Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I am so full of disgust that I can't even write.
Of course I am mad at the doctor for refusing to treat me. Mad but not entirely surprised, because hasn't this been the theme of the entire course of my disease? Haven't I always been made to beg, hasn't being chronically sick and riddled with pain stripped me of all dignity?
Of course I am mad at him, but I am even angrier at myself for sitting there and taking it. For not storming out of his office when I needed to. I am angry that I let him see my pain, that I came to him with a tiny bubble of hope in my hands, and shed tears when he ruthlessly popped it, but still shook his hand on my way out.
My mother raised me to be polite, and I think she was wrong. I tip stylists for bad haircuts. I thank customer service representatives for their time when they've just wasted mine. And now I'm letting doctors kill me with their carelessness.
And I fucking shook his hand.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Uncontrollable Pervert

Have you ever known the shame of having to register as a sex offender every time you move to a new neighbourhood? Or had to haltingly explain why there's a big black mark on your criminal record? Or had to make excuses every Sunday night when you slip off to the meeting that (hopefully) keeps your dirty compulsion in check?

Yeah, me neither. But that doesn't stop LegoLand from assuming I'm a pervert and barring me from their property.

Now, I do not having a burning need to visit LegoLand, thank god. I didn't grow up playing with it and haven't picked up the habit as an adult, which is a good thing because LegoLand doesn't want my kind. In fact, they prohibit me, and others like me, from entering?


Because I don't have kids.
And you know what they say about a couple of adults with no kids...they have lots and lots of disposable income.
Just ask Disney World, who recently got a whole truck load of cash from us when we travelled down to Florida and spent a week visiting their parks, eating their food (and yes, drinking what booze they have), and even buying souvenirs for the littluns back home. In fact, and this will come as a shock I know, we even paid a visit to the Lego store in Downtown Disney, where we bought, among other things, a big, expensive container that you can fill up with all the little pieces your heart can possibly covet. We have ten nieces and nephews AND COUNTING. Some have already been the recipient of Lego gifts (especially of the Marvel variety, if memory serves), but don't worry, Lego. We'll go spend our money elsewhere so you don't have to take it from our dirty, molesting hands.

Look away! I apologize for the graphic nature of this photo. Sean is pictured with a dragon made of Legos and there are NO CHILDREN IN SIGHT. You can practically see the beads of sweat on his forehead from keeping his hands to himself when really he can't wait to accost some little kid coming out of the bathroom. He's desperate! What a despicable human being. Thank god he can't get into LegoLand. Your children are safe from Uncle Sean, giver of amazing piggy back rides, pretend eater of all the pretend pie you can pretend serve him, contortionist willing to shove his 6'6 frame into a tiny plastic house built for those 3 feet and under.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


Thank you to Adi who challenged me to the Freestyle Writing Prompt. She gave me 5 minutes to write about introspection, and so I did:

This is a weirdly loaded word for me.

First, as an insomniac, and as someone who believes that happiness is a choice, I feel my thoughts turn inward at all kinds of quiet times. Am I happy? Where are the weak spots, and what can be done about them? I might also use meditation to take introspection deeper, to get beyond the superficial questions about myself and explore my soul. This is the level where I might be able to touch my physical pain, to do the work required in sublimating it. It works for as long as I’m able to stay in this deep thought, and then vanishes all too soon when I’m pulled out. At what point am I experiencing happiness and pain at the same time? And how can I continue to make those two things coexist, since they must? Introspection can be a trap. It’s a dangerous hallway to follow because soon you’re opening up all kinds of doors, some which may be better off staying shut. And somewhere in there is the reason I don’t sleep. It’s never been easy for me to turn it off. I have taught myself a lot of relaxation techniques to flip that switch, but introspection is difficult to avoid. I think TV was probably invented for just this reason. And I don’t watch TV.

Second, as a therapist, I caution my clients against this time and again. A little is good, but way too many of us overdose on it, and that’s toxic. There is a fine line between introspection and rumination, and we must find it and respect it. Err on the safe side. We cannot live inside ourselves. Start a conversation with a real person instead, someone who can offer a different perspective. Preferably someone who could even be impartial. But don’t rely solely on your own thoughts. Magical thinking. Pessimism. Miscommunication. Negative thoughts. Identity issues. Traps. All of them.

Words: 324
I'm posting it at Saint Vodka rather than Assholes Watching Movies because it seems a better fit over here. Plus this old blog gets lonely...

Friday, June 05, 2015

Absolutely Necessary Dog Pictures

Sweet little Fudge
Gertie in her pearls
Bronx in a box
Gentleman Herbie
Smiley Gertie
Fudgie in the WILD
Bashful Herb
Fudgie and friend
Bronx-a-saurus Rex

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear Lebron James,

Congratulations on making the finals. I wish I could be happier for you, but the truth is, I'm holding a grudge.

Last summer, I happened to be in Cleveland having surgery when you announced your return. Literally in the operating room, my doctor and nurses couldn't shut up about it. The whole town was on fire because of your impending return, and my husband, as big a basketball junkie as there ever was, was stoked about the timing of our visit and your news.

It was a no-brainer that in December, for his birthday, I would get him the gift to end all gifts: tickets to see his two favourite players go head to head - Lebron James vs Kevin Durant. The tickets weren't super easy to come by, as you can imagine (epic match up!), and as soon as we bought them, Durant got injured. And then Westbrook got injured too. We thought about selling the tickets, but the team doctors estimated that Durant MIGHT be back in the game by the time we (and you) were there. Might. Injuries are tough things to gamble on but my husband wanted so badly to see you both play that he put it all on the line and kept the tickets. We booked flights and hotels and prayed that KD would be in. And he was! But we still had the toughest part ahead - the trip. We're from Canada, you see. A whole other country. Which means that to see you play we have to take a plane, cross a border, go through customs, all that mega fun stuff that makes people hate travelling. And to make matters worse, there was a big bad Canadian snow storm on the day of our departure, so even though we'd given ourselves plenty of extra time to make the game, the not-so-nice lady at the counter was telling us that actually, our flight was cancelled, and the next one wouldn't get us there in time. I broke down in the airport when I realized that my gift would be ruined (not to mention that the very expensive non-refundable game tickets would now go to waste). My husband, an optimist and champ, insisted that we try anyway. He asked if we could fly to Dallas, or Tulsa - he went through dozens of cities, calculating the amount of time it would take to then rent a car and race to OKC. No go, she told us.

While waiting for the flight that would get us there too late, my husband got someone on the phone who was a little more helpful. He switched us to a flight where we wouldn't get there in time for tip-off, but if we were very lucky, and everything else went smoother than smooth, we'd maybe get to see the last quarter. It was a paltry, paltry thing, but we took it. Even a glimpse of Lebron would maybe salvage this failed vacation! First we flew to Chicago, and while there my husband noticed a curious thing: another flight! Could we get on it? He ran the whole length of that damn airport trying to get us on the flight. Our tickets were not transferable, they told us. No problem. We'll pay. We can't do it at this desk, they told us. No problem, we'll run to the other end and get it done there. We only have one ticket, they told us. No problem. I can wait. Just please, for the love of god and the game, get my husband there in time. We can't help you just now, they told us, we have another flight to board. The flight we so desperately wanted onto ourselves was also boarding, without us, as we watched. And yet somehow, I don't know how and I'm not going to question it, we got on, just in the very nick of time. Both of us. We were wobbly and exhausted, be we were on a plane that was going to land in Oklahoma City in time to see you play.

Can you now start to appreciate how much this game meant to us?
So imagine our disappointment when we arrived in OKC only to hear that Lebron James wasn't there.
You didn't play in that game.
We came all that way, spent all that money, and you didn't play.
If I was a weaker person, I think my sanity may have broken in that moment.
But we went to the game. Tried not to be too disappointed since we'd come all this way.
Oklahoma won, Westbrook bringing in a lot of points, and Durant making a strong showing, especially in the second half.
But there was no Lebron. No epic match up. As far as birthday gifts go, it was an epic fail, a very costly, 2500 km fail.
The next day we rented a car and headed to Dallas, where we saw Golden State beat the Mavs. and extended their winning streak to 15. Great game.
And now you're playing them in the finals.
So here's what I'm thinking.
I'm sure you don't like disappointing your fans, and my husband is a big fan, not on their birthdays, not on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, that's for sure.
I've heard you're a nice guy.
So if you wanted to make it up to us, we wouldn't say no to playoff tickets.
If you had a couple to spare, we'd be there in a heartbeat. No hard feelings. That's just the kind of dedicated hard-travelling Canadians we are, basketball fans to the last, and always ready to forgive...and maybe, just maybe, even cheer.

Love and kisses,

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The older I get, the more I realize my life is not about searching for love, or finding love, or falling in love. It's recognizing all the barriers that I've built up against it and learning to tear them down.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Out with the Old, In with the New

I have been making fun of Sean's car since approximately 46 seconds after he first picked me up in it. It wasn't horrible. It wasn't falling apart. It was paid for. But it also looked they way a child of four draws a car: a box, with wheels.

And over the years, we've laughed about how his car kind of suited him, the way mine suits me. I drive a Beetle (I'm on my 3rd Beetle since I met Sean 5 years ago, in fact). My car is fun, cute, curvy, and full of zip. I like to think it says something about me. It's not super practical. It's a two door with nearly no trunk. It's also a convertible, though this fact is irrelevant for 9 Canadian months out of 12. I love it to pieces.

Sean's car is more like Sean himself. It's big and comfortable and practical in every sense. He got a good deal on his Nissan Altima, paid it off quickly, and has driven it reliably for 8 years. But it's gray. And boxy. And what I would call "nondescript" meaning sometimes when I'm waiting for Sean to pick me up, I accidentally get into other, similar cars.

I get it. A car's a car. If it gets you from A to B, then who cares, right?
I think I used to believe that, but that was before.
Before I used to have a significant commute, for one thing.
And before I used to own a car, or even a driver's licence, which is probably telling.
Now that I have all of those things, I realize a car is not just a car.

It's a place where I'll be spending lots of time. There are some days I spend more time with Ruby (my car) than with Sean, or my dogs. So it needs to be comfortable. But it also needs to be something I feel proud about driving - this has helped turn a dreaded commute into something more enjoyable. I like driving my car. I like being able to scoot in and out of spots before other drivers can even get their signals on. I feel safe in her. I love how quickly she warms up in the winter, and I love how summer drives in to work can be repurposed into time in the sunshine. I love matching my lipstick to my car, letting my hair tangle in the wind, turning the volume up to 11 and taking a slightly longer route so I can drive by the water and feel the spray on my skin.

And I wanted the same for Sean. Not the exact same, maybe, but I wanted him to drive something worthy. And fun. And sexy, goddamnit. No more nondescript.

Because that's not my Sean. Yes, he's changed. And maybe some of that's because of me. But I think he's learned that there's more to life than being practical. We deserve to treat ourselves!
So I finally got him into a new car. A lovely new car. Which means his old one, which, defying family tradition, he did not drive literally into the ground, or have it gasp its last breath just as it chugs into the scrap yard, was up for grabs.

There are a couple of good options for donating your old vehicle. You've probably heard of Kidney Car - they will come to your home, tow away your car, and leave you with a tax receipt and a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that proceeds go directly to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, helping to fund research for kidney disease and bring awareness to organ donation.

Another good option is your local fire department. Fire department trainees use your old car to practice using the jaws of life. I had a serious car accident a couple of years ago, and I had to be cut out of my car. It's kind of a nice feeling to be able to give back to that - obviously, you hope you'll never need those services, but just in case, isn't it good to know they're prepared?

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Hidden Cost of Being a Woman

A curious thing happened in Paris - in the fanciest of places, I was presented with a menu. A menu I did not suspect was any different than the one being held by my husband but was, in a very important way.
Mine had no prices mentioned whatsoever; his did.

I didn't always notice this occurring, and perhaps sometimes it did not (my stomach doesn't vote by price, so I don't usually bother to check). But once I cottoned on to what was happening, I was intrigued.

What piece of tradition is this?

They're called blind menus or "Ladies' Menus" and operate under the assumption that since dinner is obviously the gentleman's treat, the lady need not worry her pretty little head over the vulgarity of price. This is a little silly since there are in fact prices listed on the man's menu, since presumably he may worry, but if his dinner companion doesn't know and goes ahead and orders the astronomically priced item, what is he to do about it except break out his credit card, pray that payment goes through, and order a salad for himself?

This sparked a little debate amongst my friends. Some felt it was a nice send up to chivalry. After all, you would remove the price tag from a gift that you give. Why not treat your special lady to dinner while doing the same? Of course, this places stress upon the woman too, because generally we'd like to be able to estimate the value of the gift so we know whether or not to accept it. We might, considering our companion's status and our own values, prefer to be able to make a choice in full knowledge of what it will mean to the bottom line, and not just at the bottom of our bellies.

And what happens if I've decided to treat him? What if we're splitting the bill? What if we're friends, or colleagues? How do you explain to HR a meal that goes way over budget -"Oh sorry, I'm just a girl and I didn't know!" And in the age of dual incomes and joint bank accounts, what does it even matter?

I suppose there are some people who couldn't enjoy a meal knowing its true cost, so maybe there's value in having one handy upon request. But when you're given one automatically, because you're a woman, what does that assume? What judgements are inherent? Obviously that I'm not paying. Maybe that I can't pay? That I'm not the head of household? That I don't have access to our financial statements? That I don't participate in budget making or breaking? That high prices would intimidate me?  What is the line between chivalry and chauvinism?

Have you seen these menus? Do they insult you at all?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Guilty As Charged

Sean and I are soon indulging in a sinfully decadent trip to Paris. All of our trips tend to be on the more sumptuous end of the scale, and I don't usually find myself apologizing for it. We've been to the best restaurants in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago, glutted ourselves like fools, paid with plastic having barely cracked open the billfold. But one place we're planning to visit in Paris has me sweating. Truth be told, it will cost us as much as our plane tickets did, maybe more. And I don't really balk at the price. We've done tasting menus all over the world now (2 very good ones locally - Atelier, and Le Baccarat), and they don't come cheaply, but the ingredients and service and the EXPERIENCE make it feel worthwhile.

It's not the dollars that concern me (or the Euros, in this case). It's the concept. It's the thought that a decade ago, that money, money for just one meal, would have seemed like a literal godsend to me. At a time in my life when I worked two jobs and still struggled to make rent, this one meal would have kept me housed for 3 months or more. It's more than I earned in one (two week) pay cheque for a long, long time.

And I don't know why it's this meal that's making me feel so wretched. We'll probably be at the restaurant for a good four hours, and we'll remember it for the rest of our lives. I've spent as much or more on excellent basketball tickets and didn't think twice. But maybe that's the difference - although I accompany Sean to see Lebron & Durant, the tickets are obviously for his enjoyment. But the restaurant? That's for me. We're both going to fill our bellies with caviar and champagne and black truffles. I'm going to look at that bread cart, with over a dozen selections waiting to be paired with just as many courses, and I'm not going to feel the guilt that I feel today. I'm going to feel joyful. I'm going to be happy and hungry and I'm going to heap it all on my plate in embarrassing amounts. And I'll do this knowing, in the back of my head, that some people, many people, don't have even a scrap at that exact moment, while I have so much.

Inequality is a strange and sickening thing and I wonder sometimes, worry really, what kind of person I am, morally, to take such part in it. Particularly since I've been on the bottom (realizing that the bottom for a Canadian is still a relatively cozy place). Fuck. I don't know if I've just talked myself out of this treat. Maybe I should. I don't know where the line exists. I don't always know how to enjoy something I feel I've earned while also feeling that many others work just as hard to earn far less.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unintentionally and Maddeningly Sexist

Last Sunday, we, like many couples, spent the day watching football. Notice I wrote couples. We still tend to think of sports as something a man watches alone, just him, his pork rinds, his beer, and his favourite recliner, or else with a bunch of buddies and half a dozen pepperoni pizzas. But those days are evaporating. Families do things together now, including watch football, and the NFL is the first to take note. They are actively courting female viewers and female fans because - shock! - that's a huge demographic, isn't it? If you want to keep expanding, you'd better not ignore the woman holding the remote. So they're making jerseys in smaller sizes, and making the players wear pink during breast cancer awareness month, and pretending to be mad when players hit their wives.

Football was never my thing, but it's one of Sean's favourite sports, and Sean is a sport junkie. He has no idea what's going on in the world unless I tell him, but he scours the internet for every written word about games played competitively. We don't watch a lot of TV, but he uses every spare moment to watch highlights on his phone or on his tablet. So I make an effort to watch the big games with him, and to bring him to see some of these games in person, a splurge he never considered before we met. And this year, to further bridge the gap, I joined a football pool.

Which means that last weekend, the conference championships, was a really big weekend for us. If you watched that first nail-biter of a game, Seattle vs Green Bay, well, I don't have to tell you how awful it was to watch. Sean and I both had our money on the Seahawks so of course they were down 16-zip at the half and didn't start playing football until the last 5 minutes of the game when they somehow came back but left too much time on the clock, allowing the Packers to tie it up and force it into overtime. Seattle rallied with a touch down to win the game, but not before wringing out just gallons of sweat from all the viewers at home.

Later that night, after the Patriots had deftly defeated the Colts, we got into bed to check out our standings in the the pool. Since I'd put my bets on all the right horses, I'd had an excellent week, topping off a pretty excellent season. Out of 186,077 players in our league, I somehow have managed to come out in the 99th percentile. 99th percentile, bitches! And I owe it all to Sean, who taught me everything I know about football, and who has struggled to remain somewhere between the 25th and 35th percentile throughout the season himself. Ouch. Why am I so goddamned good at this? I have no idea. I read what I can and I have no allegiance to players or teams. In fact, I drive Sean bonkers with my player assessments. He knows how good a guy is, what his stats are, how he played last year, and the year before that. I know if he's done a spread for GQ or dated Jessica Simpson. And I'm the one in the 99th percentile.

So the next day, Sean goes to work and inevitably ends up discussing the games with a male coworker who also was watching them enthusiastically. Sean was able to regurgitate to him some stats he'd read about the game - that the Packers had had a 96.1% chance of winning with 5:04 left in the fourth quarter (leading 19-7). They discussed the historic, unprecedented game in minute detail, and the season more generally, and the upcoming SuperBowl with glee. In fact, over the course of the conversation, the only thing that curiously did not get a mention was that Sean's very own wife had a super-stellar football pool record.

I've worked hard at that stupid pool, making picks every single week, and I'm proud of my record, which is way too good to be due to just chance, or beginner's luck, so when Sean failed to give me my props, I called him on it. He insisted that he'd just "forgotten" but I know damn well that if it was Sean's brother who had that kind of record, or his father, or his friend, or best of all, himself, he'd be boasting to everyone and might even consider reprinting his business cards. But his wife? She didn't get a mention. In fact, his wife doesn't come up when he discusses football with any other men, period. But forget about me? Forget about that 99th percentile? The guy who remembered that the Seahawks had just a 3.9% chance of winning that game? I don't think so.

But he assured me he didn't forget about me completely. In fact, during that same day of work, while heating up his lunch of leftovers, a female coworker commented on how good it smelled and he proudly told her that I'd made him a very nice meal the night before (during the first half of the Patriots game in fact) and that he was glad to have the remnants for lunch. So he remembers to tell people (or female subordinates, at least) I'm good in the kitchen, just not that I'm also really good at picking winners.

I told him that was a pretty sexist thing to do, and of course he balked. I will be the first tell you that Sean doesn't hate women, or want to keep them down. He's actually a pretty forward-thinking guy and doesn't mind when I out-earn him or out-run him or out-think him. But apparently there's a limit.

He thinks it's not sexist unless it's overt, but that's the worst kind of thinking there is. In fact, the worst kind of sexism is the kind you can't quite put your finger on, but happens all the time, to good people unintentionally keeping women "in their place", and that includes complimenting them on gender-stereotyped things, like cooking, and not on unstereotypical things, like football pools. This is called "benevolent sexism" and is a pretty dangerous thing considering people don't even realize when they're guilty of it.

So I'm calling out my sweet, sensitive, equality-for-all husband. It's not harmless just because it isn't intentional. And maybe individually these things don't mean much, but all of these slights add up culturally to a huge discrepancy that still exists today, in 2015. It's way too easy to reinforce a stereotype, and if Sean is any kind of barometer, it's hard to get someone from the dominant group to confront his own biases. We're all defensive about these things, but as citizens of this time period, and this shrinking earth, I think it's our job to be vigilant and aware.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Does anyone else feel as guilty as I do that our dogs have better lives than 80% of children? That's a pretty shitty thing when you think about it. My dogs are loved and well-fed. They sleep in warm, cozy beds, and have great medical care. They benefit from air conditioning and puffy vests and parks built just for them. We hire people to care for them when we're away, walk them when we're busy, groom them when they're gross. And I wouldn't even say my pets are spoiled! They just live in a North American home with a fenced yard and a mountain of squeaky toys. They're lucky, and so am I because they bring a lot of happiness to my life. But when I think that there are probably millions of children going to bed tonight not only without the luxuries, but without the basic standard of care that we deem necessary for our pets - because in Canada, we have laws not just against cruelty, but against neglect - that kills me.