Saturday, October 30, 2004

Perfect Saturday

Today was just one of those rare days in your life where you think wow, this is what life is about. I just woke up in a good mood, had a nice hot shower, and danced around the apartment to my favourite songs for 4 straight hours. I took a longish walk outside in the afternoon; it rained a little, but it was perfect October rain. And let me just say kudos to God or Mother Nature or whoever for these above seasonal temperatures! The leaves are brilliant in their colours, mostly scattered across yards and sidewalks. It was just cool enough to need a hoodie, which is great weather for walking. Perfect weather for walking! And at first I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go. Well, my left leg was up for it, but my right leg was protesting. But they rightie and leftie rock-paper-scissorsed for it, and left one. Horray! Gosh the air smells nice this time of year. And this may well be the last weekend of its kind for months and months.

Then at home, it was on with the good music. And I had this burst of wordiness, so I sat down and wrote for the first time in a long time, some words that my soul really need to unburden, and it felt great. I have a few books that I keep my "poems" in (I call them poems, but really I hate that word, it's prose, but not essay or whatever...I need to invent a better word), and anyway, I was flipping through these journals, and I came across a few items that surprised me. My earliest entries are from 1994 and it's painful to read what a 13 year old thought was great stuff. And it's definitely funny to read through the progression and growth of my thoughts and feelings, and certainly to watch my handwriting changing over the past 10 years. But as I was saying, a few items surprised me in that upon rereading them, I thought them rather good. I usually write when I have some strong emotion all pent up, so I often don't remember what I wrote and it's a discovery to go back and flip through the pages. Most of it is sentimental crap, but once in a while, I come across something I am proud of.

When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a writer. And to be honest, I excelled at it. I have never written an essay that didn't at least get 90%, I have won every writing contest I have ever entered, to the best of my recollection, and generally received a lot of praise back then about the stuff I produced. But then you start to get older, and you realize that just because I can spell and have a bigger vocabulary than most other people my age doesn't mean you can be a writer. I don't have any great experiences to write about. And I don't have the gift of story-telling. I can write a decent paper. I can be entertaining. I was a big fish in a little pond. But the true gift of writing is one in a million, and I should know because I read an awful lot.

Last winter I started writing a story (well, to tell the truth, it started writing itself...sometimes a story just wants to get out, and it needs a hand to push the pen across the paper). I liked what I had written, I had about 20 000 words done and I felt good about it, but then I choked. I thought to myself, that I know I can't be Margaret Atwood. I can't be John Irving. And if you can't write like that, then what's the point? So I stopped. I stick to my journal, my "poems", and now, this. This is safe. It's just drivel. It doesn't have to be good. It doesn't have to be Margaret Atwood.

But when I was thumbing through my old writing, I thought, well maybe it's not Margaret Atwood, but it's damn good for Jamie. And I can live with that. I probably will never be a published writer. I probably will never finish that story. But re-reading some of my old stuff was good enough for me to call this day perfect. Ah, perfect. I hope yours was too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Condiment Wars

As mentioned in the previous post, I will now on occasion enjoy a nice baloney sandwich. But this raises an issue with me, because I have a problem with the way Jason eats baloney. First off, he toasts the bread. I mean, what is that? And then, he puts mayo on it! Now, I am okay with mayo (the only one in my family who is), but baloney is clearly a mustard meat (and I use the word meat quite loosely here). And the truth is, we have a problem with a lot of each other's food habits.

For example, about once a week, we have a relaxed meal. I cook a lot, I have a lot of gourmet recipes and since I don't currently work, I will sometimes throw myself into making a meal for 2 or 3 hours. But I always have something in the freezer for those rare nights when I just don't feel like cooking, usually a frozen pizza and a bag of curly fries (for those of you who don't know, curly fries are McCain's spiral-cut fries with seasoning). Therein lies the key: seasoning. They are pre-seasoned. So when Jason gets the ketchup out, it bothers me. Almost any use of ketchup bothers me, but if he puts it on hamburgers, or hot dogs, or plain fries, I don't mind too much. And he doesn't put it on grilled cheese, or kraft dinner, or eggs, so most of the time we agree. And then suddenly it's curly fry night, and I begin to understand why divorce rates are so high.

I remember when I first got engaged I had a conversation with my mother about how I was not 100% sure that I could marry Jason, because I had recently seen him pour a glass of 7up for breakfast. I managed to hold myself together at the time, but I called my mother in tears later that night. When it comes to food, we are all very prejudiced people. Even grown-ups have a hard time trying new things. When I was little and we ate at my Nanny's, there was nothing on her table that scared me. She sticks to traditional food: 87 kinds of meat (at Christmas, there is usually turkey of course, a chicken pot pie, meatballs, tourtiere, ham, shepherd's pie for Matthew, and KFC for Jan) and all the trimmings. At my paternal grandmother's it was another story. There was stuff on her table that I wanted nothing to do with, and I was aware that even my mother shuddered when she passed the jello moulds with green olives floating in it. And what's with those sandwiches made out of canned ham and relish? I have nothing against ham or relish separately, but together? No thanks. At those family functions my sisters and I mainly subsisted on 2 things: dinner rolls and taco salad. Dinner rolls are relatively similar from family to family, and it was my mother who brought the salad. In fact, Jason often says he fell in love with me for my mother's taco salad. Gee thanks. Hours and hours of gourmet cooking, and he loves the fried beef and crumbled Doritos. What a guy.

And there are stories about Jason that get even worse. I should warn you before you read on: the things contained in this next paragraph may horrify and disgust you. If you ever have to be in the same room with him again, you may want to just skip to the bottom. The truth is, in a moment of weakness, Jason confessed to me that he used to purchase and consume the fillet o'fish at McDonald's. He now knows how wrong that was and he will never, ever do it again, but still. That's the kind of thing that sits at the back of your brain. And now if he ever goes on a killing spree, I'll have to tell the news reporters "Well, I'm not entirely surprised. There were some really shady incidents in his childhood." And it's not just the fillet o'fish. He also used to make peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. He could be a contestant on Fear Factor for sure, he clearly has an iron stomach and a shockingly lax gag reflex. And I have witnessed a lot of oddball sandwiches in my day, because my Nanny has a theory that you can put almost anything on bread and it becomes edible. She used to eat raw onion sandwiches, and boiled-potato sandwiches (this was clearly before the low-carb craze). I myself have partaken in a peanut butter and banana sandwich once or twice, but those are complimentary flavours that are often paired together in breakfast bars, desserts, and the tummies of sane people all across this great country. But peanut butter and pickles? If you're not a pregnant woman, then you have no excuse. If you don't instinctively know better, then let your outraged taste buds show you the way! Shame on you, Jason.

And shame on taking a beautiful thing, the exalted pizza, and turning it into a revolting mess. If I turn my back for even a moment, Jason will be ordering the meat lover's pizza. Or the cheeseburger pizza. Or the quadruple meat pizza. Or the so-meaty-your-wife-will-vomit pizza. I don't even like your standard pepperoni, but we're talking serious meat here, crumbled ground beef, bacon, ham, salami, and the worst of all: sausage. I call this one the worst because on pizza, it comes as tiny little balls of apparent meat, which I know for a fact do not occur in nature.

I could go on and on on this topic, but I won't. Breakfast is ready, and there is nothing like a delicious helping of creamed corn and oyster sauce on toast to get your day started right.

One Billion Chinese People Don't Care

Yesterday was a pretty okay day as far as Mondays go, except for the smell. In the morning it was kind of intriguing as we tried to identify it, but by early afternoon I was sick of it and had a bit of a headache that I am sure was smell-related. It's getting a bit chilly outside these days, so the furnace is on, and yesterday it was blowing a peculiar smell from upstairs down into our living quarters. It smelled "off" to me, and the closest I could come to naming it was maybe tuna or salmon-ish, but that's pure speculation. Anyone who has ever lived in an apartment building knows what I am talking about. You can go weeks, or even months if you're lucky, living in your own little world but eventually the reality that you have neighbours will go Blammo! in your face.

When we lived on Laurier Ave in lovely Ottawa, we never really "met" our neighbours. When we were coming and going, they were not, and after a couple of weeks of this, we thought it was definitely odd. The only time we ever happened upon another living soul in that building was during the ferret incident in the laundry room, and I still can't talk about that without hyperventilating.

But we could definitely smell our neighbours that lived behind us, and we could hear the neighbours that lived beside us. The ones beside us were drug dealers. People knocked on their door, oh maybe 25-30 times a day, at all hours of the day and night. Thank goodness the walls weren't paper thin; the only noise problem came from their TV, because when it came to watching sports, apparently it had to be LOUD. And sadly, whatever cable they had was not the cable that we had (at the time, a Rogers digital box) because I remember during the Stanley Cup that year, we would always be cheering a full 2 seconds before they reacted. When we realized that we were seeing it first, we tried to keep it down so as not to ruin it for them. Among their many, many customers was the guy who lived behind us. We would often hear him dart across the hallway for a quick "visit" and always, every single day, there was a smell that emanated from his apartment and seemed to come through our front closet into our place. It smelled of pot constantly. Luckily I also kept my laundry detergent in that closet, so I think that smell balanced things out, and to the best of my knowledge we didn't walk around with coats and scarves that stank.

Then when we moved to Cummings Ave, things were different, I guess because it was more town-house style than apartment building. It wasn't so much a smell problem as a slight noise problem, though only at night. I had 2 major complaints:

1. At night, I could hear the old man next to us snoring.
2. I could also hear their bird chirping away like crazy, which he only did at night.

But I could live with that. So of course we had to have another kind of Blammo! moment, and that came in form of a flood. The people next to us did something silly in their apartment, and before we knew it, the water seeped through the connecting wall and was rushing into ours. Luckily the damage was mostly downstairs, contained to a much smaller space, but that's where we stored things, so we had to spend the day running up and down the stairs with boxes of Christmas ornaments, camping gear, and wedding supplies. It's exhausting work when it's not even your fault.

Now we're here on Gardner Ave, Cornwall (our third avenue in a row!), and we know we have it pretty good. We do absolutely hear Pa snoring every night, and it's damn loud, but the thing is, even if we were living across town, we'd still probably hear it. But the good news is, it drowns out most of Jason's snoring. And up until yesterday, we never had a smell issue. I suppose it's true that it doesn't become an issue until it's a smell you don't like, and since I grew up on Nanny's cuisine I'm probably pretty familiar with most of the smells. I am just not on board with the fishy smell. Some people will point blank tell you "you're eating tuna, that's gross" but I'm not one of them. I don't personally like that stuff, but I accept that plenty of people do. I happen to be a big fan of a lot of "gross" things myself, as Jason will tell you: brussel sprouts, eggplant, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and yes, turnip. When I cook turnip it makes my mouth-water, but apparently it has a pretty pervasive smell so that when Jason pulls in the driveway, he is tempted to pull back out and not stop till he hits Burger King. So what's smelly to him is not to me, and I guess that's probably true for a lot of people. There won't be much of a turnip problem anymore, though, because if you have never cooked it, let me tell you: it's hard. I mean literally hard. I had to bear all my weight down on my biggest knife just to cut through it, and it took me forever to slice the thing. And then after boiling it, it had really become quite the ordeal, and finally, I managed to burn myself on the steam, which left a blister on my wrist for like 3 weeks. Now Jason is hoping that brussel sprouts will be the next to inflict pain on me, because he neither likes the smell, nor the taste of them.

It makes me sad that the smell of my favourite veggies is as annoying to Jason as the smell of my friend Reshma was to me when she came home from working at Curry in a Hurry. I've never really been a curry kind of girl, and now I know I never could be. Sometimes you just have an experience that puts you off of something forever. For example, when I was 8 or 9, I first came into contact with an egg-salad sandwich at my Nanny's house. My mother abhors mayo (even the mere thought of it), so we were never exposed to _______-salad sandwiches as children. But I thought the egg-salad was just great and I asked to bring one for school the next day. Well, I bet you all know where this is going by now. My mother was very brave to make it for me, but egg-salad just does not do well in this circumstance because by the time lunch rolled around, it smelled. Bad. I didn't eat it, I threw it out and stayed away from sandwiches for at least 10 years, until just recently, when I re-discovered baloney (more on this in another episode).

Anyhoo, the smell is officially gone today. And I may never even know what it was. It's not like you can ask your neighbours "Hey, what are you eating that smells so goddamn bad?". I'm pretty sure that would be rude. So I'm off to pack a suitcase for Jason now, because it's that time of the year when Nanny makes up a bunch of batches of cabbage soup to freeze for the winter, which means I won't see Jason for maybe 4-5 days. Even people who like cabbage admit that the smell is a little over-powering. And Jason does not like cabbage. Jason is very sensitive to smells. He goes through at least one bottle of Febreze per week. I think one of the main reasons why he is so sensitive is that his mother never cooked much when he was a kid, so he doesn't know what most food smells like. He can determine whether you've got Chef Boyarde mini-raviolis or over-stuffed raviolis cooking in the microwave, but everything else is unfamiliar territory for him. He does like the smell of most food though, which is good because I cook often with my crockpot, which means the delicious smell of your meal cooking all day long. But when Jason comes home from work he says "Yay! Crockpot for supper!" and it doesn't matter if there's jumbalaya or lasagna in there, it's all the same to him, just the smell of "crockpot". As much as he always praises my cooking, I still think he'd be just as happy eating those microwave Hungry Man dinners. As long as there is 2 pounds of food there, he'd be happy. And to that I cannot help but say: gross.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Could you go love me from the living room?

Yes, that's the phrase I heard yesterday morning when I finally went in to rouse Jason from his sleep. Apparently my perkiness was grating on his nerves. Anyway, we had a nice breakfast, a leisurely shower (yes, I did manage to shave), and then we took advantage of our head start on the day and out of the house we went.

Of course, we didn't get very far because in Cornwall on Sunday mornings, nothing is open. So we went to the first place we could think of that would definitely be open: the gas station. Even though we only needed little more than half a talk, it cost us $35! What is the world coming to? It's at times like these that I miss just having a bus pass and my worries were done for the month. Jason is quick to remind me that I don't miss having frostbite on my posterior, which is true, but I'm a complainer, what can I say? We also needed air in our tires, because we just got 4 new tires put on the car, so of course they are all defective. Then Jason got us a couple of gas station Diet Pepsis. Diet Pepsi is my favourite, and now I have Jason hooked on it too, which is not so good because apparently his buddies always razz him about ordering Diet drinks. But anyway, he's been stocking up on gas station Pepsis because you get a code to enter to win an i-pod every hour with it, and I guess he'd like one. The grocery store Pepsis have a different contest going though, so you have to be careful.

Then we felt the wrath of God. Well, not his wrath exactly, more like his annoyance, but anyway, here's the story and you can judge for yourself: we were driving down Pitt St., and Jason has this thing where he turns the steering wheel with just the palm of his hand. But lately this is going terribly, terribly wrong because his hand somehow slides over the horn and HOOONNNNKKKK!!!! Everyone at the intersection gives us this startled look. I told Jason that this kind of thing is unsafe, and unwanted honks are God's way of telling him he's a jerk. I think most people at the intersection would agree.

Then we went to Walmart, because that's where everyone in Cornwall always ends up. Among the throngs of people today was a family of red heads. That's really cute, except that the 4 kids were all 13 and up, so it's not so cute anymore, but definitely obvious. So cute/funny to me, maybe not so much to them. Also, Jason insisted on picking up new Oxygenated Dawn. He kept shaking up the dishsoap to see the bubbles fizz to the top, which was annoying because I'm sure by the time we got home we had flat dishsoap.

On our way out of Walmart I happened to notice that Harvey's is offering something new on its menu: grilled salmon burgers, and I thought "ew". I mean, I am of that school of people who has no idea who is ordering those disgusting fillets of fish from fast food places in the first place. And now salmon? Do we really trust these guys with salmon?

So we headed to the library because I finished The Quiet American and I was feeling optimistic about The Last of the Mohicans (this was a little too optimistic, because at this rate, there are still plenty of Mohicans left). I did notice one peculiar thing about the library: everyone there was dressed up. Now I know for a fact that there is no dress code at the library, so I was puzzled for some time as to why that was. And then I remembered that on Sundays, some people, apparently a good portion of people, still go to church. Hunh!

At home I had a little nap, we read a little, then we had grilled cheese for supper (fancy schmancy, I know), Jason watched The Simpsons and I missed Desperate Housewives (TV Guide said it was on at 9pm like usual, but it was actually a repeat episode of Everybody Love's Raymond...and the thing is, I don't love Raymond). So we watched Gosford Park instead, which was good, but not great. Then I went to bed by midnight...for some reason I only sleep in 1-and a half hour increments lately, which is weird, but it means I'm getting close to a normal amount of sleep for the first time in a long time, which is nice.

Anyways, after the earlier cliffhanger entry of what to do on my Sunday, I felt I owed it to myself to record what I actually did on my Sunday, which is not a whole lot, but it was nice all the same.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Countdown to Halloween

It's that time of year again. When I was a kid, it involved at least a month of planning and intense anticipation. We learned songs called C'est l'hallowe'en at school; we watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on TV; we begged our Mom, please pleeeaaaase PLEASE puh-lease to buy us real, store-bought costumes this year, at Wolco; we picked out ridiculous pumpkins to bring home and then let Dad do the real work carving them. And then finally, the big day arrived.

Every year we dressed up as fatties: fat nuns, fat clowns, fat witches, fat princesses, because we had to cram our snowsuits underneath whatever costumes we were wearing. Glen usually came over to trick-or-treat with me, and we would arm ourselves with 2 pillowcases each. Two because eventually the first pillowcase full of candy would become too heavy for our little arms to carry, so we would have to make a pit stop to store the first bag and go down the next street with a fresh start. I remember facing actual blizzards just to get that candy, and it's hard to trudge up and down everyone's front steps in snowboots! But boy was it worth it. And when we finally finished with all the neighbourhood houses, we would get in the van and go visit the other people who expected to see us in our costumes.

First, to the Bosse house, who had formerly been our neighbours, but Mr. Boss was also our dentist. We always got new toothbrushes and floss along with our candy at their house. And of course to Grandma's house we went, where every year we got....fudge. Yup, little blocks of fudge wrapped in seran, the kind of thing that our teachers warned us to never accept, and our parents warned us never to accept (it falls into the same category as apples full of pins and razor blades) but of course from Grandma it was fine. Except I don't think any of us actually liked fudge. But we were polite kids, and we had our picture taken, and it was all well and good, but we were all impatient for what really mattered: the customary dumping of 10 pillowcases of candy all over Grandma's living room floor (2 each for Glen, Jamie, J, T, and Jan). We would make piles: gum, chips, chocolate, suckers, softdrinks, etc. One big pile in the middle would be for all the stuff we donated to Dad (the stuff we wouldn't eat): those horrid kisses, peanuts, raisins, and probably the fudge once we got home. And then it was barter time. Popeye cigarrettes and tubes of rockets didn't hold much value, but man, if you had a bag of cheesies, or a can of cream soda, or a peanut butter cup, you held all the power. And of course Mom would say something dumb like "Only two pieces of candy or you'll make yourself sick" which was promptly ignored. In fact, I do recall at least one Halloween where Jan did make herself sick, but then Jan was the candy monger among us.

Today Halloween doesn't hold as much power as it used to, unless you're my Mom, who has recently reclaimed the holiday along with her friend Joan. They have made a habit out of renting the most obscene costumes (rented costumes....apparently only for adults) and trick-or-treating for liquor and Doritos. But the rest of us spend the night remeniscing about days long past, and even missing Grandma's fudge now that she is gone.

Halloween used to be a day you didn't have to work hard, because at school you coloured pumpkin scenes and had costume parades and school dances. But now we go in to work just like any other day and Halloween loses its mysticism. Except of course for my dear friend Sarah M. who celebrates her birthday on October 31st. I hope you have a good one Sarah, and any of you reading this who know and love her can certainly add your birthday wishes for her in the comments section of this post. As for the rest of you, I do wish you a happy Halloween, and I hope we can all find a way to be at least a little childish and sugar-high on that day. If you have any big plans, or better yet, if you have any great Halloween memories (favourite costume, coldest year, etc) be sure to let me know in your comments!!

Good Morning Sunday!

Well I don't know if I can rightly say good morning since I have not yet been to bed, but I had some extra sleep stored up and don't feel too badly. My computer, on the other hand, is groaning at the early hour. I should probably cut it some slack since my computer is epileptic, and in fact just suffered a seizure this morning. It starts beeping, and the screen shakes interminably, so I had to go wake Jason up for instructions. Usually I like to wake Jason up by scratching his back. Jason loves back scratches, so I think it's a nice way to start the day. But just to shake things up, I decided to try a different approach this morning: I licked the back of his neck. I thought that at the very least, it would give him bizarre dreams, and as every prankster knows, that's good for a laugh anytime! Anyway, nothing too dramatic happened, except he did swear and take a few swipes at me in his sleep, but that's not so unusual. Jason is the kind of boy who needs his beauty sleep, and I know what I'm getting into if I try to wake him up early.

Now things are good, Jason is already dreaming again, and I realize that every morning this week, there has been a frosty condensation on the windows in the early morning. That kind of thing is quaint at Christmas, but in October it's puke-inducing. It gets a little colder every day, and I get a little nastier. I wish I could go into hibernation from November until May...or better yet, go down to my Florida condo from November until May. Unless of course they continue to have these terrifying hurricanes. It always seems cool when you're watching the weather guy get pelted with sleet, his toupee is flapping in the wind and people all around him are flocking to Wal-mart to stock up on batteries and corned beef, but the truth is I am not a brave person. I don't think I'd like extreme weather up close and personal.

The morning is always the most exciting part of the day, because you just don't know what's going to happen. Assuming Jason ever gets up, and assuming he's not a complete crank-pot today, we could really go out and do anything. Or stay in and do nothing. Or dust off the to-do list and laugh about how we won't be doing any of those things any time soon. We could go visit my Mom, or go revisit the ducks at Cooper's Marsh, or roll pennies and drink spiked lemonade, or argue about whether or not I should shave off all my hair, or drive up to Ottawa to have drinks with Caroline and Josh (talking to you made me really homesick for you guys the other day!).

But by this evening, I'll know that today has been a bust. I'll take stock and realize that I painted 7 out of 10 toes, reread the passage in my book that I already read last night when I was much too loopy to read, washed my hair but neglected (again) to shave my legs, deleted the Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch songs that magically appeared on my computer, and then we'll rock-paper-scissors for who has to bring out the garbage and recycle. And that's okay too, because it's Sunday, and Sunday is a special day in that you really can just sit around in your bathrobe doing crosswords. Some people are all perky and productive on Sunday's, but they're missing the point. Hairy legs and Cheerios for lunch are what life is all about.

Jason Has A Maiden Name: Get Over It!

When I got engaged, I never seriously considered becoming Mrs. Jason T___. That's a little too archaic for my taste, not to mention sexist. To be honest, I am shocked that any woman this day in age is still blindly doing the name change thing. It would be really easy to become a T___; in fact, it would probably save me from that blank stare that cashiers and such give me when they have to spell E____. But a name is about more than just convenience, it's your identity. I'm not that attached to the name E____ itself, but it was the name I was given at birth, and I certainly won't be trading it in just because of convention.

If I had asked Jason to simply take my last name, I know that he would have. And it's hard for a man to change his name because all of society oppresses it. On the man's side of paperwork, there is never a box for his maiden name. By definition, since Jason was never a maiden (a young, unmarried woman...although the defintion also contains connotations of "servant", "modest", "delicate" and "virginity"), he cannot have a maiden name. However, there is a very strong argument that I was not a maiden either, and I certainly detest the word. But shockingly, there is currently no alternate word for the name you held before you got married. However, I did not ask Jason to take my name. Some people argue that to be a feminist, sometimes we have to endorse ideas that are a little unfair to men to make up for all the iniquities that women have faced. Well, the fact is, I am not a feminist. I have always held myself to be a humanist: I believe that men and women should be equal in all things. So that meant that when we got married, we would either hyphenate or take a whole new name.

Early on, I lobbied for a new name, using the beginning of my last name melded with the ending of his, short and sweet. But in the end, we decided on E___-T___, in that order for aesthetic purposes. And we are really happy with this name because to me, it is the symbol of how I want our marriage to be. I was a whole person before I got married, and so was Jason. We are still 2 whole people. Traditionally, one whole person, one whole identity, is just lost (the woman, of course), and it's as if she never existed or mattered before her wedding. Lots of people still ask us about it. Some family members still criticize us about it (we expected no less). We were married in 2002, and we'd like to think that the world has made progress, but the truth is, here in North America, 90% of women still lose their last names entirely when they get married, and less than 1% of men change theirs.

Lucy Stone is a name you may or may not be familiar with. She was born in 1818 and lived under her father's rule until the day where she would be transferred to her husband's care. Her education was a non-factor to her father, so she worked as a school marm and did housework for others to earn the money to put herself through college. She graduated with honours, the first woman in Massachusetts to do so, and was asked to write a graduation speech. She refused because as a woman, she would not be allowed to read it aloud at the ceremony; a male classmate would have that honour.

Her first public speech would be on women's rights, and she continued work in the field and in abolitionism despite the fact that people would pelt her with prayer-books while she talked (one of her speeches in 1850 convinced Susan B. Anthony to join the movement). When she met her soulmate in Henry Blackwell (a man 7 years her junior!), the couple renounced marriage law and she became the first woman in the United States to keep her own name after marriage. Of this, Henry stated that he would never "degrade" his wife in that way (Henry's sister Elizabeth became the first female physician in the U.S., so he was indeed a modern man who came from a family with a new way of thinking). The house and property were owned in Lucy's name throughout the marriage, and she often refused to pay her taxes because she did not believe in taxation without representation. In 1878 women in Boston were allowed to vote on the school committee, but Lucy was prohibited from doing so unless she voted under her husband's last name.

Anyway, it's because of women like her that we can keep our own identities today. But you shouldn't keep your name in her honour, or anyone else's. You should keep your name in honour of the great person that you were for the 20 or 30 or 40 years before you got married, and for the same great person you will continue to be after it. By accepting a man's last name, you also accept his inherent right to give it to you.
I am proud to be a family of E___-T___s (and do you know, that we are the only 2 E___e-T____s in the whole entire world!), and I am also proud that after 20 years of being an E____, my mother has reclaimed her name and goes by C____ once again. Neither she nor I are pioneers, but my mother is the matriarch of a group of very strong women, and that is something very important to hold on to. She has made me into the kind of woman who continually challenges the expected male-female stereotypes (I carry my own canoe). And she, in turn, cuts down her own Christmas tree, pumps her own gas, and she has more uses for duct tape than any man I know.

p.s. I am not against women taking their husband's last name, I just think it should be a decision, requiring a thought process and some conversation. Know that there are alternatives. Don't do anything just because it's tradition.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Morning Bells are Ringing

It's vomitous, really, to live in a place where there are honest to goodness bells ringing this early in the morning. They don't disturb my slumber really, but if I'm awake to hear them, I still think it's strange. Stuff like that should only happen in which I guess I mean whatever time that was set in. In her rustic village where she hand-fed her chickens in the morning and sewed dresses for royal balls. Well, okay, so there was probably never a time where Cinderella is plausible, but it was at least 100 years ago, right? I mean, the mode of transportation was pumpkins, so that's gotta tell you something.

I'm not really a Cinderella kind of girl anyway. I really like there's a girl I can understand. I remember going to see it at the Port, at a matinee, and Anna and I sat in the front row trying to pretend that we weren't the only ones in the theatre above the age of 7 AND the only ones in the theatre not throwing popcorn AND the only ones in the theatre who sat still for more than just the first 5 minutes. And Pocahontas was a good one too, but only if I'm feeling relaxed enough not to notice the glaring historical anomalies. Once when I was babysitting Paul, I watched it in French with him, and he thought it was really funny that I cried. And Lilo&Stitch, man that movie cracks me up. If you haven't seen it, you must rent it. Own it even, because you'll want to see it more than once.

Now Pixar is where it's at. Toy Story of course, was a ground-breaking movie, an instant classic, and it's shocking when you think that it's getting old. I remember Matthew jumping off rocks at the campground yelling " To Infinity... and Beyond!" and now he's a big brother to 2 little sisters who were born in a time where Toy Story has never not existed. Imagine that! I didn't see A Bug's Life until more recently, because at the time, there was a similar movie out just a bit before it called Antz, which was so cute I remained faithful to it for years. I've seen and enjoyed both now, but I still say Antz wins out. Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo are unbearably adorable. I think I just appreciate movies that won't be spawning any Disney Princesses. That's just gross. And now we can all wait, twiddling our thumbs, for the next logical step: a gay Disney couple. I mean, we all know it's high-time, but is it likely? Probably about as likely as the next Disney Princess being fat or having-eek!-short hair!

However, according to some published accounts, Disney already has some gay couples on their hands, like it or not. George Wolfe reports that earlier this month, in San Francisco, a civil ceremony was performed, uniting happy couples in love. Among them were Buzz Lightyear (gasp!) and Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show (okay, you can kind of see where that one's coming from). Wolfe reports:

"'Im joost zee heppeeest mun in zee vurld!" proclaimed the Swedish Chef. "Ja, Buzzy iz my sveetzheeart – I'm tired ooff hiding beheend my eprun. Bork Bork Bork!" Attendees were quick to gossip that, despite Buzz's flirtation with Jessie (from Toy Story), his macho posturing was a classic case of overcompensation. "Besides," said Prospector Pete, "the guy's best friend is named Woody! You do the math."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kickin' It Old School at the Wing Hing

An entry by my husband, Jason:

Chinese restaurants have terrific names. As a "Westerner" they amuse me, so I have to wonder if these names are comical to the Asians as well. Or are they traditional restaurant names like Joe's Cafe or McDonalds. We ate at the Wing Hing today, and yesterday there was speak of the Hung Phat restaurant in Ottawa. Again, are these normal Chinese eatery names, or do they have a good laugh at our expense? Anyways, in case you haven't been to the "Hing", it is an all you can eat buffet. For those who have never been to an "all you can eat" here are the basic principals:

1. You sit down and someone takes your drink order. They have wine, although who would be caught dead drinking wine in a place that has paper napkins?

2. They say "enjoy your meal". They can't say anything meal specific either, I mean, you could be there for the whole buffet, or maybe you are just there to eat $6.75 in ice cream or sweet and sour chicken.

3. You have to leave your table to get the food. Poor ladies always have to stay behind or go first. You don't want to leave your purse unattended in a place like this, again the paper napkins.

4. The buffet has traditional Chinese food kept warm by traditional Chinese heating lamps. Now I want it to be clear that not everything you will see in this buffet comes from old world China. They have pork, egg rolls, and fried rice, but I can't imagine little Asian families in their homes cooking pizza and cut up hot dogs. I think they take a few liberties in the whole buffet concept. Who knows, maybe it keeps the kids happy?

5. Word of caution, the plates are not regular size. They are sized to make sure you don't take too much food. The trick here is to stack your food, egg rolls make a good base and always finish off with veggies on the top, they're light. I say stack because they try to discourage you from going to the buffet too many times. After two plates, they usually ask if you want coffee or tea, that's the Chinese signal for "are you done yet?"

6. The bill comes, do you tip? That's for you to decide....

Those are the rules you need to have a fine dining experience, I have to go now though, I'm hungry again.

Good times at the Wing Hing

Today I surprised myself by actually being productive. Not too productive, of course, because despite the fact that I was tired last night, it took me almost 2 hours to fall asleep, have a quick football dream (football dream?), and then I woke up a mere 3 hours later, at 5 am. Jason woke up at 9, and from there it was rush, rush, rush...for at least an hour. Banking, groceries, library, post office, errands...and the fun part is, if you do these things early on a Wednesday morning, you will be joined by throngs of old people who have forgotten the meaning of rush, forgotten the point of the turn signal on their overly large cars, and half the time forgotten why they ever left the house in the first place.

So to reward ourselves for a productive morning we went to the Wing Hing, Cornwall's upscale Chinese buffet (upscale because you sit down to eat). Normally Jason is the king of buffet, so I was quite disappointed in him when he failed to go up for even a third plate. And of course I'm always at least a plate behind because I eat slowly, talk a lot, and get caught up in daydreams more than a normal person should.

At home we put our patio furniture away for the winter (yes, I pouted the whole time), and vaccumed out the car to put in the fall&winter floor mats (yes, I pouted the whole time). Then Jason was off to work, ravioli in tow (ew, Chef Boyarde!) and I was left to the house cleaning that I had been neglecting during my whiny cold days. Three miserable loads of laundry, dusting galore, disinfecting, and I even rearranged the rocks in our serenity pond. Plus, I made green Jello for Jason's lunches while watching Valentino on Oprah. Then, about 5pm, I happened to remember that I only slept for 3 hours the night before, and I had already been up for 12 hours. 12 whole hours. 12 long hours. So I decided that I had done enough, so I sat down to look through the cookbooks I got at the library for potential recipes. I definitely did find some good ones for the crockpot, which are always the most exciting for me. They're like hidden treasures.

I do love my crockpot. My Nanny gave it to me at my bridal shower, and I plugged it in that very week and I have been crockpot mad ever since. Lots of people have them somewhere in their homes, probably in the back of a closet collecting dust. It's a bit archaic, but I think it's high time that the crockpot (or slowcooker, if you will) makes a comeback. It's a nifty little sucker that does all kinds of tricks, but namely: you put some stuff in it in the morning, plug it in, and then at supper time, voila! Dinner is served, hot and perfect every time. When I first got it, my co-worker Silvia was sure I was making the whole thing up. It does sound too good to be true. But it is true!! I have, in the 2 and a half wonderful years my crockpot and I have shared together, amassed quite a collection of recipes. For example, it was through the miracles of crockpottery that I discovered that pork chops are meat! And delicious meat at that!

When I was a kid, we used to get these meat-shaped pieces of blackened tough cardboard, and we would all groan because it was "porkchop" night. You could not bite through these things. Even the dog wouldn't have anything to do with them. They got so dried out in the oven that there was never any meat left, just some severely burned ShakeNBake. Gross. But now when I throw porkchops into the crockpot, out comes this wonderful, tender, fall off the bone meat. Imagine that!

Well, I'm going back to my cookbooks now. Wednesdays are good nights for TV. If you haven't seen it yet, Lost on ABC is really pretty good, and I am very happy to have Party of Five's Charlie back on TV. Then there's Gilmore Girls and Queer Eye, so I'm all set until Jason comes home and finds that I have been asleep on the couch since 8 pm because I only slept 3 hours last night, goddammit. But the good news is, I have recently learned how to program my VCR, so I won't miss anything if I do fall asleep. Happy hump-day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Buddy-Jacking and Other Perversions

So I recently found out that my husband is a buddy-jacker. I guess no marriage is perfect. I mean, I confess to doing my fair share of crazy shit in my time, stuff I know Jason wouldn't approve of, but that was before I met him. Now to hear from his own dirty little mouth that this has been going on behind my back for some time, it's almost too much to bear. The other night he tells me he was with a 42-year old woman with sweaty palms named Doris. And the night before that, with a tall skinny man who smelled "off" and fidgeted. How can I compete with people like that? I wouldn't even want to!

My first instinct of course is to forbid this kind of activity, but Jason is quick to point out that if he stopped, I'd have to stop buying so many shoes (yes, that's right, people pay him to commit these lewd acts). Hmm...preserve the purity of my husband, or leave those pretty little pink pumps with the bows on the sides on the shelf? That's not even a question. I mean, I already bought a top that would go with the shoes and give me a fabulous ensemble!

So for now, I guess I'll just have to deal with Jason going off to buddy-jack, sometimes for 2 or 3 hours per night. There was none of this in Ottawa, that's for sure, but it doesn't altogether surprise me that this kind of thing goes on in Cornwall. In Ottawa, when Jason listened to another representative take calls from other cell phone customers, it was called a sit-in. That sounds so much more reasonable. In Cornwall, it's called buddy-jacking, and it's hard to wipe the smirk off his face every time he says it.

MMMmmm Vapo-Rub

Yesterday I put on a brave face despite my cold, I cleaned out my closet (for some reason), I did the dishes, I made pancakes for Jason's midnight lunch. I showed that cold who's boss. Today, my cold fought back. And won. I have to call it sir now. It got me so good that all I want to do is snuggle under the blankets and feel sorry for myself. It's times like these when my back tickles from some Vicks Vapo-rub. When I was a kid, it would instantly make me feel better. Not some magical cure of course, I wasn't cold-free, but it was a definite Aahhhh feeling. My mother would rub it into my back, it would ease my sore muscles and before long I could actually breathe a little.

But things have changed. The ingredients in the vapo-rub are the same, but it doesn't do the same trick. The problem is with the hands. Everyone knows that you absolutely can't put vapo-rub on yourself. I think it even says so on the jar. It has to be someone else to be effective. What it should say is that it has to be your mom to be effective. Jason tries, but it sucks. He just smears the stuff, as if he's wiping his hands on my back, not trying to ease his poor sickly wife. So I tell him to rub like he means it, and he goes all S&M on me. He just does not have that firm yet gentle touch that my mother had, and apparently it cannot be duplicated. I miss those days when I feel asleep with my Rainbow Brite nightie sticking to my chest and my back, even the sheets would get the gunk on them but it didn't matter because it felt nice. Then you would get on the bus for school the next morning still smelling of the stuff, and you could usually smell it off one or two other kids too. You could just give them a silent nod, and know that you had the bond of vapo-rub.

How things have changed! Now I'm bondless. I don't smell like Vicks, I smell like expensive hair conditioner just like every other day. If no one smells you coming, they don't know to put their pity faces on and ask how you're feeling and if you should sit down. Being sick is a real letdown these days, there are no benefits to it at all, so what's the point? I have a raw, red nose for nothing. I can lie in bed looking pathetic all day and no one will notice, because no one is even here. When I was a kid I didn't have to stay home alone all day. I could go to Nanny's, where there were cookies and soap operas and someone to ask whether I should try a nap or have some more juice. That was the life!

But that was then. For now, I guess I'll just go lie down and rest quietly until Jason gets home so I can whine to him about how sick I am. A cold is not a cold without the whining. If at least 10 people don't know you're practically at death's door, then you aren't doing it right. Go lick a doorknob and try again next week.

Monday, October 18, 2004

And the answer is...

Wait, don't you even want to hear the question first? It's the answer to the age-old question: what the heck is an age-old question? I mean, people toss that phrase around like it's meaningful, but take another look. Age-old question. That seems incomplete. Like the first time it was said or written was a mistake, probably some pothead, or else George W. Bush. But no, we all say it. What we don't say is "Hi, I'm Jay and I'm age-old." Because of course we're exactly as old as our age! Everyone is! So we have to be a little more specific, as in "Hi, I'm Jay, and I'm 19 years old" (okay, so this is not strictly true, but why wait until I'm 40 to start lying about my age?). So therefore, shouldn't we give this same consideration to supposedly age-old questions. Because if it's supposed to mean that this particular question has been around since the dawn of the ages, I highly doubt that can be true. Or do we really mean it's an old-age question? Because let's face it, senior citizens are the most confused people you will ever meet....but they don't generally ask a lot of questions other than Eh? Eh?

So questions must have some sort of age, and it certainly isn't eons and eons. If you google the phrase age-old question, here are some age-old questions that come up:

-How old is the Earth?
Well, granted that's a good question, but I think that people have not been wondering it for all that long. A few centuries, sure, but not forever and ever. I mean, when you have other burning questions, such as How do I make things burn? it's hard to sit around and think about the bigger picture. Plus, it probably should not be considered an age-old question anymore, since it seems that we now know the answer (well, not me personally, but you know what I mean).

-How was your day at school?
Well that one does get asked a lot, but the question itself can only be as old as school is, which again, is not that old. A while, yes, but not since the ice ages or anything. Back then, parents were like Hey, check your sister for gnats, or, Does this buffalo pelt make me look fat?, and kids were lucky enough to spend their days skating and snowboarding and making ice sculptures and not even going to school at all.

-Overheating (some of these don't make sense, but they're Google results, so blame G)
Okay, this is too easy, that one is not even a question! And assuming it refers to cars, well, we can all agree that cars are a relatively new invention. I think we just need to combine the ice age with the overheating problem, and then we'd have a solution!

-Does life really begin at 40?
Well obviously there is a problem with the definition of age here. Because 40 is an age, and it can't be when life begins, because we begin counting age when life begins. So obviously life began when you started accumulating age, 40 years ago. And this question could in fact be pretty old, but it can't have started at the beginning of time, because Adam and Eve had to have been at least 40 before they started bitching about it.

-How do I throw up and still look like a lady?
Yes, this has puzzled humankind since Mrs. Cro Magnon got all loaded up on Peppermint Schnapps and then puked it up, trying to maintain the delicate balance of knees together in that tiny slutty skirt, and holding your hair out of vomit projectile. Very ladylike indeed. You may not know this, but I myself am at times a lady, and I have a little experience in the area. Take it from someone who has lain on a few bathroom floors: you don't.

Fat Bumblebees

So it's Monday evening and Jason is off to work. The mild cold that he had last week has now been officially passed on to me, in a much more raging manner. It moved today from my throat down into my chest where it is more of an annoyance than anything. The hacking noises that I made all night long did not disturb Jason's sleep in the slightest, of which he obtained 10 blissful hours. I lied awake beside him for 7 tortured ones, made all the longer because his ears were deaf to my complaints. I finally did sleep between 10:30am and 1pm, but then someone called and we decided to just get up.

Jason left at 3pm and I was determined not to go back to bed so that I would be assured of sleep tonight. Good intentions do not keep a tired girl up, as it turns out, and I confess that I did snooze for an additional 2 hours, which ironically has made me feel all the worse.

I managed to read the paper, which in Cornwall takes all of 7 minutes, and that's because I read all the funnies and 2 horoscopes. There isn't much news in Cornwall. It's always just a little too local. They "report" on people's gardens, high school basketball scores, and almost everyone in town has sent in an editorial about "the gays".

So I took a little tour around the living room, got out of breath and had a coughing fit from doing that, helped myself to a bottle of water and an orange candy from the fat bumblebee jar. Fun day, huh?

I also wrote a note to Jason to say that he can give me a kiss when he comes in from work tonight, which is a bit past midnight, because it doesn't take him long to get home but he gives a ride to 2 other people. I plan to be fast asleep at that time, which is a good thing because last week he turned 24 and people were silly enough to send gifts, and not just any gifts, but gifts he really liked....such as THE SIMPSONS JEOPARDY. Now to the people who sent this gift, let me ask you this: Do you hate me? Is this some veiled attempt at cruelty toward Jamie? Because now every night Jason says "Ask me some Simpsons trivia!" and we both pretend there is a point to this because let's face it, it's not trivia to Jason. He takes this shit seriously. He knows Homer better than he knows me, and I think he likes him more too. Personally, I'm more of a King of the Hill fan, which will get me shot in the head if Jason ever reads this. Fortunately, I know if he's online, he's probably doing Simpsons quizzes at, and not reading about his wife's day. The only time he really pays attention to me is if I have doughnuts. D'oh!

Jason is wonderful

If you know me even a bit, you know that this heading is not really my style. In fact, Jason has coerced me to write an entry under that title, and being the "wonderful" wife and "good" sport that I am, here goes.

The truth is, I do love Jason. I've loved him for about 4 years now, fairly continually, and someday I will be saying that I've loved him for 54 years. And that's nice to know. What's not to love about Jason? He pretends to enjoy rubbing my feet, he tells me my singing voice is lovely, even if we both know he's lying, he brings me chips and dip when I'm feeling crampy, he says Nanny and Pa are "funny" when most people would call them "weird", he makes me laugh (he'll even embarrass himself to make me laugh), he has a great ass, and best of all, he puts up with me.

Everyone knows that I'm not easy to live with. I'm loud, demanding, self-centered, bossy, and basically the center of my own universe. Anyone one else must essentially agree to orbit around me. So when Jason got down on one knee and actually asked to spend his life with me, lots of people thought he must be joking. I was one of them. But no, he was serious, and we did end up getting married. So now the poor bastard is stuck with me. I make him hold my purse when I'm in a change-room at the mall. I make him watch Gilmore Girls, and like it. I serve him broccoli and cauliflower without any cheese sauce (Jan, I know you are feeling faint at the very thought). I wake him up at 3 am because I'm lonely, and expect him to sing me songs. He gets sucked into the life of an extrovert after 20 years of being a confirmed introvert. We go to the store in our pajamas, take long walks in the pouring rain, we sing our favourite songs at Pizza Hut, and browse the produce section of every grocery store we can find on a cloudy Saturday afternoon. And the amazing thing is, he's always right there, comfortable or not, holding my hand. It's sickening really, but he's just a nice person. And somehow, despite all the bitchiness that I can throw at him, he's in love with me. And yes, when pressed to admit it, I am in love with him.

"Quit putting that ball sack on my head!"

Okay, so that may or may not sound like a funny thing to say to you, and before we go any further, let me just say that it wasn't me who said it. It was Jason. I was rubbing it all over him, and he just is not into it as I am. Of course, I am referring to the great piece of literature Old Goriot by Balzac, as I'm sure you've already deduced. For the past year and a half-ish, I have been methodically attacking a list of "classic" literature that I want to read, and since I just finished Gogol's Dead Souls yesterday, this is the random next selection (by the way, Gogol never really finished Dead Souls, the book literally ends in the middle of a sentence, and has many unfinished sentences throughout because the manuscript was torn or whatever....anyway, I think if he was too lazy to finish it, then why did I bother to read it? Man, that really cheeses me off. Anyhoo, I can't say I recommend it, unless of course you have a real taste for Russian crap, because this was a supreme example of Russian crap).

I could be reading Balzac right now, except my nose is stuffed up, and when my nose is stuffed, my eyes water, and so I cannot read. I can't really see the computer screen either, so I am just typing blindly here. I have sifted through many many "great" books in the last little while, and I have to say, MAN DO I MISS MY E.B. WHITE. I mean, stories about orphans and 19th century England are great (and by that I mean boring and wordy....hello, thank god we have editors now!) but nothing beats a story about a talking pig, know what I mean?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

My first blog

Well it's 3:14am, which unfortunately is a familiar time of day (night) for me. Jason is snoring away, and Pa is snoring even louder, and so here I am, with only my sty to keep me company. Jason has been trying to convince me that writing a blog is not so nerdy, and I have no real reason to believe my nerdy husband, but here I am anyway, because it quiets the voices in my head. I probably will not stumble upon any real philosophical enlightenments here, I won't even touch the should blog also be considered a verb debate (blogging, for example). I'll just chat like normal, since as most of you know I am by nature a chatterbox anyway, and we'll leave it at that.

This is intended as somewhat of a journal, so from time to time, I hope to write a little more personally. Here is but one of many blogger's disclaimers that you can read at your leisure or just assume to mean: I'm going to write what I want. That's the best reason I know to keep a journal, is the getting out of one's feelings. You can leave comments if you want, but anything malicious will of course be deleted (as is standard to most blogs). Basically, if you've got something to say so strongly, then get your own!

Also, not that there will be anything worth copying here, but just in case, please discuss any 'borrowing' with me beforehand, and with that said, enjoy.