All the Stones We’ve Yet to Pee

I spent the first day of the year of our Lord 2022 listening to so-bad-it’s-good boyband B-sides, and internally swoon-screaming. Hey, I grew up in a household that had Barry Manilow albums on vinyl. I glory in schmaltz. Besides, why even pretend to be ashamed? Late 90’s Jeff Timmons could get it. I freed the hormonal teenage girl that lives in me, and she ran like she was running across the border.

Dear lord, the late 90s. Those halcyon days, when hopes were as high as the jeans were wide. There’s just something about listening to handsome, corn-fed, mid-Western boys wooing impressionable young girls with songs about love and heartache that takes me back.

This pandemic’s been cited as the reason nostalgia is bigger than it ever was. All the talk about comfort-watching/comfort-listening opening the brain’s mood-enhancing pearly gates is definitely true, but for me, nostalgia is fuelled by the double whammy of homesickness and aging.

By medieval life expectancy standards, I’m practically a hag. The older I get and the more adulting I do, and the longer I spend without getting to be with family, the connection to that fearless younger self grows ever more tenuous. Aging, and the attendant responsibilities that come with it, comes with so much uncertainty – ironic, considering we all know where we’re headed anyway – that sometimes, just living feels like constantly trying to keep it together. Losing the battle with gravity sucks. So does being slapped in the face out of nowhere by random words you’d never think would apply to you. Like perimenopause. Are we here already? Should I start crushing up estrogen pills and sprinkling them over my Metamucil? Jesus. I can’t be there yet. Or can’t I? Can I just make like an ostrich, and stick my head in the sand? Maybe it’s a good thing I never really thought this far ahead. If I had known going in, that this was the price to pay for eventual independence, Id’ve been a wreck. Fine, more of a wreck.

With another year gone by, I think it’s important not to lose the sense of what one used to be, if only so we don’t wake up and realize we don’t know who we are anymore. (Which might be easier than you’d think, given how something as simple as breathing has been considered lethal in the past two years, and what a mind trip it’s been.) It’s not wise to live in the past, but it’s foolhardy to forget about it entirely. So reach for the familiar. Make every day Throwback Thursday – at least until this thing passes. Because, to quote one of my favourite sayings, this will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass. At least, I hope it passes. I hope it passes, before [word I refuse to type more than once in a blog post] arrives. 🤞

Internet Sausage Links

They say yesterday’s news is today’s chip paper, but we live in a digital age where peen pictures never die. Chris Evans, who usually features his dog Dodger on his socials, inadvertently featured his todger instead, which explains the rapturous squealing you heard all day Saturday. Christmas come early! Yes, I peeked. Please, like you wouldn’t – Page Six

Speaking of wouldn’t, one thing I wouldn’t do is pay to watch the live-action version of Mulan, Disney’s latest attempt at a cash grab. Not because I’m political, but because I’ve given Disney so much of my income over the past decade, being asked for an extra $30 on top of my current Disney Plus membership for “Premium Access” was grating. I predicted it wasn’t going to end well, and it didn’t, but not for the reasons I thought. Not that I care how it came about, that combination of creative bankruptcy and soulless greed deserved its comeuppance, in whatever shape or form it took – Foreign Policy

While we’re on the topic of soulless greed, blowing up ancient Aboriginal cave sites that date back to the Ice Age is beyond reprehensible. Today’s businesspeople operate on forging ahead first and asking for forgiveness later, and that needs to stop. (Move fast and break things is a horrible mantra.) Unlike Disney with Mulan, the comeuppance is not nearly enough to pay for this disgusting display of horrible decision making, all in the name of profit – BBC

I get it and would never knock anyone’s barely legal hustle, but really, how badly do we need strip clubs to stay open these days? – CBC

Getting to travel is a privilege, but this is not the best time to do so. Countries are struggling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and international travel has been so dicey this year. We aren’t out of the woods just yet. It seems selfish to me to want to traipse all over the world right now. Not that it’s stopped some travel “influencers” from trying to hold on to their gigs. Reading about self-entitled jerks struggling to get out of sticky situations they’ve willingly put themselves in for clout is so satisfying – The Independent

Another Visit to the Whinery

I think I’m slowly going insane.

Oh, I joke about it.  But, what if? What if I’m actually nuts and I just don’t know it because… gasp…  I can’t hear the voices? (All I hear is tinnitus.)

Hey, at least I would be something. Not just an automaton going through the motions. I don’t even have drama.  Which is… good? 

It’s good. I know it’s good. You don’t know how good you’ve had it until it runs straight into a telephone pole and explodes, which is pretty much everyone says about 2020. It’s good. I’m just bored.

There. I said it. I am bored. I hate admitting it, because the adage is that only boring people get bored, which makes me, by extension, boring. Which is a horrible thing to be.  Not that I aspire to be an unstoppable whirlwind of constant activity, but slowly  a miasma of sameness has somehow settled onto everything like dust, the way soot from a firewood stove gets burned so indelibly into the bottom of a pan, no amount of scouring will ever  fully take it away.  My summer has consisted of grocery store runs and a road trip for ice cream in a heatwave so intense, I tried writing about it and stopped midway because I got dehydrated.  (We went to Picton, a picturesque little town in Prince Edward County, which has a lot going for it – wines, gourmet food, art, and the best ice cream you will ever find in the province. This is ice cream so good you will willingly suffer a two and a half hour drive both ways just to go and have it; this time around, suffer was the operative word.)

I’m just going to have to accept that I am not the right audience for road trips. I’ve only ever had three that will live on in memory: the first, a late October journey into the mountainous heart of Alberta with my friend Karen, right before she gave birth and I lost her forever to a precocious little girl; the second, a June trip to the tip of Tobermory and the crystal blue waters of the Georgian Bay; the last, a Holy Week escape to Bantayan Island as the token girl in an all-male training team. Everything else has been meh.

I can’t bear having yet another visit to the grocery store double for an escape, I just can’t. The constant heatwaves aren’t helping. Last week, I made a quick run to the neighbouring Filo store for victuals and broke out in a heat rash. I was barely out for more than fifteen minutes! It’s bad. It isn’t just the virus that’s kept me indoors, it’s our closest star, too.  The heatwaves have driven me indoors (and driven me mad) since July.  Sunlight, blech. What can I say, I was a naked mole rat in my past life.

It’s all this hideous ennui – which frustrates me, because how dare I succumb to something as innocuous as ennui? This is not my usual time for clawing at the walls. No, I save this build-up of quiet, semi-hysterical sort of swirling, inner insanity for the last days of winter, when I’m feeling trapped by all the enforced hibernation, but we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. We’ve left Kansas so far behind it’s barely a blip. The “new normal,” according to my friend Gail. They should just call it new. There’s nothing normal about it. 

 

In Which I Think I’ve Finally Had It

In Which I Think I’ve Finally Had It

The bestie is going to Rhode Island next week for a friend’s birthday trip. There’s a part of me that’s happy for him, for managing to carpe the diem despite living in a country that is burning down around his ears. And there’s a part of me that’s envious. I’m envious of his ability to throw caution to the wind. I’m envious because I can’t seem to.

I am angry with myself for being such a scaredy cat. It’s like I woke up one day, realized that a.) this virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, b.) it may not be all that easy to shake off for my demographic and c.) have hobbled myself ever since by restricting my movements mostly to work and home because I can’t seem to silence the inner voice that keeps screaming “I don’t wanna die! I don’t wanna die! I don’t wanna die!”

I’ve spent the night in a haunted jail. I’ve slept with a dinner knife under my pillow after booking a $25/night bed in what, in hindsight, was surely a borderline illegal hostel. I’ve taken numerous walks in the dead of night, under questionable lighting, from my place to the main road so I could catch a jeepney to work. I’ve travelled solo. So why can I not do this? Why am I so cowed? Why can’t I bring myself to take up the reins of my normal life and take the risk? 

I’m tired of doing my part. I’m tired of staying in. I’m tired of avoiding crowds, tired of avoiding people, tired of wearing a mask in public. I’m tired of hand sanitizers. I’m tired of keeping my distance.

I’m tired of following instructions.

I’m tired of this heat.

I’m tired of streaming shows. 

I’m tired of numbing my feelings with food. 

I’m tired of avoiding most of the news cycle. I’m exhausted. Every time I think we’ve done it – eating Tide Pods? Gender reveal parties? Humanity finally hits rock bottom! – the news comes on and I realize that noooo, we are not done. Not by a long shot. There are still new depths to plumb.  I’m tired of reading about selfish, uneducated assholes who believe Covid-19 is a hoax. I’m tired of protesters who think mandatory mask-wearing is detrimental to their health and an assault on their freedoms, tired of idiots who think “it’s over” and have illegal bonfire parties at the beach with crappy music, tired of people who walk around thinking “well, I already have it anyway, so I may as well be out.”

I’m tired of borders. I’m tired of feeling hemmed in. Tired of the 9-to-5. I’m tired of watching people act like it’s fine to carry on the way we used to, and I’m tired of being in survival mode all the time.

I’m tired of all the politics. I’m tired of sexism. Of racism. Of victimhood. I’m tired of clapbacks. I’m tired of cancel culture. I’m tired of illiteracy. I’m tired of stupidity. I’m tired of social media. I’m tired of YouTube drama. I’m tired of the incessant Twitter pile-ons on the cause du jour of the day. I’m tired of the desperation, of the incessant grabs for the spotlight, of all the stunting people think they need to put online to grab attention. To grab validation. I’m tired of the hate. I’m tired of Tik-Tok.

I’m tired. I’ve spent the last few months using work to distract myself from the apocalyptic hellscape that is 2020, and you know what? I think this is it. I’ve finally hit a wall. I’ve run out of gas. I’ve had it. I am going to have to get over myself and this ridiculous fear sometime. 

My grandmother walked to school in the middle of World War II, and would hide in ditches whenever planes flew overhead. Compared to that, this is nothing. Besides, I’m tired of being afraid. I’m definitely tired of complaining. I’m tired of being tired. I will find that fine line between bravery and foolhardiness, and I will walk it – I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but I will. 

Wanted: Fairly Decent Jalopy

Wanted: Fairly Decent Jalopy

We’ve been stressing out about getting a car.

I know, I know, I was supposed to learn how to drive a couple years ago, but that kind of fell by the wayside. Parking in Toronto is expensive, insurance even more so, and a subway stop is an easy block and a half away from us. It’s easy to just depend on public transportation if you live in the downtown core. Before this whole COVID-19 thing descended on us like the pale horseman of the apocalypse, it was pretty easy to get around.

But now, with homeless shelters being pushed to the limit, the mostly ignored underclass of humanity that generally skates on by unnoticed/ignored in normal times has started to take over the subway. And it’s April. In Toronto. Think April means winter has come and gone? We were at -10C windchill last week. So no, I can’t blame people who just want some shelter. We’re all just trying our best to survive and stay warm for a minute.

The downside is, well… they’re homeless. They have more issues to worry about than health, or hygiene. It’s more worrying about where to take a dump, how to get the next big high, where the free soup stands are. They’re now taking advantage of the subway system, nesting in a bajillion trash bags full of god knows what, sore-infested legs bared, smelling like urine, taking up three seats  and sleeping their way from Kennedy to Kipling station.

The places the hubs and I work for were declared essential, which is both blessing and curse. On the one hand, something to take our minds off the current pandemic is always nice. On the other, the act of getting to work means exposure, which means risk, which means what used to feel like a harmless, non-eventful commute now feels like playing Russian Roulette.

So yes. We need a car. And so far, it’s been a trip.

You see, we’re in the market for a beater. The kind of car that can stop running and you can leave at the side of the road and never look back, hello-goodbye. But it can’t be any old beater. It has to at least run for a few months before giving up the ghost. I’m not just a beggar, I’m a chooser to boot and to top it all off, neither he nor I know shit about cars. I’m in hell.

The paranoia is draining. Cars on AutoTrader and Kijiji  look so good, but then the doubts start tumbling in… will this certify? What’s wrong with this car? Why is it so cheap? Is it too cheap? Will we get mugged? Is it a bait and switch? Are there liens? Is the transmission off? Is that too much rust?

It’s so bad, we’ve contemplated just buying a new one and driving it off the car lot, warranty and all, everything in good working order, but along come the questions again. Is it worth the depreciation? How much will insurance be? Do we really want to spend the next seven years of our lives paying through the nose?

When will all this end? Will it even end?  

It’s exhausting. I’m tired.  I want to stop and get off the crazy train, but I can’t seem to help myself. So I just have to square my shoulders, take a deep breath, and summon the memory of what the immortal JZ always says when it comes to things like these: get a grip. Because what else is there to do? 

Eat. Yes, eating sounds good.

I think I’ll go eat my feelings for a minute. If you’ll excuse me.

 

ps. And then you get the guys who have an ad put up but won’t answer. I mean, fine. If it’s sold, it’s sold, but DON’T LEAVE THE BLOODY AD UP.

An Abundance of Caution

Welp, it looks like we finally got the fallout of cancel culture: everything is now cancelled. Ya happy? All this cancel him, cancel her bullshit going out into the ether, and now nothing is playing, no one is meeting up, all the toilet paper is gone and we’re all holed up working from home, praying to high heaven we don’t get so much as a cough. Yeah. Thoughts and prayers that.

Because panic buying is the latest thing to do and I’m reading about people running around like chickens with their heads cut off, prioritizing the stupidest things (really, toilet paper?), here is a list of other things I would get (everyone knows cans, jars and anything with a long shelf life is essential) in the mad scramble of panic buying:

Twinkies. I’d hoard Twinkies like the Gulf states hoard oil. Every post-apocalyptic work states unequivocally that Twinkies will never go bad, and the currency of the future post fall-out could very well be Twinkies and toilet paper.

Machetes. If this is really going to all go down and we’re headed to the wilderness to fend for ourselves like extras in The Walking Dead, a few machetes would come in mighty handy. A little chopping for firewood, a little slicing for meat, a bit of hacking through the underbrush, a good machete goes a long way.

Aquatabs. Or, really, anything that has to do with potable drinking water. For obvious reasons. I stopped drinking from the tap years ago, because I couldn’t trust it, and once again, if we are pushed to the brink and forced to source water from rivers, lakes and waterfalls we aren’t supposed to be chasing, dying from dysentery is just as bad as dying from COVID-19.

Ibuprofen. Let’s see, you’re on the run (or you’re locked down for an inordinate amount of time). Your hygiene is shit. There are no willowbark trees anywhere in the vicinity, and you wouldn’t know a willowbark tree if you saw one anyway, so what’s the point? You develop the worst migraines because your body is crying out for food and water. Hoard the painkillers. Guard them with your life.

UPDATE: not sure how accurate the reports are re ibuprofen as a possible aggravator for COVID-19, so… grain of salt and all that.

Duct Tape. I don’t know about you, but duct tape is this magical stuff that is supposed to fix anything and everything, with the exception of a broken marriage, so yes, maybe a few rolls of that stuff might come in handy in my new life as a vagabond.

Clearly, I am a red shirt and these things aren’t going to be worth shit and my survival skills are all from the school of pop culture, which means I’ll be the one who thinks survival is curling up in the body of a dead tauntaun. That said, to be honest it’s kind of hard to make light of these things, when you’re facing the reality of empty shelves and fruit bins. I went for apples yesterday, and it looked like a plague of locusts had swept through our local No Frills:

I have NEVER seen these shelves be empty before. Ever. It is weird, and not a little eerie.

Also this, at the local Canadian Tire:

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The future is here, and it is bleak.

The Hungry and the Fat

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Ladies and gentlemen: my autobiography.*

I have, apparently, become a Chihuahua with the appetite of a St. Bernard. Or so my family doctor tells me. I’m paraphrasing. Of course that wasn’t a direct quote, no doctor would be so blunt, especially not in today’s extremely sensitive (and litigious) atmosphere, but that was pretty much my takeaway. I had asked him to please, for the love of all that was holy, give me something – gastric bypass, lobotomy – anything, to take away my horrible lack of self control when it comes to food in the pursuit of the ideal BMI. But all he would recommend was just to eat less. That is what he said. “Eat less.” And then he made me step on the scale and, having dispensed with that particular slap in the face, reminded me once again by measuring my height that I stopped growing right before I hit five feet. Dear United American Tiki-Tiki: my mother would like her money back.

Annual physical exams are excruciating. The results are fine when you’re in your twenties, a nubile sylph made of Teflon. Otherwise, to paraphrase Samantha Irby (I am paraphrasing a lot today, aren’t I?) we are all sacks of meat that are slowly beginning to rot. Notice I say slowly; the bloodwork and the cholesterol results, the heart rate and lungs and all that, came back okay. Which is something to be glad about. But, to paraphrase Lady Gaga (here we go again) there could be a hundred good results on a lab report…

There isn’t a  lot of wiggle room when you are short. “Small,” says my doctor, an adjective which, in any other circumstance, I would be fine with, but not in this instance because we are now talking about me growing vertically as opposed to horizontally. He went on to remind me that it’s just like overfeeding a pet – you can’t stuff your cat full of lasagna if you don’t want it to be Garfield, yes thank you, Captain Obvious, why did I have to go and pick such an implacable doctor – all I really wanted was some wonder drug or other, but the only drug being prescribed that day was common sense. I have no self control, goddamnit, but really who else do I have to blame? I should’ve just gotten pregnant. At least I could’ve blamed weight gain on the baby and coasted on into my forties overweight but with a lot less self-loathing. Maybe I should take up cigarettes? Hypnosis? A political cause like Gandhi?

Whatever it takes, I acknowledge that my doctor is right about the only way to go about reversing the effect of the past few years. I do not want to enter my forties as a Hindenburg impersonation. I may not be the nubile Teflon sylph I used to be – and likely never will be again – but I took a little heart from noting the weight gain didn’t just happen overnight. In comparison it should be faster to erase it than it took to gain it. Your thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated, and see you in the produce section.

* no it isn’t