18 April, 2014

cheese, among other things

so i went out today filled with a certain amount of trepidation.

i came home with two chunks of very expensive and delicious cheese…and a job.

well, not A job, per se, but THE job. as in the full time equivalent of the best summer job ever of yesteryear. as in… boy, i was gonna make all sorts of "woot woot!" noises but then i realised that, really, i'm just very very tired. i suspect i'll be thrilled as soon as i get over this numbness, and in my head, i'm totally happy, just the rest of me hasn't caught up yet. too much to do, i suspect.

but no, really and truly: i got the job and i am thrilled beyond (evidently) my capacity to feel it at the moment. but yes: happy!

i just realised i put more excitement into my post about olive chicken than this, but my darling poultries, i really really am exhausted! why am i so exhausted? oh, yeah. the school thing.

alrighty then, back to the grind, but i wanted to take a few minutes to share my good news with you. seems like only yesterday i was telling you that i was going back to school, don't it? and now here i am! with a job! like a real honest to goodness adult! and a job that doesn't (hopefully) involve me coming home covered in blood and saliva, to boot!

16 April, 2014

oh, live chicken!

c and i had a study date today, finishing the least pleasant of this year's assignments. he suggested we meet at a recently opened establishment called olive chicken. it had good online reviews but i wasn't leaving the house today (snow. more snow. snowing all day. i mean, i know this is alberta, but come ON! if i cared about weather, i would be livid. luckily i a. don't care and b. realise the very limited benefits of meteorologically-inspired lividity*) where were we? oh. yes. chicken. so i asked c to pick us up a take out order and hot damn! it was SO SO so so sososososososo so good. i am not generally a fried chicken fan, and will not ever eat the skin because ew, but in this case i caved and carnivorously consumed every crumb and crease (huh? yet another example of the failure of alliteration!). this is korean fried chicken and it's covered in a sticky gooey spicy gingery sweet hot chilli sauce that deserves more than these seven measly adjectives, and soon i had all those adjectives all over my nose, cheeks, fingers and likely elbows. it. was. good.

the restaurant must surely be a front for some sort of crack-based business because i have not been able to stop thinking about the chicken. i want more. i want some right now. right this second. as i type this, i am salivating uncontrollably at the thought of getting my hands on some more olive chicken**.

i'd just finished telling my fabulous roommate and the newly arrived mr. monkey about the chicken experience. i got so excited i got a little addled:

moi: it's SO good! it's fried chicken! it's chicken on the inside and fried on the outside!

mfr & mr. m:

moi: sometimes i amaze myself.

* yes, i realise that's not what this word means, but you know what i mean, so shut it.

** no olives*** on the menu. inexplicable. pickled daikon, though, is readily available and refreshingly delicious!

*** mfr came up with the name "o, live chicken!" which is slightly more appropriate in that it acknowledges the absence of olives, but simultaneously egregiously fails to acknowledge the death of the chicken.

p.s. final push. final push, my pretties. once this hateful pile of unpalatable donkey dung (wait, is there palatable donkey dung? i suppose for some species there is… no judgment) is finished, i can start my heart's work, i.e. compiling and editing the 40 or so page document that is our final project, which, by the way, we successfully presented yesterday. wanna see? here:

14 April, 2014

games played with sticks and balls

last night, after i blogged the darkness in my soul, i decided that the thing to do would be to step away from the computer and join my fabulous roommate in his dungeon where he was watching golf. i don't watch golf. why in the hell would i watch golf? why does anybody? but i needed some human company, particularly if it involved non-destructive humans i could count on, and so i took my residual wine and my residual tea and joined him on the couch.

the poor man. all he ever wanted of the evening was to sit in peace and watch privileged white men in polyester pants whack the ball around the course. what he got, instead, was an embittered cranky polish woman with a big mouth who proceeded to heckle everything from the men's names ("bubba? who the fuck names their child bubba? even as a nickname! southern US, you need to stop this shit right now!"), to their facial hair ("douchebag fort mcmurray facial hair, and you tell me he's SWEDISH? he's an embarrassment to the Scandinavian Way!"), to their pants (those are terrible pants! the blue, it is a smurf blue - one should never wear smurf blue once one is out of diapers!), to the outfits worn by the caddies ("white coveralls are so fetching…"). i made fun of everything, occasionally realising i needed to shut up and then utterly failing to do so for more than a minute at a time.

bubba won, and when he came off the course into the waiting arms of his tall blonde athletic wife and adorable toddler, the man was BAWLING. this is the point at which i lost it, because what the hell? mfr scoffed and said the man had just won the most prestigious golf trophy. yeah, golf. trophy. as in: golf. as in: a game played with sticks and balls. then i realised that large amounts of money were involved (like, some serious big ass moneys, people! for golf. ) and that made me swallow bubba's emotional outburst a little more… but then, when i waxed cynical about that, i suddenly realised that what i was doing with my big, loud, uncontrollable mouth, was kinda ruining the moment for mfr. so i left.

i can be a bit of an asshole sometimes. i try to apologise when that happens.

but really: golf?!

13 April, 2014

an analogy in lego

having asked my fabulous roommate if a glass of wine is an appropriate accompaniment to giving up on humanity, and gotten an affirmative, i am now sitting here with my glass, typing away my frustration, though perhaps a punching bag or a good cry would be more appropriate.

no, no, no, nothing really bad has happened, it's just that… well, imagine if you will that you have built an intricate structure out of lego. you moved things around and around until it's almost perfect. the red blocks are on the bottom, the white in the middle, and so on. this took a loooong time from the initial model that had the general look of what you wanted, but did not follow the rules assigned. see? there it is! it is a thing of great beauty and it fills you with pride, because you have spent a long time on it. you have buffed it to a high gloss shine. you have honed it to a fine edge. you have spent a long time loving it. a long time. it was an enjoyable time, true, but not as enjoyable as, say, watching some seriously crappy television sans guilt. so yeah, there it is.

so say you now ask your partner to add blue turrets to it, on all the applicable levels, as per project assignment. the partner knows where the turrets go. you trust the partner. perhaps you are an idiot. or perhaps you have so many other things to do you have no choice. and so you work on the yellow wingnuts and let the partner have at the blue turrets.

when you come back to the structure several days later, behold, there are the blue turrets, on all the applicable levels. but…BUT. but as you look closer, you realise that in the process of putting in the blue turrets (on all the applicable levels, natch), your partner has completely (though subtly) rearranged things so that that gorgeous and perfect thing of neat and clean colour coding you have spent such a long time on, is now disrupted. there is a yellow amidst the greens; a blue in the whites: a sort of lego-version of the most unwelcome benetton ad ever made. because in this one instance you really want white to stick to white, and so on… and so you take a deep breath, and then you start, AGAIN, to rework the very things you had already done (well) once. it takes a long time, and as you dig deeper, you realise that the structure has been altered in other ways, ways that make you want to sob, but ways that nobody but you will notice, and so, heartsick, you let it go.

and then you tell c that you are now officially over fucking group work and that you want out NOW. and then you ask mfr about the wine. and then you drink the wine and blog about it and realise that it can't be so very bad if this thought comes roughly 9 days before the end of it all. this thought tries to lift your spirits, but it's hard going. because you loved that fucking lego structure and you made it fucking perfect and you don't understand how someone would fail to see the importance of the details after a semester in a class that brought detail-oriented joy to your heart, the heart that is now, if not broken, then seriously bruised.


07 April, 2014

the edge

i am standing on the edge of a precipice. the wind is whipping my hair into my face. the waves are crashing into the rocks below me and it seems like it's an insurmountable distance. there are voices behind me, and a huge sky in front. i know the water is bone-shatteringly cold, but i also know i cannot stand here for any length of time. after all, the way leads forward, doesn't it? i am filled with the same kind of excitement and fear and exhilaration that i felt last september: a sort of death-wish coupled with the awareness that to stop or go back would cost far more than the temporary comfort of no-change is worth. there might be sharks, sure. but maybe not. or maybe it doesn't matter, i mean, jesus - there are sharks everywhere (metaphorically speaking, of course).

all of last week or maybe two (you should seriously just make peace with the fact that the passage of time is beyond my grasp these days), i have been walking around with a knot in my belly. oddly enough, it's not the same sort of stomach knot that depression brings me - this one is a sort of deep visceral fear mixed in equal measures with excitement, elation and something i can't quite put my finger on, some sort of feeling of the beginning of another era, i suppose…

i think that it's essential to note that the feeling i have right now is a sort of uncontrollable giddiness not because i'm almost done, but because i'm in it. it's the being in it that's making me thrilled and scared and overwhelmed and fucked up and and and… you know, feeling feelings.

what i fear is that i won't be good enough. that they (those not-so-mythical "they" who STILL HAVEN'T CALLED ME BACK ABOUT A JOB!!!) will see that i am a stoopid fraud with only her big mouth to fall back on. but that's not the biggest fear. i fear a new life, not seeing the goofy mugs of the lovelies who have made me happy these last two years: k, with her quiet calm and ability to listen and say the perfect thing; c, who has taught me that in friendship age is irrelevant and who has continued to amaze me both with the unexpected depth of our connection and the shallowness of our gossip; mfr, whom i will miss for his kindness and caring and patience, and for being there and NOT being there precisely when i needed it; j, for her tranquil vibe and much-needed lessons in self-care; dd, for her frenetic energy and huge heart; and others and others and others…

i remember each time i left school for any length of time i felt i would die of loneliness, and then swiftly found myself splashing joyfully in the world that awaits me 298km north of here, and found i didn't die after all. except this time it's for good and i'm a big enough girl to know that friendships don't always last when the string gets pulled too taut.

but that's not all: this is big. this is the new me, diving into the ocean like a girl who forgot her fear of heights and sharks. watch me: this is big!

01 April, 2014

the end is nigh!

two weeks, my bunnies, two weeks. in two weeks i will be as close to done as makes no difference.
am i happy, you ask? well, you'd think i would be, no? done with the drudgery and idiocy and frustrations… instead, i seem to have come down with a nasty case of stockholm syndrome, and find myself maybe not dreading the light at the end of the tunnel but definitely wanting to curl up in the dark where i know it's safe(ish).

the thought of being out in "the real world" doesn't phase me. nor does the fact that i have not yet heard back about my job prospects at My Number One Most Awesome Choice Job Ever and have neglected to apply ANYWHERE ELSE.* what it is, is a feeling of security and comfort in this dismal institution. why, even the second-in-command has become all smiley and friendly-like since we've gotten our official accreditation! i know where i stand here. i know that the amount of work i am expected to complete is simultaneously unreasonable and completely doable. i know that these hallowed halls (with electrical outlets so badly decayed that they sprayed c with dramatic electrocution sparks as he tried to unplug his laptop three times!) are a sort of home. i know these people (some of whom i have wanted to murder on multiple occasions) are a sort of family. and given that this last semester has been a challenge nirvana for this poor beast, this beast just sort of wants it to continue. see? classic stockholm syndrome.

i might need an intervention.

*ain't nobody got time for that shit!

29 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i have this ongoing thing - he watches sports on television and i make fun of him for watching sports on television. we also have a disagreement wherein i say i don't care about hockey, and he says i want to not care about hockey but in my secret heart of hearts i do, in fact, care about hockey. the truth is, i used to care about hockey, but i no longer do. my heart was broken too many times. i have moved on. as it is, he continues to inform me about games featuring the edmonton oilers (the team that broke my heart all these years ago) even though i don't care.

case in point, this morning:

mfr: the oilers beat one of the nhl's best teams last night!

moi:(skeptically) how'd they do that?

mfr: by scoring more goals than the other team.

oh lord…

28 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i were watching the last two hours of the godfather II (we started the 3h 20 min movie last weekend). halfway through, i went upstairs to pee. having noticed that my toenails were getting unreasonably long, i decided to grab the bull by the horns, as it were, and cut them right then and there. because i happened to be in the wine, i stabbed myself in the finger. i came downstairs, bleeding.

moi: i stabbed myself.

mfr: oh yeah?

moi: aren't you gonna ask how i did it?

mfr: how did you do it?

moi: cutting my toenails.

mfr: yeah. i like to do that during a break in a movie, too.

moi: well, they were getting so loooong!

mfr: well, it is a long movie.

later, we were discussing my pen situation (i.e. good pens, versus floor pens). mfr mentioned that the mysterious, almost brand new bic floor pens i kept finding in studio were likely planted there by bic as a marketing ploy. if so, i said, it failed; i prefer my fancy 4$ pens.

moi: i am a penisseur!

mfr: (laughing)

moi: … that's not what i meant.

mfr: (still laughing)

moi: i meant a connaisseur of pens and you know it!!!

26 March, 2014


in our killer class today, we were sitting around in our group and parcelling out the massive amount of work we still have left to do until this is all over. suddenly i looked over and saw that c was writing with one of my good pens.*

moi: YOU! you have one of my good pens! you know you're not allowed to use my good pens! you can only use floor pens! what are you doing?

c: …but it feels so goooooood!

everyone erupted in laughter though c most certainly did not mean it in that way.

moi (after the laughter died down a bit): yes, it does have a very smooth tip, don't it?

new laughter. man, it sure felt good to guffaw at stupid stuff.

*there's a story in this: people are always borrowing my pens. always. and then they hardly ever return them. because i have two pens that i LOVE and do not want to lose, i have started to pick up random floor pens, keeping them as spares. people are allowed to borrow my floor pens. they are not allowed to borrow my good pens. you wanna borrow a pen? them's the rules.

the tale of feral belly and the mountain lost and the mountain gained

while i'm waiting for my gigantic document to load, i figured i might as well get you up to snuff with my goings on…well, some of my goings on. no time for all. nor the inclination. nor, to be perfectly honest, the interest. you're welcome.

the most exciting news happened weeks ago (months? years? who can tell?!?!) but i forgot to mention, but should, because it's a sort of part B to a part A that i bitched blogged about a wee while ago. so - in the face of increasing/continuing/fluctuating/ongoing stress, my stomach has gone rogue again. essentially it returned to the feral state in which i found it all these years ago, wondering the woods, growling uncontrollably, fangs bared, twigs and dirt in its hair,*fiery anger in its little beady eyes, ready to pounce on anything and anyone.

despite what you may think you know about me, i tend to stay calm…ish in the face of (some? most? occasional?) adversity, but the price of that is the stress goes to my feral stomach. so yeah, lately, it's been pretty damn bad. finally got diagnosed with IBS, which is really no diagnosis at all, but a half-hearted shrug that means "listen, lady, you ain't got this, you ain't go that, and you most certainly ain't got that, so what you does got is IBS, unless we can come up with some better acronym or give you a test that actually shows something." fine with me. explains a lot. like years and years a lot.

so, short story looooong, as is my wont, to tell you that i have not been happy in the middle regions and the thought of heading to the dubious plumbing facilities of nepal was not helping. then again, facing my dad and telling him i would be bailing on his most precious and beloved dream was kinda unfun too. but eventually something's gotta give and i called the man…

…who was kind, understanding, supportive and absolutely fine with me not going. he even added that yeah, the place might not be the best vacation spot for a feral belly. WHAT. THE. WHAT?!?! he said he didn't want me to go to please him if it was going to mean i would be unhappy. ok, who is this man?
at any rate, i breathed a sigh of relief and promised to join my parents in utah in october for a marathon.**  this sounded fabulous, as i love the desert and my parents have always been raving about the many stunning national parks of utah.

two days (one day? three days? who can tell?!?!?) i get an email from my dad informing me of another marathon in utah. in may! i.e. during the very time of the proposed nepal expedition! he was bailing on his dream so that we could spend family time together, hiking the red rocks as a family unit!

and so, darling poultries, one irritant is removed, and i can now rest easy knowing that my feral belly and i will actually have the vacation we are looking forward to after school is over: two weeks in poland (with a long overdue jaunt to prague and maybe to berlin or warsaw or whatever, cause IT'S MY DAMN TRIP AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, BITCHES!!!) and then two weeks in a spot strategically located to be close to all the gorgeous bits of utah! then, if they ever call me the hell back, a job? please little baby jebus, a job…well, THE job (more on that later).

now to get this school thing over and done with.

*stomach hair? ew.
 **because it's always for a marathon. any other reason for travel is deemed frivolous

22 March, 2014


my fabulous roommate and i recently finished watching true detective, a dark, brooding HBO series with the prerequisite gratuitous nudity, creative violence, really good writing, and absolutely stellar performances by the two leads. the show takes place in a louisiana rarely shown in travel brochures: expansive fields of sugar cane, dying towns, monumental spirals of highway interchanges, swamps punctuated by the odd spanish-moss festooned oak, oil refineries looming over the mississippi (never the prettiest of rivers in that part of the country). overall, it looks very little like the gorgeous and vibrant place i know and love.

mfr, looking at the vast fields, proclaimed that it looked like kansas and this very quickly became a Thing. every time a shot of a bayou or a decidedly non-kansas-like bit of geography appeared on the screen, i'd nod sagely and say, yup, that's kansas for you. since then, every film or show we have watched, every shot of outdoor scenery (italian hillside town, ireland, whatever) has been kansas.

last night we were having a little late night chat about life, the universe and everything:

mfr: it's all kansas, really.

moi: yes! it's the chicken of geography!

14 March, 2014


astonishing how quickly a person gets used to a frenetic pace, to constant demands, to an almost utter lack of free time. grad school, as i've often complained, has been an intellectual disappointment in many ways. even though i've been ridiculously happy here, i really wish there'd been more of a challenge, beyond the self-imposed ones, and the ones that came from working with some awesome self-motivated people. well, in the last several months that wish has come true, and, as such things are wont to do, it came true with a vengeance.

my final project course is being taught by a new professor, still full of vim and vinegar and robust expectations nourished upon the fertile soil of ivy league schools. we disappoint him, but still he pushes us. he pushes us past the point of breaking, and we do not break; he pushes us past our abilities and we miraculously find hidden stores within ourselves; he pushes us past the limits of time and we manage to get things done and often early. we are almost done, feeling done with learning, and find ourselves, in the space of the last several months having learned so much new information and skills that they rival the first semester. i am exhausted. i am spent. i am tired of staying at school till 10pm every night, clickety-clacketing at the keyboard, creating graphics that just 2 months ago would have seemed impossible, making peace with programmes that used to bring me nightmares: i'm just tired.

 but i am also excited to finish with a bang and not the whimper afforded by the other two classes in this semester, classes whose presence registers only as an annoyance and time stolen from the final project which consumes us. aside from shiny new computer and graphic skills, we are also being pushed intellectually, discovering new ways of seeing, thinking, planning. despite a stress-induced blow-out a week ago (two weeks? three? who knows anymore?!) where i told him a few choice words and he responded by calling us lazy incompetent bureaucratic paper pushers (the first two words were implied; the last three painfully explicit), things are moving along and we have made peace with each other. i like him a lot - he can be pompous, does not deign to listen to opinions contrary to his own very well, he can sometimes bludgeon with the strength of his convictions, but i just really like the man, and a big part of this is the feeling of being given my degree not on a silver platter, wrapped in gratuitous A's, but earning it after a long hard slog through a battlefield.

we are ⅔ of the way through the course, and have a rather important presentation today, following which will come a weekend without an assignment. having spent the last (insert reasonable number here, i no longer have any idea) weekends armpit-deep in project work, this feels like an unprecedented and unhoped for luxury. crusty juggler asked if i wanted to go on a shopping trip - for once (having bailed on dinner plans weekend after weekend), i might, i just might be able to do it. what joy!

one last thing to note, though, is that in light of the way this semester has played out, the thought of spending 6 weeks in poland and then nepal feels far less like a dream vacation than a sentence. i am going to plead for leniency with my dad - maybe we can postpone nepal to another year (cannot postpone poland - one does not postpone a trip to see a 93-year old woman) and instead do something easy. something that does not add to the stress that has turned by gut into a gigantic mess (hello IBS! how nice to be finally diagnosed!).

at any rate, this is my life, for better or worse. i do miss you. hang in there. i think i might be back at some point.

09 March, 2014

say wha?

last night, a conversation that could only happen between me and my fabulous roommate, or possibly at an igor household in a terry pratchett novel:

moi: i lost your foot! i put it on my head and it fell off!

05 March, 2014

things that go pffft in the night

did i mention i was celebrating a small little tiny deadline completion and a great mark on an essay? so i had 2 and a half glasses of wine. as usual, i should have stopped at two.

moi: blather blather, blah, blah, blah, stupid tired/drunk stuff...i really shouldn't have had that third half glass of wine…

mfr: you mean the fifth half glass?!

moi: yes. that one. so, you working tomorrow?

mfr: yes.

moi: but it's my birthday!!!

mfr: i checked the company website. they don't even know about it.

moi: assholes!

mfr: i know.

i am flabbergasted, because google knows about it! i know it's marketing and all that, but come on! how awesome is it to have the entire interwebs celebrate your birthday!? wait…what? what do you mean you didn't get my birthday google doodle? 


words! words! words words words! also, hi.

moi (doing one of my favourite time-wasting activities that don't involve stupid television shows. i.e. looking at the movie trailers on apple trailers): gah! why do things always have to take a "dark and unexpected turn?!"
my fabulous roommate: because that's what life is like.
moi: NO! it is not! and you know it!
mfr (in the most dejected tone imaginable): oh. good.

i have been silent for far too long. but it's all coming to an end, and the end, being nigh and all that, is filled with all sorts of scholarly activities that keep me in school till waaaay past my bedtime (ok, 10:30, but still…). it's been busy. it's been so busy. so so SO busy. but good. busy and good. but SO busy, what with all the busy and all. and did i mention how busy it's been? yesterday (i.e. tuesday) felt like the longest week ever, as a result of which i kept thinking today is the day after friday, if the day after friday was another type of weekday. so. yes. busy.

in the one allotted week of non-busy, i went on a parental-sponsored trip to phoenix and las vegas, though not at all in the way you think when you hear phoenix and vegas, i promise you.

as per usual, part of the trip revolved around my dad running a marathon (he would likely spontaneously combust if he were to go on a trip unrelated to running a marathon). he ran the marathon in phoenix, badly, too, because practice and stretching are concepts foreign to the man, as is the idea of aging and no longer being able to perform insane feats of physical endurance without the proper preparation, but whatevs. my mom and i dropped him off before the sun rose, and had our morning coffee in a local macdonald's filled to the brim (THE BRIM, PEOPLE!!!) with elderly men in various stages of decrepitude. bucking the statistics, the women were outnumbered roughly 54,721:1, and my mom and i were the hottest, youngest things in the 'hood. which would have felt nice if the general population wasn't hovering in the very near vicinity of the triple digits.

still, the majority of the trip consisted of hiking in the desert, which is the most peaceful, gorgeous and silent place imaginable, especially in mid february when spring is just starting to poke its green schnozz outta the sand; evening glasses of cheap wine (oh, trader joe's - if there was one reason for me to consider moving south of the border, you would be it! you, with your glorious selection of dried fruit and wine starting at just $3.99 a bottle…sigh…); occasional walks along the las vegas strip, which is one highly efficient way to get really really depressed about the state of humanity in general (scooter? check! obesity? check! oxygen tank? check! cigarettes? check!) and american humanity in particular; one or two semi-successful shopping trips; and a whole lotta not-writing of an unfinished essay. overall, the trip was great. i love liking my parents. i've always managed to love them, but there was a particular dry spell in the early years of my marriage in the liking area, and things are back to good, if not better!

i drove, and demonstrated my newfound courage by driving in phoenix itself* and las vegas. my dad drove back in the evenings when my sight grew dim, to quote the eagles.

one of the most astonishing things about the desert is that it makes me fall asleep like nowhere else. yeah, yeah, you say to yourself (enough with this talking to yourself! it's getting weird. you really oughta see someone!), it's the physical exertion. blah blah blah. i've been running almost every day. i've hiked places. i've stridden, marched and plodded, and never, NEVER, i say! have i slept as well as i do in the desert. i fall asleep, get this, within 15 minutes of my head hitting the pillow! this, my darling poultries, is unprecedented! miraculous! dang good, even!

so yes, this is what happened. and then i came back, fell back in the bottomless bucket of work, and so i'm working. tonight i finished an assignment and am celebrating with glasses of portuguese** wine and watching the aforementioned apple trailers.

so yeah, i'm still alive. but busy. you know? very, very busy. almost done school, and all that, but we don't talk about that, on account of the busyness and all. talk to you when i next come up for air. might be a while.

*no big deal as the city is essentially one big interstate punctuated by occasional strip malls, subdivisions, and really really good and cheap mexican restaurants.

**still find that second "u" really odd and unnecessary. i mean, really! why is it even there? it's not like there's an invisible "q" lurking on the premises…is there?

13 February, 2014

king of the hill

it's really hard not to feel like a pretentious asshole when buying a plane ticket to kathmandu and stressing to the agent the importance of having to be there on a specific date so that you can have time to acclimatize before hitting everest base camp.

if you know me well, you likely have heard me rant and rave about the everest crowd - pretentious assholes every last one. besides, what's the achievement in paying somebody 50K to outfit you for a trip up a mountain that is so crowded you need to line up to summit? soon they'll put in an escalator or, better still, all mobility access ramp so that the flabby and the infirm can ride up in their power scooters. and yet, in a couple of months, i too shall be adding my carcass to the moving carpet of humanity that litters the crowded slopes of the king of mountains*.

just so you know, this isn't my bucket list that's getting a checkmark; it's my dad's. he and my cousin are so in love with the place they've gone back several times, and this time he wants to take me and my mom along for the ride. and so, instead of hitting my bucket list (vietnam, i'm looking at you. and you, amsterdam, my great love!) to celebrate finishing school, i am taking one on the chin for family. though you must know i'm actually quite looking forward to it. the kathmandu part for sure. the mountain part…not so much (the climbing! the lack of oxygen! and did i mention the climbing?)

i just wish i didn't feel like such an asshole about the everest base camp bit of the trip. next thing you know, i'll be wearing oakleys (sorry, c - you know they're the official sunglasses of the north american asshole.)

*if you know me well, you'll also know that i think everest is cheating, since its base is so high above sea level. sure, it's the highest point on earth, but base to summit, kilimanjaro kicks everest's ass…and that's another mountain filled to the brim with asshole tourists. 

12 February, 2014

a funny thing happened to me on the way to the forum

c and i finished friday's graphic assignment tuesday evening. sure, i stayed at school a wee bit late two evenings in a row, but c did most of the heavy lifting and all i had to do is polish up the sharp edges which is something i adore, so… that's done.

today, after days and days of perambulations, obfuscations and procrastinations, i tackled my essay. i'd been doing research for over a week, reading article after article*, jotting down the salient points in a 5-page file, along with the very best quotes and a general outline. a lot of work, my poultries, especially for a topic that fails to excite. today i began to write. i was one paragraph in when i decided to transfer the essay bits off the notes page into a new document so i could look at both at the same time. simple, non? non.

in the midst of this simple copy and paste, word freezes up and all comes to a standstill. there is a pregnant pause**and then i realise that nothing's budging, so i force quit word and then restart. guess what i find: i now have 2 files, one titled notes, the other titled essay, both with nothing but that first paragraph on them, and the notes are nowhere to be found.

i scoured the laptop, i scoured the interwebs, i tried every flavour of IT snake-oil known to nerd, and nothing. nothing. NOTHING!!! i'd rather have lost that one paragraph than a week's and 10 articles' worth of notes. i came pretty damn close to crying, let me tell you, the upside of which was realising that it's been a damn long while since i felt like crying, which i suppose is a sweet little nugget in a pile of bitter poo.

at any rate, after railing about this on facebook (wherein i had to explain to people repeatedly that I DID SAVE the damn document, after all, i'd been using it for a week so obviously it was saved and also, i'm not a complete idiot and YES, i have auto-save and YES, i know how to search for missing things which all makes it even worse, cause this thing is gone, baby, gone), i went on to write roughly half the essay, pulling the information randomly out of various orifices, hoping the elegance of my prose would cover the alarming lack of organisation. then i thought i'd celebrate, because, honey, i deserve it.

we all know that chez moi, nothing says celebration like a nice glass of vino, so with c's blessings (have two, he tells me, you deserve it (see? i told you i deserved it!)) i went to open a bottle languishing on a shelf.

i plunged in my corkscrew and half the cork came out. i went in again and another piece came out. i went in again, aiming for the least mangled portion of the cork. more chunks came out. again and again, i tried to open the damn bottle and kept getting small chunks of fine portuguese cork all over my damn counter. there came a point where i had had enough (and not nearly enough cork for further excavation) and decided to do it the old fashioned street-thug way - using a knife to push the rest of the cork in.

have you ever done that, my poultries? pushed a cork in? i've seen mister monkey do it, and it looked easy. hah. HAH, i tell you. it wasn't easy. what happened was this: the cork went in easily enough, displacing with its small but notable presence, according to the annoying laws of physics (the displacement of mass and all that), an equal amount of red wine, which went out and up and directly into my eye. that shit stings, did you know? i ran to the sink, washed my face and was ready to laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole thing…until i looked up and saw the walls. the walls covered with matte white wallpaper. in the kitchen. yes. you heard me. and yes, you can draw your own conclusions about the intellect or practicality of the person responsible for that particular decorating travesty. i think i might have been able to wash the wine off if i'd gone after it immediately, alas i was too busy bending over the sink muttering, it burns, it burns! as i splashed cold water in my eyes.

my shirt was also covered with attractive splashes of wine, as was the counter and the floor. obviously, those are no big deal. but come on, porous white wallpaper in the kitchen? what. the. fuck. and to really flesh out this story, let me tell you that the number of glasses of red wine that i spilled over the years at my roommate's other houses, usually all over very light carpeting, was so great that i was no longer allowed to drink red.

i think i may be done for the day.

the wine, by the way, is very good.

P.S. i just 'fessed up to my fabulous roommate (on account of it being kinda impossible to hide, unlike the one time i spilled grape juice on their white master bedroom carpet and hid it by moving all the furniture 2 inches to the right) and you know what he said? "if some is pink now, we're going to need more red wine." best roommate ever.

*real books are for fun. for research, it best be electronic or i ain't gonna read it.

**for all you pc users, this is not a typical daily occurrence with macs. it's very very VERY rare.

07 February, 2014

the trooff, the whole trooff and nothing but the trooff

i've had several conversations lately with various friends and it got me thinking about the concept of honesty. let me preface everything that is to come by saying that i do believe in honesty. anyone who knows me knows that i am mostly upfront about what i feel and why i feel it. yes, i wish i was better about dealing with unpleasantness in a work or school environment, but hey, it ain't bad.

however, the idea of being completely honest, utterly and totally open about what is going on in my head makes me feel ill. i am an intensely private person, though i know you find it hard to believe. but surely you must know that even when i open myself wide, i am keeping a whole lot hidden. i have never been dishonest here, but i have never been completely honest either. you know very little of what's been going on in my life (other than what you've inferred or imagined) and i intend to keep it that way. what you know is how it all made me feel. i have no qualms about sharing my feelings.

one of the most spiritually uncomfortable moments of my young life was when a (catholic school) teacher said that when we die, all that we have ever thought or done will be projected on a large screen for god to see. i remember feeling nauseous at the concept - even with the implied notion that god already would have known all my most secret thoughts. my head is, and has always been, my own. my thoughts, my dreams, my fantasies, my ideals are mine, mine, mine.

i also find the concept of total and complete honesty in relationships morally repugnant. it feels like violation to be expected to share absolutely everything and keep nothing secret. i would not want mr. monkey to share his whole being with me, and i would never reciprocate if he did. i need my secret self. i crave it. and i think it is everyone's right to have that inviolable core. i don't think it's wrong if others believe in total honesty, i just don't buy it for myself.

the only case for full and total honesty that i do buy is with oneself. it ain't easy, but it's vital.

and lest you think i have closets full of skeletons or bodies buried all over the continent, well, i could tell you that is not the case, but i prefer to keep that to myself.

06 February, 2014


it's not even 8am, so clearly i am not drunk. just a quick disclaimer to get out of the way, because i fear i may be heading in a sentimental direction and i don't want you to jump to the obvious, though wrong, conclusion.

mr. monkey and i were walking home from a lovely dinner party a couple weekends ago, carefully navigating the ice mountains that cover our sidewalks this bipolar* winter (-25ºC! +15ºC! again! and again!), when it occurred to me that while it may be inordinately hard to get one's own measure (so many complicated ego-driven, willfully blind, confusing, mood-related ups and downs!), it's really rather simple to do it via one's friends.

think about it - the quality of your friends says so much about you, don't it? well, i choose to say it does, largely because hot damn, i am one lucky lady in the friend department. when i take a mental inventory of the people in my life, i come up with the corollary that i must be pretty damn awesome myself to be surrounded by so much glowing awesomeness. if there's one thing i've been lucky in (and i've been lucky in so much! praise the little flying manatees!), it's the people in my life.

and now there's new ones to add to the pack - the ones at school (and you know who you are) who make me happy happy happy to see their shining mugs every day; the virtual ones on here who have held my hand when i most needed hand holding, virtual or otherwise; my fabulous roommate who doesn't really count as a new acquisition but whom i have gotten to know ever so much better over the last year and a bit and who has exceeded all my expectations** and who brings so much laughter and surreal humour to my daily life.

all the black sad bits in my life are more than offset by the gleeful gaggle of gorgeous gems that are my friends.

*never mind the polar vortex - the bipolar vortex is what we've been going through and it's exhausting.

**maybe my expectations are too low. note to self: increase expectations. surely that couldn't ever end badly!

31 January, 2014

lady bits

dear manufacturers of the euphemistically named feminine hygiene products,*

what is up with the scents? seriously? if i was meant to smell like flowers, i'd have a pot-pourri basket instead of a vagina. cut. it. out. it's vile.

thank you,

concerned citizen with a non-floral vagina

*menstruation paraphernalia for those unwilling to engage in euphemisms when dealing with regular normal body stuff. yes, it's blood. get over it.

29 January, 2014

them's the numbers and the numbers they don't lie

i like to think of myself as an intelligent person. i maintain this opinion by the cunning use of selective comparison, by surrounding myself with intelligent people and finally, through careful and almost entirely successful math avoidance. sadly, this term has brought into my life a class with the charming name "analytical methods for planners" that is almost entirely math and statistics based.

despite the fact that i got top marks in my high school math courses (though even then i did not enjoy them), i balked when faced with calculus, and have since maintained a semi-mythical Fear of Numbers. i am now realising how stupid it was for me to keep feeding this semi-fictional account of things, because it has been proven by my marks (granted, a great many years and an even greater number of brain cells ago) that i can indeed do this shit, and the fear that has since grown does nothing to help me overcome the assignments that i must overcome. my primary reaction is awed astonishment that someone would be so cruel, followed in short order by panic. not surprisingly, this does not help the situation at all, but it has over the years become my default setting.

so whenever i get too big for my britches, and all sorts of intellectually snarky, be so kind as to remind me of the fact that i am mathematical anti-genius. one look at me and c last week trying to scale some maps would have left you laughing uncomfortably (or shaking your collective heads* in dismay). it was to the point where we were considering removing our boots and socks to get at toes to add to the fingers necessary for the calculations. eventually we gave up and i forced mister monkey to try to get this stuff through my head over the weekend…semi-successfully.

i feel rather strongly that if i hadn't made it one of my "things," this fear of math, then my attitude would have remained more open, thereby allowing in a greater understanding. i mean, i don't have to love it, but it sure would be nice not to be reduced to slack-jawed terror at the sight of excel or a scale work sheet. looks like the buffoonery has come home to roost.

*great band name, no? "collective heads"

14 January, 2014

myths perpetuated by american television

  • couples sleep together wearing many layers of clothes even when they're married and sex is officially legal. AND they live in california or other hot places. must be the air conditioning.
  • when not encased in long-sleeved t-shirts, women sleep in sexy bras because they are very very comfortable. sometimes, if they're wearing sexy nighties, they will have a sexy bra underneath, for extra comfort.
  • women sleep in full make-up.
  • in sexual intercourse, the boy bits just sort of fall into the girl bits, without the need for any kind of awkward manoeuvring. 
  • women change their hairstyles seasonally (i.e. television season, not earth's rotation season), so that they will wear their curly hair straight for the entire 14 episodes, and then curly, for the next 14 episodes and so forth. if they change their make-up style, say, going all "edgy," this too will remain the same through the entire season. this must be not to confuse the viewers. 
  • all women have long hair. that's how we know that women are women and men are men and all is right in the universe. if they are police officers or secret agents, their hair remains their crowning glory, because a mannish job like that requires that extra bit of sex appeal. otherwise we would get confused about the roles of men and women in society and that is not good.
  • this is also the reason women police officers, secret agents, spies and assorted sundries always wear very high heels. 
  • when two people buddy up in a secret agent/police type situation, and they have a humorous conflict of personalities, it is always the man who is charmingly immature, rebellious, unwilling to follow the rules; and it is the woman who is serious, unsmiling, by-the-book and must keep the man on track. eventually he might be able to get through to her and teach her that life can sometimes be a lighthearted caper through the radish patch, while she manages to make him realise that sometimes following rules is a good thing, in that fewer people get killed. this is because men are perpetual children and women are mommies…i think. or maybe men are fun and women are not. or maybe… i dunno. you tell me.
  • everybody in the united states of america (with the notable exception of street folk, terrorist cells, and humorous hillbillies) lives in beautiful, spacious, historical apartments. even in new york.
  • strong female characters are bitchy and serious, else they could not be strong. strong woman = bitch. laughter and a sense of humour suggest frivolity and shallowness, unless you're a man, in which case you can be both strong AND funny. 
i could go on, and i am likely to pop back here and flesh out the list. 

why, then, do i watch television? because it's an escape from reality, that's why. 

13 January, 2014

when silly tired people have silly tired conversations

i'm reading a really really boring chapter on analytical methodology for urban planners. my fabulous roommate walks in.

moi: do you know the difference between a projection and a forecast?

mfr: a projection's on a wall and a forecast…

moi: ...is on the tip of a dick!!!

*i collapse in giggles*

mfr:… well, maybe on the tip of a broken dick.

moi: that is BRILLIANT!!!

*paroxysms of laughter ensue*

12 January, 2014

memory lane, not to be confused with mammary lane, which is in a whole other neighbourhood

i really like this one. i used to be clever once. now i'm just…i dunno…not clever.

mad writes rhymes

i am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is likely the only ode to fort mcmurray ever written. i could be wrong, but hey, i could be right. i went back into the past and brought it forth for your enjoyment. wherever you live, it's likely not as bad as this.

here it is, for the linkedly-challenged:

ode to fort mcmurray (2007)

oh fort mcmurray
you strip me naked
remove the sleek hypocrisy of civilisation
reveal the killer within:

i want to clean dried idiot blood
from under my fingernails
with a hunting knife
dulled from much use

oh swirling vortex of dumb
oh mass exodus of the human lemming
leaving your hell hole
for a weekend of puking off whyte avenue
painting my hometown
the colour of your cheap digested beer

oh you, with your macdonald's bags
tossed out the window of your speeding truck
with far too many wheels
and too few brain cells

oh fort mcmurray
you make me ask the question
that man has asked for countless years:
how many skidoos does one person need?

oh backward baseball capped and gold be-chained
oh toothless and uncombed
oh smelly and unwashed
your crusty pants besmirching the already oily breeze
why do you not go home?
the sea calls you
does it not leave a number?
go home
and let me go home too

chalk this one up to progress

i had my google map open and was measuring block lengths in a particularly walkable neighbourhood in calgary when i suddenly realised that 3 years back, i would have been measuring people's dental pockets and oh what a joyous revelation that this is my life now: no blood, no fear of malpractice*, no halitosis, no stress. just click and drag on the google map ruler tool, and whammo! 110m - 150m block length is particularly friendly to the pedestrian. now you know.

*not that this was an active fear, but somehow it was always there, in the back of my mind, this fear that i could do some damage if i put my mind to it.

11 January, 2014

you're off by just a teensy little bit

there's a raging horizontal snowstorm outside my window: trees dancing, huge flakes racing across the sky, wind howling. 

this is what the weather network is telling me:


10 January, 2014

beasts! in the dark!

cooking and drinking with my fabulous roommate tonight (it's our friday date night), talking about why the geese aren't going south for the winter.

mfr: i was walking though the park today and there were quacking beasts in the dark.

moi: quacking beasts in the dark? 

mfr: yes, i AM nature man. 

mfr: doesn't that sound ominous? an ominous form of wildlife.

moi: yeah, it sounds like a title of a book…of poetry.

mfr: yeah, a lot of things rhyme with dark.

in the end, we have no idea why the geese aren't going south for the winter. anyone? any birdolologists (amateur or otherwise) please chip in.

the chinook blues (well, more faecal browns, putrid beiges and noxious greys)

not a happy day.

the chinook continues its nasty job of undermining both winter and my equanimity: streets covered with melting brown slush that's reminiscent of the manure-infused mud and water one can find around a pig farm; disturbingly warm wind whipping the clouds around; boots covered in salt stains despite constant efforts to clean and polish; migraines crouched always just out of sight but ever at the ready; not a sparkling bit of frost to be found for love or money.


oh for a nice crisp winter's day.

to add insult to injury (cue annual rant), the majority of the population continues to wreak linguistic havoc by equating warm with nice (i.e. "it's nice out" when wading through ankle-deep manure-like slush does not meet my criteria of "nice," and when what they really mean is "it's warm out"), and continues their socially-acceptable and media-supported hatred of winter. why am i the outlier, the weirdo, when, having chosen to live in a cold climate, i actually embrace the winter and find things to love in it? i'm tired of having to defend to people (even friends sometimes) the fact that i do indeed love winter and no, i am not merely lying to myself about it, har har.

isn't it a sign of some kind of mental and emotional balance to try to embrace the reality of one's surroundings instead of choosing to bitch constantly about the fact that we ain't got no palm trees lining our streets? i don't know, maybe it's not, but i do think that some of our happiness does stem from facing a situation's reality and the reality here (well, in edmonton, not so much in calgary with its infernal chinooks (i am here temporarily and am therefore exempt from the reality clause of having to learn to love chinooks)) is several months of serious winter. as in november to march, with probable snippets both before and after.

my suggestion is to face reality and in the case of winter, the suggestion has two sides: a mental one (you live in alberta; embrace the climate; don't feed the hate) and a practical one (buy clothing that is appropriate to the conditions - calling something a winter coat does not automatically make it a winter coat. it should also be… i don't know.. warm?). it's astonishing how simple the latter is, and yet how some people figure a light fall coat will do double duty in -35ºC (mister monkey is exempt here, because the man is actually truly never cold and would likely sweat to death in a parka).

i'm happy to note that more and more the streets of our cities are populated by young people wearing weather-appropriate attire. amazing how much happier you can be when you are dressed for the conditions. hah - maybe that, right there, is the answer to all  most of life's problems: rubber boots in vancouver, mukluks in edmonton, flip-flops in honolulu = happiness.

(note: i do realise that i bitch about the weather and then about people bitching about the weather. like i said, my excuse is that this windswept city is not my home and i didn't choose it. )

06 January, 2014

reality revisited

it's currently -40ºC with windchill. before i made my peace with winter i would question the wisdom of living in a climate that could literally kill you in minutes. now i just shrug and put another layer on. still, no walkies for me today.

and no runnies, either, if the last 3 weeks are any indication. during my holiday times, i totally and completely let myself go: i ate too much (par for the course of a polish christmas), drank waaaaay too much (mister monkey's newly discovered astonishing mixology skillz will be the bane of my liver), ran maybe 4 times and after my one-on-one yoga instruction completely and utterly failed to do any yoga. and so i am entering the new year with an overworked liver, a few extra pounds, and a terrible attitude of laziness. let's hope the routine of school helps me get over this, cause otherwise, my poultries, i'm in serious trouble.

which brings me to the title of this post - as someone who takes great pride in self-awareness and an approach to life rooted firmly in reality instead of fantasy, i was thrown for a loop in recent months by my inability to grasp the reality of a certain situation. you see, when it comes to people, i am a total optimist: you need to kick me several times, and in strategic places, before i see you are less than awesome. it seems that i have finally arrived at that point - realising that beautiful words do not reality make. when someone tells you how absolutely fabulous you are, and how important in their life, and then completely and utterly fails to back that up with solid action, well, eventually even a starry eyed ijit like yours truly will see the light.

i think spending time with my fabulous people over the holidays clarified things for me as well. granted, i tend to be the one who calls, who arranges, who ensures that contact is maintained, but those of my friends who fail in this regard have a long history with me and a solid base of mutual respect, understanding and love. they also treat me well, can be counted on and are a constant in my life. and so, in the new year i am ready to offer up blessed thanks for my wonderful friends, while also promising to maintain a clear vision of those who would give me a bag of assholes wrapped in sparkly paper, hoping i don't notice.*

tomorrow i head back south to finish my edumacation. i am neither dreading nor looking forward to it, though i am little worried about the upcoming group work (please, please, please, baby jebus, don't put me in a group with the baboons**). as you know, i'll keep you in the loop. onward and upward!

*come to think of it, it's kinda a double whammy, innit? a. giving me a bag of assholes and b. thinking i am so stupid i won't realise what i've been given. i.e. not worth any real trouble AND ALSO dumb. yoiks.

**with apologies to actual baboons.

31 December, 2013

happy new year

we are having a rather large new year's eve soiree tonight, so i must go forth and buy last minute supplies, meet some folk, decorate the premises and generally get myself into party mode. as is typical, right before the party i am second guessing my desire to host one. it's not as bad as usual - for instance, i am not contemplating phoning everyone and announcing that, as i have ebola, the festivities have been cancelled. i'm certain it'll be fun, though we're including all the wee ones in this year's invitation and that might prove interesting.

although i sometimes get grumpy about these things and grumble how it's random and meaningless, still, we need special dates to frame the passage of time and so the new year approaches. i wish you all the best, my poultries: health, peace, joy, adventures and many smiles. i hope you reach out for whatever dreams you've kept on the back burner: as someone who did just that a couple of year back, i can tell you that it's very much worth it. i hope you choose to be a little more forgiving (both of yourself and others, though it's the former that usually gives the greater difficulty), more loving, less prone to anger and more willing to see the good in things. all these are things i wish for myself as well, lest you think i'm admonishing you from some great and lofty height.

happy new year!

27 December, 2013

wrong? yes, wrong.

my dear poultries,

it turns out that sometimes, hard as it is to believe, i jump to judgment that is unfair. in the interest of fairness i must hereby proclaim that snuffleupagus is actually quite nice when taken out of her usual overwhelming surroundings. i feel like an utter twat and i would like to stand here in public and shamefacedly proclaim myself wrong.

true, you don't know snuffleupagus and most of you have no idea who i am talking about, but those who do, need to know about my change of heart. judgmental twatdom is the frequent occasional corollary of snobby opinionatedness and there you have it. i was wrong.

the year in review

as it's coming up to that time of year, and as i'm up rather early to get in my shower before some sort of plumbing maintenance shuts the water off for the day and have a couple hours to spare, i thought i'd write my year-in-review a few days early.

it's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? it began, auspiciously enough, with a bout of stomach flu that had me and crusty juggler* languishing on couches and taking turns hobbling to the kitchen to provide ginger tea for whoever was weaker at the moment. as soon as the vomiting ended, school began.

second semester must have been fine, because my recollection of it is hazy at best. there were courses that featured finance, excel ™, maps and other things that interest me not at all. there was one course that was interesting but ended up with my one patently unfair mark, a subject that you can feel free to bring up if you want to see me instantly turn into an angry bitter thing.** this semester solidified my awesome partnership and friendship with c.

when school ended, i took advantage of a ridiculous seat sale and flew to new york where i spent a week drooling over their public realm, drinking great coffee and catching up with the ever lovely d.

following the big apple adventure, i started my summer job at stantec - likely my best summer to date. i have liked jobs in the past, but i have never loved them to the point of absurdity. i suddenly understood how people could be passionate about work, how they could voluntarily stay after hours and work over lunch. i fell just a little in love with almost every one of my co-workers, i jiggled with joy over even the most mundane projects, and had only one day of doubt. i became a subscriber to the TGIM*** club and drove my friends crazy with my constant blather about how fucking awesome everything was. i suspect that during this period people began to avoid me, or change the subject when work came up. luckily, i lost no friends though i fear it might have come close: nobody wants to be around a negative nelly, but a perpetually positive penelope can be just as annoying what with the constant gushing.

when my summer job ended i celebrated by doing something i'd never done before - i took a road trip to vancouver island all by myself. this proved to me that hey, i can navigate a mountain pass AND a huge city by my lonesome. it was a good trip - i caught up with old friends, got to spend time with newer ones, and learned a hell of a lot about myself in the process. driving the coquihalla, singing along to your favourite tunes is a pretty damn fabulous thing to do by yourself: the views are spectacular, the driving smooth, and the opportunity to gaze into your own soul unparalleled.

ah, yes, the opportunity to gaze into your own soul… this brings me to the part where i fell off the edge into the abyss. following the incredible summer and the educational road trip i fell into a deep dark hole and my long time readers need no further explanation - this blog became my therapy. from september to mid october, i was lost at sea, wandering in the dark, trudging through the vale of tears and all sorts of other metaphorical badnesses. things were profoundly Not Good. then came amsterdam.

despite the utter lack of organization in my faculty, c managed to get himself signed up for a course in amsterdam and then dragged my reluctant ass along for the ride. beginning of october found me, mister monkey and c crossing the big water and meeting up in brussels. aside from the waffles and the grand place, brussels failed to really impress. we also hit bruges, which did. then mr. m headed east to the old country while c and i took the train to amsterdam where i promptly fell head over heels in love. while coming back to canada was tough, i seemed to have left my sadness somewhere over the atlantic and lo, there it stayed.

the rest of the semester was punctuated by awe and respect for the great work of some of my classmates, and awe and disgust at the quality of some of the others. we worked our collective butts off and managed to get everything done and lo, the semester ended, i grabbed crusty juggler by the scruff of her neck and we drove north for the holidays.

and now, having done a thoroughly dull recap, let's see what lessons i have learned:

1. this bout of depression taught me to take things one day at a time, as cliched as that sounds. i took the good days and wallowed in them because they were so very precious in the midst of the darkness. it also meant that the dark days were less terrifying, because i knew that they would come and they would go and i would be left standing among the wreckage.

2. speaking of cliches, a very wise friend told me to not dismiss cliches because despite our society's attempts to cheapen special experiences by turning them into caricatures, they remain worthwhile and important. thank you, b.

3. two people from my program, c and k, have separately told me that they consider me their one friend in the class. because i feel strongly about both of them, this is beyond touching and humbling and awe-inspiring. if not for them, my school experience would have been a hell of a lot less fabulous.

4. although some days it's pretty close to impossible, it's essential to focus on the positives because the negatives can destroy your sense of equanimity: no matter how stupid some of my classmates are, there are enough intelligent and talented ones to make my own accomplishments count. i suspect this is a lesson i shall need to continue to revisit over the coming semester.

5. soul searching will only take you so far. there comes a point where you need to pick up the shovel and get on with life. some things can be thought out; some need to be put on the back burner after a while for life to sort out in its own time.

6. i might want to do a PhD! who knew?!

7. my babies - i loves them. no news here, but man, i really really REALLY loves my babies! despite this, i am more than ever certain that motherhood is not something i would ever want to attempt. waaay the hell too much work, commitment and all that jazz. two houseplants and my second-hand babies are pretty much where i want to be.

8. my roommate is fabulous. i shall miss him a tonne when spring rolls around.

9. the people in my life are a bloody miracle, and that includes all of you who have been here with me through the darkness. thank you for your kind words, your emails, your support. i couldn't have done it without you and thank you for your patience with me.

10. when all things are tallied up, life is good.

and on that note, i hope the new year brings you health, love and peace, my poultries, all the rest is secondary.

*alas and alack, right around that time, crusty succumbed to the charms of my good friend d and is no longer spending christmases chez nous, but is instead cozily ensconced three blocks to the west. i wish them well - having two of your favourite people hit it off swimmingly is as fabulous as it is rare.

**more than usual, i mean.

*** thank god it's monday - and yes, i realise how annoying that is.

24 December, 2013

good wishes

merry christmas, my darling poultries. wherever you are, whatever you have planned, may it go swimmingly! may you all twinkle merrily through the dark winter nights!

19 December, 2013

ice queen

headed out this morning with crusty juggler for another day of shoppingery and hilarity: the morning was, so far, the coldest of the year - -38ºC with windchill, if i recall correctly, and i was just a tiny bit apprehensive when i set out. alas and alack, the day, utterly devoid of the slightest bit of moisture was glorious: the air was crisp and slightly shocking on the lungs, but gods above, i do love me a dry cold. for those of you who find the idea of -38ºC shocking, please believe me when i say that this morning was far far more pleasant than the soggy humid mess of a weather we had last week at -4ºC. there is a way one can bundle against a dry -38ºC that is impossible with a soggy -4ºC. if you've never experienced a glorious sparkling dry cold winter, you must take it on faith. please do, because once i scraped the frost off the car and stomped the snow off my boots, i felt filled with the kind of joy only a perfect day can bring. when crusty juggler joined me she said she knew i'd be in a good mood precisely because the mercury had finally dropped. she does know me well, that one.

we had another fabulous day of shoppingery - clothings, food things, drink things and other things. after i dropped her off i had to make two trips to bring all my purchases into the house. alas, i made a rather elementary mistake of putting a plastic jug of milk in the same bag as not one but two saws* which resulted in milk spillage. word to the wise - a saw and a plastic jug do not mix well. at my advanced age, i should have seen that coming.

later in the afternoon, i met my past summer student co-worker for drinks at my new favourite edmonton watering hole where the drinks ain't cheap but they sure is good, and where the cheese is plentiful and rich. we ate, drank and partook of the cheese, and lo, it was good.

once home again, i began baking - an extra spicy gingerbread (2 loaves) and many lots of earl grey shortbread cookies are cooling as i write and almond crescents are readying in the fridge while i listen to the signal and write.

tomorrow beckons with a visit to the acupuncturist and more cookery and baking and crafts with crusty and her man. life, my darlings, is such a blessed thing. i feel much compassion for the crying beast i was in the months before - gladness at being here and now is a glorious understatement. it's cold. tomorrow it'll snow. life - a multi-faceted thing that sparkles when the light hits it just right, and it's hitting it right these days!

*crusty juggler had a problem with her christmas tree. i don't judge, i just lend saws.

18 December, 2013

things happen - many lots

spent monday hanging out with the lovely s and crusty juggler. it was a fabulous laughter-filled girlie day of shopping, idiocy, inappropriate comments and much swearing. it's funny, but since crusty moved to calgary this june, we've hardly spent any time together at all, both of us busy with school-related activities and such. it was fantastic to just spend the day together perusing the dusty shelves of a giant antique mall or howling with laughter as we walked out of a discount store inexplicably jointly carrying a rather light plastic bag, tippy-toeing all geisha-like across the ice.

yesterday i had my teeth cleaned at my old office. each and every time i go back, i am astonished that this, this very thing, was my life for almost 2 decades. it feels more and more like something that happened to someone else, possibly in a dream or maybe a movie starring some third rate actors whose faces seem familiar but whose names are nowhere near the A-list.

afterwards i splurged on a one-on-one yoga session with a professional instructor. it's a good thing too, or come spring i might have been seriously debilitated - apparently i'd been doing pretty much everything wrong. no wonder my shoulder blades were starting to feel like i'd been repeatedly stabbed with a hockey skate. it's a miracle i can still walk. but hey, now i know how to do it right. also, i'm in pain. but the good kind for a change.

this afternoon i went to my oldest niece's christmas concert. this was, by far, the highlight of my week. i figured that organizing a dozen or so 2-3-year-olds into singing christmas carols coherently would be akin to herding ADHD cats high on catnip, but the nuns (yes, nuns, and lovely ones too: friendly, calm, warm and loving, the kind you figure don't actually exist outside of "the sound of music") did an amazing job of it and the wee ones (the ones who weren't sobbing uncontrollably in their mamas' laps) got into it with gusto. my niece was the obvious star of the show (takes after her aunt, that one, little spotlight hog!), singing the loudest, making the biggest gestures, really getting into it. i was laughing my ass off but with tears in my eyes. it was simultaneously hilarious, adorable, delightful and all sorts of painfully cute. then i found out she'd been telling all the nuns that i'd be coming to the concert. my heart contracts just to think of that - that i should have special meaning to her is beyond anything i'd ever hoped for. indulge me, if you will, but to know that she sees me as a significant part of her life makes me humble beyond belief. yeah, i know, i know, but it's true...

spent the rest of the night hanging out with my sister-in-law and my wee nephew who is adorable but so very busy and energetic that i ended up calling mr. monkey at one point and telling him to GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW, I MEAN RIGHT THIS SECOND so we could manage to do what needed to be done. what needed to be done was making fudge and cookies and drinking wine and cooking dinner and it's pretty much impossible with a 1.5 year old boy who wants to do EVERYTHING.

and so another day of loveliness comes to an end. tomorrow i have a drink date with a fellow summer student from my miraculous summer job. this christmas thing is really really nice. wish we could do it more often.

14 December, 2013

baby therapy

spent the evening with my two nieces. before the birth of the first one, i don't think i really knew how much one could love a little human that didn't really say all that much or contribute anything other than various bodily fluids oozing out all over the place.  but man, to see the joy on the face of my oldest niece (3.5 years) when she realises it's me at the door, it's the very best kind of heart break. the kind that breaks you open to all the good things in the world.

tossed her in the air a few times. twirled her around until i fell down (the drama was only partly pretend - in my day-to-day adult life i really rarely twirl). hugged, tickled, kissed, drew pictures, played with blocks - all the most wonderful stuff.

then, when the youngest (14mo) refused to sleep because, hey! everyone else is having a party downstairs, i held her in my lap, fed her watermelon, tickled her feet, rubbed her belly and let her do her magic thing (this kid sucks the bad mojo out of anyone - even me! they could make a tonne of money on her on the mental health circuit!).

man, i love my babies… life is suddenly so much better, and it's been pretty damn good for a good longish while.

12 December, 2013

percocet pizza

and the lord spake unto me with a voice like the trumpeting of… trumpets, and told me that, yea verily, some studying needed to be done this morn. and lo, i listened unto the lord and i sat and my laptop opened up before me like the ten commandments that moses brought from the mountain (except horizontal-like). and there, on the silver tablets, sat words. words and numbers. sometimes even badly drawn diagrams. often, no sense could be made. and i know you don't believe me because you might have figgered out by now that i am prone to ever so slight exaggeration, but not this time. nope. for instance, this nice man lectured us multiple times about…well, not quite sure. leadership skillz, mebbe? a lot of dr. phil type drivel. encouraging the heart. communicating. active listening. and very very poor graphics. no, really! look! title vis-a-vis content! hilarious! there's neither organization nor constraint!

anyone who can explain this to me wins a slightly used but still relatively shiny whatsit. i think drugs might have been involved in the creation of the graphics. they are joyous and festive, though, non? just in time for the season! yay! colours! many many colours! look at all the colours! wheeee!

so lo, i sate down and studied some more. my eyes they did doth (huh?) glaze over, but on i read. and lo, this is what i found:

now this one, well, we became old friends because every time the speaker came to lecture (too many times, oh lord, too many times), at some point in his power point this would make an appearance. none of us, not a single solitary one, could figure out why in the name of all that is good and holy the numbers are aligned in this way. and what the symbols mean. perhaps it's some sort of aztec thing. or maybe early assyrian. no clue. if you understand cuneiform, maybe you can let me know in the comments section.

so yeah, i glazedly gazed over the ghastliness of our notes, picked out the bits that made some kind of sense, had mfr explain certain complicated project-funding matters that he made surprisingly simple, and then made my way schoolward.

the exam was fairly fair (words. hard.) and i wrote it with gleeful abandon until brought to a shuddering halt by question 49 (QUESTION 49!!! those words did later ring forth through the beer halls of the university as my fellow classmates straggled in bleary-eyed muttering under their breath, "qqquuestionnn 49…", twitching convulsively with the number on their parched and trembling lips).

i shall admit that on first reading question 49 made me want to run screaming from the room. but it was worth 50% of the exam which was worth 40% of our final mark and so i talked gently but firmly to myself, loosened my grip on my pencil and did the best i could and then it was over.

beer with classmates. bus home. fight with mother on the phone. dexter on tv with roommate. too much pizza with said roommate. and now blogging with impunity (as opposed to all the blogging with punity* that i'd been engaging in for the past few weeks).

tomorrow i drive north with crusty juggler and there we shall remain until the year turns, feasting and merrymaking with friends and family.

*down with punity! down, i say!

11 December, 2013

mysteries of the universe

i'm describing to my fabulous roommate a certain somebody who bores me. somebody dull and always mildly unwashed and bland and… well, not my favourite person. not at all. i don't dislike her, i merely find her…unnecessary.

at first, i describe her as a long soft wet noodle. this mysteriously veers off into golf. that is never a good thing. i don't know anything about golf. i don't want to know anything about golf.

i try again.

moi: you know snuffleupagus from sesame street? she's like that. but taller. and hairless.

mfr: OH GOD! i HATE hairless animals!!!

methinks it's time to go to bed.

vivaldi helps your brain...

…or at least i hope he does.

i'm studying for our project management final exam, and it's a slow hard slog. i had an equally difficult time of it during the midterm, and felt like i had to have my hand held through the entire final class project. to say this isn't my best subject is putting it mildly.

and damn, it's hard to study with all the yawning i am doing.

the blogging don't help either.

keep your digits crossed for yours truly, starting around 2pm mountain standard time. it'd be the ultimate irony if i failed this course, what with all the bitching i've been doing about how easy they all are on us.


a question of focus

yesterday we had our final presentations.

my group rocked it and made me love them oh so very much. many of my classmates also did me proud. there were several groups that absolutely nailed it: they spoke professionally; their ideas were thoughtful and well designed; their graphics were beautiful and it was gratifying to be in the same class with them. several were…well…."ok" i suppose covers it. graphically uninspired but adequate. no pride but no shame, either.

and then, then there were the ones that routinely make me wonder about the vetting process for potential grad school candidates. a couple presentations showed such a total and complete lack of basic understanding of the rather simple concepts that have been pounded into our heads for the last three semesters that the only possible explanations are either utter idiocy or… no, wait, i think utter idiocy is the only possible explanation. i shan't bore you with the technical details, but suffice it to say, they were the urban planning equivalent of a mathematics grad student proudly announcing that 2+2=5.

on top of showcasing an utter lack of understanding of the basic principles that inform today's urban planning, they were graphically awful. awful. i'd have done a better job. hell, a blind arthritic one-armed monkey with a cast on would have done a better job. and, for the most part, these were the people in the design stream of our program.

one presentation in particular felt like a sucker punch. the only thing that made it marginally bearable was knowing that the professional panel that had listened in on several of our presentations had left before this. i really don't have words to express how utterly awful it was: a cornucopia of stupidity, idiocy, ignorance and ugliness, sprinkled liberally with a cocky assurance of being absolutely correct. again, imagine hearing your mathematics grad school classmates proclaiming that 2+2=5 and then not getting called on it, in the name of what? preserving their precious self-esteem? "kindness"? i am shocked and appalled.

it was so bad that when they returned to their seats i had to avert my gaze, because there was no way in hell i would be able to utter that requisite polite "good job!" that we normally toss at each other. i would have choked on it.

a bunch of us went out for dinner after, and on the drive there, c and i discussed the situation. we were both so disgusted that the bitterness in the car made it hard to breathe. eventually i realised that this would not do. we judge our program on the basis of the jokers, the morons, the buffoons, but that's a choice. there are people in there with us who are smart, capable and talented. why not choose to focus on them instead? why not judge the program by those who inspire us to do better, rather than by those who cheapen the experience, who take away the meaning of the marks that we work so hard to get? but man, it's not easy to get over the 2+2=5...

09 December, 2013

the blame game

as i was packing up my lunch, snacks, laptop and assorted whatsits to take to school this morning, my eyes fell on a bottle of wine i had bought for my roommate this saturday.* lo and behold it was open. had it been closed, i would have walked away. because it was open, i poured its contents into my travel mug and took it to school.

after our presentations we had a group meeting for tomorrow's presentation. this particular group likes their wineses, oh yes. when i mentioned the wine, r nipped into his locker and brought out another bottle. thusly, between the three of us (c abstained, oh miracle of miracles!) we finished off a litre and a half of wine while working on a power point presentation and rehearsing in an increasingly haphazard manner. 

came home. sobered up.

much later, at home, talking to my fabulous roommate:

moi: you know, it's your fault. if you hadn't opened the bottle i never would have taken the wine to school…. and drank it.

mfr: you took wine to school? damn, i miss school!

*a minute later*

mfr: you know, it's not my fault.

moi: oh no? how is that?

mfr: i also opened the cheez whiz AND the jam and both still seem to be in the fridge.

moi: ...

*because i had accidentally drank a bottle of his wine earlier last week.

the eye of the storm, the spleen of the typhoon

more anger. this morning i was livid, angry in that deep visceral almost-physical way at anything and everything* that spilled onto all topics that had the misfortune to present themselves to me. here i was, standing in the middle of the room, swinging that sharp axe around - best not approach, and if at all, then with extreme caution.

oddly enough, presenting our final project this morning calmed the beast. my, but i do adore speaking in public, and answering difficult questions raises the enjoyment to greater heights still. afterwards, full to the brim of muffins, fruit and other pastries that were brought out, we worked on another final project that we will present tomorrow. that and a final exam on thursday will bring this semester to a close. good thing, too, or i'd be likely to get violent… or at least engage in fantasizing about being violent to the point of complete moral turpitude. i think i am very much ready for a day of rum-spiked eggnog and decorating the tree followed by several days of tossing the second hand babies into the air and tickling their ticklish bits. yup, time for this to be over. and time for me to get over certain things. i mean, really!

*complete and utter falsehood. i know precisely who i am angry at and why. double the anger for my continued lack of patience with myself for allowing this individual to chip away at my peace of mind.

07 December, 2013


today i was overwhelmed by seemingly random waves of anger. anger at a classmate. anger at a person who fails to understand the two-way nature of friendship. anger at myself for letting this get to me. anger at the idiots who don't seem to know the difference between -10ºC and -36ºC. this last one is a seasonal anger that i can't seem to get over. people here love to bitch about the weather, but can't grasp the simple fact (i apologize, but this bit is a repeat of every angry post of every alberta winter ever) that if one dresses differently for 10ºC than for 36ºC, the same holds true for the negative numbers. if i see one more ijit wearing a leather jacket, a hoodie and no gloves or hat, so help me god, i shall wreak some kind of vengeance (waiting for the gangrene to set in takes too long - i want justice NOW). they stand, they shiver, their hands turn purple, and they continue to believe that they look…cool? cold. COLD is what they look like. stupid cold….sigh.

i met my lovely friends (crusty juggler and her boyfriend d) for a bout of shopping. we then bussed it to my favourite calgary pub where we ate and drank and enjoyed ourselves. i walked home (30 min, -20ºC), stopped by a liquor store that played mozart instead of nickelback, picked up some wine and bourbon, then stopped at a late night purveyor of cheap chocolatey goodness where i got myself some dessert. most calgarians would see it as insane, this walking home in -20ºC but to me, it's just part of the love affair with winter. yes, i love the cold. the streets covered in a thick layer of sparkling ice do something to me, make me glow. i know, i know, i'd love to live in the balmy greenness of british columbia, but hot damn, if this frozen wonderland doesn't make my heart sing. and the walk, it seems to have taken the anger entirely away. why, i'm positively aglow with goodwill to (almost) all mankind.

by the way, my poultries, if i've been AWOL lately it's not because i'm happy, but because school is coming to a rapid end. two more presentations, one final exam and i'm done. what comes next? next on my agenda is spending a leisurely day decorating my tree, and baking some goddamn cookies. after all, it ain't christmas without the tree and the cookies, now is it?

05 December, 2013

plenary indulgences for a nominal fee

on tuesday morning i had an appointment with my counsellor. my bus being late* i ran in there right on the hour…and then spent 10 minutes waiting for her. she came and got me, apologized for her lateness (a meeting, it's always a meeting, innit?) and took me into her room. i talked, she listened. i went into a rant about the state of our education and the attitudes of some of some of my classmates. being a professor herself, she concurred. i talked about some of my issues. she listened. and then, suddenly, with 20 minutes still left to go, she started to wrap up. about how i was evidently doing better. about how if i needed her i could come in again after the new year. about how she wished me the best of luck and whatnot, and with 15 minutes left to go, i was unceremoniously escorted off the premises.

on the one hand, yay me! i am better! on the other hand, damn it, i'm paying my tuition as much as the next depressed maniac and want my money's worth. on the other other hand (evidently i'm a veritable kali), most of my getting better had little to do with her, and a hell of a lot more to do with myself, this here forum, your support, and that miraculous and inexplicable tendency of my depression to bugger off on its own when it's good and ready. so really, with all these hands waving around, it's kinda hard to have a rational thought. in the end, i chose to take the positive approach - i was so fucking happy she needed to get me out of that office pronto, before i started to frighten the unwell: nobody wants to see a two-legged jerk prancing around in an amputee ward.

come to think of it, though, i should have asked for a certificate of sanity. it never hurts to have these things official.

*the only way calgary transit could suck any more is if they decorated their buses with dead puppies.

03 December, 2013

project management: boring! presenting: fun!

i'm sitting in class, drinking a surreptitious gin and tonic from my travel mug. our group just finished presenting on the most boring topic known to mankind: project management. we were the first to go, dressed to the nines in "professional attire" as demanded of us during one of the most patronizing lectures of the semester. having done and gone, i can now relax into my boredom, drink my drink and take the rest of the evening off.

when we returned to our seats, c found a charming note on his desk, a short but direct missive evaluating our performance. e was told she was good. i was told i was elegant and perfect (yeah, i get that A LOT) and c? poor guy was told he had tummy and needed to lose it. i was going to post the note, but found it was so shockingly illiterate and rude that it would do nothing but reflect badly on the quality of my education. this is why i'm drinking.

ah, technology. i used to be bad about passing notes in class (my need for communication has always been insatiable!) c and i are sitting side by side, facebook chatting to each other.

over and out. onward and upward. on to the next milestone!!!

30 November, 2013

words on brain through fingers onto screen

i have just finished writing my research paper on amsterdam (part of the requirements for the course that took me across the big pond in october) and have suddenly found myself realising (again) how much i love research and writing, especially when it's about fascinating topics. i have also found myself realising how intellectually non-challenging this semester has been and how i've missed that. talking to the thinking portion of my class, we've come to the conclusion that a lot of our undergrad was far more intellectually challenging than this.

it makes me wonder if for a PhD these days you're simply expected to write a couple of points on some post-it notes, or maybe draw a pretty pie chart in excel and be done with it. you'd think that things would get MORE not less challenging, MORE not less stimulating. i suppose last year, when we took most of our theory classes, was more what i expected. after all, this is a program that is quite technical in a lot of respects, but between this realisation that i'm intellectually disappointed and the whining that "school is haaaaard," i'm getting a little tired of how my hard-earned cash is being spent.

still, at the end, i shall have several shiny new letters after my name, and a shiny new career path shall open up before me. one of the biggest lessons for this school year is that it was up to me to learn as much as possible. if some people look at this as an opportunity akin to going to the gym and half-heartedly lifting up tiny little weights, then more power to them. it's my responsibility to make this count, and making it count is precisely what i'm doing. writing this research paper about the way that mode of transportation shapes the way one perceives the public realm which then translates into greater or lesser public engagement, was a golden rediscovery of my absolute love of writing.

on a slightly odd if not downright disturbing note, the more i read about amsterdam the more i love it. this is not the disturbing part. the disturbing part is that my feelings feel very much like the early stages of romantic love - lust, fascination, excitement, need. as i told crusty juggler, if amsterdam was a man i'd be totally texting him pictures of my lady bits.

aaaand so in typical fashion we've gone from bemoaning a lack of intellectual stimulation to sexting with an entire city.

(i'm going out dancing tonight. maybe amsterdam will show up, so i need to look extra pretty!)