Organs

Organs

“… people often have a strong sense of ownership when it comes to their bodies. Even tiny scraps of them.”
– Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I have mixed feelings about becoming an organ donor.   On the one hand, it’s good to know my organs would go to benefit someone else when I’m long gone; on the other, some latent, buried part of my psyche rebels at the idea of being plundered and reduced to a husk when I go. True, I won’t need my kidneys, or my liver, my corneas or my heart and lungs wherever I may end up. And it won’t matter because I’d rather be cremated than buried. But all that said, the idea still repels me somehow. And I wish it didn’t. I wish I could just be selfless and say  anyone is welcome to use whichever of my innards are still feasible just like that, but the truth is I can’t. Not without really considering how I feel about it. And right now, I have very mixed feelings. I know it makes me sound like a terrible person.

I think about the fact that due to a combination of personal preference and the vagaries of age, I am probably never going to have children. Donating my organs would be the best, most selfless and cost-efficient way for me to live on in someone else. It’s a lovely thought, a beautiful one, the idea that part of me will help give another human being a new lease on life.

Maybe I just don’t want to think of myself in death as something that’s been reduced to nothing but spare parts, like a bicycle that has outlived its shelf life and is now being taken apart to fix another bicycle that might still be worth saving.

I wonder why I feel this way. What intrinsic part of me is holding back? I think a large part of it is rooted in my belief in pre-emption or jinxing things, as if saying yes to offering up my remains accelerates the day of my demise.  I’m weird about death. I still don’t know how to deal with it, and this is an idea too close for comfort. I feel almost as if the action of signing a document that says I’m donating my organs will initiate a countdown clock that the universe will enforce, making me pay up before I can renege on the deal.

Nova Scotia is the first province in North America with presumed consent for organ donation. Like France and Spain, among other countries, this means unless a person opts-out, their willingness to donate their organs upon their demise is assumed. Now that consent is presumed in Nova Scotia, a province that by the numbers, already has the highest rate of organ donors, it’s only a matter of time until the concept ripples across the rest of Canada. It’s a sticky issue because ideally, giving is based on free will, not coerced through legislation. True, one can always opt-out, but not without feeling like a heel.  Whatever the outcome, I’m pretty sure I’ll eventually come to terms with the issues I have about it, however petty they may seem. 

Random YouTube K-Hole: Country Fried Goodness

Who doesn’t love country music? I adore songs that tell stories of love and heartbreak and longing, and sometimes I turn to country pop when I find myself facing the relative wasteland of today’s current pop offerings. While the country and pop divide is easily breached, rap and country isn’t always as smooth. I’ve never been that big a fan of rap, but sometimes the subversive marriage of country and rap actually works and works well.

Old Town Road – Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus

Old Town Road has been everywhere for the past couple of months, and for good reason. It has a catchy hook that digs its claws into your eardrums and won’t let go. The video goes all in, cheekily celebrating everything that makes country country, presenting it with the unmistakable beats of hip-hop. Witness the hats, the fringe, the sparkly denim, even that white moneybag with a dollar sign on it straight out of some B-movie about a robbery. An enjoyably campy video with Lil Nas X doing the cowboy shuffle to a different beat, Old Town Road embraces everything that screams country cowboy, including a cameo from Billy Ray Cyrus, owner of the achiest, breakiest heart on the yee-haw circuit.

Over and Over – Nelly feat. Tim McGraw

Can you name anyone who can rock a cowboy hat as well as Tim McGraw? It’s almost as if the man was born to wear one and imbue it with effortless cool.

Speaking of effortless cool, who doesn’t love Nelly at his catchiest, most earwormish best? His music video for Ride Wit Me has one of the best visuals for contemporary country you’re bound to see, but I chose Over and Over because I love the vocal stylings of McGraw layered over Nelly’s smoothly laid out hooks and the way the video explores the differences in cultures even further. Check out Nelly’s urban bachelor’s pad and Tim McGraw’s rustic country cabin/McMansion in classic split-screen goodness that heightens the juxtaposition of rap and country.  This single and its video will always be one of my favourite Top 40 offerings. You wouldn’t think the marriage of rap and country would work out as smoothly as this one does, but here it works and it works quite well.

Wild Wild West – Will Smith feat. Dru Hill, Kool Moe Dee & Sisqo

Someone on Twitter reminded me of this particular Will Smith offering.  It’s got the hallmarks of a high profile music video event down pat, from the elaborately choreographed dance numbers, multiple collaborative artists and the celebrity cameos liberally dropped in all over the place. While the single is pure pop-rap, the video itself is country – with a futuristic bent that toes but not quite oversteps the boundaries of steampunk – going all on in with leather vests, cowboy hats, an elaborate saloon and saucy corsets and petticoats.

It was 1999, and no one did this to intentionally be “woke.” People weren’t necessarily interested in force-feeding us political-correctness as if we’re ducks and they want foie gras, which is what it sometimes feels like these days. Wild Wild West gets points for doing it just because the concept seemed like a cool thing to explore creatively. Also, it doesn’t look like it was made in 1999 – if a person didn’t know better, it could’ve been made in the past few years.

Sadly, the actual movie (a movie that Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix for) turned out to be a bloated, ridiculous mess. Oh well. We can’t have everything.

Distractions

Distractions

I haven’t been as regular with this blog lately. What have I been up to, you ask? Today, I got caught in a vortex of cake-decorating videos. You know the ones. Three minute, sped-up clips of anonymous hands handling colourful fondants, expertly piping frosting, spinning cake turntables and chirpy music.

It’s like magic. And they make it look easy. Plus it’s cake. And I like cake. I like cake very much.

Maybe a little too much, truth be told.

I wish I wrote as much as I used to. Le Hubs and I sometimes talk about growing up in the old days. We were a generation with one foot in the past and the other in the future, growing up with dial-up modems, pagers, not-so-smart phones and VHS. Man, the late nineties were fun. There was a purity in having to work harder to get the things that mattered, entertainment-wise. Like listening to DYGB-FM with a finger poised on the record button, hoping against hope the DJ would play something by the Backstreet Boys.

We used to create so much more back then. The hubs is an artist (my blog header graphic is thanks to him!) although like me, he hasn’t made his passion a day job, and he too feels the constant pull of consuming rather than creating. Because that’s what today’s reality is like. It’s become so much easier to consume than create, thanks to the onslaught of the internet and the convenience of having almost everything at our fingertips. And, like cake, that’s not really a good thing.

It is so easy to be distracted. I sometimes wake up telling myself to write more, that I need to put down something, anything, and then I pick up my phone to check the weather and all of a sudden an hour has rushed by and I know a lot more about the Toronto Raptors than I really needed to.

You know what I need? The cone of shame. It’s not really a cone of shame (thanks, Up), it’s just something to keep spayed pets from licking their healing bits. It would be nice to have something like that when it comes to technology, wouldn’t it? Something to help us focus, to remind us that too much time spent online is hazardous to our health. The thing is, I don’t think a cone of shame would be enough. Nothing short of an EMP-triggered shutdown would be enough.

giphy
via Giphy

If I want to be distracted, I will be. And the truth is, after a long day at work and a stressful commute, a lot of the time I actually want to be. I’m not proud of it, but most days I just want to lie on the couch and bask in the UV rays bouncing off of my TV screen.

The internet has been reverse-engineered into a time suck on purpose. It is to the advantage of the puppet masters that be to keep us all occupied, the way parents hope toys will keep their children from throwing tantrums. While that is not fine, it is what it is, and the only advantage we have is that we can still recognize the trap for what it is. I can choose to buckle down, zone everyone and everything out, and just write. Easier said than done, but baby steps. And I’m doing this post today, so yay for progress!

A Really Really Late and Frankly Kind of Shallow Post

A Really Really Late and Frankly Kind of Shallow Post

Last month, the management cut the power to our high-rise.

The reason lay in January of this year, when the residential building across from us experienced a complete breakdown of power and heating when a burst pipe flooded the building’s electrical room with water. They never really stated what caused the pipe to burst, but in particularly harsh winters, extreme cold can cause water in the pipes to freeze. The resulting ice expansion puts pressure on the pipes, which eventually crack, or burst, if the build-up becomes too much for it to contain.

A burst pipe is enough of a potential catastrophe when it happens in a single residence. It’s a harbinger of the end of the world when it happens to a 33-storey residential apartment building that houses about 1200 residents. They had to shut all essential services down while they investigated the extent of the damage to avoid possible electrical mishaps – or worse, a fire.

Imagine what that must have been like. No power, no heat, no light and no running water for three straight days in January, which is the absolute dead of winter.  That means no heat in sub-zero temps and no working elevators, which would necessesitate going up numerous flights of steps if you live on a higher floor. It’s particularly inconvenient for children, the elderly and the disabled.  It wasn’t pretty.  There were fire crews, ambulances, and police cars all surrounding the building to make sure no one emergencies could be dealt with as they worked to restore power to the building. It must’ve been a complete nightmare for the residents of that place.

With all that in the rearview mirror, the management of our building decided some preventative maintenance was in order to avoid the same thing happening to us. Which is how we came to be without power or water for 24 hours.

I suppose it’s nothing to me, a veteran of Noreco II’s regular brown-outs, to amuse myself for the day and find some way to be occupied. I’m easy. Something to read, something to eat, some water stockpiled. But power outages are rare to non-existent in this part of the world, especially with Niagara Falls providing hydro-electric power not too far away from us. Unlike me, Le Hubs doesn’t find escape in books, and his preferred pursuits involve the use of electricity – music, podcasts, and video games – and he was pacing around like a caged thing, utterly annoyed by his regular routine getting upended, which struck me as absurdly funny.

I spent a good while ribbing him about being completely unprepared for the apocalypse, my lack of empathy an unfortunate (?) side-effect of being Filipino. In the Philippines, our matters of life and death are considerably a lot more serious than the loss of power and access to TV or computers for 24 hours. He was justifiably angry with our building’s management for letting things slide so much they ended up having to deal with it by inconveniencing us all, but it was still funny to me. Only those of us who have ever been held hostage by Noreco II will ever have the fortitude.

That said, his reaction to the lack of power was my reaction to the lack of water. I suppose I should’ve expected that the water would be shut off as well – to test heating? – but I am used to constant access to running water. In the unlikely event we would have no water in the pipes, my childhood home has a manual pitcher pump out back and yes, I’ve had mornings when I used to go out back, pump enough water to fill a pail, and lug the whole thing back inside the house just to shower before school.

I had two buckets of water set aside for washing and the water was ice cold, enough to chill the blood. In the Philippines, our water is sometimes warmed by pipes exposed to the sun, and even when it isn’t, the temperature of our regular running water is not hard to adjust to. In Canada, cold water is cold. Bone-chillingly, horribly, uncomfortably cold. I couldn’t  really appreciate the convenience of having both hot and cold water running until all I had to wash with was cold water. This was just before spring came on and the weather had a high of 5C; having a normal shower was out of the question.

I have come to realize that should the apocalypse come, I am capable of living without power for a while. I can live with walking up seventeen flights of stairs even if it really truly sucks and I had a moment where I truly considered living in the tenth stairwell. I can deal with being unplugged. No, should the apocalypse come, true suffering for me would be the inability to take a decent shower, as shallow as that sounds. (And, I suppose, access to the warmth whenever winter comes.) Even us hardened veterans of Noreco II are helpless when it comes to the ice cold waters of the Great White North.

Internet Sausage Links

I’m always fascinated by words and phrases, their origins, and how they come to be used. Take for example “Longbottoming,” colloquial slang for the unexpected transition from dweeby to sexy. I’ve since learned that this is also known as a “glow up.”

While “Longbottoming” is obvious (it’s inspired by the actor who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movieverse, who started out as the fat loser kid with an overbite and ended up looking mighty foine), the closest I can come to why “glow up” is used the way it is, is because it’s a variation on the phrase “to grow up,” only in this case it’s used to mean growing up pretty. Yay, I guess, but ultimately boring. There’s not much of a backstory there, although why I’m going on about a phrase that’s been dominating the interwebs again since Robin Arryn made such a splash on GoT’s finale at four in the morning, I have no clue.

Oh wait, yes, I do. Seth Rogen is on the cover of GQ, which really goes to prove that the first step towards ultimate attractiveness is to lose weight, which is easier said than done, God knows I say it to myself a lot, but this isn’t about me. So here you go, Seth Rogen being his new dapper, healthier self in silk shirts and expensive ashtrays – GQ

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Most Filipinos come with an ingrained instinct for behaving properly in public. This is known as delicadeza, a word which generally means to do what is appropriate at all times. Like the German “schadenfreude,” delicadeza is not so much an action as it is a  feeling. It’s the intrinsic drive to behave the right way and do the right thing in public, because we cannot bring dishonour to our houses by seeming uneducated, ill-mannered and rude. Maybe it’s the three hundred plus years of being treated like illiterate, uncivilized second-class citizens in our own country by colonizers that fuels this particular drive. Whatever the subconscious triggers behind delicadeza, it’s what makes Filipinos the perfect hosts and house guests. You will never hear us act up, or leave dirty dishes in the sink, or be rude to our hosts. Not to their faces, anyway. We will always try to behave as if our very mothers are watching us with eagle eyes. 

Which is why one of the worst things that a guest can do to Filipinos is to disrespect our hospitality by being rude. Cleaning up after yourself is a basic tenet of delicadeza, and Canada has shown none when it comes to having the Philippines play host to its garbage for nigh on five years.

No country should ever be the unwilling dumping ground for another country’s waste, and my adopted homeland definitely has a lot to answer for when it comes to how it’s treated my actual homeland. Yes, the Philippines has the right to demand Canada clean up after itself, and do it soon. Canada should’ve recalled the garbage postehaste, not spend five years twiddling its thumbs, and it’s dismissive ideas like the ones this Canadian writer comes up with that really make me furious, not to mention the discernibly flippant attitude with which it was written. Instead of focusing on Canada’s inability to clean up after itself, he can’t resist taking jabs at the Philippine administration’s posturing, as if the dumpster fire that is Ontario’s current leadership is anything to be proud of. Filipinos have a great sense of humour, but we know when a joke is as rancid as five-year old garbage currently waiting to be repatriated. Alternative idea: how about we ship all those garbage containers back to Canada and deposit them on this guy’s front yard? – Toronto Sun

PS: There’s nothing “partly” about Canada being to blame for this literal garbage dump of a situation  – CBC

PPS: Now Malaysia is in on it too – Earther

 

 

This is Really is It, Pancit

This is Really is It, Pancit

Now that Game of Thrones has finally ended, I truly imagined I’d find myself rocking back and forth in a corner, clutching a battered copy of Entertainment Weekly’s GoT special edition with Peter Dinklage on it.  I came out of it pretty good, everything considered.

I’d meant to recap each episode as it came but, like a resolution made every new year, that died early. The show’s gotten a bit of flak this particular season, but it’s had great moments too. I imagine it’s rather hard to live up to a level of expectation that is ridiculously high, especially when you’re really working with fan fiction and not actual source material, so to all the entitled, ridiculously overacting fans who demand a rewrite, sit down and wait for the rest of the books, no one owes you anything.

In lieu of no recaps, here are a few spit-takes from the final episode, “The Iron Throne.” It goes without saying that some spoilers may apply, so do not read on if you haven’t seen it yet.

Or do, if you don’t care about spoilers. C’est la vie!

 

Continue reading “This is Really is It, Pancit”

Fin

Fin

May has been a month for goodbyes. The final chapters of stories I – along with a good chunk of the rest of the world – followed over the past decades (The Avengers, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones) have finally been unveiled. I know it’s ridiculous to feel sad about bidding farewell to characters who don’t really exist in real life, but they were real to me, and it was nice to have that sense of community, of belonging because other people felt the same way I did.

It feels a bit empty too, wondering what the next big show would be. In the past, we’ve seen great shows come to an end – and attempt second lives by way of disastrous movies – but there was always something. Something else. Some other TV show that was different, but just as good if not better. The last time I remember feeling even the slightest bit bereft was when Breaking Bad ended. But Game of Thrones was there to catch me, and what a long rebound relationship that turned out to be.

I suppose it was a bit like being a serial monogamist. Always having one boyfriend waiting in the wings once the current one plays out with barely any change in rhythm, but this one… well, this one feels different. I felt the same way about Avengers: Endgame. It was immensely satisfying to see it all play out, but I walked out that theatre with the feeling that I was personally ready to move on. The MCU and Marvel Studios is obviously going to keep on keeping on,  and I’m quite sure they will always have an audience for the stories they have yet to tell, but my part in their tale might just be more of a recurring guest star than an episode regular.

I can’t say the same about HBO, a powerhouse which frankly dominates the landscape of TV with good reason, but I do wonder if I will ever be as invested in a TV show as I was with Game of Thrones again. Perhaps I might. I enjoy good TV, and there’s a lot of good shows out there. But I don’t see myself going full on stan the way I did with Game of Thrones.

There’s a lot of corny platitudes that could be used here, and I suppose anything really would be cheesy and completely tacky to say, but there’s still truth to be found in the cheesiest of sayings.

“How lucky [we] are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh