Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kitchen Stuff Plus minus TV

What to do on a lovely Wednesday off with $100 Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket (Well, the Dude's pocket anyway)? Buy kitchen stuff! I'm proud of him, actually. There was a time not long ago he would have been likely to blow the money on nonsense. He's a fan of the nonsense, that one. It's part of his charm. But collectible kitsch, despite its fun qualities, doesn't really get us anywhere.

So putting the desire for nonsense aside, we went to Kitchen Stuff Plus and purchased necessary and helpful items to make our lives a little more adult: A wooden cutting board, new skillet, garlic press, pepper grinder and potato masher. Earlier this year I picked up a glass measuring cup, metal mixing bowls, glass tupperware and wine glasses. It's all coming together. Seriously, these sorts of things bring me joy as living haphazardly like a student got old the day after I graduated over six years ago.

And we've been entertaining more often, more in the past three months than we have the past two years. I think it's the paint job, the wine glasses, and the general cozy atmosphere. It's the sort of place that you want people to come over to.

And now I'm torn. I need to save money for a couple trips I'm planning for in 2010, both to weddings which require plane tickets and accommodations. I intend to make them both. But I also kind of want to buy new furniture...

The Dude wants a new TV. I think since the current tube TV works, we need to focus on other things. I'm the sort of person who will usually only replace an electronic item once it stops working, no matter how old it gets. I was given a phone when I was 13 back in 1995 and it finally quit on me in 2007. Unfortunately I discovered this when I was expecting a friend over and when she buzzed for me the phone didn't ring and she went home. I didn't need any more signs after that to replace it.

But as for the TV business, I think we've dissolved into clichedom. Someone brings up their TV or the Dude sees someone's flat screen and finds out it was less than $900 and it goes from there. I'm the girlfriend who doesn't want to waste the money on electronics and he's the boyfriend who wants to watch the Leafs in high definition. One of these days I'm going to come home and my TV will be missing and the Dude will be on the couch yelling at a hockey game on a wide screen with a sheepish face and no regrets.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pride, prejudice and sleeping in.

It's two days before New Year's Eve and I've spent the last couple days doing absolutely nothing. This morning I slept in yet again, made tea and started re-rereading Pride and Prejudice. Actually, I started it last night in an attempt to lull my mind into sleepiness through reading complex classical English. No dice.

I love days like this, though, where there is nothing to do, nothing expected of me. Terrible thought: I have only a week until I'm back to work. Happy thought: I have a whole week of pleasant nothingness until I'm back to work.

When I was a teenager, I slept in rather epically too. Only then I had a mother who shamed me for wasting my life away in bed, and I had homework looming. Or if it was summer vacation, I had a job, babysitting, and softball to ensure I didn't throw my time away in front of the TV or sleeping.

Now I have no such restraints. I also get very little done. And I don't really care. I know I'm supposed to care. And yet I don't. Hell, even my dance school is on vacation, so I don't even have my weekly class. In many ways, my life for this past short while has resembled Smokey's. And doesn't everyone always say they want the life of a house cat? He's at my feet right now, lounging and no doubt weighing his options, all of them involving his comfort and leisure.

Today, yesterday and for a short time in the future, I am/ will be a zen house cat. Hear me meow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post-Christmas

Christmas was good times. And probably it was one of the better Christmases I've had since I was in my teens. There was minimal running around, good food, and McPal and his boyfriend came over for an impromptu dinner, which was unexpected and awesome. They had no plans and we had lots of extra stew. I love when things like that happen.

My first time not being in my hometown for the holidays and doing things my own way has been a success. And Avatar was pretty damn awesome. Seeing a movie was great; a lot better than hanging around waiting for company and turkey, not that I didn't miss my family. Just... it was nice having my own loose schedule to follow.

Who knows what next year will be like. Hopefully I'll still have my Smokey. The two-year lease states we need to be in this apartment. The Dude and I have plans to be together for the long haul. But a long time ago I realized that no matter what predictions I made for the future, even just a year away, there's always some X factor that changes everything. Since I was 18 I've written down a chronological list of things that have happened that year. There's always something punchy in that list I didn't see coming.

It's past 2:00 a.m. now. In celebration for the holidays (I'm off until January 4th) I spent the entire day playing my new Harvest Moon: Animal Parade Wii game. I won't shock anyone by stating the actual amount of hours I plugged into this venture.

The Dude is in bed. I should go join him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve to all

T'was the day before Christmas and my brother draws near
I'll pick him up at the station, and then bring him here.
I made him a stocking but it's not up with care
I'll lay it out while he sleeps and when he wakes it'll be there.
That's how mom used to do it when we were small
so I'll sneak in quietly and hope I won't fall.
He'll sleep on the couch, and us in our bed
And visions of rum and eggnog will dance in our heads.
We'll open our presents after we've awaken
And then we'll all eat some good Christmas bacon.
We'll probably need coffee to be in good form
though when we were kids, 4:00 a.m. was the norm
Since things are quiet and so very low-key
With no running around to do, we'll go see a movie.
Avatar's out and with a glowing review
And once we're back home, we're eating beef stew.
We'll start cooking it tonight in the trusty crock pot
And half a day later it'll be juicy and hot.
We'll all cuddle Smokey and have a hot drink
and then toast to Jerry who was gone in a blink.
It'll be cozy and peaceful, quiet and light
Merry Christmas to all, and have a good night

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Scratch

Day after the winter solstice and while it seems like every northern region in the Western hemisphere got dumped on (we're talking snow here), Toronto was left more or less alone. Since I barely have to leave the house if I don't want to, a part of me is bummed out about the lack of snow for Christmas. But I guess there's still time. And if not, I suppose it's nicer for drivers and cyclists to not have to deal with snowfalls that come up to your knees.

The Dude brought home the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and we have our little presents all around it. It's a quirky yet quaint little scene.

I was thinking about my mother's decorations. She had accumulated a number of them over the years, which is what people do. They're not the sort of things a reasonable person buys all in bulk one year. They each tend to have their own stories or sentimental value or special place in the collection of Xmas goodies.

After she died I know those things got packed away. But I've never seen them since. Boxes have a way of getting lost or misplaced when you keep moving around. Things go missing. It's a crying shame. Unfortunately, my personal collection of unique tree ornaments numbering about 20 or so were also in that box. My December birthday led a lot of people, particularly one aunt, to gift me with Christmas tree ornaments, very pretty ones.

And they're gone so I have to start from scratch. My Christmas item list now totals a candle from one of my aunts and now this Charlie Brown tree. I have a long way to go. I think I must be at that age anyway where you start to rubble up your own homey things like that.

To change the subject abruptly, I'm getting used to Jerry's absence. Still having Smokey around is a huge part of that. It would be too hard to have an empty house, and it would feel empty without my both cats. I've been thinking about the good memories I have of Jerry. And I have a lot. I also made videos of him that I've been watching.

Smokey still meows for his brother and looks for him, but less and less each passing day. It seems when he really misses him and is getting the picture he's not coming back, he comes to the Dude and I for hugs. We are happy to oblige him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A brother for Christmas

I did all my Christmas shopping in one quick burst of productivity. I found out my brother was coming up for sure, so I set out to get some things for him to open under the tree. And we are getting a tree, this tree:

The Dude is out buying it now, supposing there are any left. I imagine this pathetic little number will be popular with the likes of other fellow 20-somethings-sans-children.

But getting back to my brother, while I'm really looking forward to a quiet Christmas with the Dude, having my brother here will add that family cozy element to the holiday. Also I can't help but feel a little maternal towards him and that makes me want to try harder to have a nice Christmas for him.

He really wanted to make it here before Jerry passed. Jerry was his cat. He named him Jeremy when he was 8 years old, I'm pretty sure after a kid in my class who was a bit of a troublemaker. He did this to bother me, I think, because having a cat named for someone in your class is awkward and my brother specialized in driving me crazy. I started calling Jeremy "Jerry" for short to make it less obnoxious. Luckily it stuck. I don't know how many cats have nicknames, but that cat did. Eventually we stopped referring to the cats as Smokey and Jeremy entirely.

My brother and his friends gave him other nicknames, like Jeremiah King of the Gypsies. The Dude's brother called him Little Jerry Seinfeld. I called him Geriatric Jerry. When the spirit moved me, he also went by Jerome and Gerald. He was born to be nicknamed, that cat.

But although my brother missed Jerry, Smokey could use the visit from him. He's been lonely and sucky, poor little guy. I decided to get Jerry's ashes returned to me, which I'm hoping to give my brother when he's here, thinking maybe he'd like to sprinkle them somewhere meaningful as a way to say goodbye.

It's an interesting season this year. There's been hard choices, loss, and a new feeling of adult responsibility. And now making my own Christmas rather than only participating. It's an unexpected little milestone to cross. Surprisingly and pleasantly so, I feel positive about it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Small favours

Something that breaks my heart is giving Smokey a treat and having him run to me, only to stop and look over his shoulder for Jerry, not once but twice. They used to run together. In fact they used to race.

When I was a kid, and a teenager for that matter, my brother and I did a race too. On Christmas eve we would do our pyjama race. First one back downstairs got to open their Christmas Eve present first. It became very competitive.

It started before I turned 10 and my brother and I petitioned our mom to let us open one present before bed. She agreed so long as we were ready for bed first. And we had to both be ready. This was the beginnings of the Christmas Eve Pyjama Race ©.

Rules developed. First person back got not only prestige, but the right to open their present first. Mom's role eventually became that of the referee. Boxers worn under pants did not count as pyjama bottoms. Carrying your pyjama top down the stairs was foul. As there was one race per year, we were in it to win it.

I miss those days. I miss being a kid. Being an adult can be great too, but you never grow up without losing things that matter to you. And you never stop losing what matters. I miss Jerry. But I have peace about losing him. It was his time. I just have the nurse the Jerry-shaped hole he's left in my heart and take care of Smokey, because he's grieving too.

Thinking about how much it hurt to lose Jerry, I realize how lucky I was to have such a great cat, and that I still have another great cat going on 17 years. They witnessed those pyjama races. I didn't just watch them grow up, they watched me too. My life is never without those kinds of small blessings. And like my aunt says, thank God for small favours.

Friday, December 18, 2009

He's Gone

He turned to face me. He didn't fight it. We looked each other in the eyes. I stroked his face and told him he was a good boy and that it'll be okay. And then he went.

Five hours

Jerry is cuddling beside me. I'll leave here at 5:00 to go to the vet to end his pain. I can barely stand it. I can't imagine a life without him in it. I haven't had a life without him in it since I was 10.

I love his old demanding meow that sounds more like he's saying, "Now!" I love his little ears and wee bald patches in front of them. I love the way he always comes when he's called. I love his attentiveness to strangers and how he doesn't make shy or snooty with anybody. I love the way he is always angling to be under the covers. I love how he was in charge even though he was the smaller pet. I love how easy it's been to make him happy.

He's made me happy. He's made Smokey and the Dude and my brother happy. I've been getting emails and calls from friends and family letting me know they're thinking of us.

Even though Jerry will not be here for Christmas, we're staying. I don't feel festive and I don't feel like travelling or leaving Smokey behind alone.

I have five hours left with my pet. My heart hurts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New plan...

Change of plans.

I took some time to reflect during a bath. Jerry was at the edge of the tub, looking miserable and staring into the wall. He looked at me, head low, eyes sad and tired. After I got out I tried to feed him again with the syringe and he wasn't really interested. And it hit me that after a biopsy in his mouth, if he doesn't want to eat now or can't, then he's really going to suffer tomorrow.

I can't do that to him, not for my own peace of mind.

I sobbed and held my cat. And then I called the vet, cancelled tomorrow's appointment and asked for one on Friday to end Jerry's pain. The Dude was beside me, crying and supporting my choice. I felt helpless and sick.

I hung up. And then Jerry jumped up from the foot of the couch with more ease than I've seen in days. He walked over to me, and sat in my lap and gazed at me. I stroked his face and it was the moment I had been waiting for. He didn't look pained or sad. I felt like he was letting me off the hook. He then walked down to my legs, curled up in a ball and fell into the most peaceful sleep I've seen him had in days. He even started to purr.

I don't know how cats know what they know. I don't know what they understand. But Jerry, I'm sure of it, knows I love him and that I'm going to do what I need to do to end his suffering. I feel a growing sense of acceptance about this, though the actual pain remains. We'll have our last day with him tomorrow, the Dude will come with me Friday, and then Jerry and I will go through this together.

Another part of my day

Jerry's biopsy is tomorrow. Today I resorted to feeding him his cat food with a syringe. I watched him eat this morning and it took a long time to eat little. I had no idea how fast this whole thing would take over his mouth. His breath is foul. He's drooling all the time and I'm always wiping his mouth. He just looks for cuddles now and anytime I come out with a syringe, he scampers after me, knowing it's something he wants and I'm going to give it to him.

I just need to bloody know what his results are. What is this thing? Living in limbo with this is too hard. I hate everything about it. I just want my cat out of pain at this point and I need to know the correct action to take. I can't end his life until I know I must. I just can't, even though I know at this point many people wouldn't blame me. But I'd blame myself and I'd never get over it without having tried everything.

My days have become long and tedious. My sleep is poor, I smell Jerry's foul breath everywhere. I brush the crusty bits of his fur where he's attempted to groom. I push water into his mouth every few hours. I give him his codeine and Smokey his insulin (which thankfully are timed together). I feed Jerry and fret over his strong appetite and inability to eat all that he wants. I do my job at my computer. I get housework done during my breaks. I realize I've skipped meals. Leaving the house makes me worry and gives me relief.

Jerry is curled up on my outstretched legs. Occasionally I hear an unpleasant gurgling noise.

Another part of my day is periodically crying. I just need this to be over.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Avoiding the bus is good

I crafted, I crafted! I'm pleased with my little card creations. I didn't make them terribly elaborate, but I did make them myself and I did my best to make as many as I could in one evening. I was aiming for 20 and I made 14.

Here are a few:
Most aren't as elaborate as the candy cane or stocking, but I'm pleased enough with them to send them out without worrying that the recipients will wonder, "What the hell is this shit?"

I also have to mail out a clock. In my infinite wisdom, for my aunt in Vancouver I bought this one-of-a-kind craft clock and that requires special packing to avoid damaging the hands and is also fragile. I've also now waited until 11 days before Christmas and counting, so I'll have to pay for faster delivery. Her gift to me arrived days and days ago. She's obviously more organized.

Christmas plans are taking shape. The Dude and I are most likely staying here to be with Jerry, my brother may come up and his brother and his fiancee may be watching movies with us on the 26th. Definitely low-key. I'm warming up to it more and more these days. Letting go of the idea of a big family Christmas is hard, but it's not without bonuses when you think about it.

1. No bus ride there.
2. No bus ride back home.
3. No waiting in line to buy a bus ticket.
4. No waiting in line over an hour for the bus. (See a pattern developing?)

So while I'll miss my family, this will also be the year of avoiding the godforsaken bus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Distracted

Not feeling quite up to the follow-up post to my last one, so I'm going to talk about my life again, in all its feeble glory.

Jerry is slowly deteriorating. His biopsy is the 17th. So four days more of wondering. I've been mentally preparing myself for the most likely outcome, which will result in putting him down. He's eating a little less, drooling a little more... The growth must be growing very fast. The vet did say it would be aggressive. Poor little guy. Yeah, he's old, but who wants to grow dependent and die?

Today is going to be enjoyable, though. It's craft club day. I've bought the materials and I'm going to make Christmas cards. I'm going to try to make Christmas cards, anyway. I've never done anything like that before. I tend to have an artistic knack and usually I can make something decent my first go. I think probably having the confidence to try new mediums is what helps me. So I'm hoping this go will be successful.

Man... I feel distracted, too distracted to even try to make a good post. I can only think about my cat.

Know what? Here's a funny blog about terrible crafts, in honour of craft club day. May we do better than these people: http://www.regretsy.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Abortion

Lately I've been reading a lot of feminist research, literature and articles. As time has gone on I've felt a subtle push against women's rights and freedoms, perhaps as a backlash of the feminist movement which changed the Western world and ruffled many feathers. I think maybe also with gay rights now in the forefront gaining more and more recognition, the same sorts of people who either hate change or can't empathize with people who aren't just like them are tightening their holds elsewhere.

Abortion laws, in particular. The Stupak amendment, which although won't affect me or my fellow country women in Canada, is pretty much on of the emerging great tragedies to women's healthcare of the new millennium. Seriously. No funding for abortion? None?

Here in Canada it's federally funded. Women have the right to choose and choose they do. Of course there are organizations like The Back Porch, located in where else but Alberta, who more or less work against Planned Parenthood and counsel women to continue their pregnancies. Which, I have to say is pretty unethical. I've been doing a lot of reading about this group. Their goal is to talk to "abortion-minded" women. This translates to mean "we actively talk women out of the choices they've decided to make." And they don't advertise this. So women with an unwanted pregnancy and are looking to explore their options can find themselves in the hands of these pro-lifers whose concern is not for the woman herself, but her fetus.

And this rather pisses me off. Yes, a fetus does eventually become a baby. But until it's actually of this world and a separate entity from its mother, it's not a person. It's certainly reasonable for an individual to feel differently about that and consider a fetus a person if they choose. But it's no longer reasonable to enforce that feeling into either law or another person's decision making.

Consider: The risk of an abortion is 13 times less likely to result in complications/death than giving birth. The risk of severe mental anguish is distinctly higher for women undergoing adoption than abortion. In countries where abortion is illegal, a total of over 70,000 women die from unsafe abortion practices each year.

So who are we going to care about? Whose life should matter? A full-grown woman with a life, dreams, responsibilities? Or a grouping of cells which have yet to form into full person and is engaged in a parasitic relationship with its host? Yes, the wording is harsh, but pregnancy while important and beautiful is also a reckless force of nature that if imposed on a woman without her consent is cruel to her body and mind. I object to laws and movements which treat women like vessels. It's not a woman's fault she was born with a uterus and she is not under any obligation to give birth at any time.

But going back to the adoption path... if there's one thing that strikes me as terribly painful, it's continuing a pregnancy to term, giving birth and then giving my baby away just as all the chemicals kick in to create a devoted attachment to it. Then to recover from the birth, breasts leaking milk that no one drinks, hormones dropping and causing mood swings with no recourse to feel better because every day forward will be a day you're not with or raising the baby your entire being is calling to. This is a deeply personal decision that no woman should feel compelled to make due to another person or people's agenda, any more than a woman should be compelled to have an abortion for reasons that are not her own.

There have been people in the pro-life movement who claim something called Post Abortion Syndrome, citing high risk of depression, self loathing and suicidal thoughts. However, the American Psychological Association has studied this issue and has concluded: "Although there may be sensations of regret, sadness, or guilt, the weight of the evidence from scientific studies indicates that legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester does not pose a psychological hazard for most women." Women coerced into an abortion from family or unsupportive partners are more likely to experience these negative feelings, which only highlights the importance of allowing a woman to examine her own feelings and needs and make the right decision for her.

I could rant on and on about this, I really could. Whether a single mother of two needs an abortion in her second trimester because the child is going to be severely disabled and she cannot care for it without detriment to her existing children, or a woman in an abusive relationship can't bring a child into violence, or any woman with a new or current health condition makes pregnancy dangerous or fatal, or her necessary medications will critically damage her fetus, or she was raped or requires a D&C after a miscarriage (Which still counts as an abortion, even though the fetus is dead and D&C prevents infection or infertility), the choice must be hers.

I'll leave this rant with a cartoon which depicts how I feel about the direction the United States is going with their healthcare.


Jerry's condition is unchanged at this point, and if it remains so, my next rant may have to with birth control access, which of course is directly related to this post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jerry's News

I got Jerry's results yesterday in the early evening. I had been hoping for a kidney problem, which could then be treated with meds and the growth would shrink and disappear.

His tests show a healthy normal body. This growth in his mouth, which is growing and making eating difficult, is likely a tumour. Tumours, even benign ones, can't be treated. To remove it would take a portion of his tongue. There is an outside chance it's not a tumour and is something else that can be treated. But I have no hope.

I'm going to get him the biopsy anyway. I need to know for sure there is nothing I can do before I end his pain. I need to know if there is anything else that can be done. I love him terribly, unconditionally, with the sort of love my heart would lavish on my children someday. I won't let him down by not seeing this through till the end. And I can't live with myself unless I know for sure I'm doing the right thing.

God...

He's been cuddling with me a lot more these past few days. He looks in my eyes with a new expression now. It's like he knows the end is near. I feed him water with a syringe and though he doesn't enjoy the process, he accepts the water and relaxes into my arms. I hold him like a baby and tell him what a good boy he is.

The Dude is heartbroken. Jerry has been sleeping next to him under the covers for two years now. He was talking about Jerry this evening, about how he warmed up to him immediately and never made him feel like an outsider when he moved in. And that's Jerry for you, he always makes time for anyone in the house. He's not snobby about his attention and affection. That's a rare cat.

Right now he's sleeping in a ball on my outstretched legs. I don't know how much longer I have with him. I'm cherishing every moment.

The Dude and I may stay in Toronto for Christmas if Jerry is still alive because he'll need care. I told the Dude I would stay and in the next heartbeat he said if I stayed, he would stay, for me and for Jerry. I'll miss my family at Christmas, but in my home is where my family is, the Dude and my cats. And I can't miss one day of the last time we'll all be together.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jerry the sweet

Jerry had his vet appointment yesterday. They took some blood and urine to see how his overall body function is, specifically his kidneys. They also found a growth under his tongue. It could be an ulcer, which would be a result of failing kidneys. Or it could be a tumour. The blood and urine tests come back today, which should offer more insight. But the ultimate test is a biopsy.

Yesterday cost $250. A biopsy would cost $450. And then there is treatment after the biopsy. Fuck me. I'm really worried about being able to afford his care. If I can't... well... that's it. And I can't bear the thought of not doing what needs to be done, not if it's life or death and the treatment would not only save his life but let it continue to be a quality life.

The nice thing is we have six cans of wet food here and Jerry loves it. Can't get enough. It's calorie rich, so that'll help put the weight back on. The vet said to give him as much as he wants. And it's encouraging that his appetite is just fine. That's one less symptom to be worried about. Seems the growth is what was making it too hard to eat kibbles.

The unfortunate thing about the food is Smokey. Smokey is diabetic and can't eat this delicious cat crack. And I know it's delicious stuff because I have never seen him so aggressive for a meal before. I've had to lock him in the living room while Jerry eats, which subjects me to lengthy wails and howls that both annoy me and break my heart.

So it's been an interesting day at home for me. I'm thankful I do work from home because I can take breaks to feed Jerry some water, see if he wants more food (the answer is almost always yes), brush his fur (his drool is making his fur icky) and otherwise spend time with him. And he's affectionate and sweet as always.

I hope he'll be okay. I really love him. I hear back about the test results today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Childhood Pets

I'm on a posting spree it seems.

I'm worried about Jerry. Geriatric Jerry. I love the little guy, and lately he's gotten more and more little. He and his brother, Smokey, are 16 years old, 17 in May. He's only eating raw egg and treats. I've forced him to drink a lot more tonight because he seems dehydrated. And in spite of the forced drinks, he's been very close to me all evening.

He's usually with the Dude, cuddling under the blanket. Tonight he's been by my side, snuggled close and occasionally I reach over and pet his skinny back. I can barely remember life without him. He and Smokey came into my life when I was 10.

Pets, fuck. You know, they fill you with joy and they elicit unconditional love. And they have the power to make you feel as awful and worried as they do make you happy.

I want to solve their health problems. I don't want to prolong their lives if it means they suffer either pain or indignity. I'm hoping a simple change of cat food could get Jerry eating again, or maybe some short term meds. The worst news would be that he's suffering from something expensive and fatal because I can't afford extensive treatment, and I'm unwilling to subject a 17 year old cat to anything invasive or very unpleasant.

My greatest hope for my cats is that old age takes them, with minimal pain, and that when they pass I know I did what I could and my best was good enough for the life expectancy they were meant to have.

But God, if it doesn't ache and worry to have to face this reality now. They're old. My precious kitties are very old. And they're so attached to one another that I'm sure to lose one means to soon lose the other. I'm not ready to deal with this yet. But I'll never be ready. They're living relics of my childhood, a life I lost in my teens, and they're my family.

Jerry.

Smokey.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Belly pictures

So here is a photo of me at the gala. My arms are looking a little bulgy, but that's nothing new. Alas, I'm not smiling much either, though I could have sworn I was! Actually, I have one of those neutral faces that is very serious looking, which old men on the street tend to disapprove of and then command me to smile. When I think I'm giving a small smile, in reality I'm actually bringing my face up one notch from serious to calm and unaffected.

Serious Jendra is serious!

I'm pretty sure I gave real smiles at some point in the dance, but I'll have to check out the DVD to be sure. Oh, the DVD! The bringer of good and bad news. Look at what you did right! See how you utterly screwed up. What's with that weird face you're making? And so on.

Here's another picture that makes me look thinner:

Ah, the light is hitting my tummy juuuuust right.
Looks flat, don't it? Hehe! Success.


PS I know I haven't written about my actual birthday. I'll get to it eventually. The gala is still fresh and full of joy in my mind.

Just Dance

I showed my tummy. I totally danced belly exposed to the world. And I loved it! I may post some pictures at a later time. We'll see if any turned out.

I also only ate one piece of banana bread and one grain cracker so I would avoid the inevitable food baby gas pregnancy that would have made such exposure unbearable. After dancing I ate fried food from the Falafel House, which was catering the event. Mm-mm-mm. Post-dance gluttony. One of life's great unknown and untapped pleasures.

I put about, oh, six times the amount of makeup I usually wear to gussy up for the gala. It was sexy, it was tarty, it was barely noticeable under the harsh lights, and it was a bitch to take off. But it was also completely worth it. I felt hot.

There were these two dancers who were utterly to-die-for amazing and, frankly, hot stuff. After they were done, I turn to the Dude:

Me: Have a boner?
Him: =o
ME: 'Cause I know I do.
Him: =O

Heh heh heh.

I had a friend in the gala as well, and McPal showed up for moral support and good times. One of the better exchanges of the evening came courtesy of him, also after the two amazing dancers of wowness:

McPal: This is when being gay makes me feel like I'm missing out. That's hot! And it does nothing for me. Men don't do that.
Me: Some do.
McPal: Well, yeah, but when men do it it's not sexy!

And he's right. And I've seen men come into the belly dance classes. Without T&A and some extra pounds of well-placed flesh, the whole thing doesn't really work. Of course, with men there's nothing quite like a nice set of defined abs. Women can have those too, but like bellydancing men, a sixpack on a woman just ain't pretty.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Almost 27

Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 27 and officially enter the world of "late 20s". It's going to be nice, I think. I've requested a cake. That's really all I want. I know the Dude is getting me something from his sister-in-law-to-be's fashion collection. He's also cleaning the house tomorrow and making me dinner and we having drinks with my friends on Friday. My aunt sent me a gift in the mail, which I am excited to open. All of that is awesome.

But hot damn, the cake! Jazzed is the word. I'm jazzed to pieces about it. It's come to my attention I haven't had a proper birthday cake in years and I've been craving one. I have a deep-rooted soft spot in my heart for cakes.

My cats, usually unaware of my birthday, bestowed a gift upon me today. They both fell in the tub while the Dude was taking a bath. Owning a cat is sometimes better than owning a TV. Owning two geriatric lunatic cats makes life worth living. Smokey was pushing his water dish around last night and woke up the Dude, who filled the dish back up irritated, and said, "Here you go, your highness."

And something in his tone struck me funny and then I was the one keeping him up while I chortled. And now I refer to Smokey as his Lordship. Happy birthday to me. My cats are awesome.

Monday, November 30, 2009

No shrinking violet

Today is the final dance class before the gala. I'm mildly freaking out. I don't exactly have the choreography memorized. I know what moves go to what segments of music. I don't remember the order of the music segments, so after each one is done I have to pause to hear it. This is not good. I've been practicing in the living room like on of those joggers who jog on the spot, only with belly dance.

I also stayed up all night last night to correct what has been becoming a growing problem. Staying up just a wee bit later and sleeping in a little bit longer, over the course of time. This Sunday the Dude and I slept in until 1:00. It was unprecedented. I haven't done that since... actually I can't remember, though I know I often pulled it off in my teens.

I spent a large portion of the evening doing this. Oh yes. It's so nerdy I could die. But due to practice I can now name 150 countries out of 195. Have you heard of Benin? Slovenia? Nauru? Now you have.

I spend the rest of the evening making excellent headway on When Everything Changed. Seriously, holy shit. Now, I've always considered myself a feminist. I know it's not fashionable to call oneself that, but I don't care and I've never cared. A feminist is someone who believes in equal opportunities and rights for women. I've found it very difficult to understand why any woman would not openly express solidarity with that.

And reading this book and seeing in black and white the history of it all actually makes me mad that today's women don't want to own this title of feminist. It somehow seems like a way to appear more demure for the benefit of men. Because what woman in her right man would not be in favour of the rights she enjoys due to feminism?

1960:
Women cannot obtain credit without a male cosigner.
Women cannot obtain mortgage or apartment lease without male cosigner.
Women can legally be fired for getting married or pregnant.
Child support and alimony are not enforced laws.
Employers can legally pay women a fraction of what they pay men on the basis that they're not the breadwinner, even if they're widowed mothers or divorcees with children.
Employers can legally sexually harass their female employees.
Women can be denied entry to university programs for medicine, law, engineering and business.
Employers can post help wanted - male and legally discriminate against hiring women.
Funded sports programs in school for women don't exist.
Dress codes required girdles and high heels in many jobs that were female friendly, such as teaching and nursing. (I own a girdle, which I occasionally wear. They're wildly uncomfortable.)
Rape cases can be considered invalid if the woman was not a virgin prior to the assault.

And due to a strong fight for decades to bring about change, these are no longer our realities. I'm 27 and cohabiting, a college graduate, childless and working in a career I enjoy. I've obtained my own credit card, signed my own lease, wear what I want, have a sex life and practice birth control outside of marriage. I've been able to make these choices independently, based on my own ideas of what will bring me happiness and where I want my life to go.

Thanks to my mother's generation of amazing women. You're damn right I am a feminist.

And with that rant, I'm going to get back to practice my choreography-- which is a dance that would never have been available to me to learn without feminism opening the doors for female expression of their own sensuality.

PS: Latvia, Tonga, Lithuania, Malta.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

One of a kind

Today I am going to the One-Of-A-Kind Craft Show. Score! I've been once before, and I've always wanted to go back. Things I'm hoping to find are gifts for two aunts and possibly some original Christmas cards.

I've been wanting, actually craving to make my own cards this year, but honestly I have no idea how to go about it without winding up with something akin to the type of macaroni on paper shit I made when I was seven. Where do you start? Scissors, glue, paper, envelopes that are pre-made to fit the size of cards you want to make... glitter? Pretty paper? I really have no idea.

I want to make it more Christmas-like around here. I have all of one decoration that I've never taken out of the box. The Dude has found our tree. You can buy it at Urban Outfitters for $20. So there's a plan. I've tried to send out Christmas cards in past years and this time I really want to kick it up a notch.

It's so easy to let it slide, and resort to grabbing a few gifts for those who you're closest to, make travel arrangements and call it a night. I want to feel the season and the spirit of the holiday. The more I think about it, the more important it is to break up the year, which is full of responsibilities, the job, housework, and so on.

I also think a few years ahead when I likely will have children. I don't want Christmas to begin and end with whether or not there are kids present. The Dude feels strongly about that sort of thing, and living vicariously through his nieces and nephews as they get excited about Santa. Me, not so much. Granted, it's sweet and endearing and there's nothing like a wee child putting out milk and cookies before bed, but I don't want the season to be just about whether or not there are kids to make it a valid holiday celebration.

I want the season to be about togetherness, and about the family you do have. I don't have much in the way of an immediate family, and that's something that grieves me. I have my brother, and I wouldn't trade him, but he's in another city and a man of few words. I'm more than blessed in the extended family arena, though. And so that's what Christmas means to me, being with those people who I don't see often enough and counting myself lucky to have them.

And so today is the first day for me where I am going to begin my ascent into the Christmas spirit. Someday I'll have children for whom I'll shop for toys. Until then, I'm enjoying a more adult version of the season. This, of course, shall include alcohol, festively served and loudly appreciated.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Passivity

It's 1:08 a.m. and I want to do something more with my life. Not right now, but generally. I've been peeking through my calendar and have realized I don't have enough going on. Except today. Today I had a dentist appointment and had to buy groceries. This overlapped plans I made with a friend, who called me and I felt like total shit. I rarely ever forget plans. I forgot to write it on my calendar, hence, going to her place disappeared from my mind. My calendar is the only thing that keeps me on track with anything.

I also use it to write down what I did on various days, because I can never remember and sometimes that stuff is important.

But this all leads back to looking it over, mostly to see what I need to remember to avoid standing anybody up, and I saw I had a very fluffy schedule: movies and dinners with friends, dance class, bill payments... things that matter, sure, but as a compilation, not all I want going on for myself.

I would like to do more beneficial things, like the ovarian cancer walk I did in September. I looked into volunteering at Planned Parenthood. It's something I feel strongly about, especially lately when I hear about the anti-abortion add-ons to the health bill being passed to the senate in the states.

I also have thought about the humane society. I love cats. Love cats. But it seems like a terribly popular volunteer option and perhaps like Planned Parenthood there will be no spots available for some time. I have to check back with PP in July next year. That's pretty much forever away.

I need to give this some more thought. I'm turning 27 in less than two weeks. I would like this next year of my life to mean a little more, be something better than what I've been doing.

I've been thinking a good deal about death in general lately. More and more I doubt the existence of an afterlife. I really want to believe there's one, but somehow it seems implausible. I mean, we're human beings, intelligent animals, a species on Earth evolved over time who have managed to gain dominance over the planet.

When I was younger I thought God devised evolution as a way to watch the world unfold because eternity was a long time and he would need something to watch. And I figured we were his intended end result.

But why dinosaurs? Why make them and wipe them out or design a system that would take them out and make room for us? Doesn't really fly, somehow. So these days I figure we're all accidents, miracles of nature, and there is no plan or design and we better take care of the Earth because our legacy is all we got going for us in terms of living past death.

Pessimistic? Maybe. But the idea of doing more with my life comes from that idea. It's easier to do less if you believe you have all the time in the universe to exist. If you have at best another 60 years if nothing goes wrong, you ought to get an idea what you want your life to mean.

I'd like to be a bit more serious about my life's direction. I think I've been too passive.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Moon

I have plans to see the New Moon movie on Sunday. I'm pretty jazzed about it. I'm going with McPal's boyfriend, but not McPal. He's not into chick lit or the like. Another friend is supposed to come, but we'll see.

I keep seeing and hearing a lot of slagging on the Twilight series. I've written about Twilight before, comparing it to True Blood. And I do see the inherent silliness of the series. The book's writing is poor. The plot is unoriginal. The female lead is wimpy. But so many other things that are so much worse are way more popular. Uh, NASCAR anyone? There's a waste of time.

I keep reading articles about how awful the series is for teen girls and how it doesn't prepare them for real love. There are all kinds of points and lists about how unreasonable and unrealistic it is.

I dunno. I like to leave people to their fantasies. Teen girls like to imagine a love that lasts forever with someone stunningly good looking and generous and ought-to-be unattainable. Let them have it. Reading about it is the only way they're going to get anywhere near such an experience. Just like I'm never going to live on New Moon farm with Emily Starr, or have super powers and a cool backstory like Sailor Moon, or marry Mr. Darcy like Elizabeth Bennett.

All the hubub about Twilight giving girls the wrong message about love, I think Disney already covered that for me, when Ariel married a man she only knew for three days, Belle married a man whose name she didn't know other than "beast" and who was verbally abusive to her, and Snow White ran off into the sunset with a man who put the moves on her while she was sleeping.

Then there are all the romantic comedies that let me know that getting off to a bad start with a man means he will fall in love with me; remind me that only if I totally devote myself to a career and alienate my friends will a man come in and save me from myself and make me fall in love. Then the romance dramas about all encompassing love that lasts across time and space, over land and sea, perfect and undying.

And Twilight is going to ruin young girls for real love? Ohohohoho. No. Everyone else has taken care of that already. And anyways, when our men disappoint us, and they do, we need a small escape. No harm, no foul. Plus, topless men with nice abs are sexy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I say yes, you say no, I say pelvic ultrasound, you say go-go-go

This entry features smatterings of TMI, FYI.

So today was an exercise in patience. Everything seemed to be on track until about 10:30. I arrived at 9:30 for my ultrasound appointment. Was all good and pumped for the pelvic one, which is no small thing.

I started off asking the ultrasound lady if the gel was going to be cold. She said yes as she gave it a hefty squirt all over my tummy. It was mildly uncomfortable, but whateves. It wasn't the bad part so I went with it. Thing is, though, she told me to get dressed after.

Me: I was told there was going to be a pelvic ultrasound.
Her: Nope.
Me: They wanted to check for ovarian cysts.
Her: No. Your pain is in your sides. That's the kidneys.
Me: They scheduled me for it. They're going to want to see results.
Her: There's nothing I can do for you.
Me: But--
Her: No, that's all there is. Get dressed.

*Sigh* She was all assertive and stuff and I wasn't wearing pants, so she won. I got dressed and told the people downstairs that I didn't get the second ultrasound. And then there was running around and questions and eventually I was told to wait in the waiting room.

Two hours and change. Then they have me move to... another waiting room. I'm not sure how long I was there exactly. It was marked "Interview" and had calming colours. At first I was freaked out because it looked like a place you tell people bad news.

But when 15 minutes passed and no one came, I figured no news was good news so I took a nap in the chair. I briefly woke up to see a nurse walk past and shake her head at me.

About 1:45 I was sent up for the pelvic ultrasound. Same woman. I wanted to say I told you so. She noticed my small scars from when I had my appendix out a few years ago. She asked about them and I said they were from an appendectomy.

Her: Oh! (Laughs)
Me: Uh yeah, hahaha? (The hell?)

I dunno, I didn't get it either. Didn't think I made a joke. She wanted to know when my last period was. I thought about it and said Saturday.

Me: It's one day
Her: When was the first day of your last period?
Me: I think it was Friday or Saturday. It's over now. It lasted one day.
Her: Is it your 10th day into your cycle?
Me: No, my period just ended. It started Saturday. It lasted one day.
Her: Last Saturday?
Me: This Saturday.
Her: Are you having your period now?
Me: No. It's over. It lasted one day.

And this is where she brought her fingers to her forehead and furrowed her brow, because clearly it was I who was giving her the headache. Eventually she grasped what I was saying.

Her: Your period lasted one day? It was this weekend and it's over.
Me: Yes.
Her: Is this normal for you?!
Me: Um... yes? (Why is she mad at me? Jebus Murphy)

This dialogue went on with accusing questions about how I could let myself have such strange menstrual cycles for so long. It's not like I've never mentioned it to a medical professional before. I have. They all say "Lucky you!" I dunno. It's very convenient and I haven't been inclined to see if I can make it longer again. God hands you so little favours, why look a gift menses in the mouth?

As predicted the whole magic wand in the hoo-ha procedure was a little icky and unpleasant. I don't recommend it if you're looking for a good time. But rather than wait this time, I took matters into my own hands. See, I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day. I also only went to the bathroom for the first time at 2:00 pm. I was pretty much done.

So I walked into the clinic area and said if they had any news for me, I'd like a phone call because the time I had left to stick around was limited. And just like that, within 20 minutes I saw a doctor, got my results and was out of there, but not before someone made me change into another hospital gown for no reason.

Diagnosis? None. My ovaries both apparently have quite a few follicles on them, and the doctor took a stab and guessed one had grown into a cyst and burst, causing my pain. He recommended Advil. Huh.

So I guess I'll take my results to my family doctor for her records and see what happens. I feel like I went through a lot for very little gain. Last time I went to this Urgent Care Centre they couldn't find anything wrong either and within a week or so I had to have my appendix out. So I don't entirely have the same faith in them as I do, say, Toronto Western ER. But anyway, the day is over. That's all that really matters to me. I'm going to have some hot chocolate.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

To be a woman.

Sometimes I complain about being a woman. And rightly so, I think. I don't care what anyone says, having a female body, whilst beautiful and lovely and all that jazz, is a pain the cervix.

Risking TMI Land, and now that I've issued a warning I no longer care about causing offense, I have had a rough couple of days. It began with a moderate cramp in my abdomen, continued with a moon time that arrived a wee bit late, allowed me to pass through the day yesterday with nausea and blessed me, and especially the Dude, with severe moon swings.

I cried pathetically on three separate occasions. Something was amiss, that I know. Inside my head I was going, "WTF? What is wrong with me?" But on the outside I could not stop weeping.

So a call to Telehealth the night it began was in order, first off, and a nurse tells me I need to go to an urgent care centre in 24 hours. I wait 48. I have this paranoia that as soon as I get to the clinic, my symptoms will pass and I'll look like a faker who's wasting public resources and doctors' time.

So I get there at 3:45 today. They take my blood pressure, blood, urine, all that exciting stuff. They really seem to think I might be pregnant. Because my moon time is different this round, they think it might be a pregnancy symptom. So that's pretty much all I can think about for the next two hours. Turns out I'm not. Excellent.

I also must submit to two pelvic exams while I'm there. And this is why being a woman is ass. I don't care how medically necessary it is. I don't even care how many vaginas a doctor has seen. I don't give one sweet fiddler's fart how impersonal it's supposed to be. All that is irrelevant in the face of a strange man I don't know getting up close and personal with my box. Another woman in the room was all well and good, but it's just another witness to my discomfort and cringing.

They both praised me the way you encourage a two-year-old learning to potty and I got it over with. The doctor was able to determine that I was uncomfortable in my lower abdomen when his fingers were manhandling my special area, and that this warrants an ultrasound on Monday to check my ovaries. I don't know how that is not supposed to be uncomfortable, and what sort of test is that? Obviously it's going to feel bad. He wanted to know which pressure point was worse and I wasn't sure if it was the first shock of what he was doing or the second shock that he wasn't done.

Thinking on it, the only thing I'm happy about is that I'm a Canadian and I didn't have to pay for that experience. No, sir, here in Canada medical men will feel you up for free.

I'm not looking forward to Monday. It's to be a vaginal ultrasound. May God have mercy on my soul, and my junk.

The end.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

To tummy or not to tummy

The gala is about two weeks away. I'm nervous, I'm looking forward to it, and it brings out different emotions in me. I've never done anything that made me feel so beautiful or so self-conscious. And I've posed nude for artists.

And that was an act of bravery, yes. And it made me feel beautiful, sure. But not in a sexy way, but just as a beautiful human being who was fine just the way she was. I did it a number of times, but that's another story.

Belly dance is different. It's not exposing everything about my body. Rather, it's a showcase of my femininity, my curves, and hiding all the rest. But that in itself can be a problem because certain body parts don't look so great on prominent display. A bloated stomach, for example, looks a lot nicer on a naked body than it does stuffed into a hip scarf.

I have no problem with nudity. Granted, I wouldn't walk around naked in public or flash my breasts to my acquaintances or want my family to see my junk. But generally speaking, posing nude for art classes is a lot easier on my ego than, say, being in a bathing suit. Or wearing a cropped shirt onstage in front of hundreds of people.

Funny, not so worried about the choreography. That's more within my control than my tummy is, as I have no control around chocolate bars and cake.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No heat = hibernation

I'm still writing my book. It's coming along slowly, but every time I take a go at it, I move the plot forward. So this is good. So long as it doesn't feel painful, impossible or stale to write, I should be okay. It's a huge project. I just need to stay on task. Unlike every single other time in my adult life when I've tried to complete a full work of writing.

I won't be writing today, however, because I'm overtired. I keep sleeping far too long and at the wrong time. The result is feeling like a lumbering groggy bear being disturbed during hibernation. Speaking in full sentences today is proving too much to ask of me. Also, it's chilly in this place. Had a conversation with one of the downstairs neighbours yesterday. She said she would address the heat issue at a later time.

There would be no heat issue if they would just come to accept the fact that the Dude and I are deserving of warmth in our own home. I mean, come on. It's November in Canada. There will be no more turning off the heat, I don't care how much money you'll save if I freeze to death during the day.

I need to practice my dance choreography for the student gala. But lately I've been too damn cold to get motivated. I don't want to be out from under the covers. Unfortunately, being cozy under the covers leads to falling asleep, and therein lies the basis for all my irritations today. Amazing what a little heat in my apartment would solve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mellowed

I think I'm at a point in my life where I want to keep things simple. I'm not entirely sure why that is. I used to get warm fuzzies over the thought of being made a fuss over. Not so much these days.

If I were to get married, I think I'd like to bypass a lot of the typical stuff and just get it done with some friends and family present. Maybe I've heard too much being made of the whole deal. It's not that I don't think marriage is important. It is. It's just that half the people who do it get divorced. And then they have second and third weddings and all with the same hooplah... it's just not that big of a decision, it seems to me, if you'll do it with more than one person and you can take it back later.

And for me, I've been living a la sin for two years now, just about, and taking that step wouldn't dramatically change my life, other than allowing for more future planning and some more merging of finances. I think I'd feel stupid throwing anything big. And that's odd because I never feel this way about anyone else's wedding, no matter how long they've been together, lived together, have had a child etc. Just me.

Same thing with a baby. Some women get pregnant and from that point forward they're showing every jerk in a three-metre radius their sonogram picture, throwing their own showers, doing up an expensive baby registry in one theme and taking back stuff purchased that does not fit that theme, Twittering their labour progress and update their Facebook statuses with diaper mishaps and about 500 pictures and inviting everyone they've ever known to baby's first birthday in a gift grab blaze of glory.

Not that I ever wanted anything like that, but the more I think about it, the less "stuff" you bring into the house and the less pressure you place on yourself and everyone around you to perform to these standards of giving and attention for this whole birth thing, seems the more joyful and less overwhelming the whole thing could be.

Then there are birthdays. I'm turning 27 in a few weeks. I've been accidentally calling myself 27 here and there for a month or so now, so this is not a big deal birthday. All I want is my friends and some good food. Whatever happens, happens.

Past birthdays were harder on me, and after several disappointments I started inadvertently measuring them as how loved or liked I was, which the answer seemed to say to me: not much. But the less importance I put on the day, the more I tend to enjoy it. This year the Dude is going to sort something out, and whatever it is, I'll be happy with it.

Funny. Maybe I'm getting old. Not like old-old, but mellowing out. And maybe that's a difference when you do things for the celebratory purposes and the fantasy, and when you want to do things because you want to actually go through with them. I think I'm at a stage where I'm ready to buckle down and actually think about these choices in a real way.

This isn't some sort of blogging announcement about my upcoming shotgun wedding and I'm due in March or anything. But I have been thinking about this change in me lately.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baby number two

I'm home again from the baptism. The baby was sweet. She looks like a Cabbage Patch kid. Can't go wrong there. I was worried being around a sweet baby would speed up my desire to have one, but luckily no. So far only my friend's twin girls seem to have that power.

I was primed and ready for the questions surrounding me getting married and having kids. And they came on time and as predicted. I said we'll see. And it's true. We'll see.

However, I was spared further questioning on the subject due to divine intervention. A male cousin of mine, who I worked with for years and who met his wife on the job, is expecting a child. I noticed his wife was only drinking a gingerale and I was curious, but I didn't inquire into it. Her stomach was small and I thought if she was preggers, then it's only the first trimester. Maybe it was still a secret.

However, an aunt wanted the inside scoop and got it out of her. There was tons of congratulations (more questions about when it would be my turn), but I think this should really take the pressure off of me for another year.

I'm excited about this baby, though. Being in my hometown and the baby-to-be being a child of the portion of the family I'm closest to means I should see him or her more often. It's just nice that my family is expanding, and that I'm not the one doing it yet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Work in the outside world

Today I ventured out to work for the first time in over a year. We had a meeting. It was a pretty big deal, actually, because this department of 20 people never see each other anymore. Everyone was very subtly different, mostly hair related, though a couple people looked more well rested.

We did a round table of a brief recap of how our year has been. There was a marriage, an impending move to Australia (Which may or may not open a new position at work), family changes, creative works completed, and all sorts of other little items of interest.

I didn't know what to tell specifically, so I mentioned that I had moved again for the fifth time in five years, that I had to send my fed-up family yet another new address for me, and that I now inject my cat Smokey with insulin twice a day and he likes it. I imitated him to illustrate my point and said, "Meow, shot, meow!" And then I retracted and said that my cat didn't talk to me, but that I imagine he would say something like that if he could.

And then I was reminded of why I sometimes miss my co-workers, because it's not every group of people that would hear such a loopy anecdote and laugh, never mind still want to talk to me.

But about this job opening, which may or may not exist depending on the powers that be who will decide if we need a replacement or not. If it were to become available, it would be a promotion/pay raise. And the only way to get either of these things in this department is for just such an occasion to arise: someone has to quit. And in the five years (Holy shit) that I've been there, I've only seen four people leave. Two were slightly involuntary, I think, due to company changes. Turnover is very slow. People generally love this job and grip on tight.

And I've reached the end of my pay scale. I'm earning as much as this job will pay, without moving up. And I'd like to move up in some way. I'm hoping this little window might be my chance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gaming For Dummies

It's Remembrance Day today. I posted one of my favourite Heritage Minutes. I miss those being on TV. "Doctor, doctor, I smell burnt toast!" Awesome. I spent an afternoon re-watching them all not long ago. Everyone remembers them, if not misses their charming little anecdotes. They were just lame, informative and endearing enough to become beloved by all Canadians. I wish they would go back on the air.

As for things on Facebook that I'm seeing all the time: applications for made-up fantasy lands. Never in my life would I have imagined that so many people I know or have met love these virtual world games. Cafe World, Farmville, Mafia Wars, Yoville... I play none of them.

Don't get me wrong. I play games. I play all kinds of games and totally waste my time with equally silly time burglars on the computer. I just don't do it with Facebook. Why? Why?

Because then I don't get caught, that's why. The Dude is yet to learn these lessons, as is my buddy, B. I discovered Dude's Mafia Wars obsession due to a congested newsfeed advertising all his Mafia Wars activities. I told him it was happening, he was sheepish, changed the settings and he thought he learned his lesson.

Not so. The other day when I passed a glance at him and asked if he was playing Yoville, he was surprised, had an embarrassed laugh at his own expense and then I let him know his newsfeed yet again exposed how he spent his time and it had been up for quite some time. Yoville being infinitely more effeminate than Mafia Wars, I wanted to wait for the right moment to tell him for my personal amusement.

Now he's Farmvilling. Everyone who gave me grief for playing multiple incantations of Harvest Moon are now on Farmville or Farm Town and raking in... I don't know, farm dollars? I suppose there's an interactive aspect to it which makes it more compelling. But I personally enjoy a level of privacy when indulging in my nonsense. What Farmville does is not only expose that you play, but how much you play. Therein would be the death of me.

But I'm not anti-Facebook games per se. They do offer me occasional moments of joy, such as when on Facebook, Buddy-B's girlfriend "liked" that he fed his Farm Town pig, and Buddy-B felt the kind of shame that his friends can delight in at his expense.

So farm away, Facebookers. I'll just run my burger shops, kill zombies with plants, build western towns, and operate my island resorts in secret.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Insomnia

I seem to be experiencing a small bout of insomnia. I've had coffee, and some amount of function is creeping in. I suppose I have too much on my mind. I don't have the fastest paced life, nor do I have too many responsibilities. But it's always so interesting that despite the relative ease of my life, there is always room inside of me for some inner conflict.

I'm ready as I'm going to be to face the day. Having not gotten any sleep, I feel disjointed a little from reality. I suppose the upside to this is that tonight I ought to sleep like a log. That's the hidden bonus to a poor night's rest: amazing sleep the night after.

When I was in high school I used to sleep during class. I fell asleep in every class I ever had, including gym. I was a champ. My reputation preceded me with my teachers, who'd tell me to wake up, even if I hadn't dozed off yet in their class. I had big things going on in my life, keeping me awake at all hours.

It's been a long time since I've had such a decidedly sleepless night. I can't remember how long. Now I have to work.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fours weeks till showtime, and the ass is grass

I am still plugging away at my book, bit by bit. Sometimes just adding to it so the story won't get cold. Often if you take too much of a break, trying to get back into writing the same story feels like eating pizza that's been left out a couple days. Just not happening.

I've decided rather than trying to create a full story off the bat, I'm going to just begin a new chapter each time it feels right, even if it's just after a page of writing. I can beef up my details, dialogue, and descriptions on the second draft. All I need to do this first draft is to complete the actual plot. I need a skeleton before I can build a body. So far so good.

I have no personal deadlines for this project. But as far as other "projects" of sorts go, I have only four weeks until my student dance gala. That's only four dance classes to get good enough and organized enough and confident enough to make this happen. It's also going to require a lot of practice at home, and there's not a ton of room for choreography in this living room, or anywhere else in this apartment.

I also don't have a top I want to wear for the performance. Last year I wore a halter with coins on it. It was fun, but it didn't expose much of my torso. And I don't have very much torso to expose. This is a small handicap for belly dance. On the video of the night, I saw myself and I didn't look... right. I looked rather squat, I think. To counteract that, I need to show more tummy, to elongate what I do have.

When I was watching the other dancers move, long stomachs exposed, and I could see an undulation wave down their abdomen, I felt envious. Though one woman looked like she was half an inch away from giving the audience a peep of her holiest of holies. I wasn't envious of that. Rather, that's my nightmare. I'm convinced if I tie a scarf too low on my hips or wear my skirt further down or something, everything will just fall off my ass. I've never seen that happen to anyone else, even women with very flat bums, but that doesn't mean it won't happen to me. Things like that have a way of happening to me.

Maybe I'll go practice now. I have a belly dance skirt and I'll wear it all low down, learn to convince myself my rear end will hang on to my clothes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Writing For Realsies

I've started writing again (I mean, other than this blog). I think it's shaping up to be teen fiction. Maybe once I begin the second draft, it'll mature into adult fiction. But who knows. I have a habit of beginning a work of writing and then... quitting. Often it's because I get too overly focused on the details.

Like, making up a city that doesn't exist. I then have to imagine the entire infrastructure and then eventually I overwhelm myself. And if I place the setting somewhere I've been OR based on somewhere I've been, I start getting wrapped up in how close a resemblance a fictional place is to the real thing.

It's too much. I'm one of those writers who needs to write what they know when it comes to cities. So I'm basing this book on my hometown. Everything takes place there. I know it inside and out. And without that major roadblock, I'm able to be more creative with my plot.

When I was six I wrote my first "book" and illustrated it. It was about six pages long about a Halloween costume. It took me a few days and I was jazzed with it. I probably threw it out after about a month or so.

When I was in grade five or six or something I wrote my first comic book. It was about five friends and how their lives grew apart. It was a big undertaking and looking back it was total shit, but still. I finished it.

When I was 16, I drew up this series of anime-inspired magic girls and I think the best word I could use for it now was storyboards. Each large piece of paper was one panel and included all the dialogue. I did five volumes, plus a bonus epilogue. I finished that too and it was the last thing I've ever completed that had any amount of writing attached to it.

Short stories I've done, but that's the thing with a short story: it's short. In the amount of time it takes to write a first draft of a novel, you could be polishing your short story to a high sheen.

I was on the subway thinking about my life and my choices and what talents I have, such as they are, that are largely amounting to nothing due entirely to laziness on my part. And a second later I came up with an idea for a novel. I practically wrote the thing in my head as I walked home and spent the rest of the night at my computer.

If only every night were as inspiring and motivating. I never seem to get a second wind. I miss being a kid, or even a teenager, when I write. I just did it because it was fun. I never got bogged down by, I don't know, "facts" or "life". Creativity is a gift, and a part of me is worried that if I don't use it now, I'll lose it.

I really want to finish this story. I really do. Let's see how this goes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

TV for me

I seriously don't know what people did before the Internet. Probably they had lives and went to bed at decent hours. But what's the point of a rich fulfilling life and sensible sleep schedules when you can stream episodes of Dexter online? The Dude and I are finishing season three. We've been dedicating nights to watching it.

And this has come after Lost, Curb Your Enthusiasm (This is more the Dude's thing. His ringtone is the Curb theme song), The Tudors (More my thing), Heroes, and next on my list is Mad Men. I don't care who knows it: I love TV. I really do.

And I'm utterly into Glee and The Office, but I wait for those each week and suffer through the commercials. They're worth it.

TV has gotten really awesome these past few years, too. The age of the formulaic sitcom has made way for the age of the drama. And probably about three too many detective/forensic shows. Though I guess it's counterbalanced by the reality TV available now.

I sometimes wonder how much the reality trash influences society, or if it's a reflection of society itself. Art imitating life imitating art, and all that jazz. Women competing in sexual desirability for one lame man who really doesn't seem worth the trouble. "Kids" barely out of high school on highly scripted dating shows making bold innuendos and getting naked with strangers. Contest shows essentially geared to someone getting a high profile job that's entertainment related, mostly a fame game.

Sigh.

But when I think about that and get disgruntled about the state of things, I just settle into some decent TV with creative plot twists and witty writing and rounded characters. Ah... bliss. Glee, even.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baptismo

I'm trying to get the time off to go to my hometown this month. My cousin is having her new daughter baptized in a couple weeks. So far I've not heard a peep about whether or not I'll be able to go.

I'm pretty jazzed to see the new addition to the family. Out of about 11 grandkids, she's the only one who's procreated, and only one of two who've gotten married. The oldest of us is almost 40 and the youngest is 24. And that 24-year-old up until recently was the youngest member of the family. We're not the most prolific bunch.

Other than my cousin the new mom, I'm the only female on this side. Now, the aunts have teased the eldest cousin, a dude who's pushing 40 and likes to date 'em young, about settling down, but other than his mother, there's not a lot of concern there. He's a man. He has time.

I find there's a lot more concern directed at me about my future family planning. It's not an overwhelming thing, just a slow steady drumbeat of inquiry and questions about my marital plans in the future. This is part of what being a woman is: Fielding questions about the potential for new life.

The Dude's father cautioned him to hold his horses, get settled and secure first. And that's father-son stuff right there. Be a man, provide, offer stability. What women-to-women conversations usually involve is when are you planning to get married? When do you think you'll have kids? I'd feel bad about it, except I understand where it's coming from. It's my uterus, after all.

I wonder what my mom would be telling me. I don't have anyone suggesting I ought to have kids now or be married, only inquiries about when it can be expected. My mom, though, I think she'd have a more invested opinion. She waited. She was almost 32 when she had me. But she also married the wrong man. So who knows.

I like to think she'd be advising me to do exactly what I'm doing: waiting, working, enjoying myself. My cousin is in her 30s for her first. You know, it's entirely possible that she'll have two before I have one. And I'm totally okay with that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween

Last night I went to McPal's Halloween/birthday party. I was a bee, looking predictably cute-and-not-sexy as I normally do in slutty costumes. Sometimes I wonder how far I can push it, as when you don't have boobage, you can get away with a lot.

The Dude went as an insomniac and spent the evening coming up with back-stories: Kid from Nightmare on Elm street trying to stay awake, first stage of zombie infection, strung out on heroin, Christian Bale in the Machinist, etc... Next year we'll be more organized, though it was fun doing up his face with makeup. When I was done it looked like he'd never slept a day in his life.

I was thinking about the holidays and how some lose their magic when you're no longer a kid. Easter and Christmas being the big two. However, Halloween progressively gets more awesome. This is partly due to having total say in your costume.

When I was young, I wanted to be a genie or a harem girl. I thought they were pretty and had no problem with showing my stomach. Why would I? It was pre-puberty years so the thing was not on my radar and in any case it was flat as my 10-year-old chest. But that was a no-go. My mother was not the type of mom who allowed her "tween" daughter to sexualize herself. A lot of moms these days have no beef with their girls buying thongs and such, but I suppose the early '90s were a more decent time? Sounds ridiculous, but it's true looking back.

Anyhow, on top of modest costumes, being Canadian, trick or treating meant either wearing your snowsuit underneath or over top of your outfit. This one kid from California was in the neighbourhood for Halloween one year and was planning on going out in his T-shirt. We all laughed at him. He learned the hard way that night when he had to go home early.

Once in grade three, I was allowed to wear only a heavy sweater under my angel costume. I came down with pneumonia that year and was out of school for a month. Yeah. It's gotten warmer, though, these years and I haven't seen the snowsuits (or the snow) on Halloween for a long time.

Another reason Halloween has gotten awesome is having your own money, which means buying your own candy of your choosing without having to trick-or-treat for it. It also means having your own place, so partying at your leisure with booze and letting loose. Of course if you have your parents on Facebook and some indiscriminate friends, you may still be in for an earful, but otherwise it's awesomeness.

Finally, adult costumes are the shit. Between better craftsmanship, stronger creativity or plunking down the money on something bitchin', costume parties yield better results. Halloween is truly better when you're grown up.

I have some friends on Facebook who are new parents. The focus was naturally on their children's costumes. And that's to be expected. But it seems to be a circle of life thing, when you're old enough to finally do exactly as you please, you procreate and try to do what your kids want, while preventing them from doing it totally their way. Think I'm going to hang on to my freedom a little longer. There's more fun to be had.

Friday, October 30, 2009

OMG, yo.

When I was 17, I wrote thanks "thanx". I thought I was pretty edgy, let me tell you, removing that "ks" and using an "x". Cutting edge stuff. And that was before cell phones were common place, prior to the age of text messaging. My friend wrote "NEways", though I have to think taking the extra .02 seconds to capitalize wasn't worth the .01 seconds he saved by knocking off that pesky little "a".

It's exactly that sort of silliness that has now become total nonsense. If you're 17, you probably write something like this on Facebook walls:

OMG callll meee 2nite!! i mettt dis gurl n seh sed seh nos u!

I can't stand txt spk. That's text speak for you foggies who can't or won't navigate the dangerous waters of instant messaging technology, where English goes to die. Though, I think the extreme above example is what happens when parents friend their kids and said kids mutilate their words to give their mom a headache when she tries to read her daughter's wall posts.

I'm not terribly opposed to text speak on a cell phone. If you're relaying a quick message, doing it quickly makes sense. Personally, I have to text out everything in full words, complete with punctuation, but that's just me and my anal neurosis. But emails? Really? Facebook? It takes longer to type like a retard goat on drugs than it does to get the job done properly.

But I suppose I grew out of my thanx years. Maybe the teens will grow out of:

ily babyyy <3<3<3 tryy da celll muah!
One can hope.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Le flu, she is, how you say... not going to get me?

With all this hooplah about swine flu and vaccines and sneezing into your sleeve (ew), I've realized something. I don't think I've been sick in maybe two years. On one level, this makes me feel smug. On another, I'm kind of creeped out because I used to get sick all the time and now I almost feel as if some impending illness is looming over me.

I get a scratchy throat, I make an announcement: I'm getting sick!
And then nothing.

My nose starts to run another day and I'm thinking, this is it, my streak is over, and I announce: I'm getting sick!
And then nothing.

Fatigue? Lack of energy? Am I getting sick?
Nope.

I don't recall ever getting a flu shot. I remember various shots I've gotten over the course of time. I know I was given the hepatitis B shot in grade 7 and 8 ("Hepatits B is a real bad rap") and a shot into my ass when the cook at my daycare contracted hepatitis A when I was 9. I've had blood tests and IVs, but never a flu shot. I think I missed some round of immunization when I was a teen around when my mom died. My dad was not much for keeping up with things like doctor's appointments and, I don't know, dinner time.

See, I don't much mind the concept of getting sick, much in the same way I don't feel bad if my home is getting rather germy. I'm open to giving my immune system something to do. So as I've no contact with children or generally frail people in my life, I always figure I'll battle what comes, and nothing ever happens.

And even so I go into overload symptom detection at the first sign of any possible viral or cold intrusion. Seek. Kill. Destroy. Infect me, will you? Die!

It'd probably be easier to just go get a flu shot and quit thinking about it.

I still won't, though.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The belly

I've been taking belly dance lessons for a year and a half now. A little longer, actually, but consistently for a year and a half. The winter student gala is coming up. I've performed in two of them. The first one was an act of bravery, the second a need for the rush I felt from the first. I don't get many adrenaline rushes in my life, but performing a rather sensual dance with an exposed stomach in front of 400 strangers does the job.

I've been eating a lot of crap. Tasty crap. Fattening crap. I live so close to an amazing cupcake place, the Dude brings home chocolate goodies (his metabolism is a thing of beauty and I'm pretty in awe of it, while hating him at the same time as he wolfs down his second bag of chips in less than 24 hours), and I have no will power, not really.

I used to be a very skinny girl. But when I stopped being a girl, I stopped being skinny. I wish I didn't care. Intellectually I don't care. And if someone else other than me has flesh on their bones I find it pleasing to look at. Aesthetically, I truly believe women look more beautiful if they have more than less. Seeing a very skinny woman does not fill me with envy. So why when I look at myself do I get critical?

When I was in college I drew a lot of nudes, and the fleshy women were a joy to draw. They really glowed, their lines were magnificent and they looked soft and comforting and feminine. The skinny women were good for skeletal studies, but otherwise didn't offer the same enjoyment from a drawing standpoint. The lines were harder and more angular, yet lacking pleasantly muscular lines like men had. It really shaped a lot of what I thought about beauty. Skinny was not doing it for me.

And yet... the satisfaction of buying a small instead of medium, a 6 over and 8, and the sinking in my heart when my arms seem wobble more than before, and my lack of a flat stomach remain.

Regardless, I plan to bare midriff at the gala. Like it or lump it, I'm going to shake and jiggle on stage and feel good about it. Way I figure anyway, despite not feeling totally at peace with my body, it's likely all downhill from here as I get older so I should show off what I do have while I still got it.

Party

The party went well. It was small, but everyone, most of whom did not know each other, all had good, animated conversation. The cats were a big hit. They were so sociable and cuddly. Someone brought them catnip, and so they spent the evening high as kitty kites. The Dude and I were very pleased with ourselves. It was the first party we've thrown as a couple. It was the second party I've thrown since I've finished college.

Actually, come to think of it, I don't think I threw any parties in college.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cutesy Hair

Today I fix my head. I looked in the mirror last week and really took a good gander at myself. In the heat of moving and all that jazz, I neglected to notice it had been three months since my last hair appointment. My roots are several inches long, my ends are snagging and I look like Raggedy Ann ass.

So today I get to look pretty. I do nothing with my hair other than occasional hair appointments and washing and brushing it. So the contrast between the me who walks out of a salon with a shiny vibrant style, and the me on any other day where I've done jack is quite striking. Night and day, actually. So whether I can afford it or not, I'm going out tonight to show off my hair.

I've been growing it long. Long hair has been a long-standing dream of mine. I achieved it once in childhood. Grade four I quit getting haircuts and by the end of grade five, my hair was long, long, long. The ends were awful, but being 10, I wasn't concerned. Then I cut it to my shoulders on a whim in grade six. Some kind of fashion at the time to have shoulder-length hair. Le sigh. Le conformity. Such is grades six through twelve.

I had this punky little 'do in grade eleven with large blonde streaks in the front framing my face to my chin, with it cut very short in the back. My best friend was with me when I got that done. I know now she never cared for that look, but was diplomatic about it at the time. My mom came to pick me up afterwards and nearly drove into a pole. She was diplomatic too. Focused on how much she loved the cut, avoided any comment on the large blonde highlights surrounding my face.

And it's been various lengths of short since. And one thing has been consistent. I get called cute. Being called cute is a side effect of being incredibly short. When you have little boobage and a baby face (I think it's my cheeks) you have no hope of escape. Short hair, while flattering technically, seals the cute in and locks it down.

Cute is nice and all. In fact, I think that since I've been labelled as cute all my life, I've learned to grow into the part. But I'm nearly 27 now. I'd really like to attract more adult compliments. I can't help but feel like a kitten or puppy equivalent when I'm called cute. It's fine on occasion, but not on a regular basis. And being mistaken for 15 when I was 21, and a grade eight grad instead of a high school grad, and being taken for 13 of all things recently, which is half my damn age, well... it's gotten old.

I want to be called pretty or beautiful. I'd settle for pretty (Except from the Dude. I want top-tier compliments from him). And when I look back in my life, the first and only time I was ever called beautiful in my whole childhood was in grade five when I had long hair.

So today is a trim and a colour update. I'm not sure how long I need my hair, but I think I'll know it when I get there. A lot of women cut their hair shorter as they get older to look more mature. I find I need to do the exact opposite.

On a related note, I love that I'll be in my Halloween costume with a fresh hairdo. Something about that gives me a tickle in my heart.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can't Take The Heat

Happiness is an organized closet. Actually, happiness is when your living room is no longer cluttered in junk because the closet is organized. Total bliss is when your boyfriend does it himself and you reap the benefits. Eventually I'm going to post some pictures of the place all finished and junk. It really feels like an honest-to-peaches home.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, there is a heat issue with the downstairs neighbours. There's always something. We thought it was going to be smooth sailing with these sisters at first. They introduced themselves right away, were friendly, and we were charmed by their pleasant Australian accents.

But then it turned out they don't like turning on the heat. We couldn't understand it at first. I thought perhaps it was just warmer down there. The Dude thought perhaps they were cheap. Well, the Dude was right. I was a little right; it is warmer downstairs, but they keep turning off the heat because they're trying to cut down the bill.

This would be a decent energy-saving idea if it weren't for the fact I work at home and shivering at a desk in a 14-degree apartment is not going to fly with me. So the heat goes on.

We're trying to be reasonable about saving money on the bill. We've planned to insulate a door, shrink-wrap an old window in the hall, and live with 18 degrees instead of a more comfortable 20. But that still has not seemed to ease their minds downstairs.

One sister knocked on the door the other day and told Dude they wanted to cap how much they would pay and have us pay the rest. Our lease agreement says we are to pay 30% of the utility bill, as we occupy roughly 30% of the building. So we're not going to be subsidizing their share of the utility bill.

It's just so awkward. They're from a much warmer country than Canada. One sister said the gas bill was outrageous. We looked at it, and, well... seemed pretty standard for a Toronto winter. Heating bills get high in this city in December, January, February, and turning off the heat at any time in -15 degree weather is so not going to happen. How do you politely get the point across to your new and otherwise pleasant neighbours that if they can't afford their bills, that's not really your problem?

I know that for them they had a sweet deal being able to turn off the heat while everyone was gone at work. But that deal was, you know, a deal. Now the "sale" is over and it's not up to us to make sure they can still afford the gas. We moved in knowing we can afford it. I feel kind of like we're being controlled by another household's budget. I hope this gets resolved.

In happier news, my bee costume arrived. And I was right, I don't look sexy, I look cute. But that being the story of my 5'2" baby-faced life, I'll take it.

Buzz, buzz, buzz, I'm a bumble bee
Cutest little bee that you ever did see,
I like to make my own honey
Buzz, buzz, buzz, I'm a bumble bee

(And a total kid, deep down inside)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Goods

I ordered my Halloween costume last night. And like about 89.4% of young women out there, I chose something sexy. Why? Because I suppose I like to indulge that side of myself once a year. Most of the time I dress very modestly. I sometimes channel my inner sexy secretary-- who is also very covered up. Floofy skirts make me happy and I don't have cleavage. Those two things create a bit of a look.

I do wear the odd short dress or skirt to show off ye olde legs, which I do think are quite nice, but then invariably I have to get on the TTC, which means very little between me and the seat when I sit down. I don't care for that.

The costume in question is a bee. It's not scary, it's not original, but I'm hoping I'll look as cute as a bug in a rug, pardon the pun. Past years of adulthood have included a nurse and Rainbow Brite. I think I was a cat once, but I can't remember.

I was definitely a cat when I was still in school. I was also a vampire, Cleopatra, an angel, a princess, a fairy princess (I was economical that year, to my mom's relief, and merged the princess and angel wings together), a French maid (this was in grade one and the dress hit me mid-calve), a cheap doll (using various things from around the house. Most people didn't get it), an '80s girl (older people thought that look was still contemporary and didn't want to give me candy), a pilot (a friend and I wore her dad's old pilot uniforms, which were waaaaay too big and tromped around the neighbourhood), and when I was wee, I was a clown and then a witch.

Last year the Dude and I carved a pumpkin and he took photos of it. Before him, I think I let Halloween slide a lot. This year we're going to McPal's Halloween/birthday party. I've fallen in love with the holiday all over again. It makes me feel like a kid, only a big kid who's going to show off the goods.

Somehow, though, this will look only cute on me and not sexy.
I have a way of doing that.