I’m not like them, but I can pretend. A nice suit helps too.

Maybe rich people do have more fun.

A couple of friends and I got dolled up last night and attended a fancy party. I’m feeling pretty fragile today, so don’t expect me to write a masterpiece. But anyway, the party. A super glitzy affair, Hush Hush is an annual library fundraiser, which turns a local library into an all out barnburner. The tickets were super expensive, at $100 each, but the event was goddamn out of this world. Everyone was dressed to the nines and looked dynamite. The essence of cocktail chic. I feel like every time I turned a corner I’d walk into yet another unbelievable set piece, each of which could’ve been an event in themselves.

  • A GIF photobooth. A stack of props and a camera that took four consecutive photos that it then turned into a GIF, which they in turn emailed to you.
  • Two servers walking around with oyster utility belts. Chainmail gloves, a knife, A bucket of iced oysters, a selection of different sauces and a bucket for the empty shells. I’ve never really enjoyed oysters before and I was convinced I just hadn’t tried the right one yet. One server had East Coast oysters and the other had West Coast ones. I couldn’t taste the difference, but they were damn delectable. I tried a hot sauce version and a champagne vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was amazing.
  • A cartoonist who’d draw your portrait. The line was 40-50 minutes long, which seemed like a waste at a four hour event.
  • A robotic hockey game, with little car robots controlled by iPads.
  • Liquid nitrogen cooking. There were cheetos on sticks, which were crazy. When you bit in, you’d get a mouthful of chilly smoke. If you were an idiot and accidentally put the whole cheeto in, you’d get surprised as smoke shot out of your nose. They also did nitrogen infused coffee flavoured ice cream, with little syringes filled with maple syrup.
  • Three HTC Vive VR setups. I didn’t get around to playing, but it seemed pretty rad.
  • Open bars. They had about four different stations set up. Custom cocktails, a couple of Ontario craft beers or wine. There was even a Bloody Caesar bar going all night.
  • They kept the same DJ as the previous year and she fucking killed it again. They had a different spin (pun mostly intended) on it this year, as they’d pulled a bunch of vinyl from the library’s collection. They had them set up in crates by the DJ. You could leaf through them and find songs to request. Lots of old classics and deep cuts, mixed with a little low hanging fruit. It was great.

The event was absurd and a total blast. Servers were constantly coming around to take empty glasses/dishes and offer hors d’oeuvres. The crowd was surprisingly great. One or two finance bros, but mostly chill, friendly people. Everyone seemed to have come determined to enjoy themselves. Super low douchebag quotient. The event ended around 1am and a couple of us were still looking for something to do. Someone my friend and I met on the dancefloor invited us back to hers with a couple of others. I had no expectations or idea of where it was going, but it ended up being this mega wholesome gathering. Six or so of us in the basement listening to music, chatting and singing along as someone strummed on the guitar. I took an Uber home just before 5am, grin plastered on my face. Being rich wasn’t too shabby. Maybe that’s what I’ll do with my life.

When you’re rich, DJs don’t give you shit for requesting Wild Wild West.

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Have a nice strip. See you next fall.

So yeah, looks like medicating with alcohol helped. Oh boy, I’m sure that’s healthy. More accurately, blowing off steam while hanging out with friends helped. Without plans, I put a plea out to the internet and the internet pulled me in with both hands. Friends invited me out to an Amateur Strip Show Judged by Drag Queens event. It was a blast.

Amateur also seemed like more of a misnomer than I was led to believe. For the most part these were polished acts with some props and definite intent. Someone’s scene involved “flaying” themselves, cutting “skin” from their forearms and nipple, with bloody “flesh” underneath. Another lady began in a thin slip that was soon shed to reveal a nude body beneath (started from the bottom? -Ed). Her scene cleverly turned the concept on its head and, starting with a little rope self-bondage, had her fully dressed by the time the song finished. There was a phenomenal “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” piece complete with glitzy period clothing. It was something else. Thing is, watching all of these people perform had me itching to do something.

I’ve had this idea for a strip/burlesque scene for years. Set back in the 40s or 50s, with a husband coming back home after the six o’clock swill. Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” starts playing. He’s feeling flirty, but also sloppy drunk. So the entire scene involves him trying to do a sexy strip tease for his wife, but he’s literally falling all over the place. In reality, acting drunk would involve a lot of control, especially if pratfalls are gonna be a big part of it. I haven’t really worked out the beats, but let’s have a little go at it:

He walks in the door, pulls off his hat and throws it at the coat rack. It obviously misses by a wide margin. He pulls his coat seductively off one shoulder, then goes to shunt it off the other arm in one go, but it gets tangled on his hand. He waves it back and forth, but ends up with a bigger tangle. He puts it between his legs to try and wrench it off. Then he looks up and raises his eyebrows suggestively, pulling his hand out of the mess and stumbling forward. He undoes his tie and starts pulling each side back and forth across the back of his neck. Then it slips out of one side and he doesn’t notice, so he’s just pulling at empty air with one hand before realising it. He drops the tie and focuses on his suspenders, slowly pulling them down a little, then putting them back into place. Back and forth, up and down, left and right at different times. Then with a flourish he pushes them down at once. Except he’s missed the left one and sheepishly pulls it down. He untucks his shirt, stumbling backwards a little. He goes button by button, sashaying as he does. He goes to pull the shirt off, but he forgot to unbutton the top button. So his hands are stuck in the sleeves, he wriggles around and falls to the floor. He wriggles some more and wrests his hands from the sleeves, ending up flat on his face/stomach. He unbuttons the top button finally and, exhausted, pulls off the shirt while in a heap. Then he realises he can wriggle his bum. So he wriggles his bum a little bit, then pokes it up into the air to wriggle it a little more. He tries to unbutton his pants, but it’s pretty tough to do with his face flat on the ground. He rolls over and battles with the belt, pulling it free, but the momentum turns him on his side away from the audience. He wriggles his bum again as he goes for the button. He rolls back onto his bum and pokes his hips into the air, then pulls his pants down slightly. He turns to look at her and raises his eyebrows again, arching his hips up and down a few times.

I need to start getting ready for my fancy party tonight, but that seems like the start of an idea. Maybe I’ll do one for my girlfriend when I come home tonight. There is an open bar…

I believe it was the great philosopher Billy Corgan who once said “Tonight, tonight.”

I don’t know what to do.

That sounds like a larger existential question, but really I’m talking about tonight. I had ideas for plans. One fell through and I didn’t put enough effort in to make the others happen.

In retrospect, that sounds a little like my life right now. Forgive the melodrama, but I’m at the crossroads of change and it feels like a rut. A few months back my landlord let us know that he was going to completely redo the place and we’d have to move out next summer. I figured we have time, but in hearing that both the upstairs and downstairs renters are leaving has landed with a certain amount of gravity. For no logical reason I feel trapped in some Harrison Ford style calamity. The walls of the trash compactor are closing in, a giant boulder is coming to crush me, terrorists are coming and they won’t Get Off My Plane. I don’t blame my neighbours. It’s smart to move ahead of time and settle in before the winter comes. It does, however, mean that this is really happening. I love our apartment. It’s the only place I’ve lived in Toronto. It’s snug, the location is great and it’s pretty damn affordable. Change is scary, right? Because it threatens comfort and security. What if we don’t find a new place? What if we find a new place but it ends up creating all sorts of extra stress, forcing us to move again? How many places will we look through, get attached to and have our hopes dashed when they give it to someone else? We haven’t even made a move and I’m already fearing future heartbreak.

Work right now is not sustainable. Something needs to change. Time and listlessness have been stacking up gradually. A year ago, I told myself I’d be mortified to still be in the same position in a year’s time. A year has passed and I’m mortified to still be in the same position. The common advice in response to burnout is to take a holiday. The last time I did that, the disparity between how I felt on vacation and sitting at my desk all day was crippling. Oh that’s right, I thought to myself, I’m miserable all the time. It only gets worse with each day I spend at the job. It’s getting to the point where it’s affecting my work. I’m making mistakes I never would’ve made because I can’t bring myself to care. It all seems so pointless, so why put in effort? I used to pride myself of doing a damn good job, but I see others slacking and doing fine, so what’s the point of trying? Every day I’m irritable, miserable or just plain vacant. I wonder to myself when I because this joyless. I like my company, I like my bosses, I like the coworkers. They haven’t changed, but the problem is that I haven’t either and I need to.

I’ve been at this juncture before and I still don’t know what to do. My usual tactics are escapism or straight up escape. Lose myself in experiences, alcohol, food or numbing media’s consumption. Alternatively, running. A new job, new country, new set of problems to deal with, but couched in the excitement of discovery. I’ve been running ever since I could and frankly that’s been too long. Change is gonna come and it’s time I turned around and faced it.

Also I still need plans for tonight. Maybe I should start there.

Is a Blade Runner someone who walks the razor’s edge frequently and at high speed?

Spoilers: There will probably be Blade Runner 2049 spoilers.

Probably. I saw it last night so chances are I’ll want to talk about it. If that’s the case I’ll leave them until at least the third paragraph.

This is the second paragraph. I can’t say for sure that there’ll be spoilers in the next one, but there won’t be any in this one. This one’s reserved for my semi-weekly work bitching. I’m in this weird position at work. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my job because I’ve done my job for almost three years now and I really only wanted to be there for two years max. One year after that, it’s hard not to look at the static nature of my role and feel crippling disappointment. Yes, I’m lucky to have a job. My co-workers/bosses are nice people. I’m not being harassed or compromised on a moral/ethical level. The job isn’t even that bad, it’s more that I’ve been doing something that holds zero interest for me for almost three years now. Boo hoo, right? I guess I was raised in a culture that said to follow your passions. Past generations and many cultures don’t have that luxury. Now I’m stuck at 30 at the intersections of responsibility, creative expression and ambition. I feel like I should have accomplished more. I’ve put energy out there a bunch of times and each disappointment makes it harder to justify continuing to put out energy. So the rut deepens.

The biggest weight at the moment is that we have performance reviews scheduled for next week. I guess I lied about the Blade Runner spoilers in this paragraph. Guess you’ll have to keep reading. Anyway, at my last performance review I talked candidly with my boss (she’s on the level) about where I was at. How I had the ability to do the job no sweat, but had no real interest in progressing along the career path where this specific role would lead. She said it was fine to use the job as a jumping off point to something more suitable within the company. She’s been supportive when I’ve asked, so none of this is on her. I told her I’d be pretty disappointed to be having this same discussion in a year’s time. So I guess I have that to look forward to. I haven’t nothing, but I also haven’t done enough, clearly. So with morale at an all time low I’m basically checking into work to cover the bare minimum, get the job done and go home demoralised every day. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s not my boss’s fault. There are things I need to do and I a) haven’t figured out what they are because I haven’t b) figured out where I truly want to be and c) put the work in towards making that happen. With time it gets harder. I’m not a joyless person, I’m not an idiot, I do have potential but as time progresses it’s becoming harder to believe that any of these are true. Maybe two years back my therapist said that I needed to get out of this job, that it was taking more than it was giving. Time doesn’t change everything.

Am I still gonna be doing the same thing in 32 years? What year would that even be?

OH. ARE YOU ALRIGHT? OR DID YOU LOSE YOUR BALANCE ON THAT SLICK TRANSITION? It’s time for me to share some thoughts on Blade Runner 2049.

In this paragraph. I thought it was fantastic. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, of course I was gonna think that. It looked stunning and managed to capture the daunting atmosphere of the original, but larger in scope. I liked the eye motif. I thought Jared Leto’s scenes were maybe 20% longer than they needed to be, but thought the creepy role was a nice fit for him as a person. Dude creeps me out big time. To be honest, I was fine with the overall length of the film. It was nice how scenes were left to breathe. I was too absorbed to notice, anyway. I thought the pacing was fucking brilliant. The action wasn’t too protracted or sparse. Has Robin Wright ever been bad in anything ever? I thought the aspects of homage were tasteful for the most part (like that fluorescent ramen sign in one of the first glimpses of night time LA). Ford got more screen time than I expected, but I really enjoyed how he was used. For basically the first time in history, I got the twist right away. I’m a dummy when it comes to film twists, so either it was super obviously telegraphed or I’m getting better. It just made sense for the script. The line “buckle up” felt really cheesy and I assumed that was intentional. My girlfriend said that while she hadn’t seen the original, it seemed like it was probably a throwback or reference. I hadn’t seen it in about 12 years, but I thought she sounded on the money. I don’t know how much sense the line made, because I wasn’t totally sure about the physics of the JOI unit. Oh, let’s talk about her. I don’t know if their attempts to craft her into a character really worked, but wasn’t sure if the lack of her three-dimensionality was intentional because she was a computer program. I did kind of like how that dovetailed back into the plot/twist. She seemed well programmed at giving the audience exposition, in any case. The sex scene seemed super unnecessary for plot purposes, but as a self-contained scene looked cool, was a neat idea/implementation and felt like the SFX department cracking their knuckles and saying “MUM! DAD! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.” To this day I don’t know how well dogs can process alcohol. I kind of like the mystery of not knowing. I also had a ton of other thoughts, but they’ll probably get lost in time like tears in rain.

I want a large green fur-lined leather coat.

Are you complicit? #metoo.

Any of you been on social media today? It’s sad that this #metoo campaign had to exist, but the hope is that the bravery of sexual assault survivors (A.K.A. every woman ever) in coming forward both highlights the alarming frequency of these assaults and provides solidarity for those whom it’s an all too common occurrence. I mean, there should be little argument that any occurrence is all too often, but let’s be real. We live in a world of shitty gendered bias. There are many reasons it sucks to be a woman in our society. Whereby so often these assaults went unmentioned or understated #metoo seems to have changed those ellipses to exclamation marks. Good. I (naively?) hope any who’s been wilfully hiding under a rock starts to take notice.

I’ve seen an avalanche of invaluable conversations. I feel stuck in this weird rally back and forth. It’s not the least bit surprising to hear of how widespread this behaviour is, but that doesn’t make it nice to hear. It’s fantastic to see these aforementioned conversations being raised, but disheartening how commonly the #notallmen brigade jumps in to recuse the statistical validity of calls against men to do better.

I don’t know if any #notallmenonites are reading, but maybe try looking at women calling on men to do better a little differently. It’s another way of saying “the exception proves the rule”. If a woman is talking about her mistreatment at the hands of men and you don’t think it applies to you, maybe you’re the exception that proves her overall rule. If that’s the case, try not jumping in and making it about you, because it probably wasn’t about you in the first place.

The thing is men, we’re all complicit in this societal bias whether we realise it or not. I’d be very surprised to hear otherwise. It’s pervasive enough to be unavoidable. Over the years I’ve said and done a ton of things that contributed to the culture without understanding the insidious ways in which I did so. I’m sure I still do. Acknowledging past faults is important in seeing the path towards better behaviour. Here’s a short list of the stuff I have done and/or may still do unintentionally:

  • Rape jokes. In my teens/early 20s the concept of punching down wasn’t even a blip on my radar. It was all about being as edgy as possible, to push the boundaries to reassert some misguided sense of bravery. Oh no, of course I didn’t think rape was funny, but using it as an abstract concept showed, I dunno, my unwillingness to adhere to rigid social structures? Fuck that. How brave I was as someone who didn’t most likely would never have to face the act firsthand. Fuck off forever, this mentality.
  • Devils Advocate. Forcing people to argue something that caused them emotional strife. Never mind that I had no emotional stake in the subject, I just wanted to argue and flex my intellectual muscles. Or I just liked being “technically right” or some other shitty nonsense. Once again, fuck off forever.
  • Placing my desire for sex above the autonomy, needs and wants of women. Even if I’d never physically pushed anyone towards any sexual activity they weren’t actively seeking (I may well have), so much of this stuff is insidious and ingrained. Did I wilfully misinterpret or ignore “no” signals and keep pushing for a “yes”? Did I objectify women and see them for how their sexuality could benefit me rather than as a person? Befriend women purely because I wanted to sleep with them?
  • Judging women on the way that they looked or dressed. Way to discount someone’s humanity. The clothes that I wear do not fully express the person that I am. Why would anyone else be different?
  • Ignored or spoken above women because I innately didn’t value their opinion? Of course. I’ve spent my life as a loudmouth and it feels like I’ve only recently learned the importance of listening. I have no doubt that I constantly did this and likely still do without thinking.
  • Constant use of gendered language. I’m sure a ton of people mock this kind of specificity, but I feel like there’s something in the way that we talk. Language is an important tool in conveying both meaning and intent. The number of times I’ve referred to large groups of mixed gender as “guys” doesn’t sound like much, but it also sends subtle messages about gender based hierarchy. It’s something I’ve picked up unintentionally throughout my life, but there’s no reason why we can’t unlearn unhelpful patterns. Nobody is truly ever too old to change.

This is not even the tip of the iceberg. Like it or not, all men contribute to patriarchal dominance and oppression. If you’re interested in changing this, maybe examine your behaviours and decide which of these contribute to the kind of world you want to see. Listen to women, not just when it’s trending. If they’re not talking, become the kind of safe space where they feel they can confide. If women are confiding in you, don’t just be horrified. Act, change, grow and help embolden this change in others. Call in shitty behaviour when you can. Call it out when it’s necessary. We can all be better and we have no reason not to continually work towards whatever shape “better” takes in our lives. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.

I wish I had some kind of jean genie.

Welp, I did it. I cashed in any anti-consumerist cache I’d amassed over the years of rants and brand dodging. All of it down on credit at Lululemon.

I remember this slang term from my childhood. Being a “label basher”. A label basher was someone who prided themselves on being a head to toe brand ambassador. Maybe the term rose from the 90s anti-corporate cultural climate. People rallying against those buying into snug franchise affiliation. Maybe it was a mentality erected to oppose the Valley Girl movement. Whatever it was, it eventually all became meaningless as the style and fashions of the contrarian backlash were commodified and sold back to a willing consumer base. Pre-ripped jeans, big stompy Doc Martens and intentional safety pins. Hell, Hot Topic Mall Goth became a thing. Nirvana’s legacy of band tees probably outlived their music. Check and mate.

For years I’ve extolled how unnecessary branded fitness attire is. Wear whatever’s comfortable, but there’s no need to add a hefty price tag to something you’re gonna ruin with sweat. Get things that’ll be useful and ease the struggle of grueling workouts. Then my parents sent money over with my Big Sis for me to get some decent cold weather jogging legwear, since my shorts won’t cut it once the weather reaches five degrees or so. I’m not gonna say how much they sent, but it was more than I considered these things should cost. I’m sure the smart move would’ve been to buy something cheap and pocket the rest, but that didn’t feel like it inhabited the spirit of the arrangement. They’d sent me a generous amount, so why not get high quality clothes that would last. My mind went to Lululemon. They’re a premium brand, but they’re also certainly high quality. The only Lululemon clothes I’d previously owned were hand me downs. My dad had a pair of long pants that got a bit beaten up with time. He had them taken up and tailored into shorts. He used them for a bit, then offered them to me after a while. I used them consistently for around three years until finally they gave up. They were great. Sturdy construction with zippered pockets. Harder to find on pants than you’d think, but perfect for an iPod that bounced back and forth. In the hopes of something that’d last a similar amount of time, I decided to give Lululemon a shot.

A salesperson spotted me as soon as I walked in the door. I told her what I was looking for and she grabbed me a couple of styles, telling me the pros and cons for each. I found a decently priced pair of workout shorts on the sales rack and grabbed them to try on too. To be honest, the pants were really comfy, with a pleasant amount of compression. They stretched to allow for depth of moment, with a good weight. I don’t like it when pants are too light and hang loose. Then I tried the tights and discovered surprisingly they were even better. Solid compression with a pocket that would hold my iPod tight while I ran. Thick enough to keep me warm in the chilly lake air, but also protect against the all too real threat of camel tail that comes with male tights. Unexpectedly I walked out with the tights, paying far more than I ever would’ve expected. Plus the shorts, because they were somewhat reasonably priced. It’ll nice to have two pairs of workout shorts I can rotate.

In terms of my anti-consumerist bent, whatever. We all selectively decide when rules do and don’t apply to us, right? The concept of “selling out” is outmoded, especially as it pertains to fashion. I’m not remotely saying that protesting unfair sweatshop working conditions and the companies that employ them is a bad way to go. I’m also not gonna suddenly start outfitting my wardrobe with only the finest things. I’ve been looking for new jeans for a while. After I finished at Lululemon, I walked across the street to H&M and balked at the idea of paying $20 for a brand new pair of jeans.

So don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

Bismuth is booming.

I had a psychic reading today. Maybe I was just jazzed about the release of St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION and her pending Fear the Future tour. Perhaps I was just concocting a tangent that allowed me to talk about how great St Vincent’s new album is and how excited I’ve been for its release. As an ardent fan of basically everything Annie Clark has done since Actor (I like the stuff beforehand, that was just the point at which I discovered her work), I’ve been glued to the endless tongue-in-cheek mini interviews she’s been posting over Facebook. I’ve adored the visual direction of her album promotion and I’m so stoked that the album delivered this hard. Once an artist gets big enough that they’re advertising in Times Square, I think it’s only fair to worry that they may have strayed into some kind of diluted mass appeal. Worries abated, I’ve now got something to sink my teeth into over the next few months.

Anyway, the reading. Some spirituality store on Bloor was doing an open house. Free Tarot/mini psychic readings. My girlfriend and I were looking for fun daytime activities and figured it’d be worth checking out. As a kid who grew up on fantasy novels, horror films and superhero stories I’ve always wanted to find something, anything that’d let me grasp onto a belief that there’s another layer of existence out there. As if by attuning oneself, you could peel back the veneer and become receptive to another plane. To bring magic and/or the supernatural into our world. To touch the past and/or future and roam the world in a more confident, knowing sense. To finally understand what it is that people get out of spirituality and use that to enhance my life.

Of course, every time I walk into a store and see suggestions that crystals are anything more than geological growths, my asshole involuntarily clenches. I’m not trying to imply in any way that there’s anything wrong with these kind of beliefs. For all I know (which is nothing, in this case) Bismuth, a lab grown metal crystal, may well have spiritual properties. If it doesn’t, but it happens to make people more comfortable/confident to believe that, then I’m glad they’re coming out of it with a positive result.

Oh, that’s right. The reading. The dude started me off by saying that he’d just finished his course. That he went into it out of interest and found some latent abilities as he progressed. I appreciated his candour, but at the same time diminishing his successes was a poor way to engender confidence in me about his abilities. He said that I struck him as an organised person, but at times not. Okay, fair enough. Sometimes I am more organised than others. He said he saw a big family disagreement with me. I thought for a second. Nope, not that I’m aware of. Or maybe it was with a friend. Someone’s pissed at me? Bummer. Definitely a money loaning thing. I haven’t loaned anyone money, so that struck me as a little odd. He mentioned a sick family member. Someone in the hospital. Or it could be one of my friends. Maybe one of my friend’s family members. At this point I wasn’t sure if this came to him or if he was fishing for a nibble. I found myself not wanting to look him directly in the eyes, because I felt like it might throw him off. This was odd, considering that I go through life looking most people directly in the eyes. He said I was someone who was quite into playing sports. Is Magic the Gathering a sport yet? I wondered. Yep, definitely into sports, he continued, contact sports. Contact sports are my least favourite type of sports, I thought. He continued. A business venture I was looking to do would fail. Wait, no. It wouldn’t fail, but it would be harder to make work than it initially appeared. It would take more people than it initially appeared, but it could work. He asked me if I had any questions I wanted to consult him on. I told him thanks for his help. After I left the room I saw him walk out of the store, to return several minutes later with a bottle of water. Maybe he was just tired?

Dear universe. I’m open to it, but you’ve gotta give me a better sign than that.