Specs Appeal

The human body is a machine susceptible to the long-term effects of constant use. We are all eventually going to be witness to and subject of an excruciatingly slow sort of wear and tear, physically breaking down, like an apple left in a fruit bowl too long. It’s inevitable.

I realized this up in Ottawa last month, when I spent the night with my cousins before my aunt’s funeral in Montreal. My other aunt, who is still living, made me laugh with her stories of her physical travails. She’s broken pretty much everything you can expect to break (hip, foot, arm), had a complete hysterectomy, mistook hemorrhoids for cervical cancer and she just got hearing aids. Getting into a car is a whole production, involving first a foot, then a leg, then hauling the rest of herself into the vehicle, cane hooked over her right arm, the whole song and dance made even more precarious when the driveway is iced over because getting old in the Great White North is a complete funhouse.

It’s not a feeling one gets in one’s teens or one’s twenties, when the body seems like Teflon and nothing seems to stick, but enter your thirties and things start happening. Suddenly, hair isn’t as thick, waists aren’t as trim, comfort begins to be more of a priority and the slow slide into questioning what you’ve done with your life so far begins. Up next, mid-life crisis!

20180223_1123021982058268.jpg
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, mine are in need of an overhaul

I spent a good chunk of my Friday on a contact lens appointment. Because my body is as contradictory as I sometimes am, my left eye is far-sighted while the right sees things better from up close. It’s a balance that works out, but sometimes one eye overcompensates and I end up with a massive headache. I’ve been flirting with wearing glasses for the past few years but made the mistake of getting them whenever I was in the Philippines for a visit which means follow-ups couldn’t be done. And anyone worth his salt knows when it comes to glasses, follow-ups are important. It’s like losing your virginity. You never get it right the first time.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and go for my first eye exam in North America. I’d already gotten a prescription last week and it made me see things from afar in wonderfully crisp detail, like the world was suddenly in high-def Ultra 4K. But it was messing with my reading, and words were blurring up close.

So I went back after a week for the mandatory follow up and that’s where I stopped being happy and started considering Lasik. If anything, I can see long distances, but I don’t quite care as much about that as I do being able to read. And somehow, after running what seemed like the gamut of lenses, I was back where I started, with busted eyesight and seemingly no answers. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I chose contact lenses? I have no idea. The one shining spot is I am apparently not ready for bifocals, which I was given to understand are for the olds. But that’s beside the point. The point is when you get older and the mind-body connection starts to fray, sometimes you find yourself standing in an optician’s office contemplating the merits of allowing lasers to sear a layer off your cornea because it’s just too frustrating to have yet another lens held up to your eyes.

But, I understand it’s a process, that sometimes you can’t just throw money at the problem. I know I’m going to have a few more weeks like this, going back and forth and figuring out what fits me the most. I can’t outrun it anymore anyway and really, it’s time. It’s time to accept the inevitable. All the eating of squash in the world isn’t going to be enough to combat the ravages of age.

First bionic ears, now enhanced eyes. I’m ready for my titanium hip, Mr. de Mille.

Unlucky

I was supposed to go see if Marvel could convince me to be a cat person today, but underestimated the depth of public interest in Black Panther. I tried, at least. Woke up early, went to the theatre and walked smack into a lineup of everyone wanting tickets and the show I wanted to see sold out. To be fair, I was there fifteen minutes before start time, and I didn’t pre-book because I wanted to live on the edge, but Black Panther is showing everywhere in the freaking city, you’d think there’d at least be a few seats left.

So instead of having a review, I have regrets. Because reasons. And because I had three days to watch it, but my couch wouldn’t let me. The Olympics wouldn’t let me. I wouldn’t let me. Sometimes I really am just too lazy for my own good.

Maybe it’s also my subconscious rebelling at the thought of me, a dog person, watching a movie about what is essentially a large cat with superpowers. And maybe it’s because when I googled Black Panther for showtimes, someone wrote about how there’s not enough LGBTQ representation in the movie, which was my cue to mentally throw my hands up in the air and give up on humanity.

I swear to the good sweet baby Jesus I’m sick of how there’s always something wrong with something. How there isn’t enough women. Or enough minorities. Or enough gays. Or enough lunch meat.

You know what there isn’t enough of? Sanity. I wonder if our parents saw us in the nineties with the baggy pants, exposed midriffs, beepers and the Alanis Morrisette and thought to themselves that the world was going to hell in a handbasket? Because they were right about that, just wrong about when. And how.

Can’t we just be happy? Can’t we just get along? Can’t we just focus on what’s there instead of on what isn’t, for one shining moment?

I hate it when long weekends end. I always get so emo. And godamnit I really wanted to see Black Panther.

Kicking Some Ice

At a glance, luge is sort of boring. Get on a sled, zoom down a track, try not to crash. Before Pyeongychang 2018, I always felt luge was the equivalent of getting into an inflatable tube and launching yourself down a frozen water slide. It was the kind of sport that made me scratch my head and wonder about the lengths very rich, very bored and very winter-bound people will go to enjoy a season that isn’t always kind to humans. But that was then, and this is now, thanks to CBC’s livestream of the Winter Olympics and my recent acquisition of a foldable, amplified, indoor antenna (Philips, $19.99 + tax. Cheap!).

I am neither rich nor very bored (this part is debatable), but I am definitely very winter-bound right now. My way of coping with the weather is the way almost everyone born in the tropics does it: pure avoidance. Oh sure, I’ll do an occasional bit of ice skating and maybe even do a little sidewalk shovelling, but actually playing in the snow day in and day out and going as far as saying I love winter? Nope. When forced to confront it, I will dress like the Michelin Man. Judge all you want, when it comes to snow, I’ve long since given up style over substance because I like having ten fingers and ten toes.

Anyway.

Thanks to the wonders of free TV channels and closed captions, I’ve been getting a crash course on winter sports for the past fortnight. Prior to this year, the most attention I’ve ever paid to the Winter Olympics is to watch figure skating, I’ve learned that the Dutch dominate long distance speed skating, the Germans are lugers par excellence, the Norwegians own skiing, and Canadians claim hockey as a matter of course (although the USA always begs to differ).

I also learned that lugers use their shoulders, calves and tightly controlled shifts of body weight to control a sled that’s speeding down a track going at least 120 km/h, a helmet their only protection from a tremendous amount of g-force, fast reflexes the only thing standing between success and total annihilation. I’ve been on the freeway, clutching my seat at a lesser speed than that, and that’s riding in a car with airbags. Definitely not like a waterslide. Luge is a badass discipline.

I’ve gotten emotional watching lugers lately. Hell, I’ve been getting emotional watching Olympians lately. There’s something about watching people get recognition for years of hard work and discipline, in an arena where only the best of the best get to compete. It’s hard not to get emotionally affected by their obvious pride and joy when they know they’ve done a good job, and represented themselves, their sport and their own countries as well as they ever could have in a sport that’s already difficult to master on its own, not to mention it being set in the harshest season of all.

Compared to the online Olympics we all live through these days, a steady onslaught of one-upmanship to see who has the most perfect life, Pyeongchang 2018 is something I can get behind a hundred percent. I like watching these athletes succeed. It’s great to see people overcoming the sheer adversity of winter. To turn a season that is at best uncomfortable and at worst, deadly, into an opportunity to have fun is something I find inspiring. And I don’t usually gush, but it’s been such a crappy winter, I think I needed to be reminded that fun can be had no matter how harsh the conditions, and that the harder the struggle, the sweeter the reward. That’s true #goals.

 

Not Gonna Fly

Not Gonna Fly

Someone tried to fly United with a pet peacock. Just when I thought attempting to fly with a mini-pig couldn’t be topped, this lady buys a ticket for her pet peacock, goes to the airport with it and claims it’s an emotional support animal.

I get it, flying is stressful. The long lines, random spot checks, being treated like a potential terrorist, limited leg room, three hundred passengers and only four common toilets, turbulence. It’s usually a manageable sort of stress, but some need a lot more help coping. Mostly it’s Benadryl and an eye mask, but the really special cases need an emotional support animal (ESA) – not to be confused with a service animal – along for the ride.

To fly with an ESA in tow is not an easy process. There is paperwork involved, including a note from a licensed mental health professional and the ESA needs to be registered with the airline at least two days before the flight. The animal is expected to be calm and well-behaved and United Airlines had warned her three times  that she and her stupid peacock would, for obvious reasons, be denied boarding. She showed up at the airport anyway.

The peacock in question has its own Instagram account and is named Dexter. Its owner is an artist, who specializes in performative tableaus, mostly about beauty. Dexter is a pet, not an ESA, and this incident highlights cases of people abusing the system by pretending they have a mental or emotional disability just to get their pet to fly with them for free.

Is this what we get for encouraging our children to dream big by telling them they’re special beings who can be anything they want to be?  Because this kind of delusional jackassery is a load of hooey. Just because you can be anything you want to be does not give you license to bring a giant peacock on a plane, even if you went ahead and bought it a ticket. It’s a fucking bird. If it needs to fly, it has wings. Emotional support peacock, my ass. Emotional support poppycock is more like it.

When it comes to ESAs, reaction is mixed. Some don’t believe they’re necessary, while others say the animals do help with anxiety  and depression. I think it depends on the person, but I’m not going to have a lot of understanding for you if you claim to derive some sort of emotional stability from a peacock.  That is bullshit. Go hug puppies like the rest of us. Hell, get a cat if you’re secretly masochistic, just don’t be a showy little shit who refuses to follow instructions or heed warnings  because you’re different and special and the rules don’t apply to you.

Why does everyone seem to either come from the Planet of Woe is Me or the Galaxy of Here I Come these days? I could just be old(er) and a little less hip, but can we please stop indulging people who’ve jumped on the bandwagon marked Free Rides for Wannabe Unique People Who Love Being Extra? It’s indulgent and symptomatic of a culture that relies on too much validation to get through the day. Can’t we all just stiffen our upper lips, straighten our spines, pop a few pills and knock back some scotch like they did in the fifties? People may have been alcoholic and chemically dependent back then, but at least they kept their messiness in check.

Sometimes it feels like people have forgotten how to be considerate. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like if United Airlines hadn’t stuck to its guns? The clucking, the spontaneous showboating, the threat of  random bird poop. What a nightmare. I am so annoyed by this. It’s all a stunt and a bid for attention because this was clearly done by a fame whore with absolutely no shame, and I’m mad at myself for falling into the trap of talking about it.

Quotable Quotes

Quotable Quotes

“You can’t beat death. It’s un-fucking-defeated. And if you fight it, it will humiliate you. It’ll chain you to a bed and make someone have to wipe your shitty ass. It’ll make you forget who your own fucking kids are. It takes your dignity and it whips its’ dick out and pisses on it. When you’re younger and it comes for you, it’s worth it to fight it and suffer through the humiliation. When you’re older, what the fuck does it get you to go through that?”

My Grandma’s been reminding me she’s ready every chance she gets, and has done so for the better part of the last fifteen years. She’d probably have put it this way if she was a grumpy old coot with a gutter mouth and absolutely no filter, but she’s a retired teacher and a dignified lady, so she settles for “I’m already eighty-six, you know.”

I think you need to be at least seventy to grasp the whole concept of dying, to settle down and accept the inevitable. Me, I’m still clinging tightly to life the way power bottoms cling to a well-hung top Kate clung to Leo in the middle of the Arctic. Beats the not knowing, if you ask me.

Shit someone’s dad says, in GQ.