Swear Jar

In recent years, I’ve given up a lot of things that are bad for me. Vodka is no longer part of this balanced breakfast. Cigarette smoke nauseates me. Flings with emotionally manipulative commitmentphobes would probably put a serious damper on my marriage. With the exception of watching the Spongebob trailer and wishing that it had come out at a time when I partook of the odd hallucinogenic substance, I’ve pretty much moved on from most of my truly bad habits.

The swearing? Not so much.

I can tone it down in small bursts if I really need to. No elderly person has never heard me say anything stronger than “Heavens to Betsy!” and I managed to refrain from using the F-word in my wedding ceremony even once. In daily life, however, the air around me is often as blue as the liquid they use in pad commercials. (I don’t know why they use blue, but make no mistake, if I started menstruating antifreeze, you can bet they’d hear the swearing for miles.)

You can probably guess that this presents a problem with my daughter. At almost four months old, her babbles haven’t produced anything like a word, but the threat looms large of one day receiving the call from daycare about my kid telling some other poor innocent tyke not to be such a fucking shitlord at circle time. Even if said tyke is being a fucking shitlord, I can’t have that. My late grandmother’s skeleton would spin so fast it would drill to the earth’s core and destroy us all.

I have to do better.

To do this, I have to recognize the situations that trigger me to be my very worst. Let me think.

cookingThis is not so bad. I can manage most basic dishes with only the barest of muttered threats. Keep the volume low, avoid pastry at all costs, and we’re golden.

injuryDepends highly on the injury. A paper cut barely rates a “shit” while a stubbed toe can push us into R-rated territory fast. Let’s give me the benefit of the doubt and go with a solid 2.5 with the possibility of up to 4. Extenuating circumstances, though, right? Even the most judgmental mommy group could probably give me a pass for things said when stepping on a Lego or Littlest Pet Shop. I managed childbirth without an epidural but I have my limits.

drivingThis is where we run into real trouble. I cannot stop driving places with my child, and neither can I stop yelling at all the stupid dicktrumpets on the road. Pulling up to my bumper and honking at me at a red light is likely to make me envision pulling your urethra out and garotting you with it. This town is full of men who are compensating for their easily bruised sense of masculinity with giant lifted Dodge Thundercock 8000 trucks that are wild and free and cannot be contained in a single lane or parking space. There has not been a day of my residence here where I haven’t used the phrase “entitled fuckshoe” or “shit-for-retinas assbaskets” in a parking lot. The fact that I’ve been driving for thirteen years and have somehow maintained a clean criminal record is nothing short of an actual miracle.

Better start preparing for the call from the school now. Fuck.

games-1“No, honey, Mommy doesn’t know how to play Crazy Eights.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, Mommy has a lifetime ban on playing Monopoly.”

“You go ahead and play Mario Kart with Daddy, pumpkin. Mommy got excommunicated from the Catholic church last time.”

Perfect. Well-adjusted childhood, here we co–

“Mama, look! Caillou is on!”



Busting Out All Over

There are three little words that every big-busted woman out there has grown to know and love. “I’m up here.”

In the interest of precision and honesty, I will tell you that at current measurements, I am a 36H. To give you a bit of context for that, picture a fairly normal ribcage and stack two cantaloupes on it side by side. I don’t blame you if you can’t quite picture it, though. Even Google has a hard time with it. For comparison, I just typed “36C” into Google Images.

Mostly breast-related, right? Now try “36H”.

After several pages of results, there’s nary a tit to be seen. When I typed in “36H breasts” (an activity I highly recommend if you’re at work, by the way), the results may as well have come back like this.

It’s aggravating, to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my body. Aside from the back problems, I kind of dig the buxom look. Strap those suckers up right and I can fill out a sweater so well you’d speak in tongues. It’s not the breasts. It’s the accompanying… unpleasantness.

The indignity starts as soon as I get dressed in the morning. Where a woman of more modest proportions has bras, I have buttresses. I open the drawer to see plain black and beige staring back at me like a stern German governess. The odd bit of cheerful bright lace peeks out, but the price tag relegates them to special occasion status. Sorry, flirty blue, sultry red, pretty purple. I can’t play today. You are a Sometimes Bra. Fräulein needs to go to work now.

Wait, let me back up a second. Did I mention the price tag? Because shelling out the equivalent of one of my utility bills to look like someone’s tattooed grandmother under my clothes is not an experience I particularly relish. It is of no help whatsoever that when I go into La Senza (the Canadian equivalent of Victoria’s Secret and just as incompetent, if not moreso), I am set upon by some clueless salesgirl who is dead set on selling me whatever bra is the next big thing. The last time I was there looking for underwear, this exchange followed.

Perky Salesgirl: Hi! Can I interest you in the new WatersexxxTek bra? It features a triple push-up with water-filled inserts and a clever hidden atomizer filled with our newest perfume, Fancy Pomegranate Slut!

Me: No thanks. I’m just here to look at the underwear. Where are those little Brazilian cheeky things that are really ass-flattering?

Perky Salesgirl: Are you sure? It’s available in all 216 hexadecimal colour codes!

Me: No thank you. You guys don’t actually carry my size, so I’ll just continue looking at the underwear, thanks. Where are the ones I was looking for?

Perky Salesgirl: (confused) We don’t carry your size? We have everything up to DD-cup!

Me: Ha. Hahaha. No. I’m an H-cup. The underwear…?

Perky Salesgirl: …are you sure a DD-cup wouldn’t fit?

Me: I… what? Yes, I’m sure. Having had them since elementary school, I know where my tits are and are not willing to go. They will bound cheerfully into well-fitted bras, the odd corset, and into the capable hands of professorial-looking dudes in glasses. They will balk like a spooked horse at going into strapless dresses, halter tops, games of strip poker since 2007, and I can tell you as sure as I’m standing here that they are not going anywhere close to a DD-cup bra.

Perky Salesgirl: I can check in the back for an E-cup…

Me: No. Please find me an employee who will help me find what I’m looking for. Preferably one that is of voting age.

And so forth.

It’s the comments that really seal it, though. What’s weird is that the worst of it doesn’t come from men. Men stare too long sometimes, but only the most juvenile and crass will say something. Pretty much all the worst and most demeaning comments come from other women.

“Ugh, thank God I don’t look like that. I don’t know how she stands up.” (Just fine, thanks. You’d find it doesn’t impede my right hook much, either.)

“Holy shit, you’ve got really big boobs.” (Holy shit! So I do. I managed not to look down once since puberty.)

“Wow, Jugs! No trouble to tell what the guys like you for, is it?” (Thank you! I didn’t realize intelligence and a daffy sense of humour was as obvious upon first glance as being a shallow bitch!)

“Are they real? Can I touch them?” (They are imaginary and no you may not.)

I probably sound bitter and I don’t mean to. It’s just that I’ve had a total of seventeen years of this kind of bullshit, and it gets tiresome.  It’s not much fun being remembered by casual acquaintances as “the one with the tits”. It’s kind of irritating to be treated like Sideshow Boob by strangers.

Still, it’s hard not to smile on those good days, the tight sweater days. A little vexation and a whole lot of va-va-voom. Not the worst trade-off.

Why I’ll Never Be a Writer

(This conversation took place over Facebook chat today.)

9:44am Andrew


so, how goes your imminent novel of epic awesomeness? Started yet?

9:45am Me

I have an outline and many notes!

So… kinda!

9:45am Andrew

Come on Stephen King. get the lead out… on paper

9:46am Me

Maybe I should get run over by a van like him

Wind up in traction

That would certainly help me (takes off sunglasses) …get a leg up.


9:48am Andrew



i hope that van kills you

A Very Special Episode

“Good night, honey,” Mom said, tucking the blankets close around me. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Night, Mom,” I replied sleepily. “Have a good night at work.”

Mom worked as a bartender at the local pub. I knew it wasn’t a job she loved, but it was a necessity at the moment, since it paid well in tips and we needed the money. She would put me to bed before her shift started. It was important to her to go through our usual routine; read a book (though it had turned to me reading the books to her — for practice, she said, but I think she just liked it), brush my teeth, and braid my hair. I loved when she would brush my hair gently, as I yawned and breathed in a mouthful of her perfume. Dad tried his best, but he always pulled too hard and it looked messy afterwards.

It was that way for a few years, up until I was nine or so. It was the same year I started to realize that all those insipid family shows I watched were telling me that my family wasn’t normal. Other mothers stayed at home, or worked nine to five at nondescript office jobs. Other dads didn’t play in bands, or let their bassists sleep on their couches for months at a time. Other families had big houses for their happy middle-class families, and would have been shocked at us, the Three Musketeers, this merry trio living in a tin-roofed trailer.

Most of the time, it didn’t occur to me to be upset by this. I loved our family, and the way we all had fun together in that little trailer. I loved the way the kitchen was slightly downhill and the way the rain sounded like maracas on the roof. I didn’t think to be ashamed of the fact that all my clothes had belonged to my older cousin, or that we had a makeshift ping-pong table made from a card table with a board in the middle and copies of “The Pokey Little Puppy” for paddles. Around Grade 3, I became aware that this wasn’t quite the norm. I felt like Adam and Eve after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and wished I could go back.

That Halloween, I came in from trick-or-treating with a threadbare pillow case full of loot. My face was sticky from the rain on my vampire makeup and traces of caramel on my lips. Dad was leaning back on our couch, playing a beat-up electric guitar.

“Hi, angel,” he smiled through notes of Tom Petty, “I hope you’re going to share some of that.”

“I will, but there’s not much left. I ate some of it on the way. I kind of have a stomach-ache now.”

Dad wasn’t the fuss-over-you type. He expressed concern, but not in a worried way like Mom would. She was at work again, this time at a double shift.

“Go have a glass of water. I’ll help take care of some of this candy,” Dad said.

I would have had some water, if I had not been struck with an immediate urge to go to the bathroom. It was there that I was met with a sight that was not uncommon for Halloween — blood. Unfortunately, this blood was not fake, and it was in a place where I was not expecting it.

I wasn’t ignorant. I knew full well what it was, since my parents were always very open and honest, and never minded me looking through the more diagram-y parts of the encyclopedia. This was a beautiful moment in a young girl’s life, and I was blossoming like a flower into womanhood. I never got why monthly bleeding was supposed to be beautiful, and I certainly didn’t see any beauty right then, with my running pancake makeup in that tiny bathroom lit by a single bulb. My mother wasn’t around to offer any answers. For the first time in my life, I found myself wishing for a different family, one where a smiling matronly type (Meredith Baxter Birney, maybe) would pat my back and hand me a product-placed pad and tell me that this was very special, right before taking me out for ice cream sundaes. Instead, my mother was in some seedy bar, serving up Labatt’s Blue to drunks who wore their hair “business in the front, party in the back.”

My father, bless his heart, tried his best. Upon my dispassionate declaration that I had begun to menstruate, he paused mid-song and blinked at me, before stuttering out a congratulations and asking if I, you know, needed anything. I replied that no, the good manufacturers at Always pretty much had that in the bag, but that I was going to bed and I would be taking the remainder of my chocolate with me, thanks ever so much.

I was stirred awake a few hours later by Mom pushing my unbrushed hair away from my face and smiling at me. Her perfume was mingling with cigarette smoke, and that mother smell that she always had no matter what.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to wake you,” she whispered softly, “I just wanted to see how you were doing. Dad told me.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled sleepily, “Being grown-up isn’t much fun so far.”

“It gets better,” she lied, kissing me on the forehead and tucking me in again. She turned to leave, and paused on her way out the door. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here, baby. You know I would have if I could have.”

She didn’t stay at the bartending job forever. Things got better financially for us over time, and I learned to grudgingly accept the monthly reminder that if there is a God, he’s either a misogynist or a sadist or both. That tiny, poorly-lit bathroom is long gone now, but I still remember the stickiness of the makeup on my face and the muffled sounds of my dad’s guitar from the living room. I still remember how unfair it felt that my introduction to womanhood made me feel helpless and angry about circumstances that neither I nor my mother could control.

Every Halloween, I think that I’d like to meet up at that bar with Eve and my mom. I’d buy them apple martinis and we’d share the laugh of war buddies. We get it, the three of us.

Nice Boys Don’t

Being single agrees with me for the most part. I get to plan my weekends without having to have the conversation of I Didn’t Know It Was Your Mother’s Birthday, You Need To Tell Me These Things More Than Two Days Before. I get all the pillows to myself.  No one makes fun of me for watching Colin Firth movies for an entire afternoon. I’ve had a couple of flirtations and flings in the last few months, but nothing too intense. I simply didn’t want to date.

Of course, it’s late May and spring has sprung, and with it came spring fever. The world is shiny and new and maybe, just maybe, it’d be nice to have someone to share it with. Unfortunately, I’m at that stage in life where most of my friends have paired off and are only friends with other paired off people. Not being possessed of the patience necessary to wait it out until people’s starter marriages begin failing, I dipped a toe into online dating.

It’s harrowing, of course. The city I’m in is relatively small and doesn’t have the selection that a place the size of, say, Toronto or Vancouver would. I get a fair amount of messages, but I don’t pretend that it’s because I’m special in any way. Sure, I’m moderately attractive and can string a sentence together, but anyone with a vagina can attract a certain amount of attention online simply by nature of having a place on the body in which to insert a penis. Frankly, I’d wager the same amount of success could be achieved by a sentient Fleshlight, or even a lukewarm bag of Spaghetti-Os. The messages are mostly unobjectionable, if somewhat lacking in good spelling, but mostly the problem is not having anything in common.

Unless, of course, the problem is the Nice Guy. Ohhhhh, how I loathe the Nice Guy.

A Nice Guy is not to be mixed up with a nice guy, of course. I know nice guys. I’ve dated some of them. They let me sleep on their couches when I’ve had too much to drink, bake me pie for my birthday, and send me animations of bouncing breasts when I’m feeling down. The Nice Guy is the guy who says and does all the things he thinks he needs to do to get in your pants and then considers you the problem when it doesn’t work. The problem clearly isn’t that they are either transparent as hell or that they never made anything constituting an actual move. Oh, no, clearly the problem is you, the fickle and stupid woman, for actually appreciating the more direct approach.

Courtesy of A Softer World

“All women want are jerks,” they grump. “They talk about how all they want is a nice, sweet guy who will treat them like a queen and then turn around and go for the hot guy who treats them like shit.” Oh, fuck off out of it, Lloyd Dobler. In the first place, I’ve never asked to be treated like a queen. I want a guy with a sense of humour and a spark and a personality that meshes with mine, a guy who will treat me with respect. Me, the person I am. Not as some generic woman. The reason I don’t want your flowers and sonnets is because that’s not who I am and if you’d bothered to get to know me beyond the fact that I have a matching pair of X chromosomes, you’d understand that. Romance is fine, but when you’re acting as if all women are the same, it’s not romantic. It’s bullshit, and we can usually smell it from a mile away. How is it respectful to me or you to live your life as though you’re holding a sign up that says “Will Act As Doormat For Pussy”? Is that what being nice means to you? Maybe that’s why you’re striking out.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that women can’t be hypocrites or stupid or what have you. Of course we can. I’ve known some girls who were horror stories enough that they’d curl your hair. But seriously, don’t act as if I’m stupid and then be offended when I don’t swoon at you trying to clumsily pluck out “Crash Into Me” on your acoustic guitar. I have enough experience now to know what I want, and it isn’t someone who thinks so little of me that they assume I don’t know what’s good for me. Slow your roll, Prince Smarming. I have a weekend with Colin Firth planned and it doesn’t involve you.

Did you know that the more you type “move” the less it looks like a word?

The second my roommate had my rent in her hand, she delivered the news.

“Yeah, so, here’s your notice. We’re doing stuff with the house and the room’s not gonna be free anymore.”

I must have stared blankly upon hearing this frankly unexpected news, because she handed me a letter to sign stating that my worldly possessions and I would be out of the house by 11:59 PM on June 10th.

“But, like, I’ll still give you a reference and stuff.”

Um, okay. How about I give your mom a reference?

I hate moving. Hate it. I hate the packing, I hate the viewings, I hate the crapshoot of finding a new landlord that isn’t Rape Clown. Of course, this particular move has the silver lining of being able to live alone again. I’m sorry, did I say silver lining? I meant total bright spot comparable to a supernova, because holy shit do I love living alone. Despite my day job working for The Man, I’m sort of like Winnie the Pooh. I like to do things on my own time, eating stuff out of jars and generally not wearing pants if at all possible. Pooh’s house was the shit, but since this city is decidedly low on hollowed-out trees to live in, I’m on the hunt for a tidy little bachelor apartment where I can come home and prepare bacon after a night of drinking without so much goddamn judgment.

What? You’ve never done that? You’re gonna sit there and pretend that you’ve never come home after a date with Jack Daniel’s and thought that a whole side of a pig would really hit the spot? If you don’t do that or at least order a pizza, you go through your cupboards foraging for something with the most empty calories possible. You’ve never prepared noodles at 3 AM and then watched Deep Impact on cable while trying to freeze your credit card in a block of ice in preparation for when the infomercials would come on and The Magic Bullet would seem the most brilliant invention in the universe? Fine, then. You are lying liars who lie.

Anyway. The point is, I’m excited about these changes, despite the fact that I’m going to spend close to three weeks couch-hopping until I can move into the new place. I’m just going to think of it as an adventure and maybe make my ringtone the sad walking away music from The Incredible Hulk, or the theme song to The Littlest Hobo.

Oh, and before I go, I’m leaving a little present for my neighbours. Can’t talk with your mouth full, right?

The Wall

I moved out of the house I shared with my ex a couple of weeks into January. After spending a week gratefully crashing on the couches of kind friends and feeling like the Littlest Hobo, I was becoming a little desperate and decided to reply to an ad online about a room for rent. The rent was reasonable, the neighbourhood was close to where I needed to be, and the two girls living there seemed nice. Within a day or two, it was a done deal, and I moved all of my worldly goods into a basement bedroom. Sitting on the twin bed and looking around the bare walls, I told myself that it would be fine for the next several months. Why, I thought, it could be an adventure!

Looking for an apartment is kind of like playing minesweeper. There’s something awful waiting, but you don’t know when or where you’re going to discover it. Sure, it’s energy-efficient and great on utilities, but there’s no laundry hook-up. The hardwood floors are beautiful, but the ceiling leaks. The location is fantastic, but your next-door neighbour is Rape Clown.  You know how it is. There’s always a catch. I don’t know whether it’s lucky or not, but I discovered the catch when the ink on the lease was barely dry.

I noticed I was hearing voices.Voices having conversations about dinner plans and whose turn it was to pick up the milk and that whore at work. My first thought was that I was finally having a complete nervous breakdown brought on by extreme amounts of stress. After I realized that my subconscious couldn’t possibly know that much about Twilight, I was left with the sinking realization that the wall separating me from the people in the basement apartment may as well have been constructed from tissue paper.

Hours later, listening to squeaking bedsprings and a nasal, shrill voice begging “Greg” to fuck her harder, I came to the conclusion that I would have preferred the psychosis.

Every day I learn more about my ever-present friends, my resentment grows just a little. I hear entire conversations, can pinpoint the exact stupid thing he says that’s going to cause an argument, and from there it’s just the waiting game for the inevitable makeup sex theatrics. Some of the people I have explained this to have said that it must be entertaining at least. I can understand how it would seem that way, but I assure you, it is not. I would rather give unmedicated birth to a passel of hedgehogs than listen to this woman’s clumsy attempts at dirty talk. Hearing her ask for the fourth time if he’s going to come or not makes me want to set my vagina on fire rather than risk even the smallest degree of association with the whole ghastly affair. Any entertainment value gleaned from the first couple of times vanishes once you realize that it’s just never going to stop. Dante himself couldn’t have dreamed this up. Neighbours or not, I guarantee you that if Fred Rogers had to listen to King Friday and Lady Elaine getting down in detail this graphic, he’d have hung himself by the sleeve of his goddamn cardigan.

And yet, when I give the slow golf clap afterwards, I’m somehow the rude one. Well, I’m sorry, but Emily Post never addressed this. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Also, if you don’t know whether he’s come or not, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.