Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gratitude Journal 2014

Let us take a moment, Dear Reader, to reminisce fondly on all the good things that happened to me in 2014...

This year I wanted to focus on relationships. I wanted to improve the ones that were worthwhile and I wanted to jettison the ones that were toxic. This is not to be taken lightly, or in some sort of idiot rage. As we get older, especially women, we lose our weak friendships to marriages and divorces and new eating fads and exercise regimens and cults and jobs that require them to move. And finding new women friends is never easy. My circle is small - it always has been - but for those lucky enough to be on my Christmas card list, I believe I am worth the effort. 

Jan 11-12: Good friendship weekend!
Mar 1 -2: Ditto!

As for relationships with the opposite sex, well... It's always something. Let's just say that I meet a lot of really nice men, not all of them make this blog and that is a good thing. I would never rip a person apart unless I truly felt they deserved it. But this is a list of the things I am GRATEFUL for so ...let's carry on. No year would be complete nor would I be completely honest if I didn't nurse some sort of Fantasy Relationship. This is the unattainable, bad-for-you, unbelievably handsome and often unavailable man in your world that you dream of one day... you don't know what. This year it began at a work function where he (almost) spoke to me first, put his arm around me and ...nothing! Nothing happened! That is why they call it a Fantasy Relationship! A few days later I winked at him in the revolving door (because I am a saucy Lil minx) but my feminine wiles were no match and he proceeded to ignore me the whole year through. Fantasy Relationships (FR) are always lessons and for this I am grateful.

Free floor-seat basketball tickets! Ballin'.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, my co-worker gave me Godiva chocolate-dipped strawberries. And old winter boots. I have a history with choco-dipped strawberries: they once made me sick. But I enjoyed them, and the boots (it was the coldest winter in a hundred years or something) and the co-worker. I have certainly had worse working relationships. Later in the year, she jumped in and did a project that was keeping me up at night. For this I am grateful. Speaking of which, I am grateful that I can feel happy even when the corporate world is ugly. [UPDATE: She quit on January 2nd. Hilarious]

To paraphrase a certain book-turned-movie, my mother is the Love of My Life. I am often astounded that the Universe was kind enough to put us together, and for so long. Hardly anyone I know is that lucky. She is my Hero, my guiding light, I look to her flawless guidance in all things I am terrified of one day being without her. I have said this before and I will say it again, she is the funniest, coolest person I have ever met. For her, I am grateful.

I put a big dent in my mortgage this year. Mostly due to another millionaire tenant. Also, if my calculations are correct, I made a tidy investment profit this year. For this I am grateful. 

After four years of singing with the church choir and travelling to Rome to sing for the Pope, I decided to take a year off. I rec'd a free music education and learned to read music to the point where I can almost sight sing. We even recorded a CD but it was very, very hard work and is prolly the reason they invented Auto Tune. The choir was hard, full of weird bitches - male and female - and I am grateful that part of my life has come to an end. For this, I am grateful. 

I am one of those people who likes working bankers hours. I also like doing nothing. The high point of my week is drinking tea and reading books in bed. So, I am grateful for snowy Saturday afternoons to go window shopping and banana shakes, tans and outdoor skating and HOT yoga and learning to run a mile on the treadmill, Spring (including but not limited to: Forget-Me-Knots, Daisies, Tiger Lilies) and clean laundry, vision boards and talking about abnormal psychology (because my neighbours give me so much raw material!), sushi and shopping on perfect October Saturday afternoons, which are not to be confused with ballet and opera tickets and champagne cocktails on gray November Saturday afternoons.

I received two pieces to add to my Tiffany collection this year;
1. A Tiffany-blue pen I keep in my purse to sign cheques. It's so elegant!
2. A silver heart pendant from a new friend (see above: Friendships, female). I was so touched when I rec'd it that I felt adrenaline cracking in my veins and I turned red.

I got new sheets. Choosing new linen makes me feel like a 1950s hausfrau in all the best ways and for this I am grateful.

I have on this list that I am grateful for my cat, but this is probably a typo because my cat is an asshole. He allows The Vile Woman Who Always Wears Sweatpants and Leaves The House With Wet Hair (Even In The Winter) to pet him. He is the worst kind of asshole, an asshole with no loyalty.

We went skiing in Quebec and it was the last weekend of the year and everything was melting, then there was this giant snowstorm and we skied 7km in powder. Standing at the top of a mountain on a perfect day is to be one with the Universe. Infinite gratitude.

I am grateful for Tina Fey and Maggie Smith, for Second City and English dramas like Pride and Prejudice and Downtown Abby.

I bought a(nother) Gucci purse. I am grateful for luxuries.

Speaking of luxuries, I went to Hawaii this summer. It is like paradise on Earth. Like Bali, I am drawn to places that make it easy to be spiritual and Hawaii is all spirit. We were rewarded with a "mountain view" room instead of the usual "ocean-view". If the ocean breeze was strong, the view flat and unrelenting, then the mountain was inviting, mystical and peaceful. It was the best thing that could have happened.I also bought a new suitcase and it is so pretty that it made this list. I am grateful for American money, which made the trip possible. OK enough about Hawaii (but dude...)
One final thing, though.
I have a deep and painful history regarding a bracelet of pearls, my late father and something that was unfairly kept from me. The universe saw fit to right this wrong. For a few dollars I became the proud owner of not one, but two of the largest pearl bracelets I have ever seen in life. They are so large that I feel weird wearing them on the subway. Pearls are a sign of purity and they came at the best time. A few months later I walked into Birk's and in the window were exact copies of my bracelets. I asked how much they were and they were easily 10x the price I paid. I am so grateful.
I had never finished a degree I started at University and it always bugged me. Of course, I graduated, there was just one thing I started that I did not finish and so I went back. I handed in 4 assignments and I rec'd A's on all four of them. I am so grateful I did this for myself. I graduate (again) in June.

I fixed the brakes in one of my cars RIGHT BEFORE a giant winter storm. I am grateful.

I am grateful that I handled my own panic attack.

I am grateful for the Russian dude at that cool party who kept saying "my iguana".

I am grateful for those two guys back in September.

I tried to crack my own shell and be a joiner this year.
I volunteered to climb the CN Tower, raised almost $500 AND went to New Orleans to build a house in the 8th Ward with Habitat for Humanity. On Sept 25 I saw a NOLA marching band and got drunk. It was so amazing I hope I remember that on my death bed. I practiced not being addicted to good feelings this year, and trust me, climbing the CN Tower with a bunch of sweaty bank employees is the way to feel bad feelings. 

As you may have noticed, food plays a large part of my gratitude journal and this year is no exception. The following food events are notably for various reasons and are listed in no particular order:
I ate a delicious Italian dinner with A_____ uptown during a summer rain storm.
On December 23rd, I had dinner with some co-workers at an amazing restaurant. If you read this blog, you may be interested in my restaurant reviews under the same name on Urbanspoon. One girl was a total prick, but to balance the karma another girl was the very essence of grace and charm. I hate making a mistake when I invite someone out and having little bitches ruin my appetite at restaurants. Nothing is more annoying than paying for food that you no longer feel like eating. Who can think of what wine goes with braised lamb when there is a bitch in your midst? For her, I am grateful.

I had a quiet perfect Christmas and five and a half days of absolute silence. I am grateful for Christmas.

And now for the most important thing. On July 24th I met a lovely, kind, thoughtful man and he and I are still together. He makes it fun to get dressed up and he gives me confidence to speak up. I will say no more, except this: I am grateful for 28 July 2014. He will understand. 

You may remember that my last Gratitude Journal included a shout out to my pregnant friend Adrienne. I am pleased to announce that she was delivered of a son in the middle of year and yes, I am grateful for little babies.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trolling for Apples

We are not amused.

Dear Reader, I need you to read something with me. I need you to take a moment to understand that if a woman this misguided is trolling the websites, then it's no wonder online dating has a bad rep. 

If you want it read it: 

Here goes…

Growing up, I always believed in fairy tales and bought into the idea that Prince Charming would sweep me off my feet and I would live happily ever after. After the age of 15, I started to realize that this love thing may be much more complicated than Disney ever led us to believe.

First off, try and stop me from laughing. Dear Reader, you already know what I am going to say. I am going to say, "Where was this poor girl's mother to offer her guidance and support to dis-abuse her of these silly notions?" Women have to help women and women have to help girls. This is stupid from the jump.

I observed that teenage guys liked the "hard to get" and "in demand" girls.

When and where did you observe this? You are asking us to become emotionally invested in a story that has no background. This is manipulative. Maybe guys don't like you because you are manipulative.

So, without realizing it, over the years and through a lot of bad encounters and relationships, I adapted and went from sweet and innocent to sexy vixen with an edge. If you say so. My self-respect went down hill and I thought all men just wanted was sex and a hot chick they could show off to their buddies. That was YOUR assumption. Again you are not telling us HOW or WHY this happened. It's just a bunch of clich├ęs linked together. I undervalued my body and what I had to offer as a smart, loving and successful woman. This pattern of abusive and one-sided relationships continued. Whose "side" was the relationship on? I often chose the hot guy because he was my "type." GOOD I am glad you are honest about being superficial. This is a major problem with women getting in their own way. This pattern continued for years, hunting for men on dating websites for endless hours, lining up several dates each day and creating an image for myself that I thought was desirable. HOLY SHIT ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? You need therapy. And Jesus. I aimed to be the sexy, in demand girl who no one could resist. You honestly sound like a fucking sex addict. You should not be giving advice to anyone. Do you have someone you can call?

By my 30s, I finally realized that something needed to change. Good start, that is how it started for me, tooI wasn't getting any closer to having a family and/or meeting the love of my life. I realized that grown up men wanted that sweet and innocent Disney princess they could take home to their mom and dad. HOLY SHIT ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! You haven’t changed at all. You are a liar. That sexy vixen was only good for dating and not for anything long term. So, I adapted and came to terms with who I really am. I may not be an innocent princess, but I am a sweet, beautiful, loving and loyal girlfriend. That sexy vixen still lives within me but is now only on display for one wonderful man who I love deeply and genuinely.

Stop. Now she is being dangerous. She is supporting incorrect beliefs about gender and femininity. These are not words one uses to describe a full grown woman, they are words to describe make-up styles: "The Vixen, The Princess, The Loyal Girlfriend". Everyone just stop it. You can have sex and not be a vixen. You can have sex and still be a princess. You can not have sex and be both or none at the same time. If you are ever in the presence of a man who labels you or another woman, fucking run away. And if you are doing it on your own to other women, just stop it. If you need permission, here it is: you should have as much sex as possible until you find what you like. If you are still hunting, he's prolly not giving you an orgasm. You need to be honest about that. You need to be honest with yourself. You are ultimately on this journey with yourself. I know that’s scary. Get over it.

Now that I am in a happy and committed relationship, OH OK CRISIS AVERTED THEN? How the fuck did this magic happen? I have some valuable advice (Reader's Note: it is not valuable) for all of those single girls out there. I wish I had this kind of wisdom when I was on the hunt for my Prince. STOP IT. Stop calling him that, he is JUST a man. He is not a wizard. Can you imagine the kind of pressure you are putting on him every time you tell strangers on the internet that you are married to a Prince?

1. Within the first few dates, most men quickly label a women into different categories: Dateable (reader's note: this is not a word), Casual Sex (he labels a woman "Casual Sex"?), Possible Marriage Material, Crazy and Clinger (what’s the diff between the last two?). Once he decides which category you fall into, it is next to impossible to change his mind. The very idea that this woman with her very strange ideas knows anything that a man (not a Prince!) is thinking is laughable. First of all, No, men don't do this and IF a man does this, just run away because you are in the presence of a psychopath. Google it. People (men) who make quick instinctual judgments are doing so in order to manipulate and connive you. The first step will be to make you insecure. Be warned.

2. Most men want to marry a sweet and innocent girl who is a prize that no other man has touched before. Although they realize that is next to impossible, they still like to believe it. So, even if you are not a perfect angel (and he knows it), don't tell him anything he doesn't need to know. Let him believe you are as innocent as he wants you to be. No they don't and this is so stupid I really shouldn't respond to it. She is saying that men will only marry virgins. This is untrue and besides, who cares? He can marry an 18-year-old foreigner if he wants that. He can get a doctor to inspect her hymen since she won't know what her rights are. It doesn't mean she didn't blow half her village before she left. A man who is hung up on a full grown woman knowing how to make full grown love is a bit weird if you ask me. Also, this has no reflection on the strangers he is MEETING ONLINE.  I do agree that people are too open about their sex lives in general and should wait to get to know someone before dropping shocking stories, but any sense she is making is drowned out by her sex-negative opinion.

3. Become a man's friend before sleeping with him. Most men will throw one night stands to the curb, but he will do anything for his friends. TRUE; try and become friends with the stranger you meet online before you are alone in the dark with him. Good advice. Thanks for coming out, @HotelYoga.

4. If a guy really cares about you, he doesn't want to hear about how many guys you are sleeping with, how many guys you dated, how many guys are chasing you etc. Major turnoff. Uhm, you already covered the slut-shaming in Point#2. This point is redundant.  Also, since when have women ever framed themselves as "chasing" a guy to make themselves seem Dateable (as you spell it. I would have gone with Date-Able because it's more ridiculous)? This sounds like the advice of someone deeply out of touch. Do you still read Tiger Beat?

You see, Dear Reader, this poor women obviously has a significant sex hang up and wants to burn herself pure in the fires of the internet. We get it. You think that you used to be loose. Now you think that you are not. Something about the magic dick you met (on the internet) made you stop. Cool. Consider your pot washed, Sister.

5. The first three to six months of any new relationship should be relatively fun and easy. After that get ready for the real man to show his true colours. He can only go to that vegan restaurant with you for so long until he wants to hit the pub with his buddies. HAHAHA. If you get to date number 4 without him showing his true colours, I have a couple of reasons why: 1. He is dating more than one woman. 2. He is a psychopath who can keep up a charade for an extended period. 3. He is REALLY a vegan and perfect for you. Also, what the hell is wrong with going to a pub? Can't girls, or vixens, or princesses, or loyal girlfriends go drink beer? I am positive I have seen them do this. Positive.

6. Guys are just as insecure as women. They buy new clothes for dates, they strategically plan their approach with you and they hurt deeply when things don't work out. Most of them don't show their emotion or talk about their pain. They generally suffer in silence or with one friend they can confide in. Maybe, but what the fuck does this have to do with fucking dating?!?

It took me 37 years to realize that fairytales only exist in movies and books. HOLY SHIT ARE YOU SERIOUS? I did eventually find my Prince, (stop it) but it was a painstaking and difficult process to get there. Didn't need to be.  No matter how many self-help books or advice columns you read, it all comes down to truly loving yourself and not compromising your self worth to be something you are not. At times, it will seem like battling a wicked witch or an evil step mother would be much easier than going through the pains of dating. I'm dying. Of laughter.

Eventually, your Prince will come and he may not be your "type." Be prepared to be break patterns and love will come.

Since the conclusion makes literally no sense and has no relation to the piece I am tempted to believe that a computer wrote this. A stupid computer. Her main problem is that she has no idea what the purpose of dating is, and she basically giving tips on how to protect herself from psychopaths. Only 1 in 9 men is a psychopath (1 in 4 in prison – which I do not recommend, dear Reader) so it's overkill. (ahah punnnnn)

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Honest Dating Profile

Hi. Welcome to my profile. Right up front – rather than tell you what I have to offer, or positive aspects about my successes in life - I’m gonna go ahead and tell you a little bit about what I am NOT looking for in another strange human (with the foolish belief that I won’t manifest what I give attention to).

I’m (not) looking for a man who wants to change his situation.
I have no interest in “changing your current situation”. The thought of being stuck with a man who already drove his marriage in the ditch, plus his kids, plus an ex-wife…? No. As any single girl knows, a widower is better. 
(Can you manage that? Just don’t blame me, k?)

Being used for sex is every woman’s dream [sarcasm].
For a man requesting free sex on a dating website (real men hire sex workers), you certainly have A LOT of rules. I miss when sex was supposed to be fun. Hilariously, you aren’t really negotiating from a position of strength. From the looks of things you are sad, overweight and broke. You seem to blame women for your current situation (the sexless marriage, the one you don’t want to change) and yet you hunger for pussy. Personally, I don’t understand why you would post more dick pics than face pics, but I will let history decide. You find yourself in a quandary, friend, and I sincerely feel for you.

Winning at the Game of Life.
So, stop writing that you are not “seeking arrangement” because it’s so completely rude I can not tell you.
Are you really receiving that many emails from hookers that you need to write it in your profile?
I have a hard time believing that. Everyone has a hard time believing that.
While I agree that women can be cold, that women should NOT use sex as a weapon, and that marriages come with kids, I feel like you should have discussed this before you got married. These are the obvious problems that could have game plans ahead of time.
See? I used a sports analogy! That proves I’m really “easy going”, right?

You are (not) superior.
Reading other people’s dating profiles and judging them on form or content within the body of your OWN dating profile is a perverse from of meta-masochism. If you don’t know what that means, it means it will not get you a date for this weekend. Someone scribbled on the internet and you wrote a PhD thesis about it. If you spent that much time reading and writing in high school you would have a better job today. #sorrynotsorry

That being said, I really like sports and I am very easy going. Call me!

Friday, August 8, 2014

On Concepts of Purity

Who remembers that scene in "Drop Dead Gorgeous"?

I want to take a moment to pontificate on a subject that has been circling my Facebook in recent months, it is the idea of “Purity Balls” held in the Southern Unites States. See the Time Magazine Photo Essay here:,29307,1822906_1736958,00.html or HuffPo’s slightly more reactionary take here:

Very often when a dear friend or acquaintance tells me of a lengthy gut-wrenching story, when it comes time for me to talk I try to always start with “Are you asking for my advice?” And here they stop. If she’s crying, then she abruptly stops. If she is not, then her eyes dart around madly, and the conversation shifts… Thusly I am let off the hook and the relationship remains intact. This won’t be that kind of conversation, Dear Reader, because you did not ask my advice.

First and foremost, I don’t know if these actually exist because I have never attended one, but I have been privy to a “debut” or debutante ball for Kansas “society” and if I had to guess, a purity ball is its hardscrabble cousin. If a debutante ball is an event that is attended by a young female, ready to be presented to society as marriageable often accompanied by a military date, then a purity ball is an event that a young girl will attend for much the same reason, but she will attend with her father.

Evangelical Christians, differently from other types of Christians who are followers of the teaching of Jesus, believe in a very strict textual analysis of the entire Bible as an indicaton of GOD’s law for humans on earth. Let me unpack that a bit: Unlike Catholics, who believe that Jesus “made all things new” and that civil and moral law begins with his brief yet effective parables, Fundamentalists spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars researching the language of the Bible from earliest Judiaism (ironically) to derive meaning from a book that has been translated, lost, found, lost and found again easily 40 times before it ever arrived in English. They do not give creedence to other books written by equally important authors at comparative times, nor do they believe any of the essential meaning of the English version has been lost in translation. Their fervency is ultimately what binds them together both in marriage in and in creating extremely effective religious lobbies in politics. One must understand this ambient background noise to fully comprehend where Purity Balls fit in.

The only problem with textual analysis of the Bible is that it is inherently biased and always fraught with error. Evangelicals are painted into a corner because as new evidence arises they have only narrow places to put it, causing, as we have seen, panic, hatred and fear whenever any issue is re-conditioned for a changing society. As a result of this textual analysis the religion is extremely inflexible and allows for only an ultra specific margin of society to be accepted. All of this prelude should not indicate that I think they are “wrong”, I’m just laying the framework for my opinion, which comes next…

It’s weird to kiss your parents on the mouth. It’s not illegal and it’s not wrong, it’s just weird to do it and weird to be photographed doing it. That was my first thought when I was peering through the portraits of young girls in what used to be known as cotillion dresses, or party frocks as my grandmother who was raised in La Belle Epoque would say.

At best a Purity Ball is a reaction to a world that is changing too fast for people who liked it the way it was. At worst a Purity Ball is a role-reversing sea change of confusion that places the Lord as a young girls “husband”, her father as her “boyfriend” and any other swinging dick as an interloper. The child, ranging in age from 4 to 18, signs a Purity Covenant that she will behave in a demure manner and that her father is the protector of her virginity.

Ah! There, I said it! Her virginity. The secret trading card of vagina controllers the world over.

Remember father-daughter dances? Remember how charming that sounded? At least for me, a girl without a father. The word chaste is actually a better word than purity, but chaste doesn’t make you think of a fresh mountain stream the way purity does. The world has undergone a lot of changes since the 1980s when Purity Balls first popped up. Same sex people can now legally get married and enjoy partner’s benefits, the internet bleeds actual porn into regular media at an increasingly faster rate and the gap between rich and poor is widening. All of these socio-economic factors allow social mores to become de-stabilized. As Man searches for meaning, he will sort for sameness, he will look for those who best resemble himself, and he will allow his world to become very small if it means he has a greater sense of control. One of the first things we see in societies where mens traditional positions are threatened is an attack on a woman’s agency. Everything from school attendance, to job security, to government benefits to sexual choice (from when it happens, to where it happens, to who is happens with, and what to do after it happens) will be curtailed. And it will always be shrouded in a big white fluffy gorgeous veil and called … God’s purpose, or religion, or duty.

As such, these men do not consciously understand that they are emotionally damaging otherwise capable beings and I can see how that would happen. We live in the golden age of the dick pic and if I was a parent of a daughter between 8 and 18 and I am not sure I would allow her to have the internet or even a cell phone with text messages. Thanks to the invasiveness of handheld devices, young girls and women are TOO available to any man with thumbs. It is a function of popularity – oh so crucial in small societies – to be this available. It is a function of the tribal nature of teenagers to keep secrets from parents, an actual growth stage in the healthy development of independent people. It is next to impossible to balance being completely clear with your parents about the state of your hymen while remaining necessarily opaque about the state of your friends. This process is bound to fail and with it the embedded identity of what a good girl is (she is a virgin), what a good woman is (until she meets her husband), what a good wife is (and then only has sex when he wants it), what a good sex partner is (and learns to enjoy his response speed and his tastes).

This how you burden a pack animal to carry an enormous amount of emotional baggage for the rest of its life. All of Mans tangled feelings and insecurities and things unsaid about sex, desire, lust, love, romance and ego wrapped tightly, tightly into bite-size amounts and fed week after week month after month and year after year in to the precious brains of their own children. It’s like a form of child abuse that comes from attachment but it is not love. These young girls are being trained from a very early age that they are their fathers property, that their sexual history is not and can never be considered private, but rather a resume of their moral fiber, that their flesh is their only real value. Once deflowered, it will be their beauty and quietness in self-sacrifice that keeps them valuable, once old they will either be divorced (look at the stats) or widowed which is the surest root to poverty that man has ever created, but here Dear Reader comes an important stage because here and for a brief moment before they die, they will be judged by others who chose to see on the state of their character. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Dark Passenger: Pt 1

My first attempt at suicide was age 11. I carefully poured a small amount of poisonous chemical into a glass jar and packed it in my lunch container, and packed that into my backpack. Mid-afternoon, my favorite time of day, I took it into the girl’s bathroom and went into a stall by the high window and locked the door. I remember it was very quiet and well-lit in the bathroom. I felt very comfortable there. I stared at the black liquid in the jar for a long time, willing myself to drink it, thinking of all the good reasons to do it, but in the end I did not. I returned it to my backpack and went on with the day. No one knew a thing.

My second attempt was a year later, when I went to an apartment building in order to jump off the roof. I had left after lunch and never came back to school, just curled in a ball at the door of the roof in the cold thinking absolutely no thoughts at all. This is called a disassociative state. What was really weird was that I was a good student with high marks and no one called home to figure out what happened to me. No one asked me the following day. This is when I first discovered the power of putting on a good face to the world. For a girl this mask includes a big smile, for a boy it’s quiet consternation.

Often when someone asks me what I like, I think they are asking me what I can tolerate, and I can tolerate anything. So to save time, I say yes to whatever it is they are talking about, making a mental note to never see them again so I will not be pressed into whatever dumb idea they have cooked up, like organized sports or something. I have at times carefully thought about what I might actually like, what the right answer might actually be, but it never comes and if it does I always second guess it anyway. But there is no chance in hell that I would ever make the mistake of actually saying it out loud.

A psychologist once asked me if anyone played with me when I was a child. The answer is a quick and decisive no. No one ever played a board game, or computer game or even a game of cards with me. When my father left and then died I was a severe burden on my mother and she let everyone know it. I remember the looks of adults who were her “friends”. For the most part, they were people she had known in her childhood who had grown up to be drunks. If I accidentally spoke in their presence and belied an intelligence far beyond my years, they would cock their heads and stare like dogs listening to a high-pitched noise. I used to call this look, the “I am not the child they expected her to have” look. When I stared dead-eyed back at them, they would feel threatened and mock me. These are grown adults I am talking about. My mother would tolerate even the most vile behaviour from these animals. Then they all went went to rehab and dropped her as friend because you are not supposed to hang around your old friends after becoming sober. I guess the joke was on her.

When I was a child, any emotion I may have had was met with intense shaming by my parents and teachers. Very quickly, say by age 8, I developed a quiet stoicism that people would comment on. “Oh, she is so well-behaved”, they would say. With this stoicism came an unwillingness to be touched, and more intensely an unwillingness to eat. My mother says that I stopped eating the moment my father left, shortly after my first birthday. Up until that point, they laughingly called me “Miss. Piggy” because I was a good eater. I have absolutely no independent recollection of my father’s presence, save one, and trust me when I say psychologists have really pressed me on this. They say that the fat little baby missed her father so intensely that she stopped eating. I have no idea. I just know that I hated eating food. I hated the smell of food, I hated the taste of food, I hated how much my stomach hurt when I ate. And my stomach always, always hurt. But I never uttered a word about it because as you may remember, I am not that dumb. As a result, not eating was effortless for me, and not eating comes with an interesting side effect; it makes a person very skinny.

Being skinny is the single most important thing for white women of a certain demographic. With a big smile and a skinny body you can pretty much do anything. As long as that anything requires not speaking, not eating and not having emotions. Luckily, I didn’t have all three. I was the first little girl in my group to have a “boyfriend” call me on the phone. And it short order I learned the fourth thing you need; the ability to deal with intense jealousy. Given that I always wanted to kill myself, I found it really cruel and mystifying that a girl would go to the trouble of hating me. I used to think, Trust Me, Sister, I have cornered the market on hating me, you have nothing to add here; but that never stopped them. Because of their high-fat low-income diet, they developed breasts and hips very early. This led to adult-style conversations about maxipads and birth control by seventh graders. What they should have been talking about was their zits, because their skin was horrifying. To this day, I spend large amounts of money having my face professionally washed.

I was badly bullied by a few girls in elementary school, with the rest turning their backs on me. The teachers pretended it wasn’t happening even when I had blood and bruises. It was so bad that one girl tearfully requested my forgivenenss later in high school after she had found religion. I remember looking at her and saying No, I do not forgive you in my head while smiling very broadly with a “Yes” out loud. I think we even hugged. My skin still crawls at the memory. Couple my mother’s lack of boundaries with my father’s abandonment and you have the toxic ambient background noise to my formative years.

I felt then and I feel now that suicide is my "thing". It's like a hobby I perfected as a child and that I keep as a safety blanket today. Like the highest order of Zen masters, I contemplate my own death every day. Yet, were I dumb enough to say this out loud it would merely re-inforce the feeling of being misunderstood. I may or may not ever complete the act, but I am well within my rights to discuss it with myself. This is called, I am told, "suicidal ideation". Suicide is common and very under-reported. There is a suicide every 41 seconds globally, that's over 2,000 a day. Take a moment to think about that. As a sometime-suicidal person I have deeply thought about the following and concluded: I don't believe that all lives are worth living, or that all suffering is noble. Nor do I believe that people who commit suicide are cowards. Suicide in a healthy person is usually a waste, then again there are some for whom suicide is too good a death. You see, it's a grey area. What I want more than anything is to be allowed to feel suicidal, which I admit, is very strange and even a little ridiculous. Then again, clinical depression takes itself very seriously and has almost no sense of humour, which is why we will have to talk about it - behind its back - another time. Be Continued.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Future: A Musical to Believe In

"Cheetah on my head! Cheetah on my head!"

Back when I was watching cartoons in the mid-eighties it was completely understood that Japan would rule the world by the time I was an adult. Kids in Kansas took Japanese in school so that they would be prepared for the New World Order. To a certain extent, Japanese art and commerce were already infecting us with shows like Astro Boy and the He-Man/ She-Ra / ThunderCats trifecta. I had an action figure with blue hair and a distant relation asked me vexingly if I would have blue hair too. I remember looking at her and being completely aware that she was old and that blue hair wasn’t a big deal at all, so much so that I have never gotten around to dyeing my hair blue. Hang on a minute… *makes hair appointment*

When I was a kid we were taught rudimentary computer programming skills like Turing and word processing. It’s hard to believe now, but just learning to type was a whole class. Of course, Russian kids were building program systems and their even their own games. When guys took games like Doom off “shareware” and uploaded it during the class, it should have been clear that we would be the computer programmers of the future, but all I can remember are blue-haired kindergarten teachers warning us about the coming future computer apocalypse. They were certain they were right because their own stupid children, having followed in their parents footsteps, were having trouble getting jobs in the closed house that is Teacher’s College and being “re-trained” to use Excel. Excel has upwards of 100,000 commands. If I could go back in time, I would advise them not to start there.

Speaking of which, when I was a kid, we were warned that there would not be any jobs for people my age because the Boomers would all have them and never, ever let go.

When I was a kid, I thought I would have a hover-car by now. Also, quicksand. I would have expected to be trapped at least once by quicksand by now.

I was lucky enough to go to Africa when I was 18. While there, I saw lions and antelope and gazelles, also elephants, monkeys and hippos in a river. Out of all the animals I just listed, would you believe that hippos are the most dangerous to man? Then I went to a restaurant called the Carnivore Restaurant and ate all of these animals, as well as crocodiles. I mostly drank my weight in alcohol whilst in Kenya, which is odd given it’s a strictly devout muslim country. Then I went out in the parking lot and visited with the safari vehicle drivers who were smoking what smelled like marijuana. They told me that women were not “strong enough” to drive mini-vans. I asked them if they had ever heard of a “soccer mom”, but they hadn’t. They asked me when I was getting married and when I said that university was next on the To-Do List they cocked their heads like dogs listening to a high-pitched whistle. Later in life I went to a clothing optional resort in Cancun with my mother (as one does) and a man tried to impress me with his travels. He started saying “There is a restaurant in Kenya called the Carnivore-”. “I’ve been there” I stated shortly.

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Concious Uncoupling

Earlier this month Gwyneth Paltrow announced her divorce from her husband, but she cleverly didn’t call it that. She gave it a name that will live in our hearts either sincerely or as a joke forever, she called it “Concious Uncoupling”. Gwyneth is the Hitler of Home Economists. She can’t do anything normally without it becoming a propaganda machine. She is worse than Martha Stew and that woman went to actual prison. I want to point out a couple (get it?) of flaws is Gwyneth’s statement. First, she takes a moment to advise her fans and by doing so she acknowledges that we deserve an explanation. Celebrities may get to keep marriages a secret, but that won’t work for divorces. Fans are rabid for this kind of info and she breaks it down quick and simple, by controlling the conversation. Now it’s something she wants to talk about, because it’s something she fucking invented. I think we lost the feminism thingie when we as women stopped taking our marriages seriously. Let me back up a step. First. I think it’s really really hard to be married whilst famous. I think it’s hard to be good-looking and tied to one person in general. I think that is compounded by fame and all the people that want to fuck you to feel famous themselves.

But I think you are dumb to get married at all if all you are going to do is spend time apart. That is the first problem. If you want to be married, you have to change everything about your life as needed to stay in constant contact with that person. This is essential or you grow apart. You can’t be swanning around the world without each other if you intend to stay connected. Let’s call that Concious Togetherness (TM) and let’s pretend I invented it. In her quick blurb, Gwyneth tells us that they have spent a year “both together and apart” trying to work it out. What’s going unsaid is that both probably had other people to date during this "difficult" year. Let me underscore how difficult it is to be faithful to your husband when you are a fucking someone else.

Back to Gwnnie’s announcement, almost immediately the tone shifts and we find ourselves being spoken to by an erstwhile psychotherapist (I’m guessing) who wants to tell us that marriage is outdated anyway because we live so long now that anyone can get bored with anyone. I bet Medical School took the whole day for him. And you want to go down like that, Gwyneth? Making up reasons why you couldn’t just stay married. Happiness is overrated and I’m not sure either one of you has a right to declare that you aren’t happy until you compare it to something in the real world.

Her real problem is that we live in a society that forces us to specialize in everything; forget the Age of Information, we live in the Age of the Orgiastic Extreme. There used to be a place for those who pursued a broad range of information and we called that person "well-rounded". How quaint it sounds now. Instead, every sport has an "extreme" component. Frisbee is now ridiculously called Ultimate Frisbee. Bungee Jumping is something couples do on first dates. You can't just ski down the hill, you have to take the double black diamonds intended for "Experts" only. Our collective narcissism is reaching a critical mass hysteria. We are constantly enraged because we are defined so narrowly. That narrowness sharpens to a point creating aggression. Like the bones of the models we rever, these sharp edges define our youth. It's not fat we hate, it the softness. There is no room for vulnerability when a boundary-less communication reigns. We are drowning in a fatal deluge of words and not really saying anything. The information we share is isolated to the flesh. How we look, what we wear, what we eat or – more importantly – don’t eat, is the only currency. People used to be genuinely concerned with the state of their souls. How naive that sounds now.

I want sadness over divorce to return. I don't want it to be a celebration. I don't want the divorce party first. Have one, just not right away. I'm positive your kids don't want it either. I want you to be broken open by this, I want you to shed a single tear on live TV. I want you to dye your black. Then shave it off. I want you to keen in the streets and wear mourning clothes and stay celibate for a year. I want you to tell me that you will never love again, that he was the only man for you, that no one will ever love him like you do. I want you to prove to me that it actually mattered.

Oh, wait. Wait a minute. He’s admitting it was all his fault? That’s like Hollywood code for “She found me fucking some chick on the kitchen counter”. The same counter he fucked you on? Where you conceived your children and subsequently created a small but tasteful shrine and altar to worship, well, the miniature versions of yourselves? Then nevermind, honey, you can do better. I will order the bouncy castle.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Alice In Cunterland

Alice was the name of my closest friend in high school. I had one other friend before her but that only lasted a year. I knew Alice for 10 years and I say this because it is an achievement. Alice had a beautiful singing voice like a Disney princess and both parents who loved her and a cat. I had a cat too. I sat beside her in tenth grade Canadian History and we became friends because we had nothing to add to the conversation of the philipina gangbangers sitting in the back who were bragging about being on the pill and the “Sex Olympics”. (Side Note, Dear Reader: One of those girls learned that her father had a second family back in the Philippines and she had another sister from a different woman. I guess they have the "Sex Olympics" in other countries, too. The father brought them all to Canada and enrolled the new sister in the same school. This was probably weird for everyone. The gangbanger cried in the bathroom, tried to commit suicide, had a pregnancy scare and then her boyfriend never ended up marrying her. So I guess we all had it tough. I still see the boyfriend around the old neighbourhood, or rather I hear him. He rides a custom chopper and it makes a helluva sound. He also wears a helmet that makes him look like he’s about to invade Poland. People are funny.)

That year, Alice and I partnered on a project. I thought that she would be a good partner because she wanted to be a lawyer. I was later to learn that Alice’s best feature was her vivid imagination. I did all the work and when the duotang came back with a mark in the 70s, Alice grabbed it and threw it at me to register her disgust with my performance. In recent years, I think often of this moment. I wonder what I would have done if I had decided – like I should have done– that this bitch was batshit kra’ and dropped her fat ass on the ground. That was another thing that made Alice unstable: she believed she was fat. Here’s what I do know: She had lustrious brunette hair and beautiful mahogany red-brown eyes. She had a beautiful smile and was polite to elderly people. She had good manners at the table. She had huge breasts for such a young girl and in a Catholic school uniform that made her look top-heavy in photos. Whatever. She had a wonderful ability to make me laugh, make up songs, crank call people without them feeling stupid, and generally be hilarious. Alice made me laugh harder and longer than anyone I have ever met before or since. In those first years, I liked Alice a lot. But slowly, and then all at once, cracks began to show. Alice became anxious about a few things and then very anxious about absolutely everything. In a regular house, you would take your kid to the doctor, but the role of crazy was already being played by her mother so no one really noticed what was happening. But I noticed.

I spent a lot of my time on Alice-management. She had a very narrow band of comfort and it took a lot of talking to convince her to do things. Or put another way, she asked a lot of questions for seemingly normal teenager girl behaviour like going to the mall, or a restaurant. Alice couldn’t use public toilets or watch movies that were about space (she called them “mechanical”). She became increasingly convinced that people were obsessed with her, that she was the victim of outrageous jealousy, when in fact she was a very jealous person. In retrospect, this is hilarious. She believed in psychics and was very certain that she would win the lottery. The writings of Nostradamus and the Marian sightings in Europe took on special significance in her life. This became a drag, but because I was trained to put up with a shocking amount of shit from those around me, I simply added Alice to the list. The greatest thing about Alice was that while this was happening she was telling people I was a lesbian. I was later to learn that this – the possibility of the sexual “other” - was a fetish of hers. She would find boyfriends who could only come while rubbing their dicks on a blanket, or by locking her in a closet and calling her fat until she cried. One guy gave her a black eye and she considered him the love of her life. She wondered if anyone would ever fuck her the way did, by ripping a vagina-sized hole in her track pants and banging her in front the television. Alice was a real piece of work but I was too young to know it.

Alice grew up, filled out, lost weight, whatever it took to make her feel good and she suddenly started to have a multitude of boys calling and hanging around. This made her more nervous and unbalanced, not less. There was a parade of new randos in her life all the time, she wasn’t very picky. When she arrived home from school she would talk for hours, often into the early morning, on her princess phone by her bed causing all sorts of trouble. For this reason, likely, Alice did not manage to get into the same university as me. Mine was slightly better regarded but essentially the same, and this bugged her. She began to pick at my school, the fact that I took the subway and she was rich enough to have her parent’s buy her a convertible. The fact that some of the magnificent historical classrooms were not retro-fitted for air conditioning and her school did. But her rage didn’t stop there. One day, she was excitedly telling me about a new game she had invented called “Popping”. It was where you lured an unsuspecting street person to your car with the offer of a cigarette or the request of directions, only to throw a cup of pop in their face. At which point she drove away quickly. Then she cackled gleefully recounting the one person who managed to grab onto her (new) car and really gave her fright. It was followed in short order with a story about rolling a sleeping homeless person off a park bench and onto the ground. This moment burns in my mind as surreal, and I never really saw Alice as normal after that.

Alice took lying to a whole new level. She could have written the phone script for Mean Girls, where the main character uses double line to manipulate and control her Army of Skanks. She would hang around racist bigots and convince them that a friend of hers was crazy, calling her “the spotted animal”. Then she would gossip about the racist bigots to the friend. She used to get so caught up that she would forget who she was talking to and let the cat out of the bag.

After university Alice went to nursing school. She lost more weight, dyed her hair bleach blonde and wore blue contact lenses to clubs. She was never comfortable in her own skin. Then she turned her rage on me. I don’t remember the last interaction I had with Alice but it strikes me it was end of summer at a beach house. She had brought a pair of proto-rapists with her and they proceeded to steal my alcohol. She was still interested in showing off the convertible but by then it was old news. No real words were spoken but we grew apart anyway. On the evening of 9/11 – with the world in pieces - I received a voicemail from her announcing that she had predicted the attack and the coming apocalypse of World War 3 in a series of prophetic dreams, ultimately culminating in her shooting a black girl.

When my grandmother broke her hip, was diagnosed with dementia, and then diagnosed with cancer I tried to call Alice's family home to see if she could offer her professional opinion about the treatment they had recommended and the facility she was in, but Alice did not return my calls and her mother was uncomfortable to speak to me. I had mistakenly believed that Alice could see past herself long enough to help an old woman who had shown kindness to her. I was wrong. Additionally, her mother was a woman who I had travelled to Portugal with, a woman I cared about and respected. I was very sad that I would never see her again. It was like two losses at once. I later learned that Alice thought I was calling to be her friend again, in her extreme narcissism she could not fathom there would be anything else going on in my life. 

Eighteen months ago I became friends with someone on Facebook who was also friends with Alice. I accidentally saw a current photo of her in the feed. It wasn’t anything big, just a girl in skinny jeans and boots standing in a hallway. What I noticed immediately was that she had lost that vibrancy that I remembered, the liveliness that had attracted me and others to her in the first place. She looked very plain and maybe a little sad. I quietly unfriended the mutual.

Rarely, but on the odd occasion, I wonder about her life and I wonder about her family. When I bought my classic car, I imagined her reaction. The old Alice I knew, the one who used to smoke cigarettes and listen to the Resevoir Dogs soundtrack on repeat in the tape deck on cold spring nights at the end of senior term would have freaked out and demanded we go “for a boot”. She would have been happy for me, she would have chipped in for gas. But the woman who lives today is unknowable to me, and it reduces the experience somewhat, I won’t lie. I sometimes drive near her house on the way to Canadian Tire and I think, I wonder if she is down the street? But for anyone who has achieved a certain number of years, you know that you can’t go home again.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My mother, the once and future Cree Indian.

My mother was born in a hallway of St. Joseph’s hospital during a heatwave circa WWII. All the doctors were at the front and the place was understaffed, only new nurses running around panicking. My grandmother, Stelle, remembers hearing “Can we get a doctor here?” right before she went unconscious and was delivered of a baby girl, her second child, my sainted Mim. By the time he got to the hospital, her father Charles had dirty hands, so he put her in a curled newspaper to get a good look at her. She was cute alright but she kept leaning her head to one side. Everytime he moved it, her neck was retract and she would squeal and her little head would fall slightly to the side. This bugged Charles and so he brought her back to the hospital only to discover that she wasn’t the only one. It turns out that a nurse had delivered her – not a doctor – and that this same nurse had delivered all 35 babies that same night. And whatever technique she had used gave all the babies rye neck. The treatment was quite simple. One person pins the newborns shoulders to a flat table and the doctor carefully moves the head back and forth a few times. But the cure of stretching the sore muscle was almost worse than the ailment; my grandfather said the screaming would make your knees weak. Since the mother’s were still recovering from birth, the fathers had to come to the hospital everyday for weeks to have this done. But some of the father’s couldn’t be in the same room as it was happening, it was too much. So they asked Charles to hold their babies shoulders while the doctor worked. Pretty soon Charles was holding all of the babies, nobody else had the nerve. What’s really funny is that they let him do this with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. The treatment must have worked because my mother has the best posture of anyone we’ve ever met. But sometimes, when the seasons changes, she gets a terrible pain in her neck…

Shortly after her birth she needed to have her birth certificate registered, and Charles went downtown to get it done. When he walked into the office the registrar handed him a piece of paper that asked him to list the basic details; name, date of birth, location and … nationality. And below that it listed a hodge-podge of ethnicities and country names. It said something like

Check the box: English, Germany , Irish, Scottish, Italian, Isle of Man, Lithuania

Charles walked back to the front of the line and interrupted the registrar. 
“Where’s the box for Canadian?” he grumbled. 
Oddly, there wasn’t one on the paper. 
“Where’s the box for Canadian?” he said a little louder. Charles believed in the power of volUME! 
The registrar, understanding the problem but not wanting to deal with it, began to stammer and called his manager. The problem was that Charles had no intention of identifying himself as Irish, to some – especially those in a strictly protestant town – saying you were Irish was like saying you were poor and stupid. Besides, it wasn’t true. My mother was Canadian. The manager called his supervisor and on it went all afternoon. Words were exchanged and paper may have been thrown but by the time Charles left the government office my mother was officially listed as “Cree Indian”. The last choice on the list, the closest in Charles’ mind to Canadian.

Within weeks letters began to arrive at the house addressed to my infant mother; threatening letters advising that she return to the reservation, that she would not be allowed to go to school off the reservation, that she would only get her benefits if she returned to the reservation. (A quick point of process here; there is no Cree reservation within 200 miles of where I am sitting. There is a Mohawk reservation, and when I did my grade 7 project on First Nations I learned that the majority of people in Southern Ontario were of the Algonquin persuasion, and you can even google a map of all the First Nations in Ontario, but none are listed as Cree. I have always, always wondered where they intended her to go because apparently the letters weren’t clear.) Charles ignored the letters. If you’ve been reading this blog you know he had plenty of practice ignoring government letters. When my mother turned 6 and it was time to register for school, there was a problem. They advised that she was “out of district” and could not register at the local catholic school. The same school, mind you, attached to the same church to which Charles had just finished donating money. I am not sure what happened, no one really talks about it, but Charles went back downtown to the government office and after a long afternoon of shouting and paper throwing my mother had a new birth certificate issued.

I think it’s romantic to imagine you have a secret double life that no one knows about, the life you were meant to life. In this life there is only authenticity and wonder, no pain and sorrow. This life comes at the expense of your real life, the one in which you build character and burn the fat off your soul, or add to it. The secret is precious because you keep it and once told it becomes different. Because words are things. So, what is in a name? Surely not something so weak and vexing that it that can be re-written or spelled incorrectly on a government form. What really is a nationality, if it can be interchangeable with another as time passes and borders are re-assigned? Only the meaning that you put into it. It only means something valuable or awful if you give it that power. I was on my second drink at tex-mex bar when the waitress walked up, “If you don’t mind” she said, “Can I ask what nationality are you?” I side-eyed M and she blurted “Irish!” which is hardly true but the waitress said “Oh! Because when I saw you order the tequila, I thought you were Greek”. WTF

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Story of the Stained Glass Windows

IN 1940, the ArchDiocese of Toronto wanted to build a new church in the west end. They chose a spot of empty land at the corner of Bloor and Montgomery, one block west of Royal York Rd. There was already an Anglican and Lutheran and Episcoplian church in the area and the Vatican was beginning to panic. To build a church you need money, lots of it and to get lots of money you need a large group of Catholics, hopefully rich ones, and to get the money donated you need a charismatic priest that everyone likes. Enter Father William O’Flanagan, or as he came to be called “Dollar Bill”. Dollar Bill was a good-looking well-educated Jesuit who could dance, golf, ski, swim and be anywhere to anyone who was willing to listen to his pitch about how great it would be to donate money to the church. How much did he want? No less than $5,000 per family. (This was 1940! They were in the middle of a war! For perspective, think of a young Dick Whitman on the farm and how much $5,000 might have been to at the time…) Of course, one could donate any amount at all, no amount was too small but for the princely sum of $5,000 there was a sweetener: You could then be eligible to purchase (donate) a stained glass window with – wait for it – your family name and a few words, to be visible fo'eva. And these weren’t just any stained glass windows; these were the original, beautiful, ornate, multi-coloured, elaborate, glistening panels reminiscent of ancient European cathedrals.

In fact, Dollar Bill had another less popular nickname, Father Chicago, and he knew exactly what he was doing. For Catholics, donating money isn’t nearly as attractive as showing off. Dollar Bill got his money and sold all of the stained glass windows, except for the last two. One was “The Scourging at the Pillar” (too violent) and “Adoration of the Virgin” (too sensual). For some reason, no one wanted these and so Father Chicago put the hurt on; he started calling the wives of parishioners like the priest from The Sopranos. He wined them, he dined them, he encouraged them to ask around. Finally he got to Coba. You remember Eddy, don’t you? (please see After a lifetime of womanizing, Eddy finally fell in love with a stunningly beautiful Dutch girl who was all of 18 years old, and asked her to marry him despite the fact she was 20 years his junior. (But first, Coba had to move out Eddy’s live-in mistress!) Coba – short for Jacoba – was as devout a schoolgirl as they come and even today is a daily communicate at the same church. Coba had humble beginnings but Stelle always said she seemed to have no trouble spending Eddy’s money given half the chance. She took up Father Chicago’s mission and somehow managed to the largest contribution; she bought both stained glass windows. The scourging at the pillar she (hilariously) assigned to the memory of her late in-laws, and The Adoration of the Virgin? She dedicated that one to herself. It was in this way that my mother’s family is the only family to have two stained glass windows at the same church.

Sadly, Eddy died before his time leaving Coba with two small children. But 10 years later she re-married to a lovely man with the initials JC (no joke!), and Coba took her unmarried sister into her new home. Charles used to shout when he saw the three of them, “Here’s comes J___ C____ and his TWO wives!” Long after Coba re-married, long after her second husband became a millionaire and long after he died, Coba never forgot that Charles had supported her through the lean years. When it came time to stop driving, instead of giving her car to her beloved granddaughter, Coba gave the car to me. When I asked her who told her to give the car to me, she answered “God”.