Image courtesy of Desert Lightning News

Since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the world has changed a lot in 2020 and onward into 2021. One of the most common topics of conversation in relation to this is travel and the restrictions or policies that have evolved. It’s a hot topic among nationals and expats alike and often sparks a strong debate between personal liberties and public safety.

Some countries have required negative covid-19 tests before departure and after arrival, and some require nothing. Regardless of the specific restrictions in each jurisdictions, the real question is should people be travelling? Is it in the best interest of people to travel, essentially or otherwise? Well it doesn’t take long to see how this shakes down. All you gotta do is check the headlines:

Covid: Dutch king expresses regret over Greek holiday scandal
BBC, 21 October 2020

“It is not the first time the royal couple have been in the spotlight for their conduct. In August, they were pictured breaking social distancing rules with a restaurant owner during another trip to Greece.”

Alberta cabinet minister, premier’s chief of staff resign over holiday travel, other MLAs demoted
CBC News,  04 January 2021

“Millions of Albertans have made real sacrifices over the past 10 months to help keep each other safe. They are right to be angry about people in positions of leadership vacationing outside of the country,” [Premier] Jason Kenney wrote.
[…]
“We can’t see our grown children in this city yet they can fly to Hawaii,” Edmontonian Glen Mullins told CBC News on Monday. “My parents live in Newfoundland. My tradition is to go see them. I couldn’t go.” 

These two examples spark the divide between “privileged” members of society like royalty, and government officials, and the wider public. The common thread is why is it appropriate for one reason to travel, despite restrictions and recommendations, and not for others?

UK expats prevented from returning home to Spain
BBC News, 04 January 2021

“One passenger on board said that seven British citizens were prevented from boarding a British Airways/Iberia flight from Heathrow to Madrid on Saturday evening, despite having their green residency certificates, as well as negative Covid tests.”

Further complicating things is Brexit and the UK’s departure from the EU bloc. While I feel bad for the travellers denied entry, I wondered why they were in the UK when they had Spanish residency and covid-restrtrictions have been tight since March 2020. They obviously travelled despite restrictions, and this is what sparked my reaction. Entitlement.

Image courtesy of TopPNG

Many people feel entitled to travel regardless of circumstances of a country, and the lack of border controls in Europe seem to make it even worse. People baulking in the face of the virus just come off as selfish in my eyes. I get it, being trapped somewhere for extended periods of time sucks and can take terrible tolls on mental health, but I’ve been doing it. I limit my contact and haven’t even travelled around the city for 3 months. I call and video chat and telecommute and limit my shopping to one time a month, and haven’t met my friends for months. So I’d like to say that I’m doing my part and I’ve even tabled the option of travel basically indefinitely.

I get it, we want to be with our families for holidays, we want to continue to maintain traditions, and we want to stay sane. But our individual needs don’t always trump collective needs. It raises a really important philosophical question: am I more important than the whole?

Newsflash, no matter how independent you are, no matter how careful you are or have been, you’re apart of the whole and you’re responsible for the safety of your loved ones and strangers. The moment we override those collective needs is the moment we turn on our fellow man.

This post isn’t meant to demonise people travelling, or people’s individual choices. I really just want to remind people to think beyond their bubble and look at the bigger picture. Don’t even get me started on people dating or hooking up with new people during the pandemic. 🤐

The human complex is incredibly resilient and we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We think we can’t endure, we think we have to give in to our desires and consider wants as a needs, but this is not true. We can make better choices and continue to adhere to the recommendations of science and common sense.

It’s not very often that we find someone that completely matches what we think and have felt our whole lives. This is very much something that happened to me while listening to my weekly podcasts. Famous gay man’s, Dan Savage, podcasts about relationship problems and tips. He recently had a male caller that outlined the following:

My second question pertains to maleness itself. I’ve always felt excluded from traditional masculinity: the discomfort with feelings, the one-upsmanship, the callous jokes, the unquestioned embrace of patriarchal status ideals. I have a hard time making friends with guys because I just don’t trust us to be kind and present human beings. And these days, the message that men, especially straight white ones like me, are hollow, selfish, destructive people who just make everyone else miserable for a living is coming through on all channels.

I had the idea that men are emotionally and physically dangerous instilled in me from a very young age. And in my eagerness to avoid growing up to be a wife-beating pervert rapist, I developed a fear of my own sexuality that kept me romantically paralysed for most of my adult life. I’ve loosened up a bit, but to this day I am astounded that anyone touches any of with a 10 foot pole, despite the fact that it clearly happens all the time, even occasionally to me. So I could do with a shift in perspective and I thought it might be fun to ask you, a guy who sleeps with and loves other guys: what the attraction? Despite all the shitty things that we are and do, what about men would you save if you could strip us down to nothing and rebuild us from the ground up. Because dammit, Dan, it’s very hard to feel sexy when you hate yourself this much.

Caller from Dan Savage’s podcast Savage Lovecast episode 681

I couldn’t help but not only laugh, but also nod emphatically alongside this caller’s response. Just wow. It’s basically a phone call about toxic masculinity which maybe I’ve written about before. It’s a fairly new concept that is a discussion that sparked from a documentary about American boy’s sinking into depression because of the social expectations placed on them to be masculine and “man up.” It’s called The Mask You Live In, and I totally recommend it.

This caller touches on a lot of things that really I can relate to. I never fit into the mould of the other boys. More emotional and feminine could always describe me, and as a result I related better to girls. I get them, and they get me, mostly because women tend to be better communicators. I’ve always had a hard time making and keeping guy friends, and I think it’s mostly because I don’t know how to be around them.

I find it awkward, stagnant, or toxic sometimes to be in a group. The joking and insulting nature of some guys just makes me uncomfortable, and much like the caller I can’t imagine how women or anyone else for that matter could put up with that kind of attitude or behaviour. I was taught, or rather I learned myself, to treat others the way I wish to be treated. Why would I insult others? How does that help build a bond? Why must one be the best at something and always compete?

Self hate is a real thing and it eats away at you. Little by little you feel less of man, let alone person, and it can lead to you comparing yourselves to others and wondering why those types of people that are so toxic are so well accepted and loved? What is it they have that I don’t?

I think I’ve known for a long time that the nice guy never wins. Sure we all like to have them around, but they aren’t the first person we call. They aren’t the ones that we spend all our time with. They aren’t the ones that we want to date. Nobody dates someone because they are nice or kind, and sadly it’s an afterthought.

So what happens to those men that don’t fit into the mould of masculinity? Truth be told, most of them feel the pressure so strongly they conform and it takes a strong person to be able to stand apart and be something better. This ideal that is held by society is something sought after by women and gay men all around, and I just can’t understand it.

I guess that’s why I’m single, because I’m looking for niceness or kindness and it’s so damn hard to find.

It’s as good a time as any to have a story time, so here it goes. Once upon a time there was this guy who was trying to meet someone, and living in Sweden means that it’s nearly impossible to do it in person so he went online. He came into contact with someone, a few weeks after he had a very traumatic experience with someone else that left him shaken and unwilling to jump in head first.

It started out basic enough, nice conversation and similar interests in films. The chatting went on for a few weeks here and there, and then moved to Snapchat where the tempo increased and it was clear that both liked each other.

Plans were made to hang out, go for drinks, and watch films together. The only thing that kept them apart was 30km and the Christmas holidays. However, something interesting had happened in this elapsed time. Photos were sent on a daily basis and chats went on every day, and what might be considered flirting ensued.

This new person was asking all sorts of questions, like if it was okay that they lived at home and didn’t have a good job and was a bit messed up from a past relationship with a girl. This didn’t perturb the hero, because at this point he knew what he wanted and the good that was inside, at least what he thought was good.

And so our hero left for the United Arab Emirates for Christmas to meet a a dear friend, but during this time a Snapchat achievement was made…

Photo courtesy of Snapchat

The evil red heart achievement came into the picture, and undoubtedly was noticed by both. No reaction was made, but it was something that was on the mind of our hero for many weeks.

Days went on, and every day while in the UAE they chatted and looked forward to meeting upon return to Stockholm. More plans were made, and even our hero made a comment about the queue of films, and hangouts in the works. This new person acknowledge and was happy about that, and continued to send flirty messages, emojis, and photos.

The return back to Stockholm was a stress filled flight; one of anticipation and fatigue with no entertainment. Our hero returned back and slept for the morning, planning to wake up in the afternoon and hang out as arranged. Time was getting later and later, and the plans became more delayed.

Eventually nerve was built up, and upon a train this new person boarded. Our hero decided to be polite and meet at the train station upon arrival, that way there would be no confusion about where to go even thought the building was across the street.

Polite greetings occurred and they proceeded back for some tea and chat. The guest decided that beer was the beverage of choice, likely due to nerves and shyness. This was evident with the amount of smoking that was needed; normally this would put someone off, but sometimes people have to look past imperfections for the greater good.

Interesting chat ensued and a passing comment was made about our hero’s hair; what a surprise that it was longer. Well what about the Bitmoji which clearly showed long hair? It was not something hidden in the snaps before, so a bit perplexing.

The guest became curious about some tarot cards that were spotted on the bookshelf. A request for a reading arose, and our hero obliged. Almost immediately our hero realised what the query was and what it concerned. It was clearly a question about a new male person in their life and their unwillingness to let go of the past. In order to seek resolution of the conflict, the querent needed to let go and move on.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Without spilling the beans and speaking a bit vaguely, the hero sensed that it was in direct relation to the current situation. He decided not to say anything, as it would have been very presumptuous. Panic ensued as the time was noticed; it had barely been one hour, but the last train was departing in the next 10 minutes and the guest needed to go. Quick preparations for leaving took place and pleasantries were made while leaving. “We should hang out tomorrow, is that okay?” the guest asked.

Of course this was okay, and the run to the train resulted in making it with two minutes to spare. During the 20 minute journey flirty conversation continued, and when the new person arrived home again a Video Call was made. Much to the hero’s surprise, already being in bed, he answered. This call continued for another 20 minutes before sleep, and all was good in the world.

The next day came up, and our hero slept in and came awake to the world at about noon, having been jet-lagged as well. A daily greeting snap was sent, and it went unopened and unanswered for several hours. Dinner time came, and finally a reply. Negatory on hanging out, after all. No worries, more sleep.

For the next few days, the same question came up about going for a drink, going to see a movie as planned, or having coffee. Negative, negative, negative. Our hero became suspicious and slightly irritated as clearly the tone of the messages had changed. The day before New Years Eve approached and the hero inquired the plan; few options, no decision made. Our hero usually spends New Years Eve alone eating cheese fondue and watching the Muppets, so he invited the other over to join in the tradition. No answer.

Several hours later, our hero received some snaps clearly indicating that other options were chosen. He went to bed, disappointed in the fact that once again he was left alone to celebrate a new year. He knew something was afoot but didn’t dare say anything.

And so a few days passed, and radio silence. It was at this point that our hero sent a message inquiring what was going on. Up until this point it had been mixed signals: we should hang out, we should watch movies, we should go for a drink. However at every instance of asking to do one of those things, it was met with a no.

Then the truth came out. “I stopped messaging you because you seemed more attached than I was.” Stunned and taken aback. How could this be for our hero? It was the the other one that was doing the flirting and had been leading him on to believe that he was liked. “I am not ready to have any serious relationships, I’m only looking for friends.”

Fine, sure. It’s not like the hero had done anything other than to suggest hanging out. After all it was the flirting of the new person that was defining the relationship. This angered the hero because nothing he had said suggested that hanging out would mean anything serious. Isn’t that what friends do? Don’t friends hang out and enjoy each others company?

Our hero was left to ponder this and came to the conclusion that either he’s crazy, or there is something wrong with other people. And so whatever it was that was going on was dead. Another one hits the dust, however promising the previous month had been. And so he’s left to wonder what went wrong and what was it. Then it all came into focus and there could only one logical explanation.

It’s all about the hair…

Needless to say, throughout my life I have had a very unlucky time navigating the dating world. Whether it be a result of my asexuality, of my social awkwardness, or of my lack of experience nothing can prepare me for what may happen or what one may find around a new corner.


Photo courtesy of Time Out Abu Dhabi 

I recently travelled to the United Arab Emirates to visit a dear friend and spend Christmas. I was unwilling to spend another Christmas alone, so I ventured to a foreign desert land. While the trip was filled with going here and there, what struck me most was a complete turnaround in my dating life. I’ve been living in Sweden for 3 years and I’ve been on two dates, so as you can imagine that sounds pretty dismal and only one of them was a positive experience.

What might explain this is unknown to me, but I can do nothing else but surmise that what I offer here, is just not wanted. In three years I manage about twenty or so matches on Tinder, a few of which chat to me. I set foot in the UAE and for shits and giggles I load up Tinder. In the span of a few hours, I’m getting matches left right and centre. After two days of swiping, I garnered about 50 matches, most of which were actually talking to me.  I was confused, surprised, and speechless.

I decided to take it somewhere and meet up with a few people for dinner or to hang out at local spots. In 5 days I managed to fit in 6 dates in two cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I can say with positive reflection that while they were a bit nerve wracking to start for fear of police or similar traps, they were all positive experiences. How could this be? How could my luck change so dramatically and my match rate increase to 95 in the span of a few days?

I reflect on it, and possible explanations come to mind. Is it because I’m foreign? Is it because I’m white? Is it because I’m an amazing person? All are possibilities, but I’m lost as for how or why this can be. How can I have more success in dates in a country so repressed and restricted, while living in a free society of Sweden I am a complete lemon? Thinking about it confuses me and makes me very emotional because of the situational irony.

Here I can marry, have children, and live an authentic life and I can’t find a partner, barely even dates. I go to a place where I can’t get married, can’t have kids, and can’t live an authentic and open life and I get several people really interested in me, even for marriage. It just feels like a huge slap in the face, and leads me to question whether it’s something wrong with me, or something wrong with everybody else.

All I can say is I’m thankful, but now even more confused than before.

The struggle is real; real like the extremely intense hunger for cake of a cake lover

It was unknown to me up until about five minutes ago that there actually is a Tinder Algorithm, or at least to online reports it seems to be legit. There is ELO scores and positive and negative affecters, and even a noob value. Up until that moment I just was making a joke when I said that I broke Tinder, but what do I mean?

Well, despite not being the most polished glass in the cabinet, so to speak, I figured I’d dabble in meeting some people and much as expected it has been a tragic tale. Firstly, in Sweden seemingly nobody actually replies to you when you get matched. It’s bizarre, and seemingly pointless.

Secondly, after a certain point you start to wonder if these people actually exist. Are these fake profiles of people that are being casual flirters, or are they legit human beings (sometimes you have to wonder…)

And thirdly, when you spend four months and get no more than 5 matches, you start to wonder about stuff. Am I too this, or too that, not enough this or not enough that, or simply undesirable? No matter, more fish in the sea, or so I’m told is the case.

It was all hunky dory until one moment that rocked the experience. I noticed in a profile that someone said they were looking for “the girl of their dreams” and I full stopped. The immediate thought that came to my mind is that this guy is heterosexual and why then is he showing up for me to swipe?

Then it extended into more thoughts and I wondered how many of the people that I swiped over the last 4 months were actually heterosexual as well? Given what I know about how things are here, I wouldn’t be surprised.

And that’s how I broke Tinder and its algorithm, and I think it now thinks that I’m a female. This might explain no matches in 3 months.