Nothing adventured, nothing gained.

I was thinking today, what would I do if a wizard popped up out of nowhere and said “Hey Leon, you like pokémon, right? Wanna live in a world of pokémon?”

In this scenario, I’d be transported to an alternate realm where pokémon roamed the land. I don’t need to deep dive into an explanation, right? The conceit rings true? Exploring, capturing and training pokémon, battling at gyms. A life of constant adventure, making friends and memories. Having a stable of pets to grow close with. Intelligent creatures who could learn, grow and evolve.

The caveat, of course (cause next to spells, those are wizards’ favourite things) is that I’d have to leave my existence behind. Friends? Gone. Loved ones? Poof. As if they never were. My girlfriend, the woman I wake up beside every morning? Nada. She’d be back here in this reality. The life I’ve spent years cultivating and crafting for myself? All that hardship and horizontal movement? My bank accounts? Possessions? Kaput. All given to the void so I could travel the land in a Hakuna Matata state of being.

It’s a harder choice than it first seems, because how can we not build attachment to the life we put our heart and soul into. Is love something that can simply be dropped at will? Of course it isn’t. The bonds of a relationship are forged through diligence and perseverance. You earn the people around you by virtue of giving back to them. Think about all that effort, vanished in an instant. Think about your feelings, cursed to still be tethered. Permanently unrequited. With time they’d fade, but imagine losing your everything all at once. Wouldn’t you be reeling?

But on the flipside, you’d get to form whole new attachments. I dropped most everything when I moved from NZ to Canada. Okay, that’s a falsehood of sorts. The internet exists. I still had contact. The fact that I’m useless at maintaining connections over geographical boundaries is a moot point. Others aren’t so dumpy when it comes to keeping in touch. On the other hand, I’d get to constantly see new sights. I’d be lost in a world where hard work could pay off through my devotion to training. I’d have the chance to discover new parts of myself. To really harness the opportunity to put myself out there. Because that’s what this really is. This whole scenario is simply weighing up the call to adventure against the comfort of security and attachment.

Out of the two, which pulls to me more?

Which is to say, I’ve entirely buried the lede. All this preamble and pokémon rhetoric was just a ruse to say that I’ve taken the call to adventure. Sorry fam. I’m auditioning for a friend’s play tomorrow. I think. Maybe. I put my application in awful late (like 15 minutes ago late). My girlfriend is too. We went out to an info night on Tuesday after I nudged her to audition. She’s a terrific performer and it’s been too long since she’s had stage time. I think she’d do a fantastic job and the whole production is right up her alley.

As for me? Going with her to the info night, it sounded like a really fun troupe. I used to adore acting and I’d low key been thinking maybe I’d try out for something small in Toronto eventually. Knowing the friend who’s directing/co-wrote, it’d be a great time. I remember so fondly the times I’d spend in high school or university hanging around with a cast. My social circles were swarming with theatre geeks and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. They’re generally pretty creative, spontaneous folks. Plus most of them are a blast to drink with. I’d be very happy to sacrifice my spare time to re-engage in that kind of environment. I guess we’ll see if I even get an audition before raising any kinds of hopes.

Adventure, I choose you!


You may not have seen it, but I definitely winked at the fourth wall.

I’ve been doing some deep diving navel gazing lately. Wow, that sentence was a mouthful. In preparation for a Very Special Episode of I Have My Doubts, I’ve cast an eye back into my past to see what I can dredge up. No, it’s not for some clip show style entry (though if I get lazy enough on the day, who knows?). I’m doing a “live episode” for a select group of close friends. I’m gonna read a bunch of entries, then invite others to read any entries that resonated with them.

It’s 100% the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever done, but then again so is this project. In a few days it’ll turn five. One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days of writing in a row. At least nine hundred and twelve hours spent on this. If we estimate that each entry has had at least 500 words, that’d be nine hundred twelve thousand, five hundred words. It’s spanned continents, careers, relationships and haircuts (mostly all the same, to be frank). A lot has happened. I think it’s fair for me to celebrate that by indulging in a couple of blasts from the past. To see who of my friends actually read this project (because honestly, I have very little idea) and hear what my words sound like from the mouths of others.

Something I didn’t expect was how gratifying it would be to have years of my life catalogued. Scrolling through the archives, I was pulled instantly back to my mental state while writing. It was all intimately familiar. So much that I’d forgotten, I was able to recollect all too quickly. It felt lived in, experienced. Without stomping too hard on the narcissism pedal, it was all kinds of fulfilling to realise that the writing is actually pretty decent. I shit on myself constantly for churning out drivel. Still, casting an eye to what I’d done, most of it was better than I’d thought.

It was incredible seeing change over time. Particularly in regards to my attitude towards women. In possibly the most heartbreaking, disgusting, cringe-inducing entry, I recounted my thoughts towards a crush at the time. It reads straight up like a PUA manual. It’s all manner of gross. I hate myself for once thinking like this. I remember feeling lonely, desperate and so in need of validation. I can’t even recall who it was I was pining for, but I sincerely hope nothing happened there. She deserved better, whoever she was. Reading that entry, however, gives me faith. If I could grow the fuck up and develop healthy attitudes towards women, maybe other shitty young dudes can too? With patience, education and unfortunately necessary emotional labour, MRAs could be a thing of the past. As I said, wishful thinking.

I read a bunch of entries and thought oh wait, this is actually pretty funny. Others left me profoundly sad or wistful. The story of my first relationship struck me hard, not so much because I missed her, but because of how well I’d captured it. At times my own creativity surprised me. Whether it was the Rob Ford song I wrote, the freestyle rap or the 30 minute dad joke fest. It was better than I’d expected. A couple of choice words I’d swap out here and there (I’m a lot less comfortable with the term “prostitute” than “sex-worker” these days), but aside from that they weren’t too shabby.

Most of all, it was affirming to note just how much of my current self was in those entries. While I’ve definitely grown in leaps and bounds, I’m still me. In some ways I’m more me than ever. I see the seeds of who I’ve become in so many of those early entries. From life at the university, getting ready to travel, losing myself in the adventure of my budding immigration and finding my footing. From branching out to blossoming, all while never losing sight of my roots. Learning how to integrate metaphors, even.

It’s crazy to think that at 960 entries, I wondered if I was reaching the end of my creative tether. I’d be lying if I said that those thoughts hadn’t plagued me at periodic intervals. Why not? It’s baked into the very framework of this whole endeavour.

I Have My Doubts, after all.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

I quit Bumble.

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

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

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

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

Zero. Not one. No interest in me whatsoever.

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

I suspected there was more to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something To Run To.

Today in Toronto, the temperature broke into single positive digits. While often content to nary leave the house, the radiance of a sunny day was enough pull for me to do it. I put out a Facebook call for anyone wanting to grab coffee or a meal. Nobody was taking me up on the offer, so I pottered about the house for a bit. I told myself it’d be in my best interests to go for a run. Instead I procrastinated a bunch. Why get outside if the internet was inside? There was food in the fridge and the apartment was warm. I accomplished very little, but told myself things would turn around.

A friend chimed in and said she was going to yoga, but would be free afterwards. I suggested grabbing a meal and she was keen. I thought about doing my jog to work up an appetite. I thought about going for the run, then having to come back, shower and change. It all seemed like a lot. Then I realised she’d be coming from physical work. She’d still be in workout clothes. There was no cause for me to stand on ceremony. How far was her yoga studio? I looked it up and it was all of 5.5km. Entirely joggable. I could be fun and functional all in one. I plotted my route then got garbed up in multiple layers. At four degrees, if I layered up enough I wouldn’t have to bring a coat. A thermal top, long sleeved shirt and sweatshirt later, I was sweating indoors. Perfect.

The sun was beating down and smiles were out. It’s crazy how much the weather affects the mood on the street. People jovially walking dogs, grabbing coffee. It was the utter distillation of the gentrification dream. I scrolled through my iPod and found Foo Fighters. Back in my teenage rock/metal phase, I fucking adored the Foo Fighters. It’d been long enough since I last heard Colour and the Shape, but it was so full of singles it was basically a greatest hits compilation.

Everything clicked. I’d adequately stretched and had no significant muscle soreness. My ankles weren’t tight, for once. I zipped along the footpath making great time. I had an awesome flow through traffic lights and ended up stopping when I coincidentally could use a short rest. I nipped through Bellwoods and got in some casual dog-watching. Like any time where the temperature goes above zero, it was packed out. When I turned onto Queen Street, suddenly the sidewalks were packed. I still wanted to keep up the pace, so it became a little mini-game. Not to dissimilar from parkour, I bobbed and weaved, dodging people (without cutting too close and making them uncomfortable) to keep my speed unimpeded. I went around them or sidestepped into the gap between cars and the gutter. I made good time and despite the traffic, still got there in under half an hour.

This isn’t a new phenomena, but I hope I never take my mobility for granted. The concept that somewhere is very easily run-able if it’s under 6k is amazing and I’m so fortunate that’s the case. It changes the way I see the city, enabling me to get around in a more flexible fashion. I get why cycling ends up being so cultish, in that it totally opens up the urban sprawl. You’re not bound by the particular grid and can go hard on Pythagorean theory. The neighbourhoods feel different when you’re seeing them from the ground. When your agility is guiding you, it’s freeing. You feel indomitable.

Some guy showed up without a costume. He looked less pirate, merely just irate.

Oh hey. Don’t mind me. I’m just here adjusting to what BEING FUCKING OLD feels like. I had a late night out last night (getting home around 9am or so) and for the entirety of today I’ve felt bushed. I got maybe 5 hours sleep altogether between a full scale rest and an evening nap. The result, however, is that I’m now an overgrown cranky baby. Still, going out to a Leprechaun drinking game event tonight, so I’ll be hard-pressed to stay dour. That said, this is 100% gonna be a get this out of the way style entry. Maybe I’ll make a pun or two worth sticking around for.

Why out so late? Because I’m trying in vain to be one of the Kool Kids. I went out to my very first toga party tonight, which is a thing raucous college students do. College students are the bastion of cool, right? Thing is, it was a rad ol’ time. Put on by a burner adjacent group with a space pirate aesthetic. There were performances, togas, screen-printing, a plounge and overpriced drinks. Despite the $10 house wine (I decided I needed to go full on “Bacchanaleon”), it was a fucking riot. I got to toga up with an old lime green bed sheet. I was wearing my tiger printed undies so I could have a toga on top and tiger underneath. I spiked my hair like a crown atop my head. Think Statue of Liberty, but more 90s chic.

The performances were all pretty neat. There was a woman dancing with something I could only describe as electric seaweed. It was a curly lash with fronds shooting off the central stalk. Coloured LEDs spanned its length, creating a myriad of sweet patterns. Another similar but mildly different act were the Spin Starlets. Alternating between electric poi, vibrant light up hoops and infinity wands, they were a dream of the 80s brought to life. It was pretty nuts seeing them hooping with their knees, but it’s hard to comprehend how visually arresting the ensemble was on a small stage. The light from the hoops flooded the room, bathing us all in electro circus mystique.

The music was pumping and the dance floor was hyped. I got to catch up with a ton of friends I hadn’t seen in ages, plus make a bunch of new ones. People’s costumes were awesome, with bold splashes of colour while incorporating a vague Greco-Roman theme. There was a photobooth set up, complete with a green screen. Thing is, my green toga faded into the background. One the galactic layer was added to the picture, it just looked like my arms and head were reaching out from the astral plane. It was kind of cool, being a disembodied demigod. I snapped some great pictures to remind myself in low periods that I’m touched by divinity, or something.

After the club emptied out around 3am, a bunch of friends and I absconded back to one of the couples’ place. They pulled out a crash mat in the living room, brought their aerial hoop down to an accessible level and we fooled around learning hoop tricks until the early morning. Not the most conventional post party activity, but I had a grand old time learning various holds and techniques. Given how limber I was feeling after a yoga class earlier that day, I managed to tire out muscles that’d been thoroughly stretched mere hours beforehand. Oh, I’ve felt it this morning.

And now? Now I need to pull myself together for some 90s cheesy horror themed revelry.

Bacchanaleon indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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