The good, the bad, and the ugly

Yesterday I saw a real live cowboy.

This was awesome.

Yesterday I ate mesquite bbq, and black pepper and balsamic vinegar potato chips before heading out on my training run.

This was a mistake.

Thank goodness it was only a six km route, because there’s nothing quite like feeling as though you’re going to ralph at any minute from overdoing it on the heavily seasoned deep friend tubers.

Urg.

I even know how bad I am wrecking myself as I sit there, munching away, but being the classic masochist that I am – I just keep on keeping on.

And it’s not like this is some kind of rare occurrence (although thank goodness it is (slowly) becoming less of a regular thing in my life as I am making more of an effort to regulate my diet leading up to my next long race.)

Irrespective of all this though is the fact that I’ve been knowingly ingesting ticking time-bombs since I started running at the age of eleven.

Someday I’m going to learn my lesson – and but good (and believe me, after the tight spots I’ve found myself over the years, I am terrified to find out what exactly it’s going to take to get me to finally smarten up. ACK.)

In the meantime, I keep calm and carry on.

FRY-UP TIME!

First on the docket:

Individuals who run downtown on their lunch break.

OKAY.

Seriously?

You are actually doing this? You are actually going to let this happen? I mean, I will (barely) give you a pass if you choose to jog along the seawall, but on the sidewalk on Hastings Street? In the bike lane on Horby?

Get out of here.

Running in place at red lights; weaving in and out of the mass of walkers (many of whom are just trying to get back to their office with their take-out fish tacos in peace – or at the very least, in one piece); and stretching in your spandex in your building’s courtyard?

NO.

Look, I get it.

I like running. In fact, I LOVE running. Plus, I understand that it takes a firm commitment to keep in shape, especially if you are a busy professional. It can be a tricky balancing act.

But it is possible to do this without acting like a total arse betwixt the hours of twelve and two.

And look at it this way:

Who wants to be breathing in that kind of exhaust when they are exercising? Who wants to be stopping every thirty seconds waiting for the red light to change?

Also, and these are legitimate questions for those who do work out at lunch: how do you manage to work up a sweat, but not work out that hard so that you’re sweating for the next two hours once you’re back at work? And what about showering? How does that factor in? And when the bloody hell are you actually eating?

Either way, just don’t do it.

Work through your lunch, leave an hour early, and hit the pavement somewhere where you’re not tripping others up, or traipsing from Cactus Club to Cactus Club in your sweatbands, sweatpants, and lululemons.

Check-it.

Next!

2. This is not an amusement park ride.

What is up with people and escalators?

I don’t understand those who refuse to walk (when it’s a single capacity escalator) and those who choose to walk on those that are double capacity and then stop once the track reaches either the top or the bottom of the ramp.

WHY SIR/MADAME? WHY DO YOU DO THIS?

Because, you see, I’m still walking – because that’s the commitment I’ve made as an escalator walker – and as such, I will knock into you (and maybe even step on the back of your shoe.)

Because, you see, I expected that you too, would, AS A WALKER, you know, keep moving.

And then, should they get all snippy and grouchy at me, muttering about how, “I should watch where I’m going!” I will have to bite my tongue from bellowing: “You chose to walk! YOU MUST LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE!”

Seriously, it’s a good thing that my cheery disposition overrides all of my murderous rage, because if it didn’t, I would be dextering peeps left right and centre. DAILY.

NEXT!

3. Long lost reunions.

Today I am having lunch with my grade eleven English teacher and I am SO EXCITED.

As an educator she was darn rad – super engaged, extremely enthusiastic, plus totally committed to her students. I was pretty off the chains that year, and I’m fairly certain there were a couple of weeks where every single morning she asked me if I was okay.

I know that I told her that I was fine (every single morning) – but just knowing that she cared enough to ask was something that I took to heart.

Plus seeing everything that M does to prepare for his classes/make his lessons fantastic gives me a really solid understanding of what goes into being a terrific teacher – insight I definitely didn’t have as the drama queen teenager that I was.

My respect for those who put their heart and soul into education really knows no bounds.

Going into this long weekend, it’s so bonkers to think that we are already at the start of September. This summer has absolutely flown by. August turns to autumn, and I’m already on the lookout for crunchy leaves to step on as I fly about town.

I’m just looking for the right wind to carry me away.

Diet Coke thinks I’m extraordinary? Well isn’t that refreshing!

I saw this advertisement last Friday whilst out on my lunch break:

My immediate reaction?

I think I can in a can? Or I think I’m fat in a can?

I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING THERE COKE.

Now, full disclosure: I drink diet Coke. I drink diet Pepsi, or Pepsi Max or Coke Zero, or whatever other aspartame-infused sodas you care to name. And as any of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, I have no qualms at all about admitting this fact.

My drinking patterns are sporadic – I’ll go for a couple of months without a sip, and then start drinking two to three cans a day without so much as blinking an eyelash. These habits are something I’m cognizant of, but not something of which I lend much weight.

Apologies to any Colorado Avalanche fans out there, but in the words of Todd Bertuzzi*: it is what it is.

(*Now I’m no fan of Mr. T. Bert by any stretch of the imagination – or as I like to call him: Hobo with a Slapshot – he’s just the first thing that pops into my mind whenever I think of that turn of phrase.)

However, to get back to diet Coke and my relationship with this product- the fact remains the same: this penchant I have for these drinks is one of the last remaining holdovers from the years I spent as an anorexic and bulimic.

And because of this, I have a hard time disassociating these drinks from a very painful, very unhealthy part in my life.

Now I know there are tons of men and women who live all across the globe, who lead perfectly healthy lives (or within the parameters of “healthy” – as goodness knows the definition of this term seems to be malleable as heck) who may drink a diet Coke every now and then.

Who knows, maybe there are individuals out there who shot-gun the stuff all the live long day that have zero food/body hang-ups (not to mention faulty brain wiring – like those cats who eat chalk and pillow stuffing), but I would be hard pressed to believe it.

However, of this I’m sure: people ingest things for a whole myriad of reasons, and it would be naive, and rather asinine on my part to assume that because I a.) had an eating disorder and b.) drank these drinks during this time in my life that c.) all people who drink diet pop have eating disorders.

That would be a gross misinterpretation of the Pythagorean Theorum. And a logical fallacy. And just plain silly.

However, it would also be silly of me to ignore the fact that I live in a society that is majorly messed up when it comes to diet, body perception, and self-esteem – indeed, every time I seem to open an newspaper (HAH! Like that ever happens – excuse me, I meant to say: every time I surf on over to the NYT or Globe and Mail or Jezebel.com) I am told again and again about how obsese/anorexic/sendentary/over exercised/stressed out/insecure we are as North Americans, and how we need to fix it using ABC without having to give up XYZ.

It’s madness.

Just the other day I read about a new study released by Emery University in Atlanta Georgia that found that the number of U.S. children who drink sugar-free beverages has doubled in the past decade and that one-quarter of the adult Americans surveyed said they’d had a diet drink in the past day.

And reading this, I cannot help but question what role diet Coke (and by proxy its marketing stratagems and campaigns) plays within our omnipresent constant shame/constant gratification Franken-culture.

Sure, diet Coke isn’t exactly Airstrip One’s Victory Gin, but it’s not small potatoes either. And as such, when I see this ad, I don’t see personal empowerment in a can, I see this:

Have your Coke friend! But statistics tell me that you’re probably fat – or in some way aesthetically unappealing (or at the very least you THINK you’re not good enough!) so don’t have a real Coke (those are only for Olympic athletes and Mark Ronson) – have a diet Coke instead! But it’s totally your decision to drink it – and totally not ours, and certainly not a reaction to cultural norms! YOU’RE taking charge, YOU know what you want! Just one sip and you can take on the world, calorie-free!

(But first, go to the gym, because you totes need to work out first.)

Okay, so this may be a bit over-dramatic and a bit too sardonic – my m.o. might be to approach this dialogue with a heavy hand (heavy tongue?) but I can’t help it.

My experience colours my perception, and this is my honest interpretation.

And for that I will not apologize.

What about you folks? What kind of reaction does this sort of advertisement evoke on your end of things? Do you drink diet pop? Why or why not?

In the mean time I’m going back to my I KNOW I can in a bag:

NOM.

I dream. Sometimes I think it’s the right thing to do.

Guess what friends?

This is my one hundredth blog post!

YOWZA!

Heavens to Betsy, I can hardly believe it.

I started Ye Olde Rant and Roll last October, because I was missing creative writing something fierce.

I was already writing a boat load for work- including blogging three times a week – so I figured if I had the stamina to keep it up at my job, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t stick to a schedule of writing three times a week for fun.

(Hilarious almost typo. I first wrote “fur” instead of fun. I most definitely would not write three times a week for fur.)

At first all of my posts were Rants. (Definitely capital R.)

There was bad stuff going down all over the world, including in my own back yard, and I wanted to draw attention to those issues.

I had a voice – I might as well use it.

This was fantastic for the first little while, until I realized that I wasn’t totally worked up about issues all the live long day. I didn’t have enough things grinding my gears to produce three posts a week.

Plus, amazing, intriguing, inspiring things were happening on an almost daily basis – brilliant things were going on, and they were affecting me as much as the other issues I was discussing.

Write, write, write, write!

So gradually, I began to explore different sides of the world, and my life, through this here blog spot.

I started writing about fashion. And food. I wrote more about my life with Mr. M and our little beauty cat Nymeria.

I wrote about past travel plans, vacation adventures as they were happening, and I’ve hinted about expeditions that will soon be coming down the pipe.

(Mixed metaphor? Oh well, I’m owning it.)

I’m chronicling my progression to Tough Mudder status, unpacking my love-hate relationship with professional hockey, and singing the praises of my always entertaining family, my brilliant friends.

BUT! One the most important elements of this insanely wonderful ride is I’ve had the chance to meet all you rad-freaking-tastic readers and writers.

And I love that I get to have a glimpse into your lives, your stories, your rants and your rolls.

I’ve started writing upwards of five times a week because I feel so honoured to be a part of this amazing community, and I just get so jazzed the heck up all the time about stories that, well, jazz me the heck up!

This is how you dudes and dudettes make me feel!

A couple of you have asked me where I got my nickname from. So prepare yourselves for a thrill!

Well, almost three summers ago I worked with two beautiful young ladies, both the same height, one brunette and one blond. One day I made a joke to another colleague about them being Betty and Veronica. He turned to me and asked, “well, what does that make you?”

“Um,” I said. “Well…I’m tall, and lanky, and pretty nerdy. So – I guess that makes me Ethel?”

And it did. To many, many people from that day forth, I was Ethel.

The second part stems from a lunch break I had the day after I defended my Master’s thesis. I spent the whole time describing my research to a co-worker. At the end of my (ahem) rant, he asked me if I would rather he call me “doctor” or “the dean.”

“The dean,” I said.

So there you go. The birth of Ethel the Dean!

And to mark this auspicious occasion, if there are any other questions you have about my bonkers life, I’d be happy answer them.

(To an extent. Or for fur.)

Between a rock and a hard place

Hey friends –

Does anyone have some extra coffee beans to share? I’m feeling lethargic as all get out, and the idea of round-the-clock java is becoming more and more appealing each time I blink (because for serious, the levers on my eyelids don’t seem to be working at the efficiency I am used to around here. Can I also get some WD-40, stat?)

For the past week I’ve been running myself ragged at the gym, (DAMN YOU TEAM AMERICA! Your inspiration will be the death of me!) pretty much to the point that I am almost too exhausted to sleep at night .

I know, I know – this sounds absolutely absurd, but it’s true. As of late I am having a heck of a hard time getting (at the very least) an uninterrupted six hours of sleep. Add this to the fact that we had a full moon last night and well, it’s a feat and a half that I actually managed to catch a dozen winks (let alone forty.)

Walking to transit today my mind was in a bit of a fog. Standing on the platform, I felt like a living statue, hard-rooted to the structure of the station, the tracks, the rails – waiting for a ride I couldn’t possible ever take, bolted in place.

I wish I could say that this meditative mood had lasted the entire ride into work.

Seeing this I though 1.) Man, Nashville`s uniforms are pretty ugly...2) Wait, - this article is about what!?

This, alas, wasn’t the case. In truth, I was blasted from “blasé” to “blazing” in two seconds flat, from the minute I sat down and unfolded my Metro newspaper and saw this:

Now, in case you cannot read anything beyond the headline (due to the overall crap quality of my phone’s camera) it must be pointed out that, unfortunately, this is not an article covering the dynastic civil wars for the throne of England that were fought betwixt 1455-1485 by two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet (whose heraldic symbols were the “red” and the “white” rose, respectively).

I mean, it’s totally easy to see how one would jump to this conclusion, right? Because in truth, what else could the author possibly be referring to?

Sometimes, my naiveté astounds me.

So it would seem as though Canada is finally making that last fateful leap into the twenty-first century (or you know, fully endorsing the complete – moral and otherwise – bankruptcy of humanity) by getting it’s very own edition of The Bachelor.

Ugh.  Just typing those words makes me feel like I need to go barf in someone’s shoes.

Now, it’s no stranger to those who read this blog that I am a pretty big (self-fashioned) champion of women’s rights, both here in my native land, and across the globe.

That I live in a patriarchy is a truth – that I refuse to be silent about it, is another.

To me, there is pretty much nothing as blatantly anti-women as this shit-stain of a show.

This is how I look at it:

Let’s take a notion, one that is not only incredibly antiquated and destructive, but also pervasive, accepted, and continually propagated: that a women should find love, at whatever the cost, whether it be through public humiliation, or violence against others, or by fulfilling degrading and infantilizing stereotypes – because sweet mother of pearl, the fleeting, scripted affection of some third-rate sports start/actor/steel conglomerate tycoon is better than nothing, AM I RITE LADEEZ?

Let’s take this notion, exploit it, profit hugely off of it, and then make it seem as though we were doing the contestants a favour, because they’re all just back-stabbing, fame-whoring, ditzes, who were probably on the path to Nowheresville, AM I RITE VIEWING PUBLIC?

See, this is what really kills me about the whole situation. Either way, you’ve roped women into coming on the show because either 1.) social pressure has led them to believe that because they are of X age and single, they are fated to a life worse than death-by-trash-compactor (à la Star Wars) because they have yet to find and secure a partner, so in order to stave off said horrifying fate, they find themselves willing to do anything or 2.) we’ve created this horrifying counter culture where people love to watch individuals (both men and women) who equal parts fascinate and repulse them. Random Dick and Jane’s are catapulted into super-stardom for acting like amoral idiots, careening around our televisions with their private parts, vomit streaks, and prowess for poor decision making on display for all the world to see (or laugh and point at) – to the point where people are willing to sign up for these shows because they know it will make them famous.

This says nothing to the fact that the crazier they act, the more famous they will become, up until their saturation of trash media becomes complete, and then the backlash will begin, and a collective amnesia will fall upon the masses and no one will be able to remember why they even liked them in the first place, which will serendipitously take place around the start of the next season of America’s Next Top Bottom Feeder.

And so the cycle continues.

The second part of what kills me about this show, is knowing that the reason they keep coming back (seriously, it’s like Jason bloody Voorhees somehow managed to reincarnate himself into a TV program here) is that women watch it.

And they watch it in droves.

The fact that this is a successful, long-running show because of its popularity amongst women kills me.

Why does the degradation of others give us such personal satisfaction? Is it because when we construct the perfect other, it gives us a pass from objectively looking at ourselves? Is because giving in, or even becoming a part of the problem, is so much easier than working towards an attainable solution?

Like I said up-thread, I am a champion for my sex through and through and my belief that these shows are poison to the advancement of our cause, in no way changes this –  it just adds a new layer, or dimension to the situation.

In all honesty, it makes me feel like a bad feminist.

How do I fight for autonomy and choice, while at the same time, stomp around lambasting both the women who go on these shows, and the women who watch them?

I suppose at the root of it, I just really wish that we lived in a world where these misogynist cultural memes didn’t exist, let alone thrive.

This ad was also on skytrain with me today. It sums up pretty well how this whole thing makes me feel.

Then no one would be involved and I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmingly conflicted.

Further, this phenomena makes me questions other elements of our society – how damaging are these types of programs for men? And what kind of screwed up social expectations geared towards males do they highlight? What kind of lessons are we teaching, promoting and reinforcing that are damaging to the entire human population?

These shows are brutal, bar none hands down for everyone involved.

Seriously, it only reinforces my belief that we need to drop the ideas of raising “good girls” and “good boys.”

We need start working on raising “good human beings,” period.

Come my one hundred and tenth birthday, I don’t want to be lying in the comfort of my deluxe iron lung, watching a woman’s heart break in half, because some cyborg cosmetic dentist dumped her in front of twenty billion people (and taking into account what I imagine will be people’s thirst for brutality, she’ll probably be literally dumped into a pit of starving lions, or anacondas, or fox news correspondents – what have you.)

And believe you me folks, there’s not enough coffee in the world for that.

Why would Regina refer to herself as a ‘fugly slut’?

After suffering through two days spent house-bound, wallowing in my sickness, I made the executive decision on Sunday to get the heck out of dodge (ie. leave the house before I was completely and forever subsumed by my pyjamas and empty mugs of tea.)

Lovely, lovely. I couldn't wait to take a bite of that pain au chocolate.

Even though I wasn’t (and still am not) feeling totally up to snuff, sometimes just a simple change of scenery can really help clear the cobwebs and bring on (if but a fleeting) sense of wholeness and health.

I needed to get out.

Mr. M and I drove to Steveston Village, a quaint and picturesque sea-side community that is a sight to behold in all of its splendour during the warmer months of the year, but pretty darn freezing in the face of a 80km/hour wind storm.

Erm. So maybe cabin fever wasn’t looking so bad the moment I stepped out the car, yet we managed to find a nice place for tasty pastries and over-priced coffees, where we could watch the world pass up by.

I told him how upset I was over the latest facebook meme that’s been making the rounds of late. Four “skinny” celebrities stand at the top of the picture, and four old-school “curvy” starlets pose on the bottom. The clever (take that with a healthy helping of side-eye) caption reads:

When did this (aka skinny) become sexier than that (the ever-malleable) “curvy”?

It’s all I can do not to step back and start yelling, “HEY LADIES! DO YOU NOT SEE ALL THE FISH WE ARE CURRENTLY TRYING TO FRY? I MEAN, THEY ARE SO BIG! WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING THE CAUSE INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING IT?”

Come on.

There seems to be a common misunderstanding that women themselves cannot be misogynists.

We well can. And we are. All the live long day.

I would laugh if it wasn’t such a brutally destructive, highly omnipresent enterprise.

This picture scene is pretty much the embodiment of how all this makes me feel.

I mean, what (might you ask) would the point be in hating on a large, incredibly varied group of individuals, especially if they (along with you) are part of the same (already marginalized) group of people?

It is overwhelming to the point of paralysis (at least for me) to witness how desperate this situation actually is – women hating women is a huge, incredibly pervasive problem.

What is even crazier is how it is carried out with such a blithe, and yet somehow caustic attitude- an ignorance that is equal parts savage as it is glee.

How else could we explain the meme? And its 20,000+ likes?

Why do we float around “eat a sandwich” or ‘lay off the burgers” as if these aren’t even sentences, as if they are addressed to individuals completely stripped of their humanity.

These words, these attitudes are indicative of how we have not only bought into our society’s historically created, and incredibly deep rooted, sex-based hierarchy but are willing participants in its validation and perpetuation every day.

Women body-shame, slut-shame, baby-shame, mother-shame (the list, unfortunately, goes on and on) like it’s a professional sport – as competitors and spectators alike.

As the great Tina Fey says in her seminal work Mean Girls:  “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

Because it gets us nowhere.

This systemic othering is destroying us.

So what do we do?

We stop calling out others to make ourselves feel good. Because our “fat” counterparts (or “thin” foils) are not the enemy here. Because in making them the enemy we are only feeding a machine hell bent on keeping the current (highly negative, violent, and overall destructive) status quo, no questions asked.

Because only if we manage to stop doing this as a collective whole, will we (maybe) be able to step back (as a whole), and then (and perhaps only then) will we be a powerful group, not a fractured, competing entity, fighting over whose discourse (or body shape) is right).

We will actually be able to take on other problems that desperately need to change: deep rooted, highly toxic norms, and the individuals and industries who profit massively off of these norms, and the dissention they are capable of creating and reinforcing among the female populace.

Or else it’s just one serious negative feedback loop.

Please.

So yes. This is what I talked about yesterday.

I'm done with memes unless they revolve around Lenin Cat. For serious.

M listened to me as my cheeks flushed feverish, and my tears ran long, splattering the lenses of my glasses, like the rain on the coffee shop window.

Eventually, our discussion moved to autonomy, and choice, and marketing, and materialism.

And it helped me remember what I so easily forget – that I’m not here raging by myself.

It just would be nice to, every so often, see an internet meme to remind me.