezing rain is (though I could guess), but it sounds like a made up sci-fi concept. You know in Flash Gordon how Ming the Merciless is using his weather changing machine to plague planets with such nefarious ordeals as “hot hail”? Freezing rain sounds a lot like that.
  • The bathrooms at work have two toilet roll holders in each stall. While this sounds unremarkable, it’s actually amazing. No longer do we need to battle between over and under orientation. Instead, both sides are represented. Is this a recipe for world peace?
  • At work they have a TV on in the background screening Global TV. During the day it plays Days of our Lives, which isn’t notable. What is notable, is that there’s a long running character who looks like Snake Plissken. I guess he escaped from LA only to find himself in Salem. Today’s episode had a masquerade ball, which he attended. He wore his eye patch underneath his mask, which not only looked ridiculous, but also flew in the face (pun totally intended) of any kind of subterfuge.

I warned you nothing important was going on. This is what you get for not listening.

This is what I get for listening to too much Lenny Kravitz

Wow, am I ever on edge. We’ve set up our camp right by the river side. It’s a beautiful, nay idyllic sight (like almost everything nature has thrown our way on this trip). The grass is soft and loamy. The trees alternate between lush canopies and lovely clearings. The area is also swarming with midge flies and I’m losing my mind. If there’s a German compound word for a combination of miserable and furious it’d be a perfect fit.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve already experienced mild dissociation. We’ve arrived in this stunning location (albeit with the wind and rain setting in) and the only thought in my mind is of 16 hours time when we can leave. We’re safely nestled in our tent (thanks to fly screens and the rain shell), both my skin and clothes are smothered in bug spray, but I can’t stop thinking of the endless swarms waiting just outside. It’s ridiculous and more than a little petulant. I understand this logically, but emotionally I’m overwhelmed and incapable of succumbing to rational thought. I didn’t even know this was such a huge issue for me. Bruises and scrapes, physical exhaustion, etc I’d probably be fine with. I’m having difficulty thinking of anything else. I don’t want to move, I’m dreading having to leave the tent to go to the toilet or eat dinner. My body has even started creating phantom itches all over. Between my legs, on my scalp, the hand I’m typing with (where I can see no visible bites), my face, behind my ear. It’s insane. You’d think I was having a bad meth reaction.

By swiveling my head around the tent I can see at least 60 on the layer outside ours. Sitting there, waiting for us to make a move. As time has gone on they’ve increased in numbers. It feels like a zombie contagion, they’re all out there with a taste for blood, awaiting critical mass. If there’s one little hole they’ll be able to burst in and we’re fucked. Then the next week is a bust, an itchy waste. The rest of an otherwise amazing holiday tainted.

I’m also angry at myself for having this reaction, which doesn’t help anything. I don’t know what to do to salvage the situation. I assume that I’ll do the usual: hit breaking point, meltdown, let it out and let it go. I’d love to avoid the usual, but I’m not sure how. I know my girlfriend and friends would love to help, but right now I’ve got very little to access, let alone offer as suggestion. You know something’s up when my strategy is to want to sleep for 15 hours and basically skip a day. I’m not a big fan of sleep or anything that precludes you from doing stuff. Who knows, maaan? Maybe we’ll get attacked by zombies and I’ll be given something more pressing to worry about. Perspective is a gift. A guy can dream, can’t he?

I guess I can look on the bright side. After writing this there are only 15.5 hours left to go.

Edit: Sex. Sex helped.

If only this entry had as much direction.

I was at the office bar farewelling a colleague, chatting with a co-worker. She was talking excitedly about an upcoming date on Saturday. I’m into this kind of stuff, so I was listening intently. She’d decided she wanted to try a Dundas pub crawl and wondered if that was a good idea for a second date. I couldn’t help but reply emphatically. It was an awesome idea. Having a few drinks would mean conversation would flow pretty steadily. They could chat about what they were drinking, try different things wherever they went, share drinks, see how one another looked in different lighting. There’d be no end to interesting things to comment on, plus by being the one constant over multiple locations, it’d engender a familiarity and closeness. Best of all, your date would likely be in an open mood and communicate, freer to share so you could better gauge who they really were. I met one of my favourite Toronto people doing a Dundas pub crawl date, and while we didn’t have chemistry, we clicked as friends. It was perfect. I told her that I’d met a bunch of friends by dating them first.
She seemed disappointed. “I’d never want to date someone that I’d be friends with.” She replied. I visibly recoiled. People still think like this? “Why not?” I replied. “Well” she responded “if someone seemed like a friend type person, they wouldn’t be the kind of person I’d date.” “So” I said “you’re just looking for people to sleep with? That’s fine, no judgement.” She shook her head. “No, I’m looking for a boyfriend. Someone long term.” I quirked my head. “Then why wouldn’t you want to date someone you could be friends with? Isn’t that planning for the long term?” “Huh?” She replied. I went on “well if you’re friends with someone, you have things in common. You can do things together, enjoy each other’s company, y’know?” She nodded. “But if you date someone who you’re attracted to when they’re not the kind of person you’d be friends with, what do you do when you’re not fucking? Like, in between sex, food and sleep?” She paused. “Uhh.”
“And you’re looking for long term, right?” I started monologuing. “What happens after a year, when the honeymoon period is over? Two years? Five years? If you don’t like each other as people, how are you still gonna want to be together? Sex is great, it’s not worth just tolerating someone. When you want to get somewhere, do you just get in a car and drive? Or do you have some idea of where you’re looking to go? Instead of relying totally on street signs to guide the way, treating them as helpful indications that you’re heading in the right direction?” “I don’t drive.” She responded. “But do you want to get somewhere? Or keep heading in circles?” She sighed. “Yeah, I get it.”
A beat.
“So” I inquired “are you looking forward to Saturday?” She nodded. “Yeah, it should be fun.”