No means no, Gender Reveal parties are for assholes, and please think long and hard about what to name your child

It’s been quite a few days. I spent a lot of it under a rock (i.e. catching up on my reading backlog) and now that I’ve emerged for some air… nope. The world’s just as hopeless as it was ten days ago.

Like this guy. This guy is an idiot.

Sorry.

Was an idiot.

There’s not taking no for an answer, and then there’s this. Voluntarily signing up to break the law in favour of handing out free King James Bibles to hostile tribespeople who have proven time and again that they don’t like strangers and will kill them on sight. Yay? It didn’t work for Magellan. No means no.

I identify as Baptist – I know, shocker – and am very good friends with a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness as well as a Mormon, so I see no problem with the idea of going out to spread the good word. I also see no problem with living and think people should go out of the way to avoid dying stupid, unnecessary deaths.

Or causing stupid, unnecessary fires.

In one of the best episodes of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, Grace decides to down all the vodka so she can function at a gender reveal party held by one of Frankie’s kids. My guess is that’s probably what everyone involved at this party was doing.

I used to get really annoyed seeing people I knew sharing their ultrasounds and fresh pee sticks on social media, but that pales in comparison to going out of your way to fire a gun at a target rigged to blow up with either pink or blue powder to celebrate and starting a wildfire in the process. I’m dating myself here, but I remember when gender reveals happened when the baby slipped out of its mother’s birth canal and plopped into the waiting hands of the OB-GYN. It’s a boy! Can we please just go back to doing that and stop making humanity look like such idiots who keep making questionable decisions?

Speaking of questionable decisions,

Is it the impending weight of becoming responsible for another human being? Is it the realization of how much time, money and effort it’s going to involve? Is that what caused this bit of mental gymnastics? Help me. Help me understand why someone would name a child Abcde and insist it’s pronounced “Ab-city,” when really, it’s pronounced “my mother is a dumbass”?

I don’t care what people say, giving a child a name composed of the first five letters of the alphabet is cruelty and endangerment when you know what life has in store. Writing Kick Me with a sharpie and slapping it on your child’s back before he/she goes to school is merciful by comparison. At least it wouldn’t be something they’re stuck with for life. And flight attendants wouldn’t make fun of your offspring.

Not that the flight attendant was any better. While I thank her for taking the very courageous, and yet horribly unprofessional step of posting private flight passenger information on Facebook so we could all share in the experience, that was completely  disrespectful and unprofessional. No one won this thing.

No one won the other things up in this post either.

Except the internet.

The Day Before 37

The Day Before 37

This entry is borne along the strains of RuPaul’s Glamazon, the soundtrack to my weekend thanks to Netflix acquiring all the older seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and successfully roping me back into the world of wigs, catty bitchfests, cinchers, blending and peanut butter peanut butter peanut butter, all the things my life never really was and definitely wasn’t this weekend.

While I wish my life was that of a glamazon, all makeup and sky high heels stomping around like I rule the world, those days are long behind me. I spent the last day being thirty-six doing laundry. It’s decidedly unglamorous, instead of doing what I’ve made a point of doing on my birthday for the past six years, which is be somewhere else. I usually snap up fall flight sales in August, but this year I spent part of August in the Philippines and the beginning of September in Hong Kong, so I blew my wad too soon.

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Japan.

The tradition started a few years ago, when we ended up with an unexpected overnight layover on our flight back to Toronto due to the mechanical shenanigans of Delta Airlines. I never really mind airline schedule changes, for as long as I get to wangle a free night’s stay and a meal out of it. Anyway, there I was. Pensive on the morning of my birthday, staring moodily out the window at a particularly depressing Japanese landscape somewhere in the industrial wilds of Narita when I realized I liked it. I liked the idea of being somewhere else on my birthday. I’ve since spent birthdays in other places. I think a big part of it is the unconscious urge to escape reality, to run away from facing the fact that I have another year behind me, that I’m not getting any younger and sometimes feel directionless, the usual frustrations that come with getting older, the biggest being the fear of being stuck in a rut, feeling like life is quicksand dragging you down and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s melodramatic and self-indulgent, things I rarely allow myself to be, but it’s my birthday goddamnit. I am entitled to feel this way because once upon a time on this very day, I was happily suspended in amniotic fluid minding my own business, when all of a sudden I was very unceremoniously evicted from my comfortable, rent-controlled apartment, dragged out into the light of day, naked, wet, and forced to start living. I didn’t ask for any of this! I was fine!

So anyway, I spent my last day being thirty-six doing laundry, and online shopping for robotic vacuums. Yes. This is what my life has come to, researching the merits of robotic vacuums and spending time actually reading what people say about Roombas.

This somehow led to an argument with Le Hubs about habits, which turned into an argument about the merits of letting robotic things into the household and the possibility of Skynet and ridiculous bullshit that happens when you’re up at three in the morning, which ultimately got resolved by hugging it out, which I promise is not a euphemism for anything. It’s hard to stay mad at him, he’s a giant cuddly teddy bear.  I hug him a lot.

We then ended up talking about going somewhere for breakfast and a birthday cake. If I can’t travel, I absolutely insist on having cake. It was a tossup between Dufflet, La Rocca, or something from Costco, which sounds ghetto, but isn’t. You haven’t lived until you’ve had cake from Costco, hunty.

We found Betty’s, a dive bar that does Sunday brunch buffets. It sounds a bit grimy and shady – and it is – but Betty’s has a character that makes you want to return. The walls are peppered with random posters and framed photos, the floors are dark and encrusted with decades of dirt, the lighting sketchy and the wall sconces are the metal halves of discarded colanders. It looks and feels like the shanty all the villains in Shrek hung out in to sadly play piano and stare moodily into beer pints that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned. It’s like the place hipsters emulate except it has zero pretension for anything other than what it is. That appeals to me. I wasn’t that big a fan of the brunch buffet – regular faves, eggs, bacon, benny, a make-your-own waffle corner, a carving area for ham and a smattering of fruit and what-have-you, nothing to write home about – but Betty’s is the kind of place I see myself hanging out in, playing a board game, nursing a beer (or some other drink because I don’t like beer) and just talking. Or not. Someone on Google reviews called it his own personal Cheers bar and I can see why. When we walked in, the barkeep greeted us with the warmest, most welcoming smile like a scene out of a movie. The servers were lovely and knew just when to leave us alone. None of that smarmy bullshit at most restaurants, the obvious drive-by with an “Everything okay?” that sometimes feels forced, or rote, or worse, disinterested in the actual answer.

I like Betty’s. So did Le Hubs, who said he would be back. I probably will tag along, but not for brunch. I’m trying the nachos.

Waddling out of Betty’s, we eventually picked up my cake (La Rocca, Cookie Butter) and parted ways because I wanted to see The Crimes of Grindelwald. I ended up not seeing the movie but came home with some Christmassy scented candles (White Pine! Juniper!), this years cards for my annual Christmas mailing list (want to be on it? Let me know!) and some loot from Sephora because it was a treat  yo-self kind of day and they were celebrating Black Friday week with a 20% off discount on everything.

And that was how I spent my last day being thirty-six. Just being my regular self, trying a new place to eat, a bit of QT with Le Hubs. All very low-key and pared down. I can’t say I won’t overcompensate next year with a jaunt somewhere, but I feel thankful to have reached thirty-seven. I spent the day trying to confront my issues with aging and adulting and I’m not sure I’ve really looked it straight in the eye, but I came out of it feeling like I’m okay. I think I really am. I may not be stomping around like a panther on the runway, but I’m still wild and still an animal, even if it’s more in spirit than in body. And that’s okay. I am thirty-seven. I came through the last year unscathed, I got to make more memories worth remembering with the people I care about the most,  and that is a phenomenon worth celebrating and being thankful for, sashay, chante!

The One Constant

The One Constant

“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?”

Justin Halpern, All That’s Left When You Die

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-seven, you know.”

They say the best guests know exactly when to leave the party.  If that’s true and life is a party, then you’re looking at the worst party guest ever because I would be the weirdo peeling herself off the wreckage on the floor of your apartment the morning after, helping herself to whatever is left in your refrigerator.

Being absolute crap at math worked in my favour a few days ago. I’d just come from one of Toronto’s many downtown parks, having taken a few prerequisite selfies and was in the process of deciding whether or not to share them on Instagram, when the reality of it all hit me. I would never be as young again as I was in that photograph. November is looming, and with it my birthday, and the number thirty-eight was flashing on and off. Illi, who is better at math than I am (and actually used his phone to ensure accurate calculations), said the number was thirty-seven. I felt slightly better. Like a stay of execution had been granted. I then realized I’d been living this past year thinking I was older than I really was, which is complete bonkers.

Still, forty is now within shouting distance which is such an intimidating idea. I always thought that I would, I don’t know, be a confident, self-assured other person I wouldn’t recognize. But the truth is, I feel like I am fundamentally the same person I was at sixteen. I might have a bit more experience and have picked up some emotional bruises and scars along the way, but why don’t I feel any different?

Maybe it takes having children – a step I never took – to become someone else, to be different, to evolve. But this isn’t about biological urges and my strange lack of them; this is about death and my strange inability to face it head on.

As each year passes, and a layer of cynicism (and fat, shut up) gets added to my slight and dainty frame, I can see how some have gotten to the point where they’re so sick of humans and the sick, sad world we’ve created, they’re willing to cast off this mortal coil. Not that  everyone who’s ready to go is sick of humanity. They could also just be sick and tired of being sick and tired. Or they could also be graceful about the whole thing, acknowledging they’ve lived a full life and are ready to get off the train whenever. Whatever the reason,  I think a person needs to be at a certain age and a certain point in life to really hunker down and accept the inevitable.

So here I am, still clinging tightly to life the way Kate clung to Leo in the middle of the Arctic. Although some days are darker than others, the world isn’t nearly sick or sad enough yet for me to want to leave it for the great unknown, not even if it sometimes feels like common sense doesn’t exist and humanity is a ball of entitlement and fakery. Living still feels good. I’m still aging disgracefully, and this whole breathing thing beats the not knowing.

 

Weed the North

So pot is legal in Canada now. Yay? It feels like a foregone conclusion. Kind of like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn; they’ve been together for so long, if they ever got married, it would be anticlimactic (and about damn time). That’s pot in Canada.

A major peeve of mine is following behind someone who happens to be walking while smoking like a chimney, the human traffic equivalent of being stuck behind a car smoking black exhaust. Gross. I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, so anything from a cigarette to B.O. is capable of causing a splitting headache. (Axe Body Spray is nasal assault and battery. Please stop.)  So my main gripe about smoking in general is that it literally stinks. It sticks to clothes and hair. It’s also kind of like fireworks – lit up for a brief moment of enjoyment and gone forever. It’s burning money, which to me is  the definition of absolute lunacy.

Anyway, I girded my mental loins as I exited the subway, expecting hordes of long-suppressed smokers toking up all over in joyous celebration, enveloping Toronto in a big, stinky mushroom cloud of weed smoke. Didn’t happen. There was a bud drop, and they went a bit nuts in the Bellwoods yesterday, but at least they weren’t spilling out into the streets smoking like there’s no tomorrow. Again, yay?

In Ontario, storefronts have yet to launch and legal weed is only available for sale online but Canada Post is threatening to strike, etc, so people may not yet have gotten the weed they ordered.  I don’t smoke, but I know people who do and appreciate the ones who make an effort to ensure their smoking doesn’t affect other people. It’s too soon to tell how this is gonna go, it’s only been a day. Here’s hoping Canadians live up to their rep of being polite, well-mannered and considerate. If not, it’s time to consider investing in face masks.

 

Summertime (and the eatin’ is easy)

Summertime (and the eatin’ is easy)

And I was thinking this summer was going to be a bore. It’s been so hot, and the humidity is out the wazoo. I was spending quite a few weekends in because I’m a vampire and allergic to all that sun and UV rays. I’ve also had my share of humidity growing up in the tropics. As someone who’s already aging disgracefully, I don’t need any more help from this weather.

Just goes to show one must never say never, especially not when one’s favourite tennis player is in town for the Rogers Cup, aka The Canadian Open – the only ATP Masters 1000 event held in the great white north, one of the go-to warmup events for players to prepare for the hardcourt season which culminates in the US Open, and I’m pretty sure if you don’t follow tennis, none of that jumble of words will mean anything to you. So before you decide to just click somewhere else, here you go:

That was two weekends ago. In a heat wave. I braved a heatwave for that. If it weren’t for going to see Rafael Nadal practice on the hardcourts of the Aviva Centre for free, I would never get any sun. And now I’m kicking myself for not getting tickets to see the finals, because he’s just made his way into the finals of the Rogers Cup for the first time in a while. He’s also going to face the hottest thing on the #NextGen circuit right now, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who is having the run of his life!

Speaking of mouthwatering and speaking of Greece, I’ve been to Taste of the Danforth, practically a Toronto summertime institution, a few times now and have no idea how I missed out on the awesomeness that is Foodland’s fruit stand. Just juicy, beautiful fresh fruit on a stick begging to be eaten – and at a price that can’t be beat. Large wedges of watermelon and mangoes to be had (extra sriracha $1), but my favourite by far were the strawberry skewers, which get a lovely amount of chocolate drizzled on them. It is HEAVEN. Five fresh, plump, juicy strawberries with chocolate on them for $2? YES PLEASE, YES, NOW, HURRY! All caps and exclamation points because that’s how much I love them. I used to go for the lokoumades, but now I will go for strawberry skewers, hands down, the end, exit stage right.

PS:

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Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Every day is an exercise in trust.

That water flows out the pipes.

That the power remains on.

That the cable holding up the elevator doesn’t fray.

That the train will be on time.

That no one pushes you off the subway platform.

That the person on the escalator two steps up won’t fart in your face.

That the bus arrives.

That the guy at Tim’s won’t spit in your coffee.

That cars honour the pedestrian lane and the walk sign, and resist plowing into you as you mince across the street checking Twitter, oblivious to everyone and everything.

That you’ll get to go home, go to sleep and wake up the next day, ready to do the whole thing over again.

Parts Unknown

Sometimes I avoid news. Not that I can avoid it entirely, but the general predilection of today’s news to be inflammatory – because that’s what sells – is exhausting. It’s issues, issues and even more issues, some of it real, a lot of it manufactured by people who seem to have made it their business to go through life with a gigantic chip on their shoulder.  Still, this past week or so, with that kiss (why does he make it so hard?) and she-who-shall-not-be-named invoking the memory of her dead parents yet again, it’s easy to see why people contemplate offing themselves.

Melodrama aside, suicide is no laughing matter. And it’s trending again. A couple of months ago, it was Avicii. Just recently, Kate Spade – she of the eponymous line of bags, shoes and accessories – and now Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, globe-trotter and highly esteemed food writer. All were highly successful and wealthy, all were living the kind of accomplished, jet-set lives the rest of us can only dream of having. None of it was enough to make them want to go on living. You know it’s serious when you wake up one day at the top of your game, and decide you can’t be bothered to keep breathing. Is it really that empty up there in the atmosphere of the one percent? Is it really that bleak? If having all that isn’t enough, then what is?

Although the stigma of depression is slowly being chipped away, no one ever talks about it very much. It’s a mysterious illness, easily dismissed, something only understood by those going through it and those who’ve gone through it and made it to the other side. My mother used to tell me stories of what it was like for her, after she had my brothers. She said it was a very scary, very weird headspace to be in. I was a child back then, so the only things that stood out were these strange roots suspended in jars of orange liquid, infusions of ginger root and tree bark she used to take, and the word bughat, something that, to a nine year old, was both riddle and an answer, all at once.

It takes a lot of strength to get through something like that, a lot of fortitude and a very strong will. My mother was one of the fortunate ones, able to emerge from the darkness of post-partum depression. I do remember one thing she always made an effort to do whenever she felt particularly low: she talked about it. Doing so helped in many ways – it helped me understand a little bit of what she was going through, even if I was only nine. And I think it helped her to know that we may not have fully understood, but that we were going to be there for her all the same. Talking about it helps. It’s particularly hard on us Filipinos, who for the most part, either think psychotherapy and the drugs that can come with it are for the weak, or believe in it but can’t afford it. Talking is cheap and effective, and there’s no shame in struggling. Depression doesn’t discriminate.

If we’re to go by the examples of successful people who’ve killed themselves (Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Robin Williams, Alexander McQueen, etc), all the money, success, fame and glamour in the world aren’t enough.  But does that  make life not worth living? I refuse to believe that. I still want to know  what it’s like to be so rich, I can use dollar bills to wipe my behind.  I’m not convinced that life isn’t worth it, just yet. I think breathing is sweet, and I still want to win the lottery. If it’s all downhill from there, then that’s as it may be, but at least I’d have gotten to try being on top of the world.