Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why I Won't Be Eating at Chick-Fil-A

I know I'm late to the party with this one. I have a terrible habit of hearing about stuff like this, going all incandescent with rage, then immediately getting so tired that I can barely lift my fingers to type, and thinking that nothing I say will make a difference anyway. It very well may not. But there was a story in this book about an older man who was protesting something, and somebody told him his protest wouldn't change anything, and he laughed and said something like "I'm not protesting to change the town, I'm protesting so the town won't change me".

So I won't be eating at Chick-Fil-A. Some people have said it's not accurate to call the owner a 'hater' just because he says he believes in the traditional definition of marriage. And if we're talking a matter of degree, well then I guess I'd have to say people that merely say "I believe in the traditional definition of marriage" are preferable to people who go out looking for homosexuals to beat up, or people who carry signs with hateful slogans outside gay weddings, or people who torture and murder other people because they're gay. But Chick-Fil-A also gave money - a sizable amount of money - to organizations that exist because they think being gay is wrong. Disordered. Less than. All these people think that the world would be a better place if gay people did not exist; if they have to exist, all possible measures must be taken so that they cannot live, love, marry and work towards a fulfilling life in the same way that heterosexual people do. I don't know about you, but if you dig down deep to the root of that, I sort of think you find hate.

Some people think it's ridiculous to decide not to patronize a fast-food establishment because of its owners political or religious views. They don't care if their dry cleaner supports breastfeeding, they say, or if their dentist doesn't love animals. It's true that I'm not rigorous in inspecting the moral foundation of the owners and operators of every establishment I give my money to. Life is short and busy, and I'm a little on the lazy side. But if the person who takes a profit from a business lays his beliefs out there on a plate for all to see? I'm not going to go out of my way to ignore it. I will take this opportunity to vote with my lousy seven-fifty and buy my cardboard french fries somewhere else.

I talked to a friend in New York about this issue and she said that, while she can agree to disagree on some things, some things are too fundamental and important to merely call a 'disagreement'. I get this. I can't say I'm fully able or willing or ready to disengage from everyone in my life who doesn't wholeheartedly support gay marriage. I do, however - and I wonder if religious people get this - feel profoundly saddened and uncomprehending of their position. Of all the things in this world to be offended by, to be disgusted by, to feel violated and horrified and moved to act by, I am truly stunned at the fact that large numbers of people would choose this - someone who loves someone else of the same gender. And I can love the 'sinner' and hate the 'sin' right back at them.

So I don't think Chick-Fil-A restaurants should be vandalized, or legislated out of business, or even that their owner should be silenced. We all know people like him exist. He can go ahead and freely speak his disordered, unfortunate, wrong and, ultimately, to me, hateful thought. But I won't be eating at Chick-Fil-A, because I strongly disagree with his definition of marriage and family.

Also, I think the name Chick-Fil-a is really, really stupid.

Also, I'm Canadian and we don't have them here. But, you know, in theory I wouldn't eat there anyway.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mondays on the Margins: Summer Reading

I don't usually go for the 'beach read' in the summer; I generally follow my typical reading pattern of ... okay, what the hell is my reading pattern? Hmmmm.... a little fiction, a little non-fiction, I always try to be reading something 'good for me', and I mix in YA reads and short stories whenever I feel myself getting jaded or overwhelmed with too much choice. And zombies.

But this summer I have actually been feeling a little distracted and unfocused in the reading department. Between all the driving and houseguests and baseball and dead air conditioners and medication withdrawal drama, I've let any sort of rigour fall by the wayside. I took Anthony Trollope's The Warden out of the library because I've been meaning to read him for years, partly because the character in this mystery series did his thesis on him (if I remember correctly) and partly because of this book, where Jane Juska's personal ad reads "Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me." Plus, come on, his name is Trollope, and it's fun to say Trollope

Anyway. I consulted a few sources on which was a good Trollope book to start with, and the consensus was The Warden. So I took it out of the library. And I put it on my stack. And it came up for renewal and I hadn't cracked it yet. And it came up for renewal again and ditto. And again. So now I've had the cursed thing for nine weeks and have not read word one. And do I do what I usually do, which is to realize that the book in question is no longer available for renewal which suddenly renders it INFINITELY DESIRABLE, therefore I power-read it and return it two or three days late and consider the fine money well spent?

I do not. I return it bang on time in ignominious defeat and accept that I will have to live to read Trollope another day.

What HAVE I read? Some fairly crappy YA stuff: The Dark and Hollow Places - a tedious, formulaic love story with zombies; This is Not a Test - a tedious teen angst story with zombies that FREAKIN' EVERYBODY on Goodreads inexplicably loves; Fablehaven - a neat premise done in by mediocre writing and unendurably annoying characters; and Insurgent - an incredibly disappointing sequel to a really great first in a trilogy. Among Others, which I adored, although I find it hard to articulate precisely why. Mori's voice is note-perfect and engaging and I love how thoughtful and insightful and matter-of-fact she is about almost everything - growing up interacting with fairies, having an evil world-destroying witch for a mother, the ethics of using magic, coming of age sexually, the Dickensian cruelty and horror that is English boarding school. Plus the endless talk of books, of course. I like how it's just about her life, and the pitched magical battle is sort of incidental to everything else - part of it is in the past and only talked about fleetingly in retrospect, and the rest of it isn't this big loud climax of the book, it just sort of makes sense how it plays out. So I DON'T actually REQUIRE a bunch of supernatural crap to like a book, so THERE. Also, it prompted me to take short story collections by Tiptree, Leguin and Heinlein out of the library, and that has been marvellous. I want to print out April in Paris and paper my walls with it.

I also read the zombie book by the guy who wrote this really cool, different vampire book. The zombie book wasn't as good. I'm not sure if I hope he takes on werewolves or not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on People Watching in LaGuardia Airport Ten Days Ago

-The sari is a really good look for travelling. I should try it. Maybe not.

-Blow your nose. For Christ's sake, blow your nose, that's disgusting, didn't your mother teach you anything?

-She's really got that whole casual-hiker thing down. Hair pulled up, vest over shirt, slouchy socks and running shoes, shorts... wow, she must be almost fifty and her legs are really great. Except - wow, her legs are really hairy. Like really, really hairy. It doesn't even grow straight, it's like big clouds of curly hair around her legs. It's like her legs have beards. I thought I was okay with women not shaving their legs but this is really quite disturbing. Look away. Look away. Look away. I can't look away! Oh thank god, she's leaving.

-Wow. Her hair looks like a shiny wave of chocolate fountain. Her shirt is the colour of paprika. Her pants are the colour of cinnamon. And those shoes really shouldn't work, but they totally do. What colour green is that? It's not emerald. It's not mint. It's brighter than mint and lighter than emerald. It's... it's the exact colour green that cantaloupe would be if cantaloupe was green instead of orange. It's possible I need a snack.

-Stop texting while you're walking, you're about to bump into that.... *snort*. Told you.

-That girl is eating again. The one in the faded holey jeans and the v-neck t-shirt with the French writing and the bicycle on it. She's been eating for the last hour and she's thin and gorgeous, okay, don't be bitter and unkind. And she won't just sit down, she keeps shuffling her feet and half-dancing and stretching and I'm glad she's not over here because that would get really..... crap, she's coming over here because I'm beside the garbage can and she's going to peel her orange over the garbage can. And I'm trying to focus on my book but I can't because I can see her feet out of the corner of my eye going step together step apart, step together step apart and oh my god I wish she'd stand still or FUCK OFF OUT OF HERE BEFORE I TAKE HER OUT WITH AN INJURY......

-I'm going to get a snack.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Watching and Walking

I'm tired. I'm really freaking tired. I'm really freaking tired about whining about being really freaking tired. I guess it's not surprising, since it's been reliably established that I probably haven't had a good night's sleep for about thirty years.

The boys went to Oakville for a week-end baseball tournament. They got to play about an inning and a half and the rest got rained out. But they went to see a Blue Jays game AND stayed in a hotel AND took the Go-Train into Toronto for the game, and friends, I can't even tell which of those was tops in Angus's book, but it's safe to say his week-end was not ruined by the lack of actual baseball playing.

Eve and I went to see Brave with a couple of her friends, which I thought was awesome; Eve agreed, though predictably she leads every conversation about it with 'all the naked butts'. Then we watched Charlie St. Cloud which I'd gotten from the library since she'd been asking to see it. It was kind of cheesy but Zac Efron was less hammy and Troy-ish than I expected. She told me to "FAST-FORWARD" through the (very discreet) sex scene and said I could return it after a single viewing, although she'd said she was going to watch it thirty times before we actually watched it. We also watched Sydney White on Netflix, which was so much better than I thought it would be - it's a Snow White story played out over the college Greek system, and the seven dorks are fantastic. Eve kept giggling and saying 'best movie ever!' every time George (Happy, we think) was in a scene. Also, I realized I can never name all seven dwarves (dwarfs?) at once, I always leave one off, but then I can't figure out if it's always the same one or not.

On Saturday Eve and I walked over to the drug store and the grocery store to pick up a prescription and get a few ingredients to make empanadas. Eve is just starting to know where things are in relation to our house, which is terribly exciting for her. While Angus is focused on The Quickie Mart to the north, and its promise of giant slushies, Eve is already looking south to Starbucks. When I showed her that we can walk in front of our neighbour's house and up onto the grass beside the main road and actually see Shoppers Drug Mart, she was speechless with excitement.

It was fun. We wandered around picking stuff up, she was suitably sympathetic when there was no chili powder (she spun a whole theoretical speech she would give if this was a few years from now and I had sent her on her own - "oh mother, I am so dearly sorry, I hope this was not the main ingredient for dinner tonight because sadly, there was NO CHILI POWDER").

I thought of this Swistle post, and since I can't give blood due to the effervescent sparkling drug cocktail that is my blood, we picked up one of those seven-dollar bags of staples for the food bank, so yay, a little justifying my existence in with the mother-daughter outing. Then we came home and made empanadas together. Well, we started, and then she took off with her friend from next door and came home just in time to brush on the egg before they went into the oven. It was good enough.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Call That A $@%# Pancake?

I always know intellectually that intense experiences are followed by inevitable let-down, and yet I'm always unprepared for the reality. I loved being in New York and I was also happy that it was at the end of our crazy busy travelling/houseguests/nonstop plans stretch and once I got home the rest of August was a wide-open expanse of Summer Fun.

So naturally I've been a mopey whiny mess all week. Every morning I would spread out my suitcase and the laundry baskets on the bed and fold a few things and lay out a few things, and then leave it all there until Matt wanted to go to bed, whereupon he would pile it all on the floor at the foot of the bed again, and the next morning I would start all over again. I bought groceries I've mostly been too tired and headachey to cook.

I've given up on trying to pull back on my antidepressant until September. The days I don't take it are so unutterably wretched I can hardly stand it, and it's not fair to the kids. I'll wait until they're back in school and then throw myself on my doctor's mercy.

Yesterday after I dropped Eve off at her friend's house, Angus spontaneously decided that he and I should make pancakes. I was delighted. I found the recipe and gave him the ingredients and measuring utensils and let him go to it.

I never make the pancakes. Mixing the batter was fine, but the actual cooking of the pancakes went horribly wrong. We waited to long to flip them, then we flipped them too tentatively, so they were burned on one side, then batter splattered out from the underside so they were all lumpy and malformed. We accidentally made one that looked like Mickey Mouse, and a few misshapen blobs, then he wanted to make a giant one so we poured the rest of the batter in the middle of the pan, but then when he flipped it half of it fell on the edge of the pan. We laughed our asses off and drowned the weird-ass pancakes in syrup and ate them. We texted Matt that we would not be usurping his pancake-making duties, and he expressed his relief. Angus was enamoured of the word 'spatula' and said it over and over again until I threatened him with bodily harm.

Speaking of meals that WOULDN'T make Gordon Ramsay curse a blue streak, lunch at Maze with Marilyn was amazing. I usually assume that acclaimed restaurants are overly hyped, because... I don't really know why, actually. Because no matter how you whip, chop and julienne, it's all just food. It's not like they're serving unicorn burps or anything. But then I remember that when you eat a really great meal in a restaurant, it's like everything you eat is the perfect example of itself. The salad I had was the perfect salad, and I felt like every salad I ate for the rest of my life should have butter lettuce and grilled corn and roasted peppers, and I had no idea what was in the dressing but it was PERFECT. The chicken was perfectly cooked and convinced me that chicken should never be without fried yucca and fig reduction. The only thing I didn't adore was the stout ice cream. I thought, like I usually think about wacky ice cream flavours, 'well that can't possibly taste like what I imagine it will taste like', but it did. Turns out I don't like Guinness in a glass or in a scoop. However, they brought us one of each dessert instead of the same one, as we had both ordered, so they gave us the other one anyway, and we discovered that the creme fraiche from the other dessert went really well with our chocolate pudding, so it all turned out fine. Also, it was Restaurant Week in New York so our meal was actually quite reasonably priced. We celebrated this by having hideously expensive cocktails.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


People were blogging about BlogHer yesterday. People were blogging about BlogHer AT BLOGHER! If I went with my instincts, I would be blogging about BlogHer a week from next Thursday at the earliest. I am WIPED. I keep waking up at 4 a.m. and wondering where the hell I am. I nearly started sobbing in the grocery store today when I couldn't find the plantains. I beam loonily at everyone I see and wonder why they don't seem to find me delightful like everyone in New York did.

There are a lot of reasons to go to BlogHer. Improving or Tightening-the-focus-of or Monetizing or Branding your blog are certainly among them, but they weren't among mine. I bought my ticket on a whim last summer when Marilyn said I didn't have to be 'more serious' about blogging to go to BlogHer, I could just go and hang out in New York with some girlfriends (and that she would room with me), and I consulted my husband and he was for it. After buying the ticket and booking the flight, I went into a kind of denial about the whole thing.

When I got to the conference and looked at the list of sessions, I felt a bit like I had missed the boat in a way. I wasn't sure if I should have done a little more research or thought a little more about what I could get out of the sessions. Some of them were pretty far beyond me. I decided not to sweat it and went to the two that really appealed to me, on the grounds of subject matter and people leading the discussion: Blogging for the Love of it with Bon Stewart, Alexandra Rosas and Dorothy Snarker; and Room of Your Own/ Blog2012 A Conversation with Schmutzie, Laurie White and Neil Kramer. Both sessions were wonderful - inspiring, moving, funny and completely enjoyable. I also went to all the keynotes and the opening and closing. I don't have a lot of experience with conferences and a lot of it was quite overwhelming, but also great, and new, and utterly different from my everyday life, and fabulous.

At the end of the conference, Marilyn and Amber asked if I felt like it was worth it and if I would go again. I was spacy and tired and we were in a loud room and I was rambling and she was squinting at me uncomprehendingly and finally I said I was trying to ask if they thought it was legitimate to go to BlogHer just because it's fun. I don't feel like my blogging life is revitalized now or anything, but the warmth and energy of that many people who are passionate about the same thing being in the same place is really quite something. Being able to meet and squish people I've only known online for months or years was fantastic. It turns out that people who are awesome on the internet tend to be awesome in real life - I like that this is something that I know now. So yes, I think even if I never got anything more out of future BlogHers than I got out of this one, I would go again. Because it was big glittery buckets of fun.

I loved the Katie Couric and Martha Stewart interviews, even though I've long had a faint knee-jerk dislike of Martha Stewart. Voices of the Year was amazing. I know what The Suniverse and Aurelia Cotta look like now. The Empress recognized me! (well, she said 'Biblio.....something, right? and that's GOOD ENOUGH, PEOPLE, it's the GODDAMNED EMPRESS!). I drank fabulous drinks on a Manhattan rooftop. I danced my ass off with Beach Mama (although it's somehow managed to find its way home, dammit). A gay man in Central Park said my hair was fabulous and he'd turned straight for the thirty seconds it took him to walk up to me (yes, he was collecting money for charity, but I'd only given him two dollars, so...)

It was great. I'm still processing. I'm so tired.