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Pull up a chair (repost from Wordpress)

The first time I remember hearing anyone express a political opinion, I was sitting at a brown formica kitchen table. It was at my grandmother’s house (my mom’s mom, who I called “Nan”), and she was listening to a newstalk radio station. Torontonians were calling in to complain about Quebec, I don’t remember why specifically, and my nan muttered something along the lines of “that damn Trudeau has made Quebeckers think they can have anything they wanted”. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was really excited to listen.

Kids hear a lot of things for the first time at tables, especially if their family isn’t big enough to have a “kids’ table”, which mine wasn’t. So when the adults would eventually get tired of making small talk with us, they would turn to each other and have discussions about current events and movies I wasn’t allowed to watch and other peoples’ relationships. I have no idea how much I understood or misunderstood, but I knew that once we left the table the kids and the grownups would stop hanging out together. I always wanted to be around adults when I was young, so I would stall at the table as long as possible.

When I was 25 years old, my now ex-husband and I moved into the main floor apartment at 2040 Maynard, a duplex in North End Halifax. My upstairs neighbours were my friends, but also intimidating celebrities. Kate Greenaway was the head of Medical Students for Choice, and Marshall Haywood managed a feminist sex toy/book shop called Venus Envy.

Their apartment was perfect.  The kitchen floor was black and white tiles, their bathroom window ledge was decorated with colourful dildos, and their patio had flower boxes with tomatoes and herbs. There was always great music playing. To me, though, the heart of the space was a giant wooden table that I'm pretty sure Marshall had built.

I never felt completely at ease in that apartment, because I never felt completely at ease in my 20's, but there were some moments of grace. Most of these involved sitting at that table with Kate and Marshall and their friends, until the tea was cold and we were being nostalgic about jokes we'd made only hours before. I would stall at that table, too, feeling again like a kid among adults, even though we were all the same age.

In every place I’ve lived since, I have made sure to have a table big enough for at least a couple of people to sit at. In Edmonton, Jesse and I had a great 50’s table that we sold before we moved to Ottawa, where we bought a big dinner table from Ikea. I loved sitting those tables together, doing crosswords and having meals and talking about our day. It’s one of the things I miss the most. When I moved to Toronto and Jesse moved in with Kira, Lili ended up with our dining room table. In May, she moved to Toronto, too, where she now lives with JJ. Seeing my old table in their apartment always knocks the wind out of me a little; it feels haunted.

Writing this entry made me realize how much tangible evidence there is that tables preoccupy me. I can never walk past one on the street without bringing it home.  In the 600 square foot apartment I am about to move out of, I at one point had three tables: one in the middle of my bedroom, one taking up my entire balcony, and one crammed in my kitchen. I love eating at this last one with my friends, but I am fully aware of the fact that it doesn't exactly ... work.

I’m about to move again, and had no idea how to put a table and chairs in this new apartment. I figured maybe I wouldn't get to, remembered that a lot of my friends didn't have them, and tried to feel like it would be alright to eat/chat on my couch.

The thing is, I find couches to be a sort of awkward. I never know how to situate myself. How you face the person? Do you turn your head? Do you turn your whole body? What if there is more than one person? Do you all sit in a row? How do you know where to put your hands so you look natural and relaxed? How do three people on a couch have a conversation? I find it really trying to even think about. Couches are great for sitting on and watching something together, but since the only TV I have is my laptop, piling on the bed works just as well for that.

So in an ongoing effort to keep trusting myself, I decided that my next apartment won’t have a couch or a living room. I’ll have a deck (with a picnic table), a kitchen, a dining room, and a bedroom with a futon that can fold into a couch if the situation ever calls for it. When I came to this conclusion, I was instantly so relieved. I took to Craigslist to find the perfect table. Not a table that I found on the street or bought because it was small enough to fit in the space I had available, but a table that was going to be given its own room. A table my friends would sit around and gossip and craft. A table I could write cards at if I wanted to, if I ever progress to the point where I am someone who has stamps.

I found it! A 25 year old was selling the table he grew up eating at. I went and picked it up in a taxi van and now it is waiting in Jairus's garage for me to move in my new apartment with it. It is solid and maple and gorgeous and has leaves that fold out at the sides and I will sit at it with some of you and I will sit at it alone and I'll shoo the cats off of it and I'll let it get too piled with papers.

I am also looking forward to this table being a place where Nico, Theo, Isadora, and my other small friends can hang out with adults and overhear our conversations. Maybe they won't understand them right away but I hope they enjoy themselves and feel included. If they prolong things by stalling, I'll be really really happy.

Transforming Anxiety

(all of this content is courtesy of these folks.)

Transforming Anxiety

Anxiety may seem like a consequence of busy modern life, but it first evolved as a response to threats our ancestors experienced in the wild.  If we examine the six stereotypical reactions we have to anxious situations, we can see their evolutionary origins and then transform these natural responses into productive ways of dealing with stressful circumstances.  These six responses are fight, flight, freeze, appease, tend, and befriend.  By mastering them, making them our tools, and using them to our advantage, we can conquer our anxiety.

Figure out your natural anxiety response and transform it into something positive.

1. Fight: The fight response is fairly obvious; it's what gets us into scuffles.  If anxious situations make you feel aggressive and feisty, you may be able to channel your energy into vocalizing your complaints (speaking up for what's right); just saying no; negotiating boundaries, conditions, and ground rules to avoid altercation; and doing battle with the anxiety-provoking beliefs and worries inside yourself.  The fighter has to engage the situation to overcome his or her anxiety.

2. Flight: Flight makes us want to run away from our problems.  If anxious situations make you want to run in the opposite direction, you're a fleer.  That doesn't make you a coward; you can and should leave situations if they're not working and can't be fixed; look elsewhere for better situations rather than suffering in the one you're in; step back and disengage, especially when a situation starts to look hopeless.  The fleer can also completely abandon and run away from anxious thoughts inside him or herself.

3. Freeze: Freezing is stopping all movement (mental or physical) until a problem goes away.  If anxious situations tend to paralyze you, you may do best by calling time-outs; observing negative situations quietly; buying yourself or others time by waiting; being patient and restrained and letting things come and change naturally; and creating space for new, better possibilities.  The freezer's patience and measured personality helps him or her to make it out of a stressful situation with minimal added stress.

4. Appease: The appease response makes us supplicate; when we bow to our "betters."  If you tend to take the blame yourself when in an anxious situation, you're an appeaser.  You may find your anxiety lessened when you take maximum personal responsibility without overdoing it; when you offer genuine apologies; when you makes agreements and promises toward the future and amends for the past; when you give gifts, and when you acknowledge the grievances and anxieties of others and work to solve them.

5. Tend: The tend response invites us to nurture in order to balance out our stress.  If anxious situations make you want to curl up and be taken care of, you would do well to build up your personal resources for dealing with situations: taking meditative time for yourself, relaxing, and building alliances and to take care of yourself, making sure that you work on your own anxiety-inducing tendencies gently while allowing your kindness and caring for others work on their own anxious tendencies.

6. Befriend: Befriending is the tendency to defuse anxious situations with levity and charm.  If anxious situations make you want to crack jokes and find common ground with others, you're a befriender.  The befriender can use his or her skills by making friends with his or her enemies (to a point, of course), recognizing and being kind to the inner goodness inside every anxiety-inducing person or thing, befriending him or herself (meaning being one's own best ally), and bringing a sense of humor to a difficult situation.

7. Keeping the right hemisphere of the brain busy helps to alleviate anxiety because it evolved to scan for threats, while the left hemisphere in part works to control negative emotion.  By keeping the "worrier" half busy and letting the "emoter" do its business without interference, you can reduce anxious reactions. Things that occupy the right brain include:

Painting & Sketching
Even if you have never handled a brush or sketched ever, you should try out painting or sketching. One reason why you should do it is that it's a lot of fun. Set yourself up with colors, brushes and a canvas or drawing pad. Sketch anything you want or let your mind wander with a paint brush. You can draw or sketch from memory or keep an object in front to sketch. Try landscapes or portraits if you want. If you are totally new to painting, just enjoy splashing colors and drawing patterns. Not only will it be a lot of fun, you will also get an idea about how well you observe.

Learning to Play Music & Singing
Learning to play any musical instrument or singing is one the best exercises. Even appreciating good music can unlock your mind. Singing is a great release for the mind. Try it out!

Sports Activities
Sports activities like baseball, table tennis and badminton or any other game can also be great right brain stimulants. Coming up with a strategy and executing it while playing a game takes a lot of visualization. You have to see yourself doing it in the mind and then you can execute it. That is why, sports is a great exercise for the right brain.

Creating & Writing Your Own Stories
The idea of this exercise is creating your own imaginary storyline and writing it. You start with a random situation and build a story out of it! It's a lot of fun. You will surprise yourself with what you can come up with, through your imagination.

Map Reading Games
This is a game that you can play which needs a lot of visualization. You study the map of a country for a few minutes and then try to visualize and locate a place that you are asked to look for. Not only will this improve your geography knowledge, it will also promote visualization.

A Visit to an Art Gallery
A visit to an art galley can be a good exercise. Try to understand the feeling conveyed by the paintings of master painters. Let your mind feast on the colors and patterns that it sees. Art appreciation can be a great right brain exercise, as you have to go beyond conventional thinking to appreciate what a painter has tried to say.

Theater Games
Theater games are also great exercises. One game that you can play is that of improvised drama. You are given a situation and a rough storyline, from which you and your group must come up with a small skit. With no written storyline, you have to rely on your imagination and improvisation skills to come up with a story and act! It can be an enjoyable and interesting activity.
From Module 6 of this amazing free resource about overcoming procrastination.
What is the unhelpful rule or assumption I would like to adjust?
It may be something like:
* I can’t do things when I am stressed/ fatigued/ unmotivated/ depressed
* I must rest when my energy is low
* I must be energised to be able to do things
* If I do things when I am stressed/ fatigued/ unmotivated/ depressed, I will make things worse
* If I do things when I am not energised, then it won’t work out
Where did this rule or assumption come from?
* Past experiences of people in my life not challenging or pushing me during tough times, but telling me to “take it easy” and treating me as fragile.
* Past experiences of people pushing me too much when my energy was low, and vowing never to do that to myself again.
* Seeing others manage stress, fatigue, poor motivation and depression by taking it easy.
* Having overdone things at some point in my life, which led to a negative outcome (e.g., nervous breakdown).
In what ways is this rule or assumption unreasonable? unrealistic? unfair? unhelpful?
* I never test myself in different situations to see I can manage and get some things done at certain times.
* We are often not going to be in the right frame of mind to do things, and if we wait for the right frame of mind it may never come, and we will never get anything done.
What are the negative consequences of having this rule or assumption?
* I don’t get things done
* I view myself as fragile
* I can’t live a normal routine
* I can’t take on a variety of commitments
* I feel restricted in what I can do.
What is an alternative more helpful rule or assumption?
It may be something like:
* I can do more than I think when my energy is low
* Energy, stress, motivation and mood often improve if I tackle things step by step, rather than rest
* Rest often de-energises me
* Rest is not always the answer, often taking action is
What can I do to put this rule or assumption into practice on a daily basis?
* Try taking action rather than resting when I feel stressed/fatigued/unmotivated/depressed, and see what happens.
* Break tasks into steps and start with just one step when my energy is low, and see where it leads.

Sound the alarm

Hi all I ever talk about is Scattered Minds, hope you like that. Probably you don't like that. I am sorry. I truly try to write about other things but this is what is pre-occupying me.  I have spent days reading and re-reading this book.  My dad read it, too, and we've been having phone talks about it.  Jesse and I have an email thread about a single chapter of the book that was 3,053 words last time I counted it. Every conversation I've had about it has been valuable in one way or another.

There are so many parts of this book that I have highlighted. Here are some of them.

"If you were told that in the next week, at some unpredictable moment, some unnamed disaster would strike you or someone close to you, and that you were helpless to do anything to prevent it, your response would quite probably resemble the habitual mental and physical behaviours of an adult with ADD. You would have difficulty focusing your thoughts, and your mind might feel like a squirrel on a treadmill: racing but not going anywhere."

"The Vancouver psychologist Gordon Neufeld calls anxiety "an attachment alarm". Its role in the survival of the human infant and child is to signal when our attachment relationships, which we are absolutely dependent on, are threatened. It is useful, unless it becomes a chronic state."

"A deficit is incurred when one pays out more than one receives. The child with ADD has had to pay out more attention than he or she has received, which is precisely how he or she has incurred an attention deficit."

All three of these quotes really drive home for me all the ways ADD and anxiety really reinforce each other. Seeing it laid out the way it is in the first example actually makes it seem so obvious that I don't even know what to say about it other than just point at it with my eyebrows raised and "Huh? Huh?"  That top paragraph absolutely describes my resting state so much of the time. And the second paragraph is a really good explanation for anxiety, the way I experience it anyway.  The things I am most anxious about are the state of my relationships. Like, by FAR. I'm not saying that isn't ALSO something it would be good to work on, but one thing at a time okay?

Two things push my anxiety buttons the most, abandonment and conflict. I worry that someone will all of a sudden stop loving me for a reason I might never know, and I worry that all affection anyone has for me is conditional on my never saying or doing something they have a problem with. When I try to imagine both those fears, they feel different. The former makes me feel like sobbing, the latter makes me feel like screaming.

I don't feel very in control of either, but with certain vigilance I think I can keep most interpersonal conflict at bay until I can't recognize myself anymore.  I feel completely unable to prevent abandonment.

Here are two things that I feel like are true but they make no sense to me so I am still trying to pull them apart and see if they stand up to examination:

1. If I am secure enough with someone to have conflict with them, I also am really afraid they will abandon me.
2. If I am fairly sure someone won't abandon me, I am most scared of having conflict with them.

Gosh I am really glad I have therapy tomorrow that's for sure. Like I said, I am not sure if I am 100% right about the above, but it is how I feel right now.

It is also worth noting that I panic when I am myself angry at someone I love. I am still trying to figure that out, too.

Okay here are some more quotes:

"The classroom behaviour of ADD children, to give a common example, is frequently said to be disruptive. They seem to have more interest in interacting with their peers than in the material the teacher would have them study, which may simply mean that they are trying to get their relationship needs met.  If they tend not to be do this very successfully, they do it all the more desperately.  Their brain's attentional system cannot switch into "schoolwork mode" when it is consumed by the anxieties about the child's emotional connection with the world."

This is me a lot. I know I have had times at work where having my relationship needs met (by my co-workers) was completely preoccupying. I don't mean like I wanted to have significant relationships from them, but I wanted to interact with them and feel like we were in sync about ... possibly anything.  I guess that was never really going to happen for me there, which is part of a long list of reasons I got super phobic about that workplace.

So that passage is super interesting to me and for sure reflects a lot of my experiences of myself in work places.

"The nagging hunger for emotional contact explains the oft-observed "paradox" that many children with ADD are capable of focused work in the presence of an adult who is keeping them company and paying attention to them. This is no paradox at all, if we see the opposing roles of anxiety and attachment in influencing attention: attachment promotes attention, anxiety undermines it."

I have so many tasks that I need someone to sit with me for me to be able to do.  My dishes, especially. Most domestic things.  I get pretty antsy in the bath or shower.  Walking, especially if I am in a hurry. Um. I think those are the big ones that are so difficult for me to do unless someone is near me (even if they are doing something else) or talking to me on the phone.  But like I said in this entry, I am super lousy at being alone in general, not only when I have one of the above tasks to do.

My therapist, Demian, recently asked me how I manage when I am by myself and can't get the reassurance I need to feel okay, and I was like "I have no idea, I am never really not able to get that reassurance."  I can gchat or text or even call anyone I need to at any time and have them tell me that we are okay. Obviously this is not a good solution to the problem, let's be clear, I am just saying it is the solution that I have been using.

Demian thinks that asking is bad for me because it sort of automatically creates two possibile realities in my head. He says if a person who was totally secure in their relationships was made to ask their partners/friends several times a day if they were mad at them, they would become more and more insecure all the time.

So that's interesting.

I need to do more things alone.  I went for a long walk and met a friend for lunch and walked home again last week, leaving my phone at home.  I was super proud of myself about that, and I also felt a million times better for having done so. Like I actually felt like a completely different person.  I wonder if I would be able to do that once a week, go for a walk and leave my phone at home.

Blue like nevermind

I am feeling really exasperated right now that I can't get to a state of permanence. Like, when I finish my dishes I think THANK GOD I AM NOW FINISHED DISHES and when I have a shower I think OKAY GREAT NOW I AM CLEAN but uggggh nothing is permanent.  How can I write a journal entry when nothing is permanent? How can I say how I am doing??

Thinking about general impermanence makes me think of these two passages I read this week:

"Dan's an epiphany junkie. He has epiphanies about himself constantly, but whether or not that changes him for the better, I don't know. Like, he's constantly learning things about himself, but it doesn't make life any easier. He knows he's self-destructive, but that knowledge is just half the battle. The other half would be to stop being self-destructive."
(From God Needs a Hobby)

"Epiphanies are, in some ways, staged and underimportant. But you still don't want to write them off. The fact that there's a brevity to human connection and human empathy—the fact that it goes away—might make you feel that we should not make a big deal that it was there at all. But of course we can't do that. We have to value the moments when a person is everything we'd hope this person would be, or became briefly something even better than she normally is. We need to give those moments the credit they're due."
(From What Flannery O'Connor Got Right: Epiphanies Aren't Permanent)

I know it is not realistic for all progress to be linear, or for things to be able to become constant once they become good. But I sure do daydream about it. 

Will vs. counterwill

From Scattered Minds:

"ADD children can hardly be said to have a will at all, if a "will" is a capacity which enables a person to know what he wants and to hold to that goal regardless of setbacks, difficulties, or distracting impulses.

"But my child is strong-willed," many parents insist. "When he decides that he wants something he just keeps at it until I cannot say no, or until I get very angry". What is really being described here is not will, but a rigid, obsessive clinging to this or that desire. An obsession may resemble will in its persistence, but has nothing in common with it. Its power comes from the unconscious and it rules the individual, whereas a person with true will is in command of his intentions.

The child’s oppositionality is not an expression of will. What it denotes is the absence of will which only allows a person to react, but not to act from a free and conscious process of decision making.

In the ADD child the underdeveloped circuitry of self-regulation reinforces the counterwill reaction. Because the child with attention deficit disorder is unable to disengage impulse from action, his automatic negative responses are expressed immediately and dramatically, in ways the adult world usually interprets simply as deliberate rudeness.

Further magnifying the brazen outbursts of oppositionality is another feature of underdevelopment, the one-dimensionality of the ADD child’s emotional processing. In a manner characteristic of infants and toddlers, children with attention deficit disorder are unable to hold in their minds simultaneously two different images of themselves or of others. For the preverbal child the "me" is either happy or miserably upset. Mommy is either good or bad.

I re-read every chapter of this book at least once before moving on to the next. I have it as an audiobook and an ebook for whoever would like to read it.

What's buzzin', cousin?

I will write a longer entry later (how many of my entries have started this way?), but here is a +/- for now, because I find them so soothing. I promise to flesh out any of these into a full entry if anyone requests it! And possibly even if no one does!

+ littlegirltoast was in town for a rap show, and we got to spend a chunk of time together.
- We never get enough time to talk about everything we want (and don't want) to talk about.
+ We still value our friendship enough to keep working on it even when it is hard.
- I have felt super panicky all day because I watched the trailer to the David Mamet movie about how Phil Spector is innocent or some garbage.
- Being this panicky has made me feel like I can't leave my house, so I can't go to my place to get my bathing suit and go swimming.
- Jairus has been feeling really anxious lately too.
+ Even though he is feeling anxious, he took on a totally stressful present-buying errand for me today.
- The place closed before he got there.
+ Chris put the presents on his credit card for me.
+ Chris is a fantastic person who I've been dating for four months now.
+ I have great people in my life I can ask for help from when I need it.
+ Jairus and I are both working hard to make community a priority.
+ anne_t_social and I had acupuncture last week and I am surprised by how much I got out of it.
+ There is another community acupuncture place at the end of my street.
+ I feel like I'm getting a lot better at making plans and hanging out with people.
- I think I have maybe started over scheduling myself.
- I sometimes still miss Facebook.
+ People are sending me great emails that are giving me lots of insight.
- I still haven't answered about half of them.
+ I have answered about half of them.
+ I am optimistic about my new therapist.
+ liliyuki will be here this weekend.
+ We will go to the Slowdance Party.


I <3 Grammardog <3's cats.

I wanted to post a post about my life for Sara for her birthday, because that's what she wants for her birthday and I love Sara and I love making a fuss over people. But today we found out from the vet that one of my favourite cats, Jairus's little Mothra, has failing kidneys.

The vet doesn't know why her kidneys are failing when she's only four years old. But she had a really hard life before she (and her sister Blinky) came to live with Jairus. She was born in a feral cat colony in Ottawa which was pretty harrowing:

The cats scrounged for food from trash in a nearby strip mall and hunted in a nearby Park. They could be seen everywhere, under porches, in sheds, anywhere there was shelter. Then, in the spring of 2009, a strange phenomenon occurred. Cat Rescue Network began getting calls from people who had found very young kittens on their doorsteps or porches. Some of the kittens were not even weaned. It turns out that the condo corporation in the area was rumoured to have directed its members to stop feeding and sheltering the cats. With no place to hide, mother cats were unable to protect their kittens against aggressive Toms and other predators; so, they did the next best thing. They gave them to people.

(More here. Mothra is the cat they call "Cinnamon" in that write-up.)

We're not sure what happens now. The goal is to get her eating (special food) and drinking as much as possible. If that happens, she might be okay for a while. Even a long while. But we're so sad, it's all I can think of right now.

You guys I love this cat. She is the sweetest cat I've ever known, and she loves Jairus like I have never seen a cat love anyone. When I came into Jairus's apartmet the morning after he adopted her, she was sitting on the pillow watching him sleep. It's always like that with those two. She's just always with him, always watching him, always trying to get as close to him as possible and purring so hard she vibrates. I want them to have so much more time together, you know? My greatest wish right now is that they do.

<3 to Jairus. <3 to Mothra.


"From early infancy, it appears that our ability to regulate emotional states depends upon the experience of feeling that a significant person in our life is simultaneously experiencing a similar state of mind." - Daniel J. Siegel

Dunbar's number


So, I've been off of Facebook for a week and a half now.  Since I am not responsible for the Because I am  Girl FB page while I'm on leave, there is no professional requirement to put up with the personal stress of being there.

I was feeling a lot of responsibility around Facebook. I was feeling like I should have been:
1. Posting/reading more about Idle No More.
2. Wading into huge fights on my own Facebook threads that seemed really complicated and overwhelming to me.
3. Talking about the personal stuff I am going through in some sort of role-model way to encourage others to also take care of themselves.

Shutting my account down has been a huge relief on these fronts.

But I'm also conflicted about it.  When Jesse talks about what it is like to go back to Facebook in this LJ post, he says (in part): "Oh my god I missed people! I felt so cut off while I was gone from that place!" And I really do get what he is saying about that. There are people I pretty much only interact with through Facebook, and I do miss their presence since deactivating my account. 

At the same time, I have been thinking a lot about Dunbar' Number:

Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar's number. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 230, with a commonly used value of 150. Dunbar's number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.

... that makes a lot of sense to me.  It's really hard for me to keep momentum on thousands of "relationships".  I am feeling a real desire to hunker down in a lot of ways, and have conversations over email or the phone or in person, with people who I love and trust. I have had of people check in with me privately since I shut down my Facebook, and every time I have the urge to reconnect my account in order to get some kind of interaction with the world, I reply to one of those messages instead.  I've been setting aside time for meaningful correspondence, and have even resisted writing up some kind of official statement about why I'm off work right now and just copying and pasting it to everyone who asks, without really thinking.  I guess one of the things I am doing is trying to be a more mindful friend.

It's not easy! It's much easier to broadcast things, even super personal things.

And just to be clear, I DO think talking about things in public has a lot of value.  I feel like it's good for certain issues to stay on people's radar, and I have had a LOT of people tell me that they don't interact with me much on Facebook but get pretty much all of their news from things I post or conversations I have. So that's nice, but I guess it's a different thing from building a community around me.

I DO  feel a sense of community when I post on Livejournal, which is I guess semi-public. I think the value is more to me than to anyone who might be lurking (Sarah's comment to this entry, for example, feels like an invaluable insight), but also wow LJ feels like a lot of work.  I guess it's valuable work though, it's just harder because the fact that it requires deeper engagement is also what makes it so important.

There are just so many people who will never see what I post here, though.  And it's true that that is a big part of what makes it great, but it also means the bulk of my friends (online or otherwise) won't ever read it or weigh in.

I wonder if I could make a FB list of only 150 people (the low end of the Dunbar number) and just post anything personal filtered to that group.  Maybe that would be a part-way compromise? I really don't know.  Maybe that would still feed into the pull of shallow/broadcast posts? Everything burns out of FB so fast.


Duty to accomodate


My friend Jenn recently posted this entry, and I relate to it a lot, about how much her friends are aware of what she needs to feel safe, and all the things they do to make sure she's okay.  She also talks about how when she moved away from her core community for a while, there was no one offering that support ... and sometimes that pushed her to do things she wouldn't have tried, otherwise.

This is the last paragraph:

"So what i find myself pondering tonight is where the balance lies.  How to allow myself to say “i can’t” when i truly can’t....but not hide behind it when it’s easy rather than necessary.  I think at a minimum it requires challenging my own self-centeredness.  Not sinking into safety and allowing myself to assume that the state of affairs i am in is a natural one.  Remaining aware of the way(s) people accommodate me and holding myself to account for the ways in which my anxieties inconvenience them and working hard to ensure that they do so to the least extent possible"

Basically I'm where she is. Trying to figure out what I CAN'T do, versus what I just FEEL like I can't do but am being insulated against having to do because I have such lovely friends in my life.  You know?

For example, I ask for a LOT of reassurance from people that they are not mad at me and that we are okay.  All the time. To the point where robotropolis once said to me "I'm going to Montreal for the weekend and I will still like you when I get back!" 

I have been this way as long as I can remember, probably because my mom was so unpredictable when I was a kid, veering wildly from loving to cruel without a second's warning. So now I am 36, and the question "How much reassurance do I need?" is still a bit like the question "How long is a piece of string?"

shannonmariah once had the great perspective "It's okay to ask your friends if they are mad at you, but you should try to believe you when they say that they are not."  When my logic cylinders are firing okay, I can do that. But when I'm in superpanic mode, basically I'm just like "Okay but what about now? Or now? Or now?" It's something I am trying really hard to figure out. 

Here are my two competing thoughts:

1. I don't want to burn anyone out

2. I don't want to assume my friends will be annoyed when I ask for things.

I ALSO want to be super mindful of not accidentally creating a crisis because then I will have "permission" to ask an unreasonable amount from someone! I have a pretty capable brain, and making a big disaster is not the best use of it.

So I dunno what to do about that, exactly! Suggestions welcome.


So I am moving to a new apartment, did you know? That is the logical outcome of the eviction that I mentioned in a recent entry, but the happy ending is that (thanks toanne_t_social) I am moving into a great place. Right now it is like I have a crush on my apartment because I don't know it very well but I still want to talk about it all the time. 

Here are some things about my new apartment!
+ It is in Dovercourt Park, a neighbourhood I LOVE.
+ It is a really pleasant half hour walk to Jairus's, and there are a million great places to meet on the way. 
- There isn't a separate bedroom.
+ The cute little kitchen IS separate.
+ It is a 600 square foot studio space.
+ It's an attic and the ceiling is SO lovely and high in the middle.
+ There is SO MUCH natural light. 
+ I think the cats will be able to go on one of the balconies
+ There is a GIANT windowseat. I have dreamed of a windowseat since forever.
+ It's not a basement!!
+ There is SO. MUCH. STORAGE. 
+ The landlords are SO nice and they have pets and don't care that I do, too. 
+ There is a shared backyard that I can hulahoop in.
+ I am buying a bunch of the previous tenant's furniture so I don't even have to move big heavy things up the stairs!
+ At $875, it's well under what I'd budgeted for.
- There isn't laundry.
+ With what I am saving in rent, I'll be able to drop off and pick up my laundry like a princess.
+ Maybe I will get a little wagon for this errand.

Basically the space just FEELS good.  Most of all, I feel like I will make a lot of art in this apartment. I don't know if it's because it's like a sunny treehouse, or because Anne's friend who is moving out (how I got the apartment!) is a composer and a conductor, or because it's such a big space that I feel like I'll be able to have perma-stations-of-creativity set up (like, music supplies in one nook, and a big table for crafts), but I've been looking at these little writing shacks and daydreaming and I feel so optimistic it's a bit embarassing. 

I move in at the end of September! 

Another writing prompt!

Friday, September 14, 2012
Do you think you begin more sentences with "I" or "you?"

Hmm. I think probably I. I feel like it'd be pretty weird to start a lot of sentences with "you". I'm not sure, other than compliments, what sentences should be started with "you". Do I think this because I had so much therapy in the 90's? Is "I-language" a 90's thing?

I like to say "we" most of all. It is a really good trick I learned when freelancing. If you say something like "Yeah we can get you this information for sure", then it sounds like you've got a giant team ready to spring into action. In real life, I was probably wearing raccoon pyjamas and eating Nutella with a spoon.

Anyway, am I way off on this? Does it make me a super self-involved person that I don't start more sentence with "you'?

I think a better question would be "In a conversation, do you ask more questions or answer more questions". One think I have found while going on OkCupid dates is that guys who identify as straight are the least likely to ask me questions about myself. Khela from The Blow tweeted something recently that I just tried to find like "Did you ever notice men never ask any questions in a conversation? Try it, it gives you so much power".

On my way to work today, I read an essay called Kanye West Is Better at His Job Than I Am at Mine (But I’m Way Better at Being a Fake-Ass Feminist.

This part leaves me breathless::

"I want the fact that I've read, and taken notes, on everything ever published by Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Imani Perry, dream hampton and Rebecca Walker to prove to everyone — especially women I'm interested in — that I'm way too thoughtful to be a dickhead. I wanted folks to know I've made my male students reckon with being born potential rapists, that I have defended black girls in need of abortions from rabid pro-lifers at abortion clinics in Mississippi. I wanted women to know I was a man who would always ask, "Are you okay? Are you sure you want to do this?"

I couldn't wait to tell some men –- but only when in the presence of women — how sexism, like racism and that annoying American inclination to cling to innocence, was as present in our blood as oxygen. When asked to prove it, I'd dutifully spit some sorry-sounding mash up of Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West and Mark Anthony Neal. But just like them, I never said that I know I'm sexist, misogynist and typical because I routinely fuck up the lives of women in ways that they can rarely fuck up my life. I never said that I've used black feminism as a convenient shield, a wonderful sleep aid, and a rusted shank to emotionally injure human beings who would do everything to avoid emotionally injuring me."

I had this conversation with Jesse about the article, because he thought it was "AMAZING" and I had kind of dismissed it as "a mess":

Me: I reallly want to know what you think of this essay but I feel like I have sent you too many articles already:

Jesse: this essay is AMAZING. I was not expecting it.

Me: I feel like it is almost good.

Jesse: What reservations do you have?

Me: I think it might be a case of the essay being so personal that how I feel about the PERSON becomes how I feel about the essay. [This is why I hate the book Cunt, by the way!] 

Jesse: that actually seems pretty appropriate in this case.

Me: I don't feel convinced that this dude is going to behave differently, but he thinks he is a big hero for admitting his faults. Like when white people write big essays confessing their racism.

Jesse: yeah for sure

Me: I think it is an IMPORTANT essay and it left me sort of breathless, but I wanted more. I wanted him to be specific and take ownership and say what he was going to do differently from now on. Why did you think it was so amazing! I want to know!

Jesse: I think that it is not heroic and there is a risk he thinks it is... but yeah important, exactly. it may have a footprint bigger than what he says if other men read it and go "oh... me too."

Me: Yeah yeah! That's the value I think for sure! People seeing themselves in it.

Jesse: saying what he would do differently would have made it a more complete story about him, and given us more of a chance to decide whether he was improved, but he's not our friend, so it doesn't really matter how he changes. I think.

me: But then what? Yeah that's what I mean I guess about feeling "This guy seems sort of half-assed" and then feeling "This essay is sort of half-assed". It seemed like it was just all of a sudden over?

Jesse: then approaching situations with a greater awareness of their fallibility, which is different for everyone and may or may not have been helped by this essay going into detail. I feel bad judging him too harshly though because the only way we have of knowing he may be half assed is his own admission. for all we know it's like oskar Schindler saying "I could have saved more" and we are all like "probably not?" if he hadn't injected that into the end of the essay, we as readers wouldn't have questioned the heroic quality of the essay, would we?

Me: [I wish I had said "I think the confession is the only heroic part of the essay! But I didn't mentally put that into words until just now]I am trying to figure out how I wish the essay was different but I can't think of a way.I guess I don't have to know a way. I'm glad you like it. I wanted to talk to you about it as soon as I read it.

Jesse: thanks for sending it to me! I think you're right that it's not perfect - I mean it's a self-indulgent MESS - I just do appreciate it.

Me: Can I post the conversation about the essay in my LJ, with a link to the essay?

Jesse: Yeah totally! call it "Jesse mansplains away my feminist objections to this man's feminist essay"

Me: Hahahaha.

An example of a thing that makes me cry ...

... is this video, of Tanya Tagaq and Celina Kalluk throat singing together. What I love about it is how connected and smiley they are. I feel like maybe it's rare to see women being playful and collaborative and affectionate and improvising with each other? I don't know, but I just love it so much.

Here is a bit about Inuit throat singing, from Wikipedia:

"Two women face each other usually in a standing position and holding each other's arms. One singer leads by setting a short rhythmic pattern, which she repeats leaving brief silent intervals between each repetition. The other singer fills in the gap with another rhythmic pattern. The sounds used include voiced sounds as well as unvoiced ones, both through inhalation or exhalation."

I dunno you guys. I just love that it's women. I love the twinkles in their eyes. I love how at ease they look. I love that it feels like Riot Grrrl.

Another writing prompt!

Jairus always reminds me that "perfect is the enemy of good", so I'm giving myself some slack re: getting behind on these.

Prompt: Are you okay with letting people see you cry?

I don't think I have a lot of interesting things to say about this! I guess the answer is basically "Yes, fortunately."  I cry pretty easily. Most people have seen me cry, I'm pretty sure.  Anyone who has watched a movie with me. Or a trailer for a movie. 

For example, this trailer* totally made me cry the other day:

So, yeah. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by how easily I am manipulated by editing+soundtrack, but I'm never embarrassed about the fact that I cry! I got a lot of feelings, y'all.

*appears to be more like a 2minute summary of the entire movie.
You guys I am torn between two purses.

Contender number one!
Freya Purse made from Furniture Upholstery


Looks sturdy
Pretty charming ruffle

Kind of sporty?
I might hate zippers.
Maybe too red-white-and-blue? (or is that black? I hope so!)
I can't tell if it's a weird shape.

Contender number two!
Cross Body Pleated Bag in Colorblock Brown, Green and Burnt Sienna

I already have a purse by this lady and I love it.
Super pretty.
No zippers.
Will probably fit all my stuff.

It's not leather, so it's a bit flimsier than the other.
Not super interesting looking.


NaNoBloPoMo #2

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 (Posting two entries today, I need to get caught up)
When you are speaking with someone, do you prefer to look them in the eye or talk over the phone?

The bulk of this entry was supposed to be a short preamble to the question about if I like to talk to a person on the phone or in person. The answer is neither, that I prefer to do most of my talking to people online. But in thinking about the way I have used the phone in the past, and use the internet now, I ended up writing a bunch about something else.

A thing about me is that I am very very bad at being alone with myself. It's at crisis-level, really. But a totally mundane completely manageable crisis, because when do I ever have to be alone? I have a smartphone and a laptop. I can have contstant company.

I feel like my internet addiction is actually a solitude aversion. I rarely set aside time to be by myself, and when I do, I usually spend it online. Even if I am trying NOT to be online, I'll look for any reason to go back online quickly "just to check something" because I can't ever have uncertainty about something. Also, if my solitude results in some kind of idea, I have to jump online to immediately share it with someone on gchat or Facebook.

I think this is the crux of the problem, actually. If I am alone, I am getting no feedback, and I am someone who relentlessly seeks out feedback. Not praise or validation, just feedback, both positive and negative. I need it to navigate. I am always trying to make maps and plans in my head to get to where I want to go, and I don't trust my internal compass. So I need someone to act as a mediator and translator between me and the world around me, even if the world around me is what is going on in my head. I need to air everything the second it springs to mind, to make it more real and to help me figure out what it means, by having it reflected back to myself. This makes me interrupt people, and it makes me bad at keeping secrets.

Also when I am alone, there is no one to ask if I am safe.

Here are the two main ways I ask the question "Am I safe":
  1. "What are you thinking?"
  2. "What do you think is going to happen with [insert topical issue]?"
"Am I safe?" also means "Do you love me?" because I feel like if someone loves you, you are safe. Everytime this is proven to be untrue, it send me into a tailspin.

Okay I think I am maybe done with this entry? It's sort of an unresolved mess but I've got a million other things to get to today.


Hey I'm gonna do this! They didn't give weekend prompts, so I'm starting now hooray.

Monday, September 3, 2012
Write about one object you see at this exact moment.

I'm in my room right now, and when I looked up I saw the watercolour painting that I am standing in front of (and accidentally dressed to match) in this photo. It's an original Lynda Barry painting, and I've had it for ... nearly 10 years? I think?

The piece of art above it is also really important to me! Jesse bought it for me at a Montreal street fair. I love the shapes and the colours, and I'm really happy to have discovered all kinds of symmetry once I hung the two next to each other. I just am kind of lazy and figured the Lynda Barry one would be easier to write about in pretty much every way.

Also because I'm lazy, I googled Lynda Barry to try to find a good catchall link to include in this post, for people who don't know much about her. And that took me down a third of a dozen internet rabbit holes!

Rabbit hole #1: Lynda Barry has a tumblr
You guys I love Lynda Barry, and the fact the she posts stuff pretty regularly on her tumblr makes me feel like I need to devote several days in a row to getting completely caught up on every video/sketch/bit-of-reflection that she has ever shared. This is a problem.

Rabbit hole #2: Lynda Barry now sells her stuff on Esty!
Man, back when I bought this treasured watercolour you had to wait for her to put things up on ebay every so often, and then set your alarm for the middle of the night to out-bid other fans. Now you can just grab stuff in her online store. Well, there goes all MY money.

Rabbit hole #3: Lynda Barry hates wind turbines and says they are ruining her life.
There is an interview with her in Vice Magazine where she brings nearly every single answer back to how much wind turbines are ruining her whole life, because they are building a wind farm near HER farm and she used to be happy but that was BT (before turbines). I'm not going to link to the article, because fuck Vice magazine, but y'all can find it by googling! I will link to Barry's own anti-turbine website!

Whoaaa did y'all know that Ira Glass moved to Chicago to be with Lynda Barry?? I sure didn't! And I sure didn't know that he was a super terrible person to her!!

Lynda says: "He is the person who changed my belief in human nature. I went out with him. It was the worst thing I ever did. When we broke up he gave me a watch and said I was boring and shallow, and I wasn't enough in the moment for him, and it was over. I had to go around for a year saying, 'Am I boring and shallow and not enough in the moment?' You know what he used to call me? He used to call me his 'little ghetto girl!'"

Ira says: "I was an idiot. I was in the wrong. Anything bad she says about me I can confirm."

(Quotes from this article.)

This is so shocking to me!  I have read Lynda's fantastic book One Hundred Demons but I had NO IDEA that "Head Lice And My Worst Boyfriend" is about Ira Glass! You can see a bunch of that story here. It's so good. But also SO WEIRD to re-read it, hearing Ira Glass's voice in my head.

So, there you go. This is the strangest I've felt about the breaking up of a couple I didn't know existed, since I found out that that Elisabeth Moss used to be married to Fred Armisen, but they broke up maybe partly because he wouldn't become a Scientologist, like she is.

Why do we really think we know anything about the lives of famous people? I think I never actually learn FACTS about most celebrities I admire, I just have a vague idea of their histories that I project on them based on things I've decided about their characters (multiple meanings of "characters" intentional).

We demand better


Photo by Mark Edwards (

I can't even express to you how completely demoralizing it is to see all these fucking rape apologists talking about Tosh. Big surprise: The vaaaast majority of people doing this are white dudes, aka: the safest people in the world.

My favourite response from any male comic so far has been this from (non-white dude) W. Kamau Bell:

"For the record I'm anti-heckling & anti-rape but I'm waaaaaay more anti-rape than I am anti-heckling. ‪#IfIHaveToChoose‬ ‪#ApparentlyIDo‬ ‪#Weird"

To cheer myself up about the plummeting respect I'm feeling for so many people right now, I wanted to shine a light on something AMAZING Jairus did this spring, in response to our culture of casual misogyny.

Jairus makes industrial music, and DJs industrial music, and talks about industrial music a lot. One thing he has been saying for years is that he's really demoralized by how racist and misogynist mainstream industrial music is getting. His criticism was often about two bands in particular, CombiChrist and Nachtmar. (You'll see examples of why, below.)

Last winter, Jairus was booked to play a huge multi-day festival in Montreal called Kinetik. Two months before the festival itself, the schedule came out ... and Jairus found out he was opening for the same two bands he's been so critical of. At first he was going to just cancel, but then he thought "What would Jello Biafara do?" and instead decided that during his last set, he was going to project this video (that he spent a month putting together) on the huge screen behind him while he played, calling out the bands he was opening for and asking the audience to think and talk about the culture those bands are perpetuating:

(Trigger warning: While I think this video is REALLY IMPORTANT, it also contains examples of the racism and misogyny that Jairus is trying to start a conversation about. So feel no pressure to watch it if you're not up for seeing those sorts of images).

The response was AMAZING. The audience cheered through the whole video, and for a couple of minutes after Jairus left the stage. Several women at the festival immediately began tweeting and Facebooking about how much this meant to him, and for the rest of the festival people were talking about what he had done, and what it meant. It was so incredible to see.

There was of course a TON of backlash. Jairus got accused of trying to sell records (Jairus gives away all of his music for free online and his CD's are pay-what-you-want), insulted a bunch, and told that it was not the "appropriate place" to do what he did. Which, like, whatever. Is it rude to call out misogyny and racism? I guess some people think so. I think it's more rude to be misogynist and racist. What better place to try to communicate your concerns about the impact of two lousy bands than to the thousand people who are in the audience for those bands?

Jairus said something to me, a week into the flurry of conversation about it (last time we checked there were 15K views of the video and over 1100 shares of it on Facebook). It was "One thing that really proves me point about the misogyny in our scene is that in all of the hate mail I've gotten about this, no one has ever threatened to rape me."

That's just it, hey?

So fuck off forever, Daniel Tosh.

And big big love to Jairus, and to all the people who stand up against gender terrorism.

(If you want to read more about why Jairus did what he did, AND get the reaction from the bands themselves, there is a great piece here, on music blog I Die: You Die. I really recommend checking it out.)


Oh man I am getting pretty excited about my upcoming trip to Chicago!! We've rented this gorgeous place for a week, can you even believe how lovely it is? Me either!

I am bravely flying into the city on Monday the 16, a few days before Jairus is (he's got a few dates left on his tour after I get there), which is rare for me! I don't do a ton of solo traveling. But I'm looking forward to it! I'm going to hang out with lection and palegreenthings and I hope brantastic and have adventures!

Then Jairus will get there on Wednesday the 18, and we'll have the rest of the week there together before leaving Monday morning. We plan to go for lots of walks and visit lots of galleries and have good times with our pals and enjoy sharing a stranger's neat apartment.

It's going to be our first vacation together that isn't a visit or a tour! (The tour will be over by the time our vacation starts.) I can't even believe it's happening!! I feel like I've won some kind of amazing prize, but really we just decided to do it and then made a plan around it, which is even better than it being some kind of delicate windfall.

Solar powered


I LOVE LOVE LOVE being outside lately. Look how happy I am! SO happy. Jairus is also happy in this picture, which you can tell by the fact that he's being a goof, and that you can see his dimple.  Aw.

Anyway, just posting this because I feel super adorable and want to remind myself how much I love being in the sun (late in the day, wearing sunscreen and a giant hat)!

The rest of the pictures of our awesome day are here, if you wanna check them out. We were at Hanlan's Point Beach, but mostly stayed dressed.  I mean, I haven't been waiting 2 months to show off this swimsuit and wear NOTHING!


Do you guys know that littlegirltoast and I have a 100% fantastic music blog together now? It's really great. One day just after Christmas I was really missing Jesse and was trying to think of a nice way to connect with him and let him know I was thinking about him. So I spent a couple of hours looking for a bunch of new music that I wanted to know what he thought of. I called the email "A mix tape ep for you!"

I wasn't sure if he'd like it all. Or if *I* liked it all, I just tried to pull together lyrics/production that I thought he'd at least find interesting. I wrote a sentence about how I felt about each song. By the end of the day, he'd written back with his own reactions to the songs, and within a week, he'd sent me seven songs that he'd found for ME. Since I'd called the collection a mix tape ep, we declared these little seven-song playlists to be mixtapEPs, pronounced mix-ta-PEPs. After a couple of exchanges, Jesse decided we were too good at picking jokes and picking music to hide our lights under bushels, so he put the whole she-bang on tumblr. There is even a glossary. You really should check it out if you like interesting sounds and two people trying to outdo eachother with hilarity and tough drums (Jesse always wins).

Here are some concrete ways that mixtapEPs make my life WAY BETTER:

1. I have a project with Jesse. One thing you might not know about me is that collaboration with someone makes me feel SO happy and cozy and energized. All of my favourite shows are about people who have shared goals and objectives that they are working towards together (two examples = The West Wing and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), because I basically love teams except sports teams which do nothing for me. So being on a team with Jesse about something feels really great especially when ...

2. ... I am sharing new music with Jesse. One of the ways we first connected was to share music with each other. Well okay to be fair I shared a bunch of music with him, and he made me a play list too but we never really talked about it much because for a long time I was a complete weirdo about new music, like I didn't know how to know if I liked it or until now that ...

3. ... I am seeking out and forming opinions on new music all on my own! It's baffling that for uh ten years I had kind of lost my entire vocabulary for that. I don't really know how it happened! But I wasn't even listening to new music by my FAVOURITE ARTISTS. I felt like I had no entry point. I have no idea what the entry point was that I lost! I used to go into stores and buy CDs all the time, often just based on the song titles or label (oh hi 4AD). I don't know when or why it stopped, but it feels SO GOOD to have that block just fall away. The vast bulk of new music that I know/like that came out between 2006 and 2012 is because Jesse kept really on top of things and would put stuff on a USB stick or burn a CD and we would listen in the car on long drives. I am so thankful that he did that ...

4. ... and so many other amazing things during our relationship. I feel really lucky, even though we eventually ended up so far apart emotionally and geographically. Working on the mixtapEPs closes those distances in a lot of ways ways. Which means the world to me.

Go listen to them!! Here I'll put the link again so you don't have to scroll, you lazy creeps!

A Wolfish Mood

I think this book looks gorgeous and amazing. The story seems so loving and gentle and I feel like the book will do a good job of explaining that mental health issues is hard for both the kids who are experiencing them and the kids around them. I think that second piece gets left off sometimes. I think it's great to have a conversation with little ones about how it can be really hard to be the sibling/cousin//friendwhatever of an unstable person.


You guys I got a new bathing suit and it is so adorable and I love it a lot and I want to have a beach party RIGHT NOW.

My totally fantastic achievements of today

1. Buying TTC tokens on my way home from work instead of scrambling for change. I can pretty much always find $3 that lets me get on the subway/streetcar, but when I CAN'T in the morning I am totally screwed. Getting tokens would add about 15 minutes to me before-work commute (when it really counts), and less than 5 to my after-work commute (which is rarely as time-sensitive).

2. Figured out how to get a temporary parking pass so the car can be on my street (rather than Jairus's place, where it usually lives in his garage), so I could do grocery shopping after work and bring the groceries home and not have to drive the car back to his place and then TTC it back up here. I know how to get parking passes but I don't have a credit card so I couldn't do it. But then I remembered about a pre-paid credit card we got to pay for my NS driving record (which is PERFECT, by the way), but they wouldn't accept it, so we still had it. Hooray!

3. Bought real groceries like a total hero. I don't mean "real" like "food cavemen ate as opposed to the processed garbage of today", I mean "real" like "I actually thought of meals I could make and bought the items that would let me make those meals". Often I get into a grocery store and totally choke and just come out with a bunch of discrete items, but I don't really come home feeling like I have "groceries", exactly.

4. Brought the groceries home after eating at Jairus's, rather than just bringing in perishables and leaving the rest in the car and falling asleep at his place rather than deal with my own apartment/groceries/life.

5. Carried all the groceries into my apartment, even though I had to park super far from where I live. Then put them away! Wow!

6. Made my bed (my sheets were on loan at Jairus's. He has just moved and things are not all unpacked yet), even though I half just wanted to crash on the couch.

7. Washed my face and got into bed before I was too tired to. This happens to me all the time. I am on the couch online and I want to wash my face and go to bed but I am so wiped out and so I am like "I'm working up the energy!" but I don't actually believe that is a thing you can do when you are zonked in the first place!

8. Didn't bring my computer charger to my room, so I have limited battery power, to keep me from being online all night. Used that limited time to write an LJ update, such as it is, instead of just clicking through Facebook.

I'm not really an early adopter

I (fairly) recently got (relatively) psyched about Pinterest. Here are my boards!

I feel a bit sheepish about liking the site so much, and I totally get why this is so funny. It is a lot of "lifestyle" content, which I guess is insipid. I don't know. By being positive it feels aspirational and by being aspirational it feels constructive. What I think I mean is that the thing I like about it though is that so far I've only seen people posting things that they LIKE on there.

Which makes it basically an oasis from Facebook.

I do a lot of being infuriated about things Facebook for sure, but I think I also post a lot of things that I think are awesome and want to share. I've begun to unsubscribe from friends who only ever post about how stupid everything is. I am really burnt out on anger lately. I don't feel like it's a badge of honour to be flailing around in rage. I feel like I've been collateral damage to that kind of anger in my life and I'm just done with it.

HOWEVER. While I for sure have big time outrage fatigue, I'm also feeling exasperated with the whole "self care" mindset or whatever. Like you can sort of blow off responsibilities or even being a considerate person and everyone is like "Good boundaries. Good self care". And that ALSO drives me crazy. I see a LOT of bullying and selfishness rebranded as self-care, and I'm feeling pretty done with THAT, too.

I guess what I am saying is that I'm finding balance really hard lately. I don't know what it is reasonable to expect of people, and I don't know how to be strategic about taking stuff on that needs fixing. I don't know what is productive. And I want to be productive. That's what I am trying to expect of myself.

Mostly-naked in a music video. Yesssss.


This video was SO FUN to make (and also challenging and tiring!). We wrote the song (I wrote my own verses!) and recorded it last year. (It's on Jesse's amazing most recent album.) We shot the video in December, and released it on International Women's Day. We're hoping that IWD will eventually be re-branded "Bring Your Girlfriend to Rap Day". It's a lot catchier.

Strangely, the parts of the video where I'm only wearing a sheet are the ones I am LEAST self-conscious about.

Please pass the link around to anyone who likes any of these things:
Tap dancing
Muriel Duckworth references
Costume changes
Catching leaves
Women lying on train tracks
People in hot dog costumes
Handsome bearded men
Amazing raps

Thanks so much, littlegirltoast, for making a rap song and video with me. I love you!

Once upon a time

What do you think are some really great first line/lines of songs? Pretty much every song on Nebraska sucks me into the story right away.

Nebraska: I saw her standin' on her front lawn just twirlin' her baton. Me and her went for a ride sir and ten innocent people died

Atlantic City: Well they blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night now they blew up his house too.

State Trooper: New Jersey Turnpike ridin' on a wet night 'neath the refinery's glow, out where the great black rivers flow. License, registration, I ain't got none but I got a clear conscience about the things that I done

Reason to Believe: Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch. He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick

Man those are all so great. I want to read a short story based on each of them.

Do you like narrative in your music? What pulls you in?


Grabbed this from Jairus's sister Eternia's tumblr:

"Expressing your boundaries passively, such as withdrawal, triangulation, pouting & passive aggressive behavior, are extremely destructive to a relationship. Passive ways of showing people that they do not have control over you never lead to intimacy. They never educate the other on who you are, they only estrange.

Don’t use passive resistance. Don’t pout or withdraw. Say things like, "I do not feel comfortable with that. I do not want to. I won’t.

excerpt from Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

I'm not sure if I'd like this book, because it's Christian and peppered with references to god and the bible, but I do like this part for sure. I think it is really important to remember this!


I am forcing myself into grownup habits this week. It's really easy to lean on Jairus all the time, because he's always doing things like driving me on all of my errands and making me eat meals and stuff. But he's away in Montreal and Ottawa for the next few days, and I've been on my own. I miss him, of course, but I'm feeling good about the fact that in his absence I have been doing things like stocking up on TTC tokens, buying groceries, cooking meals, and making social plans with friends. I think fairly recently what I would have done instead would be staying up until 4am watching What Not To Wear on Youtube while surfing Facebook on my phone, alternating between eating these chips and spoonsful of Nutella.

I wish foresight and self-care were more intuitive for me, but I'm glad that I am at least developing the skill of being able to say to myself "Okay, I know you don't want to go out into the cold and get subway tokens and bread, but you do want to be able to eat, right? And get to work? Then hop to it, missy!"


I got my hair all cut off!
Donald Trump explains the plot of Citizen Kane to Errol Morris (perhaps without, it seems to me, ever having seen the movie?)

(From the amazing Wholphin, to which everyone should subscribe.)


+ I got some of these, and now the cupboard with storage shelves in my living room is now like a giant dresser! Oh goodness.

+ I am also using one of them as a makeshift laundry hamper, while I wait to find the laundry hamper of my dreams.

- I don't really have enough warm office clothes.

+ I am a total genius, because this owl IS the perfect place to keep grocery bags.

+ I had about a dozen people in my apartment on Sunday and it was completely great and comfortable!

+ My mom dropped off several boxes of things for me and there is some amazing Pyrex in there!

- I still haven't visited my grandmother since I got here. I have a mental block around it! (My mom's family is always fighting)

+ My artwork is mostly hung up at my house now, making it even more amazing.

- I still haven't painted my living room.

+ I've been doing great at sticking to a budget.

- I still need to do a lot of paperwork that I hate (taxes, passport application, parking permit application, driving record from Nova Scotia)

+ I had two short weeks at work!

- I had as much work to do on those weeks as I would have if they weren't short weeks.

+ I really like my job and co-workers. I am happily busy but overall rarely freaking out.

Did you meet your significant other or best friend on LiveJournal? Tell us your story!

First question listed was submitted by missgriim. (Follow-up questions, if any, may have been added by LiveJournal.)

View 340 Answers

Oh my god LJ what are you even doing to me with this.

Very very close to seven years ago today, I had my first real-time conversation with littlegirltoast, whose LJ I'd been so charmed by that I quickly added him on MSN messenger and was delighted to get to talk to.

I can't remember the date exactly, but I know it was four days after I got married. I just can't recall when I actually got married. Did I get married on the 5th and talk to Jesse on the 9th? Or was the 9th my wedding anniversary and I talked to Jesse on the 13th? Should a person know when they got married? Probably. A person should probably also not get a monster crush on someone else four days later.

I have thought about Jesse every day for seven years.

I was in Ottawa last weekend, and we spent as much time together as we could. We went out for dinner and I gave him his birthday present. We hugged a lot. We stood in the cold with our arms around each other's shoulders, sort of stalling and wanting to just be in the same space for longer. He picked me up, even, and commented that most of the ways he'd delight an 8 year old he could also delight me.

This weekend he's playing a show in Halifax for his birthday, and I won't be there.

The last birthday I missed of Jesse's was this one, also a rap show also in Halifax. I was supposed to go but I didn't and then we didn't meet for four months even though we lived four blocks apart because I don't know why.

I wish I'd gone to that rap show so bad.

I wish I was going to this one.

Have you ever listened to the Julia Sweeney autobiographical monologue "Letting Go of God"? In it, she talks about how it was SO hard for her -- even after she'd come to the conclusion that she didn't logically think there was a deity -- to actually stop believing in god. She said it was just too much of a change all at once. So what she'd do was set a timer, and for five minutes at a time, think "There is no god". Then she'd let herself go back to thinking there was. She sort of gradually built up the time until it was comfortable to be an atheist.

That's what I had to do about internalizing that Jesse and I weren't going to live in the same house anymore. It was too much of an overhaul to my reality to do all at once. It was a long process and I fought it every step of the way.

But my reality is overhauled now.

I miss Jesse most when it's about 4pm during the week. When I worked in Niki's office, I'd call home at around that time to tell him I was leaving soonish, and to see what he thought might be a good plan of what to do for dinner. But mostly I'd call because he'd be so silly and funny on the phone. Everything I said was a straight line to a joke, and we'd just enjoy each other and be goofy at each other well past the point where I just could have left the office and gone home. But it was so much fun (UNH) that I never wanted to hang up.

I feel like we take turns being disconsolate about the way things are now. A few weeks ago, Jesse wrote this about how sad it all is. I couldn't really read it all at once, but it didn't make me fall apart completely. But when I hugged him goodbye on my last night in Ottawa, I couldn't stop crying, and he was the more composed one. He said "It's okay. It's just like this now. We have finite time together." It just made me cry harder, but he had to go.

There have been so many times that one of us has been crying and the other one has to go.

New album of the day!

Thanks to culpster, I am listening to these guys today. This video is so completely endearing.

Of COURSE they are on 4AD. Everything on 4AD makes me SO HAPPY!


1. Print passport application.
2. Respond to everyone's nice LJ comments yesterday.
3. Buy a laundry hamper. Why is it so hard to find one I like? I guess because I want one like this?
4. Get things to help organize clothes on shelves.
5. Get boxes for DVDs.
6. Put up shelf for craft encyclopedia set that I scored at Value Village.
7. Make firm plan to paint living room.
8. Eagerly await this, to keep plastic grocery bags in!

Flunking out

Me and Zoe, kicking ass.
I said this in a conversation with grammardog tonight, and I want to repost it here, as a partial explanation about why I haven't updated very much lately:

I just feel like one personal disaster after another. And like everyone has to pretend to be happy for me at each giant change, like it doesn't also represent a giant failure.


I have started wearing dark silver eyeshadow and super-low-contrast (compared to my normal standards) lipstick. (I haven't started washing my hair, though, don't worry.)


10 things to do every day!

I forget what was on my old one! This is my new list of what I aspire to do every day.

1. Walk to work. I feel SO MUCH BETTER when I do this. I think my knee is very nearly well enough for this to be a reality again. Bonus: I actually get to sleep in if I want to walk, because my carpool with Josh and Jairus leaves at about 7:50 and I can leave at 8:30 if I want to walk (my work day starts later than Josh's).

2. Pick out my clothes for tomorrow the night before. I dread trying to assemble outfits in a rushed panic. When I wake up already having my clothes pick out, everything about my morning goes so much smoother.

3. Read one challenging article, all the way through. Preferably in one sitting. I am a curious person! I don't want my attention span to keep me from learning anything new. I know it's not the most lefty site in the world, but I often find long thoughtful pieces on Arts & Letters Daily.

4. Listen to one new album a day. Jesse has loaded me up with so much new music over the years (even going so far as getting a bunch of friends to send me new music for my birthday. So moving.), but I often get really blocked about checking out new stuff. I have been trying to figure out why this is. I think it's because I often turn to sound for comfort, and have been really craving familiarity on this front for a while. But I don't want to be one of those people who hasn't heard any new bands in the last ten years. So I'm hopping to it! I used to really like Yahoo radio for this, or Pandora. Because I'd get a mix of stuff I liked and stuff I would probably like. I discovered a lot of stuff this way. I find putting on whole chunk of stuff I won't know kind of overwhelming. Bleargh.

5. Make sure that before I go to sleep, my dishes are done and everything is in the garbage that needs to be. I feel self conscious typing that, but there it is! I'm really bad for doing something like taking the plastic off of a CD and then leaving it on the coffee table. Or letting my dishes pile up for a day or two, because I rarely have very many. But I feel like it would take me about 10 or 15 minutes a day to handle my garbage/compost/recycling and wash a sinkful of dishes. I will be happier if I do this!

6. Go to bed early. I have to just remind myself that going to bed early is the same as sleeping in, but in the other direction. I LOVE SLEEPING IN. Why do I hate going to bed so much?? Because someone might click-to-like something I posted to Facebook and I won't see it until the next day? DISASTER.

7. Brush my teeth before checking my email. I made this commitment and stuck to it for a several months before moving, and it really changed things for me. I don't feel like my day has really STARTED until I brush my teeth. I feel gross and morning-y and not really in my body. But also I of course want to check my email as soon as I wakeup (see above). So adding this incentive to teeth-brushing-first-thing was really great! It also kept me from doing what I would do sometimes when I got up to use the washroom, which was be all "Oooh but I might go back to sleep. I don't want to brush my teeth, that will just wake me up!" Because if I was awake enough to check my email, I was awake enough to brush my teeth! You know? Yes!

Oh wait! Here is my old list! Some of it is the same. I just went into WAY more detail this time. Okay, here are some additions from that list:

8. Check my bank balance. I worry way more about money when I have no idea how much I have. When I know what the situation is, I can plan for it. Uncertainty is what really wigs me out. But then I get too wigged out to actually check! Daft!

9. Post SOMETHING to my LJ. It doesn't have to be a giant personal essay, but there is so much stuff I post to Facebook with little-or-no comment every day. I could at least pull together a paragraph or two about how I feel about something and post it here, too!

10. Email a family member. Yes. This was on my last list and it really changed things for me. I got back in touch with an uncle of mine AND his amazing daughters who are now grown up! Family in Toronto! Amazing! I went to the baby shower of one of them on my second day in Toronto, and Jairus and I had dinner with them a few weeks later. This is so great.

I can't really explain how much I love this

But I have been watching it for about an hour now and I'm moved every time.

If makes me feel like everything is going to be alright.

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

Jack Layton wrote you a letter.

Freed, the West Memphis 3


They were such kids.

They're out!

It's so fucked up that they had to change their pleas. It's really moving to me that Jason Baldwin wanted to keep fighting, but didn't want to leave Damien Echols on Death Row (where he has been in solitary for ten years).

Oh I can't even believe it.

Zoe is SUPER into the front-loading washer at my new place

My kitchen is really lovely. I spend a lot of time in it.

Likely as an after-shock of a lung infection earlier in the year, I have Pityriasis Rosea. I am so itchy and scaly and I likely will be for a month or so.

I have been going to Value Village a LOT. Here are three Pony da Look CDs I got!

I got my hair cut!

I saw Cibo Matto!
I know I know I know. I get so behind on LJ. But I at least want to make sure I'm not falling behind on anyone who is still reading my posts and writing their own! So! Headcount, y'all!

How are you what is up?

Get well soon, Jack


I know he's not perfect but I still kind of love him.

He's stepping down for a bit as leader. They've found a new kind of cancer.

You can send a message by following this link. I feel like you'd be surprised by how much that would mean to him.

There's only love in this world.

me and jesse d
I also wanted to link to Jesse's post about how he's doing/feeling about this change in our relationship, in case anyone missed it. This isn't just something that is happening to me.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

Sun and spring
There is really no easy way to say this or type it or think it or feel it or live it.

I am in the process of moving to Toronto, without Jesse.

I don't know if this news will be surprising to people. I have been increasingly unhappy about living in Ottawa, and have wanted to move to Toronto for years.

For likely as long, Jesse and I have been struggling about how to balance our different needs and expectations around living together and having a romantic relationship.

We're both good people. We both love each other.

In some ways I feel like the biggest idiot in the world for not being able to make this work. How can two people who like each other so much end up in such an emotional stalemate? Why can't we just work harder? Why isn't it enough that we each want the other to be happy?

There are a lot of answers to those questions. The things that make each of us feel safe and secure are impossible for the other. We both feel rejected every day by one of the people we used to feel most love from. We're lost and cold and scared and exhausted. We want to have completely different lives.

But we love each other so much.

Compliments from Jesse fuel me and energize me. Making him laugh or knowing he is proud of me makes me feel like I am floating for days. He is handsome and principled and talented beyond measure. Meeting him changed my life, and I feel so lucky that I did.

We don't know exactly what happens now. We plan to find our way back to a relationship that meets both of our needs.

From my perspective, I hope we don't live in different cities for too long. I can't really handle thinking about going weeks without being able to crawl in Jesse's lap and feel his arms around me and hear him call me kiddo and feel the comfort that always brings me. But obviously there are a lot of factors in play, so even though Jesse does feel in some ways that Toronto is where he needs to be for music, he's not ready to uproot himself just yet.

So starting in August we'll have emails and gchat and phone calls and visits. Our cats will live at just my house. We won't have the same book collection, or mailing address. We won't really be a family the way we have been. Jesse won't have a "spouse" card for my medical benefits.

I hope we will be a different kind of family. Feeling like that is possible is what keeps me from falling apart completely.

I still fall apart a little bit, every single day.

This is all so hard. I feel like we've spent two years having pointless arguments and I regret it so much I feel like my heart is breaking.

I'm going to live in a small one-bedroom basement apartment at Bathurst and St. Clair. I will make it my own and live by myself and figure out who I am, what parts about who I am that I don't like, and how to change them.

I plan to spend a lot of time in parks. I also want to spend more time with friends, and in my body.

I expect to spend a lot of time feeling so much grief I think I might drown in it. I am trying to brace myself against that.

I'm also going to put energy into reconnecting with Jesse as much as we can. I want him to feel how much I love him. And like him. I want to be able to feel how much he loves me. And likes me. I want us to be best friends. I want to go on tours and to show each other art and to hate the same things and love the same things. I want us to be sounding boards and buoys for each other. I want us to still be some kind of team.

I don't know what that team looks like right now. I am trying to be okay with not knowing. But I'm not really okay at all. I can't really breathe when I think about it.

I want to be able to do better than this.

I will miss being us so much.

The power is in the vag

There is a really adorable little web series called Vag Magazine that I just find so hilarious. The premise is some third wavers use the proceeds from their Etsy store to buy a mainstream women's magazine and make it more feminist.

This is probably my favourite scene:

You can watch all six episodes here! They're only a few minutes long, so watching all of them takes less than half an hour. DO IT! Then tell me if you enjoyed it to, or think it is mean or unfair!

Dunes and beach and faces from strangers.

Jesse bought me an amazing new beatonna shirt that I wore the entire weekend we were away:

It might not have been the smartest choice for three days spent in a family trailer park (edit: it was a big campground with trailers and cottages.), but I don't care. It was funny to both of us every time we saw it or thought about it.

Also! I noticed an interesting thing! When I'd pass by a couple (with or without children), if there was any reaction at all it was typically this: the woman would scowl and the dude would grin.

The weekend was fantastic. We barbecued and campfired and finished the second Professor Layton game and swam in the water and stretched out on the sand and talked and talked and talked.
Sun and spring
EEEEE Jesse and I are going to the Sandbanks this weekend. I haven't been since I was a little kid, but every time we pass the exit to it on the way to Toronto I get so wistful. So we're going!



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