Monthly Archives: July 2011


Lately I’ve been checking my lymph nodes a lot. I have a lot of stuff to do and I don’t want to get a cold. I am obsessed with not getting a cold. Every month I spend up to 50 dollars on snake oil products that are supposed to fight the sniffles. I do this even though I know that if Mama Sniffles wants ya, she’s gonna get ya.

Getting a cold is the adult version of being grounded. It means you can’t have fun for at least a week. But you can’t use the opportunity to take a time out from life and watch movies and drink gingerale. You have to do your work. You just have to do it joylessly.

The work I do is pretty fun, but it’s still work. I have tricks for making it more fun, though, such as smoking and, in the evenings, drinking. When I’m sick, the best things I have are Nicorette lozenges and hot toddies. Another thing that makes working fun is the prospect of seeing people during non-work time. That really keeps you going when there’s a lot of work to do. When you have a cold, you can’t do that.

Never seeing people is OK when you’re a kid or in a relationship or one of those magic people who can live with a best friend. It’s not so OK when you’re single and you live alone. Going out and seeing people is an essential part of the bachelorette life. Without that, you can start to feel like a crazy witch who feeds on her own filth. When the fever comes, you start to imagine that the whole world is dead and you are the only one left. For me, the only thing that can make that better is listening to “Hands Up” on repeat.

“Hands Up” is the musical equivalent of digging a security blanket out of storage. It is something you do during the wit’s end portion of a sickness, when comfort is way more appealing than dignity. This happens with colds, except, unlike with flus, you still have to go to work the next day. That means you have to get your dignity together in the morning. Unfortunately, your dignity is all rumpled and snotty because you peeled it off as soon as you got home and then used it to blow your nose.

Colds are probably better than flus, because they don’t kill you as often. But at least with flus you get to take a time out from life. Why don’t they make a cold vaccine already? They must have one already, but they’re not giving it to us because it would shut down the snake oil industry and put a lot of people out of work.


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When I was eight, I had a ghost club. The idea was to talk about where ghosts could be and then search for them, but it was like pulling teeth trying to get everyone motivated. One day I planned us a big search. I made an itinerary and came to school prepared by wearing a hockey helmet. People leaned over the railing and laughed at me as I walked up the stairs. The rest of the group didn’t want to search for ghosts after that.

That’s a shame, because can you imagine if we had found a ghost? It wouldn’t have been a real ghost, but we wouldn’t have known that. We were eight. Eight-year-olds want to believe in ghosts more than anything. Since they don’t know how the world works, it’s much easier for them to believe they’ve found a ghost. My window for finding ghosts is now closed, because I am an adult and I have a working knowledge of how the world works and it doesn’t include ghosts. If, at eight, I had convinced myself that I had found a ghost, I might be less of a skeptic.

A world haunted by ghosts would be awesome. Not just awesome in theory, but actually awesome. For one thing, ghosts are a way better thing to be haunted by than bed bugs. For another, if we were all haunted, we’d make way better small talk. Finally, the existence of ghosts would mean there is life after death. Wandering the earth trying to spook people is a lot better than nothing forever.

Believing in ghosts is a less flakey way of believing in an afterlife. It sounds weird, but imagine you were at a party and someone said, “Yeah, I totally believe in Heaven and Hell.” You would probably take them with a grain of salt after that. But if they said, “Yeah, I totally believe in ghosts. When I was eight I found a ghost and I’ve been haunted ever since,” you would probably be interested in hearing more about it. It might even make them more attractive.

You can’t really be an adult and just start believing in ghosts, unless a seriously ghostly thing happens to you. But I doubt seriously ghostly things actually happen. The only way to believe in ghosts is to find one as a kid. I suppose if you had a near-death experience as a kid you could keep believing in Heaven and Hell. But that would require you to almost die, and that’s not something any eight-year-old should go through.

So it’s very important for eight-year-olds to be proactive members of ghost clubs, for their future peace of mind.

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The difference between what you say and what you write

Some people love offending people, but I don’t. Offending people makes me feel bad. In theory, I don’t care about causing offense if I’m sure I’m right. But I’m never sure I’m right. I just sometimes run out of time to deliberate.

When I’m talking to friends, I don’t care that much about whether I’m right or not, because I know I’m not going to offend anybody. Talking without being right is even a genre of talking. If I say, “People who don’t like Paul McCartney hate happiness,” or “Young parents have contempt for all the humanity that isn’t their kid,” it should be pretty clear that I don’t actually believe in what I’m saying. I’m just expressing my feelings and amusing myself.

Friends can listen to you say crazy things and trust that you’re not actually crazy. But if you write something crazy, and someone who doesn’t know you reads it, they’re not necessarily going to trust that you’re not crazy. So, if you don’t want to offend anyone, don’t write crazy things.

Sounds easy peasy, but it’s actually complicated, because not all the things you say to your friends are totally crazy. Some are only half-crazy, like “Men these days are bums.” That statement is a bunch of crazy orbiting a bit of truth. I think.

You can riff on things for years without ever worrying about the crazy in them, as long as you’re just talking to your friends. But when it comes to writing that stuff down for people who aren’t your friends, I think you should try to separate the crazy from the not crazy. This sounds like a no-brainer, but tons of people don’t do it. Also, it’s probably easier said than done. If you try to separate the crazy from the not crazy, you might start to wonder if you’re just plain crazy. Every opinion you have is crazy to someone.

To take a strong position on anything is crazy, in a way, because no one has all the answers and it’s crazy to pretend that you do. But no one likes a waffly joe. That’s why there are deadlines.

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Choosing pizza

A few months ago, I was sad about a breakup and I lost some weight. People said, “Boy, you lost weight, eh? You look good.” They meant only the best in saying it, but I still wish they hadn’t, because, obviously, I gained all the weight back once I felt better.

I should say right now that I am not, by any reasonable measure, overweight. But I worry about my weight like everyone else under the sun. I worry about my weight, then I get a slice of pizza on the way home.

Many a time I have wondered whether it’s worth it to cut out the ‘zza and instead fit into all the clothes I want to fit into and hear people say, “Boy, you look good.” It’s a difficult decision to make. Fitting into your clothes is awesome, but ‘zza is the hallmark of life lived to its fullest.

I am gonna have to go with ‘zza. I have lived life as a skinny person and it sucked. I never ate anything and thought about food all the time. I sat out evenings that would have been fun because I didn’t want the calories from booze. Before I got skinny, I ate tons of ‘zza and grew a little paunch because of it. I had the same boyfriend at both times, and he never expressed a preference. He would have been crazy to prefer me skinny, because I was a total bummer the whole time and I never wanted to do it.

The worst thing about being skinny, though, is that being skinny doesn’t stop you from feeling ashamed about your weight. I felt more ashamed about my weight when I was skinny. Shame should at least have a good cause, like the consumption of too much ‘zza.

It’s a bummer to not be able to fit into clothes. But I’m going to keep them just in case something terrible happens in my life and I lose a ton of weight.

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Hanging out with me

When I was a teenager, I would go on walks and listen to music and think about stuff. Not important stuff, just stuff like how good the music was. It was fun, but I always assumed the missing ingredient was a person I cared about to share it with me. Well, I was wrong. What I actually wanted was a clone of myself to ping back my exact thoughts and then be silent while I listened to my music.

Recently I’ve realized how much fun hanging out with me is. Turns out I always want to do exactly what I want to do. On Sunday, for instance, I bought the paper and had brunch by myself. It was the brunch I’ve always wanted to have, but never did because there was always someone across the table from me. I can’t be across the table from someone and not feel obligated to talk to them, even if it’s clear that neither of us wants to talk.

I don’t always not want to talk. Often when I’m reading, I want to talk about whatever I’m reading as though the person across from me is reading it too and having the exact same reaction. In other words, I want to talk to myself. And it is a terrible thing to talk to yourself through someone else.

There are drawbacks to always hanging out with me. I get obsessive about things when there’s no one to tell me to shut my trap and get over them. I get too confident about notions that other people would challenge. Also, sometimes I end up talking to myself in public. People say that’s normal, just like they say you shouldn’t care what other people think. But I do care what other people think and I don’t want to be known around my neighbourhood as the girl who’s always talking to herself.

Not being accountable to anyone, ever, is not actually that healthy in the long run. People think that only through being alone can you get to know the real you. In fact, you are not the only judge of the real you, unless the real you is the person who scratches her ass and yells at the newspaper and flips aimlessly through strangers’ Facebook pages. Hopefully the real you is also hanging out with people and trying to do right by them. Sorry, but other people get to judge that you.

People also think that being alone takes great inner strength. In fact, being alone is incredibly easy. Being alone means doing whatever the heck you want. You can ruminate over whatever nutty things you want to ruminate over and do whatever stupid things you want to do. You can’t live your whole life that way. It’s pretty fun, though.

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The problem with porn

I have a million things to say about porn, but I’m not going to say most of them here. I’m just going to talk about one problem I have with porn, which is that I find it very difficult to watch. Not for political reasons, but because watching porn makes me feel like I am missing out. I don’t want to watch people having fun that I’m not having. It actually hurts.

I have such a strong reaction to porn that porno scenes are pretty much concentrate for me. I comb for a few choice ones every couple of years, and they become my standbys for the next couple of years. I try to mash them together with things I have done or could conceivably do, as well as people I have done or could conceivably do. It still hurts, because in real life it’s never quite the same.

I think some people are good at compartmentalizing fantasy and reality, but the gaping chasm between the two really disturbs me. Again, I don’t mean politically. I’m generally OK with consensual sex that is gross out of context. I mean experientially. Here is an example: when I was eighteen, lots of older guys would hit on me because I looked so innocent and corruptible. At the time I had an inkling that I wanted to be corrupted, but I was too scared to let anyone do it. Had I not been scared, these men probably would have been. Now that I am fine with being corrupted, I am too old to corrupt. I am definitely older than lots of the porn actors I have watched.

Even when I do manage to get porny things done in real life, it often feels like I’m just doing it so that I can be the star for once, and not some wallflower twiddling myself on the sidelines. In real life, porny stuff can sometimes be distracting. You kind of look forward to the vanilla portion of the boning, when you have room to reflect on what you just did.

No matter how much fun you have with your body, the brain has to make the orgasm happen by screaming weird shit at you. The brain can’t work right when the body’s all haywire. What I’m trying to say is that sex is a brain-body endeavour, and the brain is a complete asshole about the whole thing. It makes the body bring it fodder and then hoards it.

Maybe that’s why porn is so difficult to watch. It’s a reminder to the body that the brain doesn’t need it to get off. The body always needs the brain, though.

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Why babies make me uncomfortable

Yesterday I held a baby for the first time. He had some goo in his eye, but boy did he have tiny hands and feet. At the time I kept thinking about Eraserhead (note to the mother of the baby: he does not look like that baby, I just like that movie), but the guy was pretty darn cute.

However, holding a baby is a terrifying experience. I have no idea how people can be so cavalier about it. You are holding something that is incredibly breakable and that someone loves more than life itself. And it is squirming like it hates you and wants to jump.

This gets at what makes me uncomfortable about babies: I feel like I just couldn’t do right by one. Every time I go near a baby, a chorus of phantom mothers starts screaming in my head to stop. Stop what, I don’t know. There are a million ways to accidentally harm a baby. Just being myself around a baby would harm it. A baby requires quiet reverence, and I just don’t know if I can do that.

Then there is the part about people loving babies more than life itself. To the mother, the baby is a frothy mix of God and self and love. I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire of those vibes. They are eerie to an outsider. Mothers have insane relationships with their babies that I could never begin to understand, and that makes me feel sort of ashamed. I think this will be way worse in twenty years, when all my friends are nattering on about life in the magic world I missed the boat to.

But this mother is cool, and meeting her baby was pretty awesome. I didn’t even get weirded out when she breastfed. Actually I did kind of, just because I have only ever done that sort of business with grownups and that’s a completely different thing that I don’t want to think about around a baby.

Actually, I don’t want to think about anything I normally think about around a baby. That’s my point.

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