Oh Me Oh My

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Let There Be Purpose

I am always deeply envious of creators. I am forever in awe of people who using raw material and the sheer power of their minds, can make something that did not exist before. Chefs, fashion designers (who actually make their own clothes), construction workers, mechanical engineers, artists, etc... I think being back in school has made me realize that the old rule from my undergrad of "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit" still applies in my Masters. I think most people I know who pursued a more academic route will agree. Though I can't say I haven't learned anything in my years of schooling, I can't say i might not have learned all that stuff on my own either. I know the more practical skills can also be self-taught, but learning from a master of their craft definitely reflects on the student.

One cold and rainy day during a class break, I was hanging out in a stairwell munching on a coffee crisp and looking through to a neighbouring building. Inside were students hard at work assembing things. There were slats of lumber and metal, welding machines and a number of things I couldn't name, and as I sat there I wondered what it must be like to make something out of nothing. I think it's an amazing skill to understand how things can be brought together to make something whole. You can't bullshit making something. If your dress is falling apart at the seems, your bookshelf has rusty nails protruding and the microscope your looking through is magnifying pocket lint instead of a virus, people will know.

In academia I often compare it to a giant game of "The Emperor's New Clothes". Everyone is spouting the closest thing to valid that they can come up with and droves of other people nod and wait for their turn to speak, hoping no one will notice their naked. The good news, no one ever will, because everyone is too busy worrying that everyone else will notice THEY are naked. So in the end you have a lot of naked smart people eating spoonfuls of bullshit, contented they got away with it one more time.

That's not to say there is no place for academics and inteligent discourse, I'm just saying there must be a certain satisfaction in making something tangible; not an essay that gets top marks and then is relgated to the back of some drawer, but something people witness. Something people taste or touch or marvel at, something you did in a certain way that makes it different than everyone else. Sometimes I look at people who can do that and I think it's pretty damn awesome.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I find that life is full of contradictions. Whether it's the religious texts that tell is to seek an "eye for an eye" but then condemn revenge, or people who wish more "real women" were shown in advertising, who then grimace with revulsion at a celebrity with a bit of flab on the beach. It's like we're constantly struggling to be someone and be the exact oppposite all at once.

Reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground.
It's funny that we encourage people to chase their dreams, but are all at once wary of people who actually do so. You want to be a singer? That's all well and good, but do you have a backup in case that doesn't pan out? Fashion design sounds fascinating, but maybe take a few courses in air conditioning repair in case Heidi Klum don't come a knockin'.

I love travelling but I hate being a tourist.
I have never understood this weird dynamic. It is respectful, even covetted, to be someone who travels, yet nothing sounds more garish than being a tourist. Are these things not one in the same? It's like if you go to New York and eat in some obscure deli in the middle of nowhere it's okay, but if you happen to see the Statue of Liberty, and icon of Americana, you should be shot in the face.

Wear your heart on your sleeve, but keep it protected.
Experts always say you have to be open to love. You have to share who you are. You have to give of yourself completely, yadda yadda yadda, but then a whole other panel of experts will tell you to keep on guard, to watch for signals, to make sure the pre-nup is signed.

So which is it? Is it a case of wanting it every way? Are we constantly wanting to have the cake we're eating, or just confused about what we're supposed to want? Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

To The Ladies

Purses. The obsession many of my female friends have with these blows my mind. I'd understand if women properly utilized these accessories for what they were designed for but almost none of them do. For many girls I know they are essentially leather stitched portable garbage bags.

I am always super-impressed by the girl whose purse is properly equipped: She whips out the tide-to-go when she notices a stain on your shirt. She carries a tote umbrella on cloudy days, and is the first person to offer gum after a meal. Sometimes it's almost uncanny how she's prepared for the most random thing. "Yuck" someone will exclaim, "my steak is so bland". She quietly reaches into her purse and pulls out a small bottle of HP sauce. I never question that girl's reasoning for carrying such an item, I simply look at her in awe.

This girl is a rare breed though. The majority of women both in my life and the ones I see at work have purses that resemble a waste paper basket. Ask for photo I.D. and she'll rummage through her glad bag of a purse and fish out a receipt for a can of coke she purchased in 2002, discount cards to stores that no longer exist: "Ooooh Eaton's loyalty card!", and maybe some movie stubs; then she'll look at you and state, "must be in my other purse".

How do you not take your wallet from one purse to another when you switch? Heaven forbid you should be without mascara or a magazine from 6 months ago. Who needs proof of your identity when you need to make space for a heel that broke off a pair of shoes you threw out in March. It's especially fun when you go dumpster diving in your purse and you have to sheepishly remove everything--displaying your tampons and birth control for the people in line behind you.

Three things should always be in your purse: your wallet with I.D., a pen, and gum/breathmints. Collectively these three things can fit in the tiniest of purses, not to mention the current trend in designers sacks. When you're debating what to fit in your purse next time, pack your license, a ballpoint, and some dentyne, and leave the kitchen sink at home. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pity Party - Table for 1

I saw this picture when I googled "getting screwed over" and I thought it was fitting. Not only because the guy looks eerily like me: thinning hair, plaid shirt, glasses--the resemblance is uncanny really; but because it's sort of how i feel right now. It's a strange mix of quiet rage, deep-seeded resentment and subtle chest pain. It's the feeling you get when you've been screwed-over.

The first example I can remember clearly was in Grade 7. Someone had written a nasty letter to one of the students in our class full of insults and general douchiness. When this was discovered it was brought to the teacher's attention. She read the letter and come to the conclusion that I had written it. Even though I had no reason to rag on this kid, it wasn't in my writing and I was never seen with the letter, she surmised it was me because the letter included the acronym "AKA" and she had heard me say that before, or assumed I knew what it meant. Evidence didn't matter. She had decided it was me and arbitrarily treated me like shit for weeks afterwards. The real culprit was never found and I bitterly remember her to this day.

A few months back I received a letter from the Canadian government saying I owed them more taxes because my condo builder had refiled and apparently added a bunch of stuff that they could write off but would cost me a couple hundred dollars. Subsequent calls to both my builder and Revenue Canada failed to properly explain why this was a) doable and b) fair. It didn't matter though as it's the government, and so I paid, and I really got ticked.

As most people know Telus has decided it will start charging for incoming text messages. I hate texting and very rarely do it, but receive enough from friends and spammers that this might prove costly. They say they need the money so they can expand their network to support the massive use of text messaging, and so they've decided to punish the people who use it least!? This makes me seethe.

This past weekend I stayed at 1 King West Hotel in Toronto for my friends' wedding where they charge a sizable chunk of change for forced valet parking. The following day as we were driving home I hear a scraping sound. By the time we reach the highway it is overwheming and we take the nearest exit. Once we inspect the car we see that the front bumper has been hit with something and looks pretty damaged, and the fender liner is broken and dragging on the street. Livid we drive back to the hotel and are met with lies and excuses. First I'm told that the car came in this way, which as I explained to the valet manager was horse shit since I'm pretty sure the scraping sound would have given that away.

Then I'm told there is no feasible way it could happen since if it had hit a pillar in the lot it would have orange paint on it. As she gives a friend and I a tour of the parking garage and we point out the dozens of possible spots and scenarios where the car could have been hit, she goes all CSI explaining why the physics of our examples couldn't possibly work or she simply talked over us.

As I was realizing she was going to do anything she could to squirm out of taking responsibility for her staff she informed me that it was corporate policy that if the car leaves the lot, they can no longer be held liable. In that moment I thought of my naivite, assuming 40 dollar valet parking wouldn't result in a hit and run with my car. I thought of the vehicle I bought a month ago parked on the street with a dented bumper and broken liner. I thought of this smug, emotionless woman defending a staff member who knew he had done something wrong, but would never come forward and I was suddenly filled with rage. It was overwhelming. I just wanted to break something in revenge. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking. I actually had to breathe in and out for a while to calm down.

I've since learned that the repairs will be appx. $800, and I'll probably end up having to pay for them. I skipped on a vacation because I had no money this year, and what I'd been saving for gas money for school will probably have to get dipped into to fix the car. I spent the day after the valet incident getting trashed so I wouldn't feel feelings anymore (as Mel would so eloquently put it), but it gets tiring you know? It seems we're a world where the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, the reward for hard work is more work, and everyone is essentially in a constant state of self-preservation that alienates them from everyone else.

I guess I'm just tired of feeling like the little guy who gets kicked around, but I feel like society's answer to that is to strive to become the big guy, but for what? So you can be the one doing the kicking...Is that really all there is?

This was really long. I just needed to write it out. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just when you thought the Catholic church couldn't get any more archaic, the Pope opens his mouth and manages to alienate non-Catholics yet again, re-asserting that Catholicism is the only true church. Pope Benedict is anti-modernization, that is no surprise, but to claim that a previous Vatican council that was trying to create harmony with other Christians was a misinterpretation is just asinine. Seriously though, where does he get off? Most Christian non-Catholics that I know think Catholics are at best a bit too strict, and at worst a bunch of intolerant religious zealots, and having Pope Benedict tell them that they are merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation'' certainly doesn't help anyone.

It's no secret that I am anti-religion in general, though I am never critical of people and their personal faith. The thing is, faith isn't personal anymore. People paste it on their bumpers, hand out flyers at public events, and use their faith to explain away all sorts of human rights violations. For the record, Jesus is not your homeboy, claiming as much is a sin in and of itself. It's so strange to me that while the church steps farther and farther back into the dark ages, the modern spin on Christianity grows more and more prevalent. For every example of youth groups for Jesus or Hip-Hop gospel albums there is news that public schools refuse to stop daily prayers or a large percentage of the governing body of the most powerful country in the world are actual creationists....seriously....seriously! Holocaust deniers are idiots, the flat-earth society is a collection of crazy people, but believing the earth was created in 6 days is cool beans. I don't get it!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When It's Disneyland

My good friend Sean once said, "Fuck flowers, if you love me do my taxes". This has always been my general approach to romance and really life in general: practicality over pomp. I'd rather have someone in my life who drives me to work when my car breaks down, who brings dinner over when they know I worked all day, or who might help me clean my apartment when it gets nasty. To me, that's love: doing something that is in no way advantageous to you, because it will make someone you care for happy.

This is not to say that romantic gestures are unwelcome. If there is one thing that my recent crusade of talking to half the people I know in a long term relationship has wrought, is that everyone, regardless of how long they have been together likes to be reminded that they are still loved. This is where we all differ though. Where I would swoon for someone who washed my dishes or drove out to my place (even if it was out of the way) because they knew I had a shitty day, others crave the public displays--the fireworks, the flowers, the carefully choreographed proposal.

The reason I am even thinking of this is that I am currently preparing a letter for someone in British Columbia. His wife is celebrating her birthday and his goal is to receive over 7,000 greetings from around the world, including one from a municipality she has never lived in, on the other side of the country. If he succeeds he will actually be in the Guiness Book of World Records. Though I commend him for the effort I can't help but think of the final product: a massive collection of letters, filled with congratulations from complete strangers--many of which used a template and merely changed the name and address.

These letters are like teddy bears holding a heart, albeit 7,000 teddy bears: generic, manufactured, and available pretty much anywhere you can buy condoms.

When the fireworks fade and the flowers wilt, it's the effort that remains, and though it takes effort to buy or orchestrate these gestures, in the end it's what lies behind them that matters; It is in the knowing you, the details and flaws they get and accept; that when you're stuck, or weak, or feeling alone, there is someone on their way regardless of where you are...
...and hopefully they're bringing a Sausage and Egg McMuffin, cuz you know that shit just makes it all better.

Friday, December 22, 2006


I recently went to KFC and got a macaroni salad with my greastastic chicken. After taking a few bites I thought they had given me one that had gone sour, and so I went up to exchange it. Turns out the new one she gave me as well as the original were made only a few hours ago. This can't be, I thought. KFC macaroni salad is forkful after forkful of artery-clogging yumminess, and this monstrosity before me tastes like rotting milk and salmon paste.

Upon further inquiry I learned that KFC has recently changed the recipe. I don't know if it is to conform to a "trans-fat free" culture, or they are just trying something new. What I do know is that the macaroni I once knew and loved has been replaced with what I imagine Miracle Whip that has been left in the sun would taste like....had it been stirred with a tampon.

Consider yourself warned.