Beep, beep, beep, YEAH

I learned to drive at the relatively regular age of seventeen.

By this point in my life, my parents had split up, and both of them drove manual transmission cars. This meant that I either learned how to drive a stick shift, or, well, take the bus for the remainder of my days.

Now, driving may come naturally to many a-folk, but for me, the double whammy of being a new driver, and having to learn how to (properly) use a clutch, was a little overwhelming. I was the kind of kid that forgot which pedal was the brake, and which was the gas, much to the chagrin of every person who sat shotgun for the first couple of months of my driving career.

So throw in a third, very finicky, but very integral mechanism within close reach of these already confusing foot-operated instruments, and you had a pretty excellent recipe for disaster.

Recognizing the need for extra assistance, my mother signed me up for classes with the craziest driving teaching ever to grace the face of the planet.

First, the name guy’s was named Shaf.


Like, Shaft, but without the T.

Oh, and he didn’t have a last name.

(Also like Shaft.)

During our hour long sojourns about the city, I would sing in my head “SHAF! He’s one bad motherfu….”

(You can imagine just how concentrated I was on my education.)

Anyways, the problem with Shaf was that, without telling me as much, he was doing the majority of the shifting/gear changing during our time together.

This ended up giving me a crazy over-inflated sense of my own driving skills, so by the end of my third lesson, I thought that I had pretty much mastered every gear shift – not to mention the always trickiest thing to learn: getting the car going again WITHOUT STALLING after coming to a complete stop.

With my giant ego in full effect, I told my mother that I was ready to start taking out our car for real-life practice runs.

Luckily, she was still a little weary of just how far I could have progressed in a mere three hours, so she told me that I could take the car, but I could only drive around the parking lot up at UBC, and then the (maybe) five minute drive home, from the campus to our driveway.

Also, I would be accompanied by my older sister, so she could both supervise, and give me pointers and tips as needed.

Now, it should be mentioned here and now that Kate, though a terrific teacher, had recently undergone major surgery to repair a torn ACL, which made her competently incapable of taking over in case of an emergency.

Thinking back, I’m pretty sure my mother’s thinking was something along these lines:

Well, if Vanessa doesn’t know how to drive when I drop her off at the parking lot, she certainly will by the time she leaves.


Anyways, the afternoon ended up being a complete gong show and a half.

I right away realized that I really still had absolutely no idea what I was doing behind the wheel, and Kate, desperate and completely uncomfortable sitting in the passenger seat as I stalled six thousand times, just kept yelling out, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE!”

Wiser words were never spoken.

The drive home was harrowing and a half – I tried everything in my power to never actually stop, for fear that I would never get the car going again, and then somehow ended up parallel parking the car in our driveway.

But like all things in life, I eventually learned.

Up until recently, my long-serving and much loved steed.
Up until recently, my long-serving and much loved steed.

I passed my learner’s test of my first try (the fact that I did it on a standard is this silly little gold star in my life that will never, not make me smile), and then passed my graduated licensing test, also on my first attempt.

(Here in B.C. you are required to pass two tests.)

I even taught M how to drive stick shift in the early nascence of our courtship.

(I figure that’s a pretty good test of whether or not the relationship is made for the long haul.)

Now, I absolutely love driving, and can’t imagine myself ever commandeering anything but a manual car.

And sometimes when I’m behind the steering wheel, I still catch myself singing, “SHAF! You’re one bad mother…”

But only when I stall.

Which thank goodness, is rare indeed.

Understanding the order of things

I, like most people, have some pretty weird day-to-day habits (that may or may not border on compulsions.)

Nothing too severe or debilitating of course – just silly things that sometimes throw a crank in my style, or cause me to write using awkwardly mixed metaphors.

For instance –

I cannot abide nails longer then the ends of my fingers. Even if they come close, I have to cut them down.

When I played piano, I could never start to practice if I hadn’t brushed my teeth.

I’ve written before about how I have to take the same shower every time I step into the bath. At night, I floss, then brush, then wash my face, then moisturize, then put in my mouth guard.

I also have routines for cleaning the bathroom, folding laundry, and making the bed.

I “chew” hot drinks to cool them down.

I had to cut and re-paint my nails to keep from going mad.
I had to cut and re-paint my nails to keep from going mad.

There are others, I’m sure, but these are the ones that immediately spring to mind when I think about the routines I employ within my life.

They are processes that make me happy, and that help order and becalm my days (and my nights.)


You’ll never catch me trying to label them.

I just find that too many people (especially of late) like think it’s cool to claim they suffer from some kind of behavioral disorder or condition.

Words like ADHD or OCD are thrown around like baseballs or chakrams.

(Side note: I totally wish that I had a chakram.)

(OKAY FINE – I totally just wanted to use the word chakram.)



For example, how many times have you ever heard someone say an iteration of the following:

“ZOMG. I’m so ADD!”


“That’s just part of my OCD!”

Or what have you.

I mean, I really wish these people understood that these disorders aren’t sweaters one can casually model one day and then promptly shove to the back of their closets for the next six months.

These are legitimate conditions from which people suffer, and treating them like they’re accessories is a pretty solid way of stripping individuals – who actually spend their lives working through their symptoms (and as such, their consequences) – of the legitimacy they deserve.

And I understand that it’s hard, in particular when 1.) the individual doing the appropriation are likely doing so without malicious intent and therefore don’t fully recognize why what they’re doing could be harmful, because 2.) our society is pretty crap at educating people about these conditions (or really any illness in general.)

I mean, I’d wager a bet that if you typed in “why do I like to wash my hands?” into Google, you’d probably get a giant red banner screaming:


The second search result would most likely be: BECAUSE YOU HAVE CANCER.

(Off topic, but never, ever use the internet as a tool for diagnosis. Stick to cat videos and ermagherd.)

Anywho, what I’m trying to say here is that this lack of knowledge and discussion hurts everybody, and sometimes making silly little statements about our silly little lives can (unwittingly) hurts others.

And goodness knows I’m by no means a perfect example of this – this awareness is something I work on every day.

However, I sure am I’m hoping that one day it will become routine.

Professed love

So to continue the grand tradition of writing about all the amazing people in my life, today I am in the mood to celebrate my insane, bad-ass, genius of a husband.

You see folks, today Mr. M is graduating from Simon Fraser University with his Bachelor of Education.

Oh, and did I mention that he’s graduating at the top of his class? 

Chocolate apple and a card with an graduation owl on it!

That’s right! Today he will be honoured as the top graduate out of all the newly minted secondary school teachers.

If this were a mid-90s teen comedy, as he crossed the stage to collect his degree and medal, myself and my pack of gelled-hair, frosted tipped, mini-backpack wearing friends would simultaneously jump up and start yelling, “He’s number one! He’s number one!”

(I might yell out something different though – perhaps along the lines of, “I love you baby!” Before clasping my hands together underneath my chin, and letting my tears flow freely down my face.)

At this point EVERYBODY would start cheering, and the slightly disheveled, but ultimately cool dean standing on the stage next to M would just shake their head good naturedly (maybe even roll their eyes and laugh), and M would point to me in the crowd, shouting out something like, “We did it!” before throwing his cap into the air.

And then Smash Mouth would come out of nowhere and play us into the credits.

The dance party to end all dance parties would ensue.

End Scene.

Okay, so that’s probably not how it’s going to go down. But the sentiment is the same none the less.

I cannot really begin to explain how insanely proud and happy I am for M.

He is a phenomenal student.

He is a tremendous teacher.

His students love him.

(In fact, some of then are even in love with him.)

And at the base of it all, he is an amazing, hilarious, driven, beautiful, bonkers, inspiring individual who makes my life, and all the lives of the people he touches better.

He makes life glow.

So please, let this serve as a brief introduction to his brilliant man.

Here are some other interesting facts about this Swiss-Indian man to whom I have pledge my troth:

1.) He completed his undergraduate degree in Classical and Medieval Studies. (Or simply put – he is one gigantic nerdo.)

2.) After graduating he earned his journeyman carpentry ticket, and helped build the Olympic ski-jump for the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 games.

3.) He has read more books that probably everybody I know, combined. Dude is well read.

4.) And boy is he ever ticklish.

5.) He has horrifyingly dextrous toes. And I fear them. You should too.

6.) One of the first things I noticed about him were his calf muscles. Ooer, mama.

7.) My heart practically melts out of my feet whenever I watch him concentrating like a mad man as he plays Dead Souls. It is adorable and a half.

8.) Sometimes when he is late getting ready and I am (desperately) trying to get him out of the house, he’ll sit on the bed with his underwear on his head, because he knows it drives me up the bloody wall (but also makes me laugh.)

9. The man doesn’t know a correct song lyric for the life of him.

10.) He will change the world. He’s already doing it.

So there you have it!

And now we are off to celebrate this tremendous achievement of his, in style, with grace, and of course – great humour.

But no Smash Mouth. We’ll have none of that.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes

So, as many of you know, I take great pains to work against institutionalized misogyny every single day of my life (much to the chagrin of both my lifespan and mental health.)

Last night I went to a special screening of the movie Miss Representation, a film that, according to its website:

“Explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under representation of women in positions of power and influence.”

Now, being the hardened, calloused feminist that I am, much of the information presented in the film was pretty old hat – it wasn’t shocking or disturbing – instead it just served as a means to reinforce truths of which I am already (much too) aware.

That the patriarchy exists. That both men and women actively engage in the perpetuation of this system.

That the media makes millions of telling women that they are not good enough, and that they will they ever be good enough.

(And that they are worth nothing more than the sum of their physical parts – a conceit continually advocated by media conglomerates, advertisers, and the like.)

HEY LAIDEEZ! We even have chick chocolate now! Eat this and be a SEXY CHEEKY HOT FLIRT BECAUSE THE MENZ LUV IT.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film. (However I actually don’t think it’s really a type of film that you “like” or “don’t like.”)

I believe that it puts forth an incredibly important message – and one that should be talked about by all individuals, regardless of gender, which is that in order to change these destructive, social (and political, and cultural, etc., ) institutions we must, MUST work to empower both young women, and young men.

This is a two-pronged process.

If we hope to move ahead from the place where we find ourselves today, we must start promoting both agency and literacy amongst our youth, as these are crucial factors in terms of not only advancing the position of women in North America (and of course in other areas of the world) but of advancing our society as a whole.

Honestly, so much of it comes down to education.

And reading.

And the stories that are told.

Stories about humanity – not necessarily stories about “men” and “women.”

I mean, how else are youth going to engage with the idea of equality?

How else are they going to develop the critical thinking skills required to operate within the social systems that openly advocate and reinforce inequality?

My husband (who is one of the coolest feminists I know) is also an educator, and one of the hardest battles he wages with his students is trying to engage many of them in literature they study.

Seriously, he will tell you point blank: not many kids reads anymore.

And because of this, young people are less and less likely to dissect the different messages that bombard them twenty-four hours a day, through an ever growing number of media – be they traditional or new.

They are less likely to deconstruct the stories – the tropes, the stereotypes, the norms, the systems – they are exposed to each time they flip the channel or open that web browser (let alone question then!)

Because when we watch television, use the internet, listen to music – these are passive media. We are letting these things happen to us.

With reading you are problem solving, forming hypothesis, and working through content – (yes I am aware that this is highly dependent on the material you are engaged with – but on the whole, I’m apt to believe that reading is a much healthier intellectual pursuit that ye olde boob tube or the interwebs.)

And the great thing about reading is, you get to find out what you like, and then make informed choices from that experience – as opposed to being told what you like (which is basically the main reason that TV exists, and increasingly more and more the internet) and making decisions based on what you think is right for you, and not what you know is right for you.

(I honestly have no other explanation as to why anyone would ever sign up for reality TV.)

Now, I’m certainly not saying that as long as every kid grows up reading a book a week, engrained sexism is magically going to disappear.

Nor am I saying that TV AND INTERNET ARE BAD.

(I have made my feelings quite clear about that sometime last November.)

It’s just that when there is nothing to balance out, or neutralize so much of the awful messaging that plagues those two platforms, (platforms that are owned and controlled predominantly by old, white, men  – a group I would wager is predominantly adverse to change) it is incredibly difficult to evolve.

Instead, these norms are recreated and reinterpreted in perpetuity.

And that, as the movie successfully points out, is something that is hurting us all.

And this, unlike the movie, is something I don’t like.