I feel I should apologize

I asked for snow. Wanted it so badly back in late June that the Universe tried it’s best to manifest it for me.

Unfortunately, it’s tough for even the Powers That Be to create snow in July here in the Northern Hemisphere. But it precipitated. Boy howdy, did it ever. So, it wasn’t snow. Meh. It also wasn’t humid, grotesque summer grossness.  That’s a WIN in my book, even more so because I really like thunder storms. Cold and wet instead of hot and sticky = fun times.

So, mia culpa. I really should apologize to those of you unhappy at the record-breaking rain, but I just can’t lie to you — it’s been my kind of Ottawa July, and I hope August brings more of the same.


(Un)lucky number 13

(This is another of those hoarded posts that have been sitting, unfinished, in my Drafts folder. It was originally started on May 9, 2009, after the Bloggess posted about Twitter and mentioned her fear of the number 13 as a reason why there was no #13 in the list.)

Since I first moved into my own apartment many, many years (and a couple of moves) ago, I’ve always lived on the 13th floor. Oh, sure, they all try to pretend they don’t have a 13th floor (as if pretending makes it go away) but we all know what it is. The 13th floor is the 13th floor, whatever name you give it. I lived on the 16th floor in one building where the ground floor was floor number 3 (floors 1 and 2 were the underground parking floors). And I’ve lived on the 12th floor in others that named their ground floor “M” or “G” and the floor above that “1”. No matter how you slice it, it all amounts to good old number 13.

It hasn’t been a conscious choice. I think I just look out the window while I’m apartment-hunting and think “Yeah, this is just the right height.” High enough that you get a good view, but low enough that you don’t get the dizzies. In retrospect, though, I kind of like that it always works out to the same floor and that that floor is always 13.

I’ve never had a fear of the number 13, and I’ve always found it curious that people do. The same goes for 666. Granted, I’m not Christian so I don’t associate 666 with anything superstitious or scary. I do find it very funny when I’m shopping and my total comes to $6.66 (mind you, I’m also amused when it comes to an even dollar amount or any other interesting sequence). I’ve actually had people ask if I want to buy something else to get a different number when 666 turns up. Truthfully, I can’t think of any number or number sequence that I am superstitious about.

My cup runneth over

When I was very little, I desperately wanted breasts. Most little girls do, I think. It’s the outward sign of being “grown up”. Apparently I was also a little stupid because I had no idea that nipples and breasts were related — the only part of my chest that even faintly stuck out was the bottom of my rib cage so I was sure that’s where breasts would eventually form. (In my defense, to my recollection, I’d never seen naked adult female breasts before — my mother didn’t even breastfeed.) I tried to help nature out by hanging from the kitchen counter edge by my rib cage.

Be careful what you wish for.

By the time I was 13 years old, I was a 38D. Nice bras were hard to come by in sizes larger than, say, a 36C back then so I was relegated to wearing very sturdy, matronly bras. The “girls” continued to grow as puberty progressed. (And they grew pretty quickly — my first ever stretch marks were on my breasts and occurred when I was in my teens and not overweight at all.)  By the time I was 16 and out of high school, they were large enough to cause me intense chest muscle pains (think pectoral charley horse) if I ran across the street. At some point in the 80s, companies started making really nice bras in larger sizes. Underwire became my friend; I forgave it the occasional dig into my side. Pain meant support and support meant the “girls” were happy.

As time went on and I gained weight, my chest got larger along with me. At some point I gave up even trying to fight gravity. I settled for adequate support and a matronly (in the worst possible sense of the word) figure because it was just impossible to find a decent bra in my size. Nice looking bras now are easily found in sizes into the 50s and cup sizes into K and well beyond. Unfortunately, there seems to be a point (somewhere around 46DDD or so) where most companies just stop making underwire bras in large sizes and revert back to soft cup bras. I don’t know the reasoning behind it. To my mind, larger equals a need for more support, not less.

But, alas, if you are, say, a North American size 48J, good support is hard to come by. If you were to go to one of my favourite online bra shops, for example, this is all that’s available in that 48J size. All soft cup, with really limited support. They do in a pinch but they don’t do enough to counteract that evil destroyer of bazooms, gravity. I have managed to find one or two underwire bras, but, really? Is that all there is for us?

Perhaps I need to learn to sew so that I can make my own.

(Ooh, just had a thought. Wouldn’t it be awesome if breast implants could be filled with something like Helium? Yeah, I know Helium itself would be a bad choice because of risks, danger, blah, blah, but how insanely great would it be to have them essentially carry themselves? Short of hiring someone to gently hold your breasts everywhere you went, there’s no other way to experience frontal weightlessness (without the extremeness of, say, a full double mastectomy). OK, I know you could probably find someone who’d hold them up for free — for a little while, at least — but would you really want that person touching you?)

Signing up doesn’t make you a hero

If you read this blog, you know I have a hoarding problem. That includes hoarding half-written, incomplete blog posts. This is one of those posts that has been languishing in my Drafts folder for months. Since March 14, to be exact.

The original post had been inspired by an invitation one of my American Facebook friends sent me to join a Facebook group to support the troops. The group was (and presumably still is) remarkably one-sided: all soldiers are heroes and, if you disagree, you’re not supporting the troops and thus are anti-American/unpatriot/the spawn of Satan.

The post came to mind again on Tuesday, July 7. The driver of the taxi I took to work in the morning was listening to Steve Madely’s show on CFRA. A frequent caller topic was Michael Jackson, unsuprisingly since that was the day of the memorial service in LA. One caller in particular offered the same opinion that congressman Rep. Peter King used in his Youtube video, that we should be honoring the “heroic” men and women serving in the military in Iraq instead of Michael Jackson.

That idea disturbs me, not because I think Michael Jackson should be glorified (you already know what I think about high profile deaths like his) but because there is this unfortunate tendency to paint all members of military organizations with the same God-fearing, patriotic, heroic brush.

I come from a family of military people. My grandfather fought in WW II. My father and all of my siblings were in the military, sometimes taking part in peacekeeping missions overseas. My extended family includes past, present, and future military people. I grew up on and around Canadian military bases until I was in my early 20s. I may not have ever been a soldier myself, but I’m not unfamiliar with the military world, and I’ve known an awful lot of military families, both in Canada and abroad.

Soldiers — military people of all classifications all over the world — are human and, as humans, their personalities run the entire gamut of human foibles and virtues. They are good spouses and adulterers, loving parents and child abusers, heroes and cowards, generous souls and brutal bastards, saints and sinners of all shades and nuances, just like the rest of society. Basic training doesn’t hone you into a perfect specimen of humanity. A bully joining the military doesn’t suddenly become less of an asshole just because his butt is dropped into the middle of the action in Iraq.

Many young people join the military, not because they believe in serving their country, but because it pays reasonably well (when you’re single, anyway), provides you with free training in a trade, and allows you to travel. My sister, for example, as our high school graduation neared and she wasn’t going on to higher education, was given a choice of either finding a local job or joining the military. Joining the military was easier (and in retrospect was the best choice) so she enlisted. Her son is currently preparing to sign up, not because he longs to serve his country but because he’s having trouble finding other work. He may find himself in situations where he has an opportunity to be brave or even heroic but the mere act of his becoming a soldier won’t make him a hero.

(LarryE’s post, Heroics, from June 2008 provides an interesting overview of much of what I’ve been thinking and wondering about Americans and their overall attitudes towards their soldiers. The post and its comments are a thought-provoking read.)

Pet peeves

I watched parts of Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Eat to Save Your Life” program last Sunday night on the Food Network. At first I was a little bored by it, but it was actually pretty good. (If you missed it, you can watch it on Youtube.)

It got me thinking about some of the things that non-obese people do/say to obese people that really annoy me. OK, I know that kind of list could be reeeeeeeeally long so I’ll only pick the top three annoyances (you’re welcome):

  1. “You’ll lose weight if you just eat less and exercise more”

    My sister and I are opposite sides of the food issues coin: while I binge eat, she’s an exercise addict and, at times in her life, has been a borderline anorexic. She came to visit me for a couple of weeks several years ago, at a time when her body image issues were quite obvious. After she admitted to exercising rigourously in my bathroom because she caught a glimpse of her “fat legs” in the mirror (she’s a runner so she has a runner’s muscular legs but she sees the muscle and thinks “fat”), she and I had a long discussion about eating and food issues during which she pulled out the old “You’ll lose weight if you just eat less and exercise more”. It’s an arrogant naivité. Whatever an obese person might say in public defense of themselves, we all know inside that eating less/better and exercising more will make us lose weight. We’re not stupid. But you don’t become obese without there being some underlying mental or emotional issues that need to be addressed. Just losing weight won’t make those issues go away, and in fact that’s just likely to make people switch to a different addiction. (My food addiction and my sister’s exercise addiction are both manifestations of some deep, underlying emotional issues — and neither is healthy in the long-term.)
  2. People who think they must critique your food

    My mother worries about my weight constantly and has done so since I hit puberty. Every conversation with her invariably turned turned to advice about what I could be doing to lose weight. A couple of years ago, I told her and my father that they were no longer allowed to raise the issue of my weight — if I brought it up myself, it would be to share, not to start a dialogue. They’ve been good about accepting that.

    They’re not the people I’m talking about in this peeve, though. They’re just being parents, and I understand that. I’m talking about people like this guy I used to work with who, whenever the team was out for lunch, felt he had to comment on how unhealthy whatever I’d ordered was, and offer me tips for losing weight. I eventually had to tell him to shut up.Most obese people know what they need to do — or not do — to lose weight. In fact, I suspect that many obese know a great deal more about nutrition and health-related topics than the average person. We don’t need you to preach to us, to attempt to educate us with unsolicited advice. Unless we’re eating food off your plate, it is none of your business. And unless you’re asked for your advice, keep it to yourself.*

  3. Doctors saying “I’d be happy if you just lose x pounds”

    Liars. They wouldn’t be happy. They’d be happier than they would be if you lost nothing, but the instant you reach that goal, they’ll come up with a new “Well, if you only lost x more pounds, you’d [gain this benefit]”. They won’t truly be happy until you are within the acceptable range and/or meet their criteria for ideal size/weight. Don’t get me wrong. I understand why they do it. But it’s a little hypocritical, a little patronizing, and a lot annoying.

*Just to clarify — I’m talking about one-on-one communications here, not articles, blog posts, books, etc. Advise away in your own personal space. You may reach someone open to your advise. But when you’re talking to someone specific, be they friend or acquaintance, keep it to yourself unless you’re asked for it.

Healthy debate versus just being an asshole

XUP’s mention in her post yesterday of Tom Sawyer, one of her regular commenters, reminded me of a guy I once knew several years ago (a work acquaintance).

This guy was one of those people for whom the phrase “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” was created. He’d taken some psychology courses in university and had the impression that that made him a psychologist. So he’d deliberately make inflammatory comments just to get a rise out of you so he could observe your reaction. A bit like a shock jock, without the humour. One of his first comments to me when I first met him (in a work social setting), for example, was that he could tell by looking at me that I was a bitch when it came to social relationships with men.

There are a lot of people like him on the Internet, people who like to stir the pot just to stir the pot. They like to watch people rise to the bait, something that invariably happens. Their defense is that they are trying to spark debate. That’s bullshit. The people who truly are trying to spark debate genuinely like a lively debate so much that they will take the opposite view to yours in any given discussion just to keep the discussion going, even if they don’t believe the stance they take. The biggest difference between the two is that the people who genuinely like to debate tend to make fairly decent arguments in their favour without resorting to insults or personal jabs. The people just trying to get your goat frequently fall back on taking personal potshots.

In their own ways, each are annoying to be around, though only one is likely to get his face punched in by poking the wrong person on the wrong day.

I’m just sayin’….

The song that’s stuck in your head

I woke up this morning with Dan Fogelberg’s “The Leader of the Band” going through my head. I have no idea why. I wake up to my TV, not the radio, and I don’t remember hearing the song on the TV. I didn’t hear it last night, nor at any time in the last several months. Yet there it is, playing continuously in my head, all morning.

Perhaps there are stray thoughts of my father percolating in my head, manifesting as this song. “And, Papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough.”

I’m in a weird, sad, and melancholy mood the last couple of days. Last night, I had sudden and vivid recollections of the summer day our first dog died of a heart attack in our backyard. It’s been almost 30 years and I still feel it keenly.

Monkeys 1, Humans 0

How did I live 44 years without knowing this? Is this a cultural thing? Are there whole communities elsewhere in the world who have been secretly pitying (or laughing at) us for doing it the hard way? How did peeling them the other way around become the traditional way to do it here? Did some early banana eaters think “Oh, we must distance ourselves from the other primates by eating them the other way around, hardship and bitter skin be damned!” and then studiously pass that practice down to their progeny, despite the fact that the other primates clearly know the best way to do it?

Who is responsible for this conspiracy?

Rebel! Spread the word. Free your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues from the shackles. Welcome to an easier, banana-string-free life* in which you never have to bite into a banana stem to kickstart the peeling.

* Peeling them like the monkeys do means the stringy bits that everyone hates on their bananas actually stay with the skin — no having to pull them off, only to have them stick to your fingers and everything else. The trade-off is that you have to deal with the kind of gross little dark nubby bit that lives at that end of the banana, something you generally don’t see if you peel it from the stem because it stays with the easy-open-but-unopened-if-you-peel-from-the-stem end of the banana. Know what I’m sayin’?

Are you free, Mrs. Slocombe?

I was very sad to learn that Mollie Sugden, who played Mrs. Slocombe on “Are You Being Served”, died today. She’d had a good run, but it’s still sad to see her go. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen all of the AYBS episodes over the years.

Mollie, you will be very missed but we have loads of great, fun stuff to remember you by.