Friday, July 15, 2016

Chocolate Cake & Dishonesty

If heartbreak and break ups were an Olympic sport, I'd be the little league coach in some one-horse town, who would subsequently be fired for being so shit at it. Parents would complain. I'd respond by calling them morons and their kids creeps; it would be a mess. The very worst part of heartbroken Ryan is not my behaviour, not my lack of maturity or my wealth of melodrama, it's actually a part that nobody really sees: I lie a lot, and that's not good, because I've been heartbroken a lot lately.

Honesty, believe it or not, is something I pride myself on among most other things. I don't care if I'm funny, likeable or fuckable, I want honesty to be the trait others revere in me. I want the people around me to feel like they never have to question what I say, even when they want to punch me. I'm not just talking about veracity, but forthrightness too. However, the passed 12 months has seen my romantic life dragged through the mud, and I've managed to take these two qualities along for the ride. What's scarier is that the lies I've been telling aren't at all calculated, they're just knee-jerk reactions, where my mouth is saying words and my brain is screaming at it like "what the fuck are you doing?" Consequences, be damned! There are two reasons why I do this.

Rebalancing Power
I've always found that where you find successful romance, you find equal power. There’s none of this who wears the pants bullshit. There isn't a person who's only in it to fend off desperation or only for good chocolate cake and nothing else, nor is there someone who thinks they can get better chocolate cake elsewhere.

like the fbookz

Since my foray into lying started a year ago, the problem's been that my love affairs keep being with girls who find my cake eh, okay at best, even after I've slaved over it all day. So, when one of them finally tells me she's found better, more delicious cake elsewhere, power shifts out of my favour. In order for me to immediately restore the balance, I too will say that I've been getting chocolate cake from somewhere else too, perhaps one with exquisite white chocolate sprinkles! The saddest part is that this is despite the actual truth that I've just been eating my own shitty cake alone in my room in front of saved episodes of The Food Channel! Rewinding through my favourite parts with my free knife hand.

So, from then on I have to exhaustively act disgusted whenever she sees me cooking my own cake. I also have to plant crumbs from the other fake girl's cake around my kitchen when she comes over to pick up her things I've practically been holding hostage. It's a layer cake of lies that I can bake myself into in a matter of seconds, but then it takes months to begrudgingly eat my way out of it! Also, I'll rarely ever actually have the balls to come right out and just admit "yeah, I'm not just lonely anymore, I'm also a liar, you got me!"; two very attractive L words to the opposite sex. But there's also something else here too. 

I'll Never Starve Though
A fear of mine in any non-exclusive casual fling is looking like someone who can't get cake elsewhere. Now, I'm not saying that I'm not desperate, nor am I admitting that I am, but I certainly don't want to be seen as such, so I lie to make sure! I lie through my teeth about how much of other people's cake I've been having, acting like I've had heaps. But it's not so much about feeding my Brad Pitt complex as it is about ensuring people know the place they hold in my heart. Need more?

Well, I've had arrangements with people where I'm just killing time 'til the next sweet serving, and then on the flip side, I've had other things which have made me never want anybody else's cake again, but ultimately didn't work out. I don't want the latter to think they're just the former. Despite this, even in the loosest of unions, I have a tendency to shut out other cakes, which actually makes it seem to the other person that I am in fact desperate; they don't see the rejection, just the outcome. So, when I dishonestly say that I've had other's, I'm basically just ensuring that I'm with them because I chose to be with them, not because I felt like I didn't have a choice. You see, to me, the beauty about wanting be with someone is that it stops being about how good the cake is and how good other cakes might be, and it starts to be about cake you know you'll be happy with for the rest of your life. It's not about settling for the first girl who comes along or wanting the most popular chick you know to touch your dick, it's about finding something in someone else which makes something in you crazy, no matter the time, no matter where you are in the world.

While I can't exactly blame them, I don't really like desperate, hungry people; they don't date people, they date concepts. That's bad news for you if they ever come across the sample counter down at the local supermarket, because they'll keep the concept they care so much for, but they'll swap out your cake for that one, fucking guaranteed! You see, everybody wants to be the star of their very own little romantic comedy, myself included. We're brainwashed into ideas of perfection, which is a fucking mirage, but people will still leave you for it. So, I don't want to simply fill in the blank in someone else's bullshit concept, nor do I want someone to think that they're filling my blank, more importantly. So I lie. I know, I didn't make myself this way, it just sort of happened.

Anyway, it needs to end, the lying. I've ended it before and I can do it again. Up until my mid-teens, exaggerating the truth and making up stories had become a nasty little habit of mine. They weren't particularly bad or malicious, they were just little embellishments of the truth, but it was nonsensical and exhausting. I hated myself for it. Eventually I decided that no matter how boring the details and no matter what colour they painted me, I had to ignore that little liar who lives in my ear, and it was a monumental realisation. I just think this last year and a half I've been at my weakest, perhaps - immature, bad temper, health in decline, insecure, lonely - and in that I've let some old habits resurface in order to protect myself. I know I can be better.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Things I Learned About Denmark

A semester in Denmark I spent 10 months planning, stressing about and trying to attract girls with is coming to a close. I also spent 10 months reading the same thing over and over about the country. Ahhh, it's so cold; it's flat; they bike heaps; they drive on the other side of the road; the Danish language is not the prettiest, nor easiest thing in the world to learn; the sun sets at 4PM in the winter, 9PM in the summer. Honestly, there is nothing to really call home about when it comes to differences between Denmark and Australia, but here are some I wish more travel sites and blogs would start writing about instead of putting me to sleep.
         
hair-1It's really easy to date a girl who looks like your ex
Tall, blue eyes and blonde; that's most of the girls here. If she's brunette, she's either a mix or a Scandinavian-anomaly you need to put on sunglasses for and observe like a solar eclipse. Black jacket with black skinny jeans to match seems to also be a bit of a trend here as well, or just black attire in general really. So basically, be prepared to always bump into your Danish female friends on the street, only to realise it isn't her after you take a closer look. I've learned by now just to keep moving; it's probably not her.
         
Danes aren't sure what "hygge" translates to in English
Hygge, pronounced hooga, is one of those many Danishisms you'll catch onto if you speak to enough people here. You may have even read about this one elsewhere, but I still included it because it might be one of my favourite things about Denmark. It might not be even be something you understand immediately. Some will tell you it means "pleasant". An attractive girl whose number I forgot to ask for described it to me once as 'just happiness'. But I think the general consensus is that it means "coziness". But it's not exactly cozy in the English sense of the word. What I've gathered is that it's more of a concept of the niceties in Danish life than something which can be summed into words, especially English ones. It's a feeling. It's blankets and candles in the dark, cold winters, and then friends relaxing around a grill in the warm summer. Or at least that's my tawdry understanding of it.
         
DSC_1169
         
thumb__0003_marshall_major_ii_black_rgb_highres_10Everybody uses these Marshall headphones
It's almost like the hype of Beats by Dre that is so abundantly present in Sydney didn't quite make it to these shores. Instead, it was these babies which made it, and thank God for that. They're way better than Beats, but it's random. I would've expected Sony, Bose, Senheiser or even a more local brand like Bang & Olufsen, but Marshalls? That's weird. Was there a sale or are Danes just a good judge of quality?
         
 
Bicycle laws make sense
By law here, you must have front and rear bike lights, use bike paths and roads, obey traffic signals, and indicate with your hands otherwise the law man will wrap shackles around them, which all makes sense. Thus, ending this point.
         
2631332565_ec90c1a348_bHang on just a sec. Notice how I didn't mention anything about helmets? Unlike NSW, you don't have to wear one here. Why? Because if you take a tumble and knock your head, it's your problem. Danes believe that it's up to you if you want to kill yourself, not them. Helmet laws to me are like any rule you had in preschool. Wear a hat outside; don't pick your nose; only use plastic cups; don't fill them with Melted-Crayola Cosmopolitans. The rules make sense and then the moment you apply them to an adult, it's stoopid. Now I'm sure it could be argued that a head injury becomes the responsibility of the health care system and thus costs money, but how much of a strain can bicycle injuries be putting on it really?
         
Zebra crossings may as well not exist
They are literally a waste of paint. In Sydney, a zebra or pedestrian crossing allows a person to cross a road which doesn't have a traffic signal close enough, and a person has right of way the moment they stand near or on one; we follow this. In Aarhus, however, they paint them at all the traffic signal crossings and when a pedestrian gets the little green man, it's car-dodging time! Instead of those little beeps for the blind, they should just sound a God damn starters pistol, especially for traffic turning into your street. Cars are basically legally allowed to pass through whenever they are turning left or right and there isn't a person in front of them, that's the rule, which is fucking common sense! I don't need paint and a green light to tell me not to mow someone down with my car in Sydney! You have right of way here as well, sure, but let's just say that I get less frightened jaywalking in this country than I do using the designated crossings.
         
The buses operate on a strict honour ticketing system
I think I know why Danes are the happiest in the world, because they don't have to speak to grumpy bus drivers, or in yellow Aarhus buses at least. Why? Because ticketing is left solely up to automated machines and, of course, the passenger's own sense of right and wrong.
         
bus-top
 
Also, while Sydney only last year started letting passengers enter through the back door using their Opal Cards (which are actually made of plastic, by the way), that's nothing new in Aarhus. So, you don't even need to so much as look at a Midttrafik employee, you just have to watch out for ticket-inspectors. Tip: they wreak of justice, bare little sympathy but large standard issue jackets, they loiter in packs of two or three, and you can spot them from a kilometre down the road.
         
Danish Supermarkets aren't hell-bent on polluting the earth
Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Franklins and the one plastic bag per tomato policy; that was Australia in the 90s. We were giving out plastic shopping bags like they were free, because that's what they are!
         
Then German-based Aldi came to our shores and Australians were flabbergasted. Discount supermarkets a fraction of the size of ours predicated on the notion that if you really need a plastic bag, pay for it and bag up on your own time, we have customers to serve. We were all like "Whaaaat? No plastic bags? How could this be?" I remember all of the adults in my life having an existential crisis in 2001 thanks to Aldi. They all roamed the streets hugging their groceries like new-borns, utterly unsure of what to do with themselves; it was hilarious. Over a decade later, I've come here and realised that most supermarkets are like Australian Aldi, including the Aldi here. Why? Because Danes, and I suppose Europeans in general, like the earth and they know that there is one thing that can combat laziness, and that's making people pay for it.
 
DSC_0000 (19)Danes don't understand why any Australian would go to Denmark
Because they are dying to go to Australia, apparently. Why? Because Danes hate the cold, and they aren't shy about making sure everybody knows it. It is the one thing they all love to complain about; it's what unites them.
 
 
 
 13174007_10154169944279886_2063068727092516646_n

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Letters For When I Get Hit by a Bus

One day I'm going to die, and it's either going to be my best day or my worst. I think it's probably going to be the latter, but an optimist might argue that it will be the greatest day of my life, so fingers crossed. My most anxious thought about my death is the people around me not knowing or not being totally sure of how I felt about them. When I was 14, I had a Catholic Studies teacher whose name escapes me; it was something long and Maltese, Mr. Gali-something. He was an olive-skinned, clean yet unshaven middle-aged man with a long salt and pepper pony tail. He had an avuncular heftiness that you'd imagine seeing at a family barbecue or a local ten pin bowling championship. But looks aside, he was a funny yet dead-pan bloke and a very deep thinker. I'd always disliked religion in school, but he taught it like he wasn't following a syllabus and I liked that. To better get in touch with ourselves, in class one day he made us write a letter to someone about all the things we'd want them to know if we were to die suddenly. They were goodbye letters, and this one single day in a small Sydney classroom had such an impact on me that I'm still writing these fucking things 11 years later.

like the fbookz

When I was still in school, I never really thought anything of it; writing these letters, that is. I would go home, type them, date them, hide them, and I never thought that it was strange or particularly worth mentioning to anyone. In fact, at the time, my death still wasn't a real thing to me. I thought I'd live forever. I lived everyday and slept every night like there'd be more of them, even though there was no guarantee on the side of the box. Standard for a teenager, I suppose. At the time, I guess I saw the letters as more of a safe place I could be at my most honest and my most blunt than I had the guts to be in person or on the internet. I was a shy kid who was less than forthright with most of the people I came across. I had a lot of strong feelings for people, both good and bad, and yet I was so afraid to share any of them as much as I was itching to. But at the same time, I couldn't bare the thought of dying and those thoughts dying with me, with no means for someone to salvage them. But I figured as a teen that there was something so honest in death, especially when one feels as if they have nothing left to lose and nothing left to hide, and I wanted to see if I could channel a bit of that myself. That's why you never want to speak to someone who thinks they're dying, because if they've always thought you were a dick, they might finally tell you.

But I think that was what appealed to me as a 14 year old. The first batch of letters I penned weren't pretty, so much so that they could've become what caused my death had they gotten out. They were dark, horrible and extremely vindictive. They were filled with such resentment that at the time I relished the thought of my death just so that people would read them and realise that they no longer had the chance to make amends for the ways they'd wronged me, they would just have to live with the guilt of receiving a scathing letter from a dead guy for the rest of their lives. I was an angry, angry kid who carried around a lot of pain, and the thought of offloading some of that, especially from the grave, made me fucking giddy with joy.

To say that I don't still have that thought would be a bit of a lie, but following school I would eventually better channel the habit more positively toward the people I love. As much as I wanted my foes to know how awful they were as human beings, I wanted my friends and family to be sure of the opposite too. I wanted them to know what it was I loved about them, how they enriched the time I was alive, the changes they made to the people around them, and how I hoped they would live their lives after I was gone, essentially reminding them to hang on to the values and traits that I so revered in them. I most importantly would put my deepest desires in there. The letters I've written to the friends I'd fallen out with are about how much I wanted to ask them to coffee and start a fresh, but was ultimately too stubborn to do so while I was alive. Some are to girls I liked but never had the courage to tell them that I visited the places we first met or kissed and secretly hoped they would serendipitously be doing the same too, even though that would never happen. For over a decade, I have essentially been reverse-eulogising my friends. Instead of them going up to the podium and talking me up as I go into the ground, it was the opposite, I was talking about them to them, albeit in a less sugar-coated and more authentic fashion.

More importantly, the greatest thing to me about these letters, the most vital and character-moulding lesson that Mr. Pony Tail inadvertently laid the groundwork for that day at school was that these goodbye letters are ridiculous. At first, I didn't have the audacity to say half the shit I wrote, that's why they were necessary at the time, but not anymore really. The more I matured, the more I realised how silly it was that I wasn't just coming right out and saying these things. I've written them less in my 20s because now I know that I could die, and I'm driven by that a little. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and would never have actually asked you out for a beer, and who the fuck am I to deny myself of that while I still can? That would be stupid. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still writing these things regardless, it's just that more often than not, I've started to actually give them to people, just edited as normal letters. I'm not afraid anymore. Of course, I never told them that they started out as death letters and I would omit anything that implied it, like all the now that I'm gones and all the past tenses. But…some people have them.

What that means is that at the core of all of these words my friends, family and ex-whatevers may never read, they made me a more forthright and honest person; not just with others, but with myself. Some might say that the letters made me into an arsehole, but I say that they made me more transparent to most on the outside and they helped draw a clearer path to my heart for a select few on the inside, transforming me from a hardened-boy into a better man. Fuck, imagine if I'd called in sick or jigged that day; God knows who I'd be right now!

To my surprise, I've written this blog for nine years now, and some of these letters still predate its very first post by a long time. This also isn't the first time I've tried to write this post, nor is it the second, or the third. The letters were one of my deepest secrets, and that's not hyperbole. Sure, they live in a folder more hidden, more secured and more deeply nested than...well, you can guess, but the secrecy wasn't exactly intentional. There's not a lot that I keep close to my chest, and anybody who's known me for longer than an hour would be able to attest to that. It just didn't come up, and how could it? Like five people know. Perhaps it was because somehow I felt like they were almost symbiotically attached to my death, like they were the only thing I had saved for my funeral, and if I let that go, what else would I have just for me? I also didn't want people to feel hurt, weirded out or, most importantly, curious.

So, why write about it, and why write about it now? Well, last year I had a four and a half year relationship fall apart. I thought I'd be with her for as long as I lived and I trusted her in ways that I never knew existed, so I told her about them and deputised her into distributing these things in the event of my death. It was an unfair and fucked up request, but it meant a lot to me and brought a guy with no religion quite a bit of comfort. I don't have someone like that anymore and 11 years is a huge chunk of time for a 25 year old. It's time people knew, I think, not because I've been itching for them to know, on the contrary actually, I'd rather it stay a secret. Nor is it because I want people to come looking for them, or that I want everybody to expect that they have one waiting for them, because not everybody does. It's because - and this is the only reason - it's because I want people to know that these fucking things exist and that they will continue to be written, because when I'm no longer around, no body is going to let these people know for me and the letters will probably be lost. This post is my only hope, really.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Logic in Love

In an effort to better understand why I behave the way that I do, I've had to identify that there are two Ryans: there's the logical one and there's the no questions asked, down on both knees, will you marry me now, emotional Ryan. Put the two together and out pops the strange love child I call "me" - the real me. If you asked the emotional side, he'd tell you that I've fallen in love with every girl I've ever met, and maybe even some of the guys, which is a problem. That's where Logical Ryan swoops in and saves my ass.

I've told five people in my life that I'm in love with them; one of which I regret because I was twelve and the other four I actually loved with varying degrees of vigor. As for the rest of the general population however, I was never actually in love with. But be that as it may, something just so palpable and so striking would still pass over me in a moment while in the presence of others. Sometimes it was the way they looked into my eyes, sometimes it was a hint of grace in their actions or the way that they cleaned the peanut butter jar with their finger; other times it was something as simple as a brush of the hair, the gentility in a kiss, a graze of the hand, or just their beauty which would encapsulate me so, but it was Emotional Ryan at play and that dude is a fucking barbarian.

Meanwhile, Logical Ryan then has to take his emotional counterpart infront of an advisory board to state a case as to why the real me shouldn't be in love with that person. Sometimes it means months of arguing, recesses, referrals, deliberations, and appeals to rationalise the thing out. Having said that, often one can just rationalise it out in an instant. As I mentioned though, there were times where Logical Ryan couldn’t prove to a reasonable doubt that I wasn’t genuinely Play Misty for Me, in love with the person, because I was.

Thankfully what it does mean is that every single I love you, not just the romantic but also the platonic, is so carefully considered that it's like planning a trip to North Korea. The ultimate take away here is that love for me has become more of a logical concept than an emotional one. It has to be that way in order for me to make heads or tails of the emotions which flood through me on the daily. Without Logical Ryan filtering out all of the dirt and grit, there'd be no clean water to drink when someone I actually could love comes along. If I didn't apply a logical process, I wouldn't know love, nor would I know myself, because I would just think I'm in love with everyone. More importantly, it's why every I love you is such a big deal to me, and something worth announcing.

The question is: can there really be logic in love or have I just finally reached the pinnacle of romantic-hysteria?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Plane Tickets Like Granny Porn

like the facebookz I've faced two new concepts in the last year: being single in my 20s and always being within six months of skipping the country I'm in. What this means is that now every romantic affair I have, every kiss at a party, every two night stand, every classic graze of the hand I have at the vending machine as we both serendipitously reach to press E3 for that Snickers Bar is followed by the same two absurd conversations no matter the girl, no matter her nature, no matter the continent. It's like a doll with a string, pull it and it says one of two things: "but you're going in x months" and "what are we?"

But you're leaving in x months
To me, having a conversation which starts like this is akin to meandering around a ticking time bomb discussing how it will blow us up as opposed to trying to defuse the thing or enjoying our final moments before our impending doom. "Do you reckon the g-force will, like, propel our bodies across the room, will we just barbecue or is it going to tear us to shreds where we stand? Let's ponder this in silence for a moment or two while I sip this camomile." The second I hear the words leave a girl's mouth, the entire operation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We just ruin the moments we do have together by worrying about the moments we won't and the point becomes moot. It's a lot of chatting about how we won't be able to fuck any more, where "any more" becomes redundant. This line of questioning got to a point back in Sydney where my move to Denmark went from something I thought girls would find mysterious and attractive into this dirty little secret I hid under the mattress like granny porn.

The truth is that you can't have pain without pleasure, and vice versa. Without the sting of pain, we wouldn't know the delight in pleasure, we'd just be bored all the time. So, I tend to see tears at an airport as less of an emotional-anvil and more of an indication of how well we filled the preceding months, and I don't intend to fill them with redundant yacking. So if pain means fun, then I'll trade boredom for pain on any day of the week! If this last year has taught me anything it's to appreciate the time I have left with people, to be a little more economical with that time and to most importantly embrace the fact that it will bring both the most painful yet beautiful goodbyes. It's ying and yang, people!

What are we?
But there's another mantra that can really rattle my chain, because you know how you sometimes use words you can't exactly define when people ask you to, well since my break up I've been having things with people that I can't define, and believe me, that's way more frustrating. The question is the watermark of a woman who has grown weary of referring to me as this guy or that guy we spoke about to their friends and hope to shorten it or add a second part. "This guy I'm dating" or "that guy I told you I slept with" or just "boyfriend". And look, that all sounds lovely...but - and shoot me for saying this - but I'm leaving in six months! The only thing you should be labelling which will leave that soon is canned tomatoes in aisle seven, not a romantic affair!

Not only is it too chatty, but It's also entrapment with less sexy Zeta Jones and more old saggy balls Connery. Asking anybody you're involved with what you two are when one of them has an exit on the horizon is like forcing them to tell you that they're only in it to bang. There is no subtle or charming way to say that you just want to go with the flow but continue the romance. In fact, the more you talk about it, the more both of you realise just how much of a paradox you're in. So, before you ask this question, you might as well just take whatever it is you both have out the back and put a bullet in its brain; it'll achieve the same thing.

Let me ask, why can't it just be, you know, fun? This is coming from a dude who wants a relationship, who wants to date, who has eyes for wife-material, but it would be foolish of me to seriously seek out any of those things while I'm also applying for visas. I know this, she knows this, so why does she want me to spell it out? It's one hell of a buzz-kill.

 

To be perfectly honest, to say that none of this is my own doing would be a bit of a lie. I never quite got the hit it and quit it memo that all other guys seemed to have researched and studied like it's the cure to cancer. I always hang around after, which I trust is what opens me up to questions. It must seem like I want a relationship, while at the same time I'm leaving; makes no sense to people, but not completely inaccurate. I suppose I do want a relationship, I just don't want to talk about it. I can mull over, dissect, over-think, and over-analyse anything until I'm a nervous wreck, but that's not who I am at the moment. There comes a time when people just need to shut up and enjoy themselves. Ironically, I say that not because that's innately who I am or because I'm the proud owner of male genitalia, but because of the very reason they're asking these questions - because I'm out’ta here soon.