Tickling your fantasy

I used to be an incredible literature snob.

Until about the age of twenty-one, I would only read real books.

“Oh me?” I would snottily opine. I’m a real Dostoevsky, Dickens, Austen, and Grass kind of girl.”

I could never understand why my boyfriend – my brilliant, cerebral and completely badass boyfriend (who now happens to be my brilliant, cerebral and completely badass husband) – read so many graphic novels, and books with picture of trolls, and dwarfs, and dragons adorning their covers.

How could he be interested in such stuff?

And despite his best efforts, for the first three years of our courtship I staunchly refused to crack one open.

“Sorry,” I would say. “I’m just not into that stuff.”

“You really have no idea what you’re talking about,” he’d say. “But I’ll wear you down eventually.”

And wear me down he did.

My first “non-book” (oh how wrong was I!), was V for Vendetta by Alan Moore which blew my brain harder than anything that had come before it (and I seriously thought I could ever again undergo anything as soul-shaking as the time I first read Devils and Crime and Punishment.) Next came the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman which I inhaled in about a day and a half, and then Watchmen, and Preacher, and about every other comic series on which I could get my hands.

It took me a little longer still to get into “fantasy” and “science fiction” (oh how I now loathe our need to classify so much brilliant literature as such!), but I finally caved and picked up A Clash of Kings a few months after my twenty-second birthday.

And once again, I underwent a kind of mind-exploding madness.

How could George R. R. Martin write so seamlessly and brilliantly from one character to the next? How could he be so heartless and beautiful all at once? WHY WERE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE SO AWFUL?

After burning through the entire Ice and Fire series (in what was then it’s most current incarnation) it was GAME. ON. The floodgates were opened, and it was nothing but a steady, raucous and ever more passionate ride filled with Bradbury, and Asimov, and Heinlein, and Tolkein, and Guy Gavriel, Scott Card, and Neal Stevenson, and Susanna Clarke, and so many more (and more and more and more!)

And then, ladies and gentlemen, Marc introduced me to one of the most brilliant, gut-busting, world-creating satirists English literature has ever known.

He brought me the world of Terry Pratchett.

This man made me laugh, cry, think, pace, question, believe, and most of all read.

My goodness did I love to get lost in his worlds and read!


To this day, I always know when Marc is (re-)reading a Pratchett book because of the sonorous laughs that all but explode out of him.

He’ll then read the offending passage aloud and we’ll both cry-laugh together. More often than not, we’ll just end up reading entire sections of the book to one another.

These truly are some of my most treasured literary memories.

And so when I found out last Thursday that Mr. Pratchett had died (via Guardian update from my mobile phone) I immediately phoned Marc to tell him the news.

I couldn’t even finish my sentence before collapsing into my tears. I sobbed straight into the receiver, my whole body wracked by a terrible, melancholy palsy.

And then, in the most Pratchett-ian of fashions, I was immediately catapulted back to laughter.

Marc, speaking slowly into the receiver, said, “This – this makes me really, really sad babe. But – unfortunately I have to go. The arborists are here.”

Because, of course, we were having the dead cherry tree removed from our backyard, and yes, at 8:13am on a Thursday morning, the arborists had arrived to facilitate that removal.

I immediately burst out laughing, even though my tears kept streaming steadily down my face.

I cried for the better part of the entire day, and I really don’t think I’ll ever get over the loss of such a brilliant, kind, compassionate, passionate, and life-changing man.

But I know that I, like the world, am so much better off for opening my mind, heart, and soul to his beautiful works, and the zany, madcap brilliance of Ankh-Morpork.

And like Marc before me, I’ll continue to encourage people to read his works.

So that they too might laugh. And cry.

But really mostly laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

So let us melt, and make no noise


Hey kids.

Since yesterday’s post was pretty grim, I figure I should bring some levity to the situation, lest you all conclude that I’m two steps from plunging into the Fraser River and succumbing to a similar fate to that of British Columbia’s ever-depleting salmon stocks.

(A victim of over-fishing and sea-lice infestations? WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT HERE.)

Anyways, it’s not as though we can ignore the fact that the worldy goings on of late have been bleak as hell, what with all of the war, killing, and partisan hackery that dominate our political, social, (and unfortunately sometimes even personal) discourse.

It’s hard to ignore these omnipresent and always disheartening realties.

Try, of course, as one might.

It rained for the first time in Vancouver in what feels like years.

We’ve been blessed with such unbelievably warm and sunny weather that I had almost forgotten what it means to live in a coastal, temperate rainforest.

An excellent reminder of the reality? My extensive collection of cheap flats and my ever-strengthening propensity to forget my umbrellas every which place I travel.

What a talent!

Anyways, what I really want to write about is my unwavering belief in the incredible beauty of human connection (particularly in light of (or perhaps despite of?) all the depressing and violent garbage being levelled at all hours of the day, in all four corners of the globe.

Humans are the worst, and yet we are the absolute best.

We are capable of so much terror, greed, and fear, but we also have the capacity to do so much good, spread so much love, and create so much magic.

We have the capacity to meet someone and immediately know them. Immediately know you were meant to know them.

I sometimes feel corny talking about soul mates (but then I question whether I actually do feel corny, or whether or not I’ve been conditioned to think that such topics are corny, what with so many young lads and lasses crying “gauche!” when confronted with raw and real displays of love and emotion.)

Perhaps it’s a mix of both (I certainly lend credence to the belief that there is a time and place to best trumpet your affections for an individual/individuals with whom you are besotted) but mostly I am just one giant love warrior with a massive ax to grind.

(Love ax, mind you.)

I so firmly believe in soul mates that sometimes I feel like my heart is so full that it just might break into hundreds and hundreds of pieces in the hopes that each fragment might be gifted to all the amazing individuals who have impacted my life in ways both uproarious and profound.

Sometimes I meet someone and I feel this connection, and I just want to stand there in front of them and proclaim, “THIS IS MAGIC. TELL ME THAT YOU FEEL IT TOO.”

(And while confident as I am that they would too feel this link, I do sometimes think of the sensation I get after having woke from a mind-jarringly real dream featuring a good friend or even acquaintance when I am left wondering again and again whether or not “they could have dreamed the exact same dream?”)

Can I really be the only one who just experienced/is experiencing this?

Human beings, I tell ya.

What a bunch of strangers in an even stranger land.

So as always, I turn to my life coach and imagined grandfather – Mr. Ray Bradbury.

“You have to live in a cloud of emotions. You rev yourself up. Give yourself time in the middle of the afternoon, or when you’re waking up early in the morning, when you’re in that kind of wonderful, euphoric state in-between, on the verge of dreams when you get a kind of nuclear bombardment of all kinds of fragments of ideas jumping around inside your head and hitting each other. They begin to fuse and detonate each other. It’s a very hard thing to describe. You don’t have any control over your mind at a time like that, and you don’t want it, see? Let it run wild!”

Hell yes, Mr. B.

I’m all about running wild.

Just try and stop me.

For Boston

I’m having a hard time finding what it is I want to say.

I started Running when I was ten years old. I capitalize the R because anyone in my family will tell you that I have been running since the moment I started to walk.

My formal training didn’t start until the summer after grade five when my dad would take me out with him on short routes on Saturday mornings.

I absolutely loved this time we spent together.

Those minutes, hours, kilometers, miles, defined by an intimate ease, a shared love. Moving our legs in unison, marking our way in the world with nothing but a simple stride.

Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn’t.

We’d run the length of Jericho beach, past the old concession stands, and the gleaming, gorgeous, newly erected “Beach Cafés.”

We’d watch the gulls swoop and glide overhead, listen to the roar of the surf, hear the shrill trill of an approaching bicycle bell.

Our sun-baked skin, glistening in the heat.

Our quiet breath, constant.

Arriving home my skin would smell of sweat, and sunscreen, and the sea salt air, and my shoes would crunch underfoot, coated with a golden sand.

I would stand exhausted in the middle of the entranceway, feeling the remains of the run course throughout my legs, my arms.

With each pump of my heart: around, and around.

Around again.

Seeing what has happened today in Boston has struck a chord inside of me and – I just don’t know.

I don’t know as a human being.

As a sister. As a wife. As a daughter. As a friend. As a runner.

I just don’t know.

I have run so many races.

I have loved each experience so much that I’ve always found it hard to properly communicate what it means for me to participate in these events.

They are camaraderie.

They are fearlessness.

They are grit.

They are endurance.

They are excitement, and heartbreak, and exhaustion, and triumph.

They are love.

They are human beings getting together and doing something that they love.


Running may be a predominantly solitary sport, but come race day, those other runners are your peers.

They are your friends.

They are your support, your energy, your kick, your drive.

They encourage you, they test you, they make you run harder, and faster, and longer, and better.

They make you better than you ever thought possible.

And for someone to see this, and decide that they are going to take this away – that they are going destroy a peaceful event that serves as a support and conduit for all these amazing traits of humanity – well, it breaks my heart.

And I see these pictures everywhere and I cry.

But I also know that nothing can come from my tears.

So I think about how one day I will have a child.

And I will teach them to be a kind-hearted, open, supportive, loving person.

And I will take them running with me.

I read the news today, oh boy

I try to live my life free of binaries.

That they exist I am sure – that our entire social (nay global?) make-up is dependent on them I am convinced.

They are malleable, overarching scapegoats, (or get-out-of-jail-free cards) that limit the scope arguments, constrain the parameters of research, and stop each and every one of us from ever diving into the very deepest depths of self-analysis.

And try as I might to do away with them, they are almost impossible to get away from, let along ignore.

Because boy do we love them:

Black-White; Good-Bad; East-West; Heaven-Hell; Rich-Poor; Madonna-Whore

Spring has sprung, but my spirits have sunk.

The reason that I am thinking about this, is because the events of the world have got be feeling pretty blue.

Seriously dudes, I am bummed out.

If I have to hear one more time about how Syria (or Somalia, or insert “disaster-prone war zone here”) is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, I am going to go ballistamungus (my code word for BAT SHIT CRAZY.)

On the BRINK of crisis?

If these catastrophic situations are looked at (by zee experts) as teetering on the verge of collapse, well then, I think their rating system is just a tad out of whack with reality.

No joke, I really want to get on the blower with the UN and have the following exchange:

United Nations (UN): Hello, United Nations.

Ethel the Dean (EtD): [thinking to myself] Woah, that was easy.

UN: Hello?

EtD: Yes hello! I’ve noticed that lately, your organization has been reticent as-all-get-out about describing the situation in Syria as an actual humanitarian crisis. This whole “will-they-won’t-they” game you seem to be playing has got me awfully curious.

UN: Oh?

EtD: Yeah. You see, I’m wondering what actually has to go down in that country for you to determine that it is undergoing a legitimate crisis, you know, in your expert opinion.

UN: Erm…

EtD: Because you guys also have a pretty solid track record of not doing squat when it came to other emergency situations – most notably (off the top of my head) in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia – so I’m wondering what’s got to give, for the Syrian people to maybe receive a little love from either Ban Ki Moon, or if he’s too busy, maybe Navi Pillay.

UN: […]

EtD: I mean, isn’t it time that we all just come out and said it? That your organization, as a global actor, is basically impotent, incompetent and incontinent?

UN: […]


I assume that at this point I would be hung up on. But you get the picture.


(p.s. that’s a really long video, but it’s one of my all-time faves. Plus I’ve been feeling super Daffy-esque today.)

Adding to my overall malaise, is the overwhelming sense of unease I got from watching the film “Inside Job” last night with Mr. M.

If I wasn’t sure that Wall Street, government, and academia is dominated by a small, incestuous group (of heavily recycled) money-hungry sociopaths, well, I definitely am now!

Plus, I cannot even begin to describe how heartening it was to read this morning on the metro that Vancouver is getting its very own edition of The Real Housewives franchise.

That sound you’re hearing is me barfing in the CEO of Bravo television’s shoes. Oh, and my heart breaking.

Also, the hoof steps of the horses ridden by the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

What a swell crap-storm of cacophonous bile! Bring out the conductor and play on maestro!

To try and lift my spirits out of the giant dumpster of doom, when I arrived home from work today I decided to make my terrific, and tantalizing banana bread.

Bananas! In pyjamas! Are baked into this bread...

I have a couple of recipes that I would classify as old hat (but in a non-pejorative sense) – more so that I’ve made them so many times that I have committed them to memory.

When Mr. M and I first moved in together, I couldn’t cook for the life of me, and the only recipe book we had was “Loneyspoons” and The Joy of Cooking. Often times the only ingredients we had in our pantry fit the bill for the book’s banana bread, so I became an expert really quickly.

We never had anything for The Joy of Cooking. Seriously, who cooks squirrel?

(As an aside, M received the The J of C from his parents as a  high school graduation gift and he would like to reassure them that we have used it many, many times since its appearance of his bookshelf.)

Oh yes, we have no bananas...except we do and they will make something delicious!

Anywho, my banana bread is pretty healthy in comparison to other recipes, using yogurt instead of oil, and it doesn’t call for too much sugar and butter.

Plus it tastes bloody good.

Whip it! Whip it good.

Two summers ago, I got many of my work mates hooked on the stuff, and would often have to parcel out the goods a little at a time in order to ensure that everyone got a chance to have a piece, lest the greediest goons took all of it on the first go (or plating).

(In my opinion, it’s that little pinch of cinnamon I’ve added to the ingredient list that just might push it right over the edge.)

So coming home, I quickly assembled my ingredients and got to work.

Hard at work.

I was all excited to listen to some sweet, sweet CBC as I worked, but unfortunately the news proved to be far too depressing for me to make it longer than three minutes.

Instead, I settled (and by settle I mean happily took part in) a hilarious conversation with M that revolved around photographs, dish towels, cat food and sushi orders.

Bake me a cake as fast as you cake...

What proved even more delightful was that the outcome included some tasty, tasty treats from Okonomi sushi, just up the street from us.

Now we are sitting down to another night of Netflix documentaries – tonight we are watching “This Film is Not Yet Rated.”

I know that the subject matter will probably make me think, cringe, laugh, squirm – but hopefully not cry.

But even if I do, I just need to remember that it’ll be okay.

Because there’s always banana bread, sushi, and fake phone calls.

Breathe. Believe.

Not necessarily in that order.

And maybe, one day, not necessarily fake.

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.