Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Upside of Down...

Hello Friends.

It's been grey and rainy here, and the maintenance staff of our building has been replacing the windows all week so we can see how gross it is outside much more easily. I'm grateful for the cosmetic change, several of the old windows are cracked and streaked from various accidents, but it's meant that every morning at seven-thirty, some asshat starts banging and drilling one of the suites in our eight apartment walk-up. I can't sleep through it and invariably drag myself out of bed to find Jon bright-eyed and hard at work, who says, “Well it is morning, James!” in a condescending tone. He's right, but I work late, and stay up later, so what's so fucking good about it?

My grouchy demeanour is due in part to that, and in part to a series of circumstances that have me a little blue lately. Not blue as in Conservative, mind you. Their trouncing of my main man Layton is one of the contributing factors to my funk (I'm happy that Orange made major strides this time, but they're all a little too cheerful considering that Harper's actually better off thanks to this latest election). Also, I lost out on two jobs this week, both of which had major potential. It didn't help that this week in my current job, a pipe burst in the ceiling above us, causing dirty water to literally seep through the walls (we couldn't close the store though, god forbid we'd be out any money). And Dr. Jon just found out his term has concluded where he teaches and, due mostly to budgetary restraints, he will not be renewed, so he's been scrambling to find other employment all across the land. The thought of never leaving my job makes me sad, but the possibility of leaving my new home makes me sadder. I have faith that Jonny will find something great; probably a better fit than his previous job, but I worry if I don't make professional strides in turn I'll become some bitter housefrau, still selling Cheetos and condoms in some random college town.

I apologize, this has been a depressing few paragraphs, but it's where my head seems to be at the moment. I like to think I'm a generally positive person, I hope that I am, and believe me, I know these are champagne problems to have. However these things work out, they will simply work out. Complaining doesn't do any good, though you wouldn't know that from Facebook. Facebook comes across sometimes like the break room at a terrible workplace. Everybody comes in, nobody exchanges pleasantries, and we all try to get our bitching out at once (“Just dropped my iPhone in the toilet, FML!”, “My car is making that sound again!”, “WHAT is WRONG with this COUNTRY???!”, you get what I mean). People face tougher challenges all the time, and quite admirably, and though I can't change these circumstances, I can surely change my shitty attitude.

Dream: Perform a series of activities designed to boost my self-esteem and mood.

Goal: Achievable. I had both lunch and dinner dates with friends today and they were terrific. I had last seen my dinner date (Bradley) about a week ago, and hadn't seen my lunch date (Jenny) in over ten years, but in both cases we fell right back into conversation like it was yesterday. Isn't that the best feeling? Good friends have that ability to make you happy, lucky, and grateful, but you can't be a friend-leech who expects all the people in your life to make room in their overhead compartments for all your goddamn baggage. But if friends can boost your mood to amazing degrees just by being there for you, surely there are tricks and tips you can use to elevate your mood all by yourself. This is what I have learned about that.

Plan(s): Several. Besides being a good speller and dry-of-scalp, I am also resourceful. Here are a few quick tips to put a quick smile on your face and make you feel awesome.

  1. Wear a shirt with muscles drawn on it. I took a university-level Psychology course while still in high school (purely so I could start sentences off like that) and I remember very little of it except that the man who taught with a very Psych professor-sounding name (Dr. Fleischman, or Dr. Rosensweig or something) and one of the maxims he lived by was that he didn't believe in accidents. Everything we did was intentional, he explained, whether we were aware of it or not. That made his bizarre fashion choices endlessly appealing. He would sometimes wear a shirt with muscles drawn on it. Like one of those tacky t-shirts you get in those awful novelty stores. But surely they've improved the technology and can make a shirt in a realistic colour with realistic muscles on it. I suggest wearing it under a partially-unzipped hoodie so passersby just get a glance at your muscle-y terrain, and also keep in constant motion while wearing it and stay a safe distance from people so that no one can tell that's not your awesome body under there. Confidence-booster!

  2. Eat a cupcake. I know this seems out of place if you're not a six-year old or a library at her retirement party, but just go to one of those pretentious bakeries and spend too much money on a cupcake. It's little, so you don't have a lot of food-guilt, and a good cupcake is better than most of what's on tv right now so just buy one you idiot.

  3. Play a game with a child. Sure, kids are cute and everything, but can they colour as good as me? Can they play chess as good as me? Can they hold their breath under water longer? No, no, and no! Challenge a kid just to beat them.

  4. Take all the hundy's and five-hundy's out of the bank of your parents' Monopoly game. Have someone taller than you stand over you with the money and “make it rain!” To keep up the charade, see if that taller person will have sex with you on the pile of money.

  5. Set up five handguns on a rickety old fence. Then take a can and hurl it at the guns to try to knock one over. You're welcome.

  6. This is a longer one, so settle in. Wake up early and go the nearest, cleanest public washroom you can find. Ideally this bathroom would be one of those small ones with just a toilet in it, or one with only a single toilet stall. Ensure that the bathroom is relatively clean and, this is important, has not been used in some time. That's why I suggest getting up early, so you can be the first person in the newly-cleaned bathroom. Either that, or wait until maintenance has just been completed on the washroom. It's vitally important that the bathroom doesn't smell... you know... bathroomy. No lingering odours are allowed for this to work. So, you lock yourself in the stall (or tiny toilet-room) and open your purse (or mansack) and get to work! I always bring some Body Shop bath beads, a Glade “Fresh Linen” deodorizer, a vanilla votive candle, a bakery fresh cinnamon bun, and a few drops of Chanel No. 5. You must layer these scents effectively. No one smell must overpower the others, but there must be distinct top, middle and base notes. Make it your own. I have a friend who uses patchouli and lemongrass, have fun with it! Wait until someone else enters the bathroom before adding your final scent to the mix (I like placing a lilac blossom behind the toilet tank). Then, leave the stall in a sheepish way and toss out an embarrassed “Sorry” to the guy (or gal) waiting to use the toilet after you. S/he will no doubt be annoyed, figuring that using your stall will be a passport to Fart City, but they will enter it to find... a smell paradise! Wary at first, soon they will inhale deeply, moving about the stall in ecstasy, deep in an olfactory trance the likes of which they have never experienced. “Who was that amazing person?” they will wonder, as you leave, “And what could they possibly eat?”

  7. Create and perform your own, “You know what? Fuck this!”. For example, walk into Holt Renfrew and demand that a personal shopper accompany you. Then head straight for the designer sections. Idly toss a Burberry scarf into a Louis Vuitton satchel. Laden your shopper down with a Gucci suit, some Prada loafers, and a Badgley Mischka Technicolour Dreamcoat. When you have loaded up on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer crap, say you're about ready to pay, but you need to sit for just a moment and take a breather. They will more than happily oblige and get you a place to sit. Once you've sat down, politely ask for a glass of water and copy of Black Inches magazine. If they ask you to repeat yourself, do. Be more precise if you need to, “A cylindrical cup of drinking-liquid and a quarterly publication devoted to African American men and the measurements of their genitals. Post-haste, shopkeep!” They will sputter and stammer and say they don't have a copy of Black Inches for you to peruse, despite your request. Ask them to repeat themselves. Once they've done so, stand, gather your purchases in your arms, throw them to the floor and say, “You know what? Fuck this!” Also acceptable: audition for American Idol. Get past the producers and jump whatever hoops you need to in order to get to the judges table with Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and the other guy. Then say, “Where's Kara?” and they'll look at you blankly. Then go, “Kara Dioguardi? Best judge ever? Voice of a generation? Kara!” Start looking for her behind the judges table. “KARA! You know what? Fuck this!” Storm out.

  8. Omelettes.

  9. The hot friend fake-out. I don't know if I won some friend lottery of if I'm just extremely superficial, but I've got more gorgeous friends than one man deserves. After a fun night out, I was taking the subway home with one such devastatingly hot pal. We were sitting across from this douchey guy, you know the type, with the tank top in winter, sitting with his legs wide open as if to give easy access to the whole world. Anyway, Douchey gave my dear friend a once-over which I doubt she even noticed. Her stop came before mine and just before she got off the train, we embraced and she kissed me goodbye. Well, you would have thought Douchey was going to explode. He didn't know that we were a straight girl and gay guy with a long history sharing an innocent smooch, he thought she was my girlfriend. He stared at me the rest of the way home with a mixture of envy, disbelief and anger that made me feel amazing. I would never exploit these friendships for this purpose of course, but it really is an ego-boost to destroy a Douche like that.

I can't think of self-esteem, or the id, or the ego, without thinking back to the Psychology class of old Dr. Steinenstein, of the muscle-shirt fame. Though his class didn't stay with me, his personality did. How often do you meet a character of such... character? A few years later, the Doctor was working on the roof of his house, fell off the roof, and became paralysed from the neck down. This was shocking news, I had never known anyone who had been through this kind of thing, and as I thought more about it, I suddenly remembered his philosophy: he didn't believe in accidents! How does a man who doesn't believe in accidents deal with a sudden fall and paralysis? An article appeared about him in the paper shortly after his fall. “I don't believe in accidents.” he was quoted as saying, from his wheelchair. “So I wondered, why did I do this to myself? What will this teach me?”

I couldn't believe he had held so strongly to his convictions, particularly in the face of such overwhelmingly bad circumstances. To fall from a roof and wonder, “Why did I do this to myself?” is to be a person who does not bemoan his fate. The lesson, I suppose, is to keep the complaining out of Facebook, out of conversation, even out of our perspective. Life is not what happens to us, but what we do to ourselves. Time to look out a new window, while the old ones are carted away, damaged by our lack of care and attention, for there are no accidents.


  1. Love number 5. I don't know exactly why, but it was somehow just perfect.

  2. I'm sorry to hear you've been so blue. I love our conversations so much because I feel like I can relax and just be myself around you. Such friendships are very rare so the prospect of you not being here just hit me like a sad sack of potatoes. It won't be long before you can tell those bags of Cheetos and condoms to FUCK OFF because writing as wonderful as yours is bound to find the audience it deserves. Wherever you happen to land, rest assured it will be on your stupidly talented feet. In the meantime, I see a summer filled with patios and coffees galore!