Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mom: 2 Nat: 0

The scene: Nat is trying on dresses for a wedding and her mom is helping. Nat tries on a strapless dress.

Mom: This one's my favourite so far.

Nat: Mine too, I think.

Mom: But if you buy it, you might want to think about getting some colour on your skin.

Nat: I have colour!

Mom: Nat, translucent is not a colour.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A matter of perspective

I have a friend who possess an uncanny knack for pointing out truths, even if we don't want to hear them. He recently made a very wise observation that got me thinking. A co-worker had been talking about how busy she is at work. She mentioned how she was already working a ton of overtime but people kept piling more and more demands on her. At the same time, there was someone else in the same position in another area of the company who seemed to not have as much to occupy her time. Our co-worker was going to go to her manager to say she couldn't handle any more tasks, and to suggest a good portion of her work be handed off to the less-busy colleague because "she just sits and plays computer games all day, anyways."

Clearly, our co-worker was overworked and very frustrated and needed some help. However, as my friend pointed out, she didn't need to bring down the colleague when she asked for help. She could say that she had too much to do, yes. She could request help, sure. Hell, she could even suggest that the colleague might be able to take on some of the work. But pointing out that the colleague was just sitting there playing games helps no one out in the situation. In fact, it just might make circumstances much worse for the colleague.

And who knows what's really happening? Perhaps the colleague plays the games on her scheduled breaks and that's when our co-worker walked by. Perhaps she was playing the game in a rare down-time moment between meetings. Or perhaps she was playing them because she didn't have enough to do at work and would welcome an increased workload. My friend pointed out that we had no way of knowing the whole situation, so why even get into it?

Why bring other people down when the problem is with ourselves?

I realized today that I do this all the time when I read blogs or when I talk to friends about their problems. I'll read about a man who suffers from depression and he'll talk about his wife and how wonderful she is and how she helps him through the dark days. And instead of thinking, "How awful for him," I'll think, "What's he complaining for? At least he has someone!" Or I'll read about a woman who has postpartum depression and I'll think, "How can she be depressed? She has a husband with a good job, lots of money, and a baby! What more could a person ask for?" Or I'll talk to a friend who has issues with people and I'll think, "Gawd! I'd LOVE to have all the people she has around her constantly! I'd love living with 2 friends and having very little Me Time. Sounds like heaven! Why is she so upset?"

Because of my friend's comment to our co-worker, I can see now how I'm doing exactly what she did. I'm having some issues with my own life and I bring others down with me. I look at their lives and see how they have all the things I want and I conclude that they're just not appreciative enough, that they just don't know how good they've got it.

Yet I have a lot of things other people would want, and I take these things entirely for granted.

For example, I got home from work today, watched Arrested Development, had a nap, ate cheese, crackers, and a cold leftover hamburger patty for supper, and wrote this blog entry - all without pants on. I didn't HAVE to cook or clean anything for anyone. The only demand made on me was Lucy's incessant "Pay attention to me" bleating, and I shut her up with a handful of kitty treats and a comfy lap to nap on.

What did I do this weekend? Friday night I went drinking beer for so many hours that by the end of the night I had to close one eye to see properly. Saturday I slept until noon and then hung out with my mom. Sunday I went for brunch with friends, hung out at a public pool, and went to another friend's house to watch the football game.

My life isn't horrible. In fact, it probably is the envy of at least ONE person out there. Right now someone feels trapped in a marriage to a person he doesn't like. Someone else is being disowned by her entire family because she just came out to them. An introvert is being forced to attend yet another dinner party. I'm saying none of this to take away from how I feel about my life - my feelings are very real and entirely legitimate - but, rather, to give myself some perspective.

I realize that I'm lucky to have someone like my friend to help me see things differently. Some people may not even have that much.

Clear skies in the distance

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mom: 1 Nat: 0

The scene: Nat is over at her mom and step-dad's for a Sunday barbeque

Nat: You two should get a dog. I like other people's dogs.

Mom: Well, I like other people's kids. You should have a baby.

Nat: Umm...touché.

That's all I've got today so I'll leave you with this song that I'm currently in love with. It woke me up one morning on the radio and I was happy for the rest of the day.

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weighty issue

So Facebook totally thinks I'm fat and I don't know why. Well, besides the obvious "because I am." But how does it *know*?

The reason I know Facebook thinks this is because there are always little ads on the left-hand side of the page saying things like, "33 and overweight? Special study of an ancient asian root allows a safe loss of up to 30 lbs over a three month period!" or "Are you in your 30s and want to lose weight?" with a picture of some hideously obese woman.

I know why they know I'm a woman and I know why they know I'm 33 but HOW DO THEY KNOW I'M FAT?

Speaking of losing weight, ever since Earth Day (April 22), I have set my alarm earlier than necessary and hauled my ass out of bed. I've thrown on sweats or shorts, a t-shirt, and a hat. I've slurped down some yogurt and then laced up my runners and gone either for a 5 kilometre walk around the lake in my city or I've gone to the gym and ellipticalled until I can't elliptical any more.

I'm doing this for a very dumb reason. In fact, it's so dumb that I'm not going to get into it here. Let's just leave it at I want to prove a friend wrong. But, if a side benefit of all this dumbness is that I'm a healthier person, who cares how dumb the reason is, right? Whatever gets me out of bed in the morning!

The walk itself is extremely beautiful. Yes, it's a man-made lake and yes, none of the trees are here because of nature, but it's still really really pretty! Don't believe me? Here are some pictures.

Map of the park

The fountain they added to provide some water circulation
and our legislative building in the background

Always with the geese

There was some sort of rowing thing on the lake

Who cares if they're hand-planted - they're still pretty!

Did anyone actually think fishing in this lake was a good idea?

Wait a minute - that's not lake water, is it?

I wonder, though, how much weight I'll have to lose before morons stop shouting things out their car windows at me. Things like, "Hey fattie!" or " Wide load!" or "Look out! Earthquake!" or other equally encouraging comments. Sometimes I really dislike people.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Only connect *

"It's been a year and I'm not sure it's helping," the alien thinks. She sighs, takes a sip of water, and absentmindedly scratches a mosquito bite on her thigh.

The alien was sent on her mission just over 33 years ago but she's been having some difficulty sorting out all the information she's taken in.

And so, one year ago today, she decided to try a blog.

Many times since her mission started, she's wanted to give up. Can you blame her? She doesn't know why she's here. All she knows is that she was sent here and she's staying until she's learned what she needs to learn.

But the alien is painfully lonely. It's not as if she hasn't made an effort. Just the other day, she was out trying to learn more about the humans. She went to the pub and drank the beer and tried to fit in. When the females talked about giving birth and about what body parts they would fix if they could and about weddings and shopping and shopping for weddings, she sipped and smiled. When the males talked about renovations and the money market and which women wanted to sleep with them, she smiled and sipped. When Male 1 hinted that Male 2 didn't like women - that he liked men - and everybody laughed and Male 2 got angry, the alien really tried to see why that was funny. When everybody started talking about which golf courses were the best, she pictured herself...no. The alien will never understand golf.

As much as the she would like to give up on this whole mission, she knows she can't. She would miss beer. She would miss music. She would miss the smell of rain and the sound of wind blowing in the trees and the way ducks stick their bums in the air when they bob under the water for food.

The alien feels something brush against her ankle and she looks down. "How could I forget?" she says, scratching the cat behind its ear. She watches Lucy - dear, cute, annoying Lucy - stalk and kill a mosquito and knows she would miss her cat dearly.

She would miss the human family that took her in all those years ago. They are the best, kindest, most loving people she's encountered on the planet. In her years approximating a human, she's made many mistakes. She's modeled herself after some rotten examples. She's been mean, deceitful, ugly. They've forgiven her.

If she quit now, she'd never again see the beauty that is out there. She can't really remember what home looks like but she knows it's not beautiful like this. It can't be.

"Home. There's a funny word," the alien thinks. What is home? Where is home? She doesn't feel like she belongs here among the humans, but she's never really known anywhere else. She's studied humans to try and understand them but she feels so completely alone. The humans notice things she doesn't. They look at a person and notice her eyes are too close together, that her pores are too large, that her lips are too thin. They notice her pants aren't the right colour or shape and neither is her body. Try as she might, the alien doesn't see these things.

The humans have different values, too. The alien knows that money is important and that she needs it to sleep in her apartment and eat strawberries and sushi and chocolate (all excellent inventions), but she doesn't understand why the humans always want more and more and more of it. And some of them aren't happy with more, either - they want it without having to work for it. They want fame to go along with their fortune and...she just doesn't get any of it.

Everyone is so ambitious and dissatisfied and they're missing the best part of being human. They're missing each other. Not everyone and not always, but still, they miss connecting. The alien gets up and paces. She's done it a few times - she's made that connection - and each time it's been magical. There's that second she looks into someone's eyes and she can see the naked light that is who they really are, and she knows everything is going to be just fine.

The alien has discovered over the past year with her blog that you can even make that connection over the internet with people and eyes you can't see, and it's given her a bit of hope. No, the alien will not give up, despite her loneliness.

"There are too many things I would miss," she tells Lucy. Lucy purrs in agreement. "Sure could do without the mosquitos, though. Fuckers."

* From Howards End by E.M. Forster