Holidaze & The Male Gaze, Plus Some NYE Introspection & the Roomie Moving Out

Shalom!

 

Happy New Year to you all. It is January 3rd, and fortunately, it seems the polar vortex here in Ottawa finished – or maybe I should say, the cold has “snapped.” When I dragged myself out of bed at 8am yesterday and trudged to the office, my metéo app said it felt like -35°C with the windchill. That’s getting close to the crossover point! Nuts! But today, it’s a downright balmy neg eight, or -15° with the wind. Wouhou! Spring is here!

Obvi not. The worst is yet to come, but I’ll take these temps over Siberian cold any day.

Work was supa dull yesterday. I went around to say hello to my coworkers, and none of my supervisors were here! The only person from my team was Sarah, the part-time (master’s) student. I even visited the manager of the other team (Employment Equity) to ask if I could help them out with anything… And there was nothing. So, in addition to being the first day back on the job, there was hardly anything going on. It was a very slow day – which was also made worse by the fact I didn’t take a lunch. I just got back to Ottawa late on Monday night (my flight was delayed), so I didn’t have time to grocery shop. Plus, my roommate has moved out most of his stuff, including the microwave and pots – so I wasn’t able to cook anything I had or heat it up, even if I did. So I just ate oatmeal I had on my desk – two bowls of it. It was a struggle of a day. Fortunately, today was better, as both Vinita (my direct supervisor) and Jeff (a new colleague who I’m very friendly with) are back! Yay.

And yesterday wasn’t horrible, no way. I left at 3:30 because I didn’t take a lunch and immediately went shopping. I was going to rectify my home situation and buy some food so January wasn’t more hellish than I had to be. I hoofed over to Giant Tiger, snatched up a cutting board and 3 pots and 1 pan for ~$30 together (love a good bargain), and then headed to the mall. And picked up… My new 55” 4K/Ultra-HD Fluid TV!

It was my “Birthmas” present, which is what my family has taken to doing for the past 5 years – a larger gift for your birthday/Christmas instead of a bunch of smaller ones. Since I watch so much TV these days (I’m really going all in on reality shows, whatever, #noregrets), I don’t want to deal with a set that malfunctions 50% of the time I turn it on, is relatively small, and has tinny audio. So there was this 55” one on sale on Boxing Day, for $580 off retail price. Insanity! So I snagged it for about a third of its price, brand new, with warranty. Why not treat yo’self, right? Thanks to Bryan Q for the suggestion!

So I get to The Source, give them my name (they curiously didn’t ask for proof of my identity, but whatever…), and go in the back to get it. The guy drags the TV out, and omigoodness, it is enormous. Much bigger than I expected, and a bit intimidating. I was already carrying groceries and friggen pots and pans, so I had to think how I was gonna get this thang home. Fortunately, it wasn’t that heavy, and I had planned to call an Uber anyway.

The only thing is that when my cab arrives… The TV only barely fits! Was too wide to go in the backseat (the doors wouldn’t shut), so the driver put the seats down and we went to put it in the trunk. But then the trunk wouldn’t close, so we had to angle it up on the headrests of the front seats. Even then, it was tight. It wasn’t like it was a SmartCar, either. But we made it work somehow, and now it is beautifully set up at home! Was gonna set it on the toy chest Mum and Dad delivered to me, but it’s too small. So instead, two dining chairs are holding it up. Looks good, but coupling that with my roommate moving out means I need to find some other seating arrangements for my game nights!

Anyway, I love it. Made a spinach salad and thin crust pizza, watched Floribama Shore, then went over to Colum’s for our next attempt at Pandemic Legacy Season 2! We tried the Prologue in December and were one turn away from winning, but got unlucky with drawing the infection cards. But last night, we dove right into the first month, with our four characters: Prince Sass, Raja Jaguara, Jizzlyn, and Tink “Tinky” the Tank. Karma Sutra didn’t make the cut this time. And we won! And discovered some of North America! And had a great time doing it. Love those three lads ❤

And then tonight, I’m watching the season premiere of The Challenge: Vendettas! The 31st damn season (with 3 spin-offs as well), and I am HYPE… Even if the one winner (male or female, not one of each) has already been spoiled for me. I’ll make some delicious nachos (#fitspo) and also watch the penultimate episode of The Challenge: Champs vs Stars. Which has honestly been pretty egregious, but whatever. Tomorrow is yoga and games night with a gaggle o’ gays, Friday possibly other board games with Jason/Chris/Squirtle, and we’ll see what the weekend brings. I’m picking up a microwave from Katie M tonight (Bunz-ing it for a bottle of wine), which means all the things my roomie took with him that I need are now replaced! Yay! And I might buy some marble-looking contact paper, to finally cover those damn countertops.

So that’s this week! Let’s talk about the past couple.

I somehow got ill before leaving for the holidays, so I left work early on the Friday before, and overslept on Tuesday and still didn’t feel good at work, so I left early then – and then woke up at 4am on Wednesday morning and felt completely dreadful. In order to get to NS, I had to rideshare to MTL and deal with luggage and the cold and everything – so I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage if I didn’t get better. I texted the only colleague who would’ve been in that day (Christine) to remind me when my one meeting was, since I didn’t want to miss that and would’ve come in for it, since I live so close. It was with the Executive Director of my sector and another Senior Director, so I definitely wanted to follow through on that. She told me it was cancelled, though, so I kept right on sleeping. (turns out they cancelled it on my behalf – yikes. but it’s not biggie)

Fortunately, all the rest and tea I had helped me feel better, so braving the -25°C temps and traveling on Thursday wasn’t totally execrable. I started listening to the S-Town podcast on the rideshare, got to hang out with Torch and Justin at the Armada Lounge, picked up my custom bowtie and a leather harness and pair of short shorts there, then met Ndaku for coffee, carrots, hummus, and catching up at Anticafé before heading to the airport. Security was no problem, I was enjoying my podcast, and once we got in the air, I took full advantage of the free food and drinks. Glass of white wine and a tallboy of pilsner while I watched the finale of Survivor 35. And let me tell you, I was living for it.

Landed, found Mum, and chatted her ear off on the ride home. About the male gaze, Mr Leather Ottawa, work, volleyball, friends, etc. Much like I write about on here, actually. Also talked with Dad upon arrival to Boutiliers Point, then eventually hunkered down with crackers, cheese, and bologna to finish the Survivor finale. And yes, you best believe that Devon was robbed. I put all my points for the fantasy league/competitive pool on him, thinking he’d be Devon Darkhorse… And then he gets out on a stupid twist? Just like how Shea Coulée got third or fourth because of the twist in the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9? Annoying. But I still enjoyed the show.

My time back at home was pleasant, if a little dull and slightly stressful. I got lots of sleep, finished Dan Brown’s Origin, played a tonne of Smash Bros (Project M, Melee, and for the Wii U, and schooled Roz most of the time), some board games (predominately Dominion, but also Alhambra, Catan, & Carcassonne – and I wiped the floor with my family members in Dominion, beating them by double for two different games), and ate a bunch. Seriously, my looser pants fit a bit better last night. I was much less active in Nova Scotia (no volleyball, yoga, walking around besides one 2-hour hike, or gym besides one session), and had access to a lot better food. Fancy cheeses, plentiful wine, sweets, and the like. I want to get back into my super active lifestyle here in Ottawa, but I’m still healing up my deltoids, and the gym is crazy crowded soon after the New Year. I postponed my membership until around the 11th, so I’ll just return then. I went once with Dustini over the holidays, and enjoyed myself / got a great workout (was sore everywhere afterward). I’m going to really prioritize form this time, including clenching my abs during squats and deads. And making sure no leg is taking more weight during squats, and taking care to keep my arms even during bench. So, we’ll see how it goes.

 

Anyhow, it is now Thursday, I just posted #tbt photos I snapped while looking through my high school yearbook back in the Bay, and I’m going to yoga tonight for the first time in maybe six weeks. Looking forward to it.

The Challenge: Vendettas was litticus, as expected. My nachos, however, were not. I think it was the avocado that tasted off, even if it was ripe. All the calories for nothing, but whatever. The show was great (but the episode for Champs vs Stars was not), and it looked wonderful on my new TV 😀

I also picked up a microwave yesterday (thanks Katie!), and a shoe rack, and unpacked and changed my sheets and cleaned my room and rearranged some furniture. Haven’t seen my roomie in days and had no social plans last night, so after the shows, I was a bit bored. But that (and how messy my place was) bred productivity, so it was a good day after all. I even got some reading in! The book (Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty) is fab so far.

 

K, back to the holidays. Got to see lots of family and family friends (and to a lesser extent, friends) as well. Went to Shirley’s annual party and nommed on all the gourmet food there. Had the extended family out for Christmas lunch (a day late because a storm postponed it), and saw them on New Year’s Day for a goodbye dinner as well. Visited my new cousin, who is growing up quick (she’s already two and a half!) and is super chatty. The best part is when I asked her, “Olivia, can you turn the lights on the tree on?” and she gasped and said, “Oh my gahh!” So damn funny. She loves Peppa Pig now, but my uncle is so tired of it after watching it for two days straight. It was on while we were there, and omg, I can understand why – the stuff is mindless and needs to be played at 2x speed. Unbearable.

Went shopping now and then, and got this great pair of black leather boots from Sears. It’s closing down, so everything is 50% off. Even still, they cost $80 – but that’s not a bad price at all for a good pair, especially for the climate I live in. I didn’t pick ‘em up the first time I saw them and regretted it. There was only one pair left, so I was worried they would get snatched up. But when I went back to the mall, lo and behold – they were still there! So I had Mum and Dad get it for me as a belated Christmas gift 🙂 And now I feel like a legit leather man! Awesome!

(I should’ve just directly asked them for what I wanted in the first place, which would’ve been Dominion: Nocturne, the TV, and/or Breath of the Wild. Minus the television, I feel like they could’ve easily figured it out. I’m a bit salty – completely unnecessarily and undeservedly so – but I was given a fidget spinner, a grip strength builder, a USB lamp, and a bunch of chocolate and licorice. I don’t like sweets and have no need for the other things. Dad started his Christmas shopping literally on the 22nd. I put a lot of thought into my gifts for them. Anyhow. I digress, and shouldn’t be complaining at all. I’m not a greedy person and don’t want much of anything – and simply spend my own money on things I desire – but it’s a bit disappointing nonetheless, the imbalance of it. Sorry.)

 

Met Fiona for a catch-up with the best coffee I’ve had in a long time – an iced Americano at Lion & Bright (in the North End). Went to an actual mass led by Cate, who is my oldest friend and continues to amaze me. For her to get me to (want to) come to church, you best believe she’s a great person. Then she, Mum, and I went out for a delicious waterside lunch at Boondock’s (in Eastern Passage). It was a great afternoon. Also got coffee with Dustin, in addition to the gym and New Year’s Eve – which we celebrated at the Bus Stop Theatre Co-op, on Gottingen. It was a super hip party, so much so that “cover” was bringing a plant – that you could take home afterward. A bit strange, but I loved it regardless. I wore some leather, as did Dustin, Simon, and their friend Mark. Some people were in drag, others in elaborate makeup and costumes, and others still in… Normal clothes. C’mon! Dress up a little! NYE only comes once a year!

There was an open bar, but because of some vehicular trouble with my parents’ cars, I had to be back in the Bay after the revelry, so I only had two and a toast of champagne at midnight. They were fancy libations, though – one with rose-infused vodka, another with vanilla-infused whiskey, and the third with lavender and pepper simple syrup. I had the first two, since the last was a gin+tonic, a cocktail I can not get behind. The music was great – melodic dubstep for the most part. Cool lighting, a unique setting, different places to sit and talk. And fun, interesting people! I had a wonderful time, so thank you, Dustin + Simon! If it weren’t for you, I’d be home for the big night, probably watching more Big Brother! D:

Hm, what else? Lots of fun bonding time with my sibling, Roz, and the two ‘rents as well, of course. Some arguments and impatience, but going home for the holidays is famously stressful, is it not? Truthfully, I didn’t really think so until this year. And maybe the difference is that I now have a “home” to return to, here in Ottawa. It’s the polar opposite of last year (if you enjoy the pun), when I had only spent a month in O-Town before going home for the holidays. But these days, I have great routines and lovely friends and a comfortable apartment. I was excited to come back – but at the same time (typical ambivalent Libra me), I was sad to leave NS. I hadn’t been back in a full year and only saw Roz through Skype. Mum and Dad came to visit me, luckily, but still. I miss them when I’m gone. Hopefully this year, I can make it back during the warm months – so I can enjoy the province to a higher degree (another pun). And Mum might be working in Hawaii come this winter, so maybe we’ll all meet there for the holidays! That’d be awesome 🙂

The four of us went to a marvelous dinner at A Mano in Bishop’s Landing. Had neighbourhood friends over for hors d’oeurves and some games. Mum, Dad, and I went to see Jumanji together, which was shockingly great. I loved it. And beyond that… Not much else. It was a quiet week and a half, but maybe that’s what I needed. I used the blood pressure checker while Mum and I were waiting at the pharmacy, since the results of my two previous tests put me in the “high” range, despite my fitness/health level and weight (which scared me). But the most recent one came out as below normal blood pressure, for both systolic and diastolic! Wouhou! I’m thinking sleeping more and being away from the stress of the roommate (and the job, probably, though it doesn’t really drain me that much) helped with that. It was a relieving development, in a big way.

 

It is now 12:45am on Friday night. I just got back home and out of the shower. Was at Chris Parr’s for a games night, and Jason drove me to and from, mercifully. It feels like -35 out again, and I am not feeling it. But it wasn’t enough to keep me inside on a Friday night. Chris, Jason, Matt Wurtle/Squirtle, and I played a game called Agra. Seemed super intense and confusing when Chris was teaching us, and I was honestly overwhelmed. Had no idea what I was doing the first half of the game, didn’t understand the scoring until the last couple turns, but still – I managed to snatch second place, and only four points behind Jason! :O I was pretty surprised as well. And a bit miffed at myself because I definitely could have won, if I only made a couple better moves or sought to understand it slightly earlier. OH WELL.

Yesterday I played some games as well – with Richard, Freddy, and Eric. The first was Funemployed, which was a laugh and a half – seriously, I have some hilarious friends – and then we played some Dominion Dark Ages. Eric left after the first round (which he won, good for him!), so the three of us had to finish two bottles of wine between us. And let me tell you – it was a great time. We had amazing conversations about bisexuality, past lives, star charts, tarot cards, and how Richard & I apparently matched on Tinder way back in the spring. I was having so much fun that I didn’t even notice the hours passing – and before I knew it, 1 am had come and gone! :O What! But it was worth it, even if today was a bit of a struggle. But seriously, they are fabulous guys, and I’m so glad I know them. Much love ❤

 

And the last thing I’ll say is related to that. Over the holidays, I searched for the star chart I had done way back when, at a Psychic Fair at the Halifax Forum, during some summer spent in Nova Scotia while I was in middle school. I managed to find it after some effort, and I’m so happy I did. Let me reiterate that this document – my “Karmic Insight Report” – was written upwards of ten years ago, so I was shocked at how accurate it was for stuff going on these days. Spooky.

It explained how one struggle I’ll face throughout my life is being a know-it-all and coming across as condescending. Hit the nail right on the head for some of the issues I have, especially when I’m interacting with people from my hometowns (and not most of the friends I have here).

And another issue is how I will often get caught up in and worry too much about what other people think about me. Which is the problem I’ve been having / ruminating over and introspecting about for the past couple months. I’ve written on here about how I haven’t had as much success here in Ottawa socially, as I experienced in Montreal and Glasgow – and how I feel a lack of a ride-or-die or super strong/deep relationships. That’s gotten much better relatively recently, which I’m extremely happy and grateful about. But that doesn’t mean everything is rainbows and gaiety.

A close friend of mine has told me how people find me dismissive, that I don’t give others enough chances. I contend that I don’t owe anybody anything, and if somebody wrongs or disrespects me, or says something offensive – then I don’t have to forgive them. Of course, I’ll be civil and polite if I see them again, but I’m not going to go out of my way to try to befriend this person, who did something I didn’t like. I don’t make snap judgments or jump to conclusions, but yeah, if somebody isn’t working for me – well, I meet so many people here otherwise, and I don’t need that negativity or frustration in my life.

This is even more the case when it comes to Grindr etc. If someone says, “how are you?” or “hot pic,” I’ll respond with “fine thanks” or “thank you.” I don’t believe in ignoring them and I want to be polite – but I don’t believe I need to invest all this emotional energy in having full-on conversations with all these people, especially given how busy I often am. And if that makes me dismissive, well, then… That’s fine. These men don’t have any ownership or entitlement over me. (This is part of the male gaze I was discussing earlier, when talking with Mum on the way home from the airport)

 

But regardless of that, I do want to know what people are saying / thinking about me, because I’m not in the business of hurting people’s feelings. If I’m making people react a certain, undesirable way, then yes, I want to be made aware. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll change myself or act the way they want me to, but it does mean I’ll take it into consideration, mull it over, self-reflect, and decide what the best course of action is.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying to be a bit more patient, kinder, and more forgiving. I already somewhat think I give people too many chances, but whatever – I’m a tough b!tch and can take a couple more people walking all over me / taking advantage. It’ll at least keep my conscience clear. Oh, and I’m gonna try to cut down on the bossiness and fieriness as well. Just be more laid-back.

And of course – the perennial problem – my humour is not always understood or seen as joking, since it is sarcastic and dry and hyperbolic and ridiculous and deadpan. So I’m going to be careful to only really use that humour around people who know me well enough to realize I’m not being serious, that I’m only teasing and being jocular and trying to get their goat. But for those that are new(er) friends or acquaintances, I’ll reduce the sassy comments and/or be very obvious that I’m kidding around. We’ll see how they go.

Don’t call them resolutions – just changes I want to try for myself.

 

So that’s that, and I’m done. Also – the roommate moved essentially the rest of his stuff out of the apartment today. His room is completely empty, and there’s just a couple things remaining in the dining room. It’s a tad weird, but I’m actually excited about it. And of course, he and the random guy who was helping him carry it all out (a mover?) were stomping around the apartment in their snowboots – getting the floor all wet and dirty, with salt stains everywhere. I’m not happy about it. Can’t wait to sweep and mop and clean the whole place after he leaves.

 

But anyway. I’m trying to be kinder, right? And, honestly, I do wish the best for him. We just weren’t a good match to cohabitate. So, hopefully I have a better experience with the next one.

 

Sur cette note (and because it’s nearly 2am) – good night! ❤

 

– Jefe

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Holidaze Prognosticatin’, Roommate Woes, Meeting Scott Brison, Vball, & Pallin’ Around

Hey y’all,

 

So it’s exactly a week before Christmas and I am definitely getting into the holiday mood. I leave Ottawa on Thursday morning, rideshare to Montreal, do some shopping at Armada Lounge, pick up my customized bowtie from The Bow Tie Code, see some dear people (Torch, Ndaku, Chris E), probably get a banh mi from Vua and hang out at the Anticafé, then kill some time in the airport before flying to dear ol’ Hali.

With how busy my life here in Ottawa is, I fully expect that the holidaze in NS are going to be dull. Yes, I’m looking forward to spending time with Mum, Dad, Roz, Cate, Dustin, Brendan, Brigid, and the extended family… But I’ll be missing my trivia hosting gig, volleyball, and all the friends I’ve come to cherish here. It’s funny, because this time last year, I knew almost nobody and was looking forward to going home in a big way. I had also just been there a month prior, so it was more of a comfort zone.

But now, I have my own life and home here in O-Town. My coworker asked me today if I was celebrating New Year’s here or there, and it got me thinking. Why didn’t I book my flight back a day early, to carouse in Ottawa and then have Monday to relax before returning to work on Tuesday? I’m a fool. Luckily, Dustin just invited me to some plans for NYE in Halifax, and we’ll be wearing some leather – so I’m excited about that. I plan on rocking the bowtie (made of a grey + black handkerchief) and maybe some gear I buy at Armada on Thursday! Yay!

Don’t get me wrong, though – Nova Scotia won’t be dreadful. You know that Mum likes a full social calendar as well, so naturally, she’s already made lots of plans for over the next couple weeks. It’s not like I’m psyched to go bowling with church folk I don’t know… But it’s better than sitting at home. Plus, I get to hang out with Roz, play some Melee, and probably get my butt kicked. I’m looking forward to lots of game nights with my dear parents (maybe with some new additions, who knows?), and catching up with neighbourhood friends – both my age and as old as Mum & Dad. Plus, it’s always fun/ny to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins again, just because they’re so different from my immediate family. Add on my wearing nail polish, and probably Roz too (and their new name), and it’s going to be good for some awkwardness and laughs.

Also – lots of time to sleep in and watch Big Brother 18 (which I just started, since the next season of The Challenge has Victor and Natalie on it, and the upcoming US Ex on the Beach has Paulie, and Da’Vonne is back, and Vanessa’s sister) and read (I’m about 60% through Dan Brown’s new book, Origin, currently) and even journal about all the social issues I want to ruminate on. That is, people thinking I’m dismissive or my having a “bad reputation” or my wry, sarcastic, and admittedly snarky humour being misunderstood/mistaken as serious. Lots of stuff to think about, and the long days cooped up in St. Margaret’s Bay will allow for beaucoup d’introspection.

Wish I could say I could use the faux Bowflex and dumbbells in the basement too… But I don’t know if that will be possible. My anterior deltoids and right thigh/hip flexor/adductor/etc still hurt, even though I haven’t worked them in quite a while now – approaching a month. What’s more, my right glute is often very sore as well, and I’ve had shin splints / calf pain too. I attribute this to walking/trudging/slipping through the damn snow / slush on the sidewalks. My lil legs aren’t accustomed to it yet. It’s especially bad on Mondays, as I can no longer bike to the Glebe to get my trivia sheets – so I hoof it from Centretown to Ps & Qs and back. It takes about an hour, and the cold was intense last week. It’s relatively mild today, but it was snowing earlier. Uggghhh. It has to happen, though. I do love hosting trivia – for all my regulars I get to see each week (those on teams TBD, Never Gonna Get a Husband, Stepdads, Oh Nooooo!, Inadmissibles, Alicia’s Not Here, and Respectable Finishers, among others). I definitely don’t want to give it up, but all those frigid Mondays in the New Year are not going to be enjoyable. And if I didn’t host on Mondays, that would also mean I could go to drop-in volleyball, so… It’s tempting.

As for my bodily aches ‘n’ pains – I have an appointment tomorrow evening with a sports therapist, who was highly recommended from some guy on Scruff. So needless to say, I have high expectations 😛 But really, I can’t wait for it, and am putting lots of eggs in that basket. And despite how frugal I am, I’m going ahead with the consultation and paying out of pocket. My benefits don’t kick in for another two months, but I think this is important enough not to worry about <$100. Plus, I’m often wondering how I should spend all this money I’m earning at the office… I asked my dad, and he encouraged me to start investing. But then I’d (likely) have more money, and still no idea where to spend it. I guess travel. But I’m also looking into getting a nicer/bigger TV with better audio, and Breath of the Wild. Nothing crazy, but with what I receive for an hour of my time, and with how often I use my TV – it makes 100% sense to treat myself.

I was actually discussing this with a friend, after waxing whiney about my roommate situation, and he just asked… “So why don’t you put this money toward living alone”? And it’s a super simple solution, but still not one I’m going to pursue. I was looking at one bedroom apartments originally, in preparation of moving out of the Sweetland summer sublet, but nothing I saw really wowed me. Plus, I’m a very social guy, and I do prefer living with somebody else, on the whole. Of course, this is contingent on the person I’m cohabitating with, and their personality… Unfortunately, my current roommate is not ideal. We don’t hang out, or really talk that much. I don’t want to spend time with him, or really be home when he is. I can’t really explain why, but for whatever reason, I’m irritable around him. It’s such a shame, because I had high hopes for moving in with him. Of course, that’s my kryptonite – but it’s not like I went into this blind. We met for coffee way back when, and I laid out exactly what I was looking for and why it might be frustrating to live with me. You know, how I like to listen to loud music and am almost always shirtless at home and how I sometimes leave dishes in the sink. I guess how I often have friends over, as well? I explained how I’m not pristine by any means, but I still like living in a clean place.

And I feel like he didn’t reciprocate that same gesture, because there were numerous things I had no idea about before the decision was made. It still irks me. And we did look at apartments together, and I had fun doing it… But then we moved in, and for some reason, all that optimism was for naught. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not horrible – and I am positive there are things about me he doesn’t like (although all the issues he’s raised to me, I’ve addressed, like not watching TV after 10:30/11 in the living room) – but it’s not ideal. For a person I’m sharing so much time and space with, I want somebody who I like and want to get to know and talk to and hang out/party with. Like Laura, Tam, or Christina, for instance. And of course, someone who contributes to the apartment and helps with the upkeep and actually follows through on the cleaning rota he agreed to…

Sorry if this is too bitchy, but I am so frustrated with it all. He got rid of all the drinking glasses left by the previous tenants, so I had to replace them. He (accidentally) threw out the dustpan, so I bought a new one. He ripped off the countertop covers and said he would replace them, but it’s been more than three months, and it’s still painted wood, sticky from the adhesive. I mopped last Sunday, and then he & his dad were walking around the apartment in their snow boots, leaving wet spots and white/grey marks – that, of course, I’ll have to clean.

I was looking forward to the holidays for a reprieve from all the stress my living situation creates. Hell, even when I cohabitated with people I loved, I was ready for a break during Christmas. I was hoping I’d come back in the New Year refreshed and more patient, ready to let sh!t stop bothering me and just enjoy my apartment more… But also knowing, in the back of my mind, that I couldn’t do this long-term. Who knows, though? Things change.

But now I don’t have to worry about it: he told me last weekend (through a damn text message, of all things) that he’s moving out. Before March 1st, he said – which gives me plenty of time to find a new roommate. Thank deity it’s my name on the lease, because I do not want to move again (would be the fourth time in a bit more than a year). And it’s a good thing he pulled the trigger, because I was already harbouring all this guilt about needing to do it in the future. I do feel bad that he has to do this, but I can rest assured / absolved that I strove to make it a more harmonious situation. I respected his wishes for “quiet hours,” washed dishes more often, and made efforts to be cordial and friendly every time I saw him. I bit my tongue when things annoyed me and chose instead to just wait to see if things were resolved. I tried not to be too bossy or inflexible, and took strides to ensure my language and texts were polite and patient and palatable. But I guess I wasn’t successful 😦

In any case – yes, finding someone new to take the room is something else added to my plate, and it could be much, much worse – but I’m still optimistic about it. I will vet this new future roommate more thoroughly, and hopefully hang out and have fun and laugh before agreeing to move in together. And at the very least, if it’s somebody who is friendly and reasonable and actually communicates and cleans – but we aren’t really friends per se – then that’s great, and would be an upgrade.

The downside is that things at home are even more awkward than they were before, and since he’s already checked out of the situation, I am sure he’s not going to lift a finger to tidy anything. So it’s up to me to scrub the counters (not to mention, find a solution to cover them) and mop the floors of the marks he left and clean the fridge and take down the recycling, that we both add to. Annoying. But whatever, it’s only for a couple more weeks. (Though I don’t know when he’s moving out specifically, or to where, and what he’s taking versus what he’s leaving behind – because, of course, we don’t talk / he doesn’t communicate)

 

Okay! That’s enough salt for one day! I have high blood pressure as it is! (And no, that’s not a joke, but rather a disconcerting recent realization of mine. So I’ve switched to green tea instead of iced coffee in the afternoons, and hopefully the resolution to my roommate woes will decrease my stress and thus my BP…)

Let’s talk about work. Last Monday, December 11th, was the official Launch Event for the Final Report of the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service! It was difficult to find a date for this occasion, as the higher-ups in Treasury Board have such demanding schedules… But we managed! And it coincided with the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (on Dec 10th) – so that worked out nicely.

The week and a half leading up to the Launch were extraordinarily busy, as you might imagine. Tying up all the loose ends and getting approval for all these minute details and changes. Working closely with the editors and HTML folks to make sure the web version of the Final Report is immaculate and says exactly what we want it to, in both English and French. We also had to ensure full accessibility and compatibility for a range of devices (phones, computers, tablets, screen readers, etc), especially with the graphics, tables, and various images. It took a lot of work, omg. Very meticulous work – travail fastidieux, as Jean-Paul taught me. I am glad it’s all done, because my eyes were crossing from reading the same sections of text again and again…

It was pretty stressful, with all the moving parts. I stayed late on numerous days and had lots going on. I liked it, though – I prefer being busy, because the days go so fast! And I feel industrious and accomplished and like I’m pulling my weight. So it was a bit stressful, sure, but I liked it. (In contrast to work for the past week, which has been much less demanding, as our pièce de résistance is now finito and out in the world! But all the holiday parties make up for that!)

The Launch Event was a great time, too. I got to see the Task Force members again, which is always nice. I chatted with Carl, Jennifer, and others – the Assistant Deputy Minister and Executive Director of my sectors, respectively. Most excitingly, though: I met Scott Brison! The President/Minister of the Treasury Board! A VIP! And we actually got to have a short conversation. I mentioned that I’m from Nova Scotia (like he is), so we talked about that – and I wanted to slip in that I’m queer too, but I didn’t get the chance/feel comfortable doing so. Oh well, next time. Hopefully, I made enough of an impression that he remembers me, so we can pick up the conversation where we left off. You gotta werk that network, you know what I mean?

So that was fabulous. And it even came with free lunch! And there was too much, so I got to take an entire enormous salad home with me! What a way to start a Monday. And if you’re curious to read the 100+ page document, you can do so here. My fingerprint is all over it – especially in all the LGBTQ2+ mentions, the D+I Lens chapter and Annex, and the conclusion. Very proud of the work we’ve turned out. It’s truly momentous and stupendous, what we managed to accomplish in just over a year, between management and the bargaining agents. So go read it now – because it will be in effect for the next decade and more! Wouhou!

 

So that’s phenomenal.

And, what else is going on? Volleyball is done for the (calendar) year, unfortunately. Instead of matches, we have our holiday party this Wednesday. Should be a good time. As you likely know, I’m a very competitive person, which definitely translates to the court. My team is almost all beginners, and as a result we are in the lowest tier. But regardless of that, I still want to win, bad. So when we’re not doing well – especially if I’m the one who’s messing up – I get heated. Comes with yelling and groans and general loudness/ferocity. But that’s not always welcomed, and I don’t want to hurt the feelings of my teammates. So the past two weeks, I haven’t been yelling “Switch!” or “Rotate!” or “Over!” so loudly. Instead, I just call them at a more reasonable volume… And it’s definitely helped me stay calmer, keep my lid on. And in the process – I realized that I enjoy myself more! And feel less guilty! (But also, don’t perform to my optimal level) It’s something I want to figure out, but I’d much rather be a more even-keeled and kinder member of my team, than some hothead a-hole who plays slightly better. So, yay! Progress.

Been seeing friends a lot, too. I recently met / got to know some fab people, namely Freddy, Nick (who I call “Jason”), Loic, and Richard – so I’ve been hanging out with them. Met them through the lovely Eric Witty, at his birthday party – which I also did my first escape room at! – and the lot of us have had several game nights recently. Lots of fun, and I’m happy they’re in my life. Especially when we have the Sideshow (puppeteer) activity in Cranium, and all the teams have to do it… Amazing.

Went to Tim Jolly’s birthday party this past Saturday – there was karaoke! amazing! and Werewolves! but I was the first hanged by the village, so that was less amazing. Went to a party with Bryan Quin on Friday, with members of the Pride Board. They had an improv show and a pool table, so I def enjoyed myself. I saw David M & Derek C for coffee, and had a French/English language exchange date with JP. Lots of other board games, mostly Dominion. Evan’s holiday party, with hors d’oeuvres and pleasant conversation. Catlin & her boyfriend were in town, so we went to Fiazza (delicious thin-crust pizza) and then watched Annabelle: Creation at mine. Hanging with Luke & Co. at his place. We’re starting Pandemic Legacy Season 2 tomorrow (Luke + Dean + Colum + me), and I’m geeked about it. Etc etc. My social life is very full, and I am fulfilled by it. (But I also find, disconcertingly, that when I’m alone at home, I get so bored. I need a new hobby. Any suggestions? I’ve been reading a lot more, but that doesn’t thrill me. Maybe I just need a new video game. Might start Wind Waker HD soon – or maybe I’ll get Breath of the Wild for Xmas. We’ll see.)

 

And that might wrap it up! And it’s perfect timing, as I need to get to gettin’ to the Glebe now.

 

See you folks around ❤

 

– Jefe

I’m First Runner-Up for Mr. Leather Ottawa 2018! And Also, Cancelled Guatemala Trip, Some Work Woes, Escape Rooms, Bodily Pains, & Friends

Hi!

 

It’s a slow Saturday, and I’m sitting in my bed writing this. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit down – which is likely due to the fact that I am currently idle and isolated at home. Didn’t do anything social last night, either, so it was a quiet Friday spent in. Not my ideal, even if I have been (over)tired recently. But as a huge extrovert, you already know that I recharge and re-energize with other people, not solo. So spending my Friday night all alone is not the way to make me feel better. Fortunately, I have plans to look forward to tonight and tomorrow – so I just have to get through the next couple hours, and why not be productive in that time? I should probably go outside and get some fresh air / sunlight – but it’s cloudy and it’ll be dark by 4:30 (in 2 hours), so what’s the point?

Last night, I left work, went to the gym, got groceries, cooked a homemade delicious pizza, and finished Big Brother 17 while looking for plans. Nothing came through, so I also finished the book I was reading (Fierce Kingdom) and started watching Dragula Season 1. BB17 was good, though the winner didn’t really deserve it. I enjoyed the novel too, but as Odessa said – it was a page-turner but not really a good book. Nothing much happened and the writing wasn’t amazing or anything. Dragula is great so far – I love spooky Halloween drag (like the performance to My Immortal on Halloween Saturday at Lookout) – but definitely lower production value than RPDR. Although, I suppose I haven’t watched the first season of that, so maybe it’s on par with each other. Either way, I’m liking Dragula. I saw Loris perform at Montreal Pride and she was great – so it’s cool to see more of her.

As for the gym, well – I’ve cut my workouts in half. My right thigh/glute/hip flexor/IT band has been sore and tight and stiff constantly since May. Which is when I started biking everywhere and when I re-became a gymgoer, so I’m not really sure which is the root of the problem. But I am sure that continuing to squat and deadlift lots of weight is not going to ameliorate anything, so I’m laying off those. Simultaneously, I’ve somehow strained both front deltoids (probably because I had started to do shoulder press again, but since my gym doesn’t have a cable machine for that, I was just using a barbell) – so I’m also not doing any chest or shoulder press anymore. Even doing push-ups at yoga this past Thursday made them twinge. SO, that only leaves triceps, biceps, back, and core- half my original workout. So now I do them in 3 supersets, going from one to the next to the next without rest. And I threw in some pull-ups at the end, just because I don’t feel I’m doing enough. Although I can only do them with my fingers facing me, as the other way involves the shoulders too much, I think.

Ugh! It’s so frustrating! It makes me feel guilty because I don’t think I’m doing enough to better myself/my fitness. I want to push myself… But I guess that’s likely the reason I’m in this situation in the first place. Another piece of the puzzle is how I pay $50+ per month for this gym, and if I skip a session, then that’s just money down the drain. Guh.

But anyway, it’s not like I’m a couch potato otherwise. Volleyball continues to be amazing – I’m improving each week (currently learning how to spike hard) and meeting new people and having a great time. Still do yoga every Thursday, but to be honest, I’m falling out of love with that. Same with the gym. They often feel like a chore more than something I look forward to. But I’ll keep them up until the holidays, and then will see how I feel in the new year, after two weeks off. And hopefully that will have given my muscles sufficient time to rest and heal – otherwise I really need to see a sports therapist. I’m not trying to give myself permanent damage!! That’s something I need to figure out at work: my benefits, and when they kick in.

 

 

So now it’s 1:30 on Sunday. I did go out for a walk and to do some errands yesterday. It was surprisingly mild out, if wet, and it definitely helped my mood. I got some tingz from Dollarama (salsa con queso, yum, #treatyoself) and some adult beverages for last night and a great pair of slippers from Winners! They were only $13 and will certainly come in handy over the holidays, in the cold Nova Scotia house. I also ran into Dave Greener, the sweetheart from my volleyball team, and was generally productive.

Then came home, heated up my leftovers, watched more Dragula, drew a winged eyeliner, and biked down to the market to celebrate Eric’s birthday!! We went to Jigsaw Escape Rooms to start, with Yves, Nick, and Kaeli. It was my first escape room, if you can believe that! Seems right up my alley, and I don’t really know what took me so long to go for the first time! But I had a lot of fun, so I expect I’ll do another in the near future.

We did the one called “The Study,” and as soon as the worker started the timer, I was thinking, “…that’s it?” We were left in one room and given almost no instructions and left to our own devices. But I guess that’s the point of an escape room, right? You look everywhere through it and try to figure out the mystery! There were puzzles and padlocks keeping various drawers closed, which held clues and evidence and other stuff! So fun. We did succeed at solving the murder, although it was right down to the literal last minute. Still a W in my book – so now my success rate is 100%! Get @ me.

Then we went to Eric’s apartment for some games. Predominately Werewolves (which I didn’t love as much as normal, but I attribute that to the voting/hanging method that he and Mark favoured, in contrast to what I’m accustomed to), but also this fun “high-stakes” version of Charades! I only knew two people there (the host + Hris), but I still had a great time – and met a bunch of new people! Maybe I could even say I made a bunch of new friends, but perhaps only time will tell about that! But really, it was a fantastic night, infinitely better than my Friday.

And today should also be wonderful! In an hour, Christian + Elena are coming over for board games, and possibly Colum too. Dominion is likely on the menu (as I now have access to Base + Intrigue + Dark Ages + Empires), but there’s also Scrabble, Serenissima, Cranium, Betrayal at House on the Hill… I haven’t written about this yet, but Mum and Dad came to visit en route to Ontario/Ohio, and they magnanimously brought a bunch of my stuff from Nova Scotia! Clothing and decorations and books and board games! What amazing people they are ❤

I’ll also gym and cook lunches for the week and do some work for Lambda today. Gotta get all that stuff done before Monday comes and I’m super busy again! Might hang out with Jason & Chris later too, or catch up with Jess/Vic. Lots of options! And what’s on the roster for this week? The same old – trivia and volleyball and yoga and the gym and the office – but ALSO, Dean, Colum, Luke, & I are starting Pandemic Legacy Season 2!! On Tuesday. I’m so damn excited for this, and to see them all again. Should be phenomenal! (But I suppose I should manage my expectations, because they are my kryptonite)

 

So! Since I wrote last, a lot has changed. Of course, like always. I sometimes wonder if I should stop this blog altogether, since I only find/make time to update so infrequently – which means the posts are so damn long. For now, I’ll stick with it – and possibly (but not probably) update more often, so it’s more manageable and not as daunting – but anyway.

If you only follow my life on here, and not on social media / IRL, then you must be dying to hear all about how Guatemala and El Salvador were! Well, I’m here to tell you that… They didn’t happen. I know, devastating. I booked the flights on a Monday, after double-checking with my supervisor that the start date for my next contract would not get any earlier. She said it wouldn’t, so I pulled the trigger and did my research and got all excited for it. And then I go into the office the next day, and lo and behold… It moved up. Somehow.

So I was stuck in a real bind, needing to decide what to do. The start date was still not nailed down, and I didn’t want to cancel my trip on a maybe, thereby screwing myself in the process… But I also didn’t want to miss out on any opportunities or let my team down. Career is my priority, and I know there’s so much work to be done. I do want to help my colleagues out, share the load, and not leave them out to dry as I’m gallivanting away in Central America. But if I didn’t take the trip now, then when could I take it? I’d totally be within my rights to go anyway, since I did my due diligence, checking and confirming before purchasing the tickets.

It was a lot to think about, and you know how tough it is for me to make big decisions sometimes. My supervisor did assure me it wouldn’t change anything or upset anyone if I did end up boarding that plane, but I didn’t want to invite bad karma or give them/anyone any reason not to think the best of me. I talked it over with Dad on the phone, but even before that – I had the deep sense that the decision was already made. I can travel whenever in the future, whereas this opportunity (which includes a promotion and becoming a full public servant, which numerous people have told me is quite the accomplishment) doesn’t come along every day.

So I called United Airlines and managed to get a full refund on the tickets, fortunately. It had to be done. Like CT said to Diem on Duel 2, “Career first, remember?”

…but how it all shook out is that, if I did go through with the trip, I would have only missed one day of work (for which I could’ve used my accrued time in lieu). Things move slowly in government. I finished my casual on November 1st, and before I booked the flights, the start date would’ve been the 15th (or maybe even later). And then I found out the day after I bought the tickets that the commencement moved up to the 8th or 9th. So I cancelled Guatemala out of good faith… And then I only began my new contract on November 14th, as the 13th was the statutory holiday for Remembrance Day. Mmmmf. And there’s nothing I can do about it. Frustrating.

Regardless, no sense in being upset about it anymore. It’s nobody’s fault but bureaucracy, and I know there was no malice. It’s just annoying because I missed out on a great trip because I wanted to do the right thing and help people out… And it was all essentially for naught. But it’s fine, no big deal.

So that’s that. Guatemala didn’t happen. Instead, I did the same old, same old. Of course, I enjoyed trivia and volleyball (and hanging out at the Lieutenant’s Pump afterward!) and relaxing / resting up / watching Big Brother / hanging with friends / reading. There was an opportunity for me to ride with Mum & Dad and spend a couple days in Toronto, but I opted not to do that, either. I wanted to sleep in my bed and redecorate my apartment (with all the things my parents so graciously brought up to Ottawa) and clean up before Jared got back.

So my roughly two weeks off were not anything spectacular, but that’s legit okay. I still enjoyed myself, and I’ll have my vacation in less than a month’s time – back in NS with Mum, Dad, Roz, and the extended family ❤ Again, no use getting upset over something that was out of my control. I can also rest assured that I did the right thing, and maybe I’ll get my karmic recompense for that in the future sometime.

Gotta dash for now – friends are almost here and I have to put clothes on! (And don’t be scandalized – my apartment is always hot, as I have no control over the heat here, and I’m sitting in bed with my door closed anyway)

 

Now it’s a quiet, snowy, Sunday night. Just in from the gym, which actually went well this time! Still managed 7 pull-ups, and the time there passed pretty quickly. Three supersets and no warming up cuts down on time! It’s so much more manageable that way. Maybe, after I see that sports/physiotherapist, I’ll start dividing my workouts into different days for different muscle groups. Then it wouldn’t be such a chore. We’ll see.

I also started doing each arm individually with the bicep curl machine, and it’s stark how much stronger my right side is! Damn you, volleyball, for this strength disparity!

Now I’m just sitting on the couch, tip-tapping away at this. Had my protein shake and don’t feel like making dinner or meal prepping for the week just yet, so some relaxation will do.

Games with Christian and Elena went great. We played two rounds of Dominion (one Base + Dark Ages, the other Intrigue + Dark Ages) and then Scrabble. I somehow pulled out all 3 wins, so that’s cool. More importantly, though, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Yay!

 

What to talk about now? Last weekend, I competed in the Mr. Leather Ottawa competition, and got First Runner-Up. It was a relatively last-minute decision to participate, but I’m very glad I did. It was a lot of fun, I performed well, and I met a bunch of new people. The competition lasted 2-ish days: Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. I spent the entire week and a half prior, preparing and researching and planning. I learned so much about leather history and the community, to make sure I was informed if any questions about it came up in the interview or Q&A section. I practiced my talent portion and put together my outfits and recruited somebody to be my scene partner and invited friends to the competition. It took a lot of time, but I really enjoyed having something to work towards and aspire to. You know how competitive I am, so I was getting into that headspace.

Then Friday came around, and it was all systems go. I rushed home from work and started getting ready. The first event was a cocktail hour with Spearhead, the leather group in Toronto – but I was told not to go until my contact (Thierry, the show producer) arrived there. But then I got impatient and was just going to go over myself – gotta fake it ‘til you make it, right? – and then I heard there was a power outage. So clearly that wasn’t meant to be, but I wish it would’ve been.

So my first event was at the Legion, where the competition took place all weekend. There was a mixer, a dinner, and then a “Meet the Meat” – where the judges and competitors were introduced to everybody, and we did a silly little activity (reach into a bag and tell the audience how we would use it on the judges). I got to meet my co-contestants (Andre, Mario, and Christian) and the judges (Dean, Jeremy, Robert, Beth, and Adam). I had met Andre at volleyball the previous week, and I know Dean and Adam too. Off to an auspicious start, right? There was the Bootblack Ottawa (BBO) competition going on that weekend, so I met the two people running for that – Shelli and Mike – and some of their judges too (Keven and Henry).

We ate dinner and I was schmoozing. Though I was a bit reserved, because I didn’t want it to come off as disingenuous or brown-nose too much. The cold shoulder technique works sometimes, you know? Lots of cool people to meet, though, and I enjoyed my night. Didn’t stay too much after the event finished, though, since Saturday was gonna be a long day. So I headed out, hung out at Jayme’s for a bit, popped in T’s (but didn’t see any of the judges or competitors), then went home to crash.

The Meet the Meat accounted for 10% of our score, and the next component, the private interview, for 30%. I went to the cute B&B they were staying in the next morning and made small talk with the others in the front room as I awaited my turn to sit with the judges. I was definitely nervous, but I couldn’t really let that on… So I did some diaphragmatic breathing exercises and reviewed the notes I had taken and tried to put myself in a positive, self-assured, happy headspace. And it worked out!

I think I did very well at the interview. It was supposed to be a half hour, but I was chatting with them for 40 minutes. I made them laugh and gave some learned answers, to demonstrate how knowledgeable I am. I discussed how I believe in harm reduction strategies and how, while we have significantly liberated our community, it’s still important to have various social groups and establishments for people to feel the most comfortable. I might be totally at ease being myself in a straight bar, but that’s not the case for everybody. They asked me about RuPaul’s Drag Race and who I think should have won All-Stars 2 (Alaska), and they asked how I would integrate trans people into the leather community. I had to tell them about myself and explain why I decided to compete in MLO, and what I would do if I earned the title. I discussed the networks I could capitalize on (Lambda, GOV, GayZone, Start Proud, Queers and Beers, my job) as a titleholder, and I laid out my weekly routine. And given how busy I am / how I’m always “on,” am I ever “off,” and/or what do I do in my spare time? So I talked about how, as a huge extrovert, I recharge with other people – but I also have a lot of solitude in my life, because not everybody is as social as I am, and we all have our own things going on.

There were other questions too, but I don’t remember them all. Oh! Of course. The stereotypical interview question. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” So I said how humility is definitely not my strength, and a lot of people think I’m overconfident. But I explained how I’ve struggled with self-consciousness a lot in my life, but I’ve reached a point (after starting over when I moved to Montreal, and Glasgow, and Ottawa) that I am very aware of my strengths (and am self-assured in them), but also cognizant of my weaknesses – which are impatience, timeliness, and how my humour is often (mis)interpreted as mean-spirited, when in fact it’s sarcastic and dry and deadpan. As for my pluses, I told them how I was always known for my intelligence growing up, and I think I’m clever and funny and friendly.

Et cetera, et cetera. Like I said, it was a 40-minute interview, but it went well. I enjoyed it. Then I swung back home to change outfits (as I had twelve damn looks over the weekend), then headed back to the Legion for rehearsal. And as I waited for my time to come, I checked out the leather swap (which is more of a leather sale, not sure why they call it a “swap,” but I digress) and found some great things! A pair of leather shorts, a leather armband, a nipple ring, and a rubber harness and armband! Most of it for really cheap, too! It was amazing.

I practiced my talent portion/fantasy scene with Garry, as Tim was not available, and that also went swimmingly. Much better than I expected! Then we learned how the entire show would go, and did a dry run, then I got my boots shined by Shelli, and finally went on home. I hadn’t eaten since before the interview, and with all the nerves and biking through the winter storm, I was hungry. I had some leftover teriyaki stirfry and caught all up with the darling Torchic, who came to visit Ottawa and attend the show over the weekend! What a sweetheart!

We kiki’d and I inhaled my food and I told her about how the weekend was going so far. I showed her all my looks for that night and practiced my speech with her and drank some wine, and then, pretty soon, I had to dash back to the Legion for dinner! And to report back to Dean and Beth for the homework they both gave me during the interview! (About Unholy Harvest and how many MLO winners placed in the top 10 at International Mr. Leather)

After dinner it was the show. We got changed into our Full/Formal Leather look, were brought up on stage, and gave our speech. I had practiced this with Torch numerous times and had written it and videotaped myself doing it the night prior… And still, I didn’t feel ready. We only had two minutes to make it, and I had so much to say! I wanted to make sure I mentioned all the right things and didn’t exceed the time limit and still spoke slowly and enunciated everything. Lots riding on it, considering how high the stakes were! As a new person to Ottawa and the community, I was definitely the underdog. I was the youngest competitor by several years (nobody else was in their twenties), and definitely the greenest – and also the fittest. But I have experience with public speaking (from hosting trivia etc) and am competitive and with more charm, charisma, and stage presence than the average person, so I thought my chances were good. Regardless, I wanted to make sure I did my absolute best in every portion of the competition – leave it all on the field so I have nothing to regret.

All four of us were on stage during the speeches, so we got to hear what everybody else said. Could definitely be easy to get psyched out. And I was arbitrarily assigned to be the fourth in the order, so I got to listen to everybody’s speech before it was my turn. But I wasn’t cowed. I put on a smile and exuded confidence and was my expressive, emphatic self. I talked about a bunch of things – my extensive social networks, my experience with education and community-building, the niche I fill and how I want to contribute to the destigmatization of leather/fetish and help mainstream it, and also broaden the idea/aesthetic of what a “Leatherman” is – and made an effort not to repeat myself. Because of my nerves, I spoke fast, but I do believe I was still intelligible. And when all was said and done – I didn’t even use the entire two minutes! Aarghh! But I did hear from some audience members that my speech was the best.

Then, we were taken off the stage to change into our next look – and while we were doing this, there was an erotic/acrobatic performance by Manuel Sky, Skyy Knox, and his boyfriend. Wish I could’ve seen it, but it was a mad rush to take off the Full/Formal look and get into the next ensemble: the Minimal look. But I managed.

We went back on stage, and it was the Q&A portion. Again, we could hear what all the others said, which made things more nerve-racking. However! It was entertaining to do so. The questions we had were of a hilariously large range. Mario was asked if he were a tree, which tree would he be (“A mighty oak”); and Christian had to describe his perfect date (and he didn’t make the April 25th joke! what!). But both Mario’s and my questions were more in-depth. I forget his, but I was asked what I would do if I were selected as Mr. Leather Ottawa. Definitely a quality question, and it allowed more to go into more detail and explain my aspirations. We had two minutes for our response (like the speech). I’m happy that’s what I was asked, as it allowed me to showcase more of myself than a relatively gay-forward question.

Also heard from various people that my response was one of the best, if not the best one of the four of us. Maybe they were biased (as it was friends telling me this), but I do think I did well too. Andre made the audience laugh and was still sincere, so he also knocked it out of the park. The entire weekend, I knew it was between him and me. We were neck-and-neck the whole time. He had competed in MLO 22 years ago, against 6 other competitors, and earned first runner-up then. As compared to me, who had never attended an event like this, let alone competed for the title. So it was a great battle the entire time.

The speech and the Q&A portion each accounted for 20% of the overall score, with the final component being the fantasy scene, also for 20%. Which was up next. Fortunately, we were not on stage to witness everyone else’s performance, because that definitely would have psyched me out. I went back and changed into all the layers I used for my talent portion (a burlesque scene to the 30 Seconds to Mars cover of “Bad Romance”), made sure Tim was ready, and then worked hard to get in the smouldering, totally self-assured headspace – so I could convey that during my act.

And then before you know it, it was time for my fantasy scene! It was all a rush and I don’t think it was the best run-through, but considering I was in front of a whole crowd of strangers (standing room only!) and definitely nervous, I’m not upset about it. It still went well and people did enjoy it, and it’s not like I catastrophically messed it up or anything. I didn’t rush through it or really struggle with any of the moves or tricks, so I’m pleased.

And then, when that was all finished, there was nothing else for me to do. I gave it my all, and now it was up to the judges to decide. They took an half hour to deliberate, I changed into my next look (for the announcement of the winners), and then I went around and said hello the wonderful people who came to see me – Torch, her friend Jamie, Jean-Paul, Bryan, George, and Matt. Jason + Phillip + Anthony + Mike were there too, and Tim, of course. Plus, I got to chat with the new friends I had made, and generally mill about, on tenterhooks, awaiting the judges’ decision. It was so hot in the room, and I had been so sweaty and nervous and busy all day – so by the time my performances were done and I didn’t have to worry anymore, I just felt exhausted. Still anxious to find out who took the title, but all the fatigue caught up to me fast.

But pretty soon, it was time to return to the stage for the coronation (not that we won a crown, but still, I’m trying to use that #vernacular). As I was lined up in the hallway, waiting for our cue, Thierry walked by, tapped me on the shoulder, and gave me a huge smile. So, a clue to say that I won?! What!!

Then we went on stage, and I had a huge smile on my face, self-assured and proud. First, the MCs announced the first runner-up, and Dominique met my eyes… And that’s when I knew I actually didn’t win 😦

However! I am not upset. Of course, I was a bit disappointed, since I fully expected to go in and Violet Chachki my way all the way to the top (that is, being young and cocky but still winning), and I had nothing but confidence in myself and my strengths… But the actual Mr. Leather Ottawa 2018, Andre, fully deserves it. He’s been in Ottawa and the community here much longer than I; he competed before; he fulfills the leather aesthetic/archetype more than I do; his fantasy scene was better (and more salacious) than mine; and he’s still a great, sweet, warm guy. Totally happy that he won, because he’s a good person. I really enjoyed getting to know him over the weekend.

And although I am slightly disappointed, it’s not like I let myself down. I know I couldn’t really have done any better in any section of the competition. I served twelve lewks, killed the interview/speech/Q&A, and performed great in my fantasy scene (even if it wasn’t all that prurient). But I’m new to the scene and to the city, I’m young and less experienced, and I would even admit myself that I don’t look exactly like what most people would consider a Leatherman. So I’m not pissed or anything. There was just some dissonance between my expectations and the reality – my kryptonite.

Anyhow! By the time we found out the results is when the exhaustion really hit me. I still hung out at the Legion for a while afterward, kept Tim company down by the VIP Lounge, and hugged and thanked all the judges I could find. Everybody wanted to congratulate me, and I was more than happy to oblige them all 🙂 Felt great. (Except this is when people told me I came across as too cocky during my spoken portions, which may have been my downfall. I like to think that wasn’t the issue, though, since I did explain that to the judges earlier, and I did showcase some vulnerability.)

But then I was beat like a well-made-up face, so I walked through the ice storm back home, relaxed with Torch a little, and then had an amazing and much-deserved slumber.

The next morning was the community brunch. I sat with Shelli / Mike / Keven (MLO 2015) / Mario / Jeremy Feist and enjoyed myself. We also received our prizes at this event, which I didn’t expect but was so happy about! My gift bag was ridiculously big and therefore exciting 😛 The winners and the first runner-ups (Andre, Shelli, Mike, and I) all gave a lil speech, and hopefully mine wasn’t braggacious… Although I did say something like, “It’s been great showing you all what I have to offer, and you can catch me here again next year!” Whoops.

But really, it was a lovely morning and a wonderful way to send off all the competitors, visitors, volunteers, and everybody who made the weekend a scintillating success.

 

…And that’s that! I’m First Runner-Up for Mr. Leather Ottawa 2018! And will likely run again next year, and/or for Mr. Leather with NCLP (National Capital Leather Pride) before that. Time will tell, but I had a great experience with it – so pourquoi pas?

 

And now I’m over 5300 words and, despite having more to discuss, will wrap it up here. Gotta get ready for trivia anyhow (it is now Monday evening at 6pm).

 

Hope y’all are well ❤

 

– Jefe

My Bi(rthday) Bash, Halloweekend, Amazing Work Accomplishments, & a SPONTANEOUS TRIP TO GUATEMALA NEXT WEEK

Hey y’all,

 

2pm on a sunny Saturday. Low(ish)-key Halloween Party chez Tim tonight. I was gonna be a sexy cop (like those two in the windows during the Montreal Pride Parade, right, Sarah and Mikey?), so I went thriftin’ last week for a police hat. No luck, but I did find a Batman mask for only $1, so I snatched that up. And I’ll pair it with some leather accoutrements. I mean, it’s Halloween, like the Mean Girls quote describes, so…

I’ve been getting in the mood for the holiday, too. It had been MONTHS since I had seen a movie – let alone a great horror flick – so I decided to fix that right up. Watched Lights Out (good, but not as great as the short that inspired it), Split (disappointing, not scary, but great performance by Mr. McAvoy), and The Conjuring 2 (overlong and over-rated) in one week. It was actually my birthday week, and I watched the latter with Elena & Eric, after a pleasant dinner at Ace Mercado with Eric & Tony (thanks for footing the bill, Tone! You the best).

Then last Tuesday, Luke invited me over for Halloween movies and pumpkin carvin’ – so I caught the end of Insidious (the worst part, in my opinion. such a strong start, and then the astral projections and “The Further?” ugh, please no) and then put on Trick ‘r’ Treat, the classic Halloween anthology that I watch every year. That Anna Paquin scene with the Marilyn Manson song playing? Friggen iconic.

And then last night, I had plans to play some games with Eric / Nick / Justin / Hris / Dorey, but they fell through last minute. So I ended up watching Starry Eyes, after years of it being on my list… And MAN, what a f***ed movie that was. There were scenes towards the end that made me feel literally ill. Am I no longer desensitized? How will watching Jigsaw this Tuesday (actual Halloween, like the ol’ routine with Carol & Mike Mszanski) go with Zach etc?

I think it’ll be fine, though – because the Saw traps are, like, mechanized. And it’s do or die, legit. Whereas the scenes from Starry Eyes were so personal, so intimate, and wholly unnecessary. That cruelty is what bothered me.

All in all, it was an alright film. Definitely made me feel something, you know? But be prepared for some nasty ish, some weird visuals, and an overall strange vibe. I prefer more straightforward teen slashers or ghost stories, but to each their own.

Might have some friends ‘round tomorrow for that (mostly) Annual Halloween / Horror Movie Marathon. I’m thinking Annabelle Creation for one of the films, and I’m open to suggestions for others. Something recent, high-budget, scary, and not horrible. Or maybe a horror-comedy. Tyler/Loki suggests Murder Party or The Babysitter, which Tim also recommends. So maybe that.

 

I know I’m super behind on this blog, but do you realize how busy I am? I don’t even know if I realize how busy I am. Full-time job + a side job + a relatively time-consuming volunteer Board member gig. Plus staying active: gym for 1-1.5 hours thrice weekly, competitive volleyball games on Wednesdays (2+ hours), hatha yoga for 1.5 hours on Thursday, and often a long bike ride on Saturdays. Like last weekend, I finally made it to Gatineau Park. Sunday was the last day the Fall Rhapsody free shuttle was running, so I wanted to catch that before I couldn’t anymore. But my birthday party was the night prior, the morning was rough, and by the time I got moving – it was only about two hours until the last shuttle ran back from the Park.

So I decided to cycle it! It was a balmy, sunny day – and what’s better for a resaquita than some fresh air and exercise? I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I figured, I’ll just give it a try, and I can always turn back if it’s too much. But it ended up being totally fantastic. I biked all the way to Pink Lake (~15km from the “Lisgar House,” mostly uphill), hiked around the whole thing, and rode on right back. All told, it was between 4 and 5 hours of being on the go. And I had only had avocado toast and one cup of coffee earlier! I didn’t even have any eggs! Quite the accomplishment, I’d say.

Totally worth it, though. It was a gorgeous trip. I listened to podcasts, marveled at all the colours, sang along to new music, got some sun, and truly enjoyed being in nature once again. The lake is beautiful and the cycle paths well-maintained. Totally phenomenal day, if exhausting. I had intended to gym afterwards too, since that’s what happens on Sundays, but the hangover + lack of food + all the energy expended already means I was totally spent afterward. Plus, I had a conference call for the Lambda Foundation as well, so it’s not like I just crashed on the couch upon my return home and didn’t move at all. And I managed to squeeze in almost a full workout at the gym (minus deadlifts) between working late and going to trivia on Monday night anyway, so it was fine. (Was gonna go Tuesday again, but that was a bit ambitious – as Laganja would say, THIS IS TOO F***ING MUCH, considering work was very busy this past week too)

Wanted to get some fresh air and sun today as well, but with this blog post, chores, Eric coming over for Dominion: Base 1st Edition/2nd Edition/Intrigue/Empires now, and how I gotta grocery shop and cook dinner and shave and prepare my costume etc – there won’t be any time. Plus, it’s already 3pm, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier these days… 😦 No biggie.

 

But about how busy I am – I actually like it. Yes, it means I’m often tired, and there’s not much wiggle room if something catastrophic happens. But if I take a step back and look at my life from an external/outsider’s/objective perspective:

this is what I wanted my life as an adult to look like when I was younger

I enjoy my job, believe in the work I’m doing, and am proud (and pleasantly surprised) at how much I’m earning. I like my apartment, have a bunch of people I know, host lots of social events, and am well-integrated in the place I live. I have weekly routines I enjoy, and have plans or something to look forward to most every night. I like how I look – even if the balding and persistent acne are frustrating – and all the effort I put it at the gym etc is paying off. I’m happy with myself, cognizant and accepting of my flaws, and no longer let people push me around or walk all over me. I think I’m funny and clever and smart, and while that sounds cocky – you should know that I often struggle with self-consciousness and second-guessing myself, so this self-assurance is a welcome change, even if it comes across as too much at times. Would rather be content with myself than please everybody. The latter is a fool’s errand. If you have no disagreements with people (or maybe, if you have no enemies), are you really standing up for what you believe in? Especially if you have such progressive and liberal beliefs as I do…

 

Maybe that’s what being 26 is all about. My birthday was a week and a half ago, and no, I don’t feel any different. People don’t change overnight / based on an arbitrary calendar date, but rather gradually, over time. So I certainly have changed in the past year – but I can address that at another time. In lieu of a meandering stream-of-consciousness review of the past year, here’s what I captioned my new profile picture (uploaded late on October 18th):

“in the past year:

– moved 3 times, including to a new province

– got 1, very visible tattoo

– visited 3 countries, 3 provinces, & 1 state

– went MF *bungee-jumping*

– applied to 50+ jobs

– held 4 positions (3 currently, 1 more forthcoming)

– commenced my professional career (& doubled my wage in so doing)

– started cutting my hair REAL short

– got back into weightlifting

– learned how to use liquid eyeliner / do a killer wing tip

– began doing yoga weekly

– joined a queer volleyball team (pictured)

– became a sassy & charismatic trivia host

– tried & loved a tonne of new board games

 

– met COUNTLESS, AMAZING PEOPLE THAT ENRICH MY LIFE & MAKE IT EXCITING, INTERESTING, & WORTH LIVING ❤

here’s to the next adventurous, fulfilling, challenging, & roller coaster of a year!”

 

So maudlin, huh? Maybe that’s what dotage brings.

 

Anyhow. Remember back in the day, at McGill, when I would plan a whole week of birthday festivities? Seeing scary movies, going out for cheap fajitas at Tres Amigos, pre-drinks, pub crawls, potlucks, parties, and more? Well, doing all that sounds exhausting – and it’s not like my current social circle has as much flexibility as students do, with their full-time jobs. So instead, I had that intimate dinner with Eric & Tony and focused my attention on my birthday party. The last shindig I had – “Jefe’s House-hotting” – had 100+ people invited, but only about ~20 showed up (two of whom I didn’t even know). It was organized last-minute, and that was more than enough guests anyway, so I’m not salty about it. So I figured it would be the same situation for “Jefe’s Bi(rthday) Bash,” and had no qualms about asking more than 130 people to attend. But as the day approached, I got really nervous. My landlady came up when there was only 20 people here (at the previous event) – so if even half of the invitees came, it might get out of control. Not to mention, I don’t think my apartment can fit 65 people, even if it is on the more spacious side…

But what happens, happens, right? I didn’t want to not invite people and potentially hurt their feelings or cause drama, so if I extended the offer to acquaintances / frenemies, then I did the right thing, and they can decide to attend or not. And if there were that many people, then we could just keep it down and leave before 11 to the club.

But lo and behold, my landlady still came up to quiet us down. But there was no music playing! We were all just talking! And again, it was before 11pm – meaning we could make as much noise as we damn well pleased, the way the law views it.

But I’m not trying to get myself evicted here – or anger my neighbours – so I shut all the windows, told people to shush, and sent out contingencies to Babylon once 11 hit. And it was fine! (Oh, and before you judge me – I had posted a note on my door, explaining that we’ll be gone by the witching hour and to please text me if it got too noisy – and I received no such messages. So I think it was fine. I won’t be throwing 40-people parties every weekend, so no worries.).

The night turned out amazingly, though. A bunch of people came, representing many different social circles (volleyball, board gaymes, my trivia regulars, McGill alumni, MAX volunteers, Halifax friends, coworkers, etc) – so it was a great mixer. People got to meet each other, and everybody told me the next day how much fun they had, and how wonderful all the attendees were. It was really gratifying to hear that, made me supremely proud. I also had a lot of fun, but it was more important that my guests enjoyed themselves – and everybody had only great things to say! Hurray.

As it was my 26th birthday party, I decided I had to step my hosting game up a bit. Stephane’s 30th a couple weeks prior inspired me, so at this soiree, I actually provided refreshments. I know, shocker. I made some guacamole (because I don’t even like cake that much, but Mexican is my ish) and more than four liters of sangria. I bought a box of wine – four litres of the stuff – and was surprised by how little it amounted to. I poured it in a large pot and a large bowl, and when it ran out, I was like, “That’s it…?” But then I added a mickey of brandy, a juice of orange juice concentrate, and 2L of ginger ale, and voila! Punch for the party.

I told people that, if they were really keen, then they could bring a bottle of red wine to add to the sangria. Some people did, those were added to the pot after it ran out… But by that time, I had also run out of mixer. So instead of a nice summery drink, we were downing fortified wine. No wonder things got wild.

We didn’t end up playing any Werewolves either, even though I legit crafted my own set earlier that day. Shame, but no biggie – because conversations were flowing and friendships were forming and it was a gay ol’ time.

We went out to Babylon after, for #OHMYJAM or whatever it was. $10 entry for some wonky-ass music (they legit played The Little Mermaid) at a dive bar, but whatever, where else could we go? And it turned out to be a lot of fun too. Ran into Garreth, Ryan, & their Toronto friends there – so I included them as my guests, when I was counting up how many people came. Lol.

I had hiccups really bad (Vanessa thought they were adorable), was all over the dance floor, and made friends with the bouncer, Omar – who said I’m there every week? What? That’s a lie. But funny nonetheless. I was even helping him “check IDs,” but I don’t think anyone took it seriously. I was just being goofy, helpful, friendly me. It was a GREAT night, although the next morning was pretty rough – as mentioned above.

But yeah! Thank you so much to everyone who came. Glad you all enjoyed yourself, and I was so pleased to have you all at my bacchanalia 🙂 Can’t wait for the next one! Maybe with Werewolves and without quite so much noise or spiked wine this time…

 

K it’s 11:30 on Sunday night and I’m tired. I’ll hopefully finish this between leaving work and hosting trivia tomorrow night! Because I have A LOT to say about last night, Halloween Saturday! It was absolutely phenomenal! Yay! But it’ll wait for tomorrow ~~

 

Hey! I’m back! Only about an hour before I have to bike down to the Glebe – thank goodness it’s stopped raining – so let me bang this out.

I had a great day at work. It was the last meeting of the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service, so I was in the boardroom all day, taking notes. Got to chat with some of the members who I hadn’t seen in a while, enjoyed a free lunch, and loved how the day just seemed to fly. Our Final Report is something like 95% of the way done. The changes they agreed to change today are minor, and the suggestions from the editor also aren’t that significant. I think I’ve tied up the loose ends, actually, in terms of the Report proper. The speaking notes / key messages / accompanying deck (government-speak for a PowerPoint) / D+I Lens graphic / D+I Lens video, however, will require some more attention. Especially the French versions, which I have no control over.

But it was a fantastic way to spend a rainy, dreary Monday! Started the week off on a great note, and I know tomorrow and Wednesday will be busy – but we are so close to the finish line! Of our final deliverable. The implementation / action plan / employer response / integrated framework / launch event will take more time, but what I’ve been most involved with – actually writing and editing and finessing the Final Report – will be done by this Wednesday.

And it’s the perfect send-off for me! Because November 1st is the last day of my casual contract. I have worked 90 days with TBS, nose to the grindstone supporting the Task Force, and I get to end on such a high note. I know that work I’ve done has been well-received, I’m proud of it, and it will be read by literal hundreds (if not thousands) of people – and be in effect for years (decades?) to come.

I’m not exaggerating about that. At the closing of the meeting today, we all went around and gave our thoughts and gratitude to everyone else. And the things people said legitimately made me tear up a bit. Especially Margaret, who is (likely?) retiring early next year. She explained how, in your career, there are moments that stand out – accomplishments that you’re particularly proud of. And looking back, this Final Report, this Task Force, is the one that will stand out the most for her.

Like, wow. For somebody who’s had a career as illustrious as Margaret – that astounded me. I am a damn lucky man, to have been offered this opportunity to do such important, progressive, impactful, and timely work. It really is the perfect constellation of events for me (a syzygy, if you will). Earning my Master’s in what I did, and when I got it. Receiving the full scholarship to attend UGlasgow. Coming to Ottawa for my job at the CCGSD. Meeting Michael through happenstance, who got me a meeting with Louise, and then I met Vinita on the walk out of that first tête-à-tête. Justin Trudeau and his Feminist government, Randy Boissonnault being appointed his Special Advisor on LGBTQ2(+) issues, the rainbow flag flying on Parliament Hill for the first time in herstory, and Scott Brison and his passion for diversity, inclusion, and queer issues. Everything came together for me. And I’m very grateful.

 

I definitely feel like I’m on a swift upward trajectory in the public service, and I couldn’t be happier about it. But that’s also why I’m not thrilled about my casual contract ending this Wednesday… Because my next engagement hasn’t come through yet. Of course, these things take time, and I do believe it will pan out. I have trust in my colleagues and superiors, and I have sufficient confidence in my performance heretofore to know they want to keep me on.

I just have to be patient, I suppose. I checked again with Vinita today, and there has been no update on when my next (Term) contract begins. As of last Friday, it is slated to commence on the 15th, and it’s not likely to get any earlier. So that gives me two weeks off. It annoyed / disappointed me at first – since I have no control over it, and nothing is promised, so it worries me a bit. But it is yet another opportunity. I have been wanting to go travel somewhere, and some time off will be nice. Why work so hard and earn all this money if you don’t have the chance to use it?

So I was looking at flights today, and found <$500 round-trip from Ottawa to Guatemala City, leaving this coming Monday and returning the following Tuesday or Wednesday. So I’d visit GuaCity, Antigua, Lago del Atitlan, and even go over to El Salvador – to see its capital, the National Volcano Park, La Ruta de Flores, and surfers’ paradise of Bálsamo. Sounds perfect, right? That’s countries 30 and 31, taken care of. The only downside is the flights involve long overnight layovers. But the silver lining is they’re at Ronald Reagan Airport, which is on DC’s metro – so I could maybe go visit Greg? I already messaged Johnnie, but he moved away 😦

I haven’t decided yet if I should – want to talk it over with Mum and Dad first – but I’m leaning hard towards yes. #YOLO, right? I deserve some sun, relaxation, adventure, beaches and hiking and jungle and natural beauty. We’ll see.

 

Alright, let’s wrap it up.

Halloween Saturday was phenomenal. Eric and I had a great time playing 3 lightning-fast games of Dominion, and then I got some groceries and made some delicious pizza from scratch. Watched The Revenge of the Queens, the highest-rated episode of all of RPDR. And yes, it was amazing. Then sipped on pomegranate cider / pre-gamed solo as I got ready. Donned my Batman mask and leather accessories and did a(nother) killer winged eyeliner lewk… Even if you couldn’t really see it under the mask. Still, worth it.

Then I hoofed it over to Tim’s, and walked into a full damn house. Lots of people there, most of whom were dressed up as Avengers / Marvel superheroes. I was the odd man out, but whatever, I still loved how I looked. We had Quicksilver, Ironman x2, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Strange/Pepper Potts, the Wasp, Namor, Miss Marvel, Nick Fury, and Spiderman. Legit, the party was stacked full of great costumes. They went all out.

I chatted with a bunch of people, talked some sh!t, had some fun, drank some tinto verano, caught up with friends, front-squatted 6’ 8” Kas MacMillan, and was convinced to accompany Vanessa, Ryan, and Garreth to Lookout. I had planned on going with Eric to Yves’ party for a bit, but he left 10 minutes after I arrived to Tim’s, so that didn’t happen. Nor did T’s, because nobody I’m super close with was going there. I expected some Werewolves to be played, but that started right after I left. But it doesn’t matter, because my night was fantastic regardless.

The four of us stopped by Garreth’s super-fancy place, shared a shot, and then hopped in an Uber to the Market. It was my first actual night out at Lookout, as the only other time I had been there was as part of the underwear fashion show – and I didn’t stay long after it ended. But it was the wait, because my night could not have been better. There was a bunch of people there, but it wasn’t overcrowded – plenty of room to dance. We were on the stage most of the time, and I made a bunch of friends with strangers. Guy in gumball machine costume, Aaron (who I gave helpful advice about his costume, and he bought me a beer as thanks), girls dressed up as Trixie & Katya, shirtless guy with a backwards bejewelled K on his chest (like Karen from Mean Girls), etc. Saw Andrew Ott and Matt Harding and Brendan Gorman too, and weirdly ran into this guy I went on two dates with, way back in the winter. It didn’t work out because he’s closeted and got scared (or something), so he ghosted me. Typical, right?

So I saw him at Lookout, and instead of being fiery – I was extremely friendly. Told him that he deserves better, that I understand why he can’t be out, but I hope it all works out for him and that he finds happiness, and that he shouldn’t feel guilty at all about what happened with me, and I totally understand and forgive him. +1 for my karma!

Other funny stories – I was dancing on the stage, this person had a whole tray of drinks, and they all spilled on me. I wasn’t wearing much – compression shorts etc (with my money tucked in them and my shoes, ahhaah) – but my phone was tucked into my belt, and all the beer went on that. So I went up to her and was like, “You just spilled a whole tray of drinks on me, including my phone…. What do you I get in return?” So she offered, “Two shots?” And I was like, “Sure, let’s go.”

We go to the back bar and she orders (tequila!), and then I find out she’s just a patron, not an employee of the bar. So I immediately feel bad, and say that one shot is fine – as long as she does it with me. We wait for the bartender to get back, and I start chatting with this other guy there, an older gentleman. And I somehow convince him to buy all of our shots, as long as he does one too – and voila! That’s how you wheel and deal!

The best part of the night was the MF drag shows though. They were AMAZING. Of course, I love drag – but this seemed next-level. The best performer was the one who did creepy themes, in line with Halloween. In her one number, she was wearing this big black hat/headpiece with crow feathers on it, that spiked up from her shoulders. A big white cross was affixed to the front of the hat, and she was in this old Victorian dress. At the climax of the song, somebody poured a bucket o’ blood on her. Amazing.

And for her next performance, it was to Evanescence’s “My Immortal.” Love the song, but didn’t expect it to be so “bloody” phenomenal at a gay club after midnight. But I was LIVING for it. Everyone was singing, she was again in a creepy old-fashioned dress, with macabre, gory makeup, and it was damn emotional. I have photos and a video. Legit, I loved it so damn much. And the song’s been playing through my head for the past couple days.

Finally, the last drag show was by a different queen (who I didn’t love quite so much), but she danced to “Phone” by Lizzo – and that was running through my head through my tossing and turning on Sunday morning. Still, so much fun. Thanks so much to Vanessa, Ryan, & Garreth (+ Tim) for making my Halloween Saturday so enjoyable and memorable! That’s one for the books.

 

And with that, I’ll wrap it up here. And yes:

I JUST BOOKED AN EIGHT-DAY TRIP TO GUATEMALA, LEAVING NEXT MONDAY

Might do El Salvador too, but the US travel site has a warning there… So we’ll have to see. Plus, just more than a week isn’t a lot of time, so maybe I should just do Guatemala right. We’ll see.

Have any of you been there, besides Amy? If so, please give me pointers / recommendations! I’m excited about it!

 

K, that’s all for now folks. Love y’all, ‘til next time! ❤

 

– Jefe

A Probable Promotion | Social Saltiness | My New Hella Active Lifestyle

C’mon blog post, let’s get SICKENING!

 

Sorry, I was reading the Post-Disappearance Nancy Drew thread for RPDR10 today. Aquaria, Eureka, & Dane/Kameron are the ones I know on it. And wow, the quotes were everything. “I lub dis” type of humour. Same with The Challenge, but not enough people watch that…

 

In any case, hello! It’s apparently the hottest day of the year here in Ottawa – and it is less than a week until October! It’s 33° – and then add the sun and humidity, and you get an “extreme heat warning.” In late September! And you think climate change is a hoax, D-Trizzle? Plz, go get yourself impeached and/or educated. Preferably both.

Regardless, I’m really enjoying this extended summer. I heard from many people that this past season wasn’t typical for Ottawa, and it was the rainiest summer on record. The amount of precipitation over Canada Day weekend was especially abhorrent. So I am glad to have numerous days over 30 degrees, even if it is late (and probably concerning for the harvest / droughts around the world / hurricanes / etc).

So I’m just sitting here in front of the fan, listening to new music (the Raspo remix of Kesha’s “Praying” is everything) and tip-tapping away. Have to leave for trivia in an hour, but I figured I’d get this ball rolling. Don’t want to fall behind again, and with how busy this week at work might be – my supervisor Vinita told me to keep this weekend free, in case I need to pull some overtime – I should get this out of the way before I’m inundated with editing the Final Report.

This past weekend I had was phenomenal. Friday night was the gym. I’m really working on my deadlift form these days. Was doing 260# but my back was a bit curved, so I dropped down to 245# yesterday and managed 5 reps with great form. So, yay! Also, my legs no longer go awry during squats, I now can do 7 reps of (45+25+3.5lbs for each arm) on iso-lateral chest press, and my bicep curl (on the seated cable machine) is up to 125# for 8 reps. C’mon, progress!

Then I relaxed, refueled, finished Stranded with a Million Dollars (good job, Alex & Gina! colour me impressed!), and then headed over to Jayme + Frayzhe’s for “Friday Night Socials.” And was pleasantly surprised by the elected activity for the night: trivia! We played three rounds, thankfully with a different book than normal (no more questions about 1930s movies, the Bible, and animal collectivity names) – and I managed to win all three! Howbowdah? I legit wasn’t expecting that at all, so, yay, give myself a pat on the back.

And nota bene: I am not good at trivia because I’m a host on Mondays. I have learned some things in so doing, but believe me – I know my geography and other random factoids from before. So @Liz, @Justin, @Jayme when you lose against me, don’t try to blame it on that.

(Also nota bene – that’s all just bluster. I am nowhere near Phillip- and Dean-tier at trivia. The rest of us plebes are all just playing for third place. Maybe with a different book though…..)

 

Then Saturday was my housewarming party, so I spent the majority of the day cleaning, doing laundry, and setting up. Which included rearranging the apartment some – and I’m very pleased with the new setup! Now our dining room has a nice little sitting area as well, with Jared’s chessboard there. It looks much more balanced (previously, a big black leather couch was just sitting on the side, with nobody ever using it), and maybe I’ll actually spend time in that room now! Wouhou! Also, incidentally, Jared just came and asked if we can do “quiet hours” after 11. Well, I stay up ‘til around 12:30 every night, so that won’t fly… But! The good news is that he couldn’t hear the TV last night when it was in my room, even though I had the sound up pretty high. So that might be a solution, or creating a TV area in the dining room. We’ll have to figure it out.

Since I finished Stranded last week, I needed something new to watch over my lunch breaks. 13 Reasons Why has hour-long episodes, so that won’t work – so instead, I started watching Riverdale last night. And I’m loving it! “What if that reckoning is me? Sorry, Cheryl Blossom, you said you wanted more fire, but my specialty is ice.” mic drop – iconic! The writing is very sharp and self-aware. Love the twist on the “gay best friend” trope. I’m excited about it.

 

Also on Saturday, I bought this long tatami-like mat with a Taj Mahal-esque design on it for $2 from a Facebook group (similar to Bunz, but not only bartering). Which inspired me to hang it on my wall, to cover up some of the flaws therein – and I decorated the rest of my room too! Including finally cleaning the desk I grabbed off the curb – it was filthy – and filling the set of drawers I also got curbside and hanging the Peru & Quebec flags my friends signed for me before my departure! Really wish I would’ve brought a Scottish one to my “Adieu Do” before leaving Glasgow, but alas, hindsight is 20/20…

So my place is looking fine now, just in time for my first soirée! Chris, Tyler, Eric, Fady, Jean-Paul, Tony, Kevan, Nick + his friend Ed, Adam Young, Elena + her friend Ranna, Bryan, Charmaine, and George were the ones who showed up. Oh, and MF NDAKU, who drove from Montreal to come to the party! Like, whaaattt? Who does that? I don’t deserve him 🙂

We played some Werewolves, Flong, and Beer Pong. Chatted, listened to my hot new playlist, met new people. Then went to T’s, ran into Owen on the way, and I saw Francois, David M + Scott, and Eumar + Benoit there. It was supa hot that night too – everyone was so sweaty while in my place – so we just hung out T’s patio and chatted. Great night all around, and I was so glad to see all these fabulous people! No T no shade, but I was legit worried about how it would turn out earlier in the day, if anybody would come. I mean, I only made the Facebook event on Wednesday, and people lead busy lives. Last-minute, I pushed the start time back and changed it from a low-key potluck to more a pre-drink / party, and that was definitely the right decision, since most people couldn’t come until later anyway.

There were several guests who said they would show up or drop by after their other plans, and then I didn’t hear a peep from them throughout the night. Not going to name + shame, but UGH, it is frustrating! The consolation is that I heard from some the next day, with explanations. But for the others, I legitimately have zero idea what happened to them. It’s a shitty feeling, being ignored / ditched / whatever actually transpired. Especially by multiple people on the same night.

Don’t get me wrong – I still had a fantastic night, and it probably would’ve been too many, if everyone who said they would be there showed up – but the flakiness is just frustrating.

It’s kinda like how somebody invited me to march in the Ottawa Pride Parade with them, and I was so excited and honoured to be thought of / included. But then I never got the email with the official details, meeting time, or anything. So I sent a couple messages, asking them if it was still happening, or why I wasn’t receiving the invite. Even after the Parade, I contacted them, saying there was no hard feelings and hoping they were okay, since I didn’t see them marching at all. But it’s been radio silence since then. Not even sure if they “read” my FB message.

I’m really not sure if I should even be waxing salty about this on such a public forum, but this is a disconcertingly common occurrence / feeling of mine. I don’t know if it’s just this town, or getting older / not being school, or maybe it’s me who’s changed – but for how long I’ve been here (10 months to the day, essentially), I would hope I would have some closer friends / deeper relationships / a ride-or-die or number-one. But that hasn’t really happened yet. There are still people I adore here in Ottawa, and am so happy and fortunate I know them. I guess I just missing having a core group of friends or a couple besties. *Sigh* Just something to work on, I guess. Or rather, maybe – something to inure myself from.

A bright side: I think I have reached a point in my self-assurance that I no longer feel (as) compelled to double- and triple-text people who have received my messages but haven’t responded. It’s definitely not a good look for me. (In my defense, I’m just being forgiving and offering second and third chances to people – it’s hard for me to give up on a relationship when I’d rather go down fighting and possibly looking like a fool. At least then, I know I tried, and the denouement is not on me.)

But I think I’ve experienced some personal growth in that I know I’m a pretty alright person. Funny, fit, smart, friendly, clever, with something to say / stories to thrill. So if somebody doesn’t see that, or doesn’t pay me the time of day, well, then… Forget ‘em. I have others who like me plenty.

My busy schedule also helps with this, I think. As it stands now, the only totally free days are Saturdays. Monday trivia, Wednesday volleyball, Thursday yoga. Gym on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday – which gives me endorphins and thus a mood boost, so if I don’t have any social goings-on, I still am in a good headspace and can go to bed feeling accomplished. And most Fridays, Frayme hosts something (which I really am appreciate of, Jayme, so please don’t think I take your continued hospitality for granted) – and Saturdays I spend a lot of time outside. Long bike rides, reading in the sun, enjoying the lovely weather we’ve been having.

Last weekend, I biked all the way to Britannia Beach and swam for the first time this summer! I hadn’t been a-splashin’ since I was on Isla Mujeres in April! :O It was a magnificent ride all the way there, down the bike path along the Ottawa River, and it’s a glorious beach. The water was cool at first, of course, but felt wonderful once you got into it. Last night, I actually took the same path and went to a different beach (Westboro) for a sunset dip. I was chatting with Jean-Paul earlier – he’s one of my teammates on Serving Realness – and asking for his suggestions as to where to go. He said he would be at Westboro Beach around 4:30 or 5, so I figured, why the heck not? Even though I don’t know him that well, I wanted to swim anyway, and some company is always pleasant! (He just arrived to Ottawa three weeks ago, so I’m assuming he was thinking the same things) We met up there and had an amazing swim. Rob & Tony showed up, and it ended up just being a phenomenal evening. The sunset was gorgeous, the water the perfect temperature. It was an ideal end to an already superb weekend. Man, I’m smiling just thinking about it. I love this endless summer! And it was great hanging out with these new(ish) friends and getting to know them better! Thanks, gents.

K it’s 6:35 and I’m at ~2000 words. Gotta dash to the Royal Oak now! ❤

 

 

In typical Jefe fashion, I didn’t get back to this until now, on Saturday afternoon. I worry I might be spreading myself too thin these days, with work/trivia/gym/volleyball/yoga/Lambda/friends. Or maybe I just need to give myself some more time to sleep, and/or figure out a way to have better quality sleep. I might look for a mattress pad. I like my bed as it is, but my SleepCycle app tells me I’m only getting a 75% rating for quality sleep. Hmmm…

In any case, it’s a beautiful day here. Not quite as amazing as Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week – during the heat wave – but it feels pleasantly autumnal. I just biked over and picked up some more stuff from Bunz, which I am loving these days. Got a grill, fondue set, spaghettini, and some art. Also finally got rid of that microwave the tenets left here, and tomorrow I’m obtaining some whey protein powder. For them gainz!

Haven’t really done much today so far, but with how demanding my schedule usually is, I welcome this down time. So I took my time waking up, had a nice breakfast, started watching season 4 of Broad City, and clicked around online…. And just ordered Dominion Empires from Amazon! Yay! I was gonna wait until the new one, Nocturne, comes out to #treatyoself – but it’s been pushed back until November, who knows how good it will be, and Empires is the most recent but was on sale for $41! So I had to pull the trigger. I’m working so hard and so much (and earning all this cash) that I deserve to splurge here and there. Not even like forty bucks is extravagant, but y’all know how frugal I can be…

Last night, I played games with Jason, Chris Parr, and their (and potentially my new) friend Paul. We played good ol’ Alhambra, and without my father and his superb spatial reasoning skills there, I won handily. Then we tried a new one out, called The Quest for El Dorado. It’s a race game that uses deck-building mechanisms. So, each turn, you can use your cards to advance your piece towards the goal and/or use them to buy other cards to help you on your expedition. And there are places where you can trash your cards from your deck, to slim it down – like trashing rid of your starting Coppers & Estates from Dominion. I did that more than the others, and that’s I attribute to my victory in that too.

The third game we played was brand new to me, and had a very strange name. Just texted Jason asking what it was, because by the time we started it, I had finished the leftover wine from my housewarming last weekend, and it wasn’t even in English to begin with… I had never heard of this game, let alone looked up the rules or strategy, so learning how to play was a bit difficult. It was definitely the most complex game of the night, and Paul wasn’t the best teacher. Regardless, I still managed second place. Not sure how I was so successful last night, but hey, I’m not going to second-guess myself. I try to keep myself sharp.

Then tonight, I’ll be heading to Frayme’s for some games. Legendary and Marvel Munchkin, I think? We’ll see. But I wanted to accomplish this first. It’s on my list, along with getting some stuff published. It’s been more than a year since I submitted my thesis, so the clock is ticking in terms of publishability… Not to mention the bug-chasing and gift-giving paper, the performativity of masculinity in bi/pan men, the problematic nature behind the concept of human rights, etc, etc. I really shouldn’t delay more, but it’s like the job hunt: difficult, disheartening, and demoralizing, when you send out all these submissions and keep getting rejected, if you get a response at all… Regardless. I should get back on the horse.

 

 

So! Let’s talk about work, baby. Let’s talk about the government and me.

I have been working with the Treasury Board for a bit more than three months now – and I have about a month left on my casual contract. I am a member of the secretariat that supports the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service. When I started, the team was six people – Keihgan, Sarah, Gabrielle, Vinita, and Christine. With Jonathan coming in to help draft and edit the Task Force Final Report, and Beverley pitching in too. However, Gabrielle got a promotion and left our team, Jonathan hasn’t been in for a long while, and Keihgan and Sarah both switched to part-time, since they’re students and the school year started again. So it’s me, Christine, and Vinita handling the work – when this is probably the busiest time the Task Force has had yet. Our Final Report is due in “Fall 2017,” which we are in now. Deadlines have been pushed back, because this stuff takes time. There are so many stakeholders for the Report (both on the Employer side and with the Bargaining Agents), so many levels of the hierarchy who need to give their feedback and offer their approval, so many departments involved, so many areas the Report touches upon, etc etc. – essentially too many cooks in the kitchen. And while I am still the newest member of the team, of course I have concerns I want reflected in the document too – and not just about formatting and punctuation. I don’t want to use the Positive Space Initiative’s definition of LGBTQ, for example, which has the Q being questioning (not queer) and no mention of Two-Spirit or even a “+” to capture other identities. But of course, the entire process is a compromise, and I don’t want to get too big for my britches… So I have to pick my battles and let things go.

So, somehow, through it all, I have become the one who “holds the pen” on the Final Report. Which means I will be the one implementing all the feedback we receive into the document itself, wordsmithing and choosing where it goes and how it all fits in. Quite a lot of responsibility, for the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who will read our Report, and for how long it will (hopefully and probably) be in effect – likely more than a decade. Of course, that can be a bit intimidating – but I know I’m a skilled writer, I understand the material, and even if I do make a mistake, many people will be reading it over to approve it, and it goes to the Editing department before being released publicly. Lots of redundancies to make sure it says what we want it to say. So I don’t feel daunted about it at all, but rather very excited and proud! This is my chance to truly showcase my capabilities and prove that the chance TBS/Louise/Michael/Vinita took on me was worth it!

And I know they already believe that they made the right choice. My contract is up in a month, and I’ve heard from various people that they want to and are really trying to keep me on after that. Of course, it couldn’t be as another casual – since there’s no mechanism to create another one – so it would be a Term contract, potentially for a year but at least until March. Which would also include a bump up to the next level of my classification (PE), meaning a pay raise – and a Term is the next step to getting an “indeterminate” position (which is government-speak for permanent). So, good news all around, and I get to stick with my team! I really enjoy and respect my coworkers. We mesh well together, I’ve learned a tonne from Vinita, I like how we’re all multilingual, and I regularly laugh with Sarah / Keihgan / Christine. I do miss Gabrielle, but fortunately her new position / office is very close to mine, so I see and chat with her often!

Oh! And Louise, the woman who I originally met with, way back in March (on the last day I worked for the CCGSD), is now back in the office! She’s my supervisor’s supervisor, as well as the person in charge of Michelle, who is the manager of the Employment Equity team. So I’ve gotten to interact with and get to know her more, which I’m appreciative of. She’s more of a Francophone, so our larger team meetings (with the EE folks too) are now conducted more in French. It was a bit of a surprise when it first happened – I hadn’t caffeinated myself sufficiently prior, as I wasn’t expecting it – but now I relish the opportunity to become more fluently trilingual.

I’m very happy with my job. I’ve gotten more responsibility, which means I have more going on -> days pass faster -> I feel like I’m pulling my weight (and earning my wage) more -> I have a better sense of accomplishment. Plus I learn more, meet more people, and am generally on an upward trajectory. Love it!

In addition to “holding the pen” on the Report, I’m also the one mostly in charge of the Diversity + Inclusion Lens (one of the four chapters in the Report), which involves writing the content for the Tool, liaising with the graphic designer to make it look how I/we want it to, working with the Canada School of the Public Service on the video to complement it, and making sure the translated text is faithful to the English. Furthermore, I have been reviewing policies to support trans workers / transitioning employees / non-binary and gender-variant people, in order to adapt the recent PSPC (Public Services and Procurement Canada) guide into a TBS document, to be used on a wider scale in federal government. That’s fascinating stuff, and Scotland in particular has advanced and enlightened guidebooks. Kudos to y’all! 🙂

I also helped out the EE team with an info session on the Policy Suite Renewal for TBS two Fridays ago – which involved managing the RSVPs and reading questions from online aloud, for the presenters/experts to answer. Good thing I have all that experience with public speaking from my hosting trivia gig! And finally, I volunteered to assist with organizing the GPP (Governance, Planning, and Policy) Retreat in late November, for all 200+ employees working in that sector (which includes me). So, I’m definitely getting more involved, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it!

(And some exciting T – apparently, my team was not the only one who is / was trying to employ me after my casual contracts expires. Ooh, là là! How interesting and flattering!)

One more thing. The Executive Director of my department / sector / etc (I’m still grappling with and learning all the governmental jargon) is moving on to a new opportunity, so she had a “goodbye event” of sorts on Friday. I most certainly attended (free cake and the opportunity to network? Sign me up!), and I’m very glad I did. I somehow got to be the one to walk back downstairs with Margaret, to our offices, and we actually had a nice (if short) conversation! I was very conscious not to take up too much of her time, since she undoubtedly has an absurd amount of tasks on her plate – but I did name-drop Colum (as he requested) and gabbed some. The best part: she told me how she’s heard all these amazing things about the work I’ve been doing, and she knows they’re trying to keep me on. So if it came from her, Exec. Direc. herself – then you know it’s legit! So I’m extremely excited about it. Looks like I’m on the up-and-up, establishing myself in a legitimate career! I’m so grateful about it.

 

 

And with that, I’ll wrap it up. I’m supes hungs, tummy a-rumblin’, and Jayme’s games start in 45 minutes. Gonna go cook a thin-crust veggie pizza (my addiction), watch the first episode of Survivor (which I’m competing in a pool for, with one of my regular teams at trivia, Team TBD), and then head on over for (hopefully) some more victory! Yay!

 

[And about the saltiness from before, about people not showing up to my party / generally not being reliable – it’s legit no big deal at all. I don’t want people to be offended or push them away, when that’s the last thing I should be doing. Rather, it just hurts that people don’t seem to invest as much in their relationship with me, as I do for them. Or maybe they just don’t care or like me as much as vice versa – and if that’s the case, well… What can I do? Just accept it and move on. I fortunately meet people all the time and do have some absolutely lovely people here in Ottawa, so I should count my blessings / focus on that instead of dwelling on the negative]

 

One last couple things – we played our first volleyball games on Wednesday, and although Serving Realness didn’t win anything, we still performed better than expected (I surprised myself too), and I had a great time! So that was fun. Chris & Matt moved away on Wednesday morning to Montreal, so I saw them off on Tuesday – and also had a bike crash / fell off and scraped myself up on the way over there. So that wasn’t too great during the volleyball games, but who cares, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And then on Thursday, I went to the Start Proud event about diversity and inclusion – so apropos for my work in gov – and got to see some great people. Bryan, Lisa, Roberto, David. Then I watched the Will & Grace reboot at Mark & Dustin’s, with Eric, Tony, and Rob. A fab night overall.

 

Okay, sur cette note, goodbye! ‘Til next time! Enjoy your evenings,

 

– Jefe

New Flat, Who Dis? + Humour Moving Stories + TV/Reading + MTL Pride + Fun Social Goings-On

What’s up, fam-ily!

 

Cringey start to a blog post? Maybe. But then perhaps you’ll have low expectations for the rest of it! 😉 That’s my secret, after all. Low expectations so I’m not disappointed – when the converse is my kryptonite.

 

Regardless, hello! I’m sitting on my new bed in my new flat. My new roommate & his girlfriend were gonna watch The Handmaid’s Tale, but that ain’t happening…. So I’m tempted to just forget about this blog post, go make a tomato-arugula flatbread (and lunches for the week), and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m one episode + Untucked before the finale of Season 8, so I could do that all tonight. Or maybe I’ll finish that episode of Master of None I started today (the hour-long one, who has time for that?), watch the penultimate episode of RPDR, and save the Coronation for tomorrow night. Hmm, #choices. I’ve been on a roll with finishing up TV this weekend, though.

My new place is so close to my office – literally less than five minutes by bike, about 2.5 blocks – that I’ve started spending my lunch breaks at home. Makes things a lot easier in terms of cooking, and it also means that instead of going to the Minto Centre and doing a Metro crossword and reading my Kindle, I now just watch TV while I eat. Gives my brain a break, and it means I can catch up on my shows now. Which helped me finish the second season of sense8 this week and get further in RPDR S8. Next up will be Stranded with a Million Dollars, and then probably Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why and American Horror Story: Roanoke. But I might just start watching AHS Cult live, since that’s been getting lots of buzz recently. And of course, naturally – I’ve been keeping up with The Challenge XXX: Dirty Thirty. Oh! I also finished Black Mirror last night (the “Hated in the Nation” one, with the mechanic bees), am nearly done with Master of None, and wrapped up Kimmy Schmidt. I get a weird sense of accomplishment, crossing these off my list. Maybe because I don’t binge-watch but also feel like I’m always behind on shows that people are talking about. Like, I’ve definitely missed the boat for Riverdale and 13RW, but whatever – better late than never.

Anyway, I’m sure y’all don’t care all that much about my TV habits. But while I’m on the subject, might as well record the books I’ve been reading. I ripped through The Party by Robyn Harding and loved it. Reminded me of Liane Moriarty (of Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret fame), so if you like her, check it out. Good human / family drama. I just started This is How You Lose Her the other day, but it hasn’t enraptured me yet. I’ve only read one chapter, but still. Might look into Fierce Kingdom, or Three Wishes, or The Lying Game next. And I’m always open to recommendations, so suggest away!

I haven’t journaled in forever and a day, and y’all know how infrequent these blog posts are. It’s a shame, because I want to remember and chronicle all my goings-on (and I think they’re valuable pastimes), but it’s not like I’m just wasting time or being idle. Life is pretty damn busy for me these days. Working full time, hosting trivia on Mondays, gym three times a week (for 1.5 hours each time), yoga on Thursdays, regular upkeep (cooking, cleaning, meal prep, errands), here-and-there volunteering with the Lambda Foundation (I’ve been recruiting for the Board recently), some dates, and the constant socializing. Which is not a chore, don’t get me wrong – I’m a SuperExtrovert, so I need that time spent with friends – but planning takes effort, and it does take up time that I could use doing other things. But I would much rather see people I like, enjoy, and respect.

And last weekend (which fortunately had an extra day to it) was taken up with packing, moving, cleaning, an IKEA trip, unpacking, organizing, and carrying random furniture back to my new place on foot. Like my bed, which I was going to pick up when we had the U-Haul rental… Butut then there was a computer glitch. So literally 100+ people were waiting for their van on literally one of the biggest moving weekends of the whole year, because there was no manual mechanism to let these vehicles out. Horrible. Fortunately, we still got ours – but it came two hours late, and by that time, the person who sold it to me (Big Ang) had to go to work. So I had to wait until the next night (meaning I had no bed to sleep in the first night, after moving all day) to pick it up. My darling Catlin (who came to visit me, and we had an amazing time, more on that later) walked over with me to Percy/Lisgar to pick it up on Sunday night. The plan was to hoof it back ourselves – it didn’t seem that far when I biked over to see it on Saturday morning (as we were waiting for the U-Haul) – but I forgot how long it takes to get anywhere when you’re on foot. Horrible.

So Cat and I got an Uber XL, and Paul, our dear driver, was so amazing. He put all the seats in his SUV down and helped me squeeze the mattress into the back and even let us share the front seat as we rode across town. Definitely illegal, and I was nervous we would get pulled over en route – but nothing of the sort happened! We made it back to Lisgar (near Elgin) without incident, and Paul even helped us take all the pieces of the bedframe out of the car. And all for $12! What a deal! I should use Uber more often.

I’ve picked up other pieces of furniture since then, too – predominately from the curb. Jared (my new roommate) and I carried a comfy black pleather couch back to our place, and a dresser for my room, and I found a black dining table for the living room, and just tonight, Lucie (Jared’s girlfriend) and I brought another table back, for my desk. The new place is enormous, and I had absolutely no furniture to fill the apartment. But we have been very enterprising for the past week, and the place is looking pretty great! Still want a bookcase for the living room, another table/counter or two for the dining room, and an extra set of drawers for my room – for clothes and miscellanea. I guess some more decorations would be good too, since the walls in my bedroom aren’t in the best shape.

I have a lot of great paintings / wall hangings back in Nova Scotia, and Mum and Dad are driving to Ohio in November. They might be able to bring some stuff with them, stop here for the night, and that would fantastic! I could get the beautiful painting that was in Oma and Opa’s house, with the waves and shoreline. I love it so much, it would like great in the living room or my bedroom – and it would be fantastic to have a memory of them in my new Ottawa home ❤ . So hopefully that pans out – and that would also mean I could get my board games transported up here! Betrayal at House on the Hill, Puerto Rico, Serenissima, Scattergories, Cranium, and maybe a Dominion expansion or two! I just bought the base game last weekend for $25, used – but it had only been played once or twice. The cards are in great condition, and I’ve already had friends over on two nights to play in this past week! A new expansion is coming out in October too, right around my birthday. It’s called Nocturne, and it’s kinda horror-themed – with new game mechanics like Night cards (after the Buy phase), Heirlooms replacing the starting Coppers, and things called Boons and Hexes. Eek! So excited! I’m gonna treat myself to it. Oh, and I guess Mum and Dad could bring up some more of my clothing and books too.

But that’s one of the best parts of my new apartment: I can finally host things! The summer sublet on Sweetland was fab, and I did have friends over for coffee / drinks on the balcony… But there was no big table inside for games or dinner parties. But now, in this new place (I’ve been trying to figure out a name – maybe something like JM2 Palace, since both Jared & I share those initials?), we have numerous tables and plenty of room, so hurray! I can be a lil social butterfly again! Horror movies and potlucks and predrinks and game nights! I’m so excited about it.

And further than that – it’s actually a place I can call my own, which I haven’t had for more than two years, since I left the “Manly Manor” in Montreal. Then it was living at SAIT in Calgary for Wynchemna, then crashing with my parents before Scotland, then the student residence in Glasgow, then couchsurfing/Camp Rainbow/staying with my sister and then aunt and cousins, then again sleeping under my parents’ roof, then renting Garry’s room, and then subletting with Gilmour and Bailey. None of it was mine for long-term, and in none of them could I call the shots about decorations and how it was all set up. But now, at the Lisgar House, my name is on the lease, I feel like I have ownership over it – it’s a home. And what a wonderful feeling that is! Especially after today, since I went on a shopping spree at Giant Tiger and Dollarama for essentials that we were lacking that I’ve been so accustomed to having. I bought a dish drying rack, silverware organizer, coffee maker, a small frying pan, a chef’s knife, straws, plastic wrap, sink stoppers, hot plates, pepper… You know, normal things to have, that neither Jared nor I had gotten yet. But now it’s real! And so much more convenient now.

Tomorrow/sometime this week, he and/or Lucie will be going to a thrift store, and hopefully they’ll find a nice but affordable set of dishes. We need more than two plates, some regular-sized forks, and drinking glasses that aren’t Mason jars. There was a bunch of glassware left here by the previous tenants – and I thought, oh, awesome, now I don’t have to go buy any! (there was even a Mill Street Organic pint glass, perfect for my iced coffee) – but then Jared got overzealous with cleaning and gave them all away 😦 Sad. He told me not to worry, ‘cause he kept the good stuff – but that was the Mason Jars -_- Ugh, sorry Mr. Hipster, my hand doesn’t fit in those, so I can’t wash them – and I prefer normal tumblers for drinks, thanks.

Obvi no big deal, and the issue will be resolved soon. But I am ecstatic about the new place. So big! A large living room and a large dining room! Bountiful storage! Nice wooden floors! So much natural light! A great little balcony! A faux fireplace and lovely mantel! Original tilework in the bathroom and the building hallways / stairwells! A huge double sink in the kitchen! A shower that’s more than just a stall! Ceiling fans in the bedrooms! A cute and friendly (and maybe queer) male neighbour who lent me a wrench! Cool archways between the rooms! Awesome crystal doorknobs! And my bedroom has two windows, on two different walls! So when I’m sleeping in my comfy new double bed (not a single anymore, thank gawd), I get to look out and see sky, regardless of which side I’m laying on! I love it! And so close to my office and grocery stores and all the other stuff in Centretown! We’re so lucky!

 

Jared’s parents came up to help him/us move last weekend, so I got to meet them too. Lucie, his mom Wendy, and I all rode in the same car (while Jared and his dad Teddy were in the U-Haul) to and from Sandy Hill / Centretown / IKEA, and we hit it off really well. Had a grand ol’ time, and it was glorious weather too. (Before six straight days of rain / grey clouds, yuck – but fortunately this week looks to be sunny and 20+ degrees every day, so yay!) It was nice meeting them, and the rented van was a humongous help with moving. I really didn’t want to schlep everything on my own again, like I did when I relocated to Sweetland in May. AND, I got to return to the wonderland that is IKEA! My friends and I used to drive the 45 minutes down to the Conshohocken store in PA back in high school, and just explore / hang out there. Actually, that’s what I did for my birthday one year, now that I think about it – with Stephen and Alyssia. Even though those people are not in my life at all anymore, it’s still a good memory. I really love IKEA. And it’s so affordable, too! And let’s not forget the FOOD! I noshed on two meals while I was there last weekend: the meatballs with lingonberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and veggies; and a Swedish sandwich with cold cuts, cheese, and cucumber. With the lingonberry soda too, of course! Delicious.

 

Lots more to write about. The exciting goings-on at work (and how I’ve gotten much more responsibility, the big boss returned, and an even more potential future there); Montreal & Ottawa Pride with Mikey & Sarah / Bailey / Ndaku / Chloe & Kelvin & Danny / Chris / the GOV Gays / etc; and other notable stuff happening in my life right now. However, it’s 10:30pm, I haven’t had a legit meal since breakfast, my laptop is at 10% battery, I gotta go make zucchini-sausage-mushroom pasta for lunches, and I wanna see more Kim Chi artistry! So I’ll stop this for now, and pick it up tomorrow or Tuesday. Ttythen.

 

 

So it’s been MORE THAN A WEEK since I edited this. Things have gotten real busy. Monday is hosting trivia, Tuesday I gymmed then played Mansions of Madness with Tim/Jayme/Fraser/John, Wednesday I tried out for volleyball, Thursday was yoga then board games again (Betrayal at House on the Hill with Corey/Eric/Jayme/Tim), then Friday was gym and relaxation. Saturday and Sunday were fully busy too – and now that it’s already after 6pm on Monday – I gotta get scooting to the Lieutenant’s Pump to pick up question and answer sheets and then to the Royal Oak (on Slater & Kent!) to run trivia again. Afterwards, I’ll try to “pump” this one out – but I also need to cook lunches for the rest of the week and will be pretty tired. We’ll have to see. I’m making jambalaya, though, so I’m excited about that.

To cover what I mentioned earlier – I finished RPDR S8 (loved all three lip syncs in the Finale) and Master of None, and watched the pilot for AHS: Cult and began 13 Reasons Why. I am loving the latter. It’s very well-made and keeps my attention, even if it is heart-rending. I read the book back in high school, though, so I think I’ll be able to manage. If I don’t continue this later, it’s because I was too tired, cooking took too long, and I opted for more 13RW rather than productivity.

I did not enjoy AHS Cult, though. It’s very on-the-nose (about the Trump / Clinton election debacle) and not particularly subtle. Plus, they already did the whole scary-clown thing, back in season 4! Why are bringing back these murderous circus freaks? Aren’t there other creatures that would be better to depict? But maybe they’re going for more heavy-handed “allegory” to real life, since there were those people dressing up in clown costumes and, like, skulking through the woods… Do you remember that? Was 2016 even real?

Anyway! It didn’t draw me in, even if I am happy to see Billie Lourd and Colton Haynes in it. The worst part, however, is the friggen trypophobia. Aka fear of small holes – like in coral / lotus root / honeycomb. It is a surprisingly common fear. If you’re unfamiliar, you should most definitely search it on Google Images. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though… I showed Keihgan the other day and he was #triggered. Regardless, point is, it makes me very uncomfortable / borderline nauseated – so if they keep showing that, in addition to a lackluster story with repeated elements from other AHS seasons, then I will most definitely give it a pass.

 

So now about VOLLEYBALL! I know a bunch of people who compete in the GOV (Gay Ottawa Volleyball) League, and even though I’m not monosexual/homosexual, I still wanted to try it out! I’ve always liked v-ball and considered going out for the team during high school, but it was the same season as tennis, and well, I opted for the latter. Plus, a new friend, John Lackner, needed a buddy to attend tryouts with him, and I was more than happy to oblige.

There are two leagues – a drop-in/rec one on Mondays (that I can’t do because of being a trivia emcee phenom), and a more competitive league on Wednesdays. I didn’t have anything going on last HumpDay and wanted to really earn my weekly nachos platter – so I decided to check it out. And it was so fun! Even if I might not have been the absolute best player there, I found a team regardless. It’s me, John, Anne, Kirby, Jean-Paul, Dave, and Adnan. Seven people, even though only six can play at once… So we’ll figure out a schedule so everyone is content. And the best part? The name we came up with. Originally we were the “Serv-ivors,” but Anne wanted something a bit queer-er and more tongue-in-cheek. We tossed around a lot of names (puns where “Sets” replaces “Sex,” riffs like Bump ‘n’ Grind, etc) – but we decided on Serving Realness. Like the queens always say to describe their outfits, on the runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race – but also because you serve in volleyball, duh. I was actually the one that came up with it, and I was so damn proud of myself… Only to find out later that day, that Tim had the same team name for the Summer ’17 league. Whomp whomp. Great minds think alike, I guess?

Regardless, I’m over the moon about the whole thing. I’ve already met some cool people, it was pretty fun, now I have something to look forward to on Wednesdays, and maybe the extra activity will shave my waist down so my abs are more apparent! One can hope, at least.

My team is also not uber-competitive, which I’m pleased about. I’ve never played v-ball seriously, and most of the others are beginners as well. But Adnan and Jean-Paul are apparently strong players, so hopefully they can teach the rest of our motley crew a thing or two.

I also learned a lot about the positions in volleyball last Wednesday. Whenever I played before, you would just rotate and play from where you were on the court. But nope! That’s apparently for amateurs. Whomp. So instead, I learned about the Middle, Power, Setter, and Offside positions, and where they’re supposed to go during the switch, and when the relocating happens, and the rules of when and when you can’t jump, and who gets what ball, and what you’re supposed to announce, etc, etc. It was a lot to take in, but I do think I grasped most of it.

Only problem is… I was playing Setter during the scrimmages and really striving to soak up all the requisite knowledge. Which I enjoyed and feel like I can do. However, the Setter is apparently the most difficult role to play, and the most important position for the team. Meaning most teams sink or swim based on their Setter, so you really need to be up to snuff for success… Sooooooo, not exactly all the pressure I want when I’m playing just for fun. Of course, I want to do well, but if the team is riding on me each game – that’s much too much. Plus, Jean-Paul, the most experienced person on Serving Realness, is a Setter.

So it looks like I’ll become a Power player after all. And possibly Setter.

And that’s that! Can’t wait for more practice / fun on Wednesday! But I do need to find me some knee pads first…

 

It is now 6:45. Gotta dash! // And now it’s 11pm, jambalaya is a-boilin’ on the stove, and I’m very sweaty again – even though I already showered. Oh well, I do love this Indian Summer we’re having.

 

Trivia went well. One of the teams I’m friendliest with – Team TBD – recommended I start watching Survivor again, since a new season premieres in two weeks. So I might just do that – actually, maybe I’ll mention to Jayme that that can be our Friday night socials show.

And then I zipped over on my bike to the Glebe Annex and picked up some free cutlery. Also this weekend, I traded gift bags, tissue paper, and a bottle of wine for a set of dishes – plates and bowls. And I bought a mug from St Vincent de Paul. And last week, I traded two craft beers for a whole box of quality glassware – pint glasses, shot glasses, wine glasses, tumblers, the whole lot. And it was all wrapped in socks too, so once I wash them – I’ll be able to do laundry even more infrequently! This was predominately arranged through the Bunz Facebook group. Gotta love it!

And now all Jared and I need to make this house a home is a toaster or toaster oven. But Chris & Matt might be getting rid of theirs when they (devastatingly) move to Montreal, so their loss might be our gain. Still, I’d give up a free toaster oven if it meant they were staying local 😦

 

So I think I’ll wrap this up sooner rather than later, and leave explanation of all the work stuff for an update on another day. But let’s catch you up on some social stuff!

Now that I live in a place that is my own that has a big living room and couches and a dining table – I can finally hold social goings-on! So the first week I was here, I game nights on back-to-back days, playing Dominion (Base + Adventures). Did the same this past Saturday, and then people came over for pre’s, and then we went out to the Queer Mafia event at Babylon! And that was fab. And this coming weekend, I am probably going to have a housewarming party / potluck / Werewolves night. I’m centrally located and a social butterfly, so why not mix up my social circles and help people meet each other? Hurray! More dinner parties and scary movies and gatherings!

 

I managed to attend not only Pride in Toronto this year (with bb Julia), but also Montreal and Ottawa. The former was totally fabulous. I wanted to take off Friday and go up Thursday evening – there was a free event with ten of Drag Race queens – but could not. It ended up being for the best, because I attended an official meeting of the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion and got to meet all these people I’ve only heard about – so that was a great opportunity, and I learned a lot. Would not have wanted to miss that for some lip syncing.

So I went up on Friday evening in a rideshare, and the driver and I actually hit it off great! His name is Alex, we had great conversation, listened to a podcast together, and debated about the sexualisation of Pride, morality, board games, and Ottawa social qualms. Very interesting!

I stayed with Mikey & Sarah in Montreal, but unfortunately didn’t get to see them that much 😦 I arrived to Montreal, walked through the Village, went to the free Nelly Furtado concert (and saw the opener, Ria Mae, perform – both were magnif. Check out “Bend” by RM if you haven’t heard it), then meandered back to meet Mikey. I changed into clubwear, put on winged eyeliner, bought some rosé, and he and I whisked off to Lionel Groulx for a house party with his coworkers. It was a legit party too – with snacks, Jello shots, and a swell variety of people!

I met some of his friends, had some titillating conversations, but then it was last call for the Metro, and I was itching to get Pride started off with a bang. So I jogged back to the station with my half-finished bottle of pank wine, rode to Beaudry, and somehow rendezvoused with Ndaku on the crowded pedestrian village of Ste-Catherine, outside Sky Bar. We chit chat on the street, he transfers his stamp onto my wrist, and we (re-)enter the club, despite the line being long enough to wrap around the corner D: Sorry, folks!

Ndaku & I dance a bit, but spend most of our time on the rooftop terrasse. The weather in Montreal for Pride was absolutely perfect. I was out both Friday and Saturday nights until after 4am, just hanging out and talking to friends on the streets. It was glorious, and that never happens in Ottawa. How I miss La Belle Ville 😦 So I stay out ‘til 4:30, sitting on these white benches/installations across from Cabaret Mado, just shooting the breeze with Ndaku and some of his new Montreal friends. Perfect night.

Then I meander back to Mikey & Sarah’s and go to sleep.

And on that night… I’m gonna wrap it up here, at 4320+ words and 11:40pm when I’m in the office at 8:30am.

Still have beaucoup to write about, but it’ll have to wait.

 

Hope y’all are doing well – living your best lives. It really seems like I am, these days (finally). I’m very content with my new place, work is going fantastically, and as each week passes, I start to like the people I know here in Ottawa even more.

 

Stay tuned for the next update! Hopefully it’ll come in a week or two! And until then – keep on being your bad selves 😛

 

Love + light,

 

– Jefe

My Amazing New Job, Important Work, Powerlifting Progress, Self-Deprecation / Self-Reflection, & Lotsa Social Goings-on

Well hello!

 

I know it’ll sound cliché, but WOW, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog update! It’s been more than six weeks, actually – and how things can change in that (relatively) short amount of time.

As you know, I’m working again, 8:30-4:30 Monday-Friday. And with the majority of most of my days devoted to being at the office, yikes, it doesn’t really leave much time or space for anything else. Like I was saying to Deanie, “Wow, when you’re working full-time, you really can’t do much else. And I’m always tired.” To which he responded, “Welcome to adulthood! This is growing up!” Mm, yeah. Thanks for that insight, pal. It’s Stockholm Syndrome or something.

As I 100% expected, it was tough readjusting to working and focusing on something for eight hours at a time. After three months of unemployment (but not idleness), of course it’ll take some time to get back in the swing of things. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was being a total wago or couch potato post-CCGSD. I was hosting trivia once per week (and sometimes more), reading lots, exploring the city on foot and my bike, meeting people, volunteering for the Lambda Foundation, doing yoga at GayZone, and I got back into lifting (finally, after intending to do so since February). And even if I was so exhausted so often, I have fortunately kept all those things up! (Except maybe for reading. But in recent memory, I read: The Past, Into the Water, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and The Handmaid’s Tale. And now I’m onto Amy Schumer’s book/memoir, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.” I’ll take recommendations for my next one, too – am hoping to find something similar to A Little Life.)

I’m especially happy that I’ve continued weightlifting. I would say powerlifting, but I’m not too sure if it’s accurate, even if I am going for high weight-low reps. In any case, for progress’ sake, here’s what I accomplished yesterday:

  • 3 sets of 5 reps of back squats, of 215lbs (really trying to have my thighs parallel to the floor on each rep, and making sure my leg doesn’t turn sideways when I’m going up)
  • 3 sets of 8 reps of seated overhead tricep press with a 55# dumbbell (which I just began yesterday, to replace tricep press-down, and I’m feeling it today – which I love, because that means it’s working!)
  • 1 set of 5 reps of 225# deadlift with a hex bar (accomplished 245# the other day, but my back felt a bit tweaked afterward, so I toned it down to perfect my form)
  • 3 sets of 5-6 reps of iso-lateral seated bench press, with 150# (another change I recently implemented, instead of traditional bench press – which I was doing at the Smiths machine, since I don’t have a spotter/buddy. my pecs haven’t been that sore, so maybe I’ll switch to dumbbell flies soon)
  • 3 sets of 12 incline crunches, holding a 45# plate (should probably include some twists to work the obliques, but have not heretofore)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of leg press, with five 45# + one 35# on each side (the machine says the starting resistance is ~105lbs, but I don’t know if that means that how much it helps you – or how much weight it takes away from the total amount – or if that’s how much it is before loading any plates on it. any advice onto that? so it’s either 620 or 420lbs, but I’m leaning more towards the latter. my thighs have become more thunderous, but I’m not Schwarzenegger-sized just yet)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curl, with 35# dumbbells. I was doing it with 40# dumbbells and/or an 80# pre-set barbell, but then my forearms were excruciatingly sore afterward – felt like shin splints but in my arms. it was kinda like bone pain, actually. and Google told me that’s from improper form, so I’ve been trying to ameliorate that.

And that’s my routine, thrice a week (mostly Tuesday, Friday, Sunday, with yoga on Thursday and me biking around all the time). The muscle groups that are being neglected are the shoulders and the upper back / lats, though. I was doing standing shoulder press with a barbell (inspired by CrossFit), but my right shoulder was bothering me from when I tweaked it during that two-week (aka too-weak) trial at KRX Fitness. So I stopped though, and it feels better now… But I haven’t picked it up again (pun intended).

As for the back, I’m not too keen on adding something else to my regimen, since it’s hard enough motivating myself to go and do it all as it is (and because I feel like I hit it enough through squats and deadlifts)… But lat pull-down has always been easy for me. Maybe I’ll throw in a couple sets of that, while resting from the squat/tricep split sets – or perhaps I’ll just do pull-ups on the off-days. Dunno. Gimme advice if you got any, friends!

So there’s that! And I have noticed progress / growth / gains. I’ve started eating more, of course – but I’m more doing a #dirtybulk instead of tracking my macros or exclusively having chicken breast and brown rice and broccoli. So I’m definitely thicker than I usually am, but maybe that’s not all from muscle :/ And now that I’m working, my meals seem to be repetitive. Whole-wheat bagel with jalapeno cream cheese and a yogurt parfait with banana and granola for breakfast, then pasta with sausage, zucchini, mushroom, onion, chick peas, peppers, and eggplant for lunch. Iced coffee in the mornings, green tea in the afternoons – and for dinner, it’s almost invariably salad with a main dish. Often pizza, but sometimes chicken and fries or peanut butter ramen. And then, now that The Challenge is back airing, it’s nachos and a cocktail with that. Yummy.

Seems like I’ve been in a bit of a rut for my meal plans, though – so give me recommendations on that too, if you could! I’m thinking about a rice-bean salad with corn and mushroom and sausage for next week. Something easy to make, relatively healthy, tasty, and with protein. And probably with mushrooms too, since it’s my apparent food-of-the-summer.

 

So what else is up? I tried introducing The Challenge XXX: Dirty Thirty to a friend group, for “Friday Night Socials” – but they all gabbed throughout the entire episode, made fun of the “breeders,” didn’t understand what non-binary or pansexual meant, and essentially didn’t pay attention… And then said they didn’t like it, so it was a bust. LOOOLLLLL k then. I’ll keep watching it solo on Wednesdays, enjoy the cheesy goodness (both the show + and the nachos), and continue being a very regular (and well-liked) user on the subreddit. Like Iggy Azalea said, “don’t need y’all.” We’ve moved to watching an old season of RuPaul’s Drag Race instead, which is great. I wanted All-Stars 2, since it is a very popular and dramatic and favourite season of many people (and also one of the two I haven’t yet seen)… But instead, Season 6 was chosen, which I just watched for the first time a month ago. Whomp whomp. It’s cool, though, because the Adore & Bianca one-liners are friggen Au. And it’s not like I can hear much of it anyway 😛

I’m still in the summer sublet in Sandy Hill, and loving it. Gilmour is a great guy to live with, the place is wonderful, I love the balcony (am currently sitting on it as I type this), and it’s nice to be somewhere nice for once. However, nothing gold can stay, and Alexei will be returning within the month. Gil actually offered for me to move into his room after my sublet terminated – and I got all excited, thinking all my problems were solved – and then the next day, he was all, “Just kidding!” Ugh. Easy come, easy go, I suppose.

Regardless! He still has helped me in a huge way. The guy he was going to move in with, Jared, is not going to live with me instead! He and I met for coffee last week (at the Happy Goat Café), and both liked each other enough to cohabitate. I was looking at one-bedroom apartments (too expensive, too small, and I’m lonely despite living with others as it is) and places where people were looking for a roommate (but then I wouldn’t really feel ownership of the flat, and a lot of those I met didn’t seem like high-caliber characters)… But I wasn’t thrilled about anything I found. And when Elena says she misses living with people… Then you know I wouldn’t love it.

So Jared and I have been apartment-hunting together, biked around the city viewing some places on Saturday – but everything was substandard. But then I toured this great flat yesterday, on Lisgar (between Elgin & Metcalfe, a block south of my first place here), with a tonne of space and a balcony and nice wood floors, in what seems like a heritage building, all for a (very) reasonable price. Jared and I had strategized about it prior to my viewing it, and if I liked it – then we would immediately submit our application. And so we did! I sent off the references and proof of income as soon as I got home.

The landlady responded, asking J if he wanted to see it too – and so they set up a viewing for today at noon. He loved it, and asked her when we could send the lease. She said that she’d talk with the building owner today, and she’ll let us know by tomorrow! Whaaaaatttt! :O So, keep your fingers crossed, people! This place is gorgeous! And a great price! And it would be so wonderful / such a relief to have this flat business figured out sooner rather than later. (Because I also have to worry about procuring furniture and renting a car to move all my stuff etc etc, and I don’t want to be doing all that last-minute, while I’m still working full-time)

And if that doesn’t work out, well… Whatever. It’s not like I’m a stranger to disappointment. We’ll survive. And maybe there’s a place that is even better and bigger and more centrally located at a lower price, out there for us. Perhaps.

 

Oh man. This is where I start getting demoralized. I’m at 1800 words and still have so much to write about… This is why I shouldn’t wait so long between updates. Sigh, c’est la vie.

 

I’ll address what you all probably came here to read about now: my job at TBS. My first day was the last time I updated my blog – so June 23rd. It’s been 6.5 weeks then, and, naturally, I’ve been doing a whole lot since I began.

To be clear, I’m working on the Secretariat that supports the Task Force which is examining diversity & inclusion in the public service. We/they have analyzed this via numerous means – an environmental scan (of existing policies in governmental departments, the private sector, and other national governments), an online survey (with about 12,000 respondents), in-person discussion forums with regional and/or stakeholder groups (including one for LGBTQ2+ people), broader research, and consulting the results of the Survey of Indigenous Federal Employees and findings from Accessibility Legislation.

What I do, specifically, is read – a whole lot. The different policies about diversity and inclusion in all these different organizations, reports on Employment Equity, findings of different surveys (PSES, PSEAS, OPS survey, Indigenous survey, our D&I survey), news articles about these subjects, etc, etc. I also go over documents that my team has written themselves – drafts of the Final Report, various annexes, recommendation chapters, etc – and offer my edits and suggestions and rewordings through track changes. I also analyze the differences between the results of surveys and write this into coherent sentences, to be included in our Report. Brevity is of utmost importance, but it’s difficult to capture all the nuances and methodology and respondent population and all the other considerations in a couple lines. Regardless, I must do it, because our “deliverable” cannot come to a prohibitive number of pages. We actually want people to read it, to learn about all that we have discovered, and to embrace our recommendations. We are aiming for a true change in the fundamental culture of the public service – to be more inclusive, welcoming, aware, diversified, and productive.

And I guess, in a nutshell, that is what I have been doing for the past six weeks! And will continue to do through September, but at an accelerated pace. The Task Force resolves itself next month, and that is when we will publish the report on all our findings and recommendations, from a year’s worth of intensive work, with probably 15,000 people involved. As for what happens after that… It’s a huge question mark. Nobody really knows what form the Task Force will take subsequent to the Final Report. But there is a huge mandate for Diversity & Inclusion in government these days – thanks to good ol’ Trudeau, but for other reasons too – and significant support and passion and buy-in behind it. So it’s not like we’ll offer up our treasured document, that that’ll be the end of that. I do expect much will happen after that, but as to how that will look – nobody knows.

For my situation – I’m on a casual contract until the beginning of November. So we’ll see what I wind up doing after contributing to and editing the Final Report. Maybe/hopefully something with traveling around and educating public servants / different departments about all our findings, and how best to implement our recommendations. Maybe consciousness-raising in regards to LGBTQ2+ issues and other axes of diversity? I would love that. And a little birdie told me that one of the higher-ups in my organization recently received a remit to do just that… So I theoretically could be involved with that.

At one of our weekly meetings (the D&I team and the Employment Equity team), my supervisor, Vinita, was introducing me to everyone else. And she mentioned how one of the strengths I bring to the table is expertise (and lived experience) about queer issues – and then somebody mentioned how, maybe I could give us a presentation about that?

And so I did – I took that and ran with it. Created a “deck” (which is government-speak for a PowerPoint file) entitled “LGBTQ2(SQTPAAANBGq)+: Demystifying Queer Terminology.” I broke down the relevant identities into five simple categories: Sex Assigned at Birth, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sexual Orientation, and Romantic Attraction – or “SIESR” for short, pronounced like Caesar, with obvious pun opportunities for talking about the “salad of queer identities.” I also addressed Systems of Oppression, Intersectionality, and Privilege; talked about the Impact of Language; and even introduced/briefly explained other terms (Transvestite, Drag, Polyamory, and BDSM/Kink). Yes, you might argue that S&M have no place to be discussed in government, and I totally get your point. But I was looking forward, gazing into the future, and trying to think about what the next issue for inclusion will be. The past had mainstream monosexual identities (gay and lesbian), then bi came along, and then trans, and now we’re in the whole non-binary and androgynous and gender identity chapter (not that any of the previous sections are 100% solved, oh no, God no, far from it). So what’s next? Polyamory, and then maybe kinky lifestyles in the future. Because you know people have been discriminated against and unfairly judged and probably even evicted and fired because they like leather or bondage. (And, well, if you don’t know that already – now you do. I’ve studied BDSM at an academic level)

 

I was really looking forward to giving this presentation to my team, but (as is common in government, I imagine) it was postponed twice. And by the time I could lead the training, Sylvain – the person who was filling in for our director (Louise, the woman who I met with originally, way back in March) – was not at the meeting. Such a shame, since I wanted to prove to him (and to everybody else) that I have strong facilitation and presentation skills. Ah well.

I did manage to do so to the rest of the attendees, though. My PowerPoint was very well-received, it generated some quality discussion, and I felt comfortable doing it. I will be disseminating the training through a network called InfoShare, which I believe is Treasury Board-wide. Vinita and Sylvain encouraged me to do so, and you know, why not? What do I have to lose? I have fielded some ignorant questions before, and I do want to help spread awareness and dispel misconceptions and educate about these issues. So I’ll let you know how that goes.

But more excitingly than that – I had a meeting, just today, with another supervisor, and she says she’s going to try to offer me another contract after my current one expires! To work in her “shop” (another government jargon term), likely on issues relating to gender identity and expression. And if it all goes as she wants it to, I’d be a Term employee instead of a Casual one. And Terms can last up to a year, and sometimes even for multiple years! So yay! Keep your fingers crossed for that as well! Because I really don’t want to do the job hunt again. But more importantly, I believe in the work I’m doing; I’m in a position where I can effect true change (in government, certainly – but also possibly nationwide); there’s tonnes of opportunities for personal growth and professional development; there’s room for advancement; and I want to commit to a career and invest in myself and stop all this gallivanting around, from city to city & apartment to apartment & job to job! So I do hope that “works” out. It would be fantastic.

Beyond that, I really like my colleagues too, and seem to fit in remarkably well with them. Keihgan, Sarah, Gabrielle, Christine, and Vinita are all fabulous people, and I respect them all very much. Same with those on the EE team, who I sometimes collaborate with – both Beverly’s, Dyllan, Michelle, Crystal, and Charlene. We have a great group! And I’m grateful for that.

 

So that’s work! I have my own little office/cubicle and have actually been given tools to do my job – a personal computer (which is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3), a work phone, locking cabinet, an email with my name in it, two computer monitors, and various training sessions. It’s like they’re actually investing in me, instead of leaving me to my own devices and letting me fend for myself. Hmm, what a novel concept. Maybe another organization could benefit from that…

But in all seriousness, I’m very happy with my positon. It’s been a little frustrating adjusting to the bureaucratic pace of government sometimes – and how even resolving a simple IT issue seems to take eons – but I love it. I feel like I’m in the right place and on the right path. My life is very fortunate right now, and although I do get sad or down on myself from time to time (more on that later, probably) – I need to remember that things are going remarkably well. So, yay.

 

Now it’s 8:30, the sun has dipped down below the buildings, and it’s a bit chilly out here. We’ve had some bizarre temperatures recently. It’s August in Ottawa, and it should be 30°+ and humid – but instead, it’s been downright vernal. And also torrential – apparently this year is the rainiest on record. Quite strange, and irksome. Like, I moved from Glasgow! I did my waiting! Twenty years of it! In Azkaban! I’m ready for some warmth and sun.

Anyway. I’m hungry and just crest 3300 words. I’m gonna go make some dinner (thin crust vegetable pizza and salad – you guessed it! mushrooms on the ‘za too, you’re right!) and watch Sense8, which I finally got back into last night. And then, inchallah, I’ll wrap up this post.

(One final tidbit before I dash – I’ve been watching lots of RuPaul, of course, and just finished Season 7 this past weekend. The Challenge Dirty Thirty has been Litticus, and I’m loving it. I also recently watched the fifth seasons of both House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and enjoyed both – the latter more than the former, sorry ‘bout it. I’m halfway through Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3, and after sense8, I’ll probably try out Riverdale. Or 13 Reasons Why. And then more RPDR, and then maybe Dear White People, and then possibly break into Teen Wolf. I was discussing this all with darling Kai Pai yesterday, and he gave me some great ideas. Anyway – off I go! Tummy’s a-rumblin’!)

 

Okay I’m back! And it’s almost 11pm. Yikes.

 

I guess the rest of what I have to say is all about social stuff. So I’ll start with my own intra- and interpersonal struggles.

A lot of my humour is snarky / sassy – saying stuff that’s hyperbolic or ridiculous to see what I can get away with. Like “reading” people on Drag Race, or throwing shade. But it’s not serious – I’m just ribbing people, teasing, being a lil mischievous. But harmless.

And at the same time, my sense of humour is sarcastic and deadpan. Where I say things that are clearly not the case (or at least, it’s obvious to me), or 100% contradictory, or self-deprecating, or, again, snarky.

But if people don’t know me well – then they don’t know that I’m joking or being sarky (sic) or facetious or anything. And that’s honestly what I think has happened here, because a disconcerting number of people think I’m some huge A-hole and don’t give me the benefit of the doubt and assume I’m being a total jerk, when I’m actually kidding or mean something completely different. Of course I won’t name names, but dang, it sucks to learn what people actually think about you.

Naturally, I could just say, “Man, screw this, I don’t need these people in my life, if they’re going to jump to conclusions and never cut me slack.” That might feel better – because then I don’t have to second-guess myself and figure out where I’m going wrong – but it’s the selfish route. If it were just an isolated incidence or two, with people I’m not close to, then that’d be a different story. But it wasn’t. And I don’t want to have a reputation of being a meanie, especially if it’s undeserved / because I’m misunderstood.

So I have decided, a la Violet Chachki, that I’m going to explain when I’m kidding or when I’m actually being serious, if it’s unclear. Yes, I think I’m GD hysterical, and would be an amazing personality for reality TV… But I am NOT on reality TV, this is legit, and I do value kindness – even if it leads me to being screwed over. Because then I have the knowledge that I was the better/bigger person, and I don’t have regrets. I’ve been hurt in my life plenty, and I’ve developed resiliency skills and coping mechanisms to deal with those feelings and disappointments. So as long as I try to be a good person, then I should be satisfied.

(Similar to that, though – I think I’m going to try not putting myself out there so much and wearing my heart on my sleeve. I get ahead of myself, people don’t reciprocate interest, and I get ignored, undervalued, and upset. It’s happened three times with three different people in three months, and I’ve just had it, officially. So we’ll see how this “Ice Prince” tactic fares for me. I can always re-evaluate in the future.)

 

Beyond that, and on a happier note – I’ve just had some fabulous weekends for the past month and a half. Maybe I’ll expand upon this in another update, but:

  • Rented a van, picked up ridesharers, dropped them off, hung out with darling Ky, packed the van with Julia’s stuff, and drove to Toronto. Talked about drag queens and listened to Halsey and Lorde and The Weeknd and Bishop Briggs and stopped in a thrift store and bought a huge mirror for like $15 and had lots of laughs. Made it to TO, moved her into her beautiful new apartment, met her roommates (Gaz!), went out and walked around the street fair for Pride. Slept, got Banh Mi Boys for breakfast, she did my makeup (that a drag queen later complimented), we pre-drank with her roommates, and then went to the Pride Parade. I ran into so many people I knew on the 24 hours I had in Toronto – way more so than happens in Ottawa, where I live. How sad is that? This included the lovely Sam Reisler & wonderful Johanna Nikelotos. The parade was great, and I was so happy to be at Pride again – since I didn’t get to attend one last summer. But this summer, I’m doing Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa! Wouhou!
  • Then I picked up Bryan, Charmaine, and George, and we drove back to Ottawa – and I ran into my new coworker, Sarah, at one of the rest stops. Super bizarre, and neither of us could place the other, since my first day was literally two days prior. Hilarious.
  • Brendan Prouse came and stayed with me for Canada Day weekend, and Brigid was also in town, after several years abroad. It was a rainy, messy disaster of a weekend – but I was so glad to see them both! And we had some fun times. I played Werewolves at Luke’s place, hung out with Colum at his friend’s house (double-fisting brut and tequila), then dominated at some Tummies & Flong with Bren as my partner, at Allyson & Thierry’s place. Then met up with Col again for the fireworks. Lovely. And the WE Day free concert the following evening.
  • Biked down to Mooney’s Bay for the HOPE Volleyball Event, and hung out with Dean there, while enjoying the sun, the warmth, the music, and all the skin on display.
  • Biked down to Mooney’s Bay again the next weekend, and played beach volleyball with Tim, Jayme, Fraser, Hris, and the rest of the board game gang. Fantastic time, even if I wasn’t as good as I remembered (and the competitive players weren’t happy with me) and I jammed my thumb. Then back to Frayme’s for a BBQ and some games.
  • Lots of nights spent at Jayme & Fraser’s place, with JackBox, Friday Night Socials, JF’s music quiz game, other games and Werewolves – though the latter doesn’t happen often enough. It’s my fave, though!
  • La Cocina Loca in Hintonburg with Elena & Christian, and then wandering around the Chinatown Night Market afterward.
  • Martinis and catching up with Amy at The Standard.
  • Seeing Kevan Lu again, for the first time in four years! Eating delicious Korean fried chicken at The Fry with him, and playing Sm4sh with him & Hris another day.
  • Happy Hour with Hris, JF, and Julien.
  • Kai Pie’s goodbye brunch, down at K-Rae’s, with Cameron, Katie, & Sarah. Gonna miss you so much broski 😥 Yummy food & good laughs though!
  • Sarah’s housewarming with Cameron, Rick, Miguel, and Katie. Marvelous time and company. And then karaoke with the rugby team in Centretown afterward.
  • Dan’s costume party, in which I dressed up as Fergie, lip-synched and danced to “London Bridge,” and won a bottle of wine. Then went to Babylon for the first time, unfortunately missed all the performances (from Tyler, Owen, Chris, and Nich) – but still had an amazing time.
  • A Queer Mafia event with friends I made through hosting trivia – some of my regulars, actually (from Team Never Gonna Get a Husband)! It was a bit strange to hang out with them when I only know them in the context of the Royal Oak, but I still enjoyed myself. They’re good people. Another one of my regular teams, Team TBD, has invited me to some events as well – I’ll take them up on their offer sometime. I’m always ready to meet and hang out with new people, social butterfly that I am. Yay!
  • Other game nights, but not with Colum/Dean/Luke recently. We finished our Pandemic Legacy Season 1 campaign, and I haven’t seen them since. Sad! But it’s not like I’m at a dearth for game nights, so it’s fine. Played Evolution with Owen/Jason/Nick and loved that. 7 Wonders with the Cities and Leaders expansions too, which are fun. Did this twice, actually – with Tim/Jayme/JF the other time.
  • Zach’s pool party and BBQ this past Sunday, with Patrick/JP/Derek/Colin. A great afternoon.
  • La Machine (aka an ENORMOUS DRAGON ROBOT) with my coworkers.
  • Ndaku’s being in town! And having a superb meal with him at The Buzz, thanks to the gift certificate I received for taking part in the underwear fashion show!

 

And probably some more stuff I’m forgetting to mention right now. With how much of an extrovert I am, you better believe I keep myself busy with social plans. And while I lament that I don’t have (too many) close relationships with people here, it’s undeniable that I know a bunch of people, am friendly with all of them, and very often have plans. I shouldn’t be unhappy about it at all – but, well, that’s easier said than done.

But, repeat after me: Life. Is. Good. I am very fortunate and need to be more cognizant of that, and show more gratitude, and stop letting the little stuff get me down.

And on that note – I gotta dash. It’s nearly midnight (my bedtime!), and I still have to shower and shave. Eek!

 

Bi for now, folks.

It’s good to be back! 🙂

 

Love+light,

 

– Jef / Jefe / Jefferson