How did I write this whole thing without one dick joke?

Do you ever look around and feel inquisitive about the size of things? In parallel universai (sticking with it), what size might they be? How would this affect the world around them? Could our existence improve from resizing them? What sized objects/living things do we take for granted? I’m not sure how often I ponder this, but I’m sure as fuck going to now.

  • Corn. If an ear of corn was the size of your arm, would we still be able to eat them in the same way? How tall would fields of maize have to be in order to cater to the larger crop? I’d wager that we’d see a lot more individual kernels used than ears. How big would that make each kernel? The same as a thumb joint? Or maybe similar to a single popcorn piece. On that note, would each piece of popcorn be like an apple? That sounds like a world I’d like to live in. Though a solid RIP to typewriter style consumption.
  • I would have a dog sized giraffe as a pet. No qualms about it. How fucking adorable would that be? LOOK HOW CUTE A NEWBORN GIRAFFE IS. Imagine that even more compact. Plus with a little leash for walkies. Their necks would be double plus huggable. Plus they’d be so good at frisbee. If I ever learn to travel universes, I’m bringing back a giraffe dog.
  • Insects are considered nightmarish to most people already. I admit I’d freak out interacting with any larger than my hand. At the same time I think they’re really fucking cool. What is it about insects that freak us out so much? Is it their bulbous/kaleidoscopic eyes? Their overabundance of legs? The venomous barbs/stingers/mandibles? Dense hairs covering their body? Is it even that we’re comparatively such simply laid out creatures and insects are nigh universally complex? Oh fuck, imagine a mosquito wielding a proboscis the size of your head. Now try sleeping ever again.
  • If bananas were the size of prawns, would they be worth the effort? I’d ask the alternative, but Morton Bay Bugs are already a thing.
  • If dandelions were larger, would there be fewer of them? Part of their ability to disperse is how they float in the air and that feels like a feature of their lightness. If they were larger their spread would likely be stymied by obstacles and hopefully that’d cut down on their proliferation.
  • Shark sized tartigrades and jellyfish would rule the oceans/world. Tartigrades are basically indestructible and jellyfish can revert to the polyp stage at any time, meaning they don’t die from old age. Imagine seas full of large translucent blobs. You’d think they were wave crests, but then your entire body would be enveloped in their all consuming sting. I can imagine urolagnia rapidly gaining in popularity.
  • How large would rabbits need to be before they’d become farmed en masse? Goose sized? Pig sized? I mean, they fuck like… well… them. If they weren’t harvested for meat, they’d no doubt be slaughtered as pests.
  • I wonder how larger coconuts would’ve influenced island society. Let’s say a metre in diameter. They’d be really durable for some building materials (roofing perhaps?) and are pretty buoyant. Could they have made some kind of coconut pontoon crafts?
  • One last thought: Apple. Sized. Blueberries.

I’m not sure how this world came to pass, but it tends to fit together pretty damn well. Three cheers to the architect, elsewise we’d all have perished from horse sized rats long ago.

If flowers are thanks then I’m A Bouquet right now.

*** Possible Master of None season two spoilers to follow. Proceed with caution and I’ll try to signpost as best I can.***

In solidarity with the new Facebook flower “like”, I’d “like” (in a flowery fashion) to talk about some things I’m thankful for in this moment.

***Master of None season two is one of my favourite things this week. I feel in love with the first season instantly. Funny, sweet and intimately relevant to modern life as a twenty-to-thirty-something, it handled its subject matter with care, insight, nuanced characters and excellent production design. So well put together, relatable and surprisingly insightful for what seemed on the surface to be just another vehicle for a stand up comic (not as if that isn’t directly in my wheelhouse anyway). I’m only four episodes into season two, but in the least spoilery manner I can manage, here’s some stuff I’ve enjoyed:

  • Giving development to Arnold’s character: Most of the friends in the first season weren’t simple caricatures, but neither were they well fleshed out. I’m hoping to see the rest of the gang given similar treatment, but it was wonderful to look under the hood a little with Arnold and see him as more than just a big loveable goof.
  • The use of Italian: It wasn’t something that seemed shoehorned in. Rather it felt pretty natural, especially the flow between the two languages.
  • The flow of episode four was really compelling and superbly executed. A total joy to watch.
  • The treatment/representation​ of religiously conservative characters in episode three was outstanding: Hollywood has this habit of resorting to simplistic and reductive stereotypes that presuppose that deep religious belief invalidates the ability to also have a personality. Faith as a plot point so often results in one dimensional characterisation as a boring cardboard person, which is stupid. A belief in a higher power is not mutually exclusive with being interesting or inquisitive in other areas of your life. As someone not remotely religious, it’s still of importance to me that characters aren’t reduced to stale strawmen. Thanks Master of None.

My girlfriend and I made late game plans to go to Montreal this upcoming weekend. I’d put a hopeful enquiry out to an auntie to see if we could stay with her to cut down on costs. She’s a lovely woman who put me up on my way through Canada first time around. She’s one of those “take my key and come and go as you please” kind of people, understanding that being on holiday means being out and about constantly. Ironically, this kind of attitude makes me more likely to want to spend time with her. I’ve felt guilty for a while over not keeping in touch, because to me that seems mercenary, as if I’m using her for what she can give me instead of the wonderful person she is. So of course when we sent out our last minute request to lodge with her, she agreed without question. Because that’s who she is. It’s gonna be a busy weekend, but I’m really looking forward to my girlfriend getting to meet my dad’s sister for the first time. I’ve always had a lot of affection for her and it means a ton for my girlfriend to see why she’s so special to me.

The weather today was a godsend. It’s been a lacklustre Spring to say the least. Cloudy, cold and rainy with patchy sunshine. Today couldn’t possibly have been a more archetypal Spring day. A sunny, cloudless sky with a light breeze rolling through. I took a waterfront run at lunchtime in an ideal 16 degrees. I wasn’t sweating profusely, but neither was I chilly. The waterfront was stuffed with bikes, dogs and other runners all making the most of what’s been a desperate rarity for the past few months. My feet pounding the footpath filled my body with a sense of completion and a lightness of being. As if a missing puzzle piece clicked into place, creating a greater whole. It may sound like flimsy bollocks, but trust me when I say the words are coming from a mouth that was split wide in an involuntary grin.

Would you rather a bin ate it? You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to give away food these days.

With social decorum being what it is, by living in society you make a tacit contract to “not be a dick” as best you can. Some people commit harder than others. Some people succeed harder than others. Some people get hard in an unwanted capacity in front of others and succeed in being committed to a facility. There are tiny little arrangements we all agree to on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re just out of perceived politeness. It doesn’t stop me from thinking of exactly which unspoken contracts I’d like to break.

  • Riding in shopping carts: It’s okay when you’re a kid, but for some reason when you’re big enough to push one, cramming yourself into a cart and getting pushed around seems the height of malarkey. BUT IT’S SO FUN. Nobody is getting hurt (except maybe me when my bulk tips the thing right over). Furthermore, by virtue of being alongside the produce we’d load into the cart, it’d be less likely for any of the shopping to escape. I’d guard it with my life (precariously hanging in the balance of, well, my ability to balance in the cart). Is having a good time not a good enough excuse? It’s not even at the expense of others for once.
  • Eating leftover food in public: This one seems more symptomatic of inoculating ourselves against the unknown. A fear of germs or other contagion that strangers could be carrying. Or even worse, a fear of being caught taking other people’s leftovers. Shock horror. We buy leftover furniture and clothes. Why not chomp down on that plate of chips at a food court? Just because they’re cold, doesn’t mean they’re infected. Just remove the bit of that Big Mac they’ve bitten into. Safe as houses. Get a different spoon for that uneaten curry or soup. Why not? Because we’re afraid of looking poor or desperate? Check your ego at the door and enjoy free chow. It’s already been paid for, so it’s not like you’re taking money away from the business. What’s the worst that could happen? We already got rid of the black plague.
  • Everyday costumes: I don’t know why corporate stiffwads decided that eccentric clothing would adversely affect performance. Why can’t I dress like a knight every day without the expectation that I’m not capable of my job? What you’re wearing is no indication of competence, unless it’s your competence at conforming. If I was dressed like Wolverine, you can bet your sweet ass I’d feel confidence and capable. How would that not significantly increase the quality of my work? Plus maybe if I could brandish razor sharp claws at a moment’s notice, annoying people from other departments would leave me the fuck alone to get my work done. Who am I kidding? They’d just email instead.
  • No shoes, yes service: I get that this is more of a safety liability thing, but I love being barefoot. I can only imagine how much more relaxed I’d feel eating a burger and sipping a sweet brew if my toes were free to wiggle away in the open air. Why deny them that freedom? Maybe let me know that glassware could potentially break and cutting myself would be a possibility. Or let me wear jandals and I’ll slip them off when I get to my table. No harm, no foul. Only the foul stench rising from between my toes.

Don’t worry folks, I get it. I understand that these rules were created to try and keep everyone happy. Still, can’t we find a little wriggle room? For my toes at least?

Oh, and in retrospect it tasted great. Hope that allays any fears.

I’m not really big into pot. It’s the kind of thing I’ll smoke socially from time to time, but it’s far from a mainstay in my life. I rarely clean my bellybutton (which is probably why it smells more like a bellybutt), but I likely clean my bellybutton more than I smoke pot. My girlfriend is trying medical marijuana as an anxiety treatment and she’s been pretty pleased with the results. Occasionally I’ll join her if I have a free night where I don’t need to accomplish anything. Not often, but every once in a while it’s nice to coast for a stress free evening. When it comes to alcohol, I have a large tolerance. Weed on the other hand, hits me hard and fast. I like retaining a certain level of awareness and getting high throws that right out the window. I’ve always been a soft touch on it so I’m careful to have only small amounts at a time. One or two puffs is more than enough for a few hours worth of mellow and it’s rare that I imbibe more. Last night we were having a couple over for dinner who’d just moved to Toronto. We had a tiny toke maybe 15 minutes before they were set to arrive. I had a drag and a small puff. Five minutes before they were due to arrive I turned towards my partner in horror.

“Oh shit. I am way too stoned to host a dinner.”

She assured me that we were a team and we’d get through it together.

One of my issues when I smoke is that I have trouble parsing information. It’s not that I don’t take in information, but my usual subconscious filters come out to the fore. It makes almost everything a conceptual minefield. Furthermore, it certainly didn’t help me prepare dinner. We’d put roast veggies in the oven much earlier, so those were cooking away. We’d chopped up and salted eggplant to sweat out the excess moisture. All that we had left was to pan fry it and heat up our guests’ shepherd’s pie. I had two pans going with 1cm thick slices of eggplant. One was large and non-stick, the other was a cast iron grill pan. Outwardly my guests saw me cooking eggplant. Inwardly my dialogue was a little more like this…

When was the last time I cooked eggplant? Have I ever cooked eggplant in a pan? How long did the recipe say? Five to seven minutes per side? Does it change if one of the pans is flat and the other has a grill? Does that mean they need different cooking temperatures? How much oil do I need? Is this a light pan fry or something deeper? Does deep frying even happen in a grill pan? Won’t the oil get stuck in the grooves? What kind of texture does fried eggplant have? Do I want it to be soft and gooey or crispy? Or a combination of the two? I remember something in the recipe about eggplant being naturally bitter. Is that a flavour that subsides once it reaches a certain level of cook-ed-ness? Or is that something I need to counteract with spices/ingredients? Isn’t eggplant umami? How do I balance that flavour? Do I need to add lemon for acidic elements? Garlic? More oil? But doesn’t eggplant soak up a ton of oil? Does that mean I need more or less? It’s getting burnt, is it supposed to get burnt? Does that mean that I’m cooking it well or does that make me a bad chef? Am I a bad chef? I know that I like it when there’s a burn to things, but is that because my tastes are weird? Or is it a taste that people naturally enjoy when it comes to eggplant? Wait, am I trying to place my values when it comes to food over the preferences of others? How am I supposed to know how other people like it? There are three other people here. What if I cook it in a way that only one or two others enjoy? Does that make me a bad host? Or is it impossible to guess how others enjoy things and you just do your best? Is this subjective or objective? Are the darker bits the more or less cooked parts? Let’s have a taste of one. Hmm, is that what bitter tastes like? I’ve forgotten what a bitter taste is. I think I enjoy it, but it has a certain aftertaste. I’m pretty sure I like that aftertaste, but is that just because I’m stoned? What if others don’t like it? Does that mean I’m being shitty to them? How am I even supposed to know this? Would I understand better if I wasn’t stoned? Do I normally automatically know all of this stuff? Why am I thinking so hard about something that shouldn’t be challenging?

That was maybe a minute of internal dialogue.

The rest of the night was just as much of a maze. I felt like I was in some dinner party disaster movie and this was my subplot. I kept saying things, but not understanding why I was saying them or how I gauged whether or not things were appropriate. All I knew was that I somehow had to make it through the evening without our guests knowing that I was stoned. I don’t know why that was such an issue, but I think it had something to do with this lofty sense of social decorum (when in reality if I just said “sorry folks, but I’m really stoned right now, so if I’m acting weird that’s it”, they would’ve most likely been receptive to that). I’m pretty sure I enjoyed myself and the evening went by without any major hitches. Still, even today I still feel a little unhinged. I’m still piecing together how my brain works. Like, at brunch this morning I ate grilled plantain and didn’t realise I was eating the skin too. I ate maybe half a plantain skin.

Maybe I’ll wait a while before smoking again.

“Friendly” doesn’t have to imply “nice”.

I usually think I’ve got an okay grasp of people. Reading the situation and the like. Then I’ll have an interaction that’ll make me question how other people read me. Or whether the issue is with me, that I’m an odd duck myself. Mallard-justed, y’know?

I feel like people often mistake politeness for personal interest. It’s rare that I’ll be in a scenario and not feel like being genial. Just because we’re strangers, it doesn’t mean I can’t be friendly. On the other side of this, just because I’m being friendly, it doesn’t mean that I feel like we have any close connection. If my choice was to be friendly, grumpy, or neutral, why wouldn’t I prefer to enjoy a conversation more than less? Aside from times in which I’m feeling super low energy, of course. I’ll very often chat with people with no intention of taking anything further than that one time interaction. I try to delve beyond the more base level stuff because that’s not interesting to me. It happens at parties all the time. I’ll be making conversation with someone while we’re both waiting for the bathroom or they’re in the way when I want something that’s behind them (usually snacks or drinks). I’ll joke around with them purely because it’s less awkward than being rude or blunt. Why not, right? Then the next thing I know they’ve sent me a Facebook request and I have to feel bad because I don’t remember who they are when I walk past them on the TTC.

I dunno, maybe I’m still holding onto something that happened the other day. My girlfriend and I were at a friend’s comedy gig. As excited as I was to watch some comedy, I was also stoked that I’d get to eat the $10 fish and chips meal. Two guys came over and sat down. One was a dude who I’ve chatted with a bunch. Nice guy. The other was some dude who’s in a shared online community space. Friend of a friend kind of thing. I’d met the guy before, but he wasn’t the kind of person who interested me on a fundamental level. You know how you can sometimes sense it on others a few sentences into a conversation. Your brain sends you this reading of oh, this fellow isn’t on my wavelength whatsoever. It doesn’t make them a bad person by any means, just not compatible with you. Maybe it was his brand of confidence or something. The way he seemed to say things matter-of-factly rather than implying that they were his opinions. I found myself uninterested in not only what he was saying, but how he was saying almost everything he said (to note, I would never contradict anyone who held these same opinions of me. I just so happen to be in agreement with the way that I think). I wanted at that moment to be elsewhere, or rather for him to be elsewhere. But we were watching a comedy show and I didn’t want to leave that. So I stuck around.

The gig finished. My girlfriend and I were tired and ready to hit the sack. We stood up and said our goodbyes to friends, passed around hugs. As we were leaving the guy said it was nice to meet us. We did the typical “cheers, goodnight” kind of thing. He said he’d add us on Facebook. We nodded, said goodnight and headed for the door (also my girlfriend is her own autonomous being. We’re not The Borg or anything. She happened to be doing the same stuff). He called out “wait!” and we turned around. He had his phone outstretched, open on Facebook. He passed it to my girlfriend with the search bar highlighted. “Add yourselves” he said. I tried to think of what to do or say to extricate myself from this situation. I didn’t want to be rude, but neither did I want to have this dude in my social sphere. If I had self respect for boundaries in that moment I probably could’ve said “no thanks” and when pressed for an answer respond with “I don’t feel that kind of connection with you” or something of the like. Why did he think that I would? What about my conversation indicated that I had any interest in him as a person, rather than being trapped in a social space? Who would be that presumptuous? What remote commonalities did he see between us? I couldn’t understand what was happening in that moment and my brain shorted a little. So while I could’ve refused and given an entirely justifiable response, I didn’t. I took the phone he handed to me and added myself.

Then as soon as we left the bar, took out my phone and deleted his friend request.

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.

Plus then I wouldn’t have had access to the internet. What would the point of life be then?

I don’t think it would’ve made sense for me to be born any time before the 50s. I’m trying to think of a society I would’ve prospered in, but they all fall apart. Knowing who I am, how much I enjoy complaining and how flimsy my immune system is, I’d be ill suited to a life that existed before widespread inoculation. In medieval times I would’ve fallen for the first round of black plague, or been mowed down in the initial rain of arrows. I’m not an inherently brave person, so unless I lucked out and was born into a family of means, I’d be pretty much fucked. In the Wild West I’d no doubt contract dysentery, and in the Wild Wild West I’d stand no chance against a giant mechanical spider. I can’t see myself having excelled in the Victorian era, given my lack of concrete skills. I probably would’ve been the lackey of some merchant or an apprentice candlestick maker. The 20s through 40s were all filmed in black and white and I don’t know if my eyes would pop enough, so they’re out. In fact, if not for the age in which I was born, I think the only place for me would’ve been as a disaffected member of Gen X.

I’m being deliberately silly of course, but as I started typing my objections, I pondered how impossible it would be to predict how I’d be in any early generation. With my personality so utterly shaped by my culture (my sum of lived experiences up to this point), I’d be an entirely different person. So much of me has been sculpted from parental influences, the specific friends I’ve grown up around, my home country, my education, relationships I’ve had and (let’s be honest), the media I’ve consumed. This concept of who would I have been is erroneous from the start, because the simple answer is that I wouldn’t have have been me. I’d have been an entirely different person, a creation of my surroundings.

When I start to think about the “whys” of who I am, it wigs me out. It’s a matter of pulling at threads and seeing how far they go. I’ve changed so much even since I arrived in Toronto. For instance I was always sex positive to a point, but connections I’ve made here have led to further understanding and education of what that means, engaging in experiences I would’ve otherwise likely not had. The friendships I’ve made through the community have constantly caused me to question and restructure held beliefs. People I’ve met have introduced me to others who’ve become hugely important parts of my life. Most of which I can track back as the lasting effects of going on one particular date (of the many I’ve had in Toronto), which kick-started a chain reaction. There’s a point here where anyone could jump in and say “yes, but getting to where you are required a tacit buy-in at each new juncture”. I had to say yes at every step of the way, otherwise I likely would’ve headed down a different path. The further back I go, this only increases the massive range of who I could’ve been.

At the end of the day, picking apart how I’ve become who I am doesn’t change who I will be. Errant navel gazing doesn’t serve meaningful progress. Concurrently it’s not like the viewpoint is a total waste. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle. Further consideration of actions taken could help shape who I become. Which is a fine idea in theory but useless in practice. Who wants to think about things all the time?

That’s how you wind up with a project like I Have My Doubts.