Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Topless Men

Yesterday I accidentally caused a ruckus on Facebook. I shared an opinion on when and how men should go topless - which is only in private. It was a sort of random thought as I walked past a young man sitting on a coffee shop patio with his top off and on the table in front of him.

Many, many people had something to share in regards to my opinion. I love that I have such a diverse group of friends that responses varied from complete agreement to complete disagreement and that reasons included women's rights and equality, body shaming and feeling comfortable and embracing sexuality or non-sexuality.

I didn't respond much to the comments on my post. My reasons for not wanting to see men walk around public, common space topless are 1) my own and 2) longer than a Facebook reply.

But let me share with you how I've come to my opinion.

I enjoy seeing my man (imaginary as he is right now) topless, at home. That feels like something I've won. It's special. It's just for me.

This is not a modesty or prudish thing. In fact this is a prideful thing.

I am beautiful and I have a great body. I love how I look. I know what works for me. And I am proud of it. I am so proud of it, that I keep it as one of the things I can share with someone I care about. I am a gift and only certain people get to have me.

I wish more people felt this way.

I have no problem with wearing clothes which highlights our best features. If a guy thinks he has a great body and wants to highlight it, there are some great shirts which can show it off.

Skin is alluring. Showing a little is treat for others. It's a mystery. It can be a promise of more. It's a preview of what can be shared if circumstances are right. And I want to win it like a prize.

The beauty of sharing our bodies gets lost to me if it doesn't feel like something given to a person (or persons) of your choice.

I don't want to see people walking around showing what I think should be a something special for someone else to everyone on the street. Which I know does sound prudish... so maybe that's me.

And for the more superficial reasons I don't want to see guys parading around topless - most of the guys who feel comfortable doing that are not the body type that I enjoy. They are hairless, super skinny or heavily muscled. Three definite turn offs for me.

Since I've spent years saying way too much about myself online, let me let you in on one more thing about me. There is a certain way a guy's t-shirt hangs on his back, between his shoulder blades that drives me crazy every time. A man in a t-shirt which fits just right will turn me on infinitely more than any topless man ever will.

Saying that, this is only my opinion, as is everything I share on Facebook, Twitter, my podcast, basically everywhere. People can and will and most definitely should do whatever they feel comfortable doing.

But if you want my attention - keep your shirt on.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thank you

Of course my Spotify Discover playlist today is full of songs which remind me of him. Of course it is because he was the single largest influence on my musical tastes, after my Dad.

I was just a 21 year old kid when I met him. So young, so still unsure of who I was and what I could be.

Despite being 6 years older than me he always treated me with respect, like an equal. He asked my opinions and valued them. He always gave me copies of his music and would sit and ask me to tell him what I thought of every song. I think it was only in his music he could ever be himself.

He cared too much about people's opinions. He wanted to be what people wanted him to be. He tried so hard to be what other people wanted that he got lost.

We all have a part of ourselves, a little box, which carries the words of support and love from our friends and family. We can open it up when times are bad and remember that we are loved. But he didn't have a box, he couldn't carry the love people gave him, so he needed it all the time and broke himself trying to get it.

Eventually I also wanted him to be something he could not be, and I saw him hurting himself trying to be that. I didn't want to be, but I was hurting him. I could not be one of the many reasons he had to hurt himself. So I left.

Don't get me wrong, he was also hurting me, and he was hurting a lot of other people he cared about then. It was not a good time, and I didn't get the best version of him. But he helped me find the best version of myself.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hard lessons

Here's a lesson I learned 5 years ago, and again last spring, and once more today in the most definitive way - you can not love a person so much they get well. No amount of love will ever help that person if they don't love themselves and if they don't think they are worth loving.

I gave love until I couldn't anymore, until I had nothing left to give and it didn't make a difference.

But I didn't ever actually stop loving and now there is nowhere for this to go anymore.

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's my writing challenge and I can change the rules if I want!

And so I did. I'm starting today rather than yesterday.

I've gotten a few suggestions from people which are fun. But I'm going to start by telling you about my mental health right now.

Many people who know me know that I deal with a pretty big depressive episode every summer and I'm well into it now.

It starts with a bang one day sometime in May usually, though this year my first indication was a couple of weeks early in April. And then the couple of bad days go and I'm better, but not as bright as I was before the bad days. I get two more really bad drops which usually last a week or two and when I recover from those I'm never as up as I was before that bout.

And then someone turns off the tap of depression and one day between September 3rd and 7th I wake up feeling fantastic and happy and like the world is in colour and I'm excited for everything coming. Just like that. Like a snap of the fingers and I'm a completely different person.

It's really kind of amazing actually.

Right now I'm 5 days into my first really bad week of the season. It starts with being irritable and not having patience with people, and becomes gut wrenching anxiety which leads to not being able to eat much because my throat just closes when I put food in my mouth and it hurts to swallow anything but liquids.

And I can spend hours sitting, staring at nothing, thinking nothing. Keeping focused on anything, to read, to speak, to write, to listen, feels like so much work.

Until yesterday I had taken a nap every day this week, not because I was tired but because I just couldn't bear to be awake anymore. Hours of this feeling is awful. If I'm asleep at least I won't feel this weight.

I feel so unlike myself when this happens.

Just the day before I woke up in a bad way I was with friends, enjoying the weather and music and food and company. And I'm so glad this episode started the day after that because I would have had such a different experience on that day.

I think about the moments when I was enjoying being where I was on Sunday, savouring the good things and I know how I would have felt having the exact same experience the next day.

Instead of savouring the good things I would have recognized how great the experience was and be sad that it would be over soon. It's such a tiny difference in attitude between enjoying a moment and being sad that a moment is passing, but for me it's like being two completely different people. And this week I woke up as the person who is always sad that every great moment is constantly passing.

I believe strongly in the value of a gratitude journal, and over the summer, when I'm at my lowest, my gratitude journal is my most important tool. It keeps me more grounded in time and reality. Right now, I am grateful for my shady backyard to work in. And I'm trying not to be sad that this afternoon is slipping away and I'm moving further away from myself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Writing Challenge

Remember back when I used to write blog posts and record podcasts? Those were good times weren't they?

I've been thinking I'd like to write more often so that I can remember how to do this. I kind of feel like taking on a blogging challenge again. But I think I'll need your help.

I want to write every day for 30 days, but I want to do it BattleDecks style, or whatever the written equivalent of that is.

So I need 30 topics, or quotes, or photos or whatever so that I can write a blog post per day on whatever I've been given.

This is the only part of this challenge where I will ask you to do work. I expect to see 30 comments on this post so that I can start on Thursday and write every day until the 15th of July.

My extemporaneous writing is strictly non-fiction. Don't expect to see any wild stories here.

And go!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Writing Through my Feelings on the End of an Era (with no edits)

Our daily local newspaper announced it's shuttering today. After 149 years in print, The Guelph Mercury will end on Friday.

I've had so many thoughts come fast and furious while seeing other people's reactions, reading the press release, hearing the cries for local news.

My feelings are so complicated around this.

First, let me say, I know some very good people who lost their jobs today. In the end that is really the only thing which matters. Journalism is not a job with a lot of security nowadays, and it is a job with a glut of people competing for what's left. Guelph is also a city with an incredibly low un-employment rate, and what feels like an impossibly low selection of quality jobs. Not only did very good people lose their jobs, it's highly likely they've also lost their home because they will need to go elsewhere to work.

I think many people know my feelings around traditional media. We broke up about 6 or 7 years ago.

I started listening to podcasts in 2005. I started getting my pop culture criticism online, my news online, my education online.

In 2008 I started watching shows made exclusively for internet broadcast. I cut the cord on my cable and only in the last 2 years has network television pulled me back with superhero shows.

The Guelph Mercury is very traditional media. Just because I have (we all have really) seen the end of traditional media for years does not mean I rejoice in this. It really upsets me to see not only our local paper, but papers and broadcast news (remember CHCH friends?) all over Canada struggle and close.

After almost 200 hundred years of one model it becomes almost impossible to change. I don't think people who worked in the Mercury bullpen, or in the ad sales division even, didn't want to embrace change, but they were in an atmosphere where innovation was not encouraged.

Over the day I've seen many people suggest starting their own newspaper. I'm glad to see that so many people think that daily local news is really important for our community. But I'm also insulted on behalf of the many great journalists who have lost their job today.

The closing of the Guelph Mercury today, and the way the industry has been cutting corners for years, is not costing us access to local news. There are so many ways to get that. What we are losing is intelligent and readable analysis of what is happening in our community.

I'm all for citizen journalism, but just stating the facts is not journalism. And just sharing your opinion is also not journalism. Real journalists end up somewhere in between, taking all the facts, their opinion and the opinions of people important to the issue and helping you understand all the sides.

I'm not happy today at one more death in traditional media. And I'm not happy that yet again a valuable resource can't adapt to the new atmosphere.

The world doesn't change in one day, it's through little events over the course of years, until you turn around and realize nothing around you is the same as it was before. But for those few who keep moving forward without looking around, it comes as a huge shock when you realize you don't fit here anymore. And that's what is happening to traditional media right now.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Paradox of Being a Live Music Loving Introvert

From Introvert Doodles
I find people exhausting. There, I've said it.

I get irritable and cranky in crowds. I spend a day recovering from a party. Usually by sleeping in and taking a nap and staying in my pyjamas. I can usually handle it by focusing on one or two people, or on a task.

Going out takes my energy away.

The weird part though is that the things I go out to do bring me energy. Going out dancing brings me energy. Getting onstage to sing my favourite songs brings me energy. Seeing other people perform live music brings me energy.

What's a person to do!?

As it turns out, on an average week it cost me about as much energy to go out as it does to not go out. I manage okay. But this was not an average week. Six days in a row of all the best people, music and fun.

I didn't make it. I had to take a break mid-week and miss what sounds like a pretty great event on Thursday night. But I don't regret it a bit. If I hadn't stayed home, watching movies wrapped in a blanket on the couch, I never would have gone out the rest of the weekend.

Staying home Thursday night meant that I had enough energy to stay out way too late and have way to much fun both Friday and Saturday night.

But the best night of the weekend ended up being Sunday.

Last night was the monthly Campfire Sessions, which is when a large rowdy group of musicians sit around a table of tea lights and sing songs. The last three months in a row the night was quite the hootenanny with as many musicians as people standing and watching. Good luck trying to get up and use the bathroom on these nights. You're as likely to get hit by a stringed instrument as a pint of beer trying to navigate through the crowd. Exactly the type of event which gives me panic attacks.

But not last night. Last night was some type of serendipity. The universe knew I couldn't handle one more night of the crush of the crowd and instead delivered an amazing, low-key night where only the most hard-core of Campfire sitters came out.

I guess it was a long week for everyone, and that suited me just fine.

It was quiet enough to hear all the great players. The flutes and the accordion and the violins shined over the guitars. And the singing voices cut through it all.

Somehow, going out last night didn't leave me with an equally balanced depletion and addition of energy. Amazingly I feel like I could take on the world today. I came home with a surplus!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reflections on a friend's passing

Upon news this morning that yet another person has been taken by cancer too young, this a very dear woman, mother to a friend I've had almost all of my life, I realize that it can happen at any time, to anyone, and usually much too early.

This gives me even more drive to stay healthy and active, take care of things that concern me and get all of my regular check-ups, no matter how uncomfortable.

But more importantly, it reminds me to live a life as happily as I can because it's just too short. Even 100 more years doesn't seem long enough to take it all in.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book #3 of the Year

I'm reading The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) by Chris Hardwick. (affiliate link)

Yes, some people think he is a dick. Some people think he has appropriated the Nerd title and used to build a fake geek empire. Some people just think he's full of himself.
Photo by Chris Glass

I think he is a comedian who has worked in the industry long enough to have a lot of relationships with people I wan to hear more from and works really hard to surround himself with people who make great stuff.

A lot of people ask me if I listen to WTF with Marc Maron and a few others if I listen to Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin. I don't. I listen to The Nerdist. I think at their base, all three shows are the same, the only difference is the personality of the host, the one who is leading the conversation with the guest. Well, The Nerdist has one other difference and that's the other hosts, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira. But often they act more like us, the listener.

For whatever reason, I've connected with Chris Hardwick's version of pompous ass so I listen to his show.

I put The Nerdist Way on my To Be Read list sometime last year or the year before and just happened to find it on the discard rack at my local library. I scanned through it and thought I would not bother reading it, until I remembered it was on my list. So I spent my cherished 50 cents and bought it.

I'm a hundred pages into a roughly 300 page book and here are my thoughts.

Chris Hardwick's writing style is best described as THIS IS IMPORTANT SO I'M WRITING IT IN ALL CAPS.

Honestly, there are so many all caps in this book it hurts my brain to look at the page.

Also, he is writing as a person talking to the reader, so everything is him telling me how I feel and it's really frustrating because I do not feel the way he is yelling that I do.

Reading this book is less relevant to me than the CBT training I took. I do not suffer from any of the negative thinking he is "teaching" the reader to let go of.

I had hoped this book would talk more about being creative and building things. I admire people who create jobs out of doing what they love, especially when it's completely unrecognizable as a job. People who can describe what they do for a living and the most common response is "Wait, you can get paid to do that?" really interest me. I want to hear more.

The book is divided into three parts, Mind, Body and Time. I have stopped fully reading the section I am on, Mind, and I suspect I will zoom through Body, but hopefully, there will be something I actually enjoy in Time.

And even though I am not reading every word, and skimming quickly through pages at a time, I will still count this as a book read at the end of the week.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nothing to say but I'm saying it anyway

I have a half finished blog in my drafts. It might be even less than half finished, I can't be concise since I started morning pages. It's on the last year and how well I did, or didn't do, and what I hope the next year will look like.

I also have a podcast topic in my head I've been meaning to record for weeks. I stay up late at night thinking through my thoughts.

But you will get neither of those today. Today you will get this short post talking about how you don't get those.

I have had an urge to write more lately and to be share my thoughts and feelings more than I can in a short Facebook or Twitter post. And that's really what blogging is for, isn't it?

So this is just a kickstart, to try to get me back into the habit. Sometimes you just need to start. Actually, every time you just need to start.


A bunch of books I've already read
I set myself a challenge to read a book a week this year, or more rightly to read 52 books. Some books might take more than a week, some less. I'm not going to worry about that part. I have already finished 2 books and am well into my 3rd of the year, so that's going well. On top of that, the book I just finished and the one I am currently reading have been on my to read list for a year.

If you want to follow along and see what I'm reading you can follow me on Goodreads. And if you want to suggest a book, well you know how to leave a comment. The less straight, white and North American the writer, the better.

Writing about food will come. Not to worry.