Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why I Aught-a': a decade in review


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 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


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? 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


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


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


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


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


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.

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


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


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.



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 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
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...

...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
620 - 3rd Street SEMedicine Hat, ABCanada T1A 0H5
Premier Ed Stelmach
307 Legislature Building10800 97 AvenueEdmonton, ABCanada T5K 2B6
Box 4514945 - 51 AvenueVegreville, ABCanada T9C 1R6

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


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


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.

"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.