Category Archives: Things

Pain and the Ignoramous

Shit happens. And I don’t mean shit in a flippant way, like tripping in the mud or missing the bus. Sometimes life hands you really rough stuff.

There are those kinds of people, however, who go through life with everything falling into place, ticketty-boo, one thing happening after another in the natural order of things without much of a hiccup. I have spoken of such fortunate ones before, and I don’t begrudge them. But there’s something to be said for experience.

I have always thought that, although I haven’t had a HARD life, I have had to work a little bit harder for every good thing that I have. I had to actually try in school to get good grades, I dated for over a decade before I found a man I wanted to marry, I had to pay for everything I owned after age fifteen and I worked 7 days a week for almost four years to have something to my name. No, not terribly hard, but I’ve never had anything handed to me on a silver platter and it’s made me, if nothing else, resourceful and enormously grateful for whatever I do have.

The thing that has always kept me hopeful, and perhaps the reason I have lots of opinions on varying subjects, is because I have LIVED and TRIED and had fantastic and terrible experiences. If someone can confide in me in their troubled time, I usually have a decent idea of where they’re coming from. And I am thankful for that. We all know that the best catharsis in a time of need is to talk to someone who can fully understand where you’re coming from because they’ve been there themselves. Everyone else, although potentially well-meaning, cannot possibly relate.

We can all attempt to empathize, and if we’re good people we try our best to do so. But ultimately, unless we’ve been through the exact same thing, we just don’t get it.

You don’t know what it’s like to lose a child if your dad died. You don’t know what it’s like to be lonely until you’ve had absolutely no one to be with. You don’t know what it’s like to provide for yourself if you’ve always had a third hand slipping you twenties on the side. And you don’t know heartache until your heart has been torn in two.

I would like to appeal to all ignorant people reading this. I mean ignorant in the sense of not knowing what a specific experience is like, which we all are about certain things. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY. I don’t mean don’t offer support, I don’t mean don’t add your two cents where you tactfully see fit. And I don’t mean staying silent when all your friend wants to hear is that he has the right to be angry or scared or hurt. But saying to a heartbroken friend that her wayward husband’s lack of loyalty is a blessing in disguise DOES NOT HELP. IT ACTUALLY DOES THE OPPOSITE.

When people talk to you about their pain, they do so because they are still raw. They don’t need to hear how much better you are without the bastard, or how God has a special someone just around the corner, or how the deceased loved one is in a better place. They need you to grieve with them. They need you to feel their loss. They want you to tell them that they love you and they are there for you if you need something. They want you to be specific in your exhortations. Don’t make vague promises that you both know may or may not be true. If you believe a heartbroken friend will find someone else because they are a good catch, tell them that. If you believe your brother will be okay because he has marketable skills that many companies need, say it. If you’ve known loss and you can say with authority that the pain subsides with time, encourage with that.

I could have done without the latest event in my life. I may be many things, but I don’t treat people like shit and I didn’t deserve it. But I know it will make me more empathetic, because I now truly understand a great pain. That doesn’t make me grateful for the experience. The most I can hope is to, at the very least, be a comfort to other people going through the same thing.

(Do ask me to elaborate. This is a blog, not a one-on-one.)

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My Sucky Junk Food

Don’t you hate it when, after much denial, you allow yourself a sinfully fattening foodstuff, only to have it taste like crap? And you feel like you have to finish it because it’s your one indulgence for the week and you paid actual money to get it?

There is a cupcake store near my house I walk past nearly every day that boasts cupcakes made with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. I like to patronize businesses that make efforts in this direction, so I finally decided today I would try them out. I was so excited! I brought my daughter in and made like they were going to be for her instead of me and my husband.

(Relax, she’s one, she didn’t know. She still thinks eating what’s on mom and dad’s plates, even if it’s salad, is a treat.)

I got four. They were small, but looked pretty. Two strawberry and two double chocolate. How could I go wrong?

Yes, HOW COULD I GO WRONG?

Folks, they were really, really bad. I can eat pretty much anything sweet, especially when I’m at work and I need something to keep me going into the latter hours of my shift, but I had to stop after trying two bites of each.

The first problem? The strawberry icing tasted like NOTHING. Not sugar, not butter, not vanilla – nothing. My co-worker tasted some and gagged just a little. It had no flavour whatsoever, which made me think it was just pink-tinted lard. As soon as I had that mental image, I had to abandon it and move on to the other one.

The chocolate cupcake fared little better. Really? Chocolate? I happen to know, you can still make tasty, natural desserts if you just USE SUGAR, you know?

I mean, I didn’t go in there to buy diet cupcakes. I went in to support a business that believes making food without artificial and unnecessary preservatives is probably better for all of us. And now I’m crushed that, yet again, my husband will laugh at my earnest nutritional folly.

Dammit, I was really looking forward to those things.

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Upchucking

Vomiting is one of my least favourite activities. It never starts, goes or ends well and it makes your throat sore. Plus, if you’re like me, the little blood vessels around your eyes explode and you’re left with dots of red, like micro chicken pox. All so that your body can rid itself of whatever it is that hasn’t been sitting well.

My stomach is unsettled this evening and I’m reminded of a time not too long ago when I was barfing all the time to lose weight.

Oh, lighten up, I meant because of pregnancy. I was very, very nauseous for the first 17 weeks gestation with my daughter. I knew I would be sick because my sister was sick with her pregnancies, and we’re both kind of nauseating people.

I meant nauseated. I am, in fact, rather delightful.

But I digress. I kind of wish I would throw up right now because very often it makes me feel better later on. It sure did when I was with child, though I’m not sure why given that most of the time I only brought up bile. You know how it is when you’re nauseous; food doesn’t really turn you on.

So I guess what I’m saying is the following:

1) I don’t like to vomit.

2) I kind of want to vomit.

3) Vomiting is bad for your teeth.

4) Vomiting is a lazy and nasty way to lose weight.

5) I suspect the meatball sub did me in.

Sandwich, anyone?

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Stop It With The Exclamation Marks, Please

Who knew that bad punctuation can have rotten consequences?

If you’re bad with grammar and punctuation you’ll need to read this. I am good at both because I take a great interest in them. Doesn’t that make me super interesting? Although deficient use of grammar and punctuation annoys me, I do have a certain grace for those it afflicts. I have, after all, had some indiscretions of my own. Just recently, I noticed I put an apostrophe in a possessive “its” in one of my posts. I KNOW!

Grammar is more difficult to learn, in English and in other equally complicated languages. So, fine, if you’re bad at it, it’s just not your thing. (That “it’s” was not possessive – see the difference? You’re – not your – welcome.) But punctuation gaffes are inexcusable when you’re using the most popular marks.

The most ill-used punctuation has got to be THE EXCLAMATION MARK.

On several occasions, I have been looking at my news feed on Facebook and seen the mark grossly misplaced. IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE EMPLOYED AS OFTEN AS YOU THINK. On a few occasions, worrisome and downright sorrowful status lines elicited comments from friends that were rendered inappropriate solely as a result of the use of an exclamation mark.

“I’m so sorry to hear your son has serious swine flu! Hope he gets well soon!”

“My thoughts are with you in this awful experience!”

“Oh Jane! Take care of yourself during this difficult time!”

Exclamation marks should be mostly used to convey excitement or happiness, and sometimes anger. Rarely, and only with utmost caution, should it be coupled with a phrase expressing sadness. If you’re writing something in response to someone’s distressing or grievous situation, it’s best to avoid it entirely. The reason is that it comes off as insincere, as if you’re not understanding the seriousness of the circumstance.

I know most people have good intentions and just use the exclamation mark to convey emphasis of sentiment. But if you don’t see how the above examples border on glib and blasé, then I suggest you err on the side of caution and avoid using the exclamation mark altogether.

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Only Guys Are Gamers

My husband is a gamer. Red Dead Redemption came out recently and he was all excited to start playing. Don’t ask me what Red Dead Redemption is, what it’s about or what its appeal is supposed to be. I would guess it’s about red people who come back to life to redeem themselves for all the bad stuff they did during their lives by doing good deeds for others. The more people you bless with kindness, the more points you get. Like, helping an old lady load groceries into her car is worth ten points, but running into a burning building to save an orphan with eczema gives you fifty. If you pick the small, delicate guy for your volleyball team in gym class it’s twenty-five, but if you ask the shy girl with an unfortunate penchant for pleated pants and raging acne to prom, that warrants eighty. So, Red Dead Redemption is probably right up my husband’s alley.

But I don’t get gaming. I think it’s pointless, like watching Deal Or No Deal. Nothing learned coupled with low entertainment value. I always tell my husband that Pac-Man, now there’s a game! Linear, immediate satisfaction, low involvement and little commitment required. Yeah, yeah, to each his own. For instance, my husband HATES The View. Like, more than I hate Resident Evil 1 through 7. And he’ll never share my affinity for chick lit or www.gofugyourself.com.

Fine, we all waste time in our own ways. I just think my time wastage is better.

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Worst Song Ever

I’m going to definitively name the Worst Song Ever. I don’t think there will be a single person who disagrees that this is not just a bad song, but a terrible one. You may think there are other songs that are worse, or at least equally bad. But you will not think it’s a good song. Bold, aren’t I? So sure am I of my assertion.

Ever heard of Sugar Jones? It’s made up of five girls who won spots to form a group on the Canadian reality show Popstars. Now, Canadians are sometimes known to do poor man’s versions of entertainment things American – but  this musical group takes the cake. I suppose they were all good singers on their own, but together they produced something that is ironically, and overwhelmingly, non-harmonious. Their first of only two releases was, by definition, the best they could muster after months of Canadians anticipating the result of gathering the most talented and engaging performers between Victoria and Halifax. And what did we get? Days Like That. No, Sugar J, I do not like my days like that.

In fact, when I hear it on the radio so many years after it failed to make any significance in the biz back in 2001, I want to grab the DJ by the collar and scream, “WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?” There is so much wonderful music out there that will fulfill your CanCon, why must we waste our time and expose our ears to horrendous songs like that?

It’s not just the song that’s bad, it’s the execution. The whole thing is a mess of seemingly random notes barely supporting weak vocals and strained melodies. Is it just me, or is the whole song slightly off-key?

I don’t understand how the producers could have thought that was their best finished product. And, like I said, it’s because they keep INSISTING on playing it on our stations that I must, in turn, INSIST upon its musical rankness. I have moved on with my life, but the DJs have to stop it. Days Like That should never have been at all. Just cut it out.

Any runners-up to the title?

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Too Much Food

Sometimes, I just don’t know when to stop eating. Tonight I came home for dinner and, seeing nothing cooking on the stove, put together a large bowl of cereal. I went into the living room to see my husband and he asked me why I was eating cereal when he was making burgers. I said, oh man, I thought you hadn’t prepared anything. But what to do? I couldn’t just dump the stuff. I had already done that this morning when I poured bad milk onto a bowl full. So I ate the cereal and then assembled my burger. And a mound of Tater Tots. And drank a tall glass of water.

It’s not really the burger or the taters that sent me over the edge, though. That line was dangerously crossed when I got back to work tonight and thought it a good idea to have two marzipan pastries. Don’t judge me, THEY WERE SMALL PASTRIES.

So now I’m bloated, and sedentary. My job is not exactly physically taxing. Sometimes I stand up during commercial breaks and do push ups against the computer console. Right now I’m extending my legs out in front of me in my office chair. I’m burning loads of calories.

Why don’t I learn? Even as I’m eating that blasted pastry I know I don’t want it. I knew I’d have to sit on my ass for the next four hours.

I fear it won’t be too long before I am no longer able to get away with the alimentary recklessness of my youth. My youth being three years ago. Because, word is, once you hit thirty it’s like BAM! Your whole metabolism changes and suddenly grazing on your co-worker’s Costco-sized box of mini Charleston Chews after having a bowl of cereal, a burger, taters and two marzipan pastries doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

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