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

The End

If you had the chance to learn the precise day and cause of your death, would you? Me, I'm going to be eaten by a cannibal on December 18th, 2033, at 8:41 am. Despite the fact that I will be merely 64 years old at the time, I'm actually quite pleased by this.

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

The Wisdom of the Fortune Cookie

If you ever desperately need to know your fortune, but find you are not in the mood for Chinese, never fear, the Facebook Fortune Cookie Quiz is available to anyone, any time, any place, even if you had Italian food for supper, and it is wise, very wise.

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

When Quizzes Lie

Apparently I am not a bitch. I am a Lil Angel. I never have a bad word to say about anyone, no matter what they’ve done, and everyone knows I am a pushover. Now that those of you who know me have stopped laughing and pulled yourselves together I challenge you to take The Ultimate Bitch test and report back. I may not be Awesome or Cool, but damn it, I know I can be a Bitch.

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

Wishes and Suspicions

I was reading a story to my children, one of the Rootabaga Stories by poet Carl Sandburg, and in this story were three boys: one filled with wishes, another filled with suspicions, and the third filled with both wishes and suspicions. Wishes and suspicions. Try to say it 5 times fast. Now try to figure out which boy you are, and what that means to you.

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

A Very Bit Jovial

In honour of the end of my first week back in the classroom, where, this semester, I’m teaching introductory psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and biopsychology, I typed the words “psychology” and “quiz” into the Facebook search engine, expecting to find hundreds, if not thousands of quizzes to choose from. Surprisingly, my search only turned up three. I dutifully took them all, and discovered three new things about myself.

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

Evolution of a Bad relationship in 23 Songs

Meant to be a conversation.
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

Damn you, Kettle Corn

Top 5 things I cannot have in the house because I will eat myself sick:
5)Chocolate peanut butter ice cream
4)Chocolate covered almonds
3)Dutch apple pancakes
2)Creme caramel
1)Kettle corn

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Summer Fruit

It’s time to answer the question on all of your minds, the one I know you’ve been dying to ask since I started this blog: What kind of fruit are you?

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


I spent the evening having a picnic, waiting for an outdoor fire-spinning show to start. They played music over the loudspeakers to entertain us while we ate. I don't recall filling out any special quizzes before attending, but I must have, because the song selection was a tribute to my childhood. I figure I arrived too late to hear the Sonny and Cher of my preschool years, but was in time for the Village People and some disco classics, which segued into 80's dance club standards, culminating in the 90's single Firestarter, which some say may have been related to the show, but I say was a tribute to my 20's.

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

Eternal Sunshine of a Mother's Mind

For those of you who are not parents and therefore have not had the chance to experience this firsthand, it’s a well-known fact among mothers that the day you welcome your first child into the world is the day you say goodbye to your memory. I like to think that in reality my memory is as good as it always was, I’m just overburdened by the exponentially increased demands motherhood has placed on it. It’s no longer enough to remember where I’ve left things, what I have to do, where I have to be, and when. I now need to do this x3. That's my excuse, anyway.

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

Scrabble Ninja

My inner ancient warrior is a Ninja, a deadly class of fighter trained in espionage and assassination. The life of a noble Samurai is not for me. Those who know me will tell you, I am definitely a Ninja, especially those with whom I play Scrabble.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


For those of you who think I’m cool, I am not. I am only 78% cool, which is the least cool result possible. A coolness factor near 100% is an obvious badge of coolness. A coolness factor near 0% is so uncool it actually makes you cool. Those in between, like me, are drifting in a netherworld of the lame. Also, in case you were wondering, I’m only 70% awesome. I am so uncool and lacking in awesomeness that if I were a 2009 song I’d be The Climb, by Miley Cyrus. That’s right. I’ve never even heard of that song, but I don’t need to. It’s mine, and it is my anthem of uncoolness.

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.