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.

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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.

If that wasn’t enough there’s a rain room. A RAIN ROOM.

What an unmitigated joy to have a day off. My girlfriend and I decided to do a couple of errandy things before heading to the AGO’s exhibit on Guillermo del Toro, “At Home with Monsters”. It was amazing. Styled after his country house/workspace, it showcased models, props, art and inspiration to his expansive work. I went in expecting Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim. I hadn’t realised how far beyond that his cinematography ran.

The neat thing about hosting this kind of exhibit at an art gallery was how impeccably staged it was. There was so much goddamn material that instead of little placards, much of the time pieces just had little numbers next to them. Small racks on the wall held lists with all the information of their creators, etc. It was a neat way to leave as much space as possible for the work to speak for itself. There was a great cluster of early Disney work. Concepts sketches and the like. I had no idea Disney so commonly used a combination of chalk and pastels to such stellar effect. The pieces from Sleeping Beauty were particularly impressive.

Of course, a big part of del Toro’s appeal is his beautifully macabre monster designs. The big ones were all present. From Hellboy 2‘s Angel of Death, to Pan’s Labyrinth‘s Pale Man and Pan himself. All rendered in stunning realism. It mentioned how one of del Toro’s design inspiratioons is to shift placement of the eyes. By doing this, he says, it immediately creates a sense of foreboding that tracks back to childhood. Eyes are so often how we learn to connect to others. We read expression and intent from them. Once they’re moved, it subverts our expectations and leaves us unsettled. So take the Pale Man with his palm embedded eyes or the Angel of Death’s eyes lining its wings (apparently inspired by biblical designs). Their sockets aren’t so much barren as absent. The skin is either flat or replaced by a flat plate of bone. Oh, bone. Bone was another thing I noticed in the same vein. As humans we innately expect our skeletons to be on the inside. If they’re not, something’s gone wrong big time. In many of del Toro’s designs you might see a spine pressed right to the skin or even protruding. Or forearms so skinny that the bone pokes through. Once again it’s subverting our assumptions to create unease.

I thought the figure of Pan was especially rad. I saw the movie 11 years ago, so I didn’t have a strong imprint of what it looked like in my brain. It has this sublime asymmetry and fusion of both plant and animal. Its flesh alternates between soft skin and firm bark. Long red tresses flow from its head, but where natural body hair would be it often sprouts moss instead. One of its feet is composed of jagged wood, while the other is a large hoof. It once again hosts an exposed spine, but of intertwining vines. It’s hella cool.

The exhibit also spanned his love of pop culture, Gothic literature and horror films. It was awesome to see someone who, from a young age, continually ran after their passions. Guillermo seems to hold this ardent desire to bring to life the world he found through fiction. It was cool to see, for instance, that he’d been trying to bring Hellboy to the screen for years. Blade 2 was a job taken in order to inch closer towards it. By doing a studio film (still with his own flair, by the looks of it. I’ve never seen it), his agent assured him that studios would be more likely to open their pockets for his passion projects. As the years have attested, it worked.

I know this sounds like a massive ad, but if you’re in Toronto please check the exhibit out. My girlfriend hadn’t seen much of his stuff and loved it as much as I did. There’s so much to take in. We spent about two and a half hours there, but could’ve easily done a lot more if we weren’t already pretty exhausted. If you’re a fan of his work or just want to see dark and pretty things, it runs for aaaages. You’ve got no good excuse not to give it AGO.

MMR is still probably a better political system than FPP.

I’m in the waiting room, but I’m waiting to leave. I had a quick appointment to renew my meds and ended up taking the chance to check out other stuff.

At some point (likely during Tough Mudder) I banged my toe. A small pool of dried blood accumulated under it. I told my doctor there had been no residual pain, but asked if it was worth checking out anyway. She said sure, so I pulled off my shoe and sock. I’d pulled out the wrong foot. “I did tell you there was no pain.” I remarked. She told me that it most likely would be benign and work its way out eventually. Sometimes though, there could be an unchecked melanoma under the toe. “If that happens” I asked “would they call it a ‘mela-toe-ma’?” She shook her head. “Bummer.” I replied. “The medical field needs snappier naming conventions. I guess they peaked at ‘Hepatyrex’.” (hepatitis and typhoid). She agreed, then pushed a stethoscope into my nostril.

She asked me about my immunisation history, since most of their records had come from my own verbal accounts. I don’t really know much about shipping medical histories. She mentioned that MMR vaccines were making the rounds again. She suggested that because of my age I’d likely had one booster shot, but they suggested two. I thought back to having mumps at age eight or nine. I don’t remember a ton of pain. I do recall my face bloating up chipmunk style. Really though, my prevailing memories are of renting a Sega Mega Drive with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Mortal Kombat 2. Those were the days. I also remember having being conscripted into some “Blue Beat” dance at school. I’d learned the song and choreography in order to perform it with a small group of kids at some stage show. Then I contracted the mumps and got to skip it. So oddly enough, most of my memories of having the mumps are pretty fond ones.

We were lucky to have a stack of leftovers after thanksgiving. We’ve been gorging for the past few days and our supplies still show no real signs of diminishing. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve started running out of plastic containers to house them. Because of my cavalier attitude and reckless disregard for freezer space, I decided to capitalise on all those great gooey veges, fats and juices we gathered from underneath our roasting turkey and make soup. It’s not like I’ve never made soup before, but normally it involves chucking in a decent amount of powdered stock, even when I’m using chicken frames. Not so this time. All the flavours coalesced into a fragrant and potent stock. Ace!

I figured it’d be a shame to enjoy this amazing soup alone, and since my girlfriend was away at work I invited over My Favourite Ex for a catch up and slurp down. Wait, that sounded unintentionally lewd. I was only trying to be cute about drinking soup. Also the Ex thing isn’t a contentious subject with my girlfriend. It was years ago and we’ve been hanging out periodically since. Like all great Toronto friendships though, periodically means not often enough. Months had passed, so over some soup, a dense egg bread and a bottle of red we filled each other in on what we’d been up to. Somehow it was the first time she’d been to my place since we dated (about four years back) and marveled at the lack of Love Dream Believe imagery on our walls (my flatmate four years back had a ‘particular’ aesthetic. We talked about work, family stuff, holidays and food. Always food with us.

And now? I’m in weekend mode. I’ve taken care of all my work week responsibilities. I got my meds, prepped food and finished up with the necessary odds and ends. Tonight I pick my Big Sis up from the airport and enjoy my day off work hanging out with her and my girlfriend.

As an added bonus, I won’t even get rubella.

Success or phalanx?

I have exactly nothing to talk about today. So let’s see how this plays out.

My left thumb is sore, because I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know how to properly wrap his hands before boxing. You’d think this’d make typing insufferable, but I don’t type using a structured Mavis Beacon style touch typing approach. So while my left thumb rests right by the spacebar, it never really sets print on the keyboard. “Sets print”? I wasn’t sure either. My thumb’s hardly gonna set foot, but I’m not entirely sure what that part of my thumb is called. The pad perhaps? What does Google say? Obviously I was indicating the second phalanx (duh. it’s not like we’re talking about metacarpals like some AMATEUR FUCKING MORONS AMIRITE?), but the fleshy part rather than the nail. “Print” will have to do for now. Anyway, it’s sore. Not prohibitively so, but just enough to justify complaining. Since this is my space and I can do what I want, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.

Waah, my thumb hurts. I wish it felt pain free as per the norm, but it doesn’t.

Done.

Clearly you’re all here for these breaking stories. Hope you’re getting all you wanted. Frankly, I’m not sure why most if any of you are reading this. It’s been some time since anything interesting went on around these parts. I apologise for my lack of compelling life changes. I guess going to Portland was fun. Remember when I metaphorically took you on a trip with me? That was exciting. People were smiling in the streets. I drank a lot of beer. I had coffee in a reclaimed bus. Marijuana was legal to purchase. It was like being in another world. Maybe my life is feeling worn in right now because I’m not trying many new things. Perhaps I need more hobbies, or some kind of way of sampling novel experiences on a regular basis. Anything can get boring if it becomes overly repetitive. That’s how relationships find slumps. Perhaps I need to spice up my relationship with myself.

What could I do?

I could force myself to go somewhere new every week. It could be a new bar or restaurant. It could be exploring a new neighbourhood just to look at things. Or perhaps jog in a new environment (though to be honest, when I’m jogging I’m paying more attention to the music in my ears than my surroundings). Maybe I need to find books to read that challenge me in some way. Frankly, I barely read at all any more, so simply adhering to flipping pages in my leisure time would be challenge enough. What if I went to a library and got a book out on some new skill, then worked on that skill? I don’t know if I’ve made something out of wood since I was sub ten years old. What if I messed around with audio editing again? I’m a mic away from recording things. They’re easy enough to find.

I guess the unspoken truth here is that there are infinite things I could do to work out of this rut. The difference is whether or not I do them. I’m so used to reacting to change, having it forced upon me and adapting. Enacting change from within requires discipline, motivation and the endurance to carry on past obstacles. Where does that come from? What drives me and how can I harness that in order to regain momentum? It makes sense that the hardest time to see the road ahead is when you’re down a hole. At the same time, it’s the most crucial juncture in which to launch yourself back to that path. If I’m struggling at harnessing that will, is it time yet to ask for help?

It’s a pity my thumb is sore, I could’ve used it to hitchhike somewhere new.

Or not. Swallowing sadness feels like a valid survival strategy.

Maaayun, it was so nice having a long weekend to not be at work. Now I’ve gotta wait until the next one rolls around to once again get that level of fulfilment. I’ve got a whole three days time to bide and it’s gonna be a hard slog. My Big Sis (in law) will be in town on Friday and I’m taking the day off work so I can spend more than an hour in her presence. If she’s coming all the way from New Zealand, it seems worth loosing one vacation day from my holster. I mean, when do I ever take vacation anyway (he says having just returned from Portland a mere few weeks ago)? This Friday I do. Will, I mean. Anyway, October’s a big month full of things more exciting to go on about than my ever-mounting disillusionment about having achieved naught as I propel onwards towards irrelevance with each passing day. That’s not totally fair. At worst my rotting corpse will make for top notch worm food!

October! It’s grand! With the changing of the leaves comes a host of fun activities. Funtivities for short. Funtives for even shorter. I don’t know how you roll. This week involves Friday the 13th, which means I’m gonna catch up with my aforementioned Big Sis. That’s some excitement. In terms of local Toronto events there’s always Drunken Cinema’s Friday the 13th event. The last one I went to was bonkers. Absurd game rules that seem to openly encourage the pursuit of alcohol poisoning. I’ve always wondered what’s so sinister about Fridays? Why don’t we celebrate Saturday the 14th with the same cursed dread? It’s the weekEND, right? Endings are sinister. Or Thursday the 12th? You still have another day left in the workweek. Wouldn’t that feel like death for those who live for weekends? Why does Friday have such shitty PR? There’s just one restaurant chain that’s stoked about Fridays? One undead dude in a hockey mask has ruined them for the rest of us? On that note, does Jason even play hockey? What gives?

The following week is time to get fancy. Hush Hush Toronto is a library fundraiser that’s both hoity and toity. Last year I even bought a suit for it. This year I’ll most likely just re-wear the suit. I don’t bleed money or anything. I don’t know what the tagline “One night. No boundaries” means. It sounds sinister. Should I be packing a hockey mask in case things go down? Preparation in the event of a fight erupting over the last hors d’oeuvre? The theme is apparently “the beautiful landscapes we call home”. If anyone asks, my blue suit is specifically sky themed. I can pretend to have some modicum of class and that my life isn’t crumbling around me with every waking breath. I didn’t study acting in high school for nothing. Unless my inevitable career trajectory shoots towards becoming a super villain. In that case, my monologuing skills are on point.

Then in the final week of October, we have Halloween! The greatest holiday all year! A time when everyone looks as ghoulish on the outside as my life prospects are! I’m at least a little unsure why each of these sentences is ending in an exclamation mark! Can I escape the loop by asking a question? It seems so…

No, I still don’t know how I’m gonna dress for Halloween. Perhaps as the evocation of my constant dread? I’m sure that will make everything feel better!

On an unrelated note, maybe it’s time to go back to therapy.