28 February 2005

And the award for best political presenter goes to...

Like many movie buffs, I watched the better part of the Oscars last night. Contrary to rumblings that the commentary should be less political, I thought Chris Rock was hilarious. However I also think that there may be some confusion when the Academy Awards are referred to as "political". It seems to me that most people are talking about the internal workings and politics of Hollywood and the American film industry as opposed to the American government. The problem is supposedly that the awards are distributed based on who is well-liked, part of a popular project, working in a favourable genre or some basis other than the talent and skill of the performance in question.

I can understand disinterest in the politics of Hollywood, but I don't see why anyone is bothered by the host briefly expressing his opinion. As it is usually an intelligent comedian hosting the ceremony, a few humourous digs at American governmental politics is to be expected, or at least understandable. Even a few jabs at the formality and seriousness of the show and awards. Regardless, I think it's important for an individual or organization to draw a line in the sand as to how watered down, simplified and pacified their message becomes. Anyone who has seen Chris Rock's stand-up, knows he already censored himself substantially delivering a family-friendly, subdued presentation. I think anyone who hates politics (of any sort) that much will probably be happier if the television stays off altogether.

19 February 2005

Falling through the cracks

I like people watching. Unfortunately, sometimes they look back. Unhappy, lonely, poor, disabled, mentally ill or just dissatisfied with a life too ordinary. Many people stare back. Screaming inside, knowing that nobody cares or will even listen beyond the 9-5 walls of offices, schools, retail stores and restaurants. Sometimes they let it go out loud in stoned, drunken, frustrated, deluded, helpless moments that couldn't be suppressed by North American socilization.

People look back and their eyes cry out that they have no friends or family. I see people with no jobs, no careers, no futures and a sense of hopelessness crushing the fragile space where they once stored dreams. What is reality like for them? Can a middle-class white woman with very few problems and past traumas even understand? How long would it take for the world to distort if I were cold and alone. Totally. Bus stations, parks, malls, condemned buildings, fields, woods - places to sit, wait and move on. Nowhere to go or be. No one to talk to. Who would notice or care? Unless I got in the way by needing or wanting something, I could become invisible. And it's so hard to come back to the world. To get back in the flow of human traffic.

Few people become invisible by being successful or charismatic. Unless they suffer from the evil fog of mental illness, most people become lost because Jesus, Darwin, Gaia, or whoever made the decision didn't give them the tools, resources or circumstances to succeed. It could've been a birth defect, abuse, poverty, disability, sickness or addiction that spreads in a person's life like ink in water. Lots of people overcome their barriers. More don't. Not everyone crosses the finish line - at least not in tact. Look for them on the street, in the park, at the mall and relax about your car's paint job, the next set of clothes you'll buy or the vacation you can't afford yet.

16 February 2005


Due to mounting concern on the part of friends and the media, in December 2004 I switched my birth control from the Depo Provera shot to the Ortho Evra patch. While I was initially concerned that I might have been adversely affected by over 8 years of the shot depleting my calcium and estrogen, I found a more immediate concern when a week after starting the patch the doctor who gave my yearly exam found a lump. A cyst. She said it was likely caused by the influx of estrogen from the patch. But I had to come back for a follow up around Valentines Day. Fine, I'd rather get it dealt with than stew over what caused it. The doctor I saw last night (different every time at a public health clinic) didn't seem to understand why I was there. I told him what happened in December and that I was told to come back. He finally found the report in my file. Apparently there were actually two "lumps" but only one had been blacked out on the crude diagram of my breasts. When he felt around not only did he find another lump in my left breast, but he told me cysts were normal. In fact, he said the lump I had been searching for on the armpit side of my right breast was probably just fibrous tissue.

"What really works in favour is your age." He was convinced I was too young to take this seriously. "You're only 26. You're too young." He kept repeating my age as though he was convinced that the lumps (now at a total of 3) were a figment of his imagination and failing that, I was overreacting. By coming to the follow up I was told to? Now I'm suspicious. As doctors, drugs and treatments have all taught me in the past, cover your own ass. Do your own research. Get a second opinion, then a third and keep asking just in case. There is a difference between hypochondria and removing doctors from a pedestal they had no place being on.

15 February 2005

Mail order identity

Watching last night's CSI Miami illuminated a vulnerability to identity theft I had never really conceptualized before. I black out every copy of my credit card and bank account information on all receipts and statements, but I have never hesitated to toss complete, unmarked credit applications into the recylcing. Although I'm referring to an unlikely fictional account of a woman who has her identity stolen, then tries to frame the thief for her husband's murder, I can't help but feel anxious. How many credit applications could have or may already have been filled out in my name with a simple change of address? Is there a mountain of unknown debt that I didn't actually at least get temporary bliss from accumulating waiting to bite me in the ass when I apply for a home loan. Thoughts like these make me glad I'm a little person with a low profile and nothing worth stealing. Then again, maybe that's all the more reason to watch my back.

13 February 2005

Sponge syndrome

This morning I lounged in the tub with a great story. Blood Oranges by Munju Ravinda, winner of the This Magazine's 2004 Prize for Creative Non-Fiction. Her piece was brilliant, powerful and engaging. I'm envious. Not of her award, but her talent. I want to make readers feel the way I felt reading her words. And I feel guilt. Each time I read great writing I absorb a little of it into myself. I take style, tone, creativity and parcel it away in my mental store room. Next time I sit down to tell a story I will experiment with new ingredients. I worry that eventually none of it will really be me. None of my own ideas or messages. Maybe I'm destined to be a quilt of thought and text.

11 February 2005

Rationalizing caramel drizzle

I've decided to switch my white chocolate mocha topping from whipped cream to foam with a caramel drizzle. The Starbucks barista I see on a regular basis suggested it this morning and I thought, "Hey, why not walk on the wild side!" While my patronage of Starbucks is not exclusive (I frequent many other coffee shops and bakeries), I do experience concern over giving my dollars to the largest coffee chain in the world instead of the mom and pop shop down the street. At least I could give my business to the Canadian Tim Horton's. But, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em right? While Starbucks is a mega multi-national corporation, they did start small. More importantly, they are environmentally minded, interested in giving me healthy options (fruit bars and drinks) that Tim's doesn't. Besides, their coffee just tastes better. Life is tough like that. While I am a die-hard lefty, I do possess a streak of laissez faire that allows me to admire a capitalist competitor that dominates the market simply because they've done a good job - despite being overpriced. Perhaps that’s why I received an Ayn Rand novel for Christmas.

09 February 2005

4 gauge stainless steel

With extra large flares. My latest aquisition in my mission to find new and interesting steel.

04 February 2005

World of Warcraft widow

Don't misunderstand me, I like video games. I like the palmtop Nintendo I got for my birthday and the Zelda game I got for Christmas. Because I only own two games and I have many hobbies and interests, Nintendo gets a mere fraction of my time. But like any stimulant, some people are bound to become addicted. Especially those with addictive personalities. Like my boyfriend and the online role playing game World of Warcraft, similar to the infamous EverQuest. He plays for hours. Not two or three, but ten or twelve sometimes taking breaks only when he's at risk of soiling his seat. While I prefer Warcraft over alcohol as my sweetie's main vice, I can't help feeling like I've still lost him to an addiction. Most current harm reduction models in drug and alcohol counselling suggest that instead of removing the behaviour in question, try doing it less. And to determine the severity or actual existence of an addiction, assess whether or not it affects the person's ability to work, socialize, eat, exercise, pay bills - basically their capacity to perform the daily activities that qualify as necessary. Call it a gut feeling, but I think that an addition is still present and harmful even if it hasn't destroyed one or more lives yet.

More about gaming and Internet addictions:

  • Introduction to Gaming Addictions

  • How to Deal With Net Compulsions

  • EverQuest Widows

  • Related articles:

  • Dopamine and Online Games

  • When Games Stop Being Fun

  • Game Addiction Goes Online

  • 01 February 2005

    The art of yoga and pilates

    I had an interesting revelation today as I watched the pre-workout instructions on my new Stott Pilates DVD. I like cereal with strawberry flakes in it. I don't like exercise. Specifically abstract crap about sensing how muscles I don't even know about are sliding around on my back. I don't enjoy it, but I use my hamster wheel - correction Orbitrak elliptical machine - often in order to stay in shape. Partly out of vanity and partly out of an evolved addiction to the way exercise improves overall well-being and generally not feeling like garbage. Probably, I'm getting old. Definitely, I'm losing patience.

    If I feel ambitious, I may use my little ab roller and tiny me-size free weights. But after asking myself how much I really care, the answer is, "I really don't want to spend more than 30-45 minutes per day doing yet one more thing I don't like." No more pilates. And no guilt about not doing very much yoga.