Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2009:

The year started off with a job hunt that brought back nothing for the first few weeks. Several interviews and no jobs later, I was getting frustrated. Bettsy called me with an opportunity to interview with her workplace--a not-for-profit rural organization out in Nisku--around the same time that I got a callback from the Art Gallery of Alberta. Both interviews went well and were for very similar positions in communications. Both were a step in the right direction for my career, and an opportunity to take the reins in creating and promoting the communications department for either organization. While the AGA appealed to my pretentious creative side and was closer to home, it just couldn't offer the growth and salary potential of the other position, which I took and began in mid-March.

Around that time, I also started reconnecting with online personals, after a year-and-a-bit hiatus from men. A couple of dates here, a few there, then met BV, whom I dated for the next six months. He was unlike anyone I'd ever dated before, and was a personal challenge to myself, to test my judgements, needs and relationship quibbles. He had a...how do I put this...alternative lifestyle, to say the least. Though I did enjoy the tattoos, the rest was hard to reconcile. Fortunately, I only semi-invested in him, and so waited it out until it became less than enjoyable for me.

In the meantime, I immersed myself in my new role, creating newsletters, working on websites, creating communications plans and even publishing several magazines (!) Within three months, I'd become a permanent employee AND received a hefty bump in pay. I treated myself to a new car (a wee Yaris--more economical and fuel-efficient for getting to and from work daily) and a trip to NYC, where I spent 10 days getting cultured, drunk and clothed in finery.

My job agreed to help me pay for school, which helped immensely as I entered my second-to-last semester of the PR program.

I began blogging again, after a long absence, finally recovering a small bit of my voice.

In October, I went on a fantastic date with a new and intriguing young man with interesting facial hair: LS. Two months later, I am smitten in a way I have not been in years, with a person who meshes with me far better than my previous, long-term relationship even did. I am thrilled to spend tonight, New Year's eve at the close of the decade, with someone who holds such promise for me. I am in a good place in many respects, and all through my own ingenuity and of my own volition. While I still need to ensure that I don't start holding myself back with my own neuroses and insecurities, the rest of life doesn't seem to be stopping me. I am grateful and glad. LS: I can't wait to ring in the New Year with a kiss from you tonight.

To all the rest: much love and smooches under your special fireworks tonight.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2008:

Work closed as soon as an election was called in the early new year. Dusted off the old C.V. and papered the town with it. After many frustrating weeks of prospects going nowhere or calls going unreturned, I finally got an interview with a west-end car company that was looking for a copywriter for its marketing department. Though I had limited marketing experience (ok, none) I had good writing experience, which managed to secure the job for me. While it wasn't my ideal, it was a new opportunity to expand my skills and, more importantly, a chance to get the hell away from the Legislature job that had turned south.

Got a pay raise and an opportunity to get out of dodge, but otherwise, the job became fairly monotonous fairly quickly, and wasn't the challenge I'd hoped for. Still, it gave me an opportunity to improve my marketing skills and teach myself (with the help from our graphic designer) how to do internet and basic design, both skills I've developed further and used with greater success in current endeavours.

Around May, I started getting the idea in my head that I'd really like to get my own place, now that I was working full-time and was a relatively successful, upwardly-mobile type. Plus, with rental rates skyrocketing, I figured if I could somehow find a mortgage that would allow me to pay similar monthly amounts to what I was paying to my landlord, then I could both have property to call my own and still be able to afford the rest of my life. What started as an investigative session quickly evolved into a mission to find the perfect place. Amazingly, I managed to find a bank that would give me a mortgage, and started looking to make an offer. It was a modest amount, and I only had limited funds for a deposit, but I manged to find a recently renovated, large and most-importantly inexpensive one-bedroom in a terrific neighbourhood. I remember shaking as I signed the papers with the lawyer (I had a lawyer?...wow...) at taking such a big step in my life. I don't think I'd ever felt so grown up, or so much like a lost child conning her way into making the adults think she was more precocious and clever than she really was. Either way, it was mine. I moved in at the beginning of August, painted the walls bright colours and proudly surveyed my own, 750 sq. ft. realm.

I didn't do any travelling in 2008, as it was THE YEAR OF THE WEDDING in Ms. Fitz's world. Brother got hitched on May 2nd, in a modest, beautiful, super-fun wedding. Jenna and Sean were a month later, on June 14, and Lindsay and Rick had their lucky half-Chinese 8-8-8 wedding in August. As maid of honour, I expected a lot more responsibility than I was ultimately given. Having a mom and a wedding planner helped Lindsay take the pressure off and ensured that our biggest responsibilities were getting ready and having fun.

The rest of the summer involved fun marketing gigs with work, such as hanging out with local celebrity types (i.e. Oilers) at golf tournaments and at a super-sweet suite at the Indy. The job had pretty much run its course by the end of the year, however, and I started to look for opportunities to expand my horizons.

In October, I finally added a much-wanted member to my family by adopting (and later renaming) a stray named Marshmallow from the Humane Society. She became my Olivia (Ollie) Oliver Oxenfree, and has spent the past year both annoying and charming me--often simultaneously.

Rocked out on New Year's with a GOB concert and a close group of buds. Dancing, sweating and drinking in a mosh pit was a great send off to a solid year.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2007:

With the encouragement of dear Bettsy, I decided to hop back onto the relationship pony and signed up for several online dating sites. While a little self-loathing and embarrassment was inevitable, the chance to "get back out there" in the cliched sense was good. Had some good, bad and plain old awful dates, none of which went anywhere until about May/June, when I had a 2-week relationship that ended in kaleidoscopic flames. *shudder*

In the summer I went back to Quebec to visit my family for the first time since 2003. It was different being all growed up, without a grandmother (who'd passed months earlier) or grandfather to welcome me to the cottage. The place had changed: old trees that had previously towered over the cottage had fallen down in a storm or been torn down out of fear of them crushing the tiny house below. The tree fort my cousins and I had played in as children was taken down, having fallen into disuse and rotted. I guess I really couldn't go home again. It wasn't all bad, however. I still managed to appreciate the beauty of the place and the memories it evoked around every corner, on every smooth stone and bright wildflower.

Returned to work and started my new job within the caucus: my second promotion within a year, this time to an event coordinator under a new boss. New boss was grossly unlike the old boss. By the end of the fall session, several staff members had quit, the place was in shambles and the remaining staff held together by sheer force of will and a shared sense of disillusionment. By November, I was looking for new work. It would take several months before I'd find it, however.

During this dim period, a bright light was my return to school, in the form of an after-degree diploma program in Public Relations at MacEwan college (now university). My previous education, current work and classes all benefitted each other, helping me firm up my career path.

New Year's with my friends was laid-back: time with Bettsy and her then-new beau, Brett, their friends and Mr. and Mrs. P. Fireworks, drinks and board games. Definitely a more adult approach to the celebrations.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2006:

I was brought pretty low by my relationship issues, which were made worse by my lack of career direction or even a steady source of income. Was living back at home with mum, curled up in the foetal position for much of the first few months.

In March, my temp agency got me an interview with the Liberal caucus at the Legislature, working as an admin assistant. Though I was way over-qualified, I had no job experience to speak of, and it sounded like a good place to move up, should I be given the opportunity to get hired on permanently. Interviewed with my soon-to-be favourite boss ever, darling Leigh, who would not only inspire and encourage me at work, but restore my confidence and become a dear friend. (she called me "smuggles" since I am, well, quite proud of my wit betimes. OK, at all times.)

The weekend before I was to start my new job, MJ and I had a talk about the "break" we were on and decided that a break-up was a better choice. That evening, I went out for drinks to welcome Ms. Coco D. back from two years teaching in Japan. Travel, relationships and work all converged on the 6th of March that year. It was a turning point for the good, however.

I loved my new job. While it was easy and used few of my more marketable skills, I was earning a regular paycheque, surrounded by young, well-educated, involved people helping the opposition politicians when they were in session at the Legislature. It was great to work with a close-knit group, going out for beers every Thursday at the now-razed Globe pub.

I saved my pennies and packed my bags in anticipation of getting my own place, which I did on Canada Day. Great first apartment: a large, clean, inexpensive one-bedroom basement suite on 99th street and 90th Ave. I was within walking distance of Whyte Avenue, hip little cafes and the beautiful river valley--through which I could walk to work in the morning.

Enjoyed a rather debauched summer and relearned how to flirt with boys as my heart mended itself. In the fall, determined to travel again, this time on a three-week jaunt to London, Paris and Munich (for Oktoberfest...or so we thought) with my brother and his then-girlfriend.

Had a terrific time in Europe, making some fantastic new friends (love you, Mr. PM) and indulging in the sort of international romping I was unable to do as a taken woman in Ireland.

When I returned to Canada, I received a promotion at work: a new position was created just for me as a correspondence writer for caucus.

I celebrated my first Christmas in my own home, with my own little tree, and rang in the new year with friends.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2005:

Started the year off by getting my work visa and plane ticket together, picking a date to leave for Ireland (March 15, how historically significant.) I was very excited. Well...mostly excited. Also stressed at leaving my boyfriend at home for six months, which led to fights, tears and a heart-stopping breakup. No, really. I think my heart literally stopped for the first time. Like Ralph Wiggum in slo-mo. Awful. Painful. And definitely not the ideal way to embark on the travel experience of a lifetime.

The last month I was a ball of nerves, not wanting to leave MJ behind, not wanting to breakup, but most of all not wanting to give up my lifelong dream of independent travel for anything or anyone. So I left home, hugged MJ and my mom in the airport, hopped on the plane and had a total emotional breakdown. Once I got over my jet-laggedness and initial overload, I set out to prove to myself that I could make it on my own from scratch and find enjoyment, travel and experience to boot.

I moved in with two girls, an American and a fellow Canuck, and got a job at a hotel. On days off, I'd make day trips, or try to get a few days off in a row so I could see the coast or various touristy destinations across Ireland. I travelled to Belgium, Scotland and England. Journaled daily about my experiences. Noticed that the misery and loneliness of my bouts of homesickness and MJ sickness actually benefitted me more than the good times. In growth as a person, at least.

I returned home at the end of August, a few weeks shy of my 6-month term. Changed my ticket and surprised my friends by arriving home early. Nearly gave my mom a heart attack when I showed up at her work. Made my sister a puddle of tears in Tim Horton's. Ok, so that one was meaner than I'd intended.

Getting used to being home again was dizzying, particularly as I was without job, career prospects or a sure footing as to which particular direction my life was going. I worked as a temp and made awkward attempts to mend my relationship with MJ, which crumbled away just in time for our second anniversary. Decided to take a break while he sorted out his shit, and spent the last weeks of 2005 alone.

I remember going to Lindsay's for New Year's and being so devastated that I couldn't feign happiness or joy at the thought of a party. Instead, my darling Kelly brought me over to her place for movies, snuggles and talk. Finishing up the year with a shoulder to cry on. Sad as I was, it was good to know I had one.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2004:

First few months were honeymoon period with MJ, acting nauseatingly cute and in love as only 21-/22-year-0lds can. Until, of course, I started feeling unwell in March and started stressing about my last term of school.

Last few classes of university were all English. I was reading up to 1,000 pages a week, on average, and getting great marks to go along with my hard work. I stopped writing for the Gateway, which was a difficult decision, but again, I put school as the priority. Particularly during the last semester, when I would write my honours thesis--a crucial part of my program.

I am never one to balk at a challenge. In fact, I tend to seek the challenge then, upon not finding it challenging enough, I add another level of difficulty to make it extra stress-inducing. I think it's the adrenaline rush. Or the misery. Perhaps they fuel my creativity in combination. Who knows? Anyway: my thesis was on literary theory. Particularly, the theory behind a two-page story by Franz Kafka, a strange, difficult writer par excellence. By why not go big in your final semester? Well, no big deal, I guess. Unless, of course, you come down with Mono.

Yep. Mononucleosis. My last month of school, with final papers, final exams and a thesis due, I came down with a debilitating illness that left me out of school for the remainder of the term, asleep 22 hours a day, and with rising piles of homework and stress to complete during my two lucid hours each day. Somehow, I slogged through. Ended up finishing my thesis in May and graduating in November. No big deal, in retrospect, but it crushed me at the time. All my big plans to make my BA my bitch, out the window. Did get an A on the thesis, though...

The next 6 months were a huge transition period. Mono has a long recovery time, and the stress I put myself under created terrible tummy pains that made me vomit regularly and drink pepto bismol by the gallon. I figured I'd created an ulcer, but after months of testing, finally determined it was acid reflux. Doesn't sound as bad, though it felt just as painful as an ulcer. Add to this my post-graduate feelings of both completion and anticipation made me anxious to know: "What's next?!"

I worked several jobs, each as forgettable and awful as the last. Decided to save my money and take time off to travel, as I had always hoped to do upon graduation. So every penny earned went towards getting a work visa, a plane ticket and some money to Europe. Decided to move to Ireland, and got excited for my trip.

MJ and I did our own things on New Year's after a Christmas together exchanging awesome gifts and celebrating our first anniversary together. Partied at Lindsay's parents' place like a foolio and rang in the good ol' aught-five.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2003:

Great year for exploration, travel, fun, friends and amour. Decided on my path in school after realizing that every second class I took was an English class. So I entered honours English and spent hours with my essays, novels and literary theory texts. Loved it. Kept writing for the Gateway, including features and reviews, but mostly stuck to my favourite: opinion pieces.

In the winter, Bettsy and I decided to get a leg up on the competition for summer jobs by applying really, really early for good positions. As we looked through books of summer internships and tree planting opportunities, I came across a three-month student work exchange program to Quebec, where I could work for the government, practice my French and have a grand old time. So, of course, I applied. Didn't think I would get an interview. Well, not only did I get an interview: I was chosen for the exchange.

Moved to Montreal in May and stayed with ma belle cousine, Emma, until August. Best summer of my life, and more fun crammed into three short months than I had in the previous three years combined. I came home with no money, tons of clothes and 10 lbs. of weight put on by excessive drinking and eating out in expensive restaurants. But damn: that was good. Had a tight-knit group of friends that to this day I keep in touch with. Buds for life, one of whom I caught up with this summer, and another I drove down to Calgary to visit just this Christmas.

Came home in time to help my friend Scotty celebrate his marriage to (my future hetero-soulmate) Alex. First marriage amongst my friends. They did it in style, whisking away to Hawaii and throwing an after-party for the well-wishers. Which is where I met MJ, my first great love and longest relationship to-date. Totally not the type I thought I'd go for: big jock with a shaved head. However, the travel tales and lost puppyness won me over in the end. By December it was official, and it was the young love you always know young love to be. Of course, older, wiser and more embittered know better, but 21, footloose and fancy-free: that's a special moment in time. Can't take it back, nor would I want to, as I learned so much, not just about love, but about myself in relationships, my quibbles, hangups, dealbreakers and absolute necessities.

Spent New Year's in style with my Montreal crew, partying it up in Banff and calling MJ at midnight to wish him a happy New Year. Never did spend a New Year's together, despite dating for two years. Nothing telling. Just...is.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2002:

The year began with a funeral. The first funeral for many of my friends. The only funeral I've ever had for a friend. The most difficult funeral to attend. I would dream a lot of Steph P. in the following weeks and months. Hell, to this day, I still dream of her. In my dreams, she forgave me my sins against her and I was able to stop blaming myself somehow for her death. Some days it worked. Some days? Not so much.

After a year from hell, I started seeing a therapist at the university, who helped me try to sort out the psychological beating I'd taken. Talking helped. Meds helped. Being in school, finding a routine and partying as hard as I could also helped.

Started hanging out with a group of fratboys my then-friend Zach belonged to. Started dating one--a freshman named James. It's funny now to look back at your relationship choices and ask yourself what you were thinking. I'll delve no further into that. Suffice that it was a brief, rather...ridiculous situation.

Luckily, 2002 was a crazy year for getting involved and getting over myself and the problems in my head. I wrote constantly for the Gateway and hung out with the crowd there. They were a complete opposite group from the fratboys, and I loved the dichotomy between the social circles I ran in.

I didn't do as well in school this year, but I was having too much fun to care. Two friends, Bettsy and Jane, came back from trips abroad in 2001-02, and I was stoked to have my friends back with me and having fun. Jane and I stopped being friends in that same year, but it was good to have her back for that while it lasted.

In the summer, I quit my longest-term job ever at the library (3 years, baby!) and started my favourite-ever job working at Jax Bean Stop, a coffee shop in Sherwood Park. It paid shit and was exhausting, but I loved every minute of it. My Kelly and her boyfriend, Gord, would come visit and pick me up after work, after which we'd go hang out, do summer stuff, the usual.

In the fall I traveled to Vancouver with the Gateway and had an opportunity to apply for a position that opened up. I made the choice to focus on school rather than apply to work for the student paper. This would become a turning point for me, making a deliberate choice to pursue my academic writing over journalism. Even now, I vacillate and wonder if perhaps I should have pursued newspaper writing further. And maybe I will. But my life wouldn't be what it is had I made that choice. And I like the way things went for me. Without those choices, I would never have had the 2003 I had--perhaps my favourite year of the decade.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

2001:

Met my first serious boyfriend. Clarkie. Well, Mike, actually. He was two years older and lived in residence with Heather. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Geology student. After nine months together, discovered I liked his family way more than him. First serious breakup ensued.

2001 was a rough year, full of personal turmoil and tragedy. What started wonderfully ended fitfully, particularly when my best friend--Steph P.--and Mike determined they didn't care for each other and I became a battlefield for their petty competitions and jealousies. Didn't want to lose my best friend or my boyfriend, so I didn't choose. Steph and I stopped speaking in the summertime, which I can now admit was a more heartrending breakup than the one that came later with Mike. It was silly and juvenile and was something we would have gotten over. Had we had time. Sadly, that was all the time we'd have.

2001 for me was the onset of the Great Depression. Not a sparse desertification of my self, but rather a descent into the depths of misery. It was a combination of many compounding factors that have left a legacy I still feel to this day. I had several near-rock bottoms, but not until September did I truly hit it.

In June I awoke one day to excruciating pain in my back and abdomen. After several days of hospital visits and agony, I was diagnosed with gallstones and had my second organ (after my appendix) removed. The recovery time was long and painful, and I spent the summer indoors, watching movies and wishing I could be out with my friends. My boyfriend came to visit, but there was resentment after losing my friend and sadness at missing the socializing I was used to.

It came to a head just before school started again. I woke up one day and couldn't get out of bed. My stomach was in knots and I wanted to sink into a hole and never get out. Mike and I broke up. Both my grandfathers died within several months. Then Steph went into the hospital in November. I visited her once, where we had an awkward conversation, skirting around the obviously stupid feud and trying to open the doors of communication, if briefly.

She died at the end of December.

Guilt, depression and stress made for dark times, but there were moments of levity and promise. I started writing for the Gateway, the campus newspaper, with encouragement from my dear friend Leah. This opened up an outlet for expression and an opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences I never otherwise would have had.

New Year's Eve ended with a big shebang at Bettsy's. Mandy and I shared a bottle of Absinthe and we toasted to Steph's memory. It was a hell of a party. A hell of a year.

'Why I Aught-a': a decade in review

While one could argue that every second of one's existence brings change, this decade spelled enormous change in Ms. Fitz's life. The 2000s is the decade where I reached adulthood, discovered who I was and who I wanted to be.

I got an education. Got a job. Got laid. Got drunk. Had my heart broken, my mind expanded and my self brought both low and high. I got a life and learned how to live it. I enjoyed the good, learned from the bad and slogged through the ugly. I explored, experimented and evolved.

Here I am, with both successes and failures, the many-layered, metamorphosed Ms. Fitz. More success than failure, I'd say, though which benefitted me greater only time will tell.

***

2000:

Rang in the new millennium with my high school girlfriends at a basement party with a six-pack of coolers and passed out on the couch, safe in a Y2K-free world. By the end of the year, I would no longer be friends with most of these people. Nothing terrible or dramatic--just a big year of transitions and changes.

I looked forward to playing my final year of rugby for the school team. Instead, I tore my ACL in the first game and required knee surgery that ended any small sports inclination that I had.

Turned 18 and enjoyed both my first drunken night out at a dive bar and my first lapdance in the same evening.

Began my birthday May Long camping tradition: a half-dozen friends, a couple of tents and a whole lot of drinking. Drinking would play a large part of the next few years. My liver will thank me later, I'm sure.

I finished high school. Had a fantastic grad afterparty at Bettsy's, from what I can (fuzzily) remember. Loved my grad gown. Still wish I fit it. Don't think I still even own it.

Spent my last summer at the family cottage with my grandparents, who celebrated their 50th anniversary. Was the last time I would have my whole family together for a huge, festive occasion. Wouldn't see them again for three years. Wouldn't see my grandpa again, as he passed away the next year.

In September, started my first year of university at the U of A. At this point, knew I was going to be an Arts student, but still had it in my head that I was going to major in Anthropology. University was a place where I felt I belonged for the first time in my life. Lightyears beyond high school. Surrounded by people with whom I could share and discuss ideas. Participating in intelligent conversations in the day, and getting blind drunk on pubcrawls in the night, while still managing to pull off nearly straight A's in every class.

My social butterfly spread its wings; I couldn't get enough of meeting new people in class, in extra-curricular activities and at the PowerPlant (RIP).

My first-ever class was an English course on the study of the British novel. That class and the professor who taught it would change the course of my future studies, building upon my love of reading and creating the writer who lives today.

While most people got chubbier eating and drinking through the university lifestyle, I got super-skinny. Thought I'd hit the metabolism jackpot. Would learn later that in fact I had gallstones and a gall bladder infection that would lead to serious pain and surgery later on. But at the time, I just dug fitting all the small and kid-sized clothes I could. Belly shirts. With oversized yellow modrobes pants (shit, remember those?) and candy-kid bracelets. Died my hair black-red then black-blue, and had the energy to put contacts in every morning, so I never wore glasses. (Today I hardly take them off.)

Ended the year with friends and fireworks, and a tinsel-y headband in my hair. Remember dancing in my kitchen with Steph P., Erin, Corine, Heather and Kelly to Moby's 'Play' Album. Snuggled together in my basement, watching movies and made brunch on New Year's Day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Christmas Monkey


It's important to count my blessings this Christmas, as I have so many:
  • A great job with a good organization that lets me do the kind of work I enjoy and am good at. (and pays well, too!)
  • A home of my own, with my very own kitty to terrorize me and try to tear the home apart
  • A family that loves me and supports me in everything I do
  • Ditto friends
  • My health, particularly now that I'm starting to work out regularly again
  • A new man who makes me happier than I thought I could be, and better than I thought I deserved
  • An education that's almost done, and with nearly straight A's (and with help paying from work, another bonus to my job)
  • The privilege to live in a place where I can do, say and think what I want, when I want
and perhaps most importantly:

A Christmas tree that hasn't yet fallen down, thanks to the miracle of fishing wire and a handy mum. 

Merry Christmas, everybody! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random holiday mumblings to self...


Been rather uninspired the past few days to write anything, and am slowly sinking into festive sugar-induced coma, so my apologies for the blather, but blather it be.

Not much planned for the holidays, for the first time in recent memory. Situations aligned themselves to leave me alone on Christmas day, so I'm planning my first Christmas Day movie trip with dad and sister. Will probably see Sherlock Holmes, as nothing with RDJr. and Guy Ritchie can be bad, now can it? Was going to do volunteering, maybe deliver some Santas Anonymous gifts or serve dinner, but dad wasn't up for that--this time of year being a particularly difficult and dour one for him. So movie it is.

LS and I celebrated our first holiday season together by exchanging gifts, which is difficult when you're in such a new relationship and yet already the commitment level and closeness make it feel like forever. I made him a badass toque with a argyll-inspired skull pattern, matching mittens (still in the works) and added a book I'm certain he'll love. He bought me tickets to a really cool performance of Cirque Eloise--a branch-off of Cirque de Soleil with all the acrobatics without the Vegas spectacle. Looks amazing. And yes, we exchanged gifts early, as neither of us is the patient type. This does not bode well for future secret gift-exchanges. But ah well, them's the breaks...

LS is now on his way south to visit the family, while I stay here and chill out. Mom's gone to BC, brother's back in town but busy with the SiL, and sister's free but also committed to activities with the boyfriend. So I've saved up a bunch of episodes of Dexter, Season 4 I've downloaded and will enjoy some Bailey's, leftover Chinese food and serial killing for the holidays.

...While my tree looks like a demented, ADHD-afflicted, mildly retarded four-year-old decorated it, the cat has still not managed to knock it down this year. Picking up random bulbs and placing them back on the tree is the reason behind its current appearance, but I can't be bothered to redecorate. She's particularly fond of the sparkly snowflakes, which tend to be scattered across the living room, through the kitchen and down the hallway when I get home. Try as she might, she's not yet figured out the fishing wire holding the tree upright. The frustration is palpable, however. I expect a look of sneaky triumph if (ok, when) she finally deduces the trick or, by sheer force of will, knocks my liebe tannenbaum over.

Since I'm not volunteering this Christmas, I thought I might make a donation to charity. Unfortunately, there are so many good options out there, it's difficult to choose. I'd like to do something local, though the outcome of Copenhagen has left me angry with our useless government. Particularly when I open the newspaper and read that, while Canadians aren't happy with the results of the conference, it won't change the way they vote in the next election. Gah! Fucking imbecilic citizenry...how you throw a big wet blanket on top of my cheer...So yeah...I might be donating to a green eco-fund. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

...very cheering, and totally un-climate related: my dearest Bettsy and her Brett got engaged over the weekend! I am so thrilled at the news and excited for them. They're both very lucky to have each other, and I couldn't wish them greater happiness.

Merry Christmas everyone. Eat, drink, be merry and safe. And don't forget about the holiday classics:

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Scrooged
Die Hard (what? It happens at Christmas!)
Love, Actually

Friday, December 18, 2009

It could be worse...


**warning: This is a post about sex and birth control. So you can stop right there if you're a big weenie and don't want to read anything "inappropriate". Elsewise, carry on.**


At the ripe old age of 27, I'm trying a new form of birth control for the first time in nearly 10 years. As a woman, birth control is not something I take lightly. While there have been amazing achievements in female forms of birth control, unlike the most common (and easy-to-use) male forms, they tend to be inconvenient, come with side effects or are downright painful. While the birth control pill was a tiny miracle of science that allowed women freedom to express and explore their own sexualities without worrying about the consequences of pregnancy, it isn't for everyone. Like me.

I've tried many forms of chemical/hormonal birth control in my sexual lifetime, with varying degrees of success. Ok, let me clarify: they were successful in preventing pregnancy. However, the impact on my body from hormones and the number they did on my brain made them the wrong choice for me.

Luckily, I've got other choices out there, unlike many women in the world, who find themselves pregnant because of their lack of access to proper female birth control or because their partners are unwilling to use the easier male birth control. And so, in developing countries and even in some less accessible or just downright less educated parts of developed countries, abortion becomes the last-resort form of birth control. This adds a whole new set of complications, such as infection or even death, especially where clinical abortions are restricted or illegal. I'm so fortunate to have a literal smorgasboard of options, particularly when I have such a picky body for these types of things. Otherwise I might--like some of my forebears--resort to animal dung and rusty metal instruments of torture. Yikes.

And now, a little history of birth control, courtesy of Newsweek magazine. Check out those condoms with the little ribbons. How dainty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: The Monkees


"Here we come walkin' down the street/we get the funniest looks from everyone we meet...

HEY HEY WE'RE THE MONKEES!!!"
...and people say they monkey around.

The 60s Beatles knock-off, pushing 50 years old now (holy crap!) may have been more manufactured than the New Kids, but had some rather catchy songs. The only musically talented one was Mike, and he was the least popular. I was always a Davey Jones fan when I watched this as a kid. I think it was the British accent and the dimples. So adorable.
Fave Monkees song? Hmm....I'd probably choose "Daydream Believer." Might have been "I'm a Believer", but I think the Smash Mouth cover ruined it for me. Damn you, Shrek soundtrack!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Climate Change and Copenhagen.

I tend to mock and jeer politics, yet keep my own personal activism out of it. Since the Copenhagen climate talks are underway and will set the precedent for--without exaggeration--the likely future of the human race on this planet, I figure it's fair to urge people to write their local, provincial and federal politicians to get their voices heard. I'm willing to pay for the world to get better. I'm willing to stop filling my gas tank so often and to have to take the bus to the store if it means that Canada stops polluting so much. And I'd like to let my government know, before they go and walk out of negotioations if the numbers seem too "high" for our northern sensibilities to tolerate. I hope you'll do the same.
You can fill out a letter here to write about the parliamentary bill C-311
The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) also has letter templates here.


Environment Minister Rob Renner
#425 Legislature Building10800 - 97 AvenueEdmonton, ABCanada T5K 2B6
or
620 - 3rd Street SEMedicine Hat, ABCanada T1A 0H5
Premier Ed Stelmach
307 Legislature Building10800 97 AvenueEdmonton, ABCanada T5K 2B6
or
Box 4514945 - 51 AvenueVegreville, ABCanada T9C 1R6



Environment Minister Jim Prentice
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

or

105-1318 Centre St NE
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 2R7
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

or

1600 - 90th Avenue SW, Suite A-203
Calgary, Alberta
T2V 5A8

The Pembina Institute's Climate Change site
Add your name to the climate change list at TckTckTck

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

SATAN!!!.....(for kids)


I know I shouldn't have guffawed when I read this, since I'm fairly certain it's not intended in jest...but it's so horrible and ludicrous, it's hard to stiffle a giggle.

Bettsy sent this my way and I had to share it. If shit like THIS can get published, there really is no stopping me from becoming a bestselling author, now is there?

PS - for Mr. S, my SIL and other teachers I know, here may be the perfect "behave or else" book for kids.

Scene:
"What? You don't want to do your homework? Well let me tell you a story about little Billy here, who didn't do his homework, fell in with a bad crowd and woke up in a circle chanting in tongues....buhuhuwahahahahaha!" (the evil cackle at the end is a must.)

Dear Awful Library Books, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
(Thanks bunches, Bettsy, this is a joy to behold.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dummy Bunnies.


Ah, PETA. You attention-whoring, animal rights wingnuts are up to your old antics again. This time in the nude, in -25 on an Edmonton street. Because only animals should wear fur. Great. We get it. You are against fur. And jackets, apparently.

This sort of stunt by protesters drives my cynical side into overdrive. Wow, nothing will get attention for our cause better than subjecting ourselves to dangerously cold temperatures while being photographed by opportunistic fratboys who will later post them far and wide on the interwebs. And trust me, their friends won't be jacking it to the thought of your selfless devotion to the wee bunnies of the world. However, when you do succumb to pneumonia or--heaven forbid--one of your nipples snaps off due to freezing from exposure, please don't tax our already overburdened health system by going to the hospital or using publicly-funded institutions. Since you're such renegades, you can warm yourselves snug in your self-righteousness and thoughtless indignation. There are lots of problems with how the world treats animals. Stunting on Jasper Avenue? Not the way to fix those problems. Though the earmuffs looked swank.

Compare this to the equally silly stunt on Parliament hill, and you'll notice a strange disconnect between the issues--important, meaningful issues that society ought to pay attention to, like global warming and the humane treatment of animals--and the jackasses garnering all this attention. Sure, you're on the news. Now if only someone would stop staring at your white cotton panties tail long enough to listen to your message.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snowed in.

Friday is when the snow started. Twenty centimetres in the first 24 hours. By Sunday there were two feet of snow and the temperature had plummeted to -30 celcius. My car nearly skidded off the road and I helped three cars out of the snow over the course of the weekend.

Crummy as it sounds, it was one of the most truly delightful weekends I've had in a while.

Granted, the snow was a nightmare to drive in, but once out of my little steel box on wheels, I began to relax and enjoy the delightful winter powder all around me (and inside my boots). Even going to Starbucks two blocks away became a 20 minute trek with legs calf-deep in snowbanks and hopping over embankments to cross the street. And it was radness.

Mum and I spent Saturday digging out our cars and shopping for Xmas decorations, which she kindly put up around my apartment the rest of the weekend. I spent the rest of my day with Mr. S, toodling about the Strathcona Farmer's Market, shopping along Whyte Ave and snuggling in front of a movie, warm and cozy, insulated in our snowed-in cave.

On Sunday, I got to share some of my most vivid snow-related memories on air with Mr. S and his merry band of listeners on CJSR. Then I sat and knit contentedly and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as Ollie oggled the tree with eyes aglisten.

I imagine there will be a few bulbs on the floor by the time I get home tonight. And strangely enough...I look forward to it with a smile.

Friday, December 04, 2009

People give me a headache...

I deal with shit like this all the time. It's shameful when a member of my own profession (fledging as my career may be) doesn't get it. Doesn't understand his role. Doesn't think--and in the process makes us all look bad.

I've struggled internally with the concept of working in communications and performing public relations tasks as opposed to going into journalism. A lot of that has to do with job security, and some of it has to do with wanting to succeed in communications on my own terms. But the best way for me to do my job is to work with the media, let them know that my job is to help them do their job because, let's face it: my job is the other side of the coin.

Journalists don't get access to business CEOs and government ministers without first going through communications people. In return for access, the communications staff gets to put the organization front and centre and get third-party endorsement for its cause/initiative/whathaveyou. Basic media relations 101. It's so fundamental to communications that the purpose. of. communications. is. to. communicate. And yet so many communicators don't get it. They start acting like politicians, being evasive and offering "no comment" or cockblocking the press. What are you? A fucking press agent? No. No you're not. You're a goddamned public relations professional. Emphasis on professional. And you're giving my kind the reputation as dismissive spin doctors, when I work my butt off to get my story out there and provide the best kind of information I can to journalists who call me.

Stop being a tool and do your job. No organization's ideas are so secret they need to be kept completely confidential, unless those secrets happen to be nuclear missile codes. Otherwise, you're just being an ass and aggrandizing yourself to no good end. Oh, you get press, alright: bad press. And while some may argue that any press is good press, undoing the damage you caused will take a long time, and the media will never fully trust you again. Good job. Way to shoot yourself in the foot. now if you don't mind limping off in that direction, I've got ethical, responsible media relations to conduct.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In the News: Western Producer

Look, ma! I'm in a national publication!

Ok, so I ghost-wrote it for the president of our board, but it's my words under his name. That counts, right?

Allow me my moment. It's wee, but special.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Aba Daba Honeymoon


If you weren't born a hundred years ago, you may not be familiar with this song, which was written in 1914 and is best known for a 1950 Debbie Reynolds movie I have never seen.

Which begs the question: how in the hell do I know this song?
From my childhood, of course. It's one of those ridiculously catchy nonsensical tunes my mom used to sing to me, as her mom used to sing it to her when she was a child growing up in the '50s.

It's a cute ditty about two monkeys in love. What's not to like?

"And the big baboon one night in June, he married them and very soon they went upon their aba dabba honeymoon!"

Classic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, On the Origin of Species


This is for all the monkeys, and their uncles.

Yep, ol' Darwin sure knew how to write 'em, and keep them in the public consciousness long after his own trip on that Beagle in the sky. Or something.

The funny thing, of course, is that it's STILL as controversial as ever, with fundamentalist sorts taking offence to being related to apes (I'm sure, in all fairness, that the gorilla isn't altogether thrilled to be related to you either, bub) and decrying OOS as atheist blather or--worse--the work of the devil.

Since I don't believe in a personal god, myself, I'm free to believe in this evolution stuff without wrestling over what it says about my faith. That said, I don't think that understanding evolution and having faith in god(s) are incongruent. You can believe that since God made monkeys and you, that it's just a big happy family situation that the Bible left out in favour of golden calves and other fun stuff.
Or, you know, you could get all bent out of sorts about it and rail on about it to Fox news. Although I find that a mite silly...

Here's what P.Z. Meyers has to say.
Article on the Scopes Monkey Trial in the Edmonton Journal.
Feature article on the book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Everybody's working for the weekend

Yep, ode to Loverboy on a Saturday afternoon. It don't get much radder, now do it?

Nothing makes the long work week seem more unpleasant than having to come in on a Saturday afternoon. For three and a half hours. To work on 160 pages of speaking notes for a convention. Blecch.

On a positive note, coming in on a Saturday is a good way to focus on the task at hand, since the place is empty, you can crank bad music on your computer if you want to and can wear clothes only a step above pajamas. 

My poor preggers coworker, Mrs. Van B., joined me in the task of proofing and printing 16 copies of the blasted speaking notes for individual podium binders. I pegged her chocolate mood exactly and showed up with a Starbucks brownie waiting on her desk when she arrived an hour later. I figure that buys me at least another ten Karmic points. I'm probably at dung beetle, now. I'm working up to dirty pigeon, but I'll settle for naked mole rat.

Now it's time for home and squeezing in a few hours of real weekend before homework inevitably begins. 

"you wanna piece of my heart? You gotta start from the start. WHOOOOAAA!" *air guitar*

hehehe...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Secret self online? Not so much.

I've been oft-criticized for my online dating habits. While I tend to think of myself as fairly open-minded in terms of giving slack on looks, height, hair colour, etc, there are certain traits--of course--that I tend to gravitate to. As I said in a previous post, my dear, lovely friend, Mrs. P, who wants only the best for me, has stated that I should not base my first impression by a mere handful of photos , since they're not an accurate reflection of who the person is.

According to this Newsweek article I just found, however...they are.

"The findings from this study and other research on personality suggest that the photos you post online provide a wealth of information about who you are—whether you like it or not."

Studies were conducted with Facebook and online dating sites, where people of both genders were asked to evaluate strangers based on a list of personality criteria, such as extroversion, likability and even religiosity (!) The results were that most strangers pegged those they'd never met nine times out of ten. Apparently, the only trait that was difficult to predict was neuroticism. Hehehe, lucky me. Poor, unlucky bastard who decides to take a chance on my silly neurotic self.

So good luck trying to pass yourself off as the coolest dude ever on match.com or making yourself the centre of the party on Facebook. The truth will out, even online.

Sweet. My pickiness seems less bitchy now and more the product of good, old-fashioned unconscious sociological detective work. hehehe.

Writing hero of the moment: Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is an award-winning writer and blogger whom I first discovered while reading his scathingly excellent political articles in Rolling Stone. His words are the precision cutting tools of an expert surgeon and his rage against the machine is palpable.


Here's a great example of his style, which is one part Hunter S. Gonzo and one part "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". This excerpt's from a blog piece about former governor and Tina Fey-impersonator Sarah Palin:


"...Just as she had during the campaign last fall, Palin defied rational analysis by making a primal connection with the subterranean resentments of white middle America, which is apparently so pissed off now at the rest of the planet for not coddling its hurt feelings in the multicultural age that it is willing to embrace any politician who validates its insane sense of fucked-overness."

Now those are words that grab your throat and screech what's what while flecking your terrified mug with spittle, no?

Rolling Stone is the one magazine I still have a subscription to, and while I'd like to say it's because I'm such a music connoisseur, the truth is I find their political writing incisive and engrossing. Particularly Taibbi, my new writing hero. Check him out:

http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/
www.rollingstone.com

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Australopithecus


My first year of university--back when I was a young naif intent on becoming the next Indiana Jones--I took several anthropology courses. While the introductory course was intended to be a survey of all anthropology subjects, the largest focus was on physical anthroplogy and evolutionary genera of homonids, from monkeys to apes to humans.

I took this class with two of my favourite people, Stephanie and Leah, who spent most of the class giggling with me at our Polish professor's butchering of the English name pronunciations. (example: Leah became "Lee-a-MURR", because he always referred to the adorable Malagasy as such.)

The class became "an-throw-PAUL-o-GEEEEAYYY" and we spent a good month studying the evolution of "the MAUN-KEEAYYS". My favourite was Australopithecus bosei, which became a 40-syllable word in his delightful struggle with my native tongue.

Anyway, back to Australopithecus. The genus Australopithecus is closely related to our Homo ancestors, and may in fact be our predecessors (sorry, no Garden of Eden here). They're therefore not technically "monkeys" in the true sense, but as we all share common ancestors and swing from the same evolutionary branch, I'm not going to split ape hairs on this.

Although they were likely no more sophisticated than modern apes, they were bipeds (translation: they walked upright).

The most famous Australopithecis is "Lucy", the A. afarensis speciment discovered in Ethiopia who recently celebrated her 3.2 millionth birthday (the cake was visible from space). Her skeleton shows evidence that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size in human evolution.

So, while you may not be a monkey's uncle, a monkey was certainly yours.

I am so fucked.


Vanity Fair just came out with this article, which analyzes the grotesque lengths to which "cute culture" has taken our otherwise sane, serious society. It's therapeutic, in a way, since I myself am drawn to many of the websites referenced in the article. As the article explains:

"To some degree, we can’t help ourselves. In the 1940s, ethologist Konrad Lorenz proposed—correctly, as it turns out—that we instinctively want to nurture any creature that has a cute appearance...[E]vidence that human beings undergo a chemical reaction deep in their brains when they look at babies....[T]he act of looking at baby pictures stirs up an ancient part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens."

Well, shit. I'd capitalize on this finding, but I think http://www.fupenguin.com/ has already cornered the market. There's something to be said, though, about relieving the stress of a bad day by taking a five minute "cute break" at work. Maybe our society's become so rabid about it in correlation to our overworked, undersocialized, lonely modern existences? It's a recipe to cure the sads. 

Hey, look! A puppy!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Creepy hobby: Graving.




I've always been drawn to cemeteries. Not in a "digging up the undead to create a monster the likes of which the world has never seen" way, nor in a "can't wait to pick my plot next to aunt Janie" way. I just find them beautiful and fascinating.

There's a calmness to a place where people go to their final repose. The landscaped gardens and old granite slabs make for a picturesque scene. There's a sense of shared history when you look at the tombstones and monuments--finding the oldest gravesite or comparing naming trends over the past few decades or centuries. It's like an archaeological study in the most fundamental of human experiences. Wherever I travel, I always try to see a local cemetery. Some are breathtakingly beautiful, others eerie. I've been to a few over a thousand years old, with stones so weathered you can't read anything, and must only imagine the words once engraved.

More than anything, though, I appreciate what cemeteries say about humanity. The fact that we honour our dead and make space for them amongst the living is a comfort. It makes me feel privileged to be among the race of bipedal hairless apes. It's hard to be sad in a cemetery, when you know that the people in them were loved or at the very least thought of enough to have testaments to their existence and memory erected. And even when the last person who knew them passes on, they live in the collective unconscious and in the deliberate efforts of funky folk like gravers, who make a hobby out of amateur cemetery sleuthing. Fascinating. If there's a local chapter, I may have to join. If not, perhaps I'll need to start one?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: the Infinite Monkey Theorum

"'It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?' You stupid monkey!"

-"Last Exit to Springfield", The Simpsons

From Wikipedia.org:

"The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."

In this case, the monkey's a mathematical metaphor. While the probability of a monkey exactly typing a complete work such as Shakespeare's Hamlet is minuscule, it is not an impossibility. 

The Infinite Monkey idea has a long history that can be traced back to Aristotle, though, obviously, without typewriters. 

In 2003, an experiment was performed with six Celebes Crested Macaques, but their literary contribution was five pages consisting largely of the letter 'S'. This, of course, is a greater contribution to literature than the last Twilight book. Hey-yo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting my ass kicked

For the past few weeks I've been attending twice-weekly Bootcamp sessions on the south side. 

After a good year and a half of watching my ass slowly meld to my office chair and eating crap, I decided to do something about it and get back into shape. My biggest issue with working out is the motivating factor. It's difficult for me to find the motivation on my own, especially when I'm so out of shape that I can't remember how to do a pushup, let alone perform the feat. 

So I signed up for Survivor Bootcamp, one of several in the city, for four weeks of hour-long cardio, weight training and calisthenics. Fun, right? Well...sure. If your idea of fun involves feeling your arteries chugging along and wishing your calf muscles would stop their screaming so you could hear your iPod better. 

Ok. So it's not that bad. The classes are fairly short and consist of changing patterns of cardio and training, so you're never doing any one thing long enough to get too exhausted from it before you're onto another exercise. 

I haven't noticed any physical differences yet, though my heavy panting at walking up a flight of stairs has somewhat diminished. 

I'm most impressed with my ability to actually show up to class. The first class was in the middle of a snowstorm, and my instructor didn't even show. But I stayed for the whole hour while more experienced girls showed me the ropes: and by ropes, I mean endless sets of lunges. Since then, I've done situps in the pouring rain and worn a toque and mittens to every class, but there is something to be said about the open air. 

How in shape I'll be by the end of this is debatable, but the purpose of the class is to get me motivated to start doing more workouts on my own and feel slightly more confident on a treadmill than a month ago. 

Although I'll have to dress more appropriately for future endeavours. While changing before class today, I realized that I'd forgotten my expensive Lululemon sports bra, and had to wear an underwire for the duration of the class. For those of you sans breasts, let me put it thusly: ouch. While even small-chested girls have issues running without support--bruises, stretching, bouncing--I spent my run trying to hold mine down to keep from knocking myself in the eye. Serious discomfort. Next time, I'm packing duck tape in my trunk, just in case. Otherwise, I'm liable to throw myself off balance and go tumbling into the street in front of a moving vehicle. 

PS - If there is such a place as Hell, and if I am indeed destined to serve an eternity there, my most dreaded punishment would be an endless set of burpees. How I loathe burpees.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

dealbreaker

So I started up with the PoF again. I've had a profile on and off for the past 3 years and have had mild to moderate success with the dating game. I have had some friends find great success and love online, and others, like me, with mixed results somewhere between terrific and horrific. 

Most are 'meh'. My greatest bane is a man who is 'meh'. There is always a coaxing of the inner line where the deal's off. Where you must balance your needs with your wants and figure out how to get those needs fulfilled and still get a deal of your wants in there, too, without coming off as some grotesque real-life Seinfeld episode who breaks up with someone for having turned-out feet. 

My married friend and close confident, Mrs. P, is always devil's advocate. She's looking out for my best interests and pushes me to question my preconceived notions in an effort to better me and better my chances of snagging someone truly noteworthy. She pokes at me for my snap judgments and criteria for dismissal of potential suitors. I've countered that there must be SOME criteria, lest I date every single person online, which is neither feasible nor desired. 

I know I am attracted to a particular 'type', and that some aspects of this may benefit me, while other aspects may leave certain needs unfulfilled.  These aspects may, in turn, simultaneously satisfy some of the pettier wants on the list. Does this mean that I should broaden my scope? Sure. Does it mean that I should give up my preferences completely? No. I am aware of what I go for and make a concerted effort to assess my needs and what sort of person could fulfill those. At the end of the day, though, my inner romantic wants the 'spark!' and places her bets on the horses that might provide said 'spark!' more readily. 

At times I've taken risks on men that didn't seem to fit, and was pleasantly surprised. Conversely, I've had terrible dates with men who seemed a perfect fit to my preconceived mold. So sure, sometimes they sneak in past my more judgmental filters.

For the most part, however, when all you have to go on is the covers, you have to judge books on the most readily-available criteria.  And those criteria aren't always fair or logical. Most seem picked at random or through trial and error (ie: many, many dates). 

Photo attractive enough to suit? Check. Interests align to a degree? Check. Semi-literate articulation of self? Aye--there's the rub. My dealbreaker.

The profile. The chance to wear that heart out on your sleeve. To pour your soul into a haiku or demonstrate your ability to turn a well-crafted phrase. I have a high standard for self-description and look for particular elements to determine if someone's worth my time. It's not a matter of trying to be a snob or too picky or pretentious. It's a matter of gauging who might be compatible. 

Spelling is one area of contention that gets me eyebrow raises from Mrs. P and other "you're being a pretentious c**t" looks from my friends and loved ones. But hear me out. 

Ok, boy who messaged me: so you can't spell. Hmm...well, you could be really great and amazing and what the fuck does spelling matter in the long run? Nothing, really. It could even put my English snobbery under the microscope and challenge me to look beyond such surface notions. Will a man's use of 'your' in place of 'you're' really matter on a day-to-day basis? Of course not. However, the fact that you don't bother to proofread your entry or at least have a go with an automated grammar tool available anywhere on the interwebs means you're either willfully lazy or too stupid to manage it. 

Saying something is important. I get bored easily, am intelligent, and communicate for a living. Sorry, buddy, but you'll have to keep up at least some portion of the time. You're basically pitching yourself. And if I don't like the concept, I'm not going to invite you to play the role of boyfriend in the movie of my life. You don't have to be boastful or make shit up (the truth will out in the end, so honesty is always best) but put your best self forward. Would you show up to a job interview and half-ass it, then expect to land the gig? 

Charming? Ok, lay it on. Like to laugh? Give me joke, even if it's a groaner. As we writers like to say "show, don't tell." 

And no, being a bad writer is not an excuse. You're talking about the one subject even a four-year old can give a short presentation on: yourself. You know you, inside and out. You can't string two sentences together on the subject? Seriously? If you can't sell yourself, then why should I buy it? There are too many people out there to bother with the mediocre or the well-intentioned. Because I too have good intentions. And I actually have put forth the effort to showcase myself and my interests. I could care less if you've got blonde hair or brown. If you've got a six pack or a bit of a belly. Because personality will trump belly, any day of the week. And has with a number of men I've chosen to see.  But you've got to show it. 

Yes, it's hard to do online. And that's why they have nifty tips for those who don't come by the gift of communication naturally. Take a look around you and see the zillion other profiles available. Take your cue from your peers and apply it to your own self. It's not fucking rocket science. Well, I hope. 

Oh, and another thing: for baby kittens' sake, stop posing with your car. Wow. You can drive. Congrats. Stop embarrassing yourself and just do a straightforward headshot like everyone else. 

I would apologize for being shallow and going for the arty over the athletic, the pretentious over the precious. Maybe my soulmate's the bass fisherman who loves red label and Jebus. But unless he can make a compelling case for it, then I'm going to go for what attracts me: smarts, sass and a dash of nerdy/artiness. I don't care if you drink merlot or margaritas. But you have to hold your end of the conversation up. I have nothing against shy guys or quiet guys. I know some wonderful men who are just those types. But that doesn't make them the ones I want to take home. Because I would gnaw my own hand off to get away from a lifetime of quiet reflection. I don't want antics over security. I think I can find both in some sort of balance. I just choose to seek the comfortable and low-key in the creative and extroverted, rather than try to tease extroversion out of an adorable mute. 

But then I second guess myself and ask...well...is this premise flawed? Am I going about it all wrong. And if so...how can I make it right?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tasty, tasty pain.

Fuck, my neck hurts. My shoulders hurt. Through those connected muscles and tissues runs a thin, tight wire straight to the back of my skull, which throbs and pulses in time with my heartbeat. The wire wraps around my ears and pulls at my temples, until even the tiny follicles of my hairline are taut. My eyeballs are going to squeeze out of their sockets and roll under the couch, where they'll be safe collecting lint, far away from the dull ache they're currently enduring. 

Tension headache. Not nearly a migraine, but nauseatingly painful nonetheless. The kind of pain you could nearly chew. A slow, taffy-like gnawing that flexes your jaw and grinds your teeth. You'd bite something, but it'd be the inside of your cheek or tongue. And that won't be pleasant the next morning. 

Some people take physical risks for their lifestyles. They break bones pursuing 360s or malnourish themselves and go into hyper sleep-deprivation to endure med school. Me? I write. Constantly. Ceaselessly. Even when I'm not writing for the 8 hours I'm at work, I'm reading something online or on a printed page. Then I'm typing at home. Words are many exquisite things, but for now, they are literally a pain in my neck. Fortunately, they still leave me the ability to describe my discomfort and try to lessen it in the recounting. My pleasure is my poison. God, I'd make myself sick with all this tedious meandering, if I wasn't feeling physically ill already.

Advil would help. Or a chiropractor. The latter is unavailable. The former, unwanted. I'm going to be sucking those babies down for the rest of my life if I keep this up. Maybe I need a dictaphone, so I can stop working on my hunchback while I'm sifting through sentence structures. 

It's not old-timey romantic like an impressionist painter dying of heavy metal poisoning from licking brush tips. Fuck, it's not even a sexy typewriter-induced injury, like a sprained wrist or a broken toe from knocking the damned thing on my foot in a fit of writer's block. Nope. It's a 21st century repetitive stress injury from poor posture and a lifestyle that has me staring at words day in day out. They say you hurt the ones you love the most. But I've never hurt the words. Why are they now hurting me? I need less squinting at the screen and more downtime on a feather pillow. 

Ok. Fine. I'm taking a muscle relaxant. Maybe some alcohol. What? It'll help. And hey, that sounds like just the kind of dangerous drink lifestyle my fellow wordsmiths adopt to lubricate the creative fervor. Hemmingway did it. And look where he...oh. I see. Ahem. Bad example.

Ow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Clotheshanger Gorilla


Who knew the remnants of drycleaning could look so...imposing?

This is artist David Mach's Coathanger Gorilla. It's made from thousands of welded-together coathangers placed over a plastic base. As you can see, it's quite impressive in size. Mr. Mach is also known for sculpting teddies gone bad art with plush toys. I'm not sure what Freud would have to say about it. But it looks neat. See the freaky stuff online.

Sniffle.

86 year-old Republican WWII veteran makes impassioned speech at marriage rights rally in Maine...in favour of gay rights. Touching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrEbJBFWIPk&feature=player_embedded

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ayn rand popular in new delhi


Found this super-fascinating article on Foreign Policy's website that explores the takeoff of Objectivism in the world's most populous democracy.

For those unfamiliar with Objectivism, it is a philosophy created by Russian-American writer and thinker Ayn Rand back in the earlier part of the 20th century. Her two most famous works, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, put the Objectivist philosophy into practice, and have had an enormous impact on Western culture in the past half-century. 

Back in high school I read some Objectivist philosophy and found the idea of self-centered idealism rather distasteful. However, in my early 20s I read the Fountainhead and loved it. While I don't enjoy Atlas Shrugged as much (too much beating you about the head with her philosophy--and you may as well skip the last 200 pages) the book has sold more copies than pretty much any book other than the Bible. 

Choice quote from FP article:
"Rand's celebration of independence and personal autonomy has proven to be powerfully subversive in a culture that places great emphasis on conforming to the dictates of family, religion, and tradition...Rand's theory of the supremacy of reason and the virtue of selfishness adds up to "the antithesis" of Indian culture, which explains the attraction for...many rebellious Indian teens today."

In recent years, Rand has fallen out of favour as the economic monolith of the US has collapsed upon itself. In burgeoning democracies like India, however, this newly-discovered philosophy is a runaway hit. It's interesting to see the progression of capitalist ideas in society so completely different than ours in North America. Its impact on future world events could be interesting, especially since 1/6 of the world's population is involved. 

And hey, if nothing else, maybe we'll get a really great, musical number-filled Bollywood version of John Galt's speech. Rousing. 

More immunization yakkity yak

I know I keep coming back to this vaccination topic, but really, I am so concerned about our desire to do the right thing overcoming our better judgement that I'm going to publish every rational, fact-based bit of information I can find that puts the Jenny McCarthys in a corner.

This is an article from a parent in the US whose immuno-compromised child (Cancer--much more serious than a vaccine.) couldn't go to daycare because other parents had decided not to innoculate their children on "religious or moral" grounds.

Quote:
"I realize that anti-vaccine sentiment has been around as long as the vaccines themselves. People who choose not to immunize their children may do so out of the best possible motives: They believe those vaccines endanger their children. But I wonder whether they have fully considered that the herd immunity, of which they are taking advantage, is designed to protect those who cannot be vaccinated."

EXACTLY. Because the more kids are immunized, the better off the rest of the kids will be. People need to stop taking disease for granted and weigh the real pros and cons. And just for the record, no, this does not apply to kids with severe egg allergies, as, obviously, the higher risk of dying from a severe reaction is worse than dying from mumps. But that is a separate (and PROVEN) reason against compared to the autism or "I don't believe in immunizing my kids" argument.

Anthropologist to modern men: ‘You’re the worst’

Another book to add to my ever-growing reading list. I think I'm at about 150 titles this year. Better get on it.
***
Manthropology: The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male by Peter McAllister.

The National Post published an article by this prominent anthropologist, explaining all the ways in which our bodies suck compared to our ancestors. For those who would use Darwin as means of explaining our superiority to what came before, Mr. McAllister would beg to differ. For all our longevity, nutrition and disease prevention, we're not quite on par with the Olympic-calibre athletes of the past.

See, as our brains get bigger, our bodies get punier and less able to succeed out in the jungle. Kind of makes you wonder what'll happen when the apocalypse is nigh. We'll have mighty strong thumbs from all that video game playing, but otherwise, our soft underbellies will be ripe for the disembowelling.

Take it from someone who's just entered week two of a strenuous bootcamp exercise class: our physical prowess is pathetic. (Also: burpees are the worst form of torture in existence.)

Even fit people aren't as fit as a lazy one-legged cro magnon. We seem to be exercising only one muscle. And while we've succeeded with that muscle beyond any scope our ancestors could have imagined, ignoring the rest of our muscles seems like it could spell trouble for us in our future.

Although, being a head floating in a jar of fluid aboard a spaceship has its perks, I'm sure. If I remember my Futurama correctly, however, things tended to go awry when the heads couldn't get around and were stuck sloshing about in saline.

“We are so inactive these days and have been since the Industrial Revolution really kicked into gear. These people were much more robust than we were." - Peter McAllister

Time to get off the couch and back to being chased across the Serengeti by a pack of lions?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Doting monkey mum


The Daily Mail ran this anthropomorphizing article over the Thanksgiving weekend. Seems that monkey mums go just a gooey over their cute little monkey babehs as human mums do. Reason #3,425,972 why monkeys are the radness.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HPV Vaccine for Boys

An interesting article that takes a different tack from most: why not innoculate boys against HPV, not just girls? It relates to the sexual determinacy aspect of my previous post. Thoughts?

http://www.slate.com/id/2232537/

Friday, October 09, 2009

France returns egyptian artifacts

Back in the days before I became a word ho, pimpin' out my grammatical flash for cold, hard cash--I yearned to be and studied at being an anthro/archaeologist. Yeah, I'm one of those Indiana Jones, "this should be in a museum!" types. So this caught my eye.

See, the French are preparing to return a hoard to the country of its origin. Yes, the article's from a Sun paper (*ptooie*) but bear with me.

'Cuz wow. This is huge. It could set a precedent for other European countries, or at least shame those (*cough* England *cough*) that are home to thousands of historical artifacts from around the world.

Museums loan a lot of items to display things from other cultures they might otherwise not have access to. But the pillaging of late 19th and early 20th centuries has led to decades of bickering about who owns priceless treasures like the Pantheon friezes and King Tut's tomb contents.

Good on the French for returning some of these artifacts. I know the issue is deeper (would some of these items be in danger if returned to their home countries? I mean, no offence, but the site of ancient Babylon isn't exactly a safe place for people, let alone artifacts, right now.) but the principle is sound. I'm sure the British Museum wouldn't like to see its tourist dollars drop, but if the artifacts could be safely returned to Greece and displayed in a safe, secure setting, then shouldn't they be? It seems silly to travel the world to see the sights, only to be redirected to Berlin or London or Paris because that's where the actual artifacts from these sites are being kept.

Cultural imperialism has now given way to the "possession is 9/10ths of the law" philosophy all the way to "neener neener"-hood. Well, my ancestors stole it, not me, so I don't owe you anything. Well, we pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved and mistreated peoples, so why wouldn't we do the same with items that represent those peoples? Because Western culture's so much better? Because absconding with another's civilization makes us all the more civilized? Hmm...

Ms. Fitz's Monkey of the Week: Brass Monkey


Origins: from the Oxford Dictionary online:

"The story goes that cannonballs used to be stored aboard ship in piles, on a brass frame or tray called a 'monkey'. In very cold weather the brass would contract, spilling the cannonballs: hence very cold weather is 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'. There are several problems with this story. The first is that the term 'monkey' is not otherwise recorded as the name for such an object. The second is that the rate of contraction of brass in cold temperatures is unlikely to be sufficient to cause the reputed effect. The third is that the phrase is actually first recorded as 'freeze the tail off a brass monkey', which removes any essential connection with balls. It therefore seems most likely that the phrase is simply a ribald allusion to the fact that metal figures will become very cold to the touch in cold weather (and some materials will become brittle)."

Brass Monkey in Popular Culture:

Beastie Boys: "Brass Monkey", License to Ill
"Brass Monkey that funky Monkey
Brass Monkey - junkie
That funky Monkey

Brass Monkey:
A cocktail consisting of equal parts beer, and orange juice, or to a mixture of gin, triple sec, tequila, orange juice, sour mix and grapefruit juice, or to a mixture of rum, vodka and orange juice (with or without galliano).

Is there anything they can't do?

Pets rule.

Here's the latest example: a reading program set up by the Edmonton Public Library to encourage literacy in kids six to 12. The Paws for a Story program has volunteers who bring their pets along to read to kids.

Kids reading aloud to an animal develop greater confidence than reading in front of classmates or parents.

"When a child reads to a dog or a cat along with their trained volunteer, they don't have to worry about being judged or corrected based on their skills.It makes learning and practicing reading an enjoyable experience, instead of an intimidating one."

Reading = good. Pets = good. Pets and reading = amazing.
Good boy!
PS - the program mascot's a volunteer's pet Papillon. Just like my Colby. Well...he's a half-Papillon. But a brilliant dog, nonetheless.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pfft. Whatever.

The New York Times published the results of a telephone survey (American, of course) that discovered the most annoying word in the English language.

"Whatever" won, beating out "it is what it is" and "you know"? Not to be a stickler, or anything, but those other terms are phrases, not words. I know, I know: whatever. Right?

I'd personally vote to have "irregardless" taken out of the lexicon, given that it's a conflation of two completely separate words: regardless and irrespective. Both are far superior to irregardless, no?

Also, I'd venture that "like" ranks up there. However taking it out of our vocabulary would leave many young people (me included) tongue-tied whenever we tried to describe a line of dialogue.

He was all like...and then I was like...erm...I mean, he said, and then I replied.

Eh. Whatever.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pawns on a political chessboard.

Paula Simons really hit it out of the park today with her article on the Alberta Hospital shutdown. Invisible fist bump for Paula.

"On average, according to Alberta Health Services's own figures, two mentally ill patients arrive at an Edmonton emergency department every hour. That number will surely grow without Alberta Hospital's beds and services in the mix. Every metro ER will feel the consequences, and so will every shelter. For a provincial government that claims to be committed to ending homelessness and keeping communities safe, the shutdown of most of Alberta Hospital seems a grotesque step backward. Nor could the timing be worse, given that the province is just about to implement long-awaited legislation to make it easier to commit chronic psychiatric patients for care."

Not to sound too 14-year-old here, but "duh."

Monday, October 05, 2009

I have readers?

Wow. My last post won the "most comments" award at the Ms. Fitz bloggies. It's mostly me gifting myself with cheap trinkets and shiny bits of foil until I'm distracted and forget what I was typing.

...what was I saying?

Oh, yes. 

I like the debate and thinkatude that has resulted from said post. It was done in a whirlwind moment: I just found something that twigged my brain, and I typed it. Perhaps this is the key to longevity and presence online? Interesting. I like having readers. Though with enlarged fan base comes great responsibility. 

It pleases me to have people pay attention to me online without me having to take my clothes off or say something racist/sexist/hateful. 

Ok. Sometimes I say slightly hateful things. But it's justified, so I won't apologize. Twilight really does suck that bad. 

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Aw, shit.

**new: found this Monday morning: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaers/gardasil.htm

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/iyc-vve/fiction-eng.php#a


British girl dies after HPV vaccine


As if the anti-vaccine nutjobs needed any more reason to deny girls a lifesaving shot.


Not only do anti-vaccination people grate on me (the Jenny McCarthy types who refuse to inoculate their kids and encourage others to do so based on the completely unfounded assumption that booster shots lead to autism) but the anti-HPV crowd have to go and throw sex in the way.


See, according to these silly folk (who could have used a few more hugs as children...or maybe a few more smacks upside the head. Maybe a combo.) young teenaged girls shouldn't get these shots, because it's only the fear of dying from horrible cervical cancer that keeps them in check and ensures that they keep their naughty bits in their pants.


Once young girls get vaccinated against HPV, it's like society is giving them license to spread their legs at will and contribute to our moral decay. So basically, HPV is the new AIDS. Well, at least what AIDS was in the 80s. Oh? A gay man got AIDS? Well, that's too bad, but really, his lifestyle choice was a sin against God, so the bum-lover deserved it. What? A woman died of cervical cancer? Well, it's probably because she was a promiscuous tart and this is her comeuppance.


Like abortion and birth control before it, the HPV vaccine threatens society's assumed right to control women's sexuality. What? You want to control your own body? Nay. The patriarchal overtones inherent in even the most progressive Western societies dictate that women's bodies are proprietary, and thus a threat to our civilization entire if left uncontrolled.


Now, a young girl dies from a vaccination. This is a statistical reality: some people react to shots. It's tragic, yes. But does that mean that girls should stop getting vaccinated? Hell no. Trust me, if there was a magical testicular cancer vaccine on the market, there would be no arguments on any side. Because it would be about men's health and vitality. Sure, testes are sexual organs, but it's men's lives we're talking about. Cervical cancer, though? Well, women's sexuality is always everyone's business, so if she develops cancer from HPV, it's most likely because she was a slut and deserved it. We can make assumptions about her because of an illness, no matter how unfounded. And what message would be sending to young girls if we encouraged them to get vaccinated? Either way, apparently, they'll end up dead.