31 March, 2016

foots

file this under "boring shit about aging and bodies" but i'm hoping it'll help some poor schmuck out in the blogosphere. you're welcome, schmuck.

my feet have been hurting. it's been getting progressively worse to the point that my first few steps of the day are comical hobbling things that make mr. monkey laugh at me like i'm kidding. i'm not kidding. each time i get up after sitting for a while, the pain is incredible. because i'm an avid walker (and by avid i mean that walking tends to be my default setting above driving, cycling, rollerblading, shimmy-shammying, riding a donkey, or skijoring at any given time) so the feeling that my primary mode of transportation is under serious thread is pretty terrifying.

over the last 6 months this has gotten so bad that, in my typical cool, calm, and collected fashion, i decided that this was surely Something Serious. foot cancer. or raging arthritis of the type that would render me immobilised within five years...if i was lucky! when i finally went to my doctor (remember? the super expensive doctor? that i had to actually pay money to see? where currency had to change hands in order for me to receive medical attention in what is generally seen as a civilised first world country*? yes, THAT doctor!) she didn't even look at my feet, but gave me a referral to physio. that's fine. i'll go to physio. but WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? shrug. sometimes feet hurt.

a day or two into my trip home i finally decided to ask the googles about this and in my journeys, i stumbled onto a blog by a podiatrist who proceeded to yell at me. she yelled at me for going barefoot as much as i did (a lot) and she yelled at me for buying into the whole barefoot running movement. in my defense, the only reason i ever "bought" into it is because i've always felt best in nearly nonexistent non-supportive shoes...until about a year ago when it all went to shit. wearing my flip flops and walking to get the mail at the front office of our beige apartment complex has become excruciating, so obviously something had to change. after reading all this (very nice) yelling, i decided to see if a change in footwear would produce different results. i found a pair of mr. monkey's faux birkenstocks which fit me perfectly and started wearing them around the house all the time, including the occasional midnight trip to the bathroom. out and about, i wore only my blundstones and relegated the cute ballerina-style flats to the no-no pile.

well, whaddya know? within a day, a single solitary day, my feet started acting...normal. they still get a little sore after a long day of walking, hauling (mr. monkey's) shit, doing stuff, and so on, but it's the kind of soreness that feels non life(style)-threatening. my first few steps of the day (in my sandals) are maybe a wee bit stiff, but lord almighty! i can walk again!

so the moral of this story, kids, is that just because something worked for you for 43 years, doesn't  mean it'll carry over seamlessly into your 44th. bodies change. we get older, more fragile, more prone to idiotic pains, stupid aches, systemic failures, and annoying discomforts. don't be daft like me, respond accordingly and in a timely fashion.



*my apologies, americans, but seriously, this is not normal by world standards. know this. educate yourself on this. and then do whatever you need to do to change it, including sharpening your pitchforks, cause this ain't right, my friends, this just ain't right.

30 March, 2016

this or that

one of the most important lessons i learned from my journey with my bananologist is that far more in life is a choice than i used to think. attitudes and reactions to the things that happen are well within my own control, as difficult as it may be to see based on the initial involuntary response. i saw her today and told her about how hard i found the early drives around texas, seeing gorgeous forests torn up for ugly parking lots and grocery stores to service the ever-spreading subdivisions of identical beige houses. my reaction was deeply visceral and extreme - i simply wanted to cease being*. when i sit down and talk to mr. monkey and tb about this, it's easy for me to lose myself in the river of resentment and that most dangerous (and useless) of drugs - righteous anger.  i've written before about righteous anger, and what a danger it poses because it is addictive, destructive more often than not, and feeds beautifully on itself. well, self-immolation isn't something i'm planning on quite yet; continued survival is.

listening to tb defend our species recently made me realise that there are two sides to this, like any other story, and that once again, i do have a choice in how i react. yes, this part of human "progress and development" will always bother me, but i can choose to reframe my response in a way that will protect me from lasting emotional damage. my bananologist also suggested that the deep visceral response to what i see is a good way to get a glimpse into my soul, and to learn what matters to me and how much. she also likened it to an allergy - you don't expose yourself to the allergen unless you have to, you limit your exposure while taking steps to protect yourself during the time when exposure is unavoidable. well then, it seems i'm allergic to the human race.

so, choices - i think the idea of having the power of choice in reacting to external stimuli was an incredibly empowering discovery (and i shamefully hesitate to use the term discovery because it seems so obvious, i'm sure, to so many people) and i need to remind myself that like any skill, this one needs to be practised and practised and practised. so here's to the power of choice.



*nothing suicidal here, believe me, more of a deep dark wish to unexist myself in some final way so that i would no longer have to count myself among the human race. 

29 March, 2016

home is where the lard is

in order to get me to the airport on time, we had to get up at 4:30 and leave at 5am. with today's technology this should have been easy; with the two of us setting separate alarm clocks this should have been infallible. nope, neither. when mr. monkey's alarm went off, the first words out of his mouth were, how is it five o'clock? this propelled me out of bed and into the bathroom where i took a nanosecond look at my greasy bedhead and knew that it would have to do. we did manage to get to the airport on time, and all my flights went well, but it's hard to relax when your morning starts with a surge of adrenalin and a deep seated sense of incredulity that two intelligent highly educated people can't manage to get the wakey-uppy technology to work.

one problem that popped up fairly quickly is that my wifi cellphone is very limited in canada since when i'm not on a wifi network there isn't the backup cellular network that takes over in the states. as a result, i've been thrust into the deepest, darkest pre-cellular era. it is a truly frightening place that makes me wonder how anybody ever managed to have a social life, make plans, or ever be in touch with anyone ever. no, seriously, how did we do it? smoke signals? carrier pigeons? i honestly can't remember and even thinking about it makes me shiver. alas, if not for the charitable donation of my next door neighbours' internet (first night home had me push the laptop up against the wall and type lying on my side - as uncomfortable as it was inefficient) i would be cut off completely, forced to wander the streets, hoping against hope that i run into someone i know, or drinking countless cups of crappy coffee at the nearest starbucks just so that i can be connected.

all this wouldn't be that big of a deal if i was merely here for fun. heck, it might be kinda cool, in a techno-hermit sort of way. alas, i need to be in touch with our realtor, our tax accountant, and various other boring-as-shit people related to various other boring-as-shit grown up activities in which i must engage whilst here. there is a sense of panic that comes when you find yourself unable to communicate with others, sort of like helen keller, but in an electronic way.

i have now borrowed an unlocked phone from a friend but instead of going out and buying the first available pay-as-you-go plan for the visit, i'm treating this (at most 100$) purchase as something worthy of the type of serious research and worry normally reserved for buying a start-up company in the silicon valley or serious real estate in manhattan. in the midst of dealing with our inordinate amount of shit (i'm looking at you, mr. monkey!!!!!!*), i remain phoneless because i just can't seem to decide. i guess this is exactly the type of behaviour one can expect from a person who doesn't know how to operate an alarm clock.


*he doesn't read this blog

23 March, 2016

design flaws

i went to see a doctor today to renew my prescriptions and to get to the bottom of my mysterious and continual hand and foot joint pain. the shiny medical centre had that new house smell and was decked out like a very nice mid-range hotel: nothing medicinal about it! good to know that this is what a five figure deductible and a 40$ per visit co-pay gets you, although i think i'd rather take the utilitarian decor of canadian medical clinics, seeing as they're free and all.

the doctor was nice and happened to be a specialist in musculoskeletal issues, which seemed like a bonus, since i chose her mainly on the basis of proximity and femaleness*. she also happens to be married to a sports medicine doctor, which was a double bonus because they talk shop at home, and as a result of her knowledge she told me that if i have proper footwear, there's really no reason why i shouldn't start running again. osteoarthritis of the hips notwithstanding. given that my blood pressure shot up** when the nurse read out the number on the scale (they should NEVER weigh people and then immediately check their blood pressure - how irresponsible is that?!) i think this is a very good idea. we'll see how that goes.

as we sat there and talked, she mentioned that we are rather poorly designed (at least as far as our knee joints go). i said that we were probably very well designed for a 45 year life span, which goes a long way to explaining why everything seems to be falling apart on me, from my rapidly dwindling eyesight to my variously inflamed bony bits. as i'm determined to survive another decade or two (or at least one summer in a house with a pool) i'll have to take these problems in hand and get myself all fixed up.



*i'm not dead set against male doctors even when it's time to get my nether regions looked at, but if i have a choice, and here i had a choice, i'll go with a fellow vagina owner.

**i forced the nurse to recheck my blood pressure because i normally have textbook blood pressure. my newly discovered weight caused me to hit a whopping 139/90! when she rechecked it, i was back down to normal. at least one thing still works!

where the buffalos roam

i've been letting people know i'm coming home and the responses have made me stop and think and appreciate, once again, how awesome my life was in good old edmonton. i still remember the first year back from our constant moving, the year we knew the position was finally permanent and stable, the year we bought our sweet condo. it was the year we lived in relative stability before i went off to school and it was one of our best years - we did the things that normal people do: we hosted dinners, we met friends, went to concerts, hit up the fabulous downtown farmers' market every saturday, saw family regularly, went for walks, sat at home and relaxed. all things that one can take for granted but that our decade of constantly being on the move made us see as precious.

i'm doing my damndest to look at the bright side of texas - after all, we have little choice in the matter; we're here whether we like it or not, so we might as well try to like it. and i do. i do like it. it's green, beautiful, lush. the people are friendly and warm. i have good friends here and nearby. but all that pales in comparison to my regular life back home - wine, steak tartare and politics-and-vagina-themed conversations at our favourite czech restaurant with my ladies; friday drinks with bta & co.; taking the littles on the lrt for fun; fabulous dinner parties with the closest bunch; biannual bashes...i could go on.

our condo's location meant that, unlike here, i could walk everywhere in under half an hour - movies, theatre, concert, restaurants, bookstores, shopping, farmers' market, friends. i love my kitchen, my floors, my balcony, my view of edmonton's legislative grounds. i love being simultaneously right at the edge of downtown, and right at the edge of the river valley with its wild trails for walking, cross-country skiing, skating, and running. along with the friends and family i had a great dentist, a great doctor, a fabulous (and very inexpensive) hair stylist, a really amazing bananologist. for its size, edmonton has an excellent arts and restaurant scene and i loved going to gallery events and great dinners. the woodlands, in contrast, is predominantly restaurant chains and a distinct dearth of art spaces. sure, houston is practically next door, but what i loved about my life in edmonton was the proximity of everything i wanted, needed, liked, and loved.

i realise, my poultries, as i've said before, that edmonton is no paris, but it is home and i love it. i'll do my very very best to get the most out of texas because i know it has a lot to give, but right now as i pack for my trip home, allow me this little bit of nostalgia for a really really great five years.

21 March, 2016

another gold star moment!

i just bought tickets to go home - that part was easy. now to pack, fly, land, unpack and get the edmonton place ready for sale. quel fun (or should that be quelle fun? is fun feminine or masculine? depends on the type of fun, i suppose. in polish it is feminine but this gendering of nouns seems so very random to me. at least in polish you have a fairly high chance of getting it right as most feminine nouns end in "a," unlike french which just seems mean-spirited and arbitrary. case in point: how on earth canada gets to be masculine is beyond me, but that's neither here nor there...or is it?)

now back to the topic at hand. my canadian to do list includes fun things like massage, haircut, bananologist, and unfun adult things like doing taxes, putting the condo up for sale, and selling my beloved little car because not having AC in south texas is sort of a no go. today south of the border in grown up behaviour, i've just spent a good 4 hours filling out online forms for homeowner and car insurance quotes, getting progressively more and more certain that no american will EVER cross my threshold, based on all this talk of liability, lawsuits, personal damage, and the like - i think i'll just stick to less litigious nations. i've also received seventeen phone calls from insurance providers who claim they'll give you an online quote but only really want your digits. i only managed to answer two of them and got to chat with two very personable gentlemen, the latter of whom inspired the above-mentioned geographically restrictive guest list. i'm sorry, america, but you can't swim in my pool.




20 March, 2016

twitching the night away

i had a rough night last night for no reason that i can ascertain. the day was good, great even - leisurely breakfast at the world's second best roommate's house* (we had dinner there and slept over, as is our friday habit), then a nice walk, afternoon drinks at our local pub, followed by a good movie. i felt just fine until i went to bed and suddenly realised my shoulders had mysteriously migrated to somewhere north of my ears, my muscles tight, my breathing shallow, and my occasionally twitchy restless legs doing an all out tarantella. i got up, took a lorazepam, meditated, took some magnesium for the legs, and concentrated on my breathing but nothing worked. i lied awake worrying about absolutely nothing concrete until eventually drifting off.

i hate nights like this. thankfully they don't come often, but when they do they make me frustrated with the sheer fucking delicacy of my emotional make-up. oh, for a callous disregard for feelings! and hell, this wasn't even about feelings, per se, since i wasn't feeling anything in particular about anything in particular. this was one of those bizarre moments of physical anxiety that lacks any underlying emotional anxiety. the body's freaking out while the mind goes, dude! what the fuck?

granted, there's stuff that's happening - mortgage papers need to be ok'd by q the mortgage dude, tickets to edmonton need to be booked, insurance for house purchased, decision about our possible upcoming trip to the motherland made, canadian tax return faced, etc. etc. but nothing new. perhaps the body was having too much fun and relaxation on friday and saturday, started feeling guilty about it, and went into full panic mode just to balance the emotional budget, so to speak.

tomorrow q will call me to let me know what i'm missing document-wise, i will try to fill in the gaps as quickly as possible, and then the whole thing goes to The Underwriters who, in my mind, are a more sinister version of a cross between j,k. rowling's Dementors and terry pratchett's Auditors. i'm fairly sure they're unlike either, but they sound both ominous and powerful and so i send much respect their way in all the ways that matter and some that don't.

and that concludes today's episode of "living in my head." be well, my poultries!



*i think i need to have a shorter acronym for him, since i always forget what it is that i call him and then have to go through this all over again. let's make it easy - tb, since them's his initials.

17 March, 2016

housey mcstuff

i spent an hour and 5 minutes talking to our banketty/mortage guy. one thing i can say immediately and sans qualifications, the people i've been dealing with in the united states of 'murica, have been kind, professional, thorough, and gooooood. q is no exception. i've compiled a pile of papers to prove to q that we is who we says we is, and we owns what we says we owns, and we does what we says we does, and threw it in his lap. this mortgage, it is moving forward, baby!

we have also had an inspection 2 days ago. dude made sure our house was strong and solid, our pool was strong and solid, and he farmed out a sub-inspection to make sure our termites were strong and solid. all came back with glowing reviews (especially our termites which, apparently, are like the awesomest termites on the block!) small changes and/or tweaks were reported (truly small considering the age of the house (wait, when i was 17, i'm pretty sure i was in the peak form of my life!)) and we submitted them to the sellers (i.e. fix the thing, tighten the whatsit, flip the doomaflickey so it's facing the correct way up, etc.) overall, good things, which makes me realise how scared i am of good things because good things, to me, are some kind of terrifying portent of bad things to come.  because, i suppose, in my heart of hearts, i don't think i deserve the good things, which is like some sort of case study from psychology 101 and i find it so utterly boring imma show myself out.

later, gator!


15 March, 2016

use yer words

when our final offer on the house was accepted, i alerted crusty juggler with (to me) a very clear thumbs up.

she responded: house?! wha?! use words or more emoticons! (followed by a confused spaceman cyclops.)

i chose to take the latter road, and what ensued was a rather intelligent and witty conversation entirely in emoji. it went something like this:

moi: yes, we purchased a house, a contract was signed. (house. official looking piece of parchment.)

cj: i am very pleased and excited about this development! (onomatopoeic blast with "yay!")

moi: we agreed upon a price that was satisfactory to all parties. (money bag. thumbs up.)

cj: i heartily congratulate you. (fist bump!)

moi: i accept your hearty congratulations. (fist bump!)

cj: i really am rather chuffed. (happy yellow blob in what looks like a pool of raspberry jam.)

moi: i am certain i will enjoy our newly purchased pool. (alien with drink suntanning on towel.)

cj: i am all in a tizzy! (belly-up cat on pillow.)

moi: well, it's been an exciting and tiring day. i believe i am almost ready to retire for the night. (monster in nightcap, stretching and yawning in bed.)

cj: yes, i too believe i am ready to call it a day. (sleeping yellow blob in what appears to be a pool of blueberry jam.)

cj: this is really most excellent news. talk to you later! (thumbs up. waving hand.)

moi: i bid you adieu! (purple cat waving goodbye.)



frogspawn cupcakes

i keep starting posts and deleting them. seems i'm in some sort of writing limbo-miasma: everything i write seems dull and boring. things happen and i try to write about them, i bore myself to tears, and delete, then worry about not writing enough, thus getting more and more out of touch with How One Writes. list time perhaps? get them writing chops warmed up with a short and easy numbered exercise? because, heaven help me, whatever comes out of my brain today is getting published.

things that have happened:

1. i got a mysterious bite on my wrist on saturday. huuuge red welt that grew instead of disappearing. i very strongly recommend that if you get a mysterious welty red bite, whatever happens, DO NOT GOOGLE IMAGE "brown recluse spider bites." you will need a stiff drink if you do. and i don't guarantee you'll be able to keep it down.

2. it's not a brown recluse spider bite. i will not lose my arm to necrosis. it's all fine now. (i realise i'm cheating by making this a separate point but i did it to create suspense and tension and make you wonder if i lost my appendage to arachnid-induced gangrene. this is called "a good writing technique for creating suspense and tension.")

3. i have given in to the reality of my present geographical situation and spelled my name with a zee* the other day because i realised that it is not up to me to educate a poor drugstore clerk in the realities of comparative linguistics.

4. i realised i need more thin flowy sacs to wear in this weather. i have never been able to understand why women, who have the cultural prerogative to wear dresses, would choose to wear jeans, shorts, or capris in hot weather. when it's hot i wanna have a breeze everywhere i can. no pants for this gal: IT'S TOO FUCKING HOT TO HAVE MY CROTCH ENTOMBED THUSLY!

5. i am following the american election with growing fear and trepidation. i find american people (as far as you can make a sweeping generalisation about any people) to be kind, warm, welcoming, and friendly. to see the trump camp get so thoroughly brainwashed as to think that this belligerent semi-sentient toupee is some kind of saviour breaks my heart. to see race, sexual orientation, religion, abortion etc. become political rallying cries in this day and age is nothing short of shocking. there's so much more to say about this but this isn't that kind of blog and i really don't wanna expend any more of my energy on this than i already have. gong show doesn't begin to describe it.

6. since the first big rains, the woodlands are in bloom! trees, that mere weeks ago looked like they were ready for the firewood pile, are turning a glorious fresh shiny shade of green. flowers are spilling over roadsides in crazy carpets of colours. along with pink snapdragons and blue lupins (locally known as bluebonnets), there are masses of scarlet flax, so i no longer have to scratch my head** when i look at photos of zhoen's garden.

7. the house has just passed an inspection with a very satisfactory grade, so we're one step closer to calling it home. various appendages remain crossed because i seem unable to let go of this superstitious side of me.





*i may have said before, so forgive me if i repeat myself: i have no problem with zed being zee in the usa. i do have a serious problem with almost nobody in the usa knowing what zed is. if an american comes to canada and spells something with a zee, we will know exactly what she means. when a canadian comes to america and spells something with a zed, she gets a blank stare. seriously? how can people be so utterly unaware of the fact that the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced zed in every single other english-speaking nation as well as those that speak spanish, french, polish etc.?

**flax has always been a thing of a beautiful and unquestionable blueness. scarlet flax would be akin to a flying chicken or a 4-legged snake in my worldview, prior to my botanical enlightenment.


13 March, 2016

beige...the (hopefully) final edition

so yesterday, for mr. monkey's birthday, we got him a house. we are still at the very early stages of house-getting, and since here in the US it takes 45-60 days (unlike the 3-4 that we're used to in canada), this might still turn out to be a no go, but so far, so good.

keep yer bits crossed, dear poultries.

11 March, 2016

gold star for adulting

my midlife crisis has been manifesting lately as a sort of extended anti-adulthood hissy fit. i look at the influx of paperwork that overwhelms us, at the insurance bills, the taxes, the forms, the agents, the whole fucking bullshit machine of living in today's society and i get so mad i just wanna stomp my little feet, and wave my little fists until i'm sent to my room without supper. i look back at the middle ages and think that there is a lot there we could have kept. sure, i'm not stupid, i don't think that the medieval times were exactly awesome, what with the appalling hygiene, terrible fashion choices and the plague, but i wonder if we could have worked on getting better sanitation without also coming up with lawyers and insurance agents and banks.

why couldn't we have flushing toilets and hot water but also live in a barter society where 3 cows are good for 17 chickens or a small house? when did we decide to give our lives away to the highest bidder? when did cubicles start to seem like a really good idea? why do we have to sign and sign and initial and sign each and every time we want to enact a small change in our lives? why can't one get married under the moon without it having fucking tax implications? why does the birth of a child necessitate an immediate start of a lifelong paper trail? why can't we enjoy refrigeration and modern medicine without being saddled with the overwork-and-consumption machine? 

sure, you say, you can step off the merry-go-round. but you can't. you can choose to live a smaller life. you can choose to work less, play more, sit and stare at trees for hours at a time, but you cannot get away entirely unless you become a hermit or one of those crazy colorado survivalists, though even then i'm sure there'd be forms to fill out and waivers to sign. sure, you can reduce the shit impact, but you can't entirely get away from it. and the worst part is, there's no incentive for us to adult. oh sure, getting shitfaced on a saturday night in order to forget is definitely on the menu, but within a couple years (or decades) you realise it's not really making anything better but a few things, like your liver, actively worse. kids get marks, gold stars, ribbons, stickers, and funny-shaped erasers. what do adults get? a plump tax return if we're lucky. 

i would hereby like to lodge a complaint about the lack of incentivization* in adult life. why don't we get badges to honour on-time tax completion? why don't we amass brownie points for staying sober at a spouse's christmas party? why doesn't someone get me a freaking pony because, despite many many moments of deep temptation, i have not upped my meds once!!!??? i think that deserves a fucking medal along with the pony! a stamp card for all those times we ordered the salad instead of the fries! a sticker for filling in the time sheet at work! blue ribbon for deciding to cook instead of eating out! a big thumbs up on social media for folding the laundry... i could go on.



a small child who's just been punished for misbehaviour will turn to mom who very often is the very person that just meted out said punishment. who do grown-ups have to run to? we have nobody to kiss our damn booboos and tell us everything will be better, because we know it won't.   we know that the moment one bill is paid, another is on the way. we know that the superawesomegreat purchase will become far less superawesomegreat when the credit card bill comes along. we know on friday that monday cometh with the inevitability of eventual blindness, decrepitude, and death. so if it's alright with you, i'd like to at least have a motherfucking gold star.



*heinous corporate speak.

10 March, 2016

eat your damn cheeseburger and SHUT THE HELL UP!

read an interesting (and entirely non surprising) article about crap food consumption in america. then, because i'm incorrigible, i moved on to the comments and there, right at the top of the pile, was this gem of an exchange:

a: food police are among the most obnoxious people on the planet. i think i'll go get a bacon cheeseburger.

b: are they second to "fatass americans who don't care what kind of pink slime they put in their gross bodies, or who (are) making massive fortunes at the expense of the country's health (system) due to a serious lack of regulation"?

nobody is "policing" what you eat you enormous man baby.


i think imma call everyone i meet today "you enormous man baby" because it's kinda awesome. also, i'm really craving a cheeseburger now.


09 March, 2016

beige...trois

looks like a realtor got drunk on malibu rum and started playing with the thesaurus:


The red brick exterior of the house exhibits a cool entrance to visitors

High ceiling and a warm color adds taste to the house

The mix of paint in the walls give the dining room area a feeling of texture

The master bedroom offers spacious luxury, with a soft sheen of paint


nothing like the soft sheen of paint to add taste while exhibiting a feeling of texture...or something.