Saturday, December 19, 2009
In the spirit 0f the season I took the Christmas Joy quiz and learned that I am an actual, authentic Christmas Angel. The problem is, I don't like angels. It's possible that being one might not be so bad, especially being a Christmas angel. It might be fun, if I had the time, but really, I'm far too busy to add yet another thing to my to do list.
Not wanting to take on angel duty, I decided to explore the other side of my heritage and take a Channukah/Channuka/Chanukah/Chanukkah/Hanukkah/Hanukah quiz. This is when I learned that only gentiles are allowed to make quizzes on Facebook. No matter how you spell it, there are no quizzes for the festival of lights, not even for the dreidel. In desperation I even tried latkes. No luck.
This is distressing. I tried Passover. I tried Yom Kippur. I tried Rosh Hashanna. Nothing. Not a single quiz in the bunch.
Great, this is just great. I'm stuck being the Christmas Angel. Somebody pass me my halo, and do not, I repeat, do not attempt to stuff me on the top of the tree, thank you very much.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Please indulge me while I brag about my son. When he was 3 he decided he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. At 6 he still wants to be an artist. He takes classes. He practices every day. This is his most recent drawing.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So here we go, let's put the bests first, in no particular order:
- Kissing my 4 year old on top of his head
- Sitting up at night with my 6 year old in the top bunk and talking until he can fall asleep. We have our best conversations when he has insomnia
- Holding my boys when they were infants, or toddlers, or in preschool, or...just holding them no matter how old they are
- Watching my boys play together, and seeing how much they enjoy each other
- Driving - alone, for long distances, preferably somewhere I've never been before
- Thinking about possibilities, for renovating the house, vacation, supper, my future, anything really.
And the worsts:
- Hearing the alarm go of at 6:45 and knowing I have to get up
- Naples, Italy
- Seeing my boys hurt, physically, emotionally, it doesn't matter how
- Letting people down
- A $20,000 math mistake
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- 2009 - even though far worse things actually happened to me in 2008, I hate 2009 more
- Dealing with people who see in me their idea of who I must be instead of who I actually am.
And, for good measure, a few things that simultaneously make me happy and sad:
- Watching my boys grow up
- Ice cream
- My son's family portrait
That's all for now. Time to play me off, keyboard cat.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
He also likes Johnny Cash, more specifically Folsom Prison Blues, which I currently have in the heavy rotation playlist on my ipod. He sees to it that it gets extra heavy rotation.
His unusual combination of musical tastes got me thinking. If, like, me, you're addicted to Glee, you're already familiar with the episode where they try to do mash ups of songs that really, really don't go together.
If I were to remix Johny Cash as a techno artist, my first choice would be Ghost Riders in the Sky. Yes, I know he didn't write it, but he recorded it so it counts. I have the chorus
"Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi yaaaaay
Ghost Riders in the sky"
looping round and round in my head backed by a hard driving beat that drops off just as the words start. Unfortunately, because I'm not a techno artist, I can't get it out, as much as I really would like to, because maybe then it would go away.
As it turns out, someone has already made a techno song titled "Ghostriders." I did consider linking to it, but it's even more painful than the version in my head, and I just couldn't bring myself to inflict it on you.
Instead I'll embed this one. It's Cash's "I Walk the Line" all technofied, and actually not too bad, if, you know, you're into techno, like my son.
This is for you, B.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
My true favourite is Goldberg's Peanut Chews, or whatever the name is of the company that makes them now, but only NYers will know these, so, sticking to more widely distributed snacks:
1) frozen snack sized Snickers, must be frozen
2) Plain or Peanut M&M's, depending on my mood, ideally ones manufactured in the U.S. because they taste chocolatier and yes, I really can tell the difference.
3) KitKat (milk, dark, or chunky, I am equal opportunity with KitKat)
4) 100 Grand Bars
5) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Agree? Disagree? Discuss.
(and be aware that I can't for some reason, comment to my own blog posts so I'm not ignoring you, I just need to save my answer for a separate post.)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It will have to wait because today I had one of the most surprising, puzzling, and slightly creepy experiences I've had in a long time. I received a letter in the mail. It came from a couple who live across town. I do not know this couple. They do not know me. In fact they do not even know my first name.
The letter is written in beautiful penmanship in red felt ink on yellow lined paper. The message is minimalist. It reads as follows:
Hi, my name is [her name],
My husband [his name] and I would like to $buy$ your house at:
Please call us at 555-555-5555
Do I want to sell my house? I don't know, I hadn't thought much about it. I like it just fine, but I have no special attachment to it. The thing is, I can't really understand why someone would want to buy it - I mean, want to buy it so much that they would contact me about selling it even though it's not currently for sale. There is nothing particularly special about my house. It's just a house. It is neither particularly stylish nor exceptionally well kept. The architecture could best be described as "generic 50's." It is not remarkable, really, in any way. Yet, here are two strangers who love it so much they looked me up in the reverse phone directory and wrote me a letter.
The whole thing is just weird, weird and a little spooky.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I'm too busy making chocolate bones for our upcoming Halloween party. Pretzel sticks capped with mini marshmallows and dipped in white chocolate, real white chocolate. Crispy, salty pretzel meets squishy sweet marshmallow under a cover of creamy white chocolate. Damn these are good.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The problem is deciding what I should be.
Normally I wouldn't dress up, but Halloween is a big deal in our house this year. It's my solution to not being able to host birthday parties at home anymore. I love children's parties. I love planning them. I love throwing them. And yes, I do know I'm crazy. With birthdays now out, due to custody arrangements, I decided to pick a different holiday to focus my party planning energy on.
To help me decide on my costume I turned to, what else, the Facebook quizzes. I found three. They told me, respectively, that I should be a Zombie, a Vampire, and Darth Vader. Hmmm. Zombies and Vampires are just a bit too mainstream for me. Darth Vader has a certain retro thing going for him, but I'm not sure, being 5'2" and a woman, that it really suits me. Sorry quizzes.
I did take another quiz today to find out what Alice in Wonderland character I am. As it turns out, I'm Alice. I could be Alice for Halloween. I've been her before, pretty much every year in University, when my hair was longer, I was 10 pounds thinner, and of course I was only 20. I'm not sure I could pull it off anymore.
I know what I'd like to be. None of the kids will get it. Some of the adults might. I'd dress all in black, for the coolness factor, and to better show off the key part of my costume: a single drinking straw hanging around my neck. What am I?
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Take a good look at this picture. Once you manage to tear your eyes off my shiny red Prius that I love almost as much as my children, you may notice that the sidewalk is competely covered in leaves. Those aren't the beautiful gold, red, and nut brown leaves of autumn as I grew up knowing it. Those leaves are green. Also, it's snowing.
It's at times like this that I lift my head to the blizzard-bestowing heavens, and wonder what I ever did to deserve life in a place where the leaves are frozen off the trees and immediately buried in a thick carpet of snow, which, by the way, is still around thank you very much. Two weeks before this picture was taken I was wearing shorts. I should have known something was coming, but really, +32 to -7 in 14 days (that's 90 to 19 for any Celsius impaired readers)? Really?
Mind you, it's been unseasonably warm. Shorts in September and green leaves in October are not the norm in Alberta. No, normally we've packed the summer clothes away by Labour day, and pulled out the jeans and sweaters in anticipation of the fall colour (yellow), which can be seen on the trees for approximately 11.3 hours before the wind blows it all away.
Please, somebody take me back home. This is not home. Home is where the cherry trees bloom in March, and autumn is vibrant and alive for weeks with golds, oranges, and reds. Home is where the summer days are sticky and muggy and every afternoon brings a thunderstorm to cool you off. Home is where the leaves never freeze off the trees.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I've learned a lot about being human from Facebook, more than I can fit in a single blog post, so expect this topic to resurface a time or two. Really, the entire point of this blog can be summed up, more or less, as what I've learned about being human from Facebook.
For now let's start with the quizzes. A trained researcher like myself ought to scoff at their obvious lack of validity and reliability. Even I would expect myself to roll my eyes at the atrocious spelling and questionable content of these things, many clearly slapped together by bored teenagers sitting alone late at night with their computers. Yet I don't. Why not?
If you believe in astrology, skip to the next paragraph. For those who don't, raise your hand and keep reading. Raise your other hand if you still compulsively read your horoscope anyway. Stand up and do a little twirl in front of the computer for having just learned that you are not alone.
If you don't believe in astrology, why do you read your horoscope? For me, at least, it's a path to self reflection. I may not believe that the stars are warning me, and everyone else born between June 22nd and July 23rd, that we will be tempted to start telling those around us what to do today, and that this is a bad idea, but I do believe that it is useful to pause to think about ways in which I may be doing this and the implications for my social relationships if I keep it up. I could just as easily have reflected on the advice for Leos to quit rushing everywhere.
Horoscopes, and most Facebook quizzes fall under the influence of what psychologists call the Barnum effect. No matter what result you're given, you're pretty likely to see it as accurate, and applicable to your life. It's because they capitalize on the things that make us human, on things that pretty much everyone feels resonates with themselves.
So, which horoscope I read, or which quiz result I get doesn't really matter, because my result is really everyone's result. It's what I do with my result that counts. Reflecting on it will lead me to learn more about myself, which, in turn, helps me to also understand what it means to be human, even if it's the "Super happy fun awesome times quiz" and my result is "Raptor Jesus."
"Raptor Jesus saves! At least thats what your suppost to do. You didnt do a very good job of saving your fellow dinosaurs. So I'm not really sure what you can do for us. It's cool though you still kick ass!"
Friday, October 2, 2009
Besides, it would be unfair to the man because I am evil. In fact, you might call me an evil genius, because if I'm your friend, it's a good bet you think of me as your smart friend. The quizzes told me. I may not be awesome or cool, but evil, smart and evil, I can get behind that.
And the reason I can get behind it, and admit to getting behind it, is because I am as easy to read as that giant E on the Snellen eye chart. I long ago learned not to even both trying to be coy or mysterious. There's no point, because the only person I can ever fool is me. That's why I was excited to take the "What is Your Dark Secret?" quiz. I thought I might learn something new and deep about myself. I also wasn't surprised when it told me that I don't have a secret, a little disappointed, but not surprised.
There is a good side to being so transparent, I must admit. People know that with me, what you see is mostly what you get, and what I say I mean. There is a bad side too, because sometimes what you mean is definitely not what you should say. Ask me how I know. Just don't ask me on a Saturday. Thanks to Meg I'll be locked in the house avoiding men, pretending not to be home.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This morning Dr. Margo Wilson, one of my former PhD advisers, lost a long battle with cancer. She was a great woman, a pioneer in her field, from an era when women were not generally allowed to be pioneers, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. I know I'm only one of many who will miss her very much. Goodbye Margo, R.I.P.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
For one thing, I'm clearly going to be breakfast, which is, in my opinion, the best meal of the day.
For another, there aren't many places in the world where cannibalism is currently practiced. This means there is travel in my future, and I love traveling. Either I will be consumed by survivors after my plane crashes in the remote Andes, or I will spend my final days touring Melanesia.
Of course I might also become trapped in the Sierra Nevadas while trying to get to California in the winter, but I hope this won't be my fate. I've been to California plenty of times. If I'm going to be eaten, I want to be eaten somewhere exotic.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Take, for example, my fortune for today: Accept no other definition of your life, accept only your own.
I could wade into a long rambling river of over-sharing, about the ways in which it did, does, or should apply to my life, and the people who have variously helped, hindered, or crushed to tiny bits my attempts to define myself for myself. I could provide you with a line by line re-enactment of the phone call I had just this morning, where, in a state of extreme exasperation, I broke down and begged the woman on the other end of the line please to stop giving me advice, because I didn’t ask for it and I really didn’t want it, thank you and I’m sorry.
I could, but I won’t, because to do so would miss the point. Accept no other definition of your life, accept only your own. Either you get it or you don’t. If you do, you already know that how other people attempt to define you is irrelevant. There is no need to discuss them, because it simply doesn’t matter. If you don’t get it, perhaps this is not your fortune, at least not yet. My wish for you is that some day it will be.
And to help you on the journey, I give you a recipe and a chance to make your own fortunes.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The career I should have chosen, had I known what was best for me, was Hobo. Clearly, they are missing a few key questions on that quiz because I hate sleeping outside, and I self destruct by noon if I haven’t had a shower. I think I could get used to the travel opportunities, though.
The only accurate quiz I took today was What’s the Best Job for You? Which pegged me as a Mananguete. The description reads: Aakyat ka ng punong niyog araw-araw, hanggang sa pagtanda mo! Which translates from Tagalog as “Moves a coconut tree every day, until your old age!” For those not in the know, my friend Google tells me that a Mananguete is someone who’s job it is to climb coconut trees, cut their flowers and collect the sap, which is then fermented and drunk. Hmmm, I suppose it’s better than being a date palm pollinator.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Does being filled with wishes mean you are a happy optimist, always expecting the best, or does it mean you spend your life always yearning for something better?
Does being filled with suspicions mean you live a life filled with doubt and mistrust, or does it mean you are shrewd in the face of uncertainty?
And being filled with both wishes and suspicions? Well, that could mean a lot of things.
Friday, September 11, 2009
For one thing, I am a non-quiz taker, at least I am according to “What kind of Facebook quiz-taker are you?” Good to know.
The “What does psychology have to say about you?” quiz calls me “ a very bit jovial.” This one is a surprise not only to me, but to most of my friends too. If you asked them they would tell you I am primarily sarcastic, and only a very, very little bit jovial, sometimes, if I’m in the right sort of mood, and it happens to be the 4th Thursday in the month, and raining.
Finally, “Which highly specialized kitchen implement are you?” pegged me as a milk watcher. Now, my knowledge of food and the gadgets used to prepare it is pretty extensive, but until I took this quiz I had never even heard of a milk watcher, let alone knew I was one. I intend to embrace my inner obscure gadget. I may even buy one and use it the next time I have to boil something besides water.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Beyond that, the less I explain, the better.
1) Today, The Smashing Pumpkins
2) Gravel, Ani DiFranco
3) Sinkin’ Soon, Norah Jones
4) Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos
5) Little Plastic Castle, Ani DiFranco
6) Careless Love, Madeleine Peyroux
7) When Doves Cry, The Be Good Tanyas
8) We Can Work It Out, Paul McCartney acoustic
9) Straighten Up and Fly Right, Nat King Cole
10) Oh! Darling, The Beatles
11) NY, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down, LCD Sound System
12) Sweet Ride, Tanya Donelly
13) I’m Sticking with You, Velvet Underground
14) If I Only Had a Brain, MC 900 ft. Jesus
15) Othello, The Dance Hall Crashers
16) Grounds for Divorce, Elbow
17) Poems, Tricky
18) Turn on Me, The Shins
19) Big in Japan, Ane Brun
20) Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Dylan
21) Von Hier an Blind (Blind from Here on) , Wir Sind Helden
22) If Love was a Train, Michelle Shocked
23) Ecclesiastes: Free My Heart, Me’Shell Ndegeocello
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The answer, of course, is a cherry. We are all cherries, every one, well, except for my friend RA who is a mango, but that’s a story for another time. The rest of us, we are cherries.
Some of you may think you’re pears: gritty, juicy, and easily bruised; or apples: inoffensive, nice, liked by everyone, loved by few; or maybe plums: bitter on the outside but a sweet old softy underneath. A few of you may even think you’re bananas, but you’re not. You are cherries, just like me.
Cherries can be bright and cheerful, or deep and dark. They may be sweet, they may be sour, but we love them either way. Their season is short, so you need to stuff yourself while they’re here, take time to enjoy them, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Unfortunately whoever made the my playlist forgot to add the Greatful Dead, despite Jerry Garcia's status as my dead rock star persona. That's OK, though. I'm not sure I'd recognize any Dead songs anyway. They weren't so much a part of my past.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The thing is, I used to have an exceptionally good memory. If I heard it, read it, or saw it, I remembered it, and I was insufferably proud of it too. I pitied people who couldn’t remember the plots of the books they had read, friends who had to pull all-nighters to study for exams, and most of all I pitied the list makers, those poor souls who actually had to write down the things they had to do or what they needed at the store. So sad.
Then, through the miracle of childbirth, I became one of them, and discovered the freedom of living without a long term memory: the exhilaration of finally discovering where I put those keys, the simple joy to be had from the vague familiarity of reading a book for the first time, again, and yesterday, the thrill of discovering that I’d answered the “15 Books that will Always Stick with You” question twice.
Of the 15, there were six books I chose both times. Here they are, in no particular order:
• The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, a must-read about the state of agriculture and eating in our society
• The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, guaranteed to cheer you up no matter how bad you’re feeling
• Rootabaga Stories, my favourite children’s book, by Carl Sandburg
• Samaki, because my father wrote it
• Suite Francaise, a must read for everyone about the beauty of humanity in the face of the ugliness of humanity, by Irene Nemirovsky
• and To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, no explanation needed
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Given my total lack of coolness, imagine my surprise when I discovered that several of my friends have now taken the ur true name quiz. We are all Gabby.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Yesterday I set myself on a mission to discover whether anyone on Facebook has a similar talent. As it turns out, there are four who do. Eager to discover more about my real self, I took all of their quizzes. My true name, the one I was truly meant to have, is Andrea Gabby Bob Bella-Nicole. This is going to take some getting used to, both for myself and my friends. I’m thinking of asking my students to call me by my last name this year, just to save time.
And I need to talk to my old colleague. She never pegged me as having any of those names. She thought the one my parents gave me was right. I need to have a talk with myself too, as I’ve been secretly convinced since high school that my true name is Susan.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I am also unwelcome in Russia, which does not bother me in the least. Russia booted my great grandparents out over 100 years ago for having the gall to be Jewish, so really, Russia? I’m not going to lose any sleep over you. Long winters, far too many potatoes, and borscht. Enough said. Good literature, though. I will give you that.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The thing about guinea pigs is that they're scared, pretty much all the time, of pretty much everything. You probably would be too if you were considered a delicacy in Central and South America. Guinea pigs don't bite, and they don't fight. They display all the features of learned helplessness without having to actually learn it. They are gentle and accommodating, whether you dress them up in costumes, fly them around the room, or make them kiss your mother and brother goodnight. The other thing about guinea pigs is that when they're not scared, they tend to squeak. I'm not so big on squeaking.
Rabbits, on the other hand, despite having at least as much to worry about when it comes to predator-prey relations, are friendly, inquisitive, energetic, and tend to save the running and hiding for moments of actual danger. Although they are strict vegetarians they will occasionally taste you just in case you've become edible. If you push them too far rabbits may bite you, and if you try to make them kiss your brother they may decide instead to slam him full force with their hind feet. Rabbits know how to set limits. They are also silent. I like rabbits.
Maybe some day I'll come out as a rabbit on a quiz. I sure hope I'm never a guinea pig.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Why blog? I thought long and hard before deciding to try this, and in the end I'm still not sure why. My mother always wanted me to be a writer. Now I can tell her I'm a writer, sort of. Hi Mom!