No match(maker)

Little frogs cute love freeimages.com/bruno-sersocima
Little frogs cute love freeimages.com/bruno-sersocima

Dear effbook:

I know we don’t know each other very well. I mean. You hardly notice me except when you want to force me to shut down my primary account shortly after I’ve given you money for advertising, but whatever. I’m not bitter.

Okay, I’m a little bitter, but you can hardly blame me. You’re manipulative and sneaky. But that’s not the worst of it. You claim to know so much about me. You think you know me so well, don’t you? Always making recommendations for this china set or that vacation spot. As if you listened when I told you about Grandmother Smaug’s horrid Old English Roses. As if you cared.

Remember that time you recommended body waxing and I laughed for, like, twenty minutes? Or the time you thought I’d spend two minutes of my life thinking about mascara? These are serious problems, effbook.

So I just want to point out that. I mean. Okay. I’ve been in a long-term committed relationship…a MARRIAGE, in fact, for fifteen years, give or take, and, I mean, it’s not so much that you’re showing me photos of men who you suggest “could be my next boyfriend”. It’s that I know one of the ones you showed me, and he’s a fine fellow, and I already know him, and he’s gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay. I just. I really question some of your algorithms, because I’m, like, 100% sure that this fellow would never have said he’s interested in women. Nor, for that matter, in men who look like women. Nor in women who look like men.

Really, IF I were in the dating cycle, which, thank #Glob I am not, I probably wouldn’t trust any suggestions you gave me based on the whole ‘Old English Roses’ thing alone, but when you couple that with trying to hook me up with a man who isn’t into women (as I found out when I hit on him relentlessly in 1995), it starts looking like you’re just being a dick. Also, HE’S MARRIED TOO.

TO A DUDE.

Like. It even says that in his profile. ON EFFBOOK.

And how desperate do you have to be to use EFFBOOK as a dating service? “You know, I’m only really interested in friends and friends-of-friends. Oh! And family of course! Can’t go wrong when you date your cousins!” For all you cousin-daters out there, I’m not judging you; I’m criticising effbook for trying to hook me up with a married man.

Hey, maybe M- is actually bi and just really wasn’t that into me in 1995. And maybe the life he’s living now is a complete lie (and if it is, I want the lamp. You know the one). Maybe he’s just pretended to be gay all these years for, like, the tax breaks or the rainbow flags at pride or whatever. And hey, I’m not making any judgements about alternative relationship structures. Open marriage, swinging, poly, asexual, I don’t care what floats your boat. I know what floats mine, and while M- was definitely it in 1995, WHY IS EFFBOOK TRYING TO SET ME UP AT ALL?

And why aren’t you, effbook, trying to set me up with my International actor boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch? Or my X-Men boyfriend Wolverine? Or my oh my god she’s everything I ever wanted in a woman girlfriend Tilda Swinton? I would do DIRTY THINGS with Tilda Swinton. Things that require bathing afterward. And possibly a pilot’s license.

Well, now I’m distracted.

In closing, I do not trust your judgement, effbook.

A tisket, a tasket…

EssayWhat the crap is a tisket, anyway? Or, for that matter, a tasket?

You know what, it doesn’t really matter. I’m’a just make it up. And I’m’a write about it. And the thing I write is going to be called “The Great Tisket; or, An Adventure in Tasket”. AND IT WILL BE MAGNIFICENT.

A short while ago, I wrote 40 letters to 40 people before my 40th birthday. I found that I quite loved writing letters, and …wait.  That isn’t right. I’ve always known I enjoy writing letters, and I *often* get around to sending them. As it stands, I owe a couple of people letters back from their last correspondence. There’s something about writing by hand and sending a letter in the post. Something intimate.

Let’s not mince words here, either. It is RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME to get letters and postcards addressed to you instead of ‘occupant’ [side note: I always leave the post addressed to “occupant” inside my post box, because I am certainly not the occupant of my post box.] and that isn’t a bill or an invoice or a

What the crap is the difference between a bill and an invoice?

statement of account or some sludge from a local homophobic politician. [Side note: even if I were inclined to vote for anti-democratic Stephen Harper in the upcoming election, I would not vote for this jackhole in my riding. What a complete buffoon.]

I want you in on this. I know you don’t know me and I don’t know you (except for you. We know each other well and I STILL love writing letters to you), but if you’d like to receive a letter from me, do this:

Send me an email (c3n0byte at gmail dot com) with the subject line: LETTER! PLEASE! You may or may not wish to use the word “supermegaawesomecool” in the body of the email. You may or may not wish to give me a subject you’d most like to read about. You may or may not wish to tell me something about your own self. If you’d like me to highlight anything we talk about here at the centre of the universe, tell me that too!

Please do not send puppies in the mail.

This may be the best thing I have ever written 

I found this little gem on my Twitter feed via timehop. Part of me wishes it were fiction. 

   

  

  

  

  

  

 It’s always an adventure when you’re me.  

A letter

storm cloudsI wanted to write to you, to tell you that I’m trying really hard to be positive right now. That I’m trying really hard to think about the things that can go right instead of the things that have gone wrong. I wanted to write and tell you about my friend who’s had his heart taken out of his body and reassembled with bits from his leg and then stuffed back in his chest like so much straw.

I wanted to say this is all so much. It’s all happening so fast, rain drops pummelling tender seedlings down into the soil instead of nourishing them with a gentle mist. That the weight of that rain pelting my skin is very heavy. I wanted to tell you that all I want to do is sleep, to lie out in the sun and sleep. Plant a garden, watch the flowers grow and bud and bloom and die back. That I want to get away from all of this madness and just be somewhere where I don’t have to make decisions and I can read books all day and eat grapes from a cool bowl.

Actually I don’t much care for grapes most of the time. They’re too much like eyeballs and sometimes the burst of juice is terribly offputting. But I like the phrase “peeled grapes” an awful lot and the image of a well-oiled cabana boy feeding me peeled grapes pleases me, so even if I’m not particularly fond of them, I’ll let my cabana boy feed them to me before he rubs my feet and tells me I’m beautiful. So beautiful.

I wanted to post this on my blog but I think it’s too close, too much, too revealing. It would be letting the world see in – or at least the portion of the world that sees my corner of it – and I don’t know if that’s what I really want. I wanted to write to you and ask you if I should post this on my blog or just keep it between us.

I wanted to say that every time I see a photograph of a storm cloud, I identify with that storm cloud. With the active electrons all bouncing around in there, their little mosh pit of thermodynamics and vortices, like thoughts, like feelings, that’s me. I feel the skin between my brows furrow when I’m least expecting it and I ask myself whether that’s myopia or just my own little tropospheric disturbance.

I feel like everyone, everything is taking just a little piece of me away and I am beginning to not recognise the pieces that are left.

Do you think time ever slows back down? That you can get back that sense that summer is going on forever and the freezie you’re eating is going on forever and the orange crush you snuck out of the big fridge in the basement is going to last forever even though it won’t be cold forever. Do you think you can just lie on a thick towel or a denim blanket on the sand and close your eyes and stop the world moving? Not in the way that would make people fly off the face of the earth, but in the way that we could just steal these tiny moments just for ourselves now and then? I think we can’t, but I wish we could.

I wanted to write to tell you that every time someone tells me how strong I am I feel like a fraud because I’m not strong. I’m tender and raw but maybe my secret is that I regenerate. Or maybe I haven’t any secret other than that I’m a fraud. That every time I think I know what I’m doing I’m reminded that there is no such thing as knowing and every time I think I have a stable footing I’m reminded that all rivers have currents that will wash away the sand under my feet only some rivers do it quickly and some take an entire lifetime.

All of these things I wanted to say to you. There are many reasons I didn’t. Many reasons I haven’t. There’s only one reason I may have for sending it along, and that is to feel like there is a connection out there still. A connection with someone. Someone real.

Always,
J

Bones in my pocket

Teyah So I’m sitting on the chesterfield, having my tea and thinking how nice it would be to have a patio I could sit on to have my tea and do some writing of a lovely spring morning, when what to my wondering eyes should appear to port side but a little damp black nose and some very tappity white paws. #PrincessSassypants is asking to sit on my lap.

Normally, the dogs aren’t allowed on “the brown couch”, but if one is sitting on it, they are sometimes permitted to sit on one’s lap. Normally the dogs don’t like to sit on my lap because I, being their pack leader, am deserving of the utmost respect, and that includes my *personal space*. However, often I WANT a dog on my lap and so I will ask them to come sit with me. #PrincessSassypants doesn’t have a problem with this; she will fly into my lap like politicians fly into scandal. #Bumblebutt, on the other hand, is quite circumspect and often leery that if she sits on my lap, I will pick at the gunk in her ears or eyes, or, worse yet, I will fetch the Hateful Clippers and do her clackety toenails. She’s not wrong.

So imagine my surprise this morning when #Bumblebutt hops up onto the ottoman and asks to be permitted lap privileges. I am pleased. Touched, even, when she scrambles up on to my lap and leans in to me in a little doggy hug. “Awwwww,” I say. “Awwww. That’s adorable. You love your mommy.” She glances up at me with her big brown eyes. Tucks her head in under my arm and sniffs at my dressing-gown.

Right. I have bones for the dogs in my pocket, and have forgotten to dole them out. Man’s best friend, my butt.

Of course, after they finish their bones, #Bumblebutt jumps back up on the ottoman and asks permission to sit next to me on the chesterfield. I know she’s only hoping this action will produce more pocket-bones, but I’ll take the attention.

A step to the right, hands on your hips, pull your knees in tight

spanx Tired of all those workout videos you watch a couple of times and use to level out the DVR afterward? Don’t want to go to the gym to sweat in front of dozens of people who you assume are staring at you and judging your thighs? Are you looking for a great fitness plan that costs just pennies a month? Have I got the deal for you.

This workout combines the best of yoga flexibility, a little bit of cardio, and core strength workouts. You don’t even need to leave your own bedroom. In fact, you probably don’t want to. And unlike other workouts, with this one, you shower first, and it’s done before you even get into your car to head to the office.

“cenobyte!” You exclaim. “Enough with this mystery! My need-to-know centres are literally on fire with the curiosity!”

Although I’m pretty sure your head isn’t actually on fire, I will share this workout with you. Unlike other fitness programs, I cannot guarantee its success, and like other fitness programs, there are dangers associated with it, but your doctor doesn’t need to be consulted because baby, this is ALL. ON. YOU.

Here’s what you do:
1) Take a shower or bath first thing in the morning;
2) Attempt to put on Spanx(tm) foundation wear.

That’s it. Those are the *only two things* you need to do. Because no matter how much you dry off, no matter how much you think you’re prepared for the stuffing and wriggling and scooching and tugging you need to put on regular pantyhose or underpants, you are NEVER prepared for the contortionism you must endure to wear this shit. You just aren’t.

Roll each leg of the garment into a little croissant, and pretend you’re not thinking of croissants, because if you actually think about croissants you’re going to want a croissant and the whole reason you’re wearing Spanx(tm) is because of bloody croissants so screw you, France. Screw you.

Aim your foot in the tiny hole in the centre of your croissant leg hole and jam your toe through there like you’re loading a torpedo into the firing hole of a nuclear submarine. Children of the cold war, you know what I’m talking about. You have to shove that foot into the toe (or open hole, depending on what version you’re attempting to don) of that foundation garment like you mean to murder some Russians. There’s no coming back now. You’ve entered the launch code.

Regret that you didn’t have the forethought to sit down on the edge of the bed to attempt this because now you’re hopping around on one foot while trying to roll the other leg into a croissant non-pastrylike torus, and you know you haven’t been this flexible since you were seven but whatever you’re not about to admit defeat (pardon the pun) because you can see the end of this ordeal, and the end of this ordeal is that your thighs aren’t going to rub together and end up coating the crotch of your pants/butt of your skirt in blood and skin flakes by the end of the day.

But there’s a problem. Now you have one rolled-up leg on one calf and the other rolled-up leg on the other ankle and you can feel yourself going over but it’s 7 in the goddamned morning and you don’t have the wherewithal to figure out that you’re going to have to let go of the garment before you crash to the floor in humiliation. On the other hand, now that you’re down there, that’s pretty much the lowest point of potential energy so you can be environmentally conscious while you figure out how to simultaneously staunch the bleeding from your fall and continue with the application of your underthings.

“Fuck the bleeding,” you mutter, and start tugging the things up your legs.

If you are wearing the tights version of the things, you’re nearly done. You just stretch out your leg…wait. You *can* reach your ankles, right? I mean, your boobs aren’t in the way? You’re totally flexible enough to just pull your knees up to your chest and grab …oh right. THAT’S why you didn’t let go of the Spanx(tm). It’s because if you let go at this stage, you’re never going to be able to grab on again and you’ll be hobbling around like a horse in…well…a horse in hobbles until someone comes to rescue you and you know FROM EXPERIENCE that is not an ideal favour to have to ask of EMT. The 911 operators still probably have the transcript from the last time this happened, pinned to their cubicles.

So you stretch out your legs, one at a time, while letting out bits of elasticized nylon and spandex, while rolling around on the floor because at this stage of your life, baby, there are no flat parts on you, and that’s a good thing. Nature abhors a flat surface.

However, if you’re wearing the long panty/legging version of these things, your Ordeal has only just begun. You have to pull the little croissant doughnut ring you made in step one *up to your crotch* before you start pulling the top of the garment up over your hip. You can do this while rolling around on the floor, or if you can manoeuvre yourself into a standing position, that is preferable. Good luck.

Let’s just take a moment of silent repose here. You could barely fit your ankle through that little opening. Now you have to “just tug it up to your crotch”? Sister, that shit ain’t goin’ anywhere above the knee without two shoehorns, a can of Crisco, and four strong men. This is the step we call the shimmy-stretch. Stretch the fabric out as far as it will go while you shimmy yourself inside it. Reach behind yourself and tug the back of the garment up about 1/4″ over your carriage. Repeat for approximately 45 minutes. Apply liberal amounts of cuss words.

Eventually, the “elastic” top (remember “elastic” does not mean “infinitely stretchable”) will pop up over your hips and dig painfully into your belly. Keep stretching. Keep shimmying. After another half hour, the top of the band will fit snugly around your ribcage and you will be unable to feel or move your legs because there are tiny little doughnuts croissants rings made of spandex cutting off the circulation to your extremities, all bunched up at your crotch. You will feel lightheaded, although whether this is because of the loss of circulation or because you’ve bested the top half of an undergarment is still up for debate.

Fish around in your labia for the bottom edges of those leg holes and tug them down into place, and voilà! You are ready to get dressed and have most likely put in more of a workout than you would have with Sylvester Stallone’s personal trainer.

Good job, you!

Eyewear, pocketbook, wristwatch

Before we get too far into this, I want you to go here and listen to The Faint’s Dress Code. Especially you, Meatbum. I’ll wait. I think it’s my new favourite thing ever invented. And, while you’re doing that, I’m just going to say I miss Devo.

Okay. You’re back. Awesome!shoulder

Dress code. Gender bias. Hypersexualisation. Whore/Slut. Individuality.

Many public places have dress codes. “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. “Please wear a head covering”. “No street clothes”. There are reasons for every dress code; some more logical than others. When it comes to kids and school, though, people lose their shit faster than a college kid after whiskey night. Most dress codes in school (particularly in high school but often in elementary school) seem geared specifically to girls. Consider the following, taken from the elementary and high schools in my area:

Elementary: Students are expected to dress in a neat and appropriate manner. Outside apparel (hats, jackets, and wet or muddy footwear) are not to be worn in the school. Please ensure your child dresses in such a way that demonstrates modesty. Please avoid: midriff shirts, spaghetti strap shirts, short shorts and messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Students should have one pair of runners at school for inside and gymnasium wear. Also Grade Six, Seven and Eight students are expected to bring gym clothing for their physical education classes. Students are invited to shower following vigorous activity.

High School: Hats are not allowed to be worn in the classroom, except for special school related events. Footwear must be worn in the building at all times.
School staff determines what is appropriate clothing. Students wearing inappropriate clothing will be asked to change the offending garment. Simplicity and good taste are safe guides.

It looks like the former (which is the dress code for the elementary school) is picking out in greater detail clothes that girls would wear rather than those boys would wear. I want to know why it’s important for a six-year-old child to demonstrate “modesty”, and I would also like to know what the definition of “modesty” is. If you’re telling a six-year-old that showing their arms, back, or legs is wrong, there’s something wrong with you. Because I have boys, and because my boys to date have not been interested in wearing spaghetti straps, midriff shirts, short shorts, or clothing with messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex (I think they meant and/or there, because otherwise that seems like an oddly specific message to ban), I have not had to deal much with the dress code. I’m concerned that the high school dress code basically leaves “offending garment” up to staff. That’s pretty uninformative. Are students supposed to call ahead of time to clear their wardrobe with the staff?

Do you know how mortifying it is to be called out of your class/assembly to the office to be told you have to change your clothes because you’re not dressed appropriately? ESPECIALLY if it’s a staff member of the opposite gender? Do you know how CREEPY and humiliating it is to have a male teacher/administrator tell you that the way you dress is distracting the male students? I can tell you from experience, it can be life-altering. A little guideline here would be nice.

You’re not an idiot. You know that what they’re saying here is “don’t dress like a slut, and don’t dress like a slob”. They will couch that in terms of “show some respect for yourself and for your fellow students”. I don’t have a problem with that sentiment, except that these dress codes are dictating what is slovenly or slutty attire, and that’s just not cool.

What’s wrong with having a dress code that says: “Our school values respect, professionalism, and a focussed learning environment, and those values are reflected in our dress code. Attire that is not appropriate in a professional workplace or place of worship is not appropriate attire for school. We appreciate individual expression, and encourage each student to take pride in their personal presentation”? If someone takes exception to the way a student dresses, it should be up to the staff and administration to address that concern *with the person who complained*. Find out why it’s upsetting them. Don’t just take the easy way out (easy for you; not for the students) and tell the student whose dress has upset someone to go home and change. Use this as a way to demonstrate professional and respectful discussion.

Here’s one of the subtexts about all of this that really pisses me off: that girls displaying their shoulders or backs or thighs or whatever part of their body in some way has a deleterious effect on the male students. That male students are *unable to concentrate* if there’s a girl’s bare shoulder in the room.

a) Teenagers are unable to concentrate *most of the time*. This is a SCIENTIFIC FACT. Their brains are still developing. You can try all you want to force adolescents to act like adults, but for the most part, they can’t. It’s not because they’re trying to be assholes; it’s because their brains aren’t adult brains.

b) Boys cannot control their sexual desires. This, to put it bluntly, is utter bullshit. Adolescents are flooded with sex hormones, and they are *all* horny, *all the time*. Boys, girls, folks in between or uncertain or undecided about their gender – they are all full of crazy hormones that make their bodies react to things in weird and unpredictable ways. Boners happen, people. Girl boners and boy boners. Sometimes it’s because of a shoulder; sometimes it’s because of a granola bar. Sometimes, there’s no reason. Teens think about sex all the time, and whether someone’s shoulder is covered or bare *isn’t going to make a difference*. Folks attracted to boobs will still think about boobs, whether or not any part of that boob is anywhere near visible. Folks attracted to bums will still think about bums, regardless of how short the shorts are or how tight the jeans are. For the love of little baby Jesus in a sparkly red Speedo(tm), teenagers are distracted by thoughts of LUNCH as much as they are distracted by thoughts of bare shoulders. To blame boys for not being able to control their urges is sexism. And to blame GIRLS for boys not being able to control their own urges is just stupid. It’s a throwback to outdated puritanical ideals about sex (and women in particular) being “dirty”. So get over it.

c) Certain kinds of clothing are morally wrong because it is provocative. “Provocative” is an interesting choice here. It connotes intent. So by telling a student that they are dressed provocatively, you’re telling them they are choosing to cause annoyance or to arouse sexual desire. That might be the case. I know when I was into punk culture, I wore things that made people angry or disgusted. But I dressed that way because I liked it. It looked good. I didn’t get up in the morning and pick out my “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” shirt because I wanted to piss people off. I got up in the morning and wore that because I love the band and I love the song and it was my favourite shirt. (Aside, RIP Nazi Punks Fuck Off shirt.) I’d be willing to give most people a pass on the whole “you wore that tank top because you wanted people to get boners looking at you” accusation because I honestly don’t believe that giving people boners is at the top of the list of why people dress the way they do.

d) There’s something bigger at work here, and that is how we each of us is taught (or learns) to assess attractiveness. Regardless of gender, we learn that extremely toned, athletic bodies are the “norm” and the goal. Big boobs on girls and wide, muscular shoulders on boys – that’s what everyone wants, right? So instead of focusing on style that empowers each of us, we are pigeonholed into the lowest common denominator – we believe something is attractive/stylish because that’s what we’re told is attractive/stylish.

None of this is going to be solved in an afternoon. But I do applaud the students who stand up for their beliefs and opinions. I applaud the young woman who told her school that how someone else reacts to what she chooses to wear is not her fault. If she dresses in something that she has worn or would wear to church, what makes wearing it to school so bad? It’s okay for people to have sexy thoughts about one another in church but in school, it’s bad? Cue the discussion about how sex is not bad or dirty, bodies are not naughty, and people are not sex objects.