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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

You Feel What You Eat

Posted by melagee on March 31, 2011

Earlier this week I felt miserable. I felt both mentally and physically slow. In spite of the fact that there’s nothing really wrong with my life right now, I felt weighed down simply by existing. In short, I felt the dull sludge of depression.

I mean, I thought I did. Then I ate some vegetables.

Last Friday I ate potato chips and McDonalds. On Saturday Ihad KFC and popcorn. Sunday, more chips. Each of these food items came accompanied by soft drinks. The weirdest part about this junk-foodathon is that I don’t even know why I did it. I had excuses for all of this junk, but they were flimsy and none of this food even tasted all that good. Okay, that’s a lie, it all tasted pretty fucking delicious. But still! Junk food is not a thing I do a lot of anymore.

Ever since I went back to library work, I’ve been making progressively less and less money. Suddenly saving money wasn’t just something that might be nice to do, so I could buy some more comic books – saving money was essential if I wanted to keep paying my rent. It didn’t take me long to discover that buying a bunch of carrots and grapes at the corner market was cheaper and more convenient than going to the supermarket and buying chips. Soda, even when it only costs $1 for a 2ltr bottle, was more expensive than water, so I stopped buying soda. Fast food was way more expensive than rice and veggies, so I stopped buying fast food. Basically, I started eating way healthier because I was too poor to eat like crap. And even then only because I am lucky enough to live super close to a wonderful produce market.

Anyway, once I realized that there was probably a link between the food I’d eaten all weekend, and the miserable mood I was in, I went back to my water and my carrots, and I felt better within a couple of days. The only reason any of this is noteworthy is because it surprised me to see real physical effects resulting from my poor eating habits – I mean other than just me being fat. People have been saying for years that eating crappy food will make you feel crappy, but I had no idea how true it was. Having dealt with depression before, I am astonished at how much the effects of my weekend-diet felt like depression. It certainly puts my entire childhood, where chips and soda were often considered dinner, into a new light.

 

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Posted in Essential Melanie, Rants | Leave a Comment »

What is a feminist?

Posted by melagee on May 26, 2010

I have always been a feminist.  That is to say, I have always felt capable of doing the same things my brothers and male friends did, and I never assumed that my role in life was set based on my sex.  I have always believed that men and women deserve equal status in all cultures, while recognizing that they don’t receive it in most cultures (including my own).  I have often felt defined by the fact that I was a girl and am now a woman, but never felt like that meant much more than that my personality suits my body, and I am “allowed” to wear dresses and be pretty.*

When I look back on my childhood I can recognize that I was raised in a feminist household.  My mother raised me and my siblings on her own, and whatever mistakes she may have made, I am grateful that she taught me just what strength and power a woman is capable of; which is, no more or less than what a man is capable of.  I do not believe that one sex is better, strong, smarter, or more entitled than the other; rather I believe that both (or all) sexes deserve the same opportunities, the same rights, and the same privileges.

What I have just described are, to me, the basic tenants to being a feminist.  If you agree with the above statements, then congratulations: you are a feminist, as far as I am concerned.  Not everyone will agree with that statement, arguing that it takes more (or less) to be labeled a feminist, but that’s okay.  The word “feminist” is not a solid object that can be described to everyone’s mutual satisfaction.  It is a fluid term that changes with time and perspective, and from person to person.

Many people feel that “feminism” is a four-letter-word, either because they do not agree with equality among the sexes, or because they have seen the word co-opted by those they deem “loud” or “crazy” or “man-haters”.  Occasionally I feel the need to distance myself from those people, as though their use of the label will taint my own.  But the truth is, those people have as much right to the label as I do.  If I cannot clearly and precisely define what it means to be a feminist, then I cannot dictate who amongst us is truly entitled to wear the label.  More than that: I am a feminist who has at times been dismissed as too loud or too crazy.  I may not agree with the opinions and perspectives of everyone who identifies as a feminist, but I support most people (see first two paragraphs) in their use of the label, and I do this because sometimes the loud and the crazy are telling us what we need to hear, even if we don’t want to hear it.

 

*please note, boys are also allowed to wear dresses and be pretty, and girls are not required to wear dresses or be pretty. I’m deliberately steriotyping to make a point.

Posted in Essential Melanie, Feminism, Rants | Leave a Comment »

The “N” Word

Posted by melagee on January 28, 2010

I had this blog mostly written out, and then I realized that I was emphasizing a point that I didn’t want to make.

My point is this:  Words have power, and on a personal level I both respect and support that power.  Also, I am resistant to change.

I think we can pretty well all agree that there are certain words in the english language that you just can’t say, especially if you are part of culturally normative or historically oppressive group.  Yes, I’m looking at you, Straight White Males.  I’m not going to list these words, since I’m sure you already know what they are, but I would bet good odds that you’ve used at least one of those taboo words at least once in your life, in a way that you (should) feel guilty about today.  I have.

I am a white girl, and when I was young  my best friend was a black girl.  One day she called me a nasty name and I called her one back.  The nastiest name you could call a young black girl.  To this day when I think of that moment I feel guilt and shame and regret.  So much so that several years later when I’m retelling the story, I cannot bring myself to repeat, verbatim, the content of the argument.  Instead I have to leave it up to you to guess at what was said.

I started this post the first time around making the argument that there are certain situations in which it is okay to say things that you normally now you’re not supposed to say.  Like the word I used on my best friend when I was a kid.  I started to argue that there were situations, like in retelling a story, when it was okay to use the word, because in that situation it didn’t carry with it any of the usual connotations that come with a white person using language that was designed to oppress.  In that situation I was just repeating a story.  I insisted that in situations like that, there was no harm done is using the word, and in fact it was silly not to!

But I think I was wrong.  Words are so incredibly powerful, and some words hold so much weight and I love that!  Because some words convey ideas that are so weighed down with history and meaning that they absolutely should be heavy and they should cause an emotional response so that every time we hear those words or say those words or think those words, we are reminded of what those words mean and where they came from.  Some words command our attention, even if only in the threat of being used.

Of course the rules are different when you’re part of the oppressed group and you’re claiming the Power Word for your own.  As a woman I will happily refer to myself as a chick, a broad, a dame, or a skirt.  I don’t do it that often, but it’s okay for me to do it because I understand what those words mean and my use of them is changing their meaning, at least within this context.  But then, if you’re reading this right now, the odds are good that you’re my friend and you already know all about reclaiming power by co-opting words.

I know that everything, including the definitions of words in the english language, changes over time, but in some cases (many cases) I am not ready for that change to happen, and the truth is that I don’t think the rest of us are either.

Posted in Rants | 1 Comment »

Laws for Living

Posted by melagee on December 11, 2009

If I ruled the world, there would be certain laws that everyone would be forced to follow.  The brilliant common sense approach to my Laws is probably why I don’t rule the world.  Politics has a habit of being as convoluted and complicated as humanly possible.

Here are a couple of my Laws.

Law #1:  Anyone waiting to exit or enter an elevator must maintain a minimum distance of at least 2 feet from the door.  This prevents the uncomfortable surprise encroachment of your body into other people’s personal space when the door eventually opens.  This Law also applies to buses and subways.

Law #2: When riding on an express bus which is consistently jam-packed during rush hour, provided there is a non-express bus which covers basically the same route, all passengers are prohibited from carrying onto the express bus any of the following items: a baby stroller; gear for your week-long camping trip; a guitar or otherwise ginormous instrument; more than two children under the age of 7.

Posted in Rants | 1 Comment »

Why do they SCREAM so much??!

Posted by melagee on October 15, 2009

I just had the most interesting conversation with a coworker.

We were talking about her daughter, and kids in general, and I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t ever have kids because I don’t want any, and she said she doesn’t blame me and understands why.  She then went on to tell me that her daughter was a mistake.  “But,” I said, “You were trying to get pregnant, weren’t you?”

“Yes,” she said, “But it was a mistake.  My instincts told me to be a mother, and I find that I don’t like it.  I’m not cut out for it.”

“Well, it all worked out for the best.”  I said.

“Not really.”  She shrugged.  “It would have been better if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.”

I laughed because I still didn’t quite understand what she was saying to me.  “But you love your daughter!”

“Of course I do, and I would give my life for her, but it was a mistake for me to have kids.”

“But it’s not like you would do things differently if you had the chance!”

“I would do things differently.  If I could do it all over, knowing what I know now, I would not have kids.”

“…And just live your life without your daughter?”

“Yes.”

I don’t really know what to say to this, so I kind of change the subject.  I thought it was really interesting to hear someone say that they love their child, but if they could go back and undo the existence of their child, they would.  How does that work?  Especially if you are making the decisions based on what you know now – that means you would go back in time, prevent the conception and birth of the daughter you love so much, and then continue with the rest of your life with the memory of a daughter who never existed.  I…what am I missing here?  I am trying to make sense of that concept and not just have a gut reaction to it, because I know how frustrated I get when people are “confused” by the fact that I don’t want to have children.

Despite the fact that I really don’t understand my coworker’s ideas about changing the past, I do understand her contention that it was a mistake for her to have kids.  I understand using hindsight to reflect on past deeds and admit that the things you did were not necessarily in your best interest, even if they were things that you wanted at the time.  I think that if more people took the time to consider this possibility, maybe there would be fewer unwanted and abused children in the world.  Or maybe that is a gross oversimplification.  Who knows?  What I do know is that it makes me even less likely to ever have kids (if that’s even possible).

And in recent news, I am apparently more afraid of commitment than anyone ever in the entire history of the world.

Posted in Essential Melanie, Rants, Work | Leave a Comment »

Good news!

Posted by melagee on October 13, 2009

I am now living above ground with the normal people!  This is a happy and joyous announcement.

For the past year I have been living in a Cave, and it has caused me to be sad and depressed.  There is very little light in The Cave, and the cats and I were miserable being down below like a bunch of morlocks.  Also, carpeting is a bad bad bad bad idea when you have cats, especially when those cats are prone to “accidents” when they’re angry at their human overlords.

But those problems are a thing of the past!  For the past 14 days I have lived above ground on the second floor of a lovely (ish) old building in a much friendlier part of town!  I have natural light – and lots of it! – and hardwood floors and an apartment layout that actually makes sense and doesn’t make me feel like I actually just have a bachelors apartment with a facsimile of a door!  My bedroom is actually separated from my living room by whole entire walls and a door that fully closes!  Such amenities are not readily available in a Cave, so this is a nice switch for me!

The new apartment is not without it’s share of problems, but at least I feel like I am a human being again, which is quite nice.  Feeling like not a human being is kind of icky and makes me not ever want to get out of bed.  So, win!

And the cats?  Not one vengeful peeing since we’ve moved in.  Which is really saying a lot.  Apparently all it takes to make my cats happy is a daily sunbeam.  Win, again!

I believe a housewarming is in order!

Posted in Rants | 2 Comments »

An Open Letter to Translink

Posted by melagee on July 26, 2009

Dear Translink:

You’ll have to forgive me, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I’ve been up and writing since 6am, and I am completely exhausted.  Consequently, I may come across a tad more harsh than I wish to, but the fact is that if I don’t say it now, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the nerve to say it.  So here goes.

Why are you guys such assholes?

Okay, that was a big broad.  Let’s focus, shall we?

The bus drivers.  What the fuck is up with the bus drivers?  I rode transit everywhere when I lived in Toronto, all of my life, and I never had serious difficulties with my balance on the buses, the streetcars, of the subway.  And yet as soon as I moved here and set foot on a bus, I couldn’t stand up straight if my life were depending on it – which it often is, considering the way you guys drive.

I thought it was just me, at first.  I thought I had lost my balance some how and I would figure out how to walk on these crazy buses eventually.  But it’s been almost a year now, and I still have yet to make it to my seat on a moving bus without threatening to land face down on the floor.  What’s more, I’ve expressed my concerns about this to other people and have found that I’m not the only one!  Several people have problems standing up right on your buses on a regular basis.

And, not to seem all paranoid, but sometimes I think that when the bus barrels down the street and I land hard on my ass from the force of being thrown back — sometimes I think I can see the driver stealing a furtive glance in the rear view mirror and chuckling softly to himself.

So seriously, what the fuck?  This is just one of many problems with Translink (should I talk about the slow and infrequent service?  the hostile attitude to those who are new to vancouver transit? how about the complete inability of anyone in charge to think beyond a few years and adequately prepare for the future?), and right now it’s the problem that baffles me the most.  Why on earth do your bus drivers have to be such tremendous assholes?

Are all of the bus drivers in vancouver playing one big game that no one is aware of?  Do you have an intricate points system in place for knocking people around the bus and potentially on to the floor?  Because if this is a competition, you should just tell me.  I like to win, and I’d pro ably take a dive.  But you have to tell me, otherwise I’ll just keep trying to stay on my feet.

Anyway, I think I’ve said enough.  I think you’ve got the message now.  I look forward to hearing from you on this matter as soon as possible so that we can put these issues to bed.

Yours in perpetuity,
Melanie C.

Posted in Blogathon 2009, Rants | 1 Comment »

Common Sense Advice That Just Isn’t True

Posted by melagee on July 25, 2009

1) Milk is mucus forming.

Actually, it’s not.  A lot of people think that when you drink something milky (like milk!) or creamy, that it increases the amount of phlegm in your throat and nose.  There has never been a study that conclusively proved a link between the consumption of milk and the increase in mucus and there is absolutely zero scientific evidence to support the theory.  Milk is a creamy substance that coats the throat as it goes down, and this causes some people to confuse that coating with actual mucus production.  This is also one of those misnomers that people believe because they’ve been told to.  So you may think you have an increase in mucus when you drink milk, but that’s only because you’ve been told this happens.  More information on this can be found here.

2) Eating before bedtime slows down weight loss

The idea is that if you eat a bunch of foods and then go to sleep or lie down right away, your body doesn’t have the chance to burn up all of the calories you just took in and you will get fatter.  In fact it doesn’t matter if you get your exercise right after you eat, or if you get it the next morning.  What matters, as far as weight gain goes, is that you balance your calorie intake with your exercise, and it really doesn’t matter too much when you do one or the other.  Also, this is another situation where the way in which your brain works can come into play: sometimes people who eat late at night can gain weight because they take a relaxed approach to late-night dining and have a harder time denying themselves a second helping, larger portions, or foods that are generally bad for you.  This is not so much related to being still in bed as it is to the way many people feel more relaxed at night.  More info here.

3) Wait 1 hour after eating before swimming

I bet that most of the people who follow this advice don’t even really understand why.  The myth is that if you go swimming within an hour after eating, you will get stomach cramps and possibly curl up in pain and drown.  The idea behind the myth is that exercising causes the heart to pump blood to your skeletal muscles, however, having a bunch of food in your belly causes your heart to pump blood to your stomach instead, which causes a lack of oxygen to your skeletal muscles and results in cramping.  Most of us have hearts strong enough to pump blood to more than one place, so this really isn’t a concern.  A large meal might hinder your performance if you decide to exercise right away, but only because it might cause you to feel sluggish.  Generally speaking, if you’re going to be exercising for more than an hour, it’s a good idea to eat something first.  Need more?

4) Drink 8 glasses of water per day

Yeeeeeaaaah, no.  The 8 glasses of water rule is really arbitrary, and not even a good rule of thumb.  Water is good for you, and you should drink lots of it, but to say that everyone regardless of age, weight, activity level, environment, should be drinking the same amount of water is to oversimplify the importance of drinking a proper amount of water each day.  Most people do not need to drink as much as 8 cups a day (1 cup being 250 mil), either, so there could be a risk of over hydrating.  Oh, and guess what?  The other liquids you drink, including juice, pop, and even beer, all count towards your required daily intake.  A glass of cola won’t give you the same amount of water intake as a glass of water would, but it will give you some, and if you drink a lot of cola you can become tolerant to some of its dehydrating properties and get even more water value out of it.  I won’t go into how food also counts towards your daily intake, though, since that’s just getting freaky.  More info!

5) Shaving makes your hair grow back faster and coarser

This is my favourite one, because this is the one that people vehemently cling to and refuse to give up.  Practically every woman I know points to her own legs as proof that when you start shaving the hair will grow back so much faster and coarser.  If you want to know why it seems like your leg hair is growing back faster and coarser, here’s why:  first of all, don’t compare your current leg hair with the leg hair you had as a 12-year-old girl.  Hormones have a very distinct effect on your body hair, as far as the speed of growth and the roughness of the hair, and the fact that you had softer hair when you were prepubescent is really very normal.  We all had different hair when we were kids.  How many brunettes do you know who used to be blond?  Regardless of whether you had started shaving or not, you would still have the same kind of leg hair you have now, and you can thank your hormones for that, not your razor.

Coarseness can also seem amplified by the fact that when you shave your hair, you’re cutting your hair on an angle, and when the part of your leg hair that’s just under the skin starts to grow out again, it’s growing out on that same angle that gives the appearance of thickness.  Not to mention that when it’s first starting to poke out of your leg it tends to stand up straight until it’s long enough to flop over and lay flat, which again, makes it seem like your leg hair is pointy and rough.  Finally, there’s the fact that when you shave and the hair starts to grow in again, it’s really easy to make the comparison between hairless and hairy, and have it seem like it’s moving superfast.  Once the hair has started to grow, it becomes a lot harder to make the comparison between hairy and harrier.  People tend to make a correlation between the fact that they JUST shaved and the hair is growing out already, but that’s like when you’ve JUST cleaned the floor and you see the first muddy footprint.  The fact that you cleaned the floor doesn’t mean it’s going to get dirty faster than it would if you didn’t clean it, it’s just easier to notice the dirt immediately after you’ve done the cleaning.  Here’s a little bit more about this.  And here.

Posted in Blogathon 2009, Rants | 1 Comment »

Guest Blog: Truth in Politics

Posted by melagee on July 25, 2009

When Melanie asked me to write a guest post for her blogathon run, I accepted, but really had no idea what to write.  In fact, I’d held off of worrying about it ’till Thursday night when it occurred to me that a running argument with my parents might make for good content.  It’s something that’s been nagging at me since I ran for an MLA seat in the last provincial election and I suppose if I never write it out, it will never be written.

The thing is, I am so very tired of people complaining about how all politicians are liars.  I hear it all the time, especially when I talk about how I want to get deeper into politics: “Why would you want to do that? You seem like a nice guy and politicians can’t be trusted”.

The ugly truth though, the truth I didn’t really begin to understand until recently is that honesty will never exist in politics so long as the public continues to have unreasonable expectations for their leaders. We want free health care, but want taxes as low as those in the United States and we want movement on environmental reform, but flip out if the price of gas goes up a few cents.  The truth is that nearly every key issue in modern politics is just a balancing act between trying to do what’s Right and not pissing off too many people to lose your job.

Don’t kid yourself, this is our problem, not the politician’s. They’ve been trying for years to do what’s Right while everyone else has been screaming that it’s either (a) not good enough, or (b) scary and/or wrong. If we want responsible and honest leadership, we as citizens of a (pseudo-)democracy have a responsibility to inform ourselves and make the same efforts our leaders are making to understand the situation.  Only then will a politician be able to stand in front of the lot of us and be honest, because they’ll be giving us the good news with the bad.

So here’s some truth to get you started:

  • Real environmental change is going to require sacrifice.  Not too much though if we do it Right.  We need to move away from unsustainable suburban lifestyles and begin converting these communities into self-contained, rail-based communities that aren’t dependent on private automobiles. This is going to hurt, but it has to be done if we expect our grand kids to enjoy living.
  • Movement on copyright reform and net neutrality is the Right thing to do, but if we’re going to do it, we have to be willing to stand against the US and to a larger extent NAFTA and the WTO and whatever they may do in retaliation.  These entities profit considerably in the areas of copyright and telecommunications and to move on this will piss off a lot of powerful people.

I’m running out of time, so I’m afraid that I can’t add any more, but that’s a start.  Remember that a necessary requirement for a strong Democracy is an educated public.  This isn’t just so we can’t be duped by pretenders to the crown, but it’s equally crucial for us to be able to accept the bad news that comes with the change we know we need.

Daniel Quinn is a close friend and the source of many thought-provoking conversations.  He is always growing, and always expanding his base of expertise by trying new things.  He’s also one of the few people I know that doesn’t lie down in the face of adversity; when he sees something wrong,or room for improvement, he does something about it.  He’s not just empty words, though it is worth noting that his words are also pretty awesome.  You can check out more of them at his own blog, Searching for Tao.

Posted in Blogathon 2009, Buds, Rants | 3 Comments »

Reiteration of Vegetarianism

Posted by melagee on July 25, 2009

Originally I said that I was a vegetarian if I said so, and it didn’t matter if I fit with other peoples definitions of the word.  The two people who actually read that blog post didn’t agree with me, but I haven’t changed my mind.  I just think they didn’t understand the point I was trying to make.

If I choose to be identified by a certain label, it’s really my choice.  It’s rude and arrogant to assume that you are better able to define someone than they are.  Really, if you want to define vegetarian in whatever way you want, you can do that; but if I am asking you to do me the courtesy of using the label I choose on my personally, then you should respect that.  It is just intolerably rude if I tell you that I am a vegetarian and you say No you’re not.

I do not tell you that you’re not really christian, because you don’t go to church every week.  I do not tell you that you’re not really a woman, because you don’t have a vagina.  I do not tell you that you’re not really nerdy, because you don’t read comic books.  To define a label and then apply it to other people is absolutely fine.  To do so to a specific person who has asked you not to, is really not fine.  It’s rude.  How many ways can I say it?  Rude.

Posted in Blogathon 2009, Rants | 1 Comment »