Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Ocean is a Giant Grave

I was watching this old news footage of a dying whale beached somewhere near Vancouver and it really bothered me that all these people in business suits were on the beach, taking time out of their morning commute to watch and touch a whale who was taking its last breaths. It seemed awful to me that this beast was not dying with dignity, had become a side-show in its last moments and that people just naturally assumed they had a right to witness what should probably be a very private moment, even if it is a whale. Or maybe because it is a whale. It's not a human, so how dare we impose our own (lack of) morals upon it?

Then I wondered what a "normal" whale death consisted of. Do they go belly-up and sink to the bottom? I imagined what the ocean floor would look like with thousands of hundred-tonne whale carcases strewn around. But then I wondered if perhaps they tended to float, like a human body, if it fills with gases and rises to the top and bakes in the sun. And then I figured that whale or not, in death it would probably become food pretty quickly, and somehow I find that a comforting thought, like the deep-sea version of "dust to dust."

They say all dogs go to heaven, but I wonder if heaven has a place for whales, and if so, it must be a pretty big place. I mean, the world is overpopulated with just the people who live here now - imagine how big it would have to be to accommodate the souls of all the dead people and animals who came before. I think it must be crazy to be rubbing shoulders with dinosaur ghosts. I don't think you'd have to worry about getting eaten though, because you have to be on your best behaviour in heaven. Probably heaven is like a party after everyone's had a few hits from the same bong, mellow and polite, a little stunned, but you forget about grudges and grievances and just wink at each other an awful lot.

If there was a beached whale in downtown Toronto, I wonder if I'd go. I mean, it's easy to be outraged by the whale's invasion of privacy when it's all the way in Vancouver and the only ocean for 1700km is in a small vial on the top shelf of my closet, smuggled in from a trip to the Caribbean, but what if it was right here? An accident always attracts a crowd. I don't usually like to gawk, but we're talking whale here: the closest to a mythical beast as we are ever likely to get. They've been around for millions of years, and can apparently live longer than we can, if only we'd stop killing them, and man, if they could talk, imagine what they would tell us! But whales are excellent at keeping secrets, so we can only guess, but they fascinate us so we build theme parks and cheesy movies in their honour. They're like fish, but not. And they sing so beautifully we bottle it and pipe it into spas.

I think I remember reading somewhere that some cultures revere whales and hold funerals for beached whales, and I can't help but think of how beautiful it would be on a beach at night, with hundreds of people holding flickering candles, the smell of the salt water and the sound of little splashes with the water lapping on the beach, trying to reclaim one of its own, and the low hum of sad voices, and this huge, mysterious creature lying in the middle of it, still slippery, seaweed still clinging to its body, sandy and sparkling in the moonlight. And then, perversely, I think of the size of the calluses on the hands of whatever poor sucker is roped into digging the grave.

But then I'm sad that this poor whale has to die alone, without his mummy or his wife, or his close "companion" or whatever. I think most of like to picture ourselves going quietly, maybe even in our sleep, in our nice warm beds with a loved one's arms wrapped around us. And while whales don't have arms, I like to think that they have their prefered death rituals too, and being poked by curious investment bankers wearing suspenders and appearing in the latest youtube video probably doesn't factor into it.

I hope, at the very least, that the whale can close its eyes and think of a happy, kelpy place, and as he drifts into whatever afterlife awaits him, that he's swum a few good laps, eaten some succulent fish, and given at least one Ahab a run for his money.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How to discover your underwear is inside out in 12 easy steps:

1. It was a nothing-special kind of day, so I chose my underwear accordingly. I picked a so-so pair, not the big ones that I only wear when I'm grumpy or bloaty (or god forbid, both) and not the cute ones that I was saving for going-outness. Just a plain-jane pair of panties, high cut with blue and orange stripes which I learned the hard way not to wear underneath white linen skirts.

2. Jason doesn't think I should bother with the cute underwear when going out with someone other than him. I think it makes him nervous. But they say beauty comes from within, and though I'm pretty sure that's an ugly chick's way of saying that personality counts, I prefer to interpret it in the foundation-garment kind of way. Lingerie makes the outfit, even if you're the only one who knows it. It puts the grrr in you. But husbands think fancy panties should be just for them.

3. This is a case of what I like to call "boy logic", also known as "flawed logic" or else "not logic at all". I like for my underwear to match the occasion, and let's face it, if you party hard enough, at some point your underwear is going to be showing. This is an important life lesson that I have learned along the way (unfortunately, I internalized it during my commando phase but luckily this was in the age before digital photography).

4. I recently revamped my whole underwear drawer after my eureka-discover of the hipster panty. But then my sock drawer looked sad, so I've been refreshing it too, one pair at a time. But then I realized that I needed some of those short little ankle socks that you wear with your yoga capris to make your calves look slimmer, and the thing about athletic socks is that they're always sold in bunches, like bananas. As if you could have no use for one banana or one pair of tiny socks. Fruit of the Loom does socks now too, I guess, and they've taken it upon themselves to provide the two-tone sock. Was there a rash of sock tragedies that I didn't hear about? Millions of people where mis-wearing their socks, creating untold havoc, and possibly bunion aggravation, and Fruit of the Loom thought this is our fault for making socks uniformly white. If only we could colour the toe-part and the heel-part gray, and the gray would be like a beacon to the people: toe goes here! heel goes here! And all the sock tragedies would dry up and we would all live happily ever after. And from what I can tell, that's exactly what happened.

5. Obviously Fruit of the Loom takes us all for a bunch of retards, but I could live with their toe-goes-here philosophy of life, if only an even greater atrocity had not been committed by these fruity bastards (do you think the apple costume is going to make me back down? you're not so cute, apple. the grape guy, maybe, but I could take him. I could take the whole fruit salad). The latest in sock technology is the resealable bag. Resealable! To keep the freshness in? I'm perplexed for two reasons: first, I always assumed the bag was just packaging to keep the socks together until you got them home, put them in your sock drawer, and then started losing them one by one over the weeks and months and years like everyone else. Do other people not have sock drawers? Do you just have bags of socks strewn about your house? And second, assuming that there are some people out there who do keep their socks in bags instead of drawers, are you really afraid the socks will go stale if you don't keep the bag closed tight?

6. With 6 new pairs of socks, it was clear my socks:pants ratio was vastly out of sorts, and so a-panting did I go. It used to be that all you needed to know was your size, and perhaps your height, and you were set, but lately the world of pants has exploded into considerations such as how fond you are of ass-crack, camel toe, and whether you like your thighs to look like sausage barely contained in its casing, or sausage ready to burst out of its casing. To "help" make it "easier" to shop for pants, they've now given arbitrary names to the pants. The only trouble is, every store has its own cheesy naming process. One store names all of their pants after cities - there, I find I am a 'Rome' and that the people of Chicago must have a very strange idea of pants. But the next store has its own set or rules and you have to shove your ass into a whole new round of pants all over again.

7. I see by the Old Navy commercials that they too have jumped aboard the naming process with Diva, Flirt, and Sweetheart jeans, "something for everyone." Next to diva and flirt, 'sweetheart' sounds very much like a synonym for 'fat friend', doesn't it? And in the commercial the diva has a man practically sucking on her toes, and the flirt is touching up her makeup as a man looks on and imagines what her lipstick will look like on his cock, and the sweetheart...the poor sweetheart has a puppy. No one wants to get with the sweetheart. The commercial, in 30 seconds or less, condemns the sweetheart to die alone with her predilection for covering her kooch and leaving ample room for hips and thighs. Sigh. I think I'll stop wearing pants just on principle.

8. Or not. Generally people make a big stink about 'no shirts, no service' but pants seem to be optional. Nevertheless, for propriety's sake, and for my fondness for spending other people's money, I obligingly will continue to wear pants. But I refuse to be a sweetheart, which I am sure is to be our generations word for 'spinster' and will soon be only spoken in hushed tones and italics.

9. I finally found some unnamed cargo capris, but there was a hitch: as I headed for the change room, I prepared myself for the incongruity of low-rise pants over underwear that are not. What I did not prepare myself for was the big blue ribbon that floated up out of my ass. Like a dog chasing its tail, I twirled around a few times trying to identify this unknown entity, and found that it was the (rather large) tag of my underwear, and that I had indeed been wearing my underwear not just high on my hips but all the way inside out the whole day long.

10. Half naked in the dressing room, I was hit with a wave of self-pity, and not the usual I-hate-my-belly-god-why-did-I-have-that-extra-piece-of-cake-damn-that-button's-about-to-blow way, either. No, I pitied myself for having the kind of day where I could walk around with my most basic, most intimate layer just completely in the wrong and never even know it. It can't be a good omen, can it, to be rubbing on the wrong side, seams pointing outward, everything in disarray. Life cannot be right when your underwear is wrong.

11. Which begs the question: if you have worn your underwear inside out for more than half the day, do you even bother switching it? Keep in mind I am still in the dressing room, which is the vilest place there is for being naked, not wanting to put your butt where other butts have been (not even wanting to put your feet where other feet have been, but what choice have you got?). And so you hop on one foot while trying to insert the other into an unfamiliar hole (ahem), which may or may not even be the right size, and which as almost certainly be folded or tagged in such a way as to make you trip or fall over, the pressure of which springs open the unreliable change room door and there you lie on the grubby floor, pants around your ankles, breasts splayed for all to see, forcing you to purchase hundreds of dollars of clothes just to ease your embarrassment and make it all seem worthwhile (but in reality, the overpriced blouses will hang droopily in your closet, unworn, until you donate them to goodwill 3 years later, with the tags still on). Or something like that.

12. Long story short, I threw the underwear out. I mean, obviously they're cursed. I have no need for underwear that have it out for me. I get enough shit from my vests.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

One Book-Orgasm After Another

When shopping for a new purse, I kid myself by measuring strap length, zipper durability, goes-with-clothesiness, ease of opening and closing, whether it will bump on my ass when perched on shoulder or give me uni-boob if wear the strap diagonally across my chest, etc, but in reality, only one thing truly matters: whether it is big enough to hold a book, and hopefully two.

Recently I have been living the life of a nomad (a nice smelling nomad, it goes without saying) so the bigness of my bag has been of even more importance than normal. Purse-packing really sets your priorities straight. I will take my chances and leave the umbrella at home in favour of a book. My god, I will leave behind my cell phone, my gum, and 3 out of 5 tubes of lipgloss to make room for whatever I'm reading. I'll even leave the tampons on the table - and girls, you know what kind of trouble you're asking for when you leave the house ill-prepared! But there are few places I'd really want to be book-less, and many places where I'd probably go nutty without one: just in the past 30 days I've taken 3-hour subway rides, waited in a walk-in clinic, stood in line to return stuff behind 25 or so other people waiting to do the same, been trapped in an elevator, spent a lunch hour indoors while it rained, and met a chronically-late friend for drinks at a pub. I suppose other people use this down-time to, oh, bite their nails or develop neuroses or whatever, but me, I prefer to expand my mind and enrich my thoughts and culture my intellect. It's just a thing I have.

And lately, this thing has been lucky. I have been buried under a veritable orgy of literate. My book-karma is through the roof. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that I am not a book critic. I read a book wanting to love it. If bibliophilia was a crime, I'd be locked away, which is a shame since what I've seen from prison movies, the reading selection consists mainly of condensed reader's digests and other depressing material. But the god of words smiles down upon me because I am free to lust after as many books as I please. Lately I have encountered so many incredibly good books, I've just wanted to hole myself up in my room and never leave until my eyes start bleeding, which I rather hope wouldn't be for a while, and certainly not before the climax. But keeping a good book to yourself is a rather selfish, masturbatory experience whereas I have always been a giver. I like to share my good fortune with as many people as possible, which is why I started my book review site six months ago. However, I continue to get emails asking me which books I'm currently reading, which leads me to believe that people are a lot sillier than they appear. Check my sidebar. See the Quickie Book Reviews? Click on any of the titles and it will magically tell you whether to love it or leave it.

I've recently read my 108th book this year, so there are lots of titles to choose from. If you'd like to recommend something, please do so. If you've already read something featured there, please comment and share! Don't make me moon over my author-crushes all alone!

I know I can't be the only one getting my rocks off on books. What's the last thing you read that gave you the shivers?