the musings of a cynical optimist

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Great Expectations. An apology to my hamster.

Every so often when I think about what a great person I’ve become, I think about this asinine personal development exercise a lot of my like minded friends do.  

I’m hazy on the details but basically you call everyone you’ve ever been a piece of shit to, you acknowledge and apologize for being a piece of shit. Everyone gets closure and you move on with your lives. Clean slate.

I will NEVER do this. I’ve gotten away with some pretty impressive schemes and I have too much pride to out myself. Besides, does that girl from grade 9 really need to be reminded of the fake diary entry I wrote in her agenda about masterbating over that guy from the basketball team? (It was a prank gone wrong). Live and let live I say.  

But what if you do want to come clean and that person, or hamster as the case may be, is looong gone. Which leads me to the tale of the best hamster ever.   

My first hamster was Gibble. Gibble bit me a lot. Gibble chewed through the cage. I could only play with the hamster in the bathroom because my mom accurately believed them to be disgusting little rodents. So Gibble found a hole under the bathroom cupboard and ran away to chew the drywall. I cried while my mom dragged me to brownies, and my dad begrudgingly disassembled the entire bathroom to capture Gibble.

Two events led to my disappointment with Gibble. She didn’t have balls. That’s right. I wanted a boy hamster. I also only liked male singers. I blame the media for making me such a sexist child.  

Second, Gibble didn’t talk. Did anyone ever tell you if you believed in something enough it would happen? If your parents did a half decent job, they probably raised a hopeful, optimistic child.  That’s what I was until Gibble. I held Gibble against her will. I repeated simple words and phrases waiting for her to repeat them back in the hopes that I could teach her to talk so we could be best friends. Keep in mind that virtually all kids shows feature talking animals so it seemed realistic that with enough practice, Gibble could be fluent.  

Eventually I gave up. Soon after, Gibble died. I cried all night as my mom patiently comforted me. 

Nothing eases the pain of losing a pet like getting a new one. So a few weeks later we got Karmel. Named after my favorite chocolate bar Caramilk – kinda. I can’t tell you much about Karmel. He was a boy. He was a beautiful gray long haired hamster. He got food and water and the odd time i’d play with him or feed him something weird. I think he lived for a few years. Then we got a dog. We let the dog play with him once. That was a little sketchy.

Like his life, Karmel’s death was a non-event. Like most of our hamsters, he was put in the freezer to await a summer burial in the garden.

So here it is. Let it be known that I am sorry for torturing Gibble with speech lessons.  But mostly, i’m sorry for not giving Karmel the love he deserved. My expectations were slightly unreasonable and it wasn’t your fault. You were a great hamster – even if you couldn’t talk. 

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Winning! At sucking.

A gorgeous full moon - and some smouldering police cars.

Ever snort white powder off a toilet at a 2 Live Crew concert? Gotten so drunk you threw up in the hot tub? Just felt so lazy, you didn’t pick up your dog’s crap?

If you haven’t done any of these, chances are good you know someone who has. Chances are very, very good. Like, 100% good.

You see, recently, there was a riot in my beloved city of Vancouver and I was really upset. I was angry and sad, and mostly very confused about who these idiots were. They are completely opposite of me. Totally immoral, spoiled, selfish, and also, not particularily good at rioting – posing for pictures as you torch a cop car? No face masks? Come on people?!

Details emerged that many of these trouble makers are indeed normal people. They have nice families, day jobs, pay taxes, enjoy bowling. So I started questioning why I was so mad at them. And I thought of that quote.

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”

Well, I also hated them because they gave the best city in the world some really bad international press and destroyed a lot of businesses for no reason but that’s neither here nor there.

The truth is, most of us do some combination of something stupid and morally questionable, virtually everyday. Sure, some things are worse then others; morality is a sliding scale. But  stupidity is a vital part of being a human and we are all, at one time or another, stupid.

We justify what we do. We rationalize it. We tell ourselves stories to make ourselves feel better. But i bet you could write a list just as long as I have of bad, dumb things people do.

This list includes but is not limited to…

-lying, cheating on people or tests, smoking things, drinking until you barf more than once, trash talking other people, eating foods that we know aren’t good for us, embracing a culture addicted to oil, plastic and other things that are poisoning our planet.

I have ridden my bike without a helmet. That’s illegal.

I locked my keys in my car while it was running. That’s stupid.

I stole a guy’s hoodie. Actually he was drunk and I asked for it and he handed it over – but still, it was like stealing candy from a baby. That’s mean and immoral. And I still have the hoodie. And I’m not giving it back.

I ate McDonalds immediately after watching Supersize Me. And I don’t even like McDonalds! That’s completely irrational.

These facts combined with my love of huge crowds, my obsession with the sound of smashing glass, and my affinity for Palm Bay, give me the profile of a rioter. Holy shit!

If CBC had a record of all the things i’ve thought, felt and done that i shouldn’t have. Man, i’d be so screwed. Admit it. You would too.

So as the public lynching continues, I will judge others by the same rules I judge myself by.

Realizing my own flaws has knocked me off my arrogant throne of moral and intellectual superiority. It’s made me more humble, less judgemental and much less angry. Which is nice because some of the anti-riot people have hearts that are painted black and they have no faith in humanity. And that scares me more than rioters.

~~ The End ~~

P.S. I believe all rioters should receive the maximum penalty applicable by law. Because that was a pretty brutal combo of immorality and stupidity, a step back in evolution, and I think as humans we can do better than that.

Speaking my mind & swearing at strangers

I didn’t start off the day thinking I’d tell off the bus driver. I swear.  Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve been working hard to be a really good, happy person.

I do yoga. I sing. I, of all people, now have a fucking ‘success journal’.  I treat others with compassion and understanding and I come from a place of love.

None of this comes natural to me so this is kind of a big deal.

My friends and I have had some shitty jobs, fast food chains, amusement parks, call centres, you name it. So I’m extra kind to those in the service industry. I ask my barista how she’s doing. I ask the bank teller if he’s having a good day. You get the idea.

I finish my restorative yoga class which is a lot like play school but better. I stretch, I relax so much i fall asleep.  I leave there happy as a clam.

As a side note, I’m also 5’3 and was wearing a puffy pink winter vest which makes me look like an adorable fashion victim.

At the bus stop, the bus pulls up and the six people in front of me plow on to a very full bus. There is only me and one other person waiting to get on still. The door is open and I can tell this driver is not a happy camper. She is scowling as she yells, “Everyone behind the white line. This bus isn’t going anywhere until everyone is BEHIND THE LINE.”

I assumed she was trying to make room for me and the other woman to jump on. Why? Well, That’s what usually happens. The door was still open. She hadn’t told us she couldn’t. So i tentatively put a foot on the bus and this driver screamed at me .

“No, I SAID NO. There are too many people on here as it is. Do i look like I have room for you?”

And I said, “Okay, but you don’t have to be mean about it, YOU BITCH.”

In the perfect world, if i was a perfect person coming from aforementioned ‘place of love’, I would have said something nice and caring like, “I hope your day gets better.”. I would have realized her rant had nothing to do with me and more to do with her job stress, her family, her relationship and I would have let it just roll off my shoulder.

But this is the problem, me and people like me face… when you try to be that blissful and loving all the time, sometimes you end up denying the authentic you. You internalize your anger. You smile and say something loving when you are seething inside. I do this a lot. I do it so much I have mad shoulder tension and bite marks on the side of my tongue, from literally biting my tongue!

And from the global perspective, it is not always good to let shit like this go.

I don’t want to validate her bad behaviour by doing nothing. It creates a vicious cycle of people being pricks and not being called out on it. It makes nice people who just happen to get in the way have to deal with this by either meditating on it to release the negative vibes to the universe fairies or by not letting go and chewing their tongues off.

Yelling at someone for no good reason is aggressive and abusive behaviour. And it’s very unpredictable. I don’t let my family and friends talk to me like that, so why should I let a total stranger?

So really, I swore at the bus driver for the greater good of mankind. Everyone wins. I feel great for finally speaking my mind, and now that bitch knows she was being a bitch.

Now that is something worth writing in the success journal.

A time and place to crap yourself

I have this theory. We all have a finite amount of heart beats. And once they are used up, we die. And there is nothing we can do to alter this fate. The same goes with crapping yourself.

You see, I’m 30 now and it seems i have a counter-clockwise biological clock. When I was 10, I wanted twins or triples.  And now I want nothing. Technically I want a cross breed of my and my partner’s DNA combined with kittens – but more on that later.

I’ve been trying to pin down the exact reason why I have no interest in children. I’m too selfish and immature, my body will fall apart, my hormones will be crazier than they were during my teen years, my partner won’t want to fuck me anymore, kids are expensive and kinda parasitic yada yada. But I’m starting to believe the answer is simpler than that.

It’s really about poop.

Most women shit themselves during labor.  No big deal. It’s very normal and natural – though to be honest, I don’t remember seeing that part of the video in junior high sex ed.

But I used up my ‘crap-myself’ turn in Mexico 2002. In one of the best summers of my life, I spent 2 months in Guadalajara. I also went to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta. The details are hazy. I’d had a number of digestive issues on my trip related to an intolerance for spice and being a vegetarian suddenly eating street meat. This problem was compounded by grave amounts of rum. Soo, mexican food combined with rum bum and viola. I shit my pants. It wasn’t my proudest moment. It’s been my secret shame (though still not as embarrassing as dating a guy addicted to war craft).

Luckily, I was close to home. I changed my clothes, cleaned up a little, and went back out to party. I’ve never been one to let a little fecal matter stand in the way of a good time…

But there you have it. And not only did that moment completely redefine who I am as a person, it also used up a pooping pants chance. And only time will tell if and when I’ll get another.