Monthly Archives: June 2012

Snobbery

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I’m a snob.  I’m not a money-snob.  I’m not a possessions-snob, or an accomplishments-snob.  I’m – a niceness snob.

Know thyself, they say.  I do.  A huge part of my makeup is a complete inability to forgive and forget.  I’ve had people cut me out of their lives for shitty things I’ve done, and I understand that.  I do the same thing.  I’ve managed some small degree of forgiveness for some over the years, but forgetting is for suckers.  Fool me once, shame on you…  I don’t know if anyone I’ve wronged in the past has forgiven me.  That’s up to them, I guess.

I was looking at a picture of myself from my highschool graduation, that a friend recently posted on Facebook.  I’m still that person, deep inside.  The wounds that cut her still fester, but from the distance of my middle age, I should be able to let that shit go, right?  Some of it I have discarded, but some will always remain.  It’s made me a little more wary, a bit cautious with my affections, but certainly no less opinionated.

The difference now is that I no longer voice my negative opinions.  I just slip away, and avoid those persons who irritate me.  It’s better for everyone, trust me.  You live your life, I’ll live mine, and we’ll both be happier for it.  If I like you, you’ll know it.  If I don’t, you probably don’t care anyway and are not pining away for my affection.

Facebook’s a funny place.  The teenagers today see it as a status symbol to have a huge number of  “friends”.  Me, I’m constantly whittling mine down.  I don’t need news about people I don’t like.  I don’t need to have memories of past transgressions taking up real estate in my head.  People who make me feel rotten about myself are obviously not my “friends”, regardless of what Facebook says, no matter how long I’ve known them.

On the upside, I’ve become better acquainted with some truly lovely people through this medium, a few of whom I’ve not ever met in person (hi Saff and Viv).  I’ve reconnected with people from my past, and am enjoying new levels of old friendships.  It’s interesting how people change, and yet essentially stay the same.

I keep the nice ones.  That’s pretty much my only criteria.

Namaste

Travelkat – Origins!

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Travelkat is my buddy.  He lives in a tiny suitcase in my purse, and pops up in the most unexpected places.  He is a connoisseur, a cynic, a bon vivant.  He has friends everywhere.  He’s a fearless adventurer.  Everyone looks forward to his next adventure.  Pretty good for a guy who’s only two inches tall.

But where did Travelkat come from?  Who is this international cat of mystery?  Today, we’ll explore the arcane origins of – TRAVELKAT!

Travelkat hails from St. Jacob, Ontario.  My then-partner and I were on a romantic getaway weekend.  We were staying at a beautiful little B&B called “Jakobsteddel” (not sure about the spelling, there), which has since been bought out and “modernized”, and in my opinion, isn’t worth a squirt anymore.  There’s a bar, now, with a bigscreen TV, where the sitting room with books and board games used to be, and an office, just like any other hotel.  But at the time, it was run by a little old German lady.  The halls were decorated with “retired” quilts, deemed too worn for beds, but still beautiful.  Every room was different, old-fashioned, homey.  There was no TV.  Breakfast was old-school Amish food, including the BEST sausage I have ever had.  You could sneak down to the kitchen 24/7 in your PJs for homemade cookies.

“All it’s missing,” I said to my partner, “is a little cat curled up on the bed.”

While we were out and about that day, we found a charming little wooden cat to remind us of our stay.

D was (and still is, I imagine, I don’t know for sure) an avid skiier, and our next trip was to Whistler.  Whistler is a place of fantastic natural beauty, boutique shopping, gourmet dining and wonderful skiing.  Only problem is, Big Bird doesn’t ski.  I had to find other ways to occupy my time while D was skiing.  There’s really only so much you can do on your own in Whistler if you don’t ski.  So, we started a daily travelogue.  Travelkat started popping up in the occasional shot, offering commentary on food, wine and scenery.  Pretty soon, over the course of the next five years, he had entire pages and days all to himself.  His adventures developed quite a following, far more than D’s and my boring vacation photos ever could.

And thus, Travelkat was born.  The relationship fell by the wayside, but Travelkat continues to accompany me everywhere, and still has much to say.  I’m thinking about getting him his own Facebook page

The Church of the Lucky Aardvark

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It just occurred to me that I’ve had an awkward and rather horrible time of it over the last couple of weeks, mostly because of work nightmares, but I’ve had some other rather serious things on my mind too.  People have often said to me over the years “You’re so strong, I don’t know how you do it.”  Well, I mostly don’t know how I do it either, to tell you the truth.  Sometimes I think it’s because I just don’t know how to stop, because if I drop one ball, they’ll all come crashing down.

I think it’s time to withdraw and regroup for a while, and rethink a couple of commitments.   I’m starting to think that the church thing maybe just ~isn’t~ for people like me, regardless of their purportedly liberal, open-minded, welcoming views. I’m just not a Church Lady.  Those of you who know me well are probably pretty amused that I ever thought I could be.  I don’t know why I even wanted to try.  I’m a lifelong loner, people, and at my age, I just don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. Hear that drummer? Of course you don’t, silly, it’s mine.

I started going to church again back in January.  I chose the Unitarian Fellowship because in conversations with my brother, and attendance at his congregation in Hamilton, I thought that maybe I’d find a community of like-minded people.

I’ve tried.  They’re very nice people, really they are, but I don’t think it’s for me.  In six months, I’ve tried to talk to people, which is very difficult for the poster child for Awkward Introverts.  I’ve attended information sessions.  I’ve asked questions.  I’ve shared my own experiences.  I spent the first few weeks crying quietly in the back.  I got over that, but I’m still uncomfortable.  I show up alone, I sit alone, I leave alone.  Like any group, it’s hard to break in, particularly for a single person.  It’s very family-oriented.  They have a knitting group, which I thought might be interesting.  They meet on a weekday afternoon.  Well, some of us are at work during the week.  They have study groups, covenant groups, choir groups – none of which I’ve been asked to attend.

I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for connections, I’m looking for support systems.  I’m not finding any of those things.  I’m finding it’s very cliquish, punctiliously politically correct, and somewhat  intellectually elitist.  I’m not an intellectual by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, and I have a weird and inappropriate sense of humour.  People look at me very strangely there when I open my mouth.  So, I’ve kind of stopped doing it.  Every week, I make a point of going up to someone and saying something kind or supportive to them, offering sympathy or congratulations.  Every.  Freaking.  Week.

In return, I get pretty much – sweet fuck all.

I’ve tried to participate in the singing.  I hold hands with people I don’t know.  I drink shitty coffee and join in spiral dances in the fucking parking lot.  I listen.  I try to connect.  But it’s just not happening.  I’m just not feeling it.  I feel like a fraud, and very much an outsider.

Last week, at the year end service, they did an exercise that kind of pissed me off.  Everyone was given post-it notes, and asked to write down little messages of thanks and recognition to each other, and wander around and stick them to the people in question.  I wrote several myself.  “I enjoy your gentle sense of humour.”  “You have a gift for storytelling.”  “Your music adds so much to services.”

So, here’s a whole room of people wandering around plastered in sticky notes.  Except me.  It was a little fucking humiliating, having my suspicions confirmed that my presence means absolutely nothing to anyone.  It was very grade-six-gym-class.

Well, Unitarians, I’m out.  Sorry.  I can be a loner all by myself.  It’s worked for me this far.

Back to the Church of the Lucky Aardvark (Our Lady of the Perpetual Cigar).

Namaste.

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Just when you think you’re the only one…

Fit and Feminist

I’m tall.  There is no way around it. I’m really tall.  I’m so tall that my height is often one of the first things people comment on when they see me.  When people describe me to others, they say, “She’s the really tall girl.”  Always have.  Probably always will.

I’m mostly okay with this now, but this wasn’t always the case.  I mean, I reached my full height when I was fourteen years old.  That’s a hard age for everyone, but when you are a girl and you are as tall as an NBA point guard?  My entire life was like one long exercise in body-related mortification.

I only finally became comfortable with myself as a Tall Woman when I was well into my twenties.  That’s a long time to feel ill at ease over one’s most prominent feature.  And sometimes it still catches me off guard, like when I…

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More Scary Monsters

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Always obsessed with concepts, I am.  They’re usually not new concepts, they’re concepts that We the People have been struggling with since the dawn of time.  I don’t have any answers.  I wish I did.  I haven’t had any startling insights so far, though.  I’ll keep you posted if I figure it all out.  I’m just very, very disturbed by the state of society lately.  There’s not enough love and fellowship around anymore, it seems.  Jeez, Lynne, what are ya, some kinda fuckin’ hippie?  Well, um…yeah, actually.

Most recently, I’ve been obsessed with good and evil.  That’s such a huge concept, maybe the hugest, probably second only to the nature of existence.  I often struggle to see the good in people, to try and put myself in the other fella’s shoes, and I honestly do try, and mostly, it works.  Everyone has a motive.  The best literary villains are those who believe strongly in something.  Only comic book baddies are evil just for the sake of being evil.  It’s all about greed, power, or revenge.  Does evil really even exist?  Or is it just a very aggressive form of selfishness?

We all have desires, I get that, and they’re not all socially acceptable, I get that too.  But “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”.  I’m not sure where that quote is from, or I’d source it.  Hang on there, I’m googling…okay, the actual quote is:

‘The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.’

~ Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Meaning: the existence of a victim overrides your right to act on your desires.

Most reprehensible of all are crimes against victims who can neither defend themselves nor cry out for help.  These are the ultimate acts of cowardice.  Crimes against children, the elderly and the physically or mentally challenged make me believe in the existence of evil.  Stealing a loaf of bread because you are hungry isn’t an act of evil, it’s an act of desperation and self-preservation;  we have to eat, or we will die.  Yes, there is a victim.  No, I can’t justify the act.  But I can understand it, could possibly even picture myself doing it, under dire circumstances.  Raping an 80 year old woman, or taking sexually explicit photos of a toddler, though – how can these be anything but acts of pure evil?

So, my conclusion – I guess I do believe in evil.  I think it’s rare, but I believe it exists.  I cannot “find the good” in these acts or in a “person” who could perpetrate them.

And it’s keeping me up nights, worrying.  Forget the monsters under my bed.  They’re small potatoes.

The Package

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I was at the gym yesterday. I never knew why there were so many mirrors at the gym until I started working with a trainer. It’s so you can check your form, to know that you are doing the exercises both safely and effectively, but you probably already knew that. I thought it was so that vain, buff people could check themselves out.  I’m sure they get used for that, too.

I was doing some pulldowns, and I checked the mirror for shoulder positioning. And that’s when I noticed – HEY – I’ve got shoulders. NICE shoulders. Defined shoulders. Nice back and chest. I’m still working on the little underarms flappy bits, but they too are improving, and when my arms are flexed, you hardly notice them.

It got me thinking about the body as art. The human body has always been celebrated and appreciated by artists. They’re so beautiful, bodies, all of them, and amazing in what they do every day. The media desperately wants us to believe that only certain body types are beautiful, but they’re all beautiful. They’re slopes and planes, curves and angles, form and function. They tell our stories, bear our scars, and they follow us right to the grave.

Remember Ann Landers, the advice columnist? Many years ago I read a column of hers that has stuck with me for my whole life. A family had a beloved aunt, who had been overweight since childhood. She was a vibrant, loving person and when she died, she was deeply mourned. That family found, however,  when they went to look for photographs for her memorial, that they were few and far between. She had always been uncomfortable having her picture taken because of her weight, and the family had always respected that. Now they were left with no pictures to remember her by.

So let people take your picture. Unless you’re a celebrity, they’re not taking it because you’re beautiful. They’re taking it because you’re you, and they want to remember you, regardless of what body you inhabit.

Namaste. You’re beautiful.

* I originally posted this in my fitness blog, but I thought I’d like to share it here, too.

Monsters

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Anybody who thinks I have a cushy, overpaid desk job can kiss my ass, quite frankly.

I was up most of the night last night.  Not because of my celebrated caffeine addiction, either, but because of a complex client file I’m currently working on.

I’ve been doing this job for fourteen years now.  I have heard pretty much everything, by this point.  I’ve dealt with drug dealers, child molesters, woman haters – you name it.  I deal with the angry, the disadvantaged, the addicted and the mentally ill daily.  Most of them I can simply let go at the end of the day.  Some of them I feel great pity for.  Some of them need treatment.  Some of them are just assholes.  Some of them are vulnerable, and misled.   Some of them are just regular people who had a lapse in judgment, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But a very, very, few are monsters.

I’m only on my fourth monster in 14 years.  If I had to deal with monsters every day, I’d have burnt out a long time ago.

See, monsters get in your head.  Monsters play games with you.  Monsters want to know your name.  Monsters have secrets.  But worst of all, monsters always want to be perceived as being smarter than everyone else.  Monsters question your motives and your intelligence, until you start questioning them yourself.  Monsters mimic your tone of voice.  Monsters are punctiliously polite.

Worst of all, monsters do terrible things to the innocent and defenseless, and think that they are justified in doing so, because of their superior monster status.  Monsters lack any empathy whatsoever.

And I have to work under the presumption of innocence.  I have to treat monsters as if they were just like people, regardless of whether or not I feel they deserve it.  Civil rights are for everyone, not just people we like.

I can’t share my monster stories.  Monsters are protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, just like everyone else.   Sometimes, though, it would be helpful to let it out, to vent and scream and expose them.  I can’t, I can’t, I have a duty as a public servant to protect their confidentiality.

So instead, I lie awake at night.  There are no monsters in my closet, or under my bed.  They’re back in my office, in the video camera.