July 17th, 2018

Personal record

I keep setting personal records for the sickest I have ever been! After having a stomach virus in February, which was really very impressive, I had an abnormal period of good health, which I would partially attribute to seeing a naturopath and taking a huge amount of supplements in every known category. That put an end to the great Cold and Flu Sweep of 2017, when I was sick 1/3 of the time and generally miserable. I still get migraines, which don’t seem affected by anything the naturopath could do, but I also see a neurologist who taught me to manage those decently with medications and with only one problem to focus on, I was doing pretty well.

Then June came, and the migraines became much worse–summer is always migraine season in stupid humid Toronto, but this was worse than normal. July has been a little better, but randomly on Sunday I got my Worst Migraine Ever, for no real reason. There weren’t any particular triggers or problems going on. I had gone to the gym and then showered, then was hoping to go to the beach but wasn’t feeling great so lay down to take a brief rest…and found I couldn’t get up for the next 19 hours. I won’t give you the play-by-play, though I actually remember it vividly–when I have a really bad migraine I can’t read or watch TV or even talk to anyone, but I can certainly lie in bed and think about my misery–but here are some highlights:

1) When you are a reasonably active person–and not like a marathoner but someone like me who goes to the gym and walks around and gardens and so forth–lying more or less perfectly still except going to the bathroom for 19 hours will freak your body out. My back, ribcage, shoulders and neck all got furious that I would do that to myself, right at a point where I didn’t really need more pain. Of course, that’s my theory for the moment–I’m a bit nervous that that’s not actually the reason all those places hurt after my little odessy in bed and it’s all part of some new disintegration. Stay tuned!

2) I’m getting better at vomiting! I used to go years–up to ten!–without puking, so I was really bad it. Like, I would tear up my throat and feel like I had tried to yank my lungs out. But with my increasing ill-health in the past couple years–you’ll be thrilled to know, I have had three migraines with pain-puking involved, plus that one stomach bug, all in the past two years–I’m getting much better at it. It still hurts my throat a lot and I have developed some sort of cough in response, but it’s not quite as wrenching!

3) When, around midnight, I started to feel marginally better, I had been in bed 12 hours, hadn’t eaten since breakfast and had long since parted ways with said breakfast. Mark, who had joined in the bed a couple hours previously, was awakened by my fidgeting around, and asked if I needed anything. I morosely told him I was hungry. AND HE GOT ME FOOD. After being awoken from a sound sleep, Mark went and made me a piece of toast and a bowl of yoghurt and brought it into the bedroom where I ate it in the dark next to him, while he went back to sleep.

4) Then yesterday I was marginally functional but not really able to be in the world. Normally I would have stayed home from work, but my home was one bajillion degrees and I felt this would not help matters. So I went to my mom’s, where there is not only air-conditioning but motherly love. She had even made chicken soup a few days prior, so we had it for lunch. I worked very slowly from her living room and enjoyed the climate control and then she helped me fight off her cat (who hates me) so I could sleep in her guest bed.

So if you tabulate 1 and 2 against 3 and 4, you realize even though it’s kind of been a nightmare for me lately, I’m still really lucky.

October 2nd, 2017

How to fly with a sinus infection without your face exploding

**Warning: this entire post is about my health—whiny, dull, and, in places, disgusting.**

I wrote last week about my glorious adventure in New Brunswick, but I wanted to keep the medical aspects of the trip for a separate post, lest they take over. For in truth, I was rather sick for the events I described. Not as sick as I have been this summer–for truly, this was the summer of illness for me. I started feeling vaguely unwell at the end of July, andwas truly ill for the second half of August and most of September. Starting late last week, I’ve been basically fine for the first time in several months, but not counting any damn chickens.

So in the second week of September, I had a sinus infection plus assorted other things, and was freaking out because I didn’t seem to be getting better past enough to fly in ten days. In case you don’t know, if you fly when your sinuses are too congested you run the risk of the pressure not adjusting properly in your ears (the “pop”) and if it gets too intense and you don’t/can’t take appropriate measures, the eardrum can rupture, which is not the worst thing that can happen to a person but causes you to bleed from your ear and possibly lose your hearing and is pretty bad. The reasons babies cry so hysterically on planes (well, one reason) is that they don’t know how to swallow to adjust the pressure in their ears and they are feeling it really strongly–unadjusted pressure hurts a lot, even if you are well and uncongested. So you can imagine (or I can) what a rupturing might feel like.

I was very worried about this. Not so much the pain, and the possibility of permanent hearing loss, though I was afraid of those things very much, but: here I am getting this amazing professional opportunity and I might have to walk off the plane and introduce myself to Ian LeTourneau, who has been very kind to me via email but whom I’ve never met, and say I have ruptured my eardrum, please take me to the hospital.

So, five days before my flight, a Sunday of course, I panicked and spent two hours in a walkin clinic to get antibiotics. I had tried to get an appointment with my own doctor the previous week, but she was too busy. All my other sinus infections have gone away on my own, but this one didn’t seem to be, and I didn’t have time to see how it panned out. So I start taking the antibiotics, in concert with decongestants, a steroidal nasal spray, a neti pot, and a nasal mister and lo and behold: the day before the flight, the mucus had gone from yellow to clear (yuck!) signalling that the antibiotics had worked but here’s the thing–other than the colour, nothing had really changed. I still *felt* like I had a sinus infection, even if I was no longer technically infected. And there was still plenty of fluid in the exact wrong spot–inside my face, where it could burst out an eardrum at an inopportune moment–even if it was the right colour.

So I read everything the internet said about whether my eardrum was going to burst, which was surprisingly inconclusive. Basically they said, don’t fly if you can avoid it, which was unhelpful–who flies for no reason? The tickets you can change cost twice as much!! But they didn’t say what is the difference between the people who have a sinus infection and fly and go deaf in one ear, and the people who have a sinus infection and fly and are fine. I got the feeling that maybe some people are just more organized and prepared, and also perhaps luckier?? Anyway, in an attempt to put myself in the lucky category, here’s what I did:

1) Keep on the decongestants all day and all night before the flight, and take the max dose half an hour before the flight. I thought these pills just made me feel better superficially by numbing the pain but apparently they actually shrink swollen tissue, making it easier for horrible fluids to escape from the appropriate holes and not have to create new ones.
2) Spend the previous day in a room with a humidifier, plus regular use of nasal mister. This is to thin said horrible fluids, also in aid of their easy and painless escape from my face.
3) Stay super-hydrated before the flight, again with a fluid-thinning agenda. There are also actual mucus-thinning drugs, but I was scared to put yet another unfamiliar chemical into my body right before the flight.
4) Nasal irrigation–only at home and in the hotel of course, because that’s a big project and there are limits to what even I will do in an airport bathroom. This is to evacuate horrible fluids before they attempt to escape on their own.
5) A shot of Dristan right before the flight. The doctor told me I might need to take this *after* the flight, if my ears were plugged but not exploded, but an American website told me to take a different nose-drug before the flight, and that drug doesn’t seem to exist in Canada, so I just took the Dristan. I also forget what this is for. I think it’s another tissue-shrinker.
6) Chew gum on the plane for takeoff and landing but also have two bottles of water, one for each, because gum cannot generate enough spit for all the swallows all the time. Swallow constantly. It feels odd (and probably looks odd) but does help.
7) Earplanes are a pressure-regulating earplug and I half-wonder if I could have just used these and not gotten up to all the other shenanigans above. You put them on while still at normal pressure (on the ground, ideally before the plane door has shut) and you can take them out when you are at full altitude and put them back for descent, or if you are paranoid like me leave them in for the whole flight, taking them out again, after the doors have opened. They worked really well for me, adjusting pressure more slowly and gently than it would have otherwise, though it still hurt.

So basically I had a mildly painful and highly anxious flight to Fredericton, but emerged from the plane feeling like I had WON THE LOTTERY. The great thing about assuming the worst is that everything else feels like the best! The fact that no eardrums burst and I could resume normal functioning as soon as I hit the ground, and go do all the nice things I had planned around the festival was solid gold. I hope these tips might help other people have as glorious an experience of non-eardrum-bursting as I did!

November 10th, 2016

Rose-coloured Reviews This Lousy Week

So, I usually watch and report on the Giller Prize broadcast and here we are again at that time of year. I didn’t do a live-blog, taking notes in the moment this year, because I had had a brief choking incident about half an hour before and spent the show lying in Mark’s lap. I did pay pretty good attention to it though, and had a bunch of cheerful, gently snarky things to say about it that I was saving for this space, but then Tuesday happened with all of its apocalyptic strangeness, and it no longer seemed worthwhile to comment on weird musical segways or lovely evening gowns.

Nor, however, am I able to comment on the election, except to say that I am unsurprisingly unhappy and that we  terrified our cats by getting up repeatedly in the night to check returns, never a good sign. Kerry wrote a great post about getting to the work of reacting to this change in global politics, and I really hope to do that very soon.

In the meantime, though, I feel like telling you about my evening last night. Even before the choking and the election, I am having by any standards a pretty terrible autumn, and last night was the first time in a while where I just had a peaceful productive evening and didn’t have anything to freak out or waste time being miserable about. It was great. Here’s what I did:

I had a doctor’s appointment downtown so I got to leave work early, and then the buses actually ran on-time for once so I was able to use my buffer time to run an errand and then read John Metcalf’s book in the waiting room. And then the doctor was running late as the doctors in this office ALWAYS do, but instead of meekly accepting it I said I needed a realistic time when they’d see me. I’m disappointed in the universe that what it took to win this argument was “My husband is picking me up and I need to tell him what time” but as I have been kept waiting up to two hours in this office before, any victory is helpful. And they actually did give me a time that was approximately correct and I was able to meet Mark and walk home with him. And it was a cold but bright evening and all the downtown people were heading home and it was nice to be one of them for once (I work in the burbs).

When we got home I fed the cats and caught up on the work emails I missed while Mark put in the laundry and checked his own emails. Then I got started on a batch of cookies and the sun went down and Mark put the clothes in the drier and made dinner. Dinner was fish-sticks because I have decided that we can have convenience foods once a week because life is exhausting. I haven’t had fish-sticks since I was a child and they weren’t truly good, but they were filled with nostalgia and that was nice. I put hoisin sauce on them though.

And I finished the cookies and did the dishes and Mark brought the laundry up and we chatted and folded it while the cats ran around being nuts, as is their wont. And then we were finally done all the chores and ate a few cookies. Then Mark read for a bit in the living room and I got to work on my essay on Russell Smith that I have been trying to finish forever. I finally had an evening of work that didn’t feel like a failure–I actually felt a little proud of what I wrote.

And then I felt tired and went to bed–an incredible luxury, to just go to bed when you’re tired–and I actually slept well, also rare lately.

Such a nice, normal, useful evening. I am grateful

May 17th, 2015

Pain Diary

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m doing a bunch of stuff to try to improve and control the migraines. One part of the project is that I’m documenting them for the first time in a “pain diary” as per the title of this post. I guess you can’t say “diary” to a writer without her interpreting it as “cache of information I can later mine for stories”–at least, that’s what I’m think. It’s an interesting project, even though it does document some of my lowest moments, physical-health-wise.

Every day I’m supposed to rate the morning, afternoon and evening on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being no pain and 10 the worst pain. Here is how I am scoring things so far, but honestly I have no idea if I’m doing it right. I’d really love to see other people’s pain hierarchies–any ideas how I would google that?

1–mild twinges of pain, maybe an incipient headache but could also be just passing through. Annoying, but doesn’t affect my day very much.
2–mild headache, a backround hum of pain. Makes me more tired than usual, but I can usually do what I planned to do despite the headache.
3–real headache, noticeable pain. At this point I would take some sort of med (but I’m starting to wonder if I should take them earlier) and consider whether my plans for the rest of the day are cancellable. If that’s not easy to do, I will continue as planned and probably still have an ok time, but be very tired and quiet.
4–serious headache, unhappy amount of pain. I’ll take the strongest drugs I have and try to just go home and rest, but if I can’t do that, I can usually muddle through whatever I have to do. I might fumble my words at this point, and my hands often shake. The last rung of functional.
5–severe headache, non-functional Rebecca. This is where I actually can’t do anything other than lie still and maybe stagger to get a drink of water. I can’t stand to be touched and I can’t talk very much, though I can say a few sentences. Some nausea, inability to eat. This has only happened to me a handful of times in my life, and thank goodness always in proximity to a bed (except once when Mark had to park the car so I could lie in the grass beside the parking area until I felt better).
6–I’ve never had a 6, but I have been close enough to see it on the horizon. I would probably vomit from the pain at this point, something I’ve never done wrt migraines but have thought about. Ditto crying.
7–I honestly think that if, with all the meds at my disposal, I got to a 7 and couldn’t get away from it, I would need to be under medical care or at least really want to be. The thing is, it is so impossible to do anything when you feel this bad, I don’t know how I could manage to say, walk to a vehicle and sit in it, then walk into a hospital and explain my problem. I’m kind of hoping that if I ever hit a 7, I’ll just lose consciousness so someone can call me an ambulance and I can be wheeled away on a gurney.

Does that sound accurate to you? I haven’t included 8, 9, and 10 because, well, I’ve never had a baby, been shot, or been run over by a car; I’ve never been deprived of oxygen–I imagine those things are what occupies the far end of the spectrum…I think. And yet the pain diary form I’ve been filling out actually specifies 10 as “the worst pain you’ve experienced”, in which case 5 becomes the new 10 for me…but then there’s no room for things to worsen, which in all honestly looks like where I’m headed. Also, it’s kind of disrespectful to those who’ve had those babies and been hit by those cars. My pain threshhold is low and I know it: I’m trouble at the dentist and sometimes if I walk into a door or stub my toe, my eyes actually fill with tears. We have to allow for a certain amount extreme reaction in my pain reporting, even though I don’t mean to do it.

So basically, I’m worried I’m doing my pain diary wrong, but also, the process is very fascinating. I had a 5 yesterday, and of course in the worst of the pain, I was just a trembling ball of nerve endings, but as soon as I started to feel a little better, I was trying examine the pain scale and see where I was. I guess that’s the writer’s instinct–as soon as we’re taking notes on the situation, we can see it from the outside and maybe analyze it a little for use in other writings.

So tell me your pain scales if you want–I’m fascinated and it’s research…

December 2nd, 2014

Notes from the bronchial fog, day 22

I have been meaning to write a post telling everyone how horrible having bronchitis is, but one of the things that’s horrible about it is it makes me really exhausted all the time–every little chore is about 30% harder than it normally is. Also, when I complain, I find out that lots of people have had bronchitis, or even get it every year (chronic bronchitis is a thing, apparently, and it doesn’t sound fun). So basically, what I’m saying is, I feel extremely sorry for myself but my situation is pretty average–if that is the sort of thing that tends to annoy you, perhaps you’ll want to stop reading now.

SO, today is day 22 of being sick (actually now it’s day 23–see above about getting too tired to finish things). As I attempt to reconstitute events, they go something like this.

Monday November 10, evening, I notice I have a sore-ish throat. I am mad, because I had a really bad cold at the end of September, not even two months ago, and this feels very unfair.

Rest of that week–yep, I have a cold. On the weekend, it seems to be getting a bit better, but then I start coughing really loudly and crazily–like, sometimes I can’t breathe or I fear I will vomit. Apparently bronchitis is some kind of parasitical disease. It waits until you are weak with a cold and then attacks.

By middle of the second week, I recognize that I am no longer sniffling and sneezing, just coughing like a maniac and having trouble walking up steep flights of stairs. The doctor confirms that I have bronchitis but thinks it’s viral, so there’s not much you can do to make it go away. She does give me some meds to help me cope in the meantime–codeine syrup to prevent coughing at night and help me sleep (does nothing) and a puffer to improve my breathing (does nothing). I keep taking the puffer, which I don’t fully understand and might be inhaling wrong, but switch back to NyQuil after a few days of waking up hourly every night.

The doctor also did a nose swab (least fun!!) in order to check me for pertussis (whooping cough). She did this because my astounding new niece, Isla, was born on November 16, and I would REALLY like to meet her. It takes 5 business days to get the test results back, so middle of last week. The doctor leaves a message saying that I don’t have pertussis, but also implying that I’m probably feeling much better by now.

This is alarming, because I am miserable, so I call her back and tell her my sad state of affairs. She thinks that if I am still not better at all, perhaps I have bacterial bronchitis instead of viral, and prescribes me antibiotics. My husband picks up the new meds for me before going out for Friday night without me because I am not physically capable of attending an event where there might not be chairs for everyone.

The weekend is a low point, wherein I try to Christmas shop, become exhausted after 45 minutes but refuse to go home because Christmas. By Monday I was coughing less but so migraine-y i had to take a different medication. Worried that it would interact with all the other nonsense I was taking, I hauled everything to the pharmacy and asked them to tell me if I would do any harm by taking it all. They said no, and I spent a pleasant evening looped on pain meds before going to bed at 9:30.

Now it is today, and I am working from home so that I can nap on my lunch hour, and feeling a bit better, all things considered. Less coughing, somewhat less tiredness, but honestly, I’m still not feeling that great. And it’s day 23.

I’m pretty confident I will not have bronchitis forever, and that also by the standards of diseases I could have, this is pretty mild. However, weakling that I am, I have learned a lot from this experience. Things like:

1) Even though I think I’m not an athletic person, I do a lot that requires my body. I am a pedestrian and my mode of living requires me to walk fair distances and even climb lots of stairs on occasion. I like to run and play with the children I know. When I didn’t need to expend effort to do these things, I didn’t think about them–now I think about them all the time.

2) When I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. This has always been true of my current job, and I chose to have things that way. I never minded because I live below my means and can afford a day or two off when I need one. However I cannot afford an endless procession of such days. Perhaps I need disability insurance. Certainly I need to be conscious of this fact.

3) My job is pretty nice in that they let me work from home whenever they can spare me so I can take lunch naps.

4) My husband is pretty nice because he goes and gets me drugs and also lets me sleep in the marital bed even though I sound like an excitable seal.

5) People who are chronically ill have a really tough time. I always knew that, but I think I know it more now.

October 25th, 2011

What’s going on

Reviews In case you missed it, there was a very nice review of *The Big Dream* in the National Post on Saturday–you can get the online version here. There’s a less nice but still interesting review of *TBD* in the November issue of Quill and Quire, on the stands now–I’ll post the link when it goes online.

Launches I completely failed to attend the Insomniac Press fall launch last night–or rather, I failed *at* attending, because I did actually go to the launch. I was there mainly in excitement over Jamie Popowich’s Metraville, though in general Insomniac books are pretty stellar and I was looking forward to all the readers. But I was sick, I was tired, and then it finally happened–a Toronto event got started so late that I could not last until it *began*. It was not Insomniac’s fault–everyone else was having a blast, and I wouldn’t have wanted to speed along the festivities. I just have a terrible cold, and am flirting with laryngitis, so in deference to my reading tonight wouldn’t talk to people unless I could get right on top of them and whisper in their ears, which wasn’t making me very popular. And finally, about an hour after the show was supposed to start the room started to spin and I needed to go home. I failed the reading, where my only role was to sit and listen. Lame!

But I did go home and sleep for 10 hours and when I woke up I could speak in a voice heard by people who don’t want to know me intimately, thus I could survive the day and give a tolerably good reading to the very dedicated Ryerson students who made it to class in the rain to hear me!

Laryngitis Why do I seem to lose my voice at least once every year, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you why–because when I was young and stupid I got very sick with strep throat and did not see a doctor. After close to a week of this, I was feverish, mute, and living in a very sad, strange and entirely silent world of my own. When I was finally taken to the doctor and given some antibiotics, it was too late, though I didn’t know it–I apparently have scars on my vocal cords.

I figured this out because, though my everyday speaking voice is normally (rather loud at times, actually), even the slightest cold or cough irritates my vocal cords to Marilyn-like huskiness; if it gets slightly worse or I try to talk a lot, I’m rendered mute for days. I met a woman in her 60s with the same condition who says it only gets worse as you age–for her, the huskiness was apparent in her voice all the time.

What is the moral of the story? Go to the doctor when you are sick!!!

September 1st, 2011

On my desk right now

-desk lamp
-my watch
-desk organizer full of pens, pencils, 3 pairs of scissors
-bottle of bubble stuff
-doctor’s requisition for an ultrasound of my neck
-Niagara Arts and Literary Festival keepsake minibook
-Central Neighbourhood House brochure (I’m going to volunteer for them if I ever again have free time)
-sleeping kitten
-stack of academic articles written by my parents
-a sixpence I got in England, to be put in my shoe on my wedding day
-2 coasters
-phone handset
-mixed cd Em made me
-photos from P&J’s engagement party (yes, actual hard-copy photos!)
-business cards and postcards I keep meaning to put up
-a cut-out comic strip from “Rhymes with Orange”: a man is standing in the library near the shelf labelled “Books on CD”–he turns to the librarian and says, “No graphic novels?”
-a London tube map
-an expired library card from the Thomas Fischer Rare Book Library

That was fun. What’s on your desk?

May 24th, 2011

New York Was Great…

is a song by the The Raveonettes that you should really listen to–it’s great!

My own experiences in the big city weren’t quite great, but were certainly very good, although by the time we were taxiing down the runway I had worked myself to such a state of anxiety that any scenario in which I did not actually die would have qualified as passable.

Despite the title of this blog, I can be a little pessimistic sometimes.

But really, when I am in such a state of terror over presenting my book to a giant group of strangers, it is helpful to be reminded that I am so lucky to have support and encouragement from my publisher to do it, and indeed, a book at all to present.

And of course, the strangers were perfectly lovely, warm and open and very excited about books–an excellent group of people to spend an evening with. Also, whoever had catered the event made these little chocolate-chip cookie/brownie hybrids that I hope someday to marry.

I did have some other obstacles that were harder to look in the brightside of, but I did try. Like when I got prescribed the wrong medication and had a reaction in the form of a hideous empurpling rash over my entire body right before the event, I was…somewhat dismayed. Also itchy. But I can be grateful that the rash mysteriously disappeared from my face within 24 hours, though it lingered itchily on the rest of me.

And when I had to abandon my lovely, expensive dress that I’d specially purchased for the occasion, in favour of something that covered every inch of my now-hideous body (including a man’s shirt with cuffs that covered my hands) it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because New York was way colder than Toronto, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be out in that sleeveless dress, anyway.

And when my hotel failed to give me my 3:45 am wakeup call, it turned out I really enjoyed that extra 15 minutes of sleep until my backup alarm went off, and would’ve just been bored at the airport during that extra time anyway.

Of course, the best part of the event was all the other wonderful writers who presented their work, and gave me so much to think about (and read!) What’s really lucky about my life is how much time I get to spend with fascinating people, talking about books.

Or maybe the best thing was being greeted at the airport at home with flowers and party hats to celebrate my birthday.

In all events, I’m a lucky person.

AND as you can see in this last shot, the rash is nearly gone from my arms now (but don’t look at my ankles–blech).

I hope you had a really great holiday weekend too!

May 13th, 2010

Rose-coloured reviews “The Cursing Mommy” by Ian Frazier

Now, you know I take The New Yorker as a direct letter from my chosen diety, and I do quite like the work on the magazine of Ian Frazier but I just can’t quite be happy with his recent string of Cursing Mommy columns.

These aren’t about wishing 7 years bad luck on a mother, but rather a mother who curses. These appear sporadically in the New Yorker’s humour column, Shouts and Murmurs. CM narrates an advice show in a similar manner to a cooking show–“Now I’ll just go over here and get the…” and Frazier’s columns are the transcripts. Cursing Mommy hates her “useless” husband, is usually fed up with her (rarely present) offspring, seems to live a nice middle-class life (has a fax machine, lots of liquor, no job and guests for dinner), and can barely see through her blinding rage. She is also frequently drunk.

I think you can see where I am going with this…

The most recent installment, from the April 26 issue, is Rx from the Cursing Mommy: Cursing Mommy discusses the situation of her infirm and widowed father, and how she struggles with all the nonsensical communications sent to her by the retirement home where he lives. She begins to offer some reasonable advice–staple together, label and file all communications–but then is undone by the fact that the stapler isn’t working.

CM has real issues, and she states them articulately (though not particularly humourously): her “betwixt and between generation [is] responsible for the health needs not only of ourselves and our usually oblivious spouses but of our children and our aging parents, too.” She gets no help with her father, though “at some point he became involved with a woman named Marjorie, who is quite a bit younger and larger than he is, and she has taken an apartment not far from the nursing home.”

That’s the scene, surely not unrelate-to-able–the US health-care system really is labyrinthine, and it’s even worse when you are negotiating it on behalf of someone else far away. From the personal RR files: My folks went through this with my grandparents, a continent away, so I do know that CM is right that it’s crazy-making (and yet my folks managed not to go crazy, or even curse that much, and they don’t even have a fax machine).

But CM does go crazy, and I felt fairly bad for her, and not at all amused. You tell me–funny or sad?

“And then [wham wham wham wham wham] the fucking staples STILL aren’t coming out! [Wham wham wham wham.] And now they’re coming out three at a fucking time! Oh, I so despise this shit! [Wham wham wham wham wham.] And the fucking Bush Administration, too—how I loathe them! [Wham wham wham wham wham wham wham.] Did it work? [Wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham wham.] All right, I think it worked.”

I suppose part of my issue is that Frazier is a middle-aged man, and I feel like he doesn’t get to make fun of women struggling to stay sane. But of course, this would be as offensive as it is–or isn’t, depending on your viewpoint–if I wrote it or indeed if a stay-at-home-mom did (do we like the acronym SAHM? I find it hard to pronounce). But I also totally feel like, simply as humour, this is falling flat because it’s the wrong format–this is physical comedy and probably should be an actual TV show (SNL sketch, anyone?) and not prose. Visuals come at you faster, and if they are hilarious enough keep a girl from going all “is that anti-feminist? Is he saying women are so dumb they can’t even cope with staplers?

I would like to tie together my two theses: 1) this column is vaguely misogynistic and 2) this column is not all that funny, but I can’t seem to. I guess one thought along those lines is that though this particular column would still not do it for me even if it were written by a woman, I’ve read *much* funnier accounts of the SAHM life (I guess I can type it even if I can’t say it) that were written by the women who lived them. That actual on-ground point of view is missing here–it is very much mocking from outside rather than humourously commiserating from inside.

Maybe Shouts and Murmurs should stick to columns based on silly press-release copy–I like those.

December 21st, 2009

Public Service Announcements

In case, you know, you need to know:

…how to cope with UPS. When you call UPS, there is no option in any menu to speak to an agent, but if you decline to press any buttons, even for English or French or to enter your tracking number (interesting: if you don’t choose a language, you get English) they will eventually tell you that you can’t speak to anyone unless you have tracking number, so call back when you’ve got one. Then a long pause that sounds like it might be permanent, then the weary voice of the autoprompt, asking “So do you still want to speak to an agent?” Say “yes” and the voice recognition software will direct you to an actual competent and (somewhat) sympathetic human. Man, that was tricky–but worth it.*

…what to give for a holiday gift. There’s great recommendations (and little bios of their sources so you can check for cred [they all have cred]> at The Advent Book Blog. I recommended a book last week, and now that the person I was giving that gift to has received it, I can link to my recommendation.

…how do something nice. Could you be persuaded to give blood? I know many people can’t because of low iron or certain prescriptions in their systems or other health problems, but if you can I think Canadian Blood Services could really use it this holiday season. I base this guess on the fact that last week, the gentleman donating in the chair next to mine experienced the briefest of dizzy spells, and *five* nurses were all over him like a bad suit–cold compresses, elevated legs, fans, cookies, ecetera! They were really really nice, but you just got the feeling they were a little underworked. A few more donators would keep the nurse/donator ratio a bit more even. I know nobody likes needles, and I personally loathe the whole process, but I feel SO GOOD afterwards, knowing I did something for someone (3 someones!), plus awesome karma for the day. I mean, just a few short hours after making this donation, I found a tambourine on the sidewalk!!!! Karmically amazing.

…describe people that are just too hyper. When someone described a potential project (going to see Sherlock Holmes on Boxing Day) as likely to be pandemonium, I said approximately, “Don’t worry, we’ll deal with the pandemaniacs.”** He responded, “That’s not a word,” but I think it is now, and it’s a pretty good one. I give it to you.

Hope that helps!

* I just received the package, so I guess this is a win. But it took a week, four delivery attempts, one formal complaint, plus me saying morosely after I’d registered the complaint, “Can you write on it that I’m very sad?” (no, they can’t), so I am not feeling very victor-like.

** What I actually said was dumber than the above, but the neologism was the same, and this is my blog and I’m allowed to edit the past if I choose…right?

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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