I Really Like Natural Boobs… And Personality.

One of my goals for 2017 is to start a more consistent exercise program… of some sort.  I don’t really care if it’s ensuring that I get 10,000 steps in a day or if I swim laps for 45 minutes.  I just want to know that, most days of the week, I’ve used my body.  Done something good for it.

And so I’ve been finding myself at the pool lately.

I find the pool intimidating.  How does one know which lane to swim in?  How does one ensure that one doesn’t crash into that person flying by oh-so-close?  How does one wander about in their bathing suit while running into colleagues and such?  How does one get over their fear of running into Aggressive Guy whilst in a bathing suit?

I was at the pool last week.  I’d been swimming laps and was feeling really good as I opened the door to the sauna and saw three men in their early 30s look up as I entered.  I hesitated for a moment in the way that most women do when confronted with a room of only men.  But I went in.  Because it’s the public pool, it’s a safe place, and there’s nothing to worry about.  Silly me for my hesitation.

Let’s call these three gentlemen: Guy 1, Guy 2, and Guy 3.

Guy 3 leaves the sauna within a few moments of my entering.

Guy 2: “Did you see his new girlfriend?”

Guy 1: “Yeah, she’s totally a downgrade from the last chick.”

Guy 2: “Totally.  She’s still pretty hot though.”

Guy 1: “Nah.  I don’t go for the fake boobs.  So many of the chicks in the hot tub tonight have fakes.”

Guy 2: “I hate fakes.  She really is a downgrade.”

Guy 1, apparently realizing that this conversation might be inappropriate, glances over at me, assesses my situation, and says: “I really like natural boobs.”

Guy 2, realizes that they have been less than gentlemanly with their conversation, glances at me, assesses my situation, and says: “And personality.  Really I just want a good personality.”

(Throughout this conversation I had my head down and my eyes half shut in an attempt to block them out.  Politely.)

They then proceeded to discuss the girls in the hot tub and which of them they figured had fake boobs.  They rated their bodies and hotness.

At another iteration of “Fake boobs are so gross” I lifted my head, looked the offender in the eye, and said: “I guess it just depends on how good the surgeon is.”

(I’m not sure why this is what I chose to say.  It was like my Santa Claus moment of a couple years ago.  That’s what slipped out.)

Both guys turned bright red at the confirmation that I wasn’t in fact deaf and one stuttered out a: “Sorry, we weren’t trying to be rude.”

I shrugged, smiled, and replied that it was all good.

I hate myself a little bit for that smile.

But I was in a small contained space with two unknown men and I really did not want to lose my proud post-workout buzz by having to have that conversation.

You know the conversation.  The conversation that asks them if they would be okay with their mothers, daughters, sisters, wives or girlfriends being spoken about in the way that they were talking about the ‘downgrade girlfriend’.  (And can we just think about this for a moment… )

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The conversation that asks them if they wanted me to dissect their bodies as I sat in the sauna with a friend.  Should I speculate that they probably have small dicks?  ED?  (What is the equivalent on a man of fake breasts on a woman?)

The conversation that asks them why the fuck I need to ask them these fucking questions.

So I smiled at them.  And I made nice.  Because I didn’t have the energy for that conversation on this particular day.  Because I’m good at backing down.  Because men kind of scare me and life seems to reinforce that that’s smart.

And I shut down that little voice inside that wondered how lacking they found my body, encased as it was in a one piece swimsuit with far too much cleavage.  What did they think about the dimples on my thighs, the very visible dent in my ass from a fall last year?  What did they have to say about my lack of makeup, about my too-high BMI?  About the stretch marks littering the undersides of my upper arms?

I’ve fought so hard to be okay in my body.  It had been a fight to get myself to the pool that night.  To expose myself in such a way.

And to find that all my fears were true?  That the men I passed in on the deck really were staring, make assessments, and certainly finding me lacking?

Suddenly I remembered this…

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(I can’t find a source for this beautiful image…)

Yeah.  I still need to remind myself of that once in awhile.

I don’t care to excuse guys who talk like this anymore.  The men in my world don’t.  Boys won’t be boys.  Boys need to Find Something Else to Talk About.  Fuck off.  Realize that my body, and the bodies of all those women in the hot tub, are not fodder for your amusement.

Seriously boys.  It’s time to grow the fuck up.

Christmas Traditions…

I picked up my sister and brother in law from the airport on Friday night (a couple hours later than planned due to a lost bag incident).  They are in town from Montreal area to celebrate Christmas with us.

I picked them up, as I have done so many times before, well after 10 pm.  We loaded into the car and headed for “home” knowing that there would be a spread on the table of crackers and cheeses and pickles and sausages (from the hole-in-the-wall with the good kielbasa) and cider/beer chilling in a cooler in the garage.  We had our drinks, our snack, and all retired for the evening.

Christmas-eve-morning we sat and drank coffee (with Bailey’s) then headed out for some last minute shopping.  We did a long walk in Fort Langley and hit a brewery we hadn’t yet tried.  We had our traditional seafood feast for Christmas Eve dinner.  Christmas morning was coffee (with Bailey’s), impossible bacon pie, the slow unwrapping of gifts, a snack that matched Friday night (now with the welcome addition of Christmas baking), and a huge turkey dinner.  I skedaddled for a few hours to visit my boyfriend’s family in Richmond where they were doing much of the same things.

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My point is that Christmas is seeped in tradition with my family.  Our Christmas day looks much the same now as it did 25 years ago.  The same foods, the same rhythms.  Christmas is a rhythm for me.  A familiar pattern that repeats itself each year.

And I love it.

At Christmas I do not want the unique.  I want to feel my loved ones all around me.  I want to sit and chat and laugh (and eat).  There is magic in this time of year.  A magic that comes from love, and family, and repeated patterns.  It is in the lights of the tree as the reflect on the wall.  It is in the friends that gather.  It is in the games that we play and the music we sing.

My boyfriend convinced my sister and I to head to midnight mass with him on Christmas Eve.  We three are all agnostic’s but we wanted to hear the Christmas story, take a moment of peace to reflect.  We sang hymns and carols and the mass ended with a candlelit walk out of the church as a hundred people raised their voices, singing Silent Night.  It was a powerful moment.

Christmas will change over the years.  It will grow and shift.  I hope that sometime soon we (my sister, me, one of us, or both) will have little ones running around, making the quiet morning of coffee and chatter infinitely more chaotic.  I don’t expect that every year we will be together – but I hope that, for many, we are.

I am sitting this morning, watching the snow fall, my Christmas jammies still on, the Anne of Green Gables scarf my Dad gave me wound around my neck.  I am reflecting on these past few days of peace, these upcoming days of crazy fun, and I am hoping that all of you have some of the same moments this magical season.

Love you all,

M.

Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

About five months ago my building announced that we needed a new roof which resulted in a “special” assessment of a couple thousand dollars.  Two weeks later I took my car in because it was making a funny noise and found out that it needed (more than) a few thousand dollars worth of work.

I patched the car up as best I could and I started saving for the special assessment.  But my budget is pretty tight and, even though I’d known about it for lots of time, I was struggling.  The car was hanging over my head like a guillotine.  A few more things happened that were comparatively minor but still significant… And I realized that I was in over my head.

So I thought through my options and asked Mommy and Daddy if I could come home for a bit.

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Taking on debt wasn’t an option.  And I simply couldn’t come up with the several thousand dollars needed over such a short period of time.

Living in the lower mainland isn’t easy.  My mortgage, taxes, strata and utilities take up about 46% of my net each month.  If you amortize the cost of the new roof over say, a two year period, we are at 50%.  So.  50% of my net over the past two years has gone towards housing.  Then there is car insurance, cell phone, fuel… It’s all rather a lot.

(I’m going to be fully honest here and tell you that I also eat out too often and have far too much clothing hanging in my closet.  These are my vices.  Giving them up would not have made the difference in this scenario.)

Because I get steady salary increases each year I am not concerned by the long term.  I was concerned by this moment, here and now, and how to get through it.

And I was really, really lucky to still have parents who could lend me a room for a few months.

So I’ve rented my non-rental strata unit out to a couple of girls who wanted to try living on the west coast for a few months.  And I’m going through the, rather humiliating, process of convincing my strata that, yes, this is my only option.

I’m sitting in the small upstairs bedroom of my parents house surrounded by too much stuff feeling pretty shitty about myself but also pretty grateful.  And the dinner that Mom made was pretty damn delicious.

Sigh.

Here’s the thing.  I’m going to turn 32 while I’m living with my parents.  I’m not a kid anymore.  I’m a grown-ass-woman and I feel like I’m failing.  I feel like I’m screwing up in a bunch of different parts of my life.  I feel like I am self-sabotaging with the best of them.

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My reboot was going well.  Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.  Too many things converged all at the same moment and I found myself crying on the drive home wondering aloud why I couldn’t do anything right.

The thing is that I can do stuff right.  (I swear!!!)  It was just too much, all at once.  It was the feeling you get when you know that one more thing will break you.

Mom and I were struggling yesterday to pack the large and unwieldy cat tower into her truck.  It wouldn’t fit and I kept having to crawl into the back, (in a work dress, pantyhose and heels, because what else does one wear when moving?), and I kept thinking about how many people in my life had offered to help me.  And how I had stubbornly said “No, I’ve got this”.  And how that meant that my poor Mother and I were now giggling helplessly and slightly hysterically at our failure to lift this heavy damn tower.

I was able to ask my parents for help when I needed it.  But I’m rarely able to ask anyone else.  This is a problem.  Asking for help is so incredibly scary.  It makes one raw, vulnerable.  Saying “No, I don’t have this” is a terrifying thing for me.

I have always hated admitting that I don’t know how to do something.  It is crippling for me to try something for a first time and have to admit that I need help.  Anything from an exercise class to using a compass card.  Stupid things that shouldn’t be embarrassing!  I will research it, I will barrel through.  I will not admit I don’t know.  I will not ask for help. Even when help is willingly, lovingly offered, I often will not accept it.

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It’s not an attractive quality my friends.

I feel like each and every moment of my life I am one shown weakness away from… What?  People not loving me anymore?  My friends know my weaknesses, my failings.  My family does too.  None of them love me less for these things.

It’s something I’m working on.

This “Extraordinary, Ordinary, Life”…

If you have known me for more than roughly 5 minutes the chances are good that I have sat you down to watch the movie About Time.  It is my favourite movie, I think it is genuinely brilliant, and I think that every single person should take a couple of hours to watch it.

**Spoiler Alert**

The movie is pretty simple.  It goes beyond your average love story because… It is about family.  About the rhythms and patterns we create with those we love.  

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Now, the movie was written and directed by Richard Curtis, the same guy who created Love Actually.  We won’t hold that against him.  (To be clear, I have an irrational dislike of Love Actually).  

Our main character is Tim who discovers, on his 21st birthday, that he is able to travel through time to places within his own life.  (As are all the men in his family).

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Tim decides to use his powers to find love.  And, of course, he finds it.

He meets the girl, he loves the girl, he marries the girl.  There’s no hesitation in Tim.  He’s… earnest.  It’s lovely.

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(Tim is played by Domhnall Gleeson who is absolutely yummy.  It’s worth watching the movie for this fact alone).

I question sometimes why it is that I find this movie so captivating.

These characters fall for each other and move ahead.  They have babies because they want them.  They joke about how broke they are and how they can’t afford the house that the babies have forced them to buy.  They have one of the most disastrous weddings of all time.  They fight.  Their hearts are broken in the ways that everyone has their heart broken.  They lean on one another in the ways that one should be able to lean on a partner.

Aside from the ridiculously beautiful family home and the abnormally good looking lead characters… The characters feel normal for me.  The life that they live is something that I want to build for myself one of these days.  It feels real.  It feels ordinary.

We are a hesitant generation.  And, don’t get me wrong, taking time is good and smart.  But do we need to wait 3 years?  4?  5?  10?

I talk to my parents and their generation and everyone seems to echo the same thought… They just did it.  They met, fell in love, married, had kids.  They don’t talk about agonizing in the same way that we do.

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This movie is about the ordinary moments and that captivates me because life is about ordinary moments.  It is about fights and power outages and time spent giggling on the couch.

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…”Do You Spend Lots of Time on Your Knees?”

When I was 19 I got a job working at a car dealership as an accounts payable clerk.  It was a couple days per week, while I was going to school full time, oh, and working a second job as an office manager in downtown Vancouver.  I was a busy, busy girl.

I don’t remember much about this job, it was so long ago.  But I do have one very clear memory.  I was filing a pile of invoices, kneeling on the floor, when one of the salesmen, a much older man, came wandering over.  He placed his body directly in front of me so that I was trapped between him, the cabinet, and the wall.  His crotch was at eye level about four inches from touching my face.  He laughed and asked if I spent lots of time on my knees.

I could see past him to several other men who worked there watching and laughing.

I just remember turning bright red, forcing myself to laugh, and responding with some inane remark.  I remember feeling trapped, uncomfortable, and beyond angry.  I remember thinking that I needed to keep my cool so as to avoid making the situation worse.  I left that job quickly.

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A few years later I had a boss who would stand behind my deck, close, breathing down my neck.  Literally.  I remember that whenever I went into his office he would ask me questions aggressively about the file that I was working on and then interrupt the moment that I attempted to explain, as if I was the stupidest girl he’d ever been forced to deal with.  I remember that after almost every single meeting I would go into the bathroom and shake and cry in one of the stalls for several minutes until I could calm down from the way this man spoke to me.  I remember that there was a couple of other women who did the same thing.

I remember my boss Greg.  Greg owned a small accounting firm and I was his only employee.  It was just Greg and I most of the time.  I was in my early twenties and worked for Greg for a number of years as I completed my degree.

Greg was an incredible boss.  

He was a few years older than me.  He mentored me, believed in me.  He paid me a fair wage and gave me a ridiculously generous bonus each Christmas.

If I was struggling with a class Greg would offer to help.  He would give me time off for exams.  If I did something wrong Greg would teach me.  Greg didn’t mansplain, or bully, or stand too close.  He didn’t stare at my breasts and ass when he thought I wouldn’t notice.  (Or when he knew I would).

There are good men in this world.  Lots and lots of them and I have been blessed to have many in my life.

I have also had some pretty awful men in my life.  Without the good men I don’t know if I would have realized that they were treating me badly.  It’s easy to become used to this behaviour and brush it off as “locker room talk”.

It’s not locker room talk.  Or.  It shouldn’t be.

I am not a political person.  I don’t watch debates or hold strong policy opinions.  When it is time to vote I look around, find out who matches best with my values, drop a ballot into a box and wait until the next time.

But I watched the debate last night.  I watched the debate last night because it was all we could talk about at book club earlier in the week (this was pre-“grabbed her by the p*ssy”) and already all we were talking about was feminism and Trumps attitude towards women.  We were despairing that Hilary might not make it, even though people don’t want Trump because, for some men, it would just be too hard to vote for a woman.

And I know nothing about US politics, okay?!  I don’t want to hear about policy.  Trump is a racist, and a sexist, and I think that that alone should disqualify him.

Hilary is going to win.  I have too much faith in humanity to believe otherwise.

But I think that something even more powerful is going to come out of this.

We are talking about it.  We are talking about our own “grabbed her by the p*ssy” moments.  We are saying: we are done smiling when uncomfortable.

It won’t happen overnight.  Two months ago, on a first date, a man pinched my nipples so hard he left a bruise.  (He did not have permission to touch my nipples).  I left and the next day told him he had made me very uncomfortable.  I left it at that because, what else is there to do?

A quote from Amy Schumer…

“Most women I know that I’m close to have had a sexual experience that they were really uncomfortable [with]. If it wasn’t completely rape, it was something very similar to rape. And so I say it’s not all black and white. There’s a gray area of rape, and I call it ‘grape.’ It’s the guy you went home with in college, and you said, ‘No,’ and then he still did it, or maybe you woke up and it was someone you were dating. …

“There’s just so many different things that can happen, so it’s not always this, ‘Well, you’re going to jail and that’s it.’ There’s other stuff where it’s like, ‘Wow, it would be so much work, and it would be such a life-changer for me to … press charges or take any action against this person.’ But every girl I know has had some experience that is kind of like ‘grape.’ “

(There is a really great article about “grape” here).

Mine wasn’t “grape”, I left and he let me, but it was kind of… Assault-Light?

My point.  What’s my point again?

We are in a culture where every single woman I know has a story about grape, about their “grabbed her by the p*ssy” moment(s), and we don’t talk about it.

And, suddenly, the conversation, uncomfortable as some might find it, has opened up.

So let’s talk about it.  All those good men in our world, you guys need to talk about it too.

Let’s make it clear that it isn’t something we are okay with.

That we aren’t going to stay quiet anymore.

(Even if it just means telling that man from work that, no, you don’t spend a lot of time on your knees).

It Scares Me a Little…

The past few weeks of my “Reset” have gone really well.  I’ve been getting enough sleep, working out, eating well.  I haven’t been perfect but perfect isn’t my aim.  I’ve been looking after myself and I feel good about that.

Problem is… My pain is bad lately.

It’s everywhere.  In my head, neck, face, shoulders, arms, elbows, hands.  And it seems that every second day or so it flares up to unbearable.  It makes me grumpy and frustrated.

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It doesn’t help that a loud person recently bought the apartment above me.  She seems to like coming home inebriated at 12, 1, or 2 am and staying up for hours, wandering from room to room.

 

On nights when I don’t get enough sleep my pain is always high the following day.  And that creates a mild panic when I know I’m being kept up.  Which loops around and keeps me from falling asleep.

My doctor has never really come up with a good explanation for my issues with pain.  (My doctor is also completely useless so coming up with a good explanation is probably way beyond his abilities).  It isn’t just migraines.  It is pain in the tissues of my entire upper body.

It’s been a couple of years since I was having frequent bouts of pain that are centered in the tissues and not in the head.  I’m not sure why it is happening now?  I know that stress sets it off and that has been a major problem during the most stressful times in my life.  But.  I’m in a good place.  So.  Why?

It scares me if I’m honest.  It makes me feel trapped within my body.  There is something about pain that makes one feel panicked… Because you cannot escape it.  It’s something inside of you that you cannot claw out.  You have no option but to go through it.

This pain isn’t the end of the world.  It is so much less than the pain that so many people deal with every single day.  But it is a problem and it does have a significant impact on the things that I am able to do.  I know that I need to get lots of sleep, especially when the pain is flaring.  Sometimes I need to be lazy, like: really really lazy.

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The worst part about this is that it’s so difficult to talk about.  I hesitate to post about it because I think it sounds like I’m looking for sympathy or throwing myself a pity party.  I’m not.  This is what it is and in the big picture my pain isn’t the end of the world.  It is something that I need to get better about, something that I need to deal with.

I think we all have these things that we carry around with us.  We get frustrated with that friend who is always late for drinks, or the person who has stopped returning our calls.  We frown over that colleague who never joins in when we go for after work drinks.  It’s important to stop and wonder why.

Sure, some people are simply flaky and we need to love that about them (or cut them from our life).

But I suspect that more often people drop away because they are dealing with something.  Something that maybe they don’t want to talk about.  Or don’t know how to talk about.

I think we all need to cut one another a little slack.  Stop judging and start wondering.  Offer support where we can.  Lean when we need. Assume that most people really are doing the best that they can with what they have to offer the world.

Bridget Jones’s Baby…

I woke up this morning, a headache pulsing, low and threatening, at the base of my skull.

I had big plans for today involving the beach and a blanket and a bucket of fish and chips.  Instead I ate cold leftover lasagna for breakfast (and then lunch).  I took three baths in my tiny tub.  I had two naps.  Nothing touched the pain.  In fact, it began to build.

I finally got out of bed around 3 pm and decided that I was going to laugh my pain away with a good dose of Bridget Jones.

So I went to the movies.

I have to tell you all:  GO SEE BRIDGET JONES’S BABY!!!

It was so good to catch up with Bridget Jones.  She’s all grown up now and has finally reached her goal weight, but has maintained that quirky gets-nothing-quite-right attitude that made us all fall for her in the first place.

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(Points to anyone who really gets what is going on in this scene…)

There’s a scene at the start of the movie where she dances around her house with a large glass of wine singing all the lyrics to Jump Around that I’m fairly certain any woman living on her own will find very relate-able. (Also I may have caught myself singing along with Lily Allen’s Fuck You when the music abruptly cut off and my voice was, for a brief moment, the only sound in the theater.)  The soundtrack to this movie is absolutely fantastic.

Anyways.  Bridget Jones is having a baby.  She just doesn’t know who the father is.

(Cue lots of jokes about sex and semen and polyamory.)

It was completely charming.  And rather touching.

I liked that we are reunited with the stiff and awkward Mr Darcy who still adores Bridget and still can’t quite acknowledge it.  I fucking love Mr Darcy.  I liked Jack, the new guy on the scene, as the open and loving match who tries to sweep her off her feet.  I’m not going to spoil the ending and tell you who the father is, k?

It’s fun to find out.

I kind of wished that I’d brought my notebook to take down quotes as the movie went on but I’m sure that we’ll see lots of lines from the movie in our Pinterest quote feeds soon.  I did break out my pen and jot this one down though…

Sometimes you love a person for all the reasons they’re not like you.  Sometimes you love a person just because they feel like home.   – Bridget Jones

This seems to be a constant refrain for me here.  Looking for a love that feels like home.  For someone who fits in that way.  For someone who wants to have me (and keep me).

It takes a long time and lots of effort to know whether or not you want a person enough to keep them.  There’s always a risk.

It takes Bridget Jones until 43 to find home.

In conclusion?  I’m in my jammies now and the pain has migrated to the front of my face and filled the tissues of my upper back and shoulders.  Tonight is gonna suck.  But at least I got to see BJ’s Baby?!

This song is dedicated to my head:

(Warning, do not play with children in the room.)