Category Archives: People

Picture of Health

The dietician called me in a half hour before my doctor’s appointment because we “needed to talk.” I say the dietician instead of my dietitian because every time I go to see the dietician for my health program they send me to a different dietician.

This dietician, was a dietician I had not yet met. She seemed solid, serious but also nervous (it was in her eyes). She sat me down in her office, equipped, I was surprised to see, with wide, generous windows and room enough for a table, functional chairs and a large desk.

(I have been in professor’s offices that were little more than storage closets, little less than repurposed cloakrooms.)

“We’re here today because your husband emailed us on your behalf.” There were, she went on, issues he wanted me to discuss with the dietician, a dietician, which today was this dietician. The whole thing was wildly conspiratorial, especially since I know my partner did not (and would not) go behind my back and rat me out, least of all to the/a/this dietician. Anyone.

Whoever that patient was, she was not me, a patient but not the patient under scrutiny.

I asked the dietician to check my file again.

I was right: I was not the patient she thought I was.

She took a closer look at my file.

“You’re doing great!” Then before she could stop herself: “Why are you even here?”

Why? Indeed!

I was then shuffled over to the doctor’s office (not so big or generous of windows, but it had a better view and a larger desk), and was told by this doctor (there are two) that she was “actually not too unhappy” with my progress.

I was then sent on my way, back out to the ether only to have to come back to see them again in a few weeks.

Them, they, whomever they happen to be that day.

Wonder who I will be?

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Health, People, Relationships

Idiot. Dog.

I warned him, but he didn’t listen.

“Don’t touch the dog. He doesn’t like it.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll make him like me!” He smiled, his mouth an exhausted rubber band pulled listlessly to both sides of a disingenuous and frankly uninspiring face.

Not exactly a “no means no” kind of guy.

Lou snapped at him twice before he gave up, retreating with a look of pure resentment shot toward me like I hadn’t just warned him, hadn’t told him so. Exactly so.

Of course, it was the dog’s fault, wasn’t it? And because I am responsible for the dog, Lou’s not liking this particular man was also my fault; the dog is still my dog, after all, and it shouldn’t snap at anyone, least of all someone determined to make him like him.

Imagine making something, someone, anyone like you. Being blameless to such fault. Imagine believing in that, as a person.

Honestly…

According to a book I read about filmmaking, an easy way to signal to the audience that a character is a good person is to have them pet a dog.

The dog, of course, has to let them. Has to want to be approached in the first place, to say nothing of the person approaching it.

Now. Imagine that.

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, People, Politics, Relationships

Stranger Encounters

They happen.

At times and in turns unsolicited, unprovoked, utterly unreal.

 

1. Flower Market, New Delhi

Random Man: “You there! You are at the flower market and you can’t smile?”

 

2. Dog Park, High Park, Toronto

Dogwalker [runs up to me and Lou]: “Look at him! Him? He’s beautiful. Lovely bone structure. You’re lucky to have him. Congratulations!”

 

3. Coffee Time, Kitchener

Woman Steps Through Front Door: “Dang, dang! Y’all got none of them there cheese cussiants, do ya?”

 

4. Beaches, Toronto

City Garbage Worker [jumps off side of moving truck ]: “Hey! [points to truck driver] He’s Filipino!”

 

5. Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City

Vendor [referring to Stephen]: “He has such a gentle face!”

 

6. Beaches, Toronto

Random Man [points to Lou]: “Heinz 57! Heinz 57!”

 

7. Downtown Kitchener

Random Man [blocks my path, bows]: “Ni hao, ni hao, ni hao!”

 

8. Calgary, Alberta

Random Man [yelling from driver’s side of parked pick up truck as Stephen and I walk down the street]: “Got him walking on the outside of the sidewalk! Good man you got there!”

 

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Dogs, People, Places, Plants, Uncategorized

The Art of Conversing…

…with other people. It’s not easy, but it’s not always hard. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. Not always.

Evidently, it’s best to let conversation flow by allowing, at times encouraging, the other person to talk about themselves. Forget topics like politics or work or religion or the weather.

Get them to talk about themselves.

Hardly a feat.

People love to talk about themselves! So many of them just do. Which can be a great advantage because information is power and there are so many fools out there and fools slip up all the time, inadvertently showing you who they really are in a few poorly contrived quips or two (or three or four depending on the fool and their personal level of foolishness).

 

*Bronze Level Foolishness*

“I don’t know exactly. But. I. Am. Sure.”

“I know you said you’re not interested, but I’m going to leave the door open. I’m just going to leave it open. It’s open.”

“I only drink water in the morning so that it will last all day and I won’t need to stop to drink. My body knows. Saves time.”

 

**Sliver Level Foolery**

“Well, when I’m up, I assume everyone is up! Because they should be.”

*[Scoffs wetly to emphasize point]* 

“I will not abide graffiti.”

“See how slim my fingers are? Intelligence!”

  

***Gold Level Fools***

“Gay guys hit on me all the time! I’m what’s known as a ‘bear.’”

I’ve never seen anything racist, so…you know?”

*[Blinks slowly for effect]* 

“Listen, if I had started fathering children at sixteen I’d be a grandfather by now!”

“I should make lesbian porn because I know what lesbians like!”

 

Maya Angelou said it best: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Believe.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Language, People, Relationships

Know What Annoys Me?

You.

Or, rather, dealing with you, the person that is you. Or whoever it is that you become when you annoy me.

Not all the time, but sometimes. Enough? Too much?

Hard to assign responsibility here, and don’t want to give too much credit.

BUT.

Here. We. Are.

Maybe it’s not you or me, but us.

Though I doubt it. You seem fine. I’m just not.

What are we even doing here?

Let’s change the subject…

Lovely weather, is it not?

(You annoy me so much.)

Beautiful day!

(Except when you don’t.)

Think it will rain?

(It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”)

A little rain never hurt anybody!

(Like the tides, or the apocalypse.)

Hm? Yes, of course, I’ll call you!

That goes without saying, does it?

Oh.

Well.

It should.

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Emotion, Friends, People, Relationships

Ethnic Food

“One thing: I don’t like ethnic food.”

What to do when you’re planning a night out and then you’re confronted by this?

She wanted “non-ethnic food.”

She wanted “food.”

“Regular food” cooked by “regular people.” Food that isn’t too spicy or too smelly or cheap, the kind of food, you know, that isn’t cooked by people from elsewhere.

Who knows where?

Which leaves me to surmise that what she really meant – what she was saying without saying it because, hey, we’re ladies, fucking ladies, after all, adult ladies in polite society – was that ethnic food was outside the realm of her experience as a human person who regularly eats food.

Why be adventurous? Why be worldly? Why be exotic?

We could be “normal.”

We could get “normal food.”

Anyway. This is my roundabout way of saying we are no longer friends, but “friends.”

And not “friends” but “acquaintances.”

People who know each other.

Humans living in a world with other humans where there is food, and we eat it.

How’s that for normal?

Possibly better. Possibly worse.

But good enough, I guess.

 

 

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Filed under Food, Friends, People

90 Minutes

Or an hour-and-a-half.

Just about the right amount of time for anything. Anything at all in this vast, cruel world.

***

Runtime

Epics (any movie over 2 hours long) are a stretch for me. Theatres are cramped enough, the pacing of some films making it hard to predict the best time to get up, disturbing everyone, to go to the bathroom; the quality of others clearly showing that the film has been padded so that runtime can act as a sort of compensation.

But cut the thing down by 30 minutes? By 45? By an hour? That’s 90 minutes I’ll sign up for, for the good or the bad.

***

The Beautiful Game

A football match (or “soccer game” or variants thereof depending on your geographical positioning and/or semantic proclivities) lasts about 90 minutes. Plenty of time left after that to get on with the rest of your day.

***

Three of the Same, Please

It’s hard to commit to a feature-length film sometimes. But watching 3 half-hour installments of a mediocre show (or something I’ve seen over and over again)? No problem.

***

Commute

A 90 minute drive can sometimes to done in just over an hour, if conditions are right. An hour drive is a trip, while a 20 minute drive is an errand. A drive over 90 minutes? Well, it’s not like we have to see each other, is it? Might as well drive across the country and make a road trip of it.

***

Good Company

Movies around at or around 90 minutes long (chosen from a gamut of genres and eras):

Beetlejuice (1988) – 1 hr 33 mins.

Dog Soldiers (2002) – 1 hr 45 mins.

Fargo (1996) – 1 hr 38 mins.

Finding Nemo (2003) – 1 hr 41 mins.

Get Out (2017) – 1 hr 44 mins.

Gremlins (1984) – 1 hr 47 mins.

Mulan (1998) – 1 hr 28 mins.

The Babadook (2014) – 1 hr 35 mins.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – 1 hr 16 mins.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – 1 hr 44 mins.

It Follows (2014) – 1 hr 47 mins

Wayne’s World (1992) – 1 hr 35 mins.

***

Dinner With (My) Family

Peak time = 90 minutes. We’ve caught up, desert is finished and oh, look at the time! With traffic (an hour drive, at least) and work tomorrow and the equinox and everything it looks like we’ll have to stop here and do this again another time byeeeee!

***

Themyscira

I once got into a huge argument with a woman in the lobby of a megaplex following a screening of Wonder Woman (2 hrs 29 minutes). Her kids spent most of the film talking, loudly, about what they thought was going to happen during the film as they watched it. I asked them to quiet down numerous times, which they did, for about a minute or so each time. She did nothing to stop them and actually countered, there in the lobby, with: “It’s a movie. They can talk a little!”

There was no winning for anyone that day.

Look. Everybody’s trying to get their money’s worth these days, and going to the movies is not as affordable as it used to be (actually, it can be quite expensive, especially at the megaplexes with the most movies at the best times). This, however, also makes opinions especially cheap, particularly among people already not entirely or even remotely sympathetic to your cause, situation or being.

2 hrs 29 minutes. That’s a long time to build up resentment and regrets. Perhaps 90 minutes of aggravation would have been easier to walk away from. But only in the comparative sense and in this case, I don’t think so.

Also: the woman carried a large piece of driftwood that she had tucked against her shoulders, and which ran down the length of her upper body and into the back of her pants.

So I guess this is also a cautionary tale about picking your battles and what in all honestly you can expect by engaging in them, even in the moment – which, when you think about it, isn’t any time at all and exactly as much as is ever needed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family, Movies, People, Sports

Thin Slices

As a warm-up/breaking the ice kind of exercise, the class facilitator asked us each of us to name ONE GOOD THING that has happened in the past week to SHARE with the class.

In her case: she won resort tickets from the local radio station.

In another: a pregnant person in class said that she felt her baby kick for the first time.

In another: someone got the unexpected (but very much welcomed) gift of cash instead of the dreaded presents they were expecting.

Or was that the dreaded present?

I can’t remember. And I forgot the rest. 18 of us in the class, but I forget what else was said.

I was too busy scraping my dregs of my mind for something – anything – GOOD that happened that week to SHARE.

Recent memory is sometimes the worst memory.

“It doesn’t have to be a big thing, like winning radio tickets,” the facilitator added hastily, sensing the trepidation among those of us in the class facing the immense, the profuse difficulty of finding something – anything – GOOD to SHARE. Anything GOOD that happened that week.

It had to be GOOD and you had to SHARE it.

Big ask.

“Not anything that big. You can slice thin. Slice it really thin and share.”

She gave examples: not stubbing your toe. Not getting stuck in traffic on the way to class. Not having a swing a dead cat anywhere to make a point. Not being diseased in any serious way. Not being (as) destitute (as you could, and probably someday will, be).

(I may have made some of those up.)

“Slice it real thin, and you’ll see how having just a few good things happen can get your through the day.”

Slice it thin and you’ll see.

How thin, though?

But how thin? 

How thin must we go until we get there?

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Education, Language, People

The Swan

“Mr. Fister,[*] Cindy wants a swan!”

“Well,” said Fister, looking directly at my face and smiling the way animals do when issuing some imminent threat, “then she can ask for one.”

The exchange was a surprise; I was hovering in the doorway of the school’s Hospitality class waiting for Dolly so we could walk home.

I was not angling for a swan, one of dozens of confectionary creations made that afternoon by the class for parents’ night.

I did not want a swan. I did not want to ask for a swan. The swans looked chalky to me, dry and especially pathetic. They looked like uneven, bottom-heavy worms that tapered upwards into a vague S-shape with two dark sprinkles for eyes and a gob of icing for a beak.

They looked like hell.

Dolly looked at me expectedly. Mr. Fister tucked his small teeth under the greying hair of his handlebar mustache.

Hell is.

“Mr. Fister, can I have a swan?”

Mr. Fister watched as I reluctantly plucked a swan at random; one from among the demented flock before me. That was probably the worst part: that despite everything, I had also brought this on myself.

I took one bite: I was right. It was chalky, dry. It tasted like stale, hollowed-out bread. And something else, far more distasteful…

The incident remains largely forgotten in my daily life. But sometimes, when I encounter ugly birds or badly-executed desserts or unseemly, overbearing men, or when Dolly again does something that particularly annoys, I remember that foul-tasting little swan, the only innocent among the four of us that day.

 

________________________________________________

[*] Was “Fister” even his real name? If it ever mattered, it doesn’t now.

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Education, Family, People, School, THE PAST

Conversations About Dogs With Near Strangers

I had met Shari before, at a seminar, but we did not speak to each other, the class getting much in the way of that.

On our second meeting, waiting in the dim little hallway for the class to begin, we talked about dogs.

Hers is 8 years old, a bulldog/boxer mix with an attitude problem that she’s tried to work with him to, if not remedy (he’s too far gone for that), mitigate. I told her about Lou, our 14 year old dachshund, and even got into the specifics of his many issues and countless idiosyncrasies, and all the things we’ve done to help him along with those.

Strangers can talk to each other about their dogs for days; dogs being a “safe” topic for discussion with people you don’t really know all that well – a way to talk about yourself without having to talk about yourself.

Dogs help us open up.

A confession, then, from Shari: “I know this sounds weird, but I’m already thinking of the day I’ll have to put my dog down. I shouldn’t be, he’s old but not that old. But I can’t seem to help it.”

“I think about that too,” I replied. “It’s not so weird.”

“Well, when I have to, I’ll have to. You know?”

Dogs teach us about responsibly (to think about it, to take it seriously). They help us with our empathy. And they teach us about mortality: the impermanence of things, and what (if anything) we can do about it.

Another confession from Shari: “I’m worried about how my newborn son will get along with my dog. But we’ll just have to figure something out. I am not getting rid of the dog.”

Ah, yes. Of course.

Dogs help us prioritize.

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Dogs, Mind and Body, People, Philosophy