Tag Archives: my secret boyfriend wes anderson

No, I Won’t Stop Swearing

20 Mar

For those of you who somehow haven’t noticed, I occasionally use cuss words in my writing. I’m a grownup writing for grownups, and I just kind of figure that these are all words we’ve heard used at one time or another. Like, does anyone actually find the words fuck or shit all that shocking? Especially on a blog (as opposed to a For Real Credible News Source)? I mean, come on.

And yet every time I have a post go viral, the pearl-clutchers come out in full force.

Oh, they don’t tell me that they’re taken aback or upset by my language – after all, they don’t want to seem prudish or old-fashioned. No, they frame it as concern for me and my well-being. People won’t take me seriously if I swear, they say. No one will read my posts. I sound like I’m uneducated, “common,” with a limited vocabulary. Swear words devalue what would otherwise be quality writing. I would be so much more successful if I would just stick to politely outlining my points; swearing makes me seem hostile, and that turns people off. And, perhaps my favourite: cussing isn’t ladylike.

Friends, that is a lot of shit to unpack right there.

Let’s start out with the most easily refutable stuff. For one thing, it seems weird to tell me that no one is going to read my stuff when, whether I deserve it or not, I have a pretty wide readership. There are 8,639 people who currently subscribe to this blog and receive an email every time I publish something, I have 4,415 fans on my blog’s Facebook page, and 2.563 followers on twitter. And yeah some of those people are my mom, but the vast majority of them are people that I’ve never met who genuinely like my writing. I’m not throwing out those numbers to be like GUYS LOOK HOW GREAT I AM, because I am constantly humbled and baffled by how popular this blog is, but I do think it’s important to point out that a fuck of a lot of people read my stuff and take me seriously, even with all the swears.

Now, as for the rest of it, let’s take a look at what’s being said and why it’s problematic. First of all, there’s a lot there that’s true. For example, I am relatively uneducated, at least compared with many of my super-smart fellow bloggers. I graduated from high school, but didn’t complete any kind of postsecondary education unless you want to count yoga teacher training. Most people don’t. And you know what? I am common, whatever it is you want to mean by that; I certainly don’t consider myself to be upper class or elite in any way. Sometimes I’m hostile, especially when I’m writing about something that I’m angry or upset about. And I’m certainly anything but a lady. So I’m not offended or hurt by the actual content of any of these remarks.

What does offend me is the fact that we think it’s acceptable to use someone’s level of education and their perceived social class as insults.

These comments – comments making assumptions about socioeconomic status, comments telling me that choosing the wrong words, the “common” words, devalues my writing – are incredibly classist. They operate on the assumption that only writers of a certain social class have any kind of merit. They perpetuate the idea that only people who speak the right way, work the right jobs, and live in the right parts of town are worth listening to and taking seriously. These comments lay bare what every poor person already knows and what deeply entrenched social systems and cultural ideas tell us every day: the poor don’t matter.

I mean, sure, poor people matter when we need workers for dangerous or degrading jobs. The working class matters when we want someone to clean our house or serve us food or take care of our children. We like to objectify them, especially if they’re people of colour, and make dehumanizing comments about them. We talk down to them, condescend to them, even lose our shit at them if we feel like it because seriously no one is going to step up and tell us to stop. I had a friend who worked at an upscale grocery store, and during his time there he was subject to all kinds of abuse from the wealthy clientele. One older gentleman screamed at him that he was stupid and a child because the leeks that my friend was trying to ring through for him weren’t coming up at the right price. Another time a customer told him they were going to shove a cookie up his ass because the lineup to the cash register was moving too slowly. These people say these things because they know they can get away with it – they know that business owners will side with them, because the customer (especially the well-heeled customer) is always right and workers are disposable. This is the world we live in.

I’m not going to change the way that I write because it might make some people assume that I’m uneducated, or poor, or working class. You know why? There is nothing wrong with being any of these things. Being poor isn’t some kind of moral flaw; lack of education is not indicative of low intelligence. Using “common” words does not mean that what you have to say has no value. Fuck everyone who buys into this kind of thinking.

And as for the comments about hostility, I want you to sit back and ask yourself – seriously ask yourself – if you would say those things if the writer of this blog was a man. Would I still come off as hostile if I had a dick*? Or would you perceive me as being justifiably outraged? Because in my experience the word “hostile” is typically applied to women who aren’t being sweet and demure, and I am neither of those things. In a funny way, I almost take remarks about my hostility as a compliment, because it means that I’m subverting people’s expectations about what a woman should be. If I’m coming across as hostile, that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

What I really want to get at is this: if you are someone who reads my writing and thinks, “well, I fundamentally agree with her but all those swear words make me wince,” you might need to take a moment and check your privilege. If, out of all the things that are printed here on this blog, it’s words like fuck and shit that get you hot and bothered, then you might need to rethink your priorities. If you think classist remarks about language somehow prove what a smart, enlightened person you are, I’d say that’s a pretty sorry state of affairs. And finally if you think that I care about your opinion on my use of swears, well, you’re wrong. I care about your opinion on a whole lot of issues, but not this one.

Because fuck it I will fucking cuss if I want to, because swear words are funny and awesome and sometimes no other word will do.

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*Not all men have dicks and not all people with dicks are men but please allow me this one dick joke

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How To Talk To Pregnant Women (or, everybody just relax)

10 Sep

I don’t know what’s in the water these days, but it seems like a ton of my friends are having babies this year. I’ve been to three baby showers in the past two weeks alone.

Of course, since I am a super self-involved person, all of this baby time has brought me back to those oh-so-special days when I was gestating Theo. Watching my friends get advice from other friends and acquaintances (and sometimes total strangers) has reminded me of the things that I found super unhelpful to hear while pregnant, and  also the things I actually found helpful.

So! I’ve made this useful little guide for you!

First of all, let’s start out with the basics:

1. DON’T: assume someone is pregnant, unless they actually, like, TELL YOU THEY ARE PREGNANT.

I know that this one seems obvious, but, sadly, it still needs to be said.

DO: WAIT UNTIL THEY TELL YOU THEY ARE PREGNANT. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.

(A brief anecdote: the first time I went out without Theo was about a week after he was born. I went to a fancy baby store to buy a fancy nursing bra. I was trying to figure out my size when the clerk helpfully told me that my chest would be bigger once I had the baby and my milk came in.

If you ever want to see a woman who is recently postpartum cry horrible hormonal tears in public, please go ahead and ask her when the baby is due. It makes her feel really great!)

2. DON’T: talk about how huge your friend’s belly is.

Some women probably (maybe?) like this, but definitely not all of them. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to be sure which category someone falls into until you actually say it, so it’s best just to keep your mouth shut.

DO: tell her how beautiful and glowing she looks. Basically every woman loves to hear this. I know, I know, a while ago I was all, try not to give people appearance-based compliments, but I think pregnancy might be the exception to that rule.

3. DON’T: tell her, Wait until the baby comes! You will feel so differently about everything! 

While this is probably true (although maybe not – everyone’s experience varies), it is super annoying to hear. Also, it’s totally unhelpful – it’s really the kind of thing every parent has to figure out for themselves.

DO: share your experiences of what your expectations were like while pregnant, and how things were different once you had the baby. It’s helpful to hear stories about specific things that people have gone through, and it’s much better to hear it phrased as here’s how I felt rather than here’s how you will feel.

4. DON’T: tell someone how bad worrying is for the baby.

I heard this a lot whenever I tried to communicate my pregnancy-related anxieties to people. I found it really unhelpful because, while I understand that what these people were trying to do was get me to relax, what they were actually doing was give me one more thing to worry about . Like, great, I’ve still got all these other things I was feeling anxious over, and now I have to worry about whether all this anxiety is hurting the baby. DOUBLE WHAMMY.

DO: ask your friend about specific anxieties they are having, and, if possible, talk them through. If you have something from your own experience that you can relate this to, that is super helpful! If their anxieties seem overwhelming or debilitating, suggest that they talk to their doctor. Above all, remind them that being anxious while pregnant is very, very common.

5. DON’T: talk about how figuratively shitty everything will be once the baby comes.

It’s true that things will be super nuts once the baby comes! But chances are your friend already knows that, and doesn’t need to be told to get in all their sleep/having fun/quiet alone time before they pop. Also they are probably happy that they’re going to have a kid, so it’s not really cool to make them feel as if they’re making a huge mistake. They’ll have plenty of time to figure that out on their own (kidding, kidding).

DO: tell them how literally shitty everything will be. I feel like the copious amounts of poop my offspring produced was a huge surprise to both of us, especially Matt. I remember him looking at the meconium and saying, it’s like a jet of concentrated evil coming out of his backside.

6. DON’T: tell pregnancy horror stories.

No pregnant woman wants to hear about all the terrible, horrible things that could possibly go wrong while the bun is still in the oven. Sure, some people enjoy hearing these kinds of gruesome tales, but there is a time and a place for everything. Talking to your knocked-up friends is neither of those.

DO: try to keep things positive.

If the desire to tell scary stories comes up as the result of a pregnant woman confiding in you about a specific issue she’s having, please, please don’t tell her that a friend of a friend experienced exactly the same thing with tragic consequences. Try to keep in mind that it’s pretty unlikely that you’re a medical doctor (and if you are, you should be dispensing medical advice, not anecdotes), and b) you’re almost definitely not this specific person’s doctor. Instead of scaring your friend, reassure her that everything is likely fine, while at the same time urging her to talk to her doctor or call the hospital.

7. DON’T: go on and on about how happy your pregnant friend must be, or else say things like, gee, you don’t seem very excited about this baby.

DO: keep in mind that pregnancy can be an emotionally conflicting time for a lot of women. Many people find pregnancy to be traumatic for all kinds of reasons, ranging from  body image issues to past complications or losses.

Just offer a warm congratulations, and then follow your friend’s lead. Making them feel like they should be happier than they are can add an extra layer of guilt onto what might already be a complicated situation.

8. DON’T: be judgmental or rude about parenting choices.

This goes for everything from formula feeding or hospital births to co-sleeping or having a round-the-clock nanny.

Here’s the thing: you don’t know what in this person’s life has lead them to this decision. Sure, maybe it’s a decision you wouldn’t have made, and maybe it’s something that you disagree with – but as long as they plan to keep their child safe, warm, happy and fed (and chances are that they do), then it’s none of your business.

DO: offer advice and resources if the person seems open to it. Tell them about your own experiences if they want to hear about it. If not, just bite your tongue, and keep in mind that things change so dramatically with the arrival of a new baby that many of your friend’s plans will probably end up flying out the window anyway.

9. DON’T: just flat-out contradict someone if they say something that you know is wrong or inaccurate.

Honestly? This will just make them feel stupid and maybe a little defensive.

DO: explain to them why it’s wrong and offer information and resources to back your claim up.

For example, I had a friend who was told that if the baby only nursed on one side per feeding, she should pump the other breast once the feeding was done so that she didn’t get mastitis. I explained to her that up until about six weeks, milk production is hormonally driven, but after that point it becomes supply and demand. If you are nursing your baby AND pumping, then you are signalling to your body to produce more milk. This is fine if you want to keep frozen milk on hand for a babysitter, or for when you return to work, but it’s not necessary if you’re feeding on demand, and definitely won’t prevent mastitis.

I also told her that she should do whatever she feels comfortable doing, and that she’ll figure out what works best for her once the time comes (this sentence in particular is key).

Also, keep in mind that there is a study to back up just about everything, so your friend might already feel like they are well-educated on whatever it is you’re talking about. If they aren’t interested in what you have to say, then maybe just let this one slide. Pick your battles.

For example, if a person has decided after a lot of research that they think it’s best for the baby to dangle out a second-storey window from a Jolly Jumper harness, that argument is definitely worth pursuing. If it’s something more minor, just let it go.

10. DON’T: stick to only pregnancy and baby-related topics.

Seriously, this gets really annoying. When I was pregnant, there were days when I felt like I was nothing more than a gestating uterus on legs. It’s not that I never wanted to talk about pregnancy and babies (because I totally did!), just that that wasn’t all I wanted to talk about. Sometimes I wanted to feel like a smart human being with a smart human brain who thought about smart human things.

DO: keep in mind that your friends are people first, and pregnant ladies second. Try talking about a range of subjects, including but not limited to: books, movies, food, deep philosophical thoughts, Shakespeare’s plays, why Richard III maybe wasn’t such a bad guy, the weather, interior decorating, Wes Anderson films, why Wes Anderson should make a film about Richard III, etc.

Now go forth and converse like a normal human being with your pregnant friends!

Also, feel free to add suggestions for additions to this list in the comments.

“Hmmmm I’m feeling a little TOO content with my pregnancy. I wish someone would say something SUPER JUDGMENTAL to me right now.”

The Secret to Happiness

13 Aug

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Practice random acts of yoga.

Then make your husband* photograph you using the hipstamatic app.

*please note that you can substitute anyone in place of “husband”, including but not limited to: your boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, life partner, girl you met once at a party, boy you met once at a party, person you met at a party who doesn’t want to be defined or limited by gender, your coworker, a mutant cat who was born with opposable thumbs and enough smarts to work an iPhone, Wes Anderson, that dude who gave you the side-eye because you wanted to use exact change at the corner store, your mortal enemy (I don’t recommend this one, though – they would probably take a blurry picture ON PURPOSE), your great aunt, your great aunt’s mortal enemy, Rob Ford, Rob Ford’s mortal enemy, a dude walking by on the street, the bartender from your favourite local watering hole, punk rock teenagers, punk rock adults, punk rock Margaret Atwood, etc.

Dirty Thirty

12 Aug

A week ago it was my birthday. A week ago I turned thirty. As F. Scott Fitzgerald would say, I am standing before the portentous, menacing road of a new decade. Yes, I am pretentious enough to start out a post about my thirtieth birthday with a quote from the Great Gatsby. High five, lit nerds!

I would be lying if I said that I haven’t been thinking about this birthday. I mean, I haven’t been giving it a ton of though, and I certainly haven’t been agonizing over it or anything, but yeah. Thirty. I mean, it’s a milestone, right?

I’ve been thinking that things are good. I am mostly in a good place. And I can say with confidence that I am in a much better place than I was when I turned 20. I mean that both literally and figuratively – I spent my 20th birthday working in a cookie factory in Kitchener. I had to wear a hairnet and a mustard yellow smock. My fellow cookie workers bought me a fancy Tim Horton’s donut and stuck a candle in it.

This year I began my birthday celebrations with dinner and a movie with Matt (and sans bébé). We went out to a fancy restaurant, where I proceeded to prove myself to be the cheapest cheap drunk in the history of ever. I wore a fancy silk dress and my favourite necklace from Paris and we played bloody knuckles and laughed at penis jokes. Basically it was just the best. Then we saw Moonrise Kingdom, which was also basically the best. High five, Wes Anderson!

But anyway. I digress.

I am happier now. I am more confident. I am more comfortable in my own skin. My body is actually stronger, firmer and more flexible than it was 10 years ago. I like the way I look, which is a nice change from how I felt about my appearance a decade ago. And I have Matt. And Theo.

I might not be as naively, wondrously optimistic as I was at the beginning of my last decade. I still believe that the future is bright, although I am more cautious about it. I am better at living in the present than I have ever been, and that’s a huge relief.

There are things that I miss about the self I left behind a decade ago. I miss the sense of awe I had, the sense of wonder. I miss the sense of potential that I felt about myself. I miss the sense of potential I felt about life in general. There were so many blanks to be filled in back then. Now there are less. I am mostly happy with how I’ve filled those blanks. I think that’s the most that anyone can say.

And now there are new blanks to fill, ones I didn’t expect. There are new challenges, and new doors that have opened for me. If life is not as full of magic as I once thought, then it’s also far, far less terrible than I have believed at times.

This is good. Thirty is good. I am excited for this decade.

“So we drove on toward death in the cooling twilight.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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(this is what thirty looks like, in case you were wondering)