Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Obligatory Year-In-Review and New Years Resolution Post

2014.  This was not my favourite year.

I dealt with a lot of stress, mental health issues, physical health issues, house stuff, money stuff, relationship stuff.

The high point of my year?  NOT having Cancer.  Which is a really, really awesome thing, but a pretty low bar to measure a whole year by.  Also, this last month the last remaining portion of my colon decided to get its shit together, figuratively speaking, and push my colitis back into a state somewhat resembling remission.  At any rate, the daily ass-bleeding has stopped for the most part.

Not having Cancer was Ay-Oh-Kay in my books, as was the reprieve from daily ass-bleeding, but quite frankly, the rest of the year just felt like a god-damn struggle.

I know it's not been all bad.  The change in mood between this post and this post from a few weeks ago can probably tell you how all-over-the-place I have been. I've been making efforts to maintain some level of positivity.  Some days are 'be thankful and count your blessings' days.  Some days are not.

On a side note: I had a pretty decent Christmas. Got to actually see my family and eat turkey.  And then every single member of my household got sick as shit for the next four days (not from the turkey, from the flu).  So while Christmas was much better than last year, the universe did it's damndest to make sure Boxing Day blew chunks (metaphorically).

So basically, 2014 can fuck right off for not being the vast improvement over 2013 it was supposed to be.  You're fucking fired, 2014.

So, now that we've got all that bother out of the way, some plans and resolutions for 2015:
  1. Be more active, whilst remaining actively body-positive.  This will include: 
    • Continuing to swim at the Y three mornings a week
    • Returning to kick-boxing once a week
    • Using my lunch-breaks to walk each day, or taking evening walks after dinner
    • Refraining from negative self-talk and avoiding the "D-word".  Riots, not diets, folks.
    • Eat more system-friendly foods that will keep my fucked-up digestive happy
    • Drink water. Lots of water. Because dehydration is a bitch, yo.
  2. Finish working on The Table Formerly Known as the Penis Table
  3. Blog more, both here and on The Art Blog. I also have a plan for a third blog that has been in the works for a while.
  4. Paint. Draw. Craft.
    • Submit work to art shows. Try not to get frustrated if not accepted. Keep trying.
  5. Write.
    •  Look for opportunities to write outside of blogging.
  6. Make music
    • Find a conveniently-scheduled and receptive open mic to attend.  Attend with some regularity
  7. Audition for plays
  8. Continue to practice good self-care, for the benefit of both my physical and mental health:
    • Take my blood-thinners and butt-meds regularly
    • Get my blood work done regularly, as required
    • Continue seeing my counsellor for as long as work will cover it/I can afford it
    • Bitch-slap the jerkbrain when she starts getting too loud.
  9. Make friends, and make time for friends.
  10. Make time to keep being a good mom, girlfriend and person, overall.
  11. Make time for me.
  12. Breathe.
So that's all from this end for this year.  Here's to new beginnings.

I look slightly deranged. I kind of like it. Cheers, y'all.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Wherein I extend on an already rambling Facebook status

So, I've been running the art blog for about a week now, and it's created this weird paradox of motivation wherein the blogging motivates me to paint more, while the painting has motivated me to blog more.. Not only on the new blog, but on this blog as well.

I've been reviewing a lot of my old work, and revising some of it, taking the time to really put care into details and not rush to finish a picture all in one night.  There are a lot of pieces I feel like I could have done better had I taken more time.  Others are just kind of horrendous to me now, and I'm not sure whether I want to try and fix them or hide them away forever, never to be seen again.

I'm finding myself with the urge to REVISE ALL THE THINGS and go back and touch up old paintings.  That's not cheating is it? I mean, if writers can go back and edit old manuscripts, I can go back and use what I've learned (mostly slow the eff down) to fix and improve what I've already created.. That's not a bad thing.. Right?

The current work in progress is one I did some time ago.  I reached a point where although I knew it wasn't "done," I had hit a point where I really liked what I had done so far, and was nervous to go any farther lest I manage to fuck up what had been, at the time, a very challenging piece for me.

I've pulled it back out and after much hemming and hawing about whether I really wanted to mess with it, I've gone back in.

It is so worth it.  I am really, excruciatingly excited.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Michael Jordan, I ain't.

Today, the basketball house league that my youngest daughter plays in had their end-of-season parents vs. kids game, and because I am a sport (and a bit of a masochist, it seems) I took the opportunity to face on a group of 10-12 year olds with more athletic ability in their pinkie fingers than I have in my, well, everything.

I played for three periods, then had to quit, because having your mother quit halfway through a bonding experience HAS to be less traumatic than watching your mother drop dead of a coronary in the middle of a gymnasium.  I also developed one hell of a cramp in my right leg, as my calf decided it was going on strike for the rest of the day.

But overall it was a fun experience and I learned a few things:

- I am not as bad at basketball as I imagined myself to be. Oh, I'm not even close to being good, but I did manage one basket (was I stoked? Mister, you better believe I was STOKED) and not once did I find myself curled up in the fetal position or running with my arms covering my head.

I used to have what is referred to elementary school phys. Ed. circles as an intense "FEAR OF THE BALL".  I credit three years of kick-boxing for helping me get over that.  Once you've taken a round-house kick to the face, a mere basketball is a nuzzle from a kitten.

- my kid is fast.  Like, I knew theoretically that she was fast, but after being tasked with actually having to keep up with her, she is FAST.  Holy crap.

- I am old, fat and out of shape.  The old part, I am totally cool with. The fat part, well, I'm still unlearning a lot of toxic shit, but am gradually becoming at peace with my shape and size.  The out of shape part is not effing cool.  Not cool at all.

So I'm going to get on a new workout plan. I've been swimming lanes three times a week, but I think I'm going to hit some Boxing Day sales and find myself an MP3 player and dedicate myself to walking again, as well as joining kickboxing again, once a week at first.  Hopefully if my schedule can handle it I can move up to twice.

My goal is to get back to a similar fitness level as I was before the whole Cancer thing.  Wish me luck.

*******************************************
In other news, the original title to this post was going to be "Michael Jordan, I ain't (Hal Jordan, maybe)" as I was thinking Hal Jordan played the old guy on Evening Shade, but turns out that's Hal Holbrook, I think, and Hal Jordan is the secret alias of the Green Lantern.  So, I figured that comparing myself to a superhero rather than a professional athlete wasn't so much self-deprecating (which is what I was going for) as just kind of arrogant, and that I needed another option.

I considered changing it to Tracy Jordan, but worried that may have been appropriation, and in light of recent events, pretty fucking insensitive.

So I toddled off to the GoĆ²gle to search "Famous people with the last name Jordan" and you know what? There are way too many porn stars with that name, which is something I never needed or wanted to know, but now I do and you do too.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The difference a year makes...

2013 ended on a shitty note.

My two favourite holidays were both a pretty huge bust.

On Halloween I was sick as a dog.  Regular sick, on top of being scary-Cancer-sick. My National Lampoons Christmas Vacation's cousin Eddie costume was kind of crap.  No Zombie Walk.  Didn't decorate.  Cancelled my Halloween party because I couldn't deal with the stress of hosting while dealing with impeding surgery.  I missed out on trick-or-treating with the kids and had to get up at 3 am so I could drive to Toronto and have a rather important organ removed.

So, that sucked.

Christmas I was still in recovery mode, although I was back to work part-time. My tree had but two piddling LED lights.  On Christmas Day my car battery died, which didn't matter much since my ENTIRE FAMILY got sick with a stomach bug and I couldn't be around them for fear of catching it and potentially blowing out my newly re-attached colon.  We ended up having pizza since there was nothing in the house to eat.  I cried a lot that day.  I don't think we did our family Christmas until almost, if not after, New Years.

This Halloween I decorated the shit out of my house. There was blood and skulls and fake corpses galore. I positively revelled in decorating and gathering materials for my Radar O Reilly costume as I recalled my bitterness the year before.

Today is December 17th. I just finished putting up my tree, with the help of the girls and my friend's children.  It's got a full contingent of lights, and even a few gifts under there.  My shopping is about 75% done, and I've yet to panic about the money, unlike years past.

Last year, I gathered all my energy to attend my staff Christmas party for at least an hour. This year, I was able to dance well into the night.  

I feel relaxed, yet incredibly appreciative, of everything I have right now. 

We've come a long way.



In other news, I've started a new blog for my artwork at actuallyacollection.blogspot.ca

Please feel free to check it out and give it a follow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conversations with my kid - radio time

Listening to a previously unheard Sam Roberts song:

Me: (With a dawning realization) ohhhhh! He's saying "your own worst enemy." It sounds like "Your old world centipede."
R: what? Really?  *rolls eye*

*moments pass*

R: *snickers*
Me: you can hear it, can't you?
R: yup.

****************************************

Listening to "Hello Time Bomb"

R: when he says "so bad" he sounds like a goat.  Baaaaad.
Me: it's the Matthew Goat Band

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I do dumb things.

While at work today, I answered a phone call and hit myself in the face with the receiver.  The caller on the other end heard me say 'ow' as I attempted, and failed spectacularly, to maintain some air of professionalism.

On my third or fourth day of seventh grade, I was leaning forward in my chair, when it slipped out from under me.  I grabbed the desk for support.

You all know how sturdy school desks are, right?  Not very. Needless to say, I made a great first impression as 'the new kid'.

Sadly, I hadn't learned my lesson from when I was six and I nearly concussed myself after leaning too far back in my chair, becoming well acquainted with a wooden work bench.  This was back when first graders were allowed to use saws and hammers during playtime. Oh, the 80s.

At the age of 14 I smoked.  I laboured under the assumption that my parents didn't know.  They probably did.  One balmy summer's eve, I stood out on my back porch enjoying a cigarette when I spotted my dad coming down the hill to our house on the way home from the Legion.  Like the ninja I am, I tossed the butt and raced straight into the house.

And by 'house' I mean 'the screen door.'

Once at the Y, because I am a living cartoon and I have no sense of time+distance, I nearly set my shirt on fire before catapaulting myself across a room, all because I thought that 6 kilometers an hour on a treadmill seemed a reasonable speed for a beginner.

I fell under a bus once.

Just the other week, I provided my children with an excellent cautionary tale called "Why it's a bad idea to jimmy a glued-shut jar of Mod-Podge open with a paring knife," starring Mom's Mangled Index Finger.

Lastly, a headboard is no place for an antique clock.  That's all I'll say on that topic.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Conversations with my kids: Super powers

R: if you could have any super power you wanted, what would you choose?
Me: MUTANT HEALING FACTOR. ALWAYS.
T: Laser vision.
R: I'd want to have stretch powers, so I could be lazy all the time.
Me: you'd never leave the couch?
R: right. I could just reach for stuff. I could even do my schoolwork from the couch.
T: I want laser vision.  To zap the genitals of my enemies.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A year and one week.

I guess this post has been a while coming, but quite honestly, I've been having a bloody shit-show (ahaha, see what I did there?) of a week or two.

I don't have cancer.  Hooray!

I got the colonoscopy results a week ago and I was grateful but oddly underwhelmed.  There's a couple of reasons behind this:  One, because I never did radiation or chemo or anything, I still don't really feel like a real Cancer Survivor™.  There's still this weird unreality about the whole ordeal. 

I had cancer.  I had surgery.  I didn't have cancer anymore.

Done.

Meanwhile, I found it hard to get too excited because of the uncertainty in knowing that there is always a chance of it coming back.  So I got the news and it was like "You don't have cancer," and I thought inwardly "... well, for now."

I guess I'm being overly pragmatic about the whole thing?  I feel like I *should* be super-excited and jumping for joy when in reality I'm more like "Oh.. okay.  Cool.  Want to get a pizza?"

Does that make me ungrateful?  Maybe. 

Today I drove down to Mount Sinai to meet with my surgeon about my progress. Traffic and other complications, including almost hitting a pedestrian outside the hospital, resulted in being about 25 minutes late. Thankfully, the people at the hospital know I'm coming a rather stupid distance and are understanding.

The Well-Travelled One and I waited in the world's tiniest exam room until a nervous resident came to go over my medical history.  I've gotten to the point where I can pretty much recite my entire medical history on command.  Often to strangers in grocery stores.

I was subjected to an examination of both my abdomen (not terribly invasive) and rectum (much more invasive), rolling over while trying not to fall off the exam table.

I laughed long and loud after the mildly uncomfortable rectal exam, as the resident explained that each of the hospital's residents have to take turns with each area of specialty and that he'd come to the conclusion that he was not cut out for colorectal work due to being cursed with huge fingers.

This was probably the funniest thing I heard all day.  I'm glad he didn't tell me before the exam, though.

We met with my surgeon afterwards, who was pleased with my condition.  I'm to go back in six months for a scope and possibly a CT scan.  I originally thought that I would not have to go back for a year, but truth be told, I'd rather have a six month check-up, so if anything new develops, there's a good chance of catching it early again.

I felt a little more relief at this news, but I still am not all super-duper excited. 

I'm glad. I'm grateful. But I'm not excited. 

Do you ever get to let your guard down after something like this?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Excerpts from my notebook - The ER

Came into the emergency department around 11am.  It's now going on 3:30. I have been poked full of holes by nurses trying fruitlessly to secure an IV. I need fluids.

One attempt, on my right wrist, felt as thought [sic] a red hot wire was inserted into a nerve.  My hand felt tingly and numb for several minutes after.  I screamed out in pain.  I may have said Fuck.  I'm sure I said Christ.

There is zero cellphone reception here.  I stood outside for 10 minutes trying to update {The Well-Travelled One} on what has so far taken place.

My stomach is growling.  A cinnamon bun sits on the table beside me.  I bought it in the lobby minutes before I was told not to eat or drink anything.

My mouth is dry.  I need fluids. I finished my book and now I am bored as hell.

{The Well-Travelled One} got me this notebook for my birthday.  I have been saving it, not wanting to mess it up with grocery lists and price comparisons for ceramic tile like I had done with my cheap Dollar Store red book.

A nurse just came in and hooked me up to an ECG, so now to go with my lovely set of holes and bruises from multiple IV attempts, I also get to wear the badges of medical grade adhesive.

So, I'm basically just writing to pass time until my blood work comes back and they decide what else to do with me.

I'm here because I've had a headache for the last four days, a strange feverish feeling, and the ass-bleeding has ramped up in frequency and volume over the last week.  My doctor's office takes at least three weeks to get an appointment and in three weeks, I could be dead.

I hate this body that keeps failing me at every turn.  Colitis at 18. Colon cancer at 33.  Legs that want to clot up and pool blood at every turn.

Any time conversation turns to "What kind of superpower would you want?" my answer is invariably,
"MUTANT HEALING FACTOR"
Every time.

I really have terrible handwriting.  It's gotten worse as I get older and I type more and the most writing I do is signing my name on my kids' agenda.  This is barely legible, especially since the hospital bed doesn't give a great surface to write on.  I seem to think faster than I write so there are numerous mistakes.

Going to try to sleep for a bit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some small justice, or, Depressingly, comment sections fail to surprise me. (TW Sexual Assault)

Source
I read a blog post this evening.  It was a post from Dennis Canning, the father of Rehteah Parsons.  You may remember her.  She killed herself two years after some guys she was drinking with raped her, took pictures and circulated them around her school and community.  One of the guys involved recently plead guilty to producing child pornography, as the who took the pictures of Rehtaeh and the catalyst to the images being disseminated

If you click on that link, just don't read the comments.

I read the comments.  I have the rage.  All of the rage, and the anger, and the bilious, spitting, horrible "fuck this world and the people in it" disgust.

Most of the comments were sympathetic.  But who in the bloody-minded hell goes onto the blog of a grieving parent, who sought justice for his daughter and was so utterly failed by the authorities involved as they basically shrugged off a gross violation, who now will share with Rehteah's mother the everlasting grief of losing a child, especially one who could have been saved if only someone, anyone, gave a flying shit... 

What vile creature tells this grieving father that he MUST forgive the boys whose callousness and cruelty cost his daughter her life?

Who tells this family that by seeking justice for these wrongs, they will be ruining a kids life? The kids involved were old enough to know what they did was wrong.  The fallout is theirs to deal with.

What kind of person quibbles over the semantics of saying that Rehtaeh's death was a result of her rape and subsequent humiliation, by pointing out that sometimes people who DON'T have something so horrendous happen to them may also commit suicide? 

If Rehtaeh had mental health issues, I'm sure they were not helped by two years of reoccurring humiliation and a lack of compassion from institutions - the police, her school - that were supposed to help, not turn a blind eye.

And who, I ask, thinks it appropriate to pull out the "Where were this girls PARENTS??" card, when I am sure that Glen Canning and Leah Parsons wonder on a daily basis what THEY could have done different.

I know I would. 

I would bet Vegas odds that the jackass anon who made THAT comment probably lied to their parents at some point in their life.  Probably drank before they were legal age as well.

There but for the grace of something, go you, anon.

I'm a parent of two girls on the cusp of adolescence.  If this was one of my children it would take everything in me not to want to track down these kids and tear them apart with my bare hands.

I cannot fathom what a bitter victory this guilty plea must seem.  Small consolation for a family that will never have their daughter back. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Age, Relatively Speaking

Age, like time, moves in a dimension of which we are only subtly aware. A shiver down your spine.

My grandmothers, at 62, were so much older than my mother is at 62.  62, to a child, seems a ridiculously high number of years to live.

They've lived 20 years and more since then.

My mother at 34, was so much older at 34 than I am now.  34 was impossibly grown up.  At 34, my parents, for all appearances to my childhood self, really had their shit together. At 34, I am still not sure I qualify as an adult.

My daughter, at 13, is younger than I was at 13.

Or so it would seem. It may be a generation of coddled youth, or it may be my parental desire to keep her a baby forever.

I only have vague recollections of my great-grandmothers (the two who lived to see my birth), as they died while I was still basically a baby.  My grandmothers have already lived to see at least one great grand-child to adulthood may still live long enough to see the others grow up, too.

To my children, their great-grandmothers will never be a faint, fuzzy outline in a memory formed by a toddler's mind.

(My grandfather's never lived to see their great-grandchildren.  Neither did their mothers.)

Time's passage reminds me of my age. That's about the only thing that does.

My kids think I am old.  I almost have them fooled into thinking I'm a grown up.

It amuses me how gradually the alternative rock stations become oldies stations.

They just kept playing the same songs, twenty years later.

Source

Friday, September 19, 2014

Parenting is hard work.

Parenting is hard work.

It does not get easier, it just gets different.  As the years pass, the physical becomes the emotional.

Raising infants is profoundly physical.  The carrying, the lifting, the walking, wearing grooves in the floor countless nights pacing back and forth, bouncing and rocking.  Always moving.  Pushing strollers, carrying car seats and playpens and diaper bags.

Dropping into bed at night with aching muscles.  Sleeping, but only half-sleeping.  Laying rigid so as not to not roll onto the baby during the night.  Waking up sore from the effort.

Raising toddlers holds many of the same physical challenges, but here the mental agility becomes more of a necessity.  Chasing little bodies with seemingly boundless energy, until that energy runs out.  Then carrying dead weight as they crash and sleep hard as only children can.  Upstairs, out of cars, desperate not to wake them too soon.

Parenting toddlers means being able to read every facial expression and grimace in anticipation of bathroom runs. It means mental calculus - How much sleep during the day will keep a toddler up half the night? How much liquid before bed will mean laundry in the morning?

Raising toddlers means anticipating every move. Being constantly ready to leap across a room to remove errant objects from hands and mouths, or to scoop up sturdy little bodies when they come too close to stairs or roads or fireplaces.

Raising toddlers means having the mental agility to foresee hazards before they present themselves and the physical agility to remove the hazards unforeseen.

Raising school-age children gives the body a break. Finally.  School-age children sleep through the night.

The mind gets a break.  Kind of.  Maybe.

...

That's a lie.  Raising school-age children means remembering schedules, helping with homework.  Be here at this time.  Calculating costs.

School means time to honing your analytical skills.  Analyzing the nuance behind the word 'fine', or the word 'nothing' in response to 'How was your day?' or 'What are you doing up there?'

Analyzing teachers, friends, other parents.  Questioning your own influence on your child, be it from a quantitative ("How much influence do I even have, when TV and film and popular music exists?") or  qualitative ("Is this the example I want to set?") standpoint.

Adolescence ups critical thinking and analytical skills even further.  It's a gold-medal worthy performance of mental gymnastics, walking the thin line between offering a guiding hand and dragging headlong into your own idea of what they should be shaping up to be.  The realization that their hopes, their dreams, their values may differ wildly from your own.

Being okay with being imperfect.  That's a big one.

Shoring up your foundations for those days when you are the worst human being alive, when you know nothing.  The days when you are the only thing standing between this human being whom you have loved with the very depths of your soul, whom you may have even made from your very flesh - the days when you are the only thing standing between this being and their happiness, and for this you are cursed, you are spat upon.

Gathering strength for the days when you question every decision, every indulgence, every harsh word, every "Yes," every "No" you've made as a parent.

Parenting is the exhaustion of constantly feeling like your heart will burst at any moment with immense love, and break with the knowledge that for all your desire to protect them and save them, that one day you'll let them go and have to hope that you've taught them what they need to survive.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things that bother me that I should probably get over, already. Part 1.

Back in 1993, I was in grade 8.  As part of our music curriculum we were to form groups and perform a lip sync to the song of our choice (pending approval by the music teacher whose name escapes me).

My friends and I approached this nameless entity, who may have vaguely resembled Rhys Darby if memory serves, with great excitement and proposed our intention to lip sync to "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" by the Proclaimers, which to this day is probably the most innocuous song ever performed by twins with unintelligible Scottish accents.

We were denied permission to perform this tune, because the teacher in question felt the lyrics "When I  get drunk, I'm gonna be the one who gets drunk next to you" was wholly inappropriate for a group of thirteen year olds to perform.

We were utterly devastated.  Okay, maybe not devastated, but we were most certainly indignant.  Even  more so when we watched the other performances, which included a rendition of Nirvana's "Lithium"

Oh, yeah.  References to getting drunk are too inappropriate, but 13-year-olds singing the line "I'm so horny" is hunky-fucking-dory.

This, my friends, is why every so often, I am reminded of this incident and how it resulted in the grave injustice of having to lip-synch "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in front of my grade 8 class.  Which, I may add, also includes references to alcohol, thus making me question exactly what that nameless grade 8 music teacher had against a couple of homely Scots who apparently lacked a decent mode of transportation.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Food banks, nutrition, Kraft Dinner and the social safety net

I've been seeing a few posts going around about an Ottawa area food bank, the Parkdale Food Centre, and their recent policy change wherein they are refusing certain items of food they deem unhealthy... Namely that Canadian lunch staple, Kraft Dinner.

I have a few thoughts on this:

- KD is, yes, pretty much chemical glop.  Delicious, delicious chemical glop. Mmmm.

- KD has the capability of being mixed with meats and veggies to create a more filling and nutritious meal.  It is also easy to cook and easy to store, which is important for people who lack cooking facilities or safe places to store food.

- With the exception of around Christmas and Thanksgiving, food banks in Ontario are generally understocked and screaming for donations.

- Some people who donate food are assholes and will use food drives as an opportunity to unload their expired and or plain nasty stuff.

- Food banks do need to be able to offer more healthy options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, milk.  Money donations help them do this by offering grocery vouchers that can be redeemed at local grocery stores, or by allowing the food bank to stock these items daily.

I think a big point is being missed in a lot of the debate about this policy.  From my perspective, it is reasonable to encourage the donation of healthier options, but it is kind of arrogant and patronizing to refuse items (barring items that are expired or opened).  Healthy food is needed, but so is comfort food.  So is the occasional treat.  

But the thing nobody commenting on this story seems to be touching on is that food banks are supposed to be an emergency measure, a stop-gap.  If we have people relying on food banks to the point where it is becoming nutritionally detrimental, then that is a BIG problem and in most cases not the fault of the people having to rely on the food banks.   It's a symptom of a system that is not doing what it can to look out for its more vulnerable members.. the elderly, the disabled, families having to work at minimum wage, both single-parent and two-parent. 

If these people who rely on ODSP or CPP or a fair minimum wage do not have enough to even feed themselves on a regular basis, then that's a sign of a much bigger problem than a few boxes of Kraft Dinner.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

Body acceptance and 'unacceptable' bodies.

Before I start, I just want to point out that societal standards and the idea that there are acceptable bodies and unacceptable bodies are bullshit.  Complete, grass-fed bullshit.

That being said, these ideas and standards exist, and it is naive to say societal standards are bullshit so you should just ignore them and feel good about yourself.  Context matters and there is only so far you can go in 'ignoring standards'.

I include this caveat mostly to make clear that when I speak of acceptable and unacceptable bodies, I mean by societal standards and definitely not my own.  Had I my druthers, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all, because there'd be no concept of a body that was unacceptable.

The other day I read a post on my Facebook feed, lauding Australian 'plus-sized' model Robyn Lawley for posting a number of un-retouched, un-airbrushed bikini pictures in the name of body acceptance.

I'm not even going to get into discussing how ludicrous the modelling industry's idea of plus-sized is.  Most of the average-sized women I know are considered too large for plus-sized modelling.

Yup.  Plus-sized.  Okay, then.
First off, I want to say, on a personal level, hats off to you, Robyn Lawley.  Body insecurity can be an issue for anyone of any size and shape and putting yourself out there like that can be a great act of bravery.  I applaud you for calling out the practice of PhotoShopping and airbrushing that gives women even more unrealistic standards to try and live up to.  You, along with so many other women, live within the context of a capitalistic system where industries make money off of tearing down the self-esteem of women, in a never-ending quest to sell us more make-up, more diets, more surgeries and more ways to hate our bodies for being less than utter perfection.

So, yes.  On a personal level, a big thumbs up for you, Robin Lawley.

All that being said, I just wish that the body acceptance movement would focus more on 'unacceptable' bodies.  Practising body acceptance, while a generally good thing, is a lot easier when you live in a body that falls near the "most acceptable" end of the spectrum.  Having a slender, white, youthful women preach body acceptance leaves me feeling pretty underwhelmed.

A woman like Robyn Lawley can post online a picture of herself, flaws and all, and will most likely receive accolades and support and comments to the effect of how beautiful she already is.  Granted, you always get a few assholes that will pick apart her appearance.

I have to wonder.. what if someone like myself, at 200+ lbs, stretch-marked, scarred, flabby, posted the same picture in my own bikini (which I have, because fuck societal standards)?  Mockery, cries of "No one wants to see that!", fake concern for my health and possibly threats of violence because the internet is like that.

Body acceptance should be applicable to all bodies, not just acceptable bodies.  Black bodies, brown bodies, short bodies, fat bodies, disabled bodies, old bodies, scarred bodies, tattooed bodies, trans bodies.  All ethnicities, all genders.

We need to celebrate ALL bodies.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I don't know cars but I can read an invoice, or, Why I Won't go to Pro Oil Change again

I'm really starting to wonder how I keep running into service companies that don't seem to understand that if you give someone a price on something, that should actually be what they pay.  Hell, just being relatively accurate would be great.   In the general ballpark, even. Whatever.

So, in preparation for an upcoming big-ass road trip, and in the name of general automotive maintenance, I decided to get my car's oil changed on my lunch break.  I've had friends offer to do my oil changes and sometimes I take them up on that but mostly I get lazy and impatient and end up going to a 10-min oil change place.  Usually Midas, but they are admittedly a bit pricey, especially when you start treating your motor-baby to synthetic oils.  Generally in the $90 range for a full-synthetic package.

So I decided to try a different place this time.  Pro Oil Change opened a franchaise near downtown about a year ago and lo and behold, they also had a ten-dollar-off coupon on their website and a claim to a 12-minute drive-through service, which seemed handy considering I get a half an hour for lunch.

Ka-ching.

Lunch time rolled around and I drove down to see what the pricing was like.  I asked the senior mechanic guy about pricing and if they did synthetic and he told me a full-synthetic oil change was 60 bucks plus tax.  I asked if the coupon was valid with that package and he said sure so I gave him my keys and hunkered down with one of the limited magazine offerings.

On a side note:  How much sense does it really make to have hot rod and other automotive magazines in a 10-minute oil change place?  Anyone interested enough in cars to want to read about them in magazines are probably doing their own oil changes.

But I digress.

Gripe Number One:  I waited a lot longer than twelve minutes.  I guess they were short-staffed, but I still feel the need to include that to give the fullest picture of my overall shitty experience dealing with this particular company.

Gripe Number Two:  My air filter needs changing, apparently.  I was offered a new one for 29.99 installed.  Now, I could be mistaken, but I have bought one of these before and I don't remember it being near thirty bucks.  And I don't know if you've ever seen where the air filter on a PT Cruiser sits, but a monkey could probably change it.  Hell, I'm fairly confident I could change it, and I'm sure there are monkeys with better automotive knowledge than I have.

Now, these first two gripes, I would let slide.  People get swamped, and understaffed.  Shit happens.  People are in the business to make money so they are going to try and upsell.  And honestly, my air filter DOES need changing.

However...

Gripe Number Three:  When I got the invoice, I saw that I had been charged 38.99 plus tax for service and 37.00 for the oil filter and about 5 liters of synthetic oil. 5W-30.

All told it comes to about $85 bucks after the tax.  After I had been told $60+

(for those unfamiliar with HST, the Ontario rate is 13% so after my coupon was applied, I should have been looking at about $58 bucks total)

I pointed out the discrepancy and was told that ".. that's how the computer rings it up.. you see, it's this much for the service and then this much for your oil."

To which I replied "I see that, but you told me it would be sixty dollars, not over seventy-five."  To which he again said that it was the way it comes up in the computer.

Once again, I reiterated that I was told $60 and that the price card I was shown when I came in also said $60 for the package.  If it comes up as over $75 on the computer, then that is what it should say on the price card.  That is what I *should* have been told when I asked about pricing.

I was also told that I needed to account for the tax.  Which pissed me off, because - as I pointed out on the computer screen - the price BEFORE tax was still fifteen bucks more than the price I was told.

The guy apologizes and says that he's run into this problem before and has told his boss about it a couple of times now.  I told him I'm not surprised he's had problems with customers over it because it's a shitty, dishonest way to do business.

I also told him that as a first-time customer this was a crappy first impression and that I felt I had been ripped off.  I agreed to let them do the oil change under false pretences, believing that I would be paying one price, and then being charged more after the fact.

He then apologized and offered to knock 15 bucks off the price, without the coupon.  He gave me the coupon back and said I could use it again the next time I was in.  I scoffed and told him to keep the coupon as I would not be returning.  I also suggested that he pass that message along to the company owner, once again expressing my opinion that theirs was a shitty, crooked way of doing business.

So yeah.  Will not be going back there.  I had full intention of going in this morning and speaking to the manager face to face, but... life.

For now, this will need to serve as my strongly worded letter and my warning to others who may be tempted as I was.. don't bother.  


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Whatcha got in that bag, Lady?

My co-workers crack me up sometimes.

This conversation happened this afternoon.

My co-worker who we will call CA (because no one will figure it out) is cleaning her keyboard with one of those compressed-air cans.

Me: I need to do that too.  My keyboard is gross.

(My keyboard is gross.  I'm not lying.)

CA: Just fart on it.  Fart through a straw.

(We're classy)

Me: I'm pretty sure that would result in a much bigger, much more unpleasant mess in my keyboard.

CA: You can't do that, can you? That's right, you can't!

Me: I can't what? Fart?

CA: Yeah, because you got the [ostomy] bag.  Right?  I thought you couldn't fart anymore.

Me: I never got the bag.  Didn't I tell you that?  About a week before my surgery the doctor decided they could save my rectum so they just attached it to the small intestine.  I swore I told you that.

CA: I didn't know.  I thought you had the bag.

Other members of the Grey Carpet Area (hereby known as the GCA): Yeah, we knew.

Me: Yeah, no ostomy. Everything works about 90% the same as before.

CA: Oh jeez! I thought you had the other thing done, 'cause you always had that little red bag with you.
This red bag. From my awesome friend Sammi. Because Sammi is awesome.
CA: You're always taking it into the bathroom with you and everywhere you go.

Me:... that's my purse.  That's why it's with me all the time. Sometimes I'm on my period and need a pad and sometimes I just want to put on some lipstick.

CA: Holy shit! You're kidding me!

Me: (grabs purse and opens it) See?  No shit in here.  Well, okay, there's a lot of shit in here.  But no feces.

Me: That being said, if it ever does come down to an ostomy bag, I'd totally be into a Wonder Woman design.

(Fun Fact:  These exist.  Thanks for the link, SB!)

GCA: *hysterical laughter and smart ass comments.. including something along the lines of "Go for the Wonder Woman bag, because you don't wanna shit in a Gucci."*

CA:  Oh my god.  OH MY GOD.  The other day, when you dropped the plant..!1  I was all worried because you left your bag on the floor next to all the dirt.. and you were nowhere near it.  I was panicking thinking something horrible happened to you, because you weren't with your bag!  That's why I picked it up and brushed it off and was all worried about getting it back to you!

(I had gone to get a broom. See footnote.)

Me:  I thought you were just being nice!

At this point, I have tears running down my cheeks, I am laughing so hard.  People are coming in from other departments to see what is going on and why we are laughing about pooh-bags and shitting in Gucci.

This must have been especially confusing to anyone who has joined our department since last January. I can kind of understand the confusion, because in all fairness, back when I was first diagnosed with colitis at the tender age of 18 and had the dreaded words "colostomy bag" uttered to me, I thought it would look kind of like a fanny pack.  At this purse, with its shoulder strap, does kind of sit over my hip, where an ostomy bag might go.

It's been a while since I've laughed that hard.  Cancer is bullshit, but poop jokes never get old.

1The other day, coming into work, I attempted to carry two large spider plants, my tote bag, my purse and a coffee into the building in one trip and succeeded in dumping one of the plants upside down on the floor.  Considering I was carrying my travel mug in my cleavage, things could have gone much worse.


Monday, July 7, 2014

The continuing saga of the so-called penis table

I have what some may call irrational and so may call perfectly rational hatred for MDF (also known as chip board) furniture.  I have a shit ton of it in my house, but I absolutely loathe it.  

Thing is, it's inexpensive and light and usually comes ready to assemble.  Ergo, I have a ton of this crap in my house.  Book shelves, dressers, desks etc.  

But I dream of wood.  Real wood furniture.  I dream of eventually replacing every piece of cheap, shitty, Walmart/Canadian Tire etc prefab crap with oak, or maple or pine.  

A few years ago some friends of mine were moving out-of-country an as such, had divested themselves of most of their furniture.  By the time they their going away party, they were down to a coffee table set and a couch, both of which were slated for the dumpster the next day.

It was a few hours into the night that I realized that here was a rather nice wood coffee table set, that was just going to be thrown in the garbage without my intervention.  I asked my friends if the would mind if I took it instead and they quite were agreeable to this arrangement.

There was one small catch.

Prior to my "hey, this is some pretty decent shit" revelation, our host had presented the partygoers with a few Sharpies with which to sign their well wishes on the last of the furniture before it made its way to the dumpster.

Do you know happens when you combine an apartment full of revellers and a batch of Sharpie markers?

Penises.

Penises on your new coffee table set.

So many penises.  And boobs.  And penises with boobs.  Some sort of multi-headed penis hydra.  And a penis palm-tree.

There was even a Cock Ness Monster.  I kid you not.

Nonetheless I was determined.  With help, I dismantled and fit the set into my car, then took it home and hid it in the shed away from my children's impressionable view until I could find some time to strip and refinish it.

Three years later, I'm finally getting around to this project of mine, mainly because I dislike my current coffee table and I got tired of hemming and hawing about whether or not I was actually going to get around to refinishing the damned thing.

It's slow going.  I started off using a paint/varnish thinner but after multiple chemicals burns and some kind of reaction to my nitrile gloves that caused my hands to heat up and stiffen in an alarming manner, I decided that paint stripper was fucking bullshit and sought out a heat gun, which I was able to borrow from a friend and former co worker.

What a difference.  I've only burned myself bad enough to leave a mark once (although I've probably singed off some leg and arm hair with flying paint chips), and the gun goes through the paint and varnish much faster than the paint stripper did.

I am hoping to at least have the whole set stripped, if not sanded, by the end of the summer.  But that is what I have been up to.  

Work in progress.. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Personal Opinions vs. Prescriptiveness (NSFW)

Saw an article on the Facebook feed today that bothered me enough that I felt it necessary write rather than watch lunch.

Ugh.  I'm going to do a takedown of this article, mainly because I have a kid on Facebook who may, sooner or later, come across this article and I don't ever want her to feel obligated to do things she's not comfortable with.

No.  Not every girl should give blow jobs.

Girls who like giving head should give head, hopefully to someone who likes receiving head.  Girls who do not like giving blow jobs, should not give blow jobs.  Just like guys who do not like giving head should not give head.  

No one should participate in sex acts they are uncomfortable with.  If you really enjoy them, then go for it.  If you're just kind of meh about it, but generally okay with it and get enjoyment from making your partner happy, then that's cool too.

There's a number of problems with this article.  It's heteronormative, to begin with.  I'm going to ahead and mention that a lot of lesbians probably don't like being told they should give blow jobs.  But I guess lesbians don't exist in this universe.

Not a single point on the list even remotely touches on the woman's enjoyment.  Most of the points like "He's more likely to get down on one knee if you get down on two" revolve around using oral sex as a manipulation tactic, or getting a guy's approval.  People, this mentality is gross.  GROSS.  Do it because you like it, and if you don't like it, don't do it.

The only reference to enjoyment is where the author mentions that it's fun.  Fair point.  It sure can be loads *snicker* of fun.  But she then goes on to kill that by claiming that if you don't think it's fun, you're doing it wrong.

And that's where my issue comes into play: the author employs a prescriptive voice throughout the article.   She doesn't say, "I think this is awesome." She says, "I think this is awesome, and so should you."  

That's a big nope.

It could have been possible to write this while making it clear that it's completely subjective, and without shaming people who don't like to participate in oral sex.  The author of the article could have titled the piece "15 Reasons I Think Blow Jobs Are The Freaking Awesomest."   Because then it stops being prescriptive and becomes one person's personal opinion.   Instead of ending the article with "Get to work, people" she could have said something like "Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta head downtown for a while... if you know what I mean *wink*"

Hey, that's pretty clever.  I'm starting to think I should have written it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This is why I hated "She's All That"

Tumblr user Justplainsomething posited an interesting question recently:
Why do we see a story where a guy falls for an “ordinary” girl as pandering? It’s one thing if the story’s message is “Your self-worth is directly connected to whether or not a boy loves you” because that’s problematic as hell, but why do we mock girls for liking stories where they’re wanted? Is the idea that girls like being wanted so off-putting to us?
Years ago, I had a thing for movies with vaguely schlubby/geeky guys who win the girl in the end, but often thought similar.. "Why are there no movies where a plain, kind of dweeby girl, wins over the hot guy by being herself?"

The answer is rather depressing.   While we see a plain schlubby dude winning over a beautiful woman as a hero, a beloved protagonist, I feel like a schlubby woman chasing a hot guy would be seen by most as kind of desperate and pathetic, or alternately, as frightening.

Male entitlement (and I'm going to piss some people off using that term) dictates that our schlubby dude is a hero because as a guy he deserves to win the pretty girl's affections.  He should be able to get the girl just by being himself.

How else does Seth Rogen get leading man roles?  Source
The only time we seem to root for the schlubby girl is when she earns the affections of the hot guy by becoming beautiful.  It's as though we schlubby chicks are not allowed to win over hot guys by simply being ourselves.  We have to be beautiful before we get to win them over.  Hence the popularity of the scads of Pygmalion archetypes in film.

Even Hollywood's idea of plain geeky women is rather skewed.  Skewed enough that I am having a hard time thinking of a particularly schlubby or dweeby leading lady that I'd like to see paired up with a hot leading man.

Sorry, even with glasses and a taco hat, you're still Rachel Leigh fricking Cook.  Source
The other time a small subset of us cheers for the schlubby woman is when she decides that she's better off alone.. but like I said, that's a small, small subset.

I'd love to see a movie where someone like,  geez, I don't know.. Mayim Bialik in Full-Amy Farrah Fowler mode gets paired up with someone like Kit Harrington (garrgghghh).. without a makeover, without her flinging her glasses off and becoming a supermodel.  Just a plain, geeky girl and the hot, hot dude who loves her.

I have a feeling I may be waiting some time.

In the meantime, I'll be over here, having a Kit Harington appreciation moment. Source

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Entitlement to Women's Bodies at its Most Horrifying.

Trigger Warning: Extreme Violence, Misogyny

Last night, a 22 year old man named Elliot Rodger allegedly opened fire on a small community near Santa Barbara,California, killing six people, possibly himself included.

The night before, he posted a video to YouTube, complaining about being rejected by women and still being a virgin at 22.  He declared that he would take retribution on the women who refused him love, and sex.  He labelled them sluts and said he would mow each of them down. (By the way, that video is disturbing as hell).

A Facebook acquaintance who posted the story referred to him as America's own Marc Lepine.  She's right.

People will see this story and rave on about gun control (which I am all for).  They will see this story and scapegoat the mentally ill.  I get it.  There are not enough resources for the mentally ill.  They need more help that society is willing to provide at this point.  But every time we jump to "They must be mentally ill!" it does a disservice to the numerous non-violent mentally ill.

This guy have been ill.  What he definitely was, is entitled as hell. People will likely ignore the sheer amount of entitlement that it takes to justify murdering numerous people in cold blood because you can't get laid.

Elliot Rodger thought that because women refuse his advances they were sluts and deserved to die.  Women were supposed to be there for his enjoyment.  They didn't provide that.  So they had to be punished.

That is entitlement.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This is Triskadecaphobia.

To My Daughter On Her Thirteenth Birthday,

Bear with your mother for a moment.  As you probably already know, being my child and all, I have a difficult time walking a fine line between sentimentality and snark.  Allow me this moment to get a little misty, to wax philosophical and to pass on some advice as you enter your teen years.

1) You are loved.  I figured I'd get that one out of the way first.  It probably goes without saying, but I don't like to go without saying it.  You are loved.  When you are feeling lost and alone, there is always someone there you can talk to.   I'd like it to be me, but I know there will be things that you may not want to share with your mom.  But I do know that for all the things that you feel like you can't come to me with (which I hope is a very small list) there are any number of people who would be willing to listen.

2) You are beautiful.  But you are also smart, funny, and kind. While beauty may definitely helps you in many areas of this looks-obsessed society we live in, it will be your humour, your kindness and your willingness to learn that will, in the long run, be the things that dictate the direction your life will take and how you are remembered.

3) You are worthy of respect.  Those who would deem you unworthy are not entitled to your time or energy.  That being said, treat others with respect as well.  Every new person you meet has their own stories, strengths, weaknesses, and potential to be a friend or ally.

4) Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses.  Work hard to develop your strengths. Be patient with yourself in areas of weakness.

5) "An it harm none, do what thou will."  Basically, be who you are as long as you are not hurting people in the process.

6) You do not owe your time to people who treat you badly.  YOU DO NOT OWE YOUR TIME TO PEOPLE WHO TREAT YOU BADLY.  It is okay to cut off communication with people who do not respect you or your boundaries.

7) Do not apologize for your passions.  Even if someone tells you that your interests and hobbies are weird or boring, do not apologize.  Even when you've graduated and gone off and left your family and friends, you'll still have Bandersnatch Cummerbund.

8) Be nice to your sister.

9) Try not to view other women as competition.  Don't judge other women's style, bodies, or sexual choices.  We face enough judgement for these things from society at large, without being shitty to each other.  There is no right or wrong way to be a woman.

10) For the love of Gord, turn your light off when you leave your bedroom.  I'm not made of money.

11) Take risks.  Not stupid risks, like getting into a car with some drunk asshole driver or doing drugs or stuff like that, but don't be afraid to try new things or to put yourself out there.  Like someone? Let them know.  If an opportunity presents itself to try something new and exciting, don't let the possibility that things might not work out *exactly* as planned dissuade you.

12)  Don't let people tell you that you are not good enough to accomplish the things you want. However, remember that when someone points out potential flaws in your plans, it is not to discourage you, but to make sure you can see and plan for challenges and obstacles in your path.

13)  Don't be in a hurry to grow up.  Enjoy your childhood and adolescence.  Being a grown-up can suck.  For instance, grown-ups have to watch their kids grow up and deal with all the crappy stuff that can sometimes come with being an adult.  We're also not allowed in the McDonalds Playland.

14) Speaking of which, I will never not worry about you.  So you can just forget about that right now, missy.  I will, however, do my best to trust that you will make good choices in life.

15) You are loved.  Happy birthday, my sweet girl.

Step lightly, love.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conversations with my kid: Know Your Fandom

A few years ago I took the girls to the Toronto FanExpo.  T spots a guy dressed as David Tennant.

T: Mommy, look! It's Mr. Bean!
Me: No, honey. That's Dr. Who.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I have thoughts on Mothers Day.

Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there.  I'm lucky to have a lot of really fantastic moms in my life, including my own mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my kids' stepmother and a number of my friends, including a few guy friends who have had to be both dad and mom.

Parenting is hard.  I say it a lot.  It can be a constant struggle.  It can be a stream of constant worry, second guessing, self-doubt.  There's an endless barrage of information out there, mostly pertaining to the myriad ways one can fuck their kid up for life.  

Not everyone is good at it.  Some people are never meant to be parents.  Some of those people end up raising kids anyway.  

On Mother's Day, lets remember to be sensitive while we post our congratulations to each other on being such awesome moms or having awesome moms, that there are people who do not find this a day to celebrate.  People who have suffered at the hands of their mother.  People who do not speak to their mother.  People who had to grow up with out a mother.  People who have recently lost their mother and still feel the sting and loneliness.  People who desperately want to be mothers but are unable, for whatever reason.  People who aren't mothers and would be quite okay with it were it not for societal messaging that being child-free means somehow being less than. 

I love my mom. I'm lucky, that while she may not be perfect (and none of us are) I can safely say she's generally always had the best of intentions and my sister's and my well-being in mind.  

I like being a mom. I'm lucky that my kids make it easy to like being a mom.  Most of the time, ha ha.  I know a few mothers who struggle daily, who love their kids madly but have days, and sometimes weeks and months where it's difficult to like them very much at all.  

A few reminders:

Not all mothers have experienced pregnancy
Not all mothers are women
Some people do not love their mother. They might have a good reason.

Lastly, a note to the retail sector: if you suggest that a vacuum cleaner is a great way to show your mother your appreciation, you are officially and without a doubt THE WORST.

I'm looking at you Canadian Tire.





Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Now this is a holiday I can get behind. Get it? Behind? Because I have a big ass.

Content note: weight, diet and food talk

It turns out today is International No Diet Day.  So I had pizza and garlic bread for dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I would probably have had pizza anyway, but now I feel extra justified in my choice.

I gave up dieting a year or so ago, and decided that I was going to try and love my body, no matter what shape it takes.  It's not been an easy task.  I will admit, I still own a scale, and I still step on it from time to time.  Some days i take the number i see with a grain of salt.  Other days, It's hard not to fall into a pattern of self-loathing.  Mostly, I'm trying harder these days to try and listen to my body and what it wants.  I believe it's called intuitive eating. 

In retrospect, when I look back on the 5+ years I spent actively trying to lose weight, the health benefits that I experienced during that period came not from the weight loss itself, but by my increase in physical activity and some improved eating habits. That is to say, I think I benefitted from the good stuff I added to my nutritional intake during that time, rather than the "bad" which I had taken away.  

By the way, can we stop ascribing labels like "good" and "bad" to food? This lends itself to labelling ourselves as "good" and "bad" when we allow ourselves certain indulgences.  

But anyway, I digress.  The fact that I was able to walk faster, run further and do more physically, I now believe came from the fact that I was making my body stronger, rather than making it smaller.

These are the things that I try to concentrate on now during my recovery process.  I concentrate on reducing my negative self-talk and avoiding in engaging in diet talk with others.  

Learning about fat positivity has helped me, after 30+ years, to stop feeling like less than because I don't fit into a size 8 or into societal expectations.  I no longer feel like I need to deprive myself of things other, more slender people take for granted, simply because my body processes food differently than others.

I've learned that clothes are supposed to fit your body, not the other way around.  If my pants don't fit, I don't try to force my body to change; I change my pants instead.

Links




Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Short, reflective post.

It has officially been six months since the last time I had a large intestine.  It's been seven months and a day since I received the cancer diagnosis that led to me parting ways with my large intestine, with whom I have for years had a tumultuous, codependent relationship.

It sounds like a cliche to say a lot has happened in the last six months.  A cliche and a lie.  I got the news. I wept. I raged.  I laid awake at night, contemplating my mortality.  I went into surgery, I came out of surgery, seven pounds of colon lighter.  I recovered, gradually.  Once, in a morphine haze, I advised my child who was dealing with a schoolyard bully to "just hit her."  

Parenting while on heavy painkillers is interesting, to say the least.

My tumor is currently still making the rounds somewhere in Utah, as geneticists search for the underlying cause as to why a 33-year-old woman would end up with colon cancer.

It was a great day when I heard the words "Stage One."

I got off the pain meds.  I started eating regular food again.  Mostly, anyway.  Some foods are less forgiving than they once were.  I went back to work.

I still worry.  A little part of me dreads September, when I will go in for my one-year scope.  By the way, I feel like the most popular girl at the ball, since it seems every doctor I've spoken with wants to get up in my junk with that sigmoidoscope.

Over half a year since my life changed, and yet, not much feels different.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I'd probably be the best lottery winner ever.

I bought a lottery ticket last night.  The LottoMAX to be precise.  A friendly convenience store clerk talked me into it. By talked me into it, I mean she said "Ticket for tonight? 32 million." and I said "Okay, sounds good," so you know, not a lot of convincing needed.  I figured, I've beaten a lot of shitty odds lately - as in the odds of cancer before age 35, and the odds of having two sump pumps and a battery back-up fail at once - so I figured maybe I could beat some odds that would work out in my favour.

I don't usually play the Lottery, mainly because I am cheap, but also because I end up fantasizing of what I would do if I won which ends ups being a set-up for utter disappointment when I inevitably lose (spoiler alert: I didn't win).

You know those people that win lotteries and within two years piss it all away? Yeah, those people suck.  How does someone actually manage to piss away millions in a two to three year period?

Not I.  I like to think I have it pretty well thought out.  I have a list of things I'd do upon winning the lottery (estimated on a $32 million win).  Not necessarily in this order:

- Pay off this dump.  Put aside a chunk of money to flip it and sell it.
- Pay off my student loans and any other debts
- Start a search for a moderately priced, but well-built 3+ bedroom home with a second bathroom and a good chunk of property, preferably with water nearby.
- Put away 50k each for the girls education
- GTFO of town for a few weeks with the kids and the Well-Travelled one to get my head together and do some financial planning.  Road trip.
- Take a percentage of winnings and put into investments and high-interest savings accounts
- Put aside a chunk for my parents, my sister, and handful of close friends to help them out
- Sabbatical
- Go from there

One extravagance I think I would definitely allow myself would be to replace all the shitty MDF furniture my house with actual real wood.

I think if I was smart about it, I could live out the rest of my life comfortably and somewhat modestly, and secure a future for my kids where they may still have to work, but would never have to worry about food or shelter.


In Praise of Cowardly Fat Dudes.

There's a certain character archetype, both in television and film, that when invoked I cannot help but automatically root for them.

They are the Cowardly Fat Dudes*.  

I say dudes, because frankly, there's not a lot of representation for fat women on TV and film, cowardly or otherwise.  Off hand, I can think of four fat lady recurring characters over the last twenty years and half of them were played by Melissa McCarthy.**

However, I digress.  This post is, after all, titled "In Praise of Cowardly Fat Dudes," not "Let Us Bitch About The Lack of Representation for Fat Women."  Believe you me, that is a post for another day.

I love a good underdog, and the Cowardly Fat Dude archetype fits the underdog description well.  Cowardly Fat Dude is portrayed as unsure of himself, often slow, and well, cowardly.  However, they are also often written as generally kind and concerned for others and can often represent a voice of reason when every thing around has gone bat-shit insane.

Some classic Cowardly Fat Dudes include Chunk from The Goonies, Dave from The Full Monty, and Piggy from Lord of the Flies (although anyone who has taken high school English knows things didn't turn out so well for Piggy.)

My current favourite Cowardly Fat Dudes are Aaron Pittman on Revolution (played by Zak Orth) and Samwell Tarly on Game of Thrones (played by John Bradley).  Aaron, a former stupidly-rich MIT grad and Google exec, loses his money, power, confidence and his wife after the blackout that is the catalyst for the events in Revolution.  He spends a lot of the first season mourning his pre-blackout life and generally pointing out the bat-shit craziness of the events that unfold around him.  However, as much as he protests and balks, when his friends are in trouble, he's usually right in there, even if he looks ready to crap his pants at any moment.  Late is season one, he pulls one particularly ballsy, kick-ass move that had me literally in tears.
Aaron's expressions usually alternate between this and "Are you kidding me?" disgust.  Source
Samwell is introduced as a self-described coward, who seems to have internalized a lot of nasty stuff told to him by his father, who considers him more than useless.  He joins the Knight's Watch (Night's watch?) after his father threatens to have a "hunting accident" if Sam doesn't get the eff out.  I haven't seen much of his character arc so far, as I am still trying like hell to catch up on this series, but I can't help but like the guy and hope to see him kick some ass.

There's some rage in there.  This kid is going to do some awesome shit, I know it.  No spoilers, please.  I'm only on season three.  Source
The reason I like the cowardly fat dude is that they seem to rise above their fear when it comes down to the line.  Every other character underestimates their abilities, as do they themselves, so I always find myself rooting for CFDs to come out on top, especially in situations where they are able to put their own particular talents to work in ways that other characters with more brawn and bravado would not be able, through the use of wit or intellect rather than brute force.  

I love the Cowardly Fat Dude character because it's one thing to lack a sense of danger, but it's an entirely different thing to look danger in the eye, feel debilitating fear, and go forth anyway.

*I'm fat-friendly.  I use 'fat' solely as a value-neutral physical description, and not a perjorative in any way.

**In case you're interested, the ones I came up with were Rae from My Mad Fat Diary, Molly from Mike and Molly, Lorelai's friend on Gilmore Girls and the inimitable Roseanne Conner.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crowdsurfing, like so many other things, does NOT justify sexual assault.

Trigger Warning, because obviously.

Full disclosure:  I do not know who Iggy Azalea is, nor do I really want to.

I'm old.  I'm not hip.  I'm not cool.  I'm okay with this.

I am told this is an Iggy Azalea.  Source
Ye old Facebook feed is chock-full of debate over an interview she gave with the Huffington Post where she talks about how she had to stop crowd-surfing because people, both male and female, were using this as an opportunity to sexually assault her.

Gross, right?

Just as gross as the load of people who are using this to spew the same old rape-apologist B.S. about how women, when going certain places and doing certain things, should expect to be assaulted, even though it's totally bad and wrong and of course no one is saying it's okay, but that still, we should expect these kinds of things.  Cue shrug.

Nope, sorry.  No one should expect to be sexually assaulted in any context and nobody should shrug it off like it's just one of those things.

The two popular arguments seem to be A) Men are disgusting, so we should just expect them to be disgusting and violate us; or B) People who are crowd-surfing should expect to be touched because duh! Women like Azalea are just being over sensitive.

The A crowd are doing both women and men a huge disservice because they basically imply that a man's default setting is rapist, and that women need to suck it up and just not go anywhere.  It's patently untrue.  Most men are capable of controlling themselves in almost any situation.  We call these men 'decent people who fucking get that you don't assault others'.    This argument also ignores that she said that BOTH men and women have done this.

I believe the B crowd probably haven't bothered to read the actual article.

There's a big difference between someone brushing or palming your boob or ass to support you as you're passed overhead, and what Azalea described in her interview.  Not sure what the lingo in other places is, but where I come from, "fingering" refers pretty blatantly to digital penetration of the vagina. Which is something that is pretty damn difficult to do by accident.  Not to mention that in her interview she cites people actually tweeting her saying that they were going to try and 'finger' her while she's surfing the crowd.
I will get lurk tweets for like a week before my show, like 'I'm about to go to the Iggy Azalea show and I'm going to finger her,' and I'll see it and be like, please don't!," she said. "That's a violation. I don't actually like that stuff."
If you tweet a celebrity to tell them outright that you plan to assault them at a show, then all arguments about "accidental" grabs and brushes being blown out of proportion flies right out the window.

Things remind me of other things - On being pro-choice and having babies.

The recent announcement that Chelsea Clinton is up the spout, as they say, seems to have caused some confusion in the forced-birth camp.  There seems to be some kind of idea that being pro-choice amounts to being anti-baby and anti-pregnancy.  All abortion, all the time.

It's not so.  I am staunchly pro-choice.  I happen to like babies a lot.  They're cute.  Mine were adorable and are growing up to be awesome people.  I also happened to mostly enjoy my pregnancies, although I grew to miss my ankles after a time.

I also never, ever want to be pregnant, or have babies again.  Ever again.  I don't think anyone who doesn't want to carry a pregnancy should be forced to whether by legislation or by circumstance and lack of resource.
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The confusion of the anti-choicers seems to stem from the insistence of Ms. Clinton, along with grandparents-to-be Bill and Hil, in referring to her impending offspring as a baby.

Part of choice involves the decision to imbue meaning on a pregnancy.  I'm reminded of the passage from The Little Prince, where the fox explains if the prince were to tame him, to establish ties with him, that to him, the fox would "be unique in all the world" and vice versa.

In a sense, a person who is carrying a wanted pregnancy has established ties to the fetus, has began thinking of it as a baby.  The pregnant person has made a choice (whoa, there's that word again) to establish ties with what is growing inside.  In the story, the Prince does decide to tame the fox, although in the beginning, he has misgivings about having much to see and places to visit.   He makes the choice to tame the fox anyway, and the fox says to the prince that "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

That's a big deal and a choice that should not be foisted on someone.  But more, it's a decision made by a pregnant person, followed by their partner and eventually their friends and family, to establish those ties.   So, it is not hypocritical for a pro-choice person to refer to a wanted pregnancy as a baby as opposed to a fetus, once they have made the choice to establish that tie, to give it such meaning.

Source

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Tut tut, looks like rain."

Oh, these glorious spring days, when I can sit on my porch and watch the world go by.  I feel utter contentment settle around me as my cheeks warm from the kiss of the sun.  Where I can lazily strum my guitar, pausing to sip a cold drink.

People pass by: on bikes, with their dogs.  A mere few weeks ago, snow banks still stood multiple feet high next to driveways, now melted ice flows down the gutters and pools in the corners of my yard.

My neighbour waves a friendly hand, just before he proceeds to turn around and pee on a nearby bush.

*sigh*  

Maybe spring is over-rated, I think to myself, shuddering as I head back inside.

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This post is part of the Studio30plus weekly challenge.  This week's prompt is "Kiss of the Sun".  Visit them at www.studio30plus.com

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First outing(s) of the year.

Goddamn this late winter.

That being said, this has been a pretty darn decent Easter weekend.  I had the day off on Friday, so I got to chill out around the house with the children and the Well-Travelled One.  Since he and my youngest were busy tearing down and rebuilding a computer (He guided her through the rebuild after which she was apparently able to install Linux on her own. I'm not particularly techie, but that sounds pretty impressive to me), I spent some extra quality time with the eldest.  

I engaged her in a vaguely uncomfortable talk about various "grown-up" topics (read: sex, birth control, consent), which although she was hesitant to open up, I hope she thanks me for later.  This basically came about because I finished reading Jessica Valenti's "The Purity Myth" and some of the chapters on abstinence-only sex Ed made me curious about what the schools are teaching the kids.

Not much, apparently.  It could also be my daughter's selective memory combined with a strong desire not to have this conversation with her mother, but it sounds like they pretty much touch on the basic logistics and cover a little bit about birth control, but not much else.  I guess it's not as bad as the "Just Don't Ever Unless You Are Ensconced In A Fully Procreative Heteronormative Marriage" approach that the abstinence-only programs in the U.S. seem to use, but it leaves a lot of gaps to fill for us parents who wish their kids to be fully informed on such subjects, including but not limited to sexual identity, pregnancy and STIs and consent.

But anyway, that's a post for another day.  Back to my weekend, after making my daughter cringe at least 27 times in the span of an hour, I let her off the hook, and suggested we take a walk around the block and discuss lighter topics (such as the Comicon that she was going to the following day). Usually the eldest is loathe to do much that involved physical activity so I was quite surprised and pleased when she joined me with little to no heavy sighing or eye-rolling, and we had a lovely walk around our neighborhood.

Upon our return, The Well-Travelled One and my youngest were off on their own walk to get a coffee and a treat for successful completion of the computer project, so T and I went to her room to move the wardrobe that had until now been used for storage in the basement into her bedroom, as the girl is getting older and her clothes take up more space and my poor house sorely lacks closet space.

The girls were to go to their dad's house this weekend, so after dropping them off, we decided to head up north for a bit of a drive and to scout out some locations for hiking and checking out waterfalls this spring and summer.  The idea is to try and hit some of these places while they are still at their spring high-water mark, as by part-way through the summer, they often dry up somewhat losing some of their majesty. We walked down to the canoe launch at McRae lake, which was challenging as there was still a lot of snow and walking in half-melted snow can be a lot like walking in sand, only more slippery.  My calves and ankles, even with decent footwear, were not liking me much.

With the cancer and the surgery this year, I have backslid quite a bit from the fitness level I was at two years ago, or even last year (even though last year my energy levels were already deteriorating).  For a while I was able to walk or hike fair distances but now, depending on how I've been eating and drinking, a walk from work to the bank can be exhausting.

Taking baby steps, we're trying to revisit some of the less challenging trails and taking shorter walks so I can build back up to the fitness level I was at.  It's going to take some work.

At any rate, we made it over to White's Falls where even dammed, the water was in full force, and then over to Big Chute, where I got to revisit the fun that is peeing outdoors since a great need for hydration also means I have to pee a lot more, in places where bathrooms are not readily available.

White's Falls
Me, back-lit. Later in the summer I can sit on the rocks about 3 feet to my right here.
Saturday was more of the same, after the laundry was done.  We drove as far north as Huntsville, before taking some fun sketchy roads back towards home.  We made a couple of stops, once again at McRae Lake and another stop on the Sequin Trail, which lies atop an old rail bed.  Because, I am told, trains do not like going up and down hills, these rail-bed trails are handy for me because I too, do not like going up and down hills.

View of the rail-bridge from the bank of the Seguin River
Sequin Trail.  Newish foot bridge.  The giant concrete pillar signifies where the rail bridge would have existed.
Seguin River
Stand clear.
I am sore today.  Mind you, after we got home I forced myself, against social anxiety and general exhaustion, to go out to my friend Lori's 40th birthday.  My attempts at dancing after tromping around bush and rocks two days straight were probably not the greatest idea, but I had a good time and was glad I made myself go.  But I am paying for it today.  I know this is part of getting myself back to the shape I was in, so it's worth it, but ow.


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