Music Fatigue – NaBloPoMo Day 14

There’s an interesting conundrum in the fall, that gets people arguing every year. More than just Daylight Saving Time (which is silly and all this malarky with changing clocks makes no sense). More than just who’s going to sit where at Thanksgiving. More than the gamble of when you’re to change over from summer to winter tyres. The conundrum is this: when is it okay to start playing holiday music?

Morally, ethically, you should never stop playing the music you love. If “Little Drummer Boy” gets your libido up, then blast those rum pum pum pums to your heart’s content. The thing is, early seasonal music has been scientifically proven* to cause what’s called “music fatigue”, and has been linked to mild to moderate cases of eye-rolling, heavy sighs, and general grinchitude. If it’s the first time you’ve heard all the ohs in the “Angels We Have Heard on High”, you get that warm feeling in the pit of your belly. But by the tenth time, you just want to gouge out your eardrums with a set of car keys.

If we have to enter a commercial retail outlet between October and January, we run the risk of hearing “Good King Wassisname” thirty times before we escape. I play in a concert band. We start rehearsing our holiday music in September. I’m done with the ‘ohs’ sometime in November.

More concerning to me is the monoculture we’re all too comfortable with spending outrageous gobs of money on. I think that’s for another post, but surely to #Glob there are more than a dozen holiday carols/songs to choose from. Up with Boney M! Down with rum pum pum pums! Up with Danny Elfman holiday themes!

*If you define “scientific” as “I totally made this up”

Cat videos – NaBloPoMo Day 13

Let’s take a moment to remember the origins of something that’s changed the way we do business, the way we consume arts and culture, and ultimately, the way we communicate.

In the 1960s, the US government (particularly the department of defence) was working to develop a communications network that could reliably be deployed across great distances and that would survive nuclear war. They were working on using telephone lines, partly because telephone lines were hard-wired and didn’t just rely on electromagnetic waves, which are prone to radioactive interference. They actually moved a crapload of funding from ballistic missile research to this packet switching idea that had been developed out of mathematical studies of queueing theory.

Cue the 1980s and there was a network being used by defence and by academics. But this is also the time personal computers began entering the market, and the people who used those computers were starting to get excited about this big, huge, super fast communications network. Having the ability for your personal computer to link up, over your phone line, to someone across the world, instantaneously, to transfer files and work collaboratively had huge implications for research, business, finance, and communications.

But there was a darker side to all of this. Something that nobody could see coming. Something that would someday undo, or attempt to undo, all that those pioneers had wrought.

Cat videos.

I’m 99% positive that if the people who developed ARPANET back in the 60s knew just what all us weirdos were going to use their technology for, they’ve have thrown their hands up in the air and said “screw it”.

So that was a thing – NaBloPoMo Day 12

*warning: you may wish to pre-clutch your pearls because this is a seriously hardcore post*

we went to the new Costco today. I was supposed to get a hot dog but I didn’t. #HisNibs made a hot dog for supper at home instead. The new Costco is exactly like the old Costco, except bigger, filled with more people, much more annoying to get to, and with less room in the aisles.

I don’t know why Costco is such a big deal. It kind of makes me feel dead inside.

Could Have Been – NaBloPoMo Day 11


So here’s the thing.

  1. NEW PHONE WHO DIS – yeah, I got a new phone. I thought everything was working but I was, as our friend Big T would say, “I was mistooken”.
  2. Days go by SUPER fast now. I swear to Glob I thought last week was next week and I thought Friday was Saturday. WTF.
  3. So that’s the thing.


Wrong Universe – NaBloPoMo Day 8

My mum was a brilliant woman. So was my grandmother. So is my aunt. So is my other aunt. It’s pretty cool the amount of brain power all the wymmyns be bringin’ all up in this family. I used to sit on the corner of mum’s bed and watch her put on “her face” in the morning, and I never really understood what all of that was about. Sure, wearing makeup is a rite of passage in western culture, but it was always a nonsensical one to me.

I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to feel like they look their best. I do, however, begrudge the entire society that tells people they don’t look their best without all that shit on their faces. That imperfections aren’t part of the beauty. That youth and smooth skin are the acme of attractiveness. I tried wearing makeup. I really did. I had the foundation (mousse, because the other stuff just made me feel like I was wearing grease paint from drama productions), the eyeshadow (greens and browns), the mascara, the lip gloss. I tried curling my eyelashes (nearly put out my own eyes multiple times. Note: eyelash curlers are basically the exact shape and size as an eyeball scooper-outer).

It was different when I wore theatrical makeup or when I hid behind the white foundation and the black eyeliner. Or I guess I didn’t hide behind it so much as I just really liked the aesthetic. That was conceptually different for me because although it still hurt (putting anything on my face, even most moisturisers, hurts. It burns like burning things), it wasn’t about trying to be someone else’s ideal of what was attractive. It was about what I liked to look at in the mirror.

Anyway. Point here is that I never quite grokked makeup. Fast forward a few years, and an aesthetician I was in a play with told me I probably have rosacea. That certainly made sense, as my cheeks have always been apple-red, and the skin on my face is prone to burning. Not from the sun, but from sunblock, lotion, moisturiser, cosmetics, and pointed stares. I don’t really care most of the time. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and I deal with it as best I can. Some day if it gets Really Bad, I’ll go see a dermatologist. For now, it’s just one of those annoying things, like those wee little ants at your picnic.

Today I went to a cosmetics shop, because I’m tired of the burst blood vessels in my cheeks making me look like a drunk. I walked in and I said, “hello, cosmetics consultants. I do not wear cosmetics. I do not wish to start wearing cosmetics. I do, however, wish to stop looking like a drunk because of my rosacea. Please help.”

It only took a little bit of me saying “no, that is foundation. I do not want foundation. I do not want to even out my skin tone. I want to make the burst blood vessels in my cheeks look less red, without having to put crap on my whole face” and “sister, the only blending I do is with ice, tequila, and margarita mix” before the consultant showed me a moisturiser (which I may or may not be able to use; we’re testing it today) and a colour-correcting cream that is not a tinted moisturiser or a foundation or anything I have to match to anything else. I said, “it takes me less than two minutes to get ready in the morning. I don’t want to add to that.”

She said, “what the hell are you talking about? It takes me two hours!”

I did the math.

That’s like a month a year she spends getting ready to leave her house. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what she wants to do, more power to her. But I’m sure as shit not giving up a whole month a year just to gouge out my own eyes and paint minerals on my skin.

She asked me about my “beauty routine”. I said it was reading.

What’s yours?

Empty – NaBloPoMo Day 7

I worked pretty hard this past weekend. I was at a retreat. Had some rewriting to do on a manuscript. Thought it’d be easy. Boy, was I wrong. I mean. I knew I had a lot to rework. I just had no idea that I could actually focus like that. Focusing isn’t really one of my strong suits.

I’m a lateral thinker. I get thoughts in literal bubbles, and they often float away or just out of reach. They’re usually all interconnected, but it’s like the time I looked at my friend and said, excitedly, “hey, you know what’s a great movie?!” and he said “what?!” just as excitedly, and then I said, also with the same level of excitement, “SHIT! I FORGET!” I did eventually remember what the movie was (Leatherheads), but it was during a different conversation quite some time later, and in the middle of a sentence about, I dunno, homemade bread, I said “oh yeah, that movie was Leatherheads, and anyway you have to proof the yeast first”. So being focused for an entire weekend on just one thing was incredible.

Except now I feel empty. It’s like when you’re pregnant for ten months and then all of a sudden you’re not. I don’t know if everyone feels like this when they’re kinda done a project, but I’m not sure it’s pleasant. I’m not sure it’s exactly unpleasant either. But it is different.

Are you more excited at the beginning of a project, in the middle of it, or at the end of it? Are you the sort of person who thinks in straight lines, or do you think-fart? Enquiring minds want to know.

Home – NaBloPoMo Day 6

Pretty sure that in most prairie homes there is someone’s gran’s needlework that says “home is where the heart is”. We never had that on the wall at our house because my grandmother was a nurse and she used to say things like “the thoracic cavity is where the heart is”, and also she hated needlework. Of course, now that I’ve just mentioned this I’ve decided I need to do a needlepoint of a drippy heart with “the thoracic cavity is where the heart is” and hang it on the wall.

“Home” is an interesting concept. Is it a house? A physical place? Is it a state of being? I used to walk out along the dam at the farm and sit on the big lichen-covered boulders under the scraggly trees among the long, whispering grasses and feel like I was home. Unequivocally home. Or watching waves crash on a rocky, unforgiving shoreline. That was home too.

Picked up a traveller on the highway yesterday and he’d just sold his house. Called himself “homeless”, but talked about the place he’s living and the people he cares for and who care for him and I wondered if he were actually homeless or if he was just houseless.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a theory which is over 70 years old, so I’m sure it’s been updated, changed, tweaked, and possibly dismissed; I’m not up on current psychological/behavioural research), physiological security is the base of the pyramid. But is that “home”, or is that “shelter”? Is there a difference?

What is “home” for you? How does “home is where…” end for you?

Snow Sky – NaBloPoMo Day 5

“Winter Fence” by MEJones is a royalty-free image from stock.xchng
I don’t like snow skies. I don’t like grey air and grey skies. Not one bit. I look at the ground a lot when there’s sky-poop happening.

I don’t mind when the sky poop lands and it’s all pretty and sparkly and new and fresh and why the shit did I only wear sandals to this retreat because now it’s snowing and who does that? Who. Does. That.

Anyway, I think I’ve finished the second draft of a novel that, the more I think about it, the more it seems derivative, but then I squint my eyes a bit and it’s not so bad. I think it’ll be okay. I guess you could argue that everything since the very first novel is derivative. Maybe it’s not even all that bad of a thing. At least it’s identifiable.

Probably it isn’t at all. Derivative, I mean. It’s just that I’ve been sitting at this writing desk for three days and I’ve managed to get a novel completely rewritten and I think my eyes might be bleeding. I only sobbed twice. A day.

So I’ll look at the sky poop laying around on the ground and hope my bald tyres get me home today and I guess start on a new book. Maybe it’s time to try to compile a poetry manuscript.

Concern – NaBloPoMo Day 4

My father was asking recently whether any more of my articles might be featured on the CBC website. I mentioned I hadn’t pitched any lately, mostly for REASONS that involve being a) pretty busy; b) kinda brain-dead; c) most likely undernourished since our oven is busted and my slow cooker is pooched and basically all we have to eat is cereal and eggs in a nest. I maybe didn’t mention that last one.

He asked whether I’d had any feedback from the ones that have already been featured and I said yes, people tell me when they see the humour pieces. Sometimes they get shared on social media. It’s fun, I told him. I like to make people smile.

“Well do you get any negative comments?” He asked.

I said no, people are pretty much universally nice about my general dorkiness and smartassitude.

“I just got worried that maybe they had comments,” he said. “You know, negative comments. Like maybe someone didn’t like what you had to say and they commented.”

But I understood what he was getting at. The now nearly throw-away acknowledgements you hear every time someone mentions “social media” (which is different from websites, but that’s another post). Oh you know how people can be on social media, they say. I appreciated his concern.

I said, I haven’t, Dad. If people are put out by the articles I’ve written, they’ve not said anything to me. But even if they did, I’ve had my share of trolls and it’s okay.

It’s okay.

What’s the most effective way you’ve found of dealing with trolls? I assume “blocking and muting” will be the top answers, but what else, if anything, do you do when someone comments just to try to get under your skin?

Blinders – NaBloPoMo Day 3

Sometimes I’m positive the dog has the right idea. Probably this is why people started keeping their domesticated animals in their houses with them; they saw reflected in their animal buddies aspects of their own natures that they couldn’t quite talk about for whatever reason. Maybe they couldn’t name it because they were afeared. Maybe they didn’t want to name it because they didn’t want to acknowledge it was a thing. Maybe they were just inventing language and literally didn’t have the words.

It’s difficult to know whether “the world” is actually the burning shitheap it makes itself out to be, and whether it truly is “the worst”. Because you’re living through it. I like to ask my elders, was it ever this bad before? The world, the way people in it treat each other, politics, divisiveness? Has it ever been this bad?

Of course it’s too easy to say the people on the planet have gone to hell in a handbasket because of social media. It’s simply not true, and people have been making those claims since the beginning of society (because of the Internet in general; because of television; because of radio; because of rock music; because of Godlessness; because of dancing; because of the free market; because of the rise of the middle class; because of industrialisation; because of this cultural influence or that one). Maybe it’s a hallmark of “growunuppitude” that you sit back, take a look around, and wonder if you’ve managed to achieve your goal to leave something better than how you found it and then it hits you that you’ve ROYALLY fucked up that goal.

I don’t know.

But there are days, my friend. There are days I’d just like to stick my head in a yogurt container and muddle through as best as I can. What do those days look like for you?

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