Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I haven't posted a Jackass of the Month since November because I don't want to be all negative all the time and frankly, I've seen a lot of great things happen over the last few months but today it all changes.

Because I saw this at my kid's school. And you truly have to be a jackass to tag an elementary school. Perhaps even more than a jackass to tag it with 420.

<font face="sarcasm" colour="angry red">Thanks, Jackass.</font>

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This Dance

I'd like to think that I'd be the perfect mother to a daughter. I would teach her to climb trees and appreciate fine literature. I would play Lego (not the pink kind) with her and I would read comic books with her while sitting under a tree at the park. I would teach her to love herself and her body as they were and help her understand that the opinions of others rarely matter. My daughter wouldn't suffer from bouts of depression, cutting, or suicidal thoughts - because I would teach her that she mattered more than any of that.

But I'm not the mother of a daughter and I won't ever be.

So I'm coming to you, dear internet, because we all know that the internet will never, ever steer us wrong.

Every day at the gym I see mothers doing the most awkward dance with their young daughters as they come from swimming lessons. The moms, they hold up a towel around their girls while they also help them peel off wet bathing suits, dry off and put on new clothes, all while still holding up that towel, in a secluded corner of the women's change room. The dance is floundering, both mother and daughter get frustrated as they try to learn the steps to something that clearly requires about 16 arms to pull off. At the end, the mother is usually using her "mom voice" to tell her girl to hurry up because they're late for dinner (dance class, music lessons, etc).

Earlier during the day I've most likely watched yet another video, read a blog or perused an infographic about how we need to teach our girls to love themselves.

And yet, at night, in the confines of a room exclusively for women, mothers and daughters dance this impossible dance.

I have sons. I have boys who love to parade around naked, inside and out. I have a son who looks forward to the weekends because I've told him he can go without underwear on the weekend if that's really what he prefers. Gross, I know, but it's what he likes. But I'm completely ignorant when it comes to girls. My mom didn't do a bad job raising us, not at all, but I also know that my sisters, nor I, have much in the way of self confidence. We're all self-conscious, even my gorgeous sisters who are both smart, successful, and incredibly beautiful, who both fit into negative number jeans and have the kind of giant tatas that women pay thousands of dollars for. They're both absolutely perfect, and they both have self-esteem issues.


So where does it start? By not letting your daughter spend 10 seconds naked in the women's change room, are you setting her up for a lifetime of being so insecure she can't look at her naked body in a mirror? Or does it start later than that? By showing girls that it's not okay to be naked for a minute in a room with other women are you placing your own body image issues onto her? Is insecurity something we can avoid with the right upbringing or are we all destined to feel poorly about our physical bodies at some point?

Years of going to the gym, it wasn't until after 30 that I felt comfortable dressing in the open of the change room instead of a bathroom stall. It's not my mother's fault, this I know, but I also wonder - if she had let me go free when I was 3, would it have taken me until I was 30 to take the chance of having another woman see my breasts?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bus Pass, Thy Name Is Freedom*

We became a car-free family on December 22. It wasn't by choice. There was an ice storm the day before and the day after my husband went to start the car and it smelled of fire and the entire electrical system was shot. We towed it to a mechanic who said the ice storm caused an electrical fire and the car was a write-off. We tried to get insurance to cover it but the insurance company wanted us to put out a whole bunch of money we didn't have to have the engine ripped apart and "prove" that there was an actual fire and not just a short.

So we got bus passes.

The first week I was all, "BUS PASS, THY NAME IS FREEDOM!" It was great, we could go to all the places we wanted without having to worry about the amount of fuel in the tank and living so close to downtown, we have multiple busses to choose from every time we leave the house.

My freedom, however, was short-lived.

In short, buses can suck. Commuting to work has never been a problem for me via bus but doing errands is a whole different ball game. If I need to drop something off in the next city, I can spend an hour and a half on the bus for a five minute errand. Doing laundry by bus is torture. It seems laundromats are a dying breed and dragging your dirty laundry across town on a bus is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Who knew?

The worst part is the buses that never come. Back when I was a car person, I would scoff at the person showing up 45 minutes late for work with the lame "my bus never came" excuse. But for reals, now I know it's true. Sometimes buses just don't come. In fact, it's happened to me 4 times in 3 weeks. On the same bus route.

It's shitty any way you look at it. But especially during winter. And especially when you have 2 kids with you who are freezing cold. During a snow storm. Or freezing rain.

Credit: Region of Waterloo/GRT

Our town has an express bus route that is the bomb. Whenever I have the chance to take it, I'm incredibly impressed at the speed in which I can get around the city. It also has the great feature of real-time info displays at all of its stops. You walk to the bus stop and the display shows you exactly when the next 2 buses are coming and it updates as buses go through traffic, it's really quite amazing. And frankly, these real-time displays need to be at every bus stop, or at least at every stop that has a bus shelter.

For those nights like the one when the bus was supposed to come at 8:19 during a pretty good bout of freezing rain and it didn't come until 8:55. There's a bus shelter at that stop but the kids had to stand out in the rain because there was a group of teenage boys in the shelter and when I asked them to make some room for my boys, they replied "back off, bitch". Or the Sunday afternoon, when 5 cm of snow fell during the half hour we were in Michael's and the bus that only comes once per hour, didn't. And there we were, standing at the side of the road for 45 minutes. Real time info at the bus stop would have warned us to go find somewhere to hole up and stay warm until the next bus time instead of waiting for the bus that would never appear.

I understand why bus companies can't always send out replacement buses when a bus can't finish its route. But I also now know what it's like to be on the receiving end of the bus that doesn't exist. And it blows.

So bus pass, I still love you, because you give me freedom to go places I wouldn't have gone when I was busy worrying about the amount of gas in the tank but sometimes you make me yearn for sunny days and my bicycle, the only vehicle I know that'll get me everywhere I want to go, whenever I want to go there and the only fuel it needs is the food I'm already eating anyway.

*when you arrive, that is.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stagnant Statues

Back in December, I wrote about a statue project being proposed in Kitchener. Kitchener city council vetoed the plan on Monday night, after seeing the results of an online public opinion poll that ripped the project to shreds.

There are so many reasons cited for why people don't like the project, from the monetary cost to the dubious history of some of our former leaders and the location (both in the park and near The Luggage Project).

I was a not-so-quiet opponent of the project, both in regards to the subject matter and the placement.

Since Monday's vote, Kitchener has been lambasted by people saying the vote was shortsighted. Mayor Carl Zehr expressed his disappointment and the National Post covered the story a few times. I think Kitchener Council was right in voting no based on what the proposal was, and that the proposal itself was the problem.

As a citizen, when I heard of this project I heard, "This is what we want to give the city. This is exactly where it is going to go and this is what it will cost and all you have to do is say yes and allow us to go ahead." Herein lies the problem. Not once did we hear about other possible locations for the statue, we were given an ultimatum of sorts and it sat heavily in the pits of our stomachs.

Would public opinion have been different if the proposal had been to put the statues scattered throughout the park or throughout the city or in a different location, like McLennan Park or out at Woodside? I think so. While I'm still not crazy about the idea of Prime Minister statues for several reasons, I think my opinion would have been significantly altered had the proposal called for the statues to be placed throughout the park. The placement of this project is key and as a regular park goer, I didn't want to see that open space marred in any way.

We still may see statues in Waterloo Region, the organizers approached media today to say that several other locations are interested in the project although of course, none in Kitchener. I'm happy my council said no to statues as the proposal came forward but in the same respect, I wouldn't have been mad if they had wanted to continue to talk about the subject and discuss alternative locations.

Hey, if Waterloo wants to host those statues, all the power to them. I may even go visit them once. I just hope they make an informed choice on where and how to place them and don't eliminate a valuable open field space to do so.