Bye bye Alberty

Well that could’ve been worse.

Election times, crisis averted, I guess we can move along. It wasn’t the outcome most of my bubble were looking for, but it was an outcome. The Cons did not get their minority government. That’s worth celebrating. Aside from that, mediocrity won on the day. I think most people have been happy enough to accept a better than bad result, but disappointment abounds once more for the NDP. I know in my riding, we had high hopes that our NDP candidate would win over the Liberal incumbent. It didn’t happen. There are a lot of early theories as to NDP’s performance, and they typically revolve around three things: Fear, money, and racism.

First the fear, that’s easy. We still operate in a FPTP system. The reigning notion in mainstream progressive circles was we have to vote Liberal to prevent a Con minority. I’m no pundit, but I’m pretty sure it’s the horse Trudeau rode to victory. It’s exactly how I would’ve voted, if I hadn’t had a bunch of discussions with friends to better understand the (admittedly limited) nuances of our parliamentary system. Our riding was between Liberal/NDP. That seat was not going to a Con, so I was free to vote with my heart. I did, and while I didn’t get the result I was hoping for, I have no regrets over doing so. I want to live in a society where we’re free to vote for the representation we want, not against the representation we fear.

Secondly, money. Singh’s popularity really rose through the leaders’ debates. He was eloquent, clever, and frequently rose above the muck and mire that marred this election cycle. I think he impressed a bunch of people who’d previously dismissed him as an option. The party was hampered financially in comparison to the other parties. The Cons, of course, had all that sweet sweet back channel International Democratic Union propping up his puppet campaign. I guess we have to be kind of thankful that Scheer was such a limp, robotic option, and was unable to inspire most anyone outside of Alberta. Trudeau also had a lot of supportive structure surrounding him. Singh less so. It was hard for them to mount a successful advertising campaign with the limited reach their finances could achieve. They did a comparatively great job on social media, courting younger voters, but it clearly wasn’t enough to leverage into solid votes.

Thirdly, racism. I’m not gonna speak to the ins and outs of this, because I have only a base knowledge. From what I do understand, NDP really struggled in Quebec. Quebec is all in on Bill c-21. It’s a secularism bill, which has become particularly contentious for its clause that would ban public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. Jagmeet wears a turban. It’s obviously against what c-21 stands for. NDP got shut the fuck out in Quebec. They lost 15 seats in Quebec, which is a ton when they previously held 44 seats countrywide. It seems like most of those losses went to Le Bloc Québécois, a party devoted to Quebec sovereignty and nationalism. I mean, if you want an example of how an average, everyday person thinks it’s okay to act, here’s Singh talking to a Québécois after the dude tells him he should cut off his turban. Singh through and through has been a class act. It’s more than a little disappointing that didn’t translate into actionable support.

Who knows what happens from here on out. It does seem like Trudeau’s Liberals are going to have to lean on the NDP for support. Le Bloc Québécois are likely going to ignore most things that aren’t about Quebec. Fingers crossed that NDP in a position of kingmaker help actual progressive policy shine through. There’s potential here, and for the sake of the vulnerable here in Canada, I hope they tap into it.

Also Alberta, if you want to fuck off so badly with your #wexit bullshit, go ahead. See how far that gets you.

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Never be That Guy™. You always know when you’re being That Guy™, and you need to stop it. Just stop it, Guy

I don’t often write about polyamory. I have my reasons.

Firstly, when I initially heard of polyamory, it was from people who found it difficult not to talk about polyamory. They found ways to shoehorn it into almost any conversation, and I found it more than a little grating. I don’t want to be That Guy™. Secondly, I know that in a mainstream sense, poly is still a relatively new idea. Some people find it intimidating, challenging or even uncomfortable to think about. I get it. I often did when I first heard about it. Rest assured that I don’t follow these bullshit Gold Star Poly mantras of thinking that it’s the be all and end all. I firmly don’t believe that poly is for everyone. I think that people navigating their relationships in a variety of different ways is healthy, and if a system works for you, that’s a personal thing. I also don’t believe in prescriptivist shit. If there’s some combination of systems that’s your sweet spot, I’m glad you’ve found it. Today though, I want to talk about poly, because it’s given me the best dating advice that I wish I truly understood much earlier.

Be genuine.

It sounds simple, it’s not. I know that when I started dating, I had this internal scarcity model dictating my actions. It felt like having sex, being in a relationship, these were things I was missing out on, and I desperately wanted to enjoy them. The efforts I went to were staggering. I’d constantly think about my interactions, and how I wanted to present myself. I’d focus on whether or not a situation was potentially romantic, and if I saw an inkling of it, I’d lean in. I wouldn’t lie in the pursuit of having sex, but I’d definitely lessen aspects of myself in order to agree with people more. To try and put our compatibility on a pedestal. I’d worry about what I said, and whether this would make people like me less. I’d fret about what to wear on dates, the implications of my clothing choices and what they said about me. I’d be swept away on a wave of anxiety if I thought I’d messed up. In my mind, the risk of losing out on something that could be more was a tragedy. People who were interested in me were a rarity, and if I missed out, chances were that an opportunity wouldn’t come around again any time soon.

There’s a lot that was very wrong about the above. It’s not like I didn’t care about these people, but I definitely objectified them. I turned them into a goal I pursued. Of course I wanted to spend time with them, get to know them and grow closer, but also I was very much driven by a fear of being perpetually alone. Also at a base level I was diminishing myself, trashing my self-confidence. The underlying idea was that I was not worth affection, and thus I needed to trick and scheme my way into someone thinking I was. Gross all over.

I no longer operate on a scarcity model. I’m older, more relaxed, and confident [a reminder that we stan the Oxford comma here, when it makes sense -Ed]. Poly has enabled a lot of this change in behaviour. I know that I have someone to come home to. I’m in a stable, loving relationship and I’ve stopped seeing my value in whether or not I’m dateable. I know I’m dateable. I’ve been dating someone for over five years. Being in this relationship has assured me time and time again that all of my little oddities and eccentricities are features, not bugs. I’m a lovable dude to the right people. However, I’m not gonna find the people who like my specific strangeness if I act like someone else.

It’s entirely changed the way I navigate potential romantic connections. I don’t try to appear more appealing by changing myself. I’m okay having disagreements, because I don’t try to force things down a romantic path. If we’re not compatible, that’s okay. There’ll probably be other people who we will be compatible with. I’m done with spending time around people simply because I’m attracted to them, and hoping that I’ll fall for their personalities. I don’t prioritise sex these days, because being able to have connections where I’m able to be my genuine self means that sex is a bonus. The real goal is increasing the amount of time I get to spend having great conversations and doing neat activities with people. I don’t try to date anymore. I just have adult friendships. Sometimes those friendships become intimate, and that’s the cherry on top. I let these connections be what they are. There are a number of people with whom I’ve shared kisses. Some of these may end up resulting in sexual connections, some may not. I don’t mind. Getting to know someone you admire, hearing about their lives, and seeing what the world looks like through their eyes is a real reward. If sex is going to happen, it’s gonna happen when you’re both ready, comfortable and enthusiastic to do it. Why rush that timeline? If you’re both being your most genuine selves, and you’re each attracted to those genuine aspects, it’s probably more likely that things will get intimate. Far and away, I’ve found these connections so much more rewarding than any I had when I was dating out of fear.

So no, it’s not poly advice, but I doubt I’d have learned it if I wasn’t poly.

Oh by the way, this is a sponsored post for Kind Bars. Soz

Your regularly scheduled reminder that progress takes time.

We all have the capacity to change and grow. You’re allowed to learn new things that shift your opinion, and this is a great thing. Just because something doesn’t gel with your current world view, that doesn’t mean it’s immediately wrong. I know we don’t all have the energy to create space for regressive voices to learn at all times. Still, if the goal is to hope for a better future, the more we can work towards fostering understanding rather than “scoring points”, the closer that future gets. Signed, someone who still has a lot to learn.

I truly feel like I’m learning new stuff all the time. This year in particular has had a ton of growth. Last night I went to a lavish party with a particular group of friends. We tend to get together for fun excuses to get dressed up. Earlier this year, we visited a couple who’d moved to Montreal and had a post New Years event. This was at a huge low point for me. I’d deeply sunken into my depression, and come to the realisation that I wasn’t thrilled about being alive anymore. No melodrama, I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t have a desire to go on living. My mental health had staggered for so long, and was bottoming out. I felt fortunate to be around friends, but it was hard to feel happy. Look, having fun is more enjoyable than not having fun, but there’s a noted difference when the things that used to bring you enjoyment begin to feel neutral. It’s a close knit group, and I made no secret of how much I was struggling. They were warm and compassionate about that, we all shared what was getting us down and it was cathartic. It also wasn’t some magic switch that made everything better. I still struggled.

Last night at this party, it was notable just how much things had changed. For the first time in years, I’m at a stage where I feel truly happy and grateful for everything around me. The medication has really turned around my mental health. I’m at a new job that I love. It’s challenging and requires constant creativity. I’m exhausted when I leave work, but it’s a tangible, pleasant exhaustion. Like the satisfaction you get after a good day of manual labour. I have a wonderful partner, and because of the work/life balance my job brings me, we get to spend a lot more time together during the days. We can wake up together, even. It’s such a mundane thrill. I have so many supportive friends, and I’m feeling better about the other intimate connections I’m making. I feel confident and engaged all the time. It’s an unbelievably positive place to be, and nine months ago I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

Recently, I read some post about the difference between being “nice” and being “kind”. It stuck with me. I don’t have a clear through-line, but I want to work on becoming a kind person. Nice often seems to stem from propriety. Being contextually pleasant, and doing small gestures. It’s almost like being nice is something to garner social status. That’s not what I’m looking for. I would like to be kind, and I think it’s an actionable goal. The way I see it, being kind is embodying a belief that people are worthy of compassion, and aiming to teach them that. It’s doing things for people because you want their lives to be better, and knowing when that’s in your capacity. It’s not ceding of yourself, compromising your needs for others. It’s finding ways to make it effortless to care, and to help. In my head, being nice is posting a supportive comment on a Facebook post. Being kind is letting that person know that you have space for them if they need it. Being nice is giving platitudes. Being kind is understanding what that person needs- whether it’s venting or advice- then giving them what they need rather than what you personally want to give. Being nice is offering help. Being kind is allowing that person to say no if they need, and not to feel bad about it.

As I said, I’m still learning. If things go well, I’ll never stop.

Here’s today’s slice of life

I’m feeling a little loopy, and that’s okay.

My sleep patterns have been a bit iffy lately, and it’s translated into a strange and addled state of mind. Yesterday I had a nap around 4pm. Later, I got a little high and cut some cheese. I looked down at the knife, and started singing an improvised song about a “cheese knife”. I’ve never been great at riffing lyrics on the fly, but for some reason I kept going as I prepped to head out for the evening. For maybe ten minutes straight, I kept up with this ditty, going through all sorts of stanzas and iterations. At some point it became a funeral dirge, the same weird little tune, but slower. The lyrics were inane, something like:

Cheeeeese kniife
No matter what, we stood together
Cheeeeese kniife
Through thick and thin, through stormy weather
You’ve been so present in my life
Taken my hand in all this strife
You’ve
Been
My
Cheeeeese kniife…

And so on. It was fun. There was something to be said for disregarding a fear of failure. Not worrying about the outcome, but relaxing into it and keeping up momentum. It reminded me of teaching kids to do back tucks in gymnastics. The thing about a back tuck that will get in your way is hesitation. There’s a point at which you just have to push it, elsewise you’ll get stuck in the wrong position. If you hesitate, you’ll hurt yourself. If you push hard, you’ll land the right way up. Riffing this dumb cheese knife song was similar, in that I just had to go with it and have faith that I’d stick the landing. I stumbled a bunch of times, but I was surprised at how often I managed to come up with a legit rhyme. At times if I thought far enough ahead, I’d get a word into my brain that would be great for the following line, and try to come up with a rhyming word for the line I was currently saying. It made my mind reel at the mental gymnastics that prolific freestyle rappers must do on a regular basis. There’s so much to consider, but someone like Black Thought makes it seem effortless. I can only wonder what he’d rap about a cheese knife.

I realised today that there are a couple of things I’ve had wrong for a while. For instance, I thought that the saying went “Fear is in the eye of the beholder”. Apparently that’s quite not it. I only found out, because I made a pun that I thought was decent about it. It would’ve been, if that was the saying. I also thought that the line in Nirvana’s “In Bloom” was “But he don’t know what it means/Don’t know what it means to matter”. In my head it made sense. Nirvana was all about connecting with the disaffected youth. Big time Gen X energy. Saying that the dude likes to sing along, likes to shoot his gun, but lacks purpose, it all seems on the mark. I kinda want to retcon the lyrics and change them to mine. I’m sure Kurt would be up for it, if he were still around.

I know the sentiment of what would Cobain have become if he lived? isn’t new, but I was thinking about it today. Not in a musical sense, but socially. Nirvana were kind of a beacon for the weird and unwanted. Queer culture wasn’t as mainstream as it is these days. I wonder if Kurt would’ve been a good ally or not. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I feel like he’d be supportive of LGBTQ+ peeps. I know he idolised Bowie, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him follow in Bowie’s footsteps. As far as I know, Bowie was normally on the right side of history (like calling out 90s MTV for not playing enough black artists). Would Cobain have gone down a similar route? Of course we have no idea. I’m not gonna break any ground here. It also doesn’t serve any of us to imagine would could have been, when it easily could not have happened that way at all. Kurt was frequently unwell, and fame sorta fucked with him a bunch. If he didn’t take his life, would something else have done it for him? Sad. It’s been a while since I listened to Nirvana. Maybe I should go do that now.

Maybe I’ll cut some cheese, and have a listening party.

You wouldn’t think those were strict criteria…

Y’all ready for a “let’s get this out of the way” post?

I sure am. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in just over an hour, and while I could probably just write in the inevitable half hour waiting room break, I don’t wanna. I’m doing my check in post anti-depressants to gauge how things are going. Oddly enough, my doctor has gone on mat leave and I’m meeting her year long replacement. With something personal like this, I’m starting to understand the mentality of people wanting to see their specific doctors. The decision for me to go on these meds was thoroughly discussed, and would’ve been a rollercoaster if not for the time and patience my doctor had for looking at all of our options together. Ultimately, I know they’re working and have been an outstanding decision, so I’m not worried about talking with some new dude about them. At the same time, it brings me closer to the importance of a personal doctor relationship kind of thing. Usually, I don’t care. I trust that the clinic I visit has qualified professionals. I’ve had only good experiences with the staff there. The receptionists are very hesitant to put me with anyone else unless it’s an emergency. I don’t blame them whatsoever. That’s just policy. Still, if there’s something wrong with me, I will go to most anyone who has more knowledge than I do. Just put me in, coach.

I’ve got a fancy, fancy party tomorrow night and I’m excited. I got so excited that I bought two tickets by accident. See, I can trace back the idiocy of this decision. Let’s back up. I go to this Library fundraiser every year. It’s the one event that’s very costly (over $100 per ticket), and I get all dolled up with friends. We’ve gone for the past few years. Tradition, and all that. There’s early bird pricing, which we generally tend to get. This year, because of my shift work, I wasn’t sure if I’d be free on the night or not. We have a big group chat going about it (and other neat events). I re-read the chat yesterday. Everyone chimed in back in early September about having purchased early bird tickets. Normally with these events, I post something like “got my ticket” or whatnot. I hadn’t. A few weeks ago I was like oh shit, did I get my ticket? I know I missed early bird. I looked in my emails for a sign of a ticket purchase. No confirmation emails. I looked back in my bank account. No sign of an earlier non-early bird ticket purchase. I bit the bullet and bought a billet. Then yesterday, I got an email telling me to activate my ticket. I logged in and saw two tickets. Weird. I looked back in my emails, and realised that I didn’t have a ticket purchase receipt for the second one either. So that was clearly what happened first time around. I’d bought two tickets. Dummy.

I emailed back asking if I could get a refund. Then my mind started spinning. What was my best course of action? These weren’t cheap tickets. I think the fully priced one came to over $130. I could offer it to my girlfriend, but I couldn’t really expect her to pay for it. Also she’s kinda flu-y at the moment. What if she was too sick to go? I started thinking of other friends, but more importantly I thought of the group I’m going with. It’s a tight knit group. Wonderful, witty people. It’s also a very particular vibe. If my girlfriend couldn’t make it, I’d need to find someone else. It’d have to be someone who’d a) fit with the group, b) have fancy things to wear, c) like eating/drinking a lot (on account of the open bar and unlimited delicious foods) and d) be available last minute. I made a shortlist and it had possibly five people who’d fit a-c. Turns out that I can get a refund, however, so I don’t have to worry about last minute rearrangements. I just need to make sure I have a non-creased shirt.

I better get a few ice cubed and toss my shirt in the dryer.

A spoon full of sugar lacks caffeine

What weird things do you eat?

I ask this, having just cut off a slab of cheese and slathering Marmite all over it. NZ Marmite, the strong, sticky, tangy stuff. The best stuff. I do love bold flavours, and this informs my oft peculiar eating habits. It’s well known by this point that I love kimchi, and will eat it at most any juncture (writing this reminded me to stand up and get some from the fridge. Good zing in this batch. I’ve got this habit of keeping the liquid from one batch and tipping it into the next one. Like a sourdough starter. It’s paying off). I’ll have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, afternoon tea, pre or post dessert, pre or post drinking, pre or post workout, probably even pre or post nuptial agreement. I’m not saying there’ll be a kimchi cake at my wedding, but I’m also not not saying that.

I had a bunch of odd eating habits as a kid. I’ve mentioned peanut butter and cheese before, but I don’t think it’s possible to mention it enough. Texturally, it was this bizarre gummy and gooey delight. Savoury, salty flavours enmeshing in a strange almost taffy-like concoction. Peanut butter just goes with things. I used to have peanut butter on celery, which I later learned was almost Ants on a Log. When I got hungry around dinner, mum would often give me a salted, peeled carrot. I haven’t tried peanut butter and carrot, and I don’t know that I will any time soon. However, if someone happened to tell me it works (peanut butter and pickle anyone?) and ate it themselves, I’d maybe have a taste. Life’s too short not to try new things.

For a long time, I was very successful at keeping only trace amounts of snack food in the house. These days, I’m less successful. We have chips, chocolates, cookies and popcorn hanging around the house. I try. Oh my god do I try. I get real cravings for sweet stuff, and it’s a challenge not to give in. As an avoidance technique, peanut butter and jam on a rice cake has become my go-to non-kimchi late night snack. I know how bad it’s gotten when I’ve been desperate. Digging into jars of dulce de leche with spoons and shit. Eating fistfuls of chocolate chips. I think I’ve even dug into old, old cereal.

For a while, after purchasing a jar of crappy instant coffee and discovering that my plan of nutella based mochas wouldn’t work, I tried a different tack. I’d just cover a spoon in nutella, then dip it in the instant coffee. That was a punch to the brain. Sugar, caffeine and desperation make one hell of a combo.

Speaking of which, I think it’s time I visited the bathroom. I’ve got a lot swirling around in there.

I don’t know. Asking for a country

Isn’t it weird how austerity cuts never seem to affect the wealthy?

I’m kind of tired of making political posts, but it’s hard to rise above the mire right now. We’re under a week away from finding out who the new government will be. I’m swimming in social media fixated on the election, my mind couldn’t get away from it if I tried. Y’know, aside from stepping away from social media, but how realistic is that? I was thinking about austerity today, and how odd it is that it usually means a cut to social programs. I dunno, if the economy is in a rough spot, maybe it’s because people are struggling? Maybe it’s because people can’t afford to bolster the economy, because rent is too high, they can’t afford to take care of all their bills, they’re in debt, etc. Maybe if social programs were in place, those people would be healthier? More able to work? If they had assistance, maybe they could funnel that extra income back into the economy?

I know this sounds xxxtreme, but what if public transit was free? What would free public transit do? Chances are it would take a bunch of people off the road and ease congestion. It would put more strain on the system, requiring expansion of services and frequent maintenance. I’m not saying this from a place of true knowledge, because I don’t have that. This is thought experiment territory. It’s no secret that corporations create exponentially more pollution than people do. What if we taxed heavy polluters heavily, then funnelled this money directly back into funding public transport? Would that reduce vehicle emissions? Allow citizens to save money, that they could put towards other areas of need? I’m not sure how these numbers would line up. Second take, what if there was some kind of sliding scale? I can afford to pay for public transit, but I know not everyone could. What if the cost you paid for public transit was tied to your income? We have tax levels based on income brackets, what about transit? Would that be a workable solution, enabling those in need to have an easier time? Sure, I’d like free public transit, but I could understand if the cost of struggling people getting access was that I had to pay. That makes sense to me. The more I make, the less I’d have to lean on social services. Even the playing field a bit?

Thing is, I know what the alternate viewpoint would be already. We worked hard for our money, those people didn’t, so we don’t deserve to be equals. The concept of “fair” has very different definitions across the spectrum. Capitalism is a system that puts fiscal opportunity above the value of people’s lives. I don’t think that’s an outlandish statement. The more money you have, the more opportunities your wealth affords you. The very wealthy have the ability to influence policy, to create pressure on the system in an attempt to have laws bend around their needs. Modern politics seem to revolve a lot more around optics and fiscally advantageous deals, than trying to help those who need it. We all buy the rhetoric, which allows people to get into positions of power and further cement their own base of influence. We hear about the tip of what they work on, and most of it lies under the surface. The vast majority of us don’t know about the breadth of meetings, policy and deals made by our government, and that’s become part of the appeal for many prospective politicians.

If times are supposedly hard, why are we cutting down on services rather than tax breaks? Doesn’t that make more fiscal sense?