It’s what you call a proper-sition

Today I want to talk about propriety.

Propriety was important in my upbringing. Not because my parents were particularly strict, but because I was a loudmouth chatterbox with no filter. I remember how much I loved video games as a kid. Enough that I’d rank it above the company of others. Without hesitation, I can say that some friends I hung out with simply because they had video game consoles. When we left a play date, my parents would often tell me to say thank you. Before being nudged in a different direction, my farewell was often something along the lines of “thanks for the video games”. My parents taught me the phrase “thanks for having me” and it turned into a nifty catch all. I’m better now. Mostly, I have propriety to thank. My parents were big on manners, and being well-behaved. As the youngest kid, I was often thrust into adult situations and/or events. I can’t imagine how much saving face my parents would’ve had to do if not for teaching me those manners. And those manners? They’ve taken me far in life. Being polite has opened many doors, and encouraged me to hold many doors open. I still think manners are great, and I try to use them whenever the situation calls for it.

I don’t tend to see manners and propriety as synonymous. They can be closely interlinked. I’m also not entirely sure if people treat propriety as I do.

I get the feeling that propriety, in its essence, is basically meant to be read the room. It’s acting in a manner that’s contextual. The right way to act in a given situation. I have zero issue with the concept of reading the room, and I think it’s a great way to live your life. Propriety on the other hand, tends to translate to stiff and inflexible guidelines. I think of etiquette and propriety in the same general area. They’re nice in concept, but in practice they don’t always make sense. There’s an air of aristocracy that follows propriety around like a foul stench. Being polite is great, treating others with respect is great, adhering to strict social guidelines regardless of the context feels like a fast track to a headache.

These days, I think about propriety a bunch. I don’t always follow it, but I do think about it. I think about what role propriety plays in my life, and whether it’s doing anything for me. I’m generally a kind, polite individual, but I throw propriety out the window. My girlfriend and I are ostensibly adults, but we’re choosing what that means. We have onesies at home that get used almost daily. We put up Christmas lights inside just because they look nice. We hang up pictures our friends have drawn. They cover a wall of our kitchen/lounge. We’ll buy toys or goofy costume pieces if they fit what we want our lives to be. We also pay taxes, have regular jobs, keep the lawns mowed, cook and clean. I don’t know what we’re supposed to be doing to justify adulthood, but I don’t think some of our more childish proclivities recuse us from it.

I think about this when I’m out and about. If I’m dressed in weird colours or an odd costume, I check myself. Are my actions hurting anyone? Am I infringing on others’ comfort in a meaningful or unfair way? Does others’ sense of what’s normal impact my ability to navigate the world? At work we had this water filter that would sometimes take upwards of three minutes to fill a bottle. During those times I’d often use the break to stretch. This was a public kitchen. A lot more than once I’d notice someone giving me a weird look, but be resolute in my stretching. Sure, it was unconventional of me to stretch in public, but were my actions really affecting others? ‘Cause loosening tight muscles was doing a ton for me. A quick math equation in my head helped me stay the course.

Many people have a sense of right and wrong, but it’s rare for their moral poles to be universal absolutes. I feel like it’s a worthwhile thought experiment for all of us to think of things we’d prefer to do on the daily, but refrain because we’re afraid of looking a little weird. Chances are, you’d probably be fine, and unclenching those tight social constraints would probably feel all too freeing. Is propriety always good? Are the people who preach propriety always good people?

Proper-bly not.

Am I Billy Corgan? ‘Cause I’m practicing my future embrace

I think I over-coffee’d. Let’s go.

I’ve been wondering lately about the state of this here writing project. It often feels like something I’m compelled to do through obligation, rather than desire. I don’t sit down to the keyboard with a brain full of ideas that scream out for a canvas, I sit down with the hopes that something will be on this page once 30 minutes are up. It was one thing when I was working my old job, desperate for a scrap of creativity in my life. I’d get to the end of the day, and process my feelings on the page. My frustration, anger, stress, angst, and angostura bitterness. Also bizarre observations. For some time I’ve been possessed by this reckless need for an outlet to all the murk that’s been clogging up my brain. These days, there’s a lot less of it.

I don’t know if it’s just that happiness doesn’t sell, but it’s like I don’t know what happened to all my complaints. In general, I’m quite okay these days. My work now encourages the kind of creativity I craved, and at the end of a workday I find myself having spent most of it on the job. I feel dried up and satisfied, instead of having kept it all crammed in. I’ve found it harder to access the font of imagination I accessed out of necessity, because I’m now able to channel that into something I care about. What am I saying?

I’m saying nothing new, effectively. As ever, I wonder how long this project will go for. I’ve long just assumed it’s indefinite. For many years, I needed it to function better. It helped as a form of self-therapy, and let me work through a bunch of stuff. Of course it was mostly nonsense, as it is now. It’s not like becoming happy helped me transition from a goofy rascal to an upstanding citizen. I’m still on my bullshit big time, it just smells different. Not better, different. The idea of putting an end to I Have My Doubts is old as time, if we’re talking the past six years that is. I don’t know if I’ll ever pull that trigger, but I think it’s okay to constantly check in with behaviours and whether or not they contribute meaning to your life.

As it stands, I think I’ve written straight up garbage for the past few months. Really. The idea of a struggling artist is tired and worn out, but I certainly think my content was more interesting when I had more conflict in my life. I’m not being self-deprecating, and I’ll freely acknowledge when I’ve put something to paper I’m proud of. I know that the best stuff I tend to put together comes when I’m feeling sincere, heartfelt and vulnerable. Nostalgia, pain and romance seem to be my M.O. I don’t know how much of that I’ve been going through lately. I’ve been having a genuinely nice time, and my work/life balance has allowed me to feel less hectic. I’ve slowed my roll, and it’s siphoned off some of the steam that pushed me. Look, I’m not complaining that I’m happy and more even keeled, it just hasn’t translated into great writing.

This post is another in a long line of check-ins that effectively say the same thing. I don’t know whether or not this is forever. It’s important to think about what this project is for. Am I writing content for others? Or sifting through my brain, and getting thoughts in order? The answer can be both, but I don’t know that it always is. I think that’s okay, and that I don’t need to have a concrete answer. For the time being, this page is the best way to work out if I’m still alive, and I think that’s as good a reason as any to keep going. It keeps me accountable. I’m sure that every now and again I’ll be able to look back and see where I was. That seems like a gift to future me, and I’m here for it now.

That’s enough for me.

Ooh baby is this some kind of salve? I guess my heaven was created by Valve

What would you want to happen when you die?

Honestly, I’d be happy with a full stop. Nothing. No life after death, Heaven, Hell, ghostly hangouts or endless void. Just zero, with no thought, agency or eternity. A complete end. I don’t know that I’d truly want to look into infinity if I could just cease. I know it’s boring and unromantic, but honestly I’ll probably be tired by the time it’s all over. I mean, I’m tired already. Give me nothingness and give me death, y’know?

But in the instance that there was some kind of afterlife, I’m not 100% sure what I’d want that to resemble. I’m not going to assume I’d get into Heaven, but for fun let’s assume that anyway. I think it would be really strange for there to be some formalised society after we’re all dead. How would that even be sorted? It’s not like we’d have tangible bodies. It’s more likely we’d be disembodied consciousnesses. Or at least I’d hope that were the case. My goal would be to get to interact with all the people I loved during my life, but also meet new entities. The ability to manifest infinite scenarios/simulations would be awesome. Does that have a limit? I’m not sure. Like, if you could be or do anything ad infinitum, that’d be kind of awesome. Live infinite procedurally generated lifetimes? Maybe I’d want to jump straight into the life of a seven year old tiger in the heart of the jungle. Or go back to my 20s, but in 1940s New York. If I could fast forward, rewind, pause and bookmark, that would be amazing. I could try all sorts of life experiences I never had. I could learn what it’s like to be a different gender or of a whole new cultural background. There’d have to be some kind of untamperable safety valve whereby I could always pull out of any scenario and back to a neutral state. Maybe I’d be able to link up with old contacts and engage in these scenarios together.

I think the conclusion that I’m coming to is that I want Steam, but as a dead person.

I just don’t see how else this would work in my brain. The concept of communities feels a little odd, because it’s hard to fathom being in Heaven, but also having to pretend to be polite to people you didn’t like on Earth. Or enacting social niceties. The idea of simply being around all of my loved ones doesn’t work for me, because in turn I’d imagine they’d be around all their loved ones, etc etc. I have so many friends who have friends who really aren’t my friends. If I get to be in Heaven, I want to be as exclusionary as my heart desires. Look, this is probably why I’m not getting into Heaven, but there are no stakes to imagining.

The one thing wouldn’t want, would be to get stuck in my own simulation where everything was totally fabricated. If every entity I encountered was a manifestation of my consciousness. There are limits to my imagination (as we’re clearly finding in this entry). I’d want to keep learning, growing and understanding things outside of my miniscule personal views. Otherwise what would be the point. I’m tired enough of complacency in my living years, let alone my eternal ones.

If that was the case, just give me a nice set of curtains and close out the show.

DARE to resist pun and meme posting

On my birthday this year, I turned off posting to my Facebook wall.

Please be aware, that this will be one of the pettier posts I’ve made. Y’all have been warned.

I was deep into a solid depression, and birthdays are usually kind of messy, fucked up times for me. I hated the idea of people wishing me a happy birthday, when all I wanted was to not be living anymore. Strange juxtaposition, y’know? So by turning off posting, I wasn’t faced with a ton of well-meaning jovial messages that would only make me hate myself more for not being well or jovial. It worked, and took a lot of strain off. Then I just kept commenting off. I didn’t forget, I kind of liked how peaceful things got.

Here are some things. I make puns. I love puns. I’m known for my puns. People know that I love puns, and whenever friends would hear puns they’d reach out and post them on my wall. This all sounds fine so far, right? Here are some more things. I have very specific tastes in puns. I’m into weird, niche puns that need hyper-specific contexts to work. I’ve heard a lot of puns in my life. I’ve made a lot of puns in my life. There’s a certain threshold where puns just don’t impress me much, or rather, rarely the Twain shall meet. Not everyone has the same needs in a pun that I do. Am I a snob? Probably. I don’t begrudge others enjoying puns. Rather, I encourage it. At the same time, I get all kinds of NIMBY when it comes to people making puns that they just assume I’ll like. I’m on the internet a lot. I’m in a few pun related groups. I see a critical mass of internet content, because I’m a goddamn addict.

So, back to my wall. People love posting puns they’ve heard on it, and I entirely get where that sentiment comes from. They’re excited about a pun and want to share it with me. That’s a sincerely lovely gesture. On some level though, I believe there’s something else to it. Yes, they think it will bring me joy, and since I’m a pun guy they probably think that friends of mine will be pun people who will enjoy it too. At the same time, because I’m known as a pun guy, they can post the pun and get my approval in a public space. I’m not saying that I’m such a wizard of wordsmithery that my approval is tantamount to glory. I am saying that there’s part of the equation where they’re getting public acclaim for it. In my head, if that’s what they were looking for, why not just post it on their wall? Why would I need to be included? If it was a good pun, I’d see it in my newsfeed and I could give it a like. Most people probably aren’t thinking about that. I am because I’m a petty sombitch, but I wouldn’t entirely discount the idea on a latent level. If people just wanted me to see their pun, why not message me directly? It’s very personal, and shows a thoughtful touch. It’s private, with entirely pure motives. By turning off posting to my Facebook wall, I took the choice out of their hands. They could message me directly, or just post on their own wall. It’s been working.

The gross and mercenary side to this, is that there are elements of personal branding tied up in it. Like it or not, we’ve all started curating our own online spaces. We shape how we appear online, and package that for others. I want to try and make my Facebook wall the purest distillation of who I am. I post dumb puns, strange personal observations, weird internet articles I find to be interesting, and specific nostalgic stuff I experienced. It’s kind of like this page, but on Facebook. I’m pretty honest on there, because that’s important to me.

When other people posted, assuming my sense of humour, I’d end up with a bunch of things that didn’t personally resonate. It felt weird. Why were ideas that didn’t jive with me taking up my personal online real estate. To be clear, I have no issue whatsoever with people commenting on my stuff, having discussions, etc. That’s all part of it, because I can curate that and learn new things. There’s no reason why I can’t repost things people have sent me on messenger, giving them full credit. At the same time, I find it to be weirdly presumptuous for others to decide what they think should represent me. On some level, that’s peculiar, right? It was peculiar enough for me that I nipped it in the bud. I’m so glad I did.

Was this a bizarre and pedantic thing to do? Of course it was. Do you think I’m totally off-base? Well I haven’t turned commenting off on this site. Let me know below, if you… dare?

Has anyone ever told you that you’re similar to a kiss from a rose on the grey?

There’s a note next to my desk. It simply reads “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams <3”

I think about it often. Almost every time I read it, that is. I don’t read it every day, but on days I do, I sure think about it.

I was listening to “Kiss from a Rose” today. I’d forgotten how much that song geninely pumps me up. Like yeah, it’s a silly ballad that’s been overplayed and meme-fied ad infinitum, but the song is still all kinds of righteous. There are so many goddamn harmonies, the vocals are flawless and I FUCKING DARE YOU not to song along to the “BAY BAEEEE” part of the chorus, while closing your eyes and thrusting a fist in the air. I’m assuming you’ve all followed suit, and I refuse to acknowledge anything else. I remember it very much as a Batman song, for the indisputably goofy Batman Forever. Today I learned that “Kiss from a Rose” was originally written in 1987, but Seal was embarrassed by it and didn’t release it until 1994. It still wasn’t the hit it deserved to be until it was featured in the aforementioned Batman film, playing second fiddle to U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”. Seal’s monster hit went on to become a three time Grammy award winner, and Bono went on to become a sanctimonious prick.

The song still whips the llama’s ass.

I just realised that some of you might think I’m a 9-11 truther. I can assume you that’s not the case. First and foremost, I think about 9/11 so little that I had to google “9 11” to see if it was hyphenated or had a slash. I’m thankful that the first results weren’t for the emergency services phone number.

WAIT A MINUTE. That may be the first time I’ve ever made that connection. And I’m sure we’ve all read the story of Steve Buschemi as a former volunteer firefighter showing up on 9/11 to help out. MAYBE the whole thing was some PR scheme for congress to push for a budgetary increase to emergency services. I mean, have you ever seen a firefighter and a congressperson in the same place? I KNOW I HAVEN’T. THIS COULD GO ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

Did I just become a 9/11 truther? I sure hope not.

Y’know, back home in NZ, the emergency services number is “111”. I’ve never called “911” in my life, and to this day it still seems like something they do in movies. When I was a kid, growing up on North American media, everything America did seemed cinematic. It was a place of wonder, and these days it’s become a sad mockery of whatever once made it great. I’m not presenting this as a hot take, but wow oh wow has its worldwide clout ever fallen. I don’t know what the country at large could do to restore faith in its operation. I have one suggestion. It’s very bold, out there and unconventional, but I also think it’d do its part to inspire generations of young Americans to lift each other together.

It’s remarkably simple. Change the national anthem to “Kiss from a Rose”.

Jet fuel may not be able to melt steel beams (though I’m sure the combination of heat and being impacted by a fucking plane could do a whammy on them), but that song can melt the hardest of hearts.

I’ve put everything I own in a box to the left

A friend and I started chatting about Ivanka Trump’s absurd G20 appearance, and it all kind of spiralled. Here’s how my side of the conversation went:

If I wasn’t so horrified by everything their government has been doing over the past few years, I’d have second hand embarrassment. It’s as funny as it is fucking upsetting.

It honestly just makes me angry, and it’s hard not to be furious at strawman legions of ignorant small town white dudes in my head who voted him into power. But there was obviously more to it than that, and I’m scared that it really is leading to a dystopian future of sorts. It’s gruelling to watch it happening in slow motion, and it’s a total vortex. We can all see each other split into defined silos and we’re just letting it happen. We’re losing touch with one another. It’s even harder in Ontario, because we’re all breathing the same air and I don’t know why their Ontario is apparently so different from ours.

A lot of these “clean the slate” bollocks and “cost cutting measures” are very much preying on general ignorance. Like, governments have debt. It’s kind of part of the whole deal. They’re investing on the kind of projects that amortise over decades. It’s very very hard to bankrupt a province, y’know? But people assume it’s like personal finance, where if you’re in the red it’s a more pressing issue. It’s not that we want to be in the red as a province, but it’s a known quantity in politics.

There’s so much dirty lobbyist stuff going on. Back pocket payments, new clandestine laws hidden inside other bills, etc. So you’ve got a series of businessmen getting into politics purely to make deals with their friends, and help all of their cronies make more money at the behest of those who think they’re being cared for. When it comes down to it, I don’t understand how their constituents think. Like, how do you hear “no jobs will be lost” then see so many jobs being lost and think “well they said no jobs would be lost, so I guess it’ll be fine.” How do you equate that and see business as normal?

It’s also people ad nauseum regurgitating talking points they inherited. I’m sure this very much includes myself. When it comes to divides along racial, sexual and socioeconomic lines, I don’t know how much they’ve examined their ideas, or if they’ve been passed down from their opinion leaders and taken as granted. Their parents or bosses said these things, and that became normalcy for them. Not that this is isolated to the right either. When it comes to the left, there’s a point at which we become sanctimonious, and having certain level moral obligations doesn’t recuse other shitty behaviour. Social media is an absurd echo chamber at times, which blocks out a ton of very valid dissenting views.

There’s this pervasive notion all across the left that I really hate. This idea that “now that I’ve learned this thing, I get to cast judgement on people who don’t know it yet.” Everyone’s always learning, right? And we can’t expect people to know stuff just because we do. I bet I’ve expressed a ton of shitty views even in the last year, let alone when I was 20. At the same time, I get a lot of internal friction with concepts of tone policing, etc. I very much believe in righteous anger and expression of feelings. I also believe that it often gets in the way of finding mutual connection as a method of sharing ideas. And I’m not gonna ever tell someone they don’t have the right to their valid feelings, but I can often see it running counter to peoples’ goals. Emotional labour is hard. Also sometimes doing it is in your own best interest.

I feel like there’s kind of a missing staircase in the discussion from the left standpoint. We know that there are so many kinds of privilege that people benefit from. A lot of marginalised people don’t have these forms of benefit, and the underlying notion is that those who have a ton of privilege should work to dismantle these systems to make things more equitable. I hear that, I get that, I beleive that.

ALSO, what we’re asking for is directly to the “detriment” of most of these privileged people. They’re giving up things, and for many of them the upside (increasing representation, giving opportunities to those who haven’t historically had access to them) doesn’t benefit them in a tacit way (or at least, obvious). Why would they want to help with something that doesn’t do much for them? How is that a viable tradeoff for a ton of people who don’t understand the nuance of why it’s important? To most of them, they’re just giving things up, and they already see themselves as victims, because we all do. For so many people, spreading happiness is not a motivating driver. They’re worried about themselves and those close to them, and strangers don’t factor into that equation. In their heads they want to tend to their own garden first, but the “first” aspect is a misnomer when problems will always be present. Life is hard.

I don’t like much of the above, but I think it’s real.

I wish S-Club wasn’t stuck in my head

For the first time in a while, I’ve been feeling consistently okay about being.

Not “being” anything in particular, just being. I exist, I wake up every day and have a plethora of interactions. I learn more about the world around me. I’m finding it easier to put intention towards areas of choice. As if empowered somehow to rediscover who I am and who I want to be. It feels like a gift of sorts, standing in stark contrast to most of the past few years. The joy in simplicity isn’t hidden under layers of emotional debris. It’s sitting right there. At worst, I dig a little to find deeper meaning, or the inane complications hiding amongst the mundane. It’s not a struggle to look at the expanse of years ahead of me and crumble under their weight. Yep, pretty okay.

One of the defining harbingers of this mindset has been the ability to redefine my lens. When something goes wrong, if I can’t simply brush it off I’ll balance it out. Sure, I may have an initial negative response, but I cast my net a little wider to examine why that’s happening. Is there something about the situation that’s conflicting with my values? Are my values relevant in the given scenario? Or is it worth shifting my expectations, giving more leeway to the notion that things don’t have to work out in my favour? That people are more often ignorant than malicious, and being generous towards their intentions helps both of us cope? Assuming more of others, that things are less likely to be about me than I think? In short, the hallowed advice of “don’t take it personally”. It’s helping.

Coupled with the above mentality has been a willingness to accept that there’s probably more to everything than I see. That opening myself to opportunities instead of hiding behind a pre-generated negative mindset is helping more than it’s hurting. That things are scary/challenging sometimes, and that’s part of the process. As Chris Gethard reiterated many times in his book “Lose Well” (I’m shilling hard for it, but it gave me a lot. The only good thing to do is pay it forward), nothing will replace hard work. There’s no shortcut or quick fix, and things won’t come to you without it. Sometimes, even with it.

I’m sure this all sounds very lofty, but in so many words I’m on an upswing. I’m doing exponentially better than I was. Taking medication for my depression has lifted a lot of the strain and allowed me to take my life back. I stepped away from it for a while, and I’m uncovering so much that I left behind when I did so. I have a back catalogue of catch-ups that’ll see me through to next year. I have places to go, things to see, people to hold closely. I have stories to live and all the time in the world to tell them. I have another shot, and that didn’t seem like an option a few months back.

So I’ve got a lot to feel okay about.