Sunday, December 6, 2015

Self-Defence vs. Empathy.. Wait, Can't We Have Both?

I've seen a few people posting this image lately on the Book of the Face:

Caption reads: We will never get rid of bullying. We should teach kids how to stand up for themselves instead of wearing pink ribbons and passing anti-bullying laws to create a society of victims.
"We will never get rid of bullying."

Well, that seems defeatist. Like, I get that there are always going to be people who are generally assholes and who are going to give others a hard time because some people just love to power-trip, but on the whole, I think most people are generally okay people, and if we all try a bit harder to be okay people and not be assholes, we can probably not obliterate bullying, but at least mitigate some of the damage.

"We should teach kids how to stand up for themselves..."

Yup, okay. Totally with you there. It's super-duper important to be able to stand up for oneself, whether it's setting personal boundaries and enforcing them or holding one's own in an actual physical confrontation.

"...instead of wearing pink ribbons..."

Interesting. Not sure where breast cancer awareness comes into play here.

"...and passing anti-bullying laws..."

Technically, I can kind of stand behind this sentiment, because we shouldn't actually need anti-bullying laws, because there are already laws against assault, laws against harassment, laws against stalking, laws against uttering threats etc etc.

"... to create a society of victims."

Hm.

... and, you lost me.


I mean, why does this have to be an either/or situation? What is wrong with teaching kids to defend themselves, to enforce personal boundaries and stick up for themselves, while still teaching them to be empathetic and how to be kind to others. 

I won't begin to deny the effectiveness that a good, hearty punch in the face can have in getting some asshole kid to leave you alone. Gord knows, just being able to put on an act of being able to fuck someone up got me out of a few jams, even if I was secretly pissing myself in fear of having my bluff called.

But why can't we teach kids to defend themselves, while at the same time taking steps to make sure they won't have to by teaching kids to just be fucking nicer to each other?

I think the problem with a lot of current anti-bullying rhetoric is that it's lazy. "Bullying" is such a weird, vague term that it becomes this abstract concept, a boogeyman. Educators and other child care professionals, as well as parents, rush to label any act of aggression as bullying. Anything done by any kid that makes someone else feel bad is bullying.

Bullying is much more insidious. Bullying is repeated, systematic, physical and/or psychological violence.

It has roots in sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, etc.

It is assault. It is stalking. It is the threat of being personally violated.  It is the threat of having your reputation torn to pieces.

It is being told, over and over, that you are worthless, ugly, that nobody likes you and that you should probably just die already.

A kid that pushes another kid and tells them to fuck off because he had a shitty day is not a bully.  They may be reasonably called an asshole, because let's face it, kids can be assholes, but kid-assholery tends to stem from an egocentric tendency to forget that other people are a thing and that other people having feelings and their own shit to deal with is a thing too. 

The difference falls between the active desire to victimize others, and negligence in making an effort to not victimize others.

Current anti-bullying rhetoric does have a horrible tendency to label all aggressive behaviour as "bullying".  There is also a tendency to label the kid and not the behaviour, and a kid that gets labelled a bully tends to hold onto that label. 

I sometimes wish it were more socially acceptable to swear around kids because I feel like being able to say "Jimmy, when you pull Susie's hair, you're being a real asshole," might be an effective deterrent without the same long-term effects of being labelled a bully.

The answer is also not unending positivity and making sure everyone is friends.  Kids, just like adults, are not going to like everybody they meet, and part of standing up for yourself is the ability to set boundaries. It's easier to "just walk away" from an asshole kid if your teacher isn't forcing you to play nice together.  Kids need to be able to enforce their own boundaries.  They also need to be allowed to experience negative emotions, while learning appropriate ways to express those emotions (i.e. don't be an asshole about it).

A quick anectdote:  The street I lived on had a lot of kids within my age range. My best friend lived next door to me, and another girl our age lived a few doors down.  This other girl, was a real, honest-to-gord asshole, as far as eight-year-olds go, and she in particular liked to give us both a hard time.  In fact, she was one of the two girls responsible for the worst year of my childhood.

My friend's mother had told her that she had to be friends with other kids and (through my friends interpretation) that she wasn't allowed to 'hate' other kids.  This kid knew about this rule and would hold it over our heads whenever we would tell her to go away because she was being an asshole and we didn't want to play with her.  She'd threaten to tell my friends mom that we weren't letting her play with us.

(It never occurred to me until over 25 years later that MY mom had no such rule and that I was perfectly within my rights to tell her to fuck right off).

This is a very small example of simplistic ideals made it easier for this little shit to victimize both my friend and I, because we were not able to effectively enforce our own boundaries.

I just wish we could teach kids not to be assholes.

Don't want to play with Johnny? Cool. You don't have to, but don't be an asshole about it. 

Johnny doesn't want to play with you? That sucks, and you're probably sad, and its okay to be sad, but just because you're sad that doesn't mean that Johnny's a bully, it means that you have to find someone else to play with. 

Johnny says that he's going to make sure no one else plays with you ever?  Well, now we have a problem, because Johnny's being an asshole.

I've kind of gone on a tangent here, but I guess what I'm meaning to say is that there is plenty of room to teach kids the following:

- You are allowed to defend yourself.
- You are allowed to assert yourself and enforce boundaries.
- You need to be kind and empathetic towards others.
- You are allowed to have bad days and bad thoughts and bad moods.
- Other people are allowed to have bad days and bad thoughts and bad moods.
- You are allowed to not like some people. You do not have to be friends with everyone, even if they are the nicest, kindest people in the world.
- Other people are allowed to not like you. It does not make you a bad person.  Even if you're an amazing person, nobody is obligated to like you.
- You still have to be fucking nice to people, even if the level of "nice" you can muster consists only of not punching them in the face or not telling them to die in a fire.
- Whenever possible, don't be an asshole.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Putting your money where your mouth is.

Well, fuck.

Another day, another senseless act of violence, another show of meaningless 'solidarity' by changing a facebook picture, all the while ignoring the terrible things that happen to people around the world, people who look less like you.

Yup.  It's good to be home.

Since the events in Paris this week, a mosque in Peterborough was deliberately set fire.  A woman near Toronto was punched in the stomach, the hijab ripped from her head while she was called a fucking terrorist and told to go back where she came from.

People disgust me, yo.

It's exhausting, explaining to people, so-called Christians, people who supposedly worship a man who decried pointing out the splinter in another's eye while ignoring the beam in your own, that all terrorists are not muslims and all muslims are not terrorists.

But I'm privileged in that if I don't feel like speaking up, I don't have to.

I'm tired of trying to explain that the refugees fleeing Syria are NOT the threat.. they're running from the same threat.

And I will fucking scream if one more person talks about 'taking care of our own first' while doing fuck-all to actually help the homeless and the mentally ill.

Homeless people need help. Yes.  No shit.

The mentally ill need help.  Again, no big revelation there.

Refugees need help. 

None of these things need to cancel the others out.  If we have problems with mental health access and homelessness, it's not because of a piddling number of what... 25,000 refugees? That is 0.07% of this country's entire population.  Not even an entire tenth of a percent. 

That's one town.  One rather small town.

The mentally ill and the homeless aren't going to suffer because we accept a small town's worth of refugees.  They're suffering because of multiple governments that had already forsaken them several times over, governments supported by people who ignore the homeless and shit on people who have to rely on government assistance, but trot them out as an argument for having to 'take care of our own'.

The people complaining don't actually care about the homeless.  One person in a thread said that "The money has to come from somewhere."

Yes, it does.  Probably taxes.  I'm okay with that.  I'm willing to pay taxes if it means homeless people, mentally ill people, and refugees all get help they need (btw, there's overlap in these groups, in case you didn't know).  Fuck yeah.  Sign me up.

If you actually care about homeless people, then I hope you're speaking up just as loudly when MP's and MPP's and municipal politicians are giving themselves raises every year.  I hope you're fighting for better access to affordable and emergency housing.  I hope you're donating to food banks more than just at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I hope you're fighting for legislation that prevents discrimination against people with mental illness or people with criminal records*, things that often lead to people being unable to support themselves.

But don't trot out the homeless to support your bigotry by saying "We need to take care of our own." 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nope, Not Feeling It.

I'll be totally honest.

I've kind of been thinking of taking a long-term hiatus from this blog. Blogging has been a good outlet for me for 10 or more years but lately, I'm not feeling it.  I still have a lot of opinions on a lot of things, but sometimes I just feel to damn lazy to back my opinions up with facts.  The kids are getting older, and they read and stuff now, so my ability to blog about them and their cute little foibles is becoming limited, because as they get older, they have more to expect in privacy.

Blogging has changed as well. I don't see the same kind of communities of commenters as I once did, and now it kind of feels like screaming into the void.

But, I suppose, I like having the outlet here. I like thinking that someone out there cares what I have to say.

Today marked the two year anniversary of my surgery, and I'm kind of bitter-sweet about it.

I don't miss my colon much.

I'm glad to still be alive, and functioning at about 90-95% of what would have once been considered normal.

I'm fat as fuck again, but I'm mostly okay with it.  Buying pants is bullshit, though.

I'm anxious a lot.  I get scared as hell sometimes.

Maybe I'll keep writing, and just stop promoting it. Maybe I could just make this a place to scream into the void.

There's a common theme amongst cancer survivors.. a lot of talk of Living Life To The Fullest™and Making Every Day Count™. It makes me angry, because it's such a privileged position to take.  I mean, it's a nice life, if you can afford it.

I still have kids to feed, a (ever-so-slowly crumbling) roof to keep over our heads, and a car to keep on the road.

Living Life To Your Fullest™sounds pretty good on paper, but the vision of quitting your day job and following your dreams is only realistic when it's built on three things: Money, Time, and Energy.

Once I had Time, and Energy, but no Money.

Now I find I have little Money, little Time, and only so much Energy to go around.

So, I get angry.  Once upon a time, I looked at where I was and said "It's cool, I've got my whole life ahead of me."

Now, I'm not so sure. I may not have another 10 years. I may have another 50.

Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.

And here I stagnate, wanting to Live My Dreams™ and Make Every Day Count™, but there are mouths to feed and bills to pay and at the end of the day, I am lucky if I have the time and energy to type a few words, pick up a guitar or a paintbrush, or even stay awake through a full episode of Breaking Bad.

LottoMax couldn't come soon enough.

Are you there, Void? It's me, Andrea.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

It's been almost two years (less about a week and a bit) since I got the news that I had cancer in my ascending colon. After surgery, six weeks off work and a much longer period of both physical and mental recovery, I'm now approaching two years cancer free (as of November 1st).

I was lucky, in that colon cancer, if caught early, is pretty easy to treat.  Mine was caught very early, stage one.

Others are not so lucky.

September 26th is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lungs, caused by exposure to asbestos, otherwise known as that stuff that people used to put in houses for insulation, until people found out that it was all kinds of terrible for you.

Although asbestos use has been drastically reduced over the years, (Canada's last two mines closed in 2011) it's still legal for use in both the U.S. and Canada, and even if people aren't actively using it as much (however, they still are, which is mind-boggling and scary), it's still all over the place, in older homes and buildings. 

Hell, two years ago, when the sewer backed up into the basement and the line had to be dug up, one of the original pipes was made of asbestos, and got left in our yard over the winter.  I had to keep calling to get it removed, because I'd be damned if either myself or the Well-Travelled One were going to touch that thing with a ten-foot pole.

Mesothelioma is one of the major side effects of asbestos exposure, and it's outcome is general devastating.. Victims are usually given less than a year to live.

If you want to find out more, visit www.mesothelioma.com


Sunday, September 6, 2015

This is a friendly reminder.

You deserve a day to yourself.

A day where you sleep in.

A day where you get up early, before everyone else, and enjoy the silence.

A day where the dishes don't get done.

A day where you don't wear pants.  A day where you don't wear anything at all.

A day where you play video games for six hours.

A day where you lounge in the bathtub until the water gets cold and you start to nod off, narrowly avoiding dropping your book into the water.

A day where you burn a tank of gas without a destination in mind.

A day where you don't leave the house.

A day where the kids have cereal for dinner.

A day where you eat off paper plates.

A day where you don't see or talk to people.

A day where you say "Sorry, I have other plans," even if those plans are playing videogames in your underwear.

A day where you turn off your phone.

A day where you turn a blind eye to dust bunnies, and circles on the coffee table.

A day where you don't beat yourself up for not living life to its fullest if all you want to do that day is marathon episodes Orphan Black.

You deserve a day off.

(Sometimes I need this reminder. I hope you find it helpful, too.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Three Times #KidsintheHall Helped Me Through Shitty Stuff

1) Hotel LaRut

I was married, once. At 20, I was probably not ready to be married. My erstwhile ex-husband was definitely not ready to be married. All in all, marriage was a mistake.  I got a couple of pretty amazing kids out of the deal, so it ain't all bad, though.

I usually don't like to use identifiers here, because privacy, but this joke may not make a lot of sense if you don't know his name was Tony.

After we split up, whenever I was down and listless and complaining and crying, my best friend would put on a fake French accent and ask "What's wrong, my Michelle?" (Full disclosure: My name is not Michelle.  But you probably already knew that).

At this point I would slowly start to smile, and put on my own fake french accent..

"Oh, Silvee.. I can't help thinking about Tony..."



2) But Do You Love *Me*

I dated a dude once.  A dude, who although he professed to like an awful lot of things about me, always came back to how he just didn't quite feel *that way* about me.  Me, being the sucker I was, let him come back into my life numerous times, only to have the same conversation again, until I finally had to say "Enough!"



I'm not so sure this was one of those times where laughter is the actually the best medicine but those nights of drinking wine straight from the bottle while sobbing "I'm an icky, icky tree!" sure helped me work through some stuff.

"ICKY ICKY TREE"


3) The Cause of Cancer

Shitty things happen in life. Sometimes terrible, horrible things happen to good people.  Or, at the very least, to well-meaning people.

But, I digress.

When horrible things happen, sometimes it is comforting to have some kind of faith that everything happens for a reason.

We call those reasons 'Scapegoats'.

So when I was diagnosed with Stage 1 colon cancer, I had the perfect scapegoat in Bruce McCulloch. It helped that Bruce was always my least favourite Kid, so in a twisted part of my mind, it made sense that in his vengeance, out of spite for being my least favorite, that he would maliciously grow a tumour in my colon.




Dave's right. He doesn't even sound sorry.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Should Some Kid Get a Medal for "Just Showing Up?"

Why?

"Why," you ask, "should a kid get an award for just showing up?"

Because sometimes just showing up takes a lot of guts.  Sometimes gearing yourself up for the possibility of defeat takes everything in you.

Speaking as someone who was a shy, fat, uncoordinated child who heard my share of moaning and groaning from my classmates when my name was called during Phys. Ed, just showing up can be fraught.

Speaking also as someone who deals with anxiety, as many people do, putting yourself into new situations is some scary shit, for children and adults alike.

In Grade 8, I made the decision to try out for the school's volleyball team. I tell you, it took every ounce of courage for me to go into that gym.

I went and I tried my hardest. Not even halfway through the tryouts I could feel tears of frustration welling up in my eyes, with every ball that I instinctively ducked instead of passed.  My face went red with the effort of trying not to cry.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't make the team.  I don't think I was even remotely close because I was really, really, bad at volleyball.  I also kind of hated it.  But I wanted to be involved in something.

I felt like a spectacular failure, and it was many years before I tried out or participated in anything remotely competitive again.

I kind of wish, at that time, that someone had given me something to acknowledge that even though I sucked, I tried, which was more than some had done.  That my effort was worth something.  That just showing up, when I was so afraid of falling and failing, that THAT was worth something in and of itself.


Listen.

I get that kids need to learn how to win and lose graciously.

Taking scores out of games so there are no 'winners' or 'losers' doesn't help kids. Kids need to learn that sometimes they are going to win, and sometimes they are going to lose and regardless, they need to not be an ass about it.

However, hyper-competitiveness doesn't help kids, either.  Over-emphasizing the value of winning over all other things teaches that if you can't be the best, don't even try.

There is value in effort.  There is value in trying, and fucking up.  There is value in just kind of being okay at something.  There is value in trying.

And I think that's worth recognizing.

SOURCE

Friday, July 24, 2015

Alcohol, consent, double-standards and why I wouldn't want to be THAT judge.

Oi. The Book of Face is a frustrating place sometimes.

I've been agonizing over whether to respond to shitty things I see on Facebook or just to take a deep breath and exercise my 'hide-button' finger when I see egregious shit being posted by people I otherwise love and respect.

It's a tough call, sometimes.  Do I risk being piled on or alienating people by playing the role of feminist (or anti-racist, or pro-LGBT, or otherwise anti-oppression) killjoy? Or do I quietly keep scrolling and secretly hate myself a little as I click the 'hide' button?

It's hard.

Someone I especially love and respect posted this image* the other day:

I agonized over whether to comment on this, to the point that I had a bit of an anxiety attack and ended up deactivating my account for a few days.

But here goes:

Yes, loved one.  Neither party in this particular infographic could legally consent.

I'll be quite honest, I would hate like hell to be the judge or jury in the rather unlikely event that the charges went to trial, because that person would be in the uncomfortable position of calling someone a rapist,or calling someone else a liar (and also, possibly, a rapist as well).

I say unlikely, because a very small percentage of rape cases actually go to trial.  Most charges are dropped or dismissed due to lack of evidence.  This case here would be a prime candidate to get dropped, mainly because of the he said/she said position and the fact that they were both drinking.  Many a rape survivor has heard the chorus of "If they didn't want it, why did they go with/drink with/get in a car with/flirt with/building a fucking sand castle with them?"  Seriously, anything to discredit the charges.

Don't believe me? Not only did over 40 women come out against Bill Cosby, he is also on tape admitting to purchasing Quaaludes to incapacitate women for the purposes of having sex with them.  And people will STILL perform mental gymnastics of Olympic Gold proportions to discredit the victims and give Cosby the benefit of the doubt. FORTY.

In a similar vein, Jake is also in a terrible position, were he to try and press charges.  He's be assumed to have consented based on the fact he's a dude.  Because male victims of rape only count when it's in prison. It sucks.  People DO need to get over the idea that women are incapable of raping men, whether through force, coercion, or incapacitation. 

Anyone (male, female, nonbinary folk) who is drunk cannot consent to sex.

It's pretty simple.  Don't have sex with people who have been drinking if you don't want to be accused of rape.  People will argue that "So what, if my partner has a glass of wine, I shouldn't have sex with them?"

Don't be silly.

Having a glass of wine is not the same as being drunk. That being said, some people can drink until the cows come home and be a clear as bell.  There are also situations (medications, not having eaten enough that day) that can cause one drink to hit someone like a ton of bricks.

If you know for sure your partner is totally into it and fully consenting - ie. they are tearing your clothes off and is maybe only one drink in; maybe you have been in a relationship for years - and you know they are not operating under the influence of outside substances, then knock yourself out!

Consent! A fun, sexy time for all!
If you are unsure the person you are with is able to fully consent, maybe don't have sex with them.

If they *seem* fine, but you know they've killed a case of beer or a bottle of wine or a 26er that day, maybe don't have sex with them.  Hell, if you're NOT sure they DIDN'T kill a 26er, or a case of beer or a magnum of wine, maybe don't have sex with them.

If the person you are with is exhibiting any behaviour that might suggest that they are not totally into having sex with you - for example, freezing up, zoning out, making weird whimpering noises, expressing doubt ("Maybe we shouldn't.. this isn't a good idea.."), even seeming bored or distracted, use your words and say something to the effect of "Are you okay with this? We can do something else."  Give them a safe out, and if they don't take it, then proceed.  If you're still not sure they're into it, maybe don't have sex with them.

If you fear that the person you are about to have otherwise consensual sex with might turn around and accuse you of rape, then maybe don't have sex with them.

If you fear that the person you are with is going to mock you, or call you a pussy, or a cock-tease or otherwise disrespect your "No," then they are a boundary-disrespecting douchebag and maybe don't have sex with them.

You'll notice that I'm using a lot of gender-neutral terms here.  A lot of "they" and "them".  That's because these are rules that should apply to ANYONE.  No one is entitled to the sexual use of anyone else's body, male, female, genderfluid, or otherwise.

Note to my ladies:  We are also capable of victimizing men. I cannot emphasize this enough.  Please remember that. Climbing on a passed-out dude and going for a ride, that's rape.  Threatening, coercing, until you get your way... same deal.  We need to hold ourselves to a standard of consent as well.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, my dear loved one, that is how equality should work.  We're working on it.  In the meantime, make sure the consent you get (and the consent you give) is sober, un-coerced, and enthusiastic and things will probably be okay.

* I do want to add that the initial ad that the meme is predicated on is a problem, in the fact that it only states that Josie couldn't consent, not that neither of them could. This denies agency to women while simultaneously perpetuating the stereotype that men are always good to go, anywhere, anytime.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

And then, all at once my head exploded - or - The tale of the world's tiniest violin, which I shall now play for these poor forsaken souls


Is it me, or does this article sound like the weirdest kind of humble-brag?

Somebody gave this woman a platform to tell a heart-wrenching (I think that's what she was going for) sob story about how she and her husband, through meticulous planning and what sounds like a fuck-load of privilege, achieved everything they ever wanted -- two kids, some dogs, yearly vacations, and shit-damn, even a riding lawn-mower for the beautiful yard that surrounds their dream home -- but somehow, it wasn't enough.

You're basically Ross. And Ross is the worst.

(Image: Three panels of Chandler and Joey. Captions read "Oh, no. Two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my 50's and my diamond shoes are too tight!")
Because now they want another kid, but the cost of another kid would disrupt their perfect economic equilibrium and send them spiralling into the void of "possibly having to downsize to a less than spectacular dream home and maybe pushing a lawnmower instead of riding it" debilitating, abject poverty in order to soothe the literal ache in her well-planned out uterus.

Don't you understand.. they might have to sell the time-share!

Holy shit.  Cry me a damn river.

If I sound bitter, it's because yeah, I am. Because I, too, scrimped and saved and bought thrift store clothes and made a down payment on what was not my dream home, but simply a home, and even I can recognize how damned lucky I am that I have a roof over my head to call my own, even if said roof and attached walls have seemingly been cobbled together with high hopes, salvaged materials and sheer what-the-fuckery.

This article made me angry on a visceral level.

It is quite likely the most obnoxious thing I've ever read.

I almost wonder if we're not being trolled on a grand scale, because really, can someone really lack this much self-awareness, to not realize that there are people who cannot have children at all (instead of merely having to make a choice between a kid and a time-share).  Does she not realize the vast numbers of people who lack even a clean, dry place to lay their heads at night?

Does she think these people just didn't plan well enough?

Imagine, living off of canned food for a whole year? Buying consignment clothing?  What sacrifice! 

The idea of someone marvelling over eating canned food when there are people who are happy to, you know, eat food, makes me think of this guy. (Image: Old man chained to a wall. Caption reads "Wot I wouldn't give to be spat at in the face!")

Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong - morally wrong - with working hard and planning your life out to a tee.  I'm also not going to judge people who get hit on the metaphorical head with their biological clock.  It happens, and plans change.  Wouldn't it be lovely if we all got a national platform to air our grievances when life doesn't *quite* work out how we expected.

Material or maternal, don't martyr yourself over choosing your luxury home over another mouth to feed like it's some massive sacrifice.

Shit or get off the pot, and just be glad you have a pot to piss in.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's like we're regressing instead of progressing.

Oi people.

So, first off, it's been a while, hasn't it?  Yup. I've got no excuses, only a dearth of things I feel qualified to talk about, and blogging about the day-to-day is well.. Meh.

But every so often, a story catches my eye that is so mind-blowing in it's ridiculousness that I really have to wonder about humanity.

My source of ire stems from a story of an 8-year-old girl who was at a public pool with her parents, and in her excitement of "holy shit, SWIMMING!', threw her top off and jumped in.  Because 8-year-olds, they LOVE that shit.

The pool attendants told the parents to get a top on that kid, pronto, and the parents were all "Why?? To cover our child's likely non-existent breasts?" They were pretty pissed, and in my humble opinion, rightly so.  Because frankly, if the little boys are not required to wear a top, then it's kinda discriminatory for the girls to have to wear one, is it not?

You know how people always tell you not to read the comments on news stories? It's good advice. Because people are all kinds of awful.  You know how I know this?  I read the comments.  And the comments basically boil down to a few key pro-pool and pro-parent arguments:

Pro-Pool arguments:

- Rules are Rules!
- But, pedophiles!
- Also, more rules! and more pedophiles!
- Leftists, amiright??
- Girls are developing earlier and earlier these days, and also, pedophiles.

Pro-Parent arguments:

- It's been legal to be topless in public in Ontario for literally years.
- *most* boys and girls at that age are built pretty much the same
- The pedo argument is pretty much victim-blaming at its finest
- Boobs are boobs and not a Big Freaking Deal™.
- Also, she probably didn't even HAVE boobs, because eight-year-old.

The way I see it is this;  It's pretty damn disturbing that our culture has such a fucked-up relationship with breasts that we even flip the fuck out over the suggestion of a girl who DOES NOT EVEN HAVE BREASTS BUT OMG MIGHT SOME DAY enjoying the sun without a shirt or top, as the boys do.

Rules are rules, yes. But some rules are stupid and born of outdated ideals and morals that are not relevant in this day and age.  These rules need to be changed.

There have always been pedophiles lurking about. Pedophiles and sex offenders are not a new thing and they're not going to magically go away because your kid is wearing a shirt. A shirt is not a force-field, and a pedophile is not likely to strike at a public pool because the key word is public and most child sexual abuse tends to happen behind closed doors, not at public swimming pools.

And yes, suggesting that not wearing a shirt to a public pool will lead to a child being targeted by a pedophile is victim-blaming. Sorry, but really, not at all sorry.

The thing that gets me is not only this is a particularly US/Canada-centric attitude but relatively new! Not the weird breast-squeamishness, but putting this fear of breasts on children.  I remember being a kid, a scant 30ish years ago, and I remember seeing both little boys and girls on the beach without shirts on (myself included) and nobody batted an eyelash. In fact, some found it more bizarre that people would put their little girls in bikinis and other two piece bathing suits, due to the sexualization factor - making the suggestion of breasts where there were none.

So it seems that not only is our society incapable of looking at breasts in a non-sexualized manner (see almost EVERY debate about public breast-feeding), but people will actually freak the fuck out about potential breasts.

Are we actually getting more repressed? Sometimes it seems that way.


PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN! - SOURCE
P.S. There's a really fantastic image that I saw on Tumblr a while ago that I wanted to use here, but as per usual, I fail on the image search front, and SafeSearch (or alternately, the sheer wrongness of the internet at large) foils my efforts again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Girls and Defiance.

Meandering through the Book of Face, I came across a lovely photoset that was featured in an article a friend had 'liked'.


Mom's powerful photos of her daughters show 'Strong is the New Pretty'

Admittedly, there's some issues with the title, because of course some people are just going to read the header and not the article and assume that the point of the article is to bash all things traditionally girly.

Well, it's not.

The woman who took the photographs, Kate T. Parker, even says so much in the article. As a mom, she wanted to show her girls that they are ALSO beautiful, even if they are not-so-much into the girly-girly.

So, let's get that debate out of the way.

Girls (and women) are not obligated to be all frou-frou 24-7. Nor are women who do find joy in getting dolled up, or knitting, or kittens, or pink ribbons and acres of tulle and make-up somehow less-than women who like to play sports, or fix cars.

Additionally, strength and femininity are not mutually exclusive.  So let's shut that shit down right now.

What caught my eye was one comment in the article, in regards to these images:
They don't look strong. They look defiant. Defiant is not attractive in a child of either gender.

I felt I needed to call bullshit.  I posted the following in response:
Defiance is not a bad trait. There is something to be said for it. Defiance is the ability to stand up for yourself, and others. Girls are too often taught to be compliant.. To bend to the will of others. To be quiet, to be ladylike, to not make waves.

Defiance can be a beautiful thing. It is strength.
Defiance brings change. It allows people to stand up and declare "This is not the way things have to be!"

Defiance means being able to state your needs and not caving to pressure.

I have girls.  I want them to be able to say no.. to lovers who move too fast, to friends who encourage bad decisions, to bosses who treat them like shit.  Hell, even to me.  I'm not a perfect parent.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I need my kids to call me out when I'm wrong.

To be defiant.

(If you're reading this, that doesn't mean you're going win every argument, and yes you still have to do the dishes.  Just sayin')

Defiance is the ability to say 'No, I won't.' 

It's the ability to say 'CAN TOO!' and 'JUST WATCH ME.'

Defiance is beautiful.

Source: Kate T. Parker Photography

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Resolutions: Quarter One Report, Part 1 aka the Creative Stuff.

We're coming up to the end of March and as expected, after a couple weeks of lovely almost-springish weather, the temperature is taking a nosedive because Mother Nature likes to celebrate April Fools' Day early.

Back in January I wrote a post where I made some promises to myself for the New Year.  I thought it might be fun to revisit that post and see where I find myself at the end of Q1. 

(Yes, I work in a businessy-type-field so I use terms like Q1 and ROI and other bizness-speak sometimes)

Let's review, shall we?

1) Be More Active.  - I'm actually doing somewhat well with this.  I've been faithfully going to the Y three days a week and averaging about 16-20 pool lengths for each roughly 25 minute workout.  I'm having a hell of a time getting there earlier than 8am, which kind of puts a limit on how long I can work out, so I try to push myself for those 25 minutes.

I also returned to kick-boxing and have not missed a Monday workout thus far.  It's been a challenge.  I'm not going to lie, I'm probably about 30-40 lbs heavier than I was when I stopped going (a couple months before I got my diagnosis and I was feeling shitty all the time) so getting used to the way my body moves and what it can and can no longer do.

It's frustrating in many ways.  For instance, I've developed fat-girl ankles, which basically mean they don't hold up to high-impact (like skipping, running) like they used to.  They get sore and achy.  The first couple workouts my calves seized up, much like the did when I played with Reagan's basketball league.

Room for Improvement:  Nicer weather is coming, so I need to get my iPod or other digital music thingie loaded up and get out walking on my lunch breaks and/or after dinner.  Hiking season comes fast.

2) The Penis Table.  - I'm going to give myself a pass on this one.  It's winter and I lack facilities with the proper ventilation to adequately deal with stripper and paint fumes.

3) Blog More. - I started off kind of strong in the beginning on this one, but kind of dwindled, from 7 posts on this blog in January, down to 2 in March (not including this one).   I blame a cycle of 'Nothing going on, nothing to write about' mixed with 'too much going on, no time to write.'

The art blog had a similar decline in posts: 5 in January, 4 in February, and 3 in March.  The two roadblocks I'm having can be summed up by the following:
  • I'm only posting finished projects.  I currently have three projects on the go, plus at least two more I want to start.
  • I'm hesitant to post some of the older stuff, mainly because A) I've been doing a lot of fixes and re-dos, so I hold off posting older works in case I decide to rework them, and B) Some of the old stuff is kind of terrible and I'm frankly a little embarrassed.
Room for Improvement: I pretty much just gotta make more time, or make peace with one or both of these blogs getting a little neglected while I try to do other things.

4) Paint. Draw. Craft. - Bragging time, because I've been a goddamned VIKING in this area.  As I mentioned, I've got a number of projects on the go, and I've been getting a good 2-3 hours in some weeks of creative time.

I entered another painting in a local show, and was once again skunked, so that was a set-back, but I'm going to keep trying and also check out some shops that deal in local art.

5) Write. - To quote Jon Stewart: "I don’t have any specific plans, just a lotta ideas, a lotta things in my head."  I may or may not have some paragraphs and sentences saved in various files on my computers, that could one day blossom into something more substantial.

6) Make Music. - Yeah, I kind of let this one slide. I'm getting out of practice, no lie. I did make it to one open mic, the saturday afternoon one at the MCC.  It's a busy one, though, and you only get two songs per set, which seems like... well, you're just hitting your stride.  Three makes more sense.  One to warm up, a second one for redemption, and a third one to kick ass at.

7) Audition for Plays. - There were some auditions a few weeks ago.  I found out the morning of, so I missed it.  My kid is in a play, though.  Does that count?

Stay Tuned for Part 2...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conversations with my kid: We both gotta get off of Tumblr edition

I'm standing in the kitchen, discussing the day's events with the Well Travelled One

T: Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!
Me: Are you... 'Shipping us?
T: Yeah, what?
Me: Don't 'ship us! You can't 'ship us! We're already 'shipped!
T: Ahh, then it's canon!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dream Recap: Travel Prep.

It's what I am guessing is a Friday. I am supposed to leave to go to the Dominican Republic with my friend Kaylee but there is so much to be done.  I sit at my computer trying to finish up last minute work stuff.  With each email I check off, I discover or remember one more thing left undone.  Finally, realized I have but scant minutes to pack and leave, I decide to say screw it, leave the stuff unfinished and silently hope I still have a job when I get back.

While I am packing I snap at the girls to clean their rooms up so we can go.  When they ask where we're going it occurs to me that I haven't actually told them I am going away.  When I tell them I am going to the Dominican without them they whine and complain and are ever so slow to move.

I bribe them with the opportunity to go to the store if they just hurry up.  This puts a bit of speed into their step, but not much.


As I am about to rush out the door, I remember "Oh shit! The tickets!" and search frantically for them.  I find them on the dresser, two boarding passes.  Once again at the door I am struck with the thought that I'm going to need stuff to read, LOTS of stuff to read, what with all that time on the beach.  Scrambling, I stuff a pile of books into my bag with no regards to the titles.

All this time I am reminding myself to text Kaylee "Happy Dominican Day!" when I get a spare second.  I get the girls in the car and we get down to Barrie where I make a stop at a store, as promised.  My sister and brother-in-law are there, with all their kids, in two cars.  My girls, without saying good-bye, jump into my brother-in-law's vehicle, who drives away without a hi, hello, how-are-you.

At the counter I tell Nicky how ridiculous my day has been and mentioned that the kids just up and took off with Frank without even saying good-bye to me, even though I'd be gone for a week.  Nicky says something along the lines of "Yeah, a while back I told them to stop hanging around this store all the time."

This confuses me, since we don't live in Barrie.


While I am paying for my purchases (having bought a royal eff-ton of Coffee Crisps and Reese Peanut Butter cups for the plane ride) I count out my change.  I ask the clerk if she will take a Canadian silver dollar but before she can answer it disintegrates in my hand.  The thought that I should text Kaylee starts nagging at me again, before I realize with horror that she was supposed to ride down to the airport with me and I am already half-way to the city, and it will be a full forty minutes back to go pick her up.

I decide I will just drive back to get her, but first I decide to untangle the giant pile of dangly earrings that have accumulated in my purse.  I gently pull each earring from the clump and sort each pair on the counter of the convenience store.  Just has a I have the last pair lined up, that's when I wake up.

SOURCE

Friday, February 27, 2015

Humility is for suckers.

I got called out yesterday morning by a friend I hadn't talked to for a while.  I fully deserved it.  It was in regards to a facebook post I had made for a recent post on the art blog.

He pointed out that I seem to preface every post with a negative comment about my work.

Fair enough.

Not having ingested enough coffee at the time, I thought this observation to be mainly in reference to the blog post itself, which being a post about one of my first painting attempts, I thought was critical but fair.

It hadn't occurred to me that on the Facebook post, I had included the words "Be prepared for terribleness."

Okay, that's pretty negative.

Although I created the art blog with the intent of sharing more of the stories behind my artwork, I also wanted it to be a place where I could examine and critique my own work:  where I've improved and where I'd like to see improvement.

But I'm not going to lie. I tear myself down, a lot.  I've been using self-deprecation as a defense mechanism for a ridiculously long time, and it's a tough habit to break.

I know there one major thing at play here: there is the desire to point out my own flaws before anyone else can.  It's as though if I don't let anyone see that I might actually be taking this somewhat seriously, then I don't have to live up to the expectation of being any good at it.  It's the thing that keeps me referring to myself as a dabbler, or a hobbyist, as opposed to an artist.  I feel like if I act like I take it too seriously, then I'm at risk at becoming the living embodiment of the insufferably pretentious art snob.  So I fall back on "Ha ha, I suck."

I've always felt rather mediocre at most of my endeavours.  Perhaps I've only ever been mediocre because I won't allow myself to immerse myself in anything enough to be more than 'just okay' because if I do, then there will be expectations.

And let's face it.  Pride is still considered, in many circles, to be a vanity, a sin.  Women especially are expected to downgrade their accomplishments, to deflect compliments with phrases like "Oh, you don't mean that," and "You're just saying that to be nice." 


It's bullshit. The idea that people should be humble, should not draw attention to their strengths, is a great way to keep people down, to keep them from realizing their full potential.  We don't know the things we are capable of if a fear of pride or appearing immodest drives us to downplay every single accomplishment we have.  We internalize the message that those things we learn and do and become good, great, or even experts at (outside, of course, of those things we do to earn money, because capitalism.. you are your job, in this system) don't matter, that they aren't a big deal.

You, my friends, are a big fucking deal.  If you tried something new today, that's a big deal.  If you did something today that you love and did it even the teensiest bit better than you did yesterday, that's a big deal.

From today, I am going to try to work extra hard not to be so self-deprecating when it comes to my art, my music, my writing or myself.  I am a big fucking deal.

SOURCE

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

So did go all that is good and pure in the world.

My heart is broken.

I caught wind through fellow blogger, Lance, that during last night's taping of The Daily Show, long-time host Jon Stewart let slip that he would be stepping down from his hosting duties.

I may have cried a little.  I am not ashamed.

When I saw the posted headline, I silently begged "Please be the Onion.  Please be the Onion," but the AV Club's post had already been edited to include an official announcement from Comedy Central.

SOURCE

This is disheartening news.  It may sound weird, since it's not entirely kid-friendly fare, but watching the Daily Show has become family time around here.

Yes, my kids rock current events at school.

And even though Jon Stewart may have outed the Easter Bunny, he's also opened up dialogues with my kids about war, prejudice, injustice, politics, racism, sexism (but surprisingly, not make-believe holiday creatures).  I recall Reagan laughing at a joke Stewart made a few months back that pointed out the irony in gun-rights advocates invoking Martin Luther King Jr. as an ally.

Granted, she may have just been laughing at the faces he was making, but a little part of me thought she may have gotten the joke. The kid is pretty smart.

Humour makes ideas and current events accessible.  And I think that has been part of the appeal of the Daily Show.

I have a few hopes here.  My first hope involves a long-time desire to see Jon Stewart enter politics, as I am sure many others have also hoped.  Then if he ran for president, Rick Mercer could come out and renounce that time he shilled for the government with those "One-Ton Challenge" commercials and returning to biting political commentary with a northern touch, and make a run for PM and in the end we'd have an entertaining-as-hell Canada-US alliance.

That's just an idea I've been throwing around since pretty much forever.

Second, since Comedy Central's official statement seemed to imply that Stewart's departure would not spell the end of the Daily Show, I really, sincerely hope that they make Jessica Williams the new host.  Not only is she my favourite correspondent out of the current cast, she's pretty badass, but as a WOC she'd be a refreshing change of pace from the current white-dude tsunami that is the late night talk-show circuit (Although I haven't forgotten you, Larry).

SOURCE

I guess we have a few more months to find out what's in store.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stuff We Need a Word For, Part 1 (TMI warning for ICKY LADY STUFF)

"A pervasive fear or anxiety that you have forgotten to replace your tampon*, and as such, are slowly bleeding into your underpants."

Does anyone else get this, or just me?

You're sitting there and suddenly you flash back to your last trip to the bathroom.  You distinctly remember removing a tampon, but have no real recollection of putting a new one in.

Did I forget? Is it still sitting there, in its wrapper, on the back of the toilet? 

Am I the only one who has had this nagging doubt?

"Was it a bad idea to wear white today?" - SOURCE

I am loathe to admit this, but the reason I suffer this anxiety is that it's happened to me.  Twice in one day.  God only knows what had me so pre-occupied that day, but ever since I find myself, at least once every cycle, besieged by a need to run to the nearest washroom and do a quick string-check.

Everyone gets this once in a while, right?

Oh, just me?

Perfect.

*Feel free to substitute with pad or DivaCup or what have you.  But if you're having a problem with not knowing if you're actually wearing a pad, let me know what brand you're using, please, because it's probably the best pad ever.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

High School and the Fine Art of Giving No Fucks

It's amazing, you know?

It blows my mind sometimes, the way minor, yet arguably shitty, incidents and experiences can take you to a place you thought you'd left behind. Habits formed from self-preservation remain in play long after the threat has dissipated.

A 34-year-old mother of two, with a job and a mortgage and responsibilities can be reduced to an anxious, self-conscious adolescent in a matter of seconds, just from the sound of a giggling teenaged girl.

The high-schoolers have infiltrated the YMCA.  My mornings spent getting ready for work after my morning swim used to mean running into a few elderly women and occasionally one of my co-workers.  That was pretty much it.

But now there are high-schoolers. 

I hear their voices and laughter bouncing off the ceramic tile, muffled by the sound of the not-quite-hot-enough showers and my shoulders hunch up and my eyes, like magnets, are drawn to the ground.  I adjust my towel, just a little more tightly, as this body of mine, the one that not 20 minutes earlier had been gliding gracefully through the water now feels preposterous - all sagging, scarred, bumpy-fat flesh.  Taking up space.  Too much space.

"For the love of Gord.  You're 34 years old.  Woman the hell up already," I tell myself and sigh.  So many years gone by and I'm still affected.

I like to say that high school was a breeze, a lot of fun. 

(aside from grade nine.  aside from gym class.  aside from the girls who threatened me with violence because they thought I was "looking" at them.  in the change room.  I stopped looking up, ever.)

I tell people that high school was the time I ran out of fucks to give.  I learned to relax.  A little.  It was the time I tell people (and I tell myself)  that I learned to not care what people thought of me.

(I cared.  I just didn't let on.  It was safer if people thought they couldn't get to you.)

I practiced not giving a shit.  More accurately, I became practiced in the fine art of appearing to be all out of fucks to give. 

I learned to sneer at people, especially girls, I felt thought they were better than me.  Prettier, richer, more desirable.  The ones who had their shit together.  Brick by brick, I built walls of 'giving no fucks' to encase myself in and I told myself that they were nothing, of no consequence.

The most relatable character in this film, from my perspective. - SOURCE
My mother told me, "Hold your head high."

I held my head high.

But even now, hearing these voices echoing off tile, voices that exude the confidence of knowing the world is at your feet, sets my face to utter stoicism.  Instinctively, I still brace myself for mockery, setting my expression to one of utter neutrality, as I gauge the risk of making eye contact, or drawing attention to myself.

(go ahead.  Laugh at this fat, spotty, scarred body.  see if I care)

But of course, no one says anything.  Because this isn't high school, dammit.  I'm a 34 year old woman in the YMCA changeroom and I am about as incidental to these kids as any stranger on the street.





Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aunt Laura Wasn't Crazy, After All.

Nanny and Aunt Kay. They don't really pertain to this story, but I couldn't find the picture of them with Aunt Laura.
I used to labour under the impression that my maternal grandmother was one of three girls, mainly because I never really heard her speak of any of her siblings besides her sister Kay and her sister Laura.  It wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I found out that Nanny had been one of upwards of around 8 children.

My great-grandparents had so many kids, it turns out, that the youngest had to be given up to foster care.

But, no, for years I thought it was just the three of them. To this day, the only other one of her siblings I remember meeting was Uncle Jack.  One day after class I decided to pay Nanny a visit and a quiet, somewhat unfriendly man opened the door, grunted, and let me in.  I had no idea who he was.

That was uncle Jack.

Aunt Kay and Aunt Laura are the ones I remember.  They're both gone now unfortunately.

I used to think Aunt Laura was insane.

She was married to a man named Gord Arnold.  He died when I was quite young, possibly before I was born.  I have no memory of him, but I knew who he was, and I knew he was dead.  But for years, during family visits, Aunt Laura would make comments about how she had "been talking to Gord the other day" and how "Gord had fixed the kitchen sink last week, it's about time," and so on and so forth.

I always thought it odd, that Aunt Laura talked to her dead husband.  I also thought it was very understanding, albeit a little creepy, that everyone in my family was totally okay with humouring her whenever her dead husband was mentioned in the present tense.

I'm going to be honest.  I'm not always quick on the draw.  There was a very important puzzle piece missing, one that pertained to the fact that Laura and Gord had about a million kids.

I found this out one day when Nanny was showing me the framed picture of her many, many nieces and nephews that she had received for her birthday that year.

"That's Annie and Donna, and there's Tim, and that's Gord..."

*light bulb*

As my mistake became all to clear to me, I dissolved into hysterical laughter.

"OF COURSE! OF COURSE!" I cried.  "AUNT LAURA ISN'T CRAZY! HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO NAIVE??"

I had never met my mother's cousin Gord.  Or if I did, I had no recollection.

Nanny was alarmed at my outburst, and through the tears streaming down my face, I explained that for years, I had thought that my insane Aunt Laura had been talking to her dead husband and that no one in the family had the heart to set the poor woman straight.

She had been talking about her son the whole time.

Years later, I told Aunt Laura of my ill-conceived notions about her mental health, and to my relief, she was more than a little amused.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rejection. Frustration.

So it's Thursday night and the opening for the gallery exhibition I had entered my painting in takes place tomorrow night. I have not yet heard if my piece was accepted.

I'm thinking I'm skunked again.

Sigh.

I'm feeling kind of sorry for myself, I will admit.  Just bums me out.  When I dropped it off, I got a look at some of the other submissions and immediately felt overwhelmed and kind of out of my league.

The Well-Travelled one tried to cheer me up by reminding me that a lot of the people who submit to these things have been painting and otherwise making art for years and sometimes decades, many of them having a formal educational background to boot.

This area, being a small, relatively close-knit area I have to wonder if there isn't a certain level of clique-ishess where those who have been active in the community get preferential treatment.  It's the same feeling I get with the theatre folk around here.

However, it's entirely possible that I looking for mini-conspiracies and nepotism in a misguided attempt at making myself feel better and stop berating myself for being a mediocre talent at best.  Jerkbrain is a jerk, and rejection just seems to feed the beast.

Meh.

As pointed out to me in another well-intentioned attempt by the Well-Travelled one to assuage my self-flaggellation in the face of defeat, at least this has been a bit of a learning experience.  I now know a few things I didn't before, such as turnaround time for custom framing, and where to buy my own damn frames.  I even know how to frame my own canvases now, so I guess that's something?

Bah. 

Still sucks.

SOURCE

Monday, January 12, 2015

Good Night, Good Night, Sweet Baby

As an adolescent, I was moody, intensely emotional, and cynical.

Hell, as an adult, I am moody, intensely emotional and prone to bouts of cynicism.  As an adult I have the benefit of years of experience to back up my cynicism.

There is a family legend, or more accurately, an anecdote that tells of how my father, in his attempt to get baby Andie to sleep, would play me Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez records.

This story is always told with a wink, the punchline being that Dad's choice of baby bedtime music somehow contributed to shaping me into the moody, intensely emotional cynic I am today.

Music and sleep have always been deeply intertwined for me.  Music and life, really, but music has played a part in my dreams since I was a small child and would beg my mom to put a tape in the cassette player while I went to sleep.  My tastes were not exactly typical for a child of the late 80s and early, as my artists of choice ranged from Harry Chapin to Harry Belafonte, with some Stompin' Tom thrown into the mix.

How I ever fell asleep to Harry Belafonte baffles me.

Both my sister and I sang The House at Pooh Corner to our children. It may be the perfect lullaby.

I think that had I had children later, or discovered the Mountain Goats earlier, I would have found myself rocking my babies, singing songs like "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" and "Song for Dennis Brown"; songs with soft, lilting harmonies and lyrics about addiction and love doomed to fail.

Then one day, down the road, I'd tell them about how I sang these tunes to them when they were babies.. and if they were moody, intensely emotional cynics, such as myself, we'd chuckle to ourselves as if to say "Well, I guess we know where THAT came from."

Good old kid-friendly tunes. - SOURCE


Sunday, January 11, 2015

This was my weekend.. how was yours?

Things seem to finally be settling down around here, after Christmas, New Year's and the flu that worked its way around the household and made the holidays less than spectacular.

This weekend was a quiet one, mostly due to the weather and the kids being at their dads.  After a somewhat frustrating day at work, I got home with the intention of doing sweet eff-all for the evening, which I did, with GUSTO.

The Well-Travelled One whipped up a quick dinner for us, and I played a few rounds of Hatris (like Tetris, but with hats!) and marathoned several episodes of Friends.  I've been rewatching the series since I got sick around the middle of December and am up to season five now.  It's kind of laughable how dated some episodes seem now, especially the giant cordless phones of the early 90s.

I haven't really seen many really good non-workplace and non-family half hour sitcoms since then.  The most recent ensemble cast I can say I've thoroughly enjoyed is probably New Girl, but sometimes the overlapping dialogue gets grating.

Saturday we were going to go to Barrie but I was thwarted by both a late start and intermittent white-outs, so we opted instead for going for coffee, after which I went to my counselling appointment.  The woman I see is probably in her late 80s and is just absolutely fantastic. However, she works out of her home, which is way out in the sticks, down a very windy road that swings around the lake.  The road gets quite treacherous in the winter. 

After an extended session, I came home, had dinner and finished a reworking of a portrait that I have been working on.  I'm pretty damn excited about how it turned out, and will be posting about it on the art blog this week.

Today, we had an earlier start and made it down to Barrie so I could look for some framing options, as I am planning to enter a piece of mine into a local art show.  They are kind of picky about display options, and any canvas art less than 1.5 inches wide is required to be framed.

Earlier in the week I looked into custom framing at a local place, but being one of the only places in town, they were wildly over-booked, so I figured I'd try Michaels.  It's funny.. local places suffer from competition from chain stores and end up carrying less stock, and in turn, because they carry less stock, people end up looking to big chain stores.

At any rate, Michaels' was not much help, as there was a two-week turnaround for custom work, and I have until.. well.. tomorrow, as that is the submission date.  I had pretty much decided not to bother since I wouldn't have time. 

We stopped at a computer store so he could pick some stuff up, and I decided to check out Curry's, which is just a few doors down.

I'm pretty sure I've found my happy place.  Either that, or I've found my "Holy Crap Get Me Out Of Here Before I Spend Next Month's Rent Place."  Anyway, to my surprise, I found a collection of reasonably-prices floating frames, along with the hardware.  Huzzah! I may have a chance to enter after all.

I picked out a nice, unfinished frame and some hardware, along with a few brushes and a couple more tubes of paint, excited to come home and try my and at framing this piece for the show.  I just hope that I get in.

My final product.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

No Plow Snow Plow I Don't Wanna Go Plow

I live in Canada.

It snows here.  A lot. It gets cold. Really cold.

There's an old joke about Canada having four seasons: Winter, More Winter, Dear God Even More Winter, and Roadwork.

(It should be mentioned, for those who don't live here, that this is not true everywhere.  It's a big friggin' country, with many climate zones.  Not everyone is subject to brutal winters, right Cheryl?)

But here in Central Ontario, it snows.  Like a mofo.  What's more, it gets cold.  Cold enough to freeze your god-dammed Winnebago, in the immortal words of Fozzie Bear.  Or was it Doc? Maybe it was the singing snowman, I don't know.

A friend and co-worker expressed annoyance at people who complain about Canadian winters.  I partly agree.  If you have lived in Canada for any number of years, there is no reason you should be surprised when you get dumped with 20cm of snow every day for a week, or if you wake up to -30C-with-wind-chill temperatures.

It really shouldn't come as a shock.

That being said, I fully reserve my right to complain about freezing my ass off, despite of wearing layers of clothing.  I fully reserve my right to complain about the sheer volume of static electricity emanating from my body at any given time, and about my compulsive need to tap or kick every door I go through, lest I somehow forget and manage to electrocute myself with the static build-up.

I reserve my right to complain about assholes on snowmobiles who do 65kmh down my tiny road with the 40kmh speed limit at 11 at night.  I also withhold my sympathy for people who send their machines through the ice when they knew damn well we had open water less than three weeks ago.

My house is drafty, my toes are cold.  I'm gonna complain.


I didn't ask to be born in this bullshit climate.

Were it not for the socialized medicine and certain custodial arrangements, I'd have fled this godforsaken no man's land years ago.  

Is this a traffic sign, or a plea for help?  SOURCE


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The organization ain't really organized

I have been spending the last few days attempting to, in internet parlance, unfuck my habitat.

Okay, to be honest, I just discovered that site when I was Googling "Unfuck Your Habitat" in an effort to properly credit whomever came up with that term.  I think I'm going to need to look into it a bit further.

But at any rate, my general impression of the concept was basically doing the little, and sometimes big, things needed to keep the domicile from being a giant clusterfuck of hopelessness and disorder.

That being said, I've been engaging in the re-arranging of cupboards and drawers, filing of receipts, and purging of stuffs and whatnots.  Frankly, there hasn't been quite as much purging as I had hoped, but I can't win them all. 

I've been visiting Pinterest again in hopes of picking up some DIY home organization tips, but I find a lot of the stuff involves a lot of resources I don't have on hand.  I did try this tip, which I had been curious about for some time, regarding folding T-shirts for easy access.  This is what I ended up with:

I am physically incapable of throwing out T-shirts.
Compared to the tutorial:



It's not a bad system.  The pictures on the original post exaggerate the amount of extra room you end up with.  Folding T-shirts in this manner doesn't reduce their volume at all - they still take up roughly the same amount of space.  The author mentioned cleaning out old ratty shirts, so maybe that accounts for the change in occupied space.

Also, the tutorials I've seen on this don't seem to account for someone whose clothing is not all the same size/volume due to fluctuating weight and other things, so unless all of your t-shirts

I do find it easier to look for something to wear though.  The real test will come on laundry day when I find out how much of a pain it will be to put newly-laundered t-shirts back in the drawers.

Sometime back The Well-Travelled One, being well-travelled and all, introduced me to the concept of rolling all your shit military style. 

This I like.  I may have gone a wee bit overboard.

My dingy as fuck dishtowels. If anyone needs ideas for Christmas/birthday... don't get me these.  I don't want dishtowels for my birthday.

My pajama/bathing suits/various ephemera drawer
Underwear and socks.  ROLL ALL THE THINGS.

Yes, I can now officially say the internet has seen my underwear.

In tackling the kitchen I realized a few things:
  • I have a disturbing number of pairs of scissors
  • My kids went through a cupcake phase that only seemed to last long enough that we managed to accumulate a ridiculous amount of cupcake liners, yet I don't recall actually having cupcakes more than three times in the last two years.
Last night I went through all my bills, receipts, old birthday cards and came to the conclusion that I probably have enough of this crap to insulate my house should I come across an industrial strength paper shredder.

Today I intend to tackle the basement and get the rec-room area, which we don't use since we lack anything recreational to put down there (mainly a TV.. we've got about 10 game consoles to hook up to a TV, but no TV), back into some semblance of shape after the Great Christmas Excavation, known to laypeople as 'Pulling out the tree and decorations'.

Speaking of Christmas... does anyone else find it weird that right after Christmas, all the big box stores have sales on storage and organizational equipment, as if to say "Here, it's time to pack away all the useless shit we've been guilting people into buying you for the last four months?"

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