How to kill a conversation

Today, Deb and I were at Safeway picking up a few things. We were doing our usual shtick, teasing each other. This time it was about the deviled ham[1] I had put in the cart. Deb, as a new vegetarian (again), was mocking my choice. I then made a comment about not teasing me, to which, the cashier piped up and said: “isn’t that what friends are for?” I then replied: “or partners.” Well. You would have thought I grew a third head. The air turned icy and it seemed to take forever for her to ring through the rest of our groceries.

After we were in the car we had a discussion about what had happened. I feel the need to challenge people’s assumptions about us. I have been doing it for a very long time. I resent the fact that people believe they can make assumptions about our relationship. Sometimes they see us friends, other times it is as sisters. People just never think outside of the box and consider that we might be married. I think this fact is exacerbated by the fact that we are women. Women, outside of heterosexual relations, are rarely seen as sexual beings.

All of this, of course, is about discourse. As long as we live in a hetero-normative society these kinds of assumptions will be made. We are all so busy assuming everyone is heterosexual that we do not recognize different sexual orientations. Along with the discourse of heterosexuality goes the rampant homophobia within our society. Where we live, there are not as many LGTB people as there are in Vancouver. We live very close to the bible belt and the views which are predictable of neo-Christians.

What is the answer? Well, we need to begin to challenge heterosexist views. Not everyone is heterosexual. By assuming everyone is space is not given for people to be different. This lack of space creates huge problems for youth who are different. Without role models youth have difficulty seeing LGTB people living happy, productive lives. Queer people need to become a positive part of the general discourse, i.e. magazines, TV shows, stories etc. Perhaps if we incorporate more images of queer people into our media we will start to see some positive change. Every time we challenge people’s assumptions, we start to break down barriers and make room for different kinds of relationships.

[1] I told her to blame Wander Coyote’s deviled ham sandwich picture.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘things I forgot yesterday’ edition

  • Plastic containers – it seems like I am always buying reusable plastic containers. It doesn’t seem to matter how many I buy or what kind we never seem to have any. The other thing that happens is that we seem to end up with a drawer full of lids and no containers. No one says they have the containers at work, so I am at a complete loss. I wonder if there is a hollow behind the drawer where the containers go. Who knows!
  • Colitis day – well today has been a full-blown colitis day. I had the fatigue in that I slept until 12:45 pm. I have had a lot of pain today, much more than I have for a while. I have had some pretty sore joints too. My right wrist, thumb and index finger for some reason. Plus I have had a lot of rashes this week. Some days I am not sure which is worse – the colon symptoms or everything else I have developed as a result of ulcerative colitis. These things range from the mild (rashes) to the more debilitating generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
  • QRANK – we at the Swamp have been dedicated to playing QRANK for quite some time. It would be great to have more people to play against. QRANK is a daily social trivia game. You answer 15 out of 20 questions and you hope that you don’t humiliate yourself. I really enjoy it. If you keep up with the news you stand a good chance of doing quite well. You can play in facebook or via a free iPad or iPhone app.
  • Do not call list – what the hell is up with the do not call list. Are telemarketers just ignoring it? We get more solicitation calls now that we are on the list than we did before the list existed. Plus, with two provincial leadership contests running, I am sure the calls are only going to increase.
  • TV Shows – we are trying to find some new shows to watch that Deb might like. She is a big fan of Law & Order: SVU, Law and Order: UK, and Criminal Minds. She also really liked Dexter and Nurse Jackie. What do you all like to watch? I would love to hear what all of you like to watch and why. Have at it in the comments!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘get your food issues off of me’ edition

  • I read an amazing blog entry by Margaret Cho. She completely summed up many of the feelings I have been having lately. When people feel they have a right to make an assumption about you and then pass it, it is so very hurtful. It is not something that you can shake off and, in fact, may scar someone for life. This was her reaction after her friend’s mother said Margaret had an eating disorder:

“I felt sick immediately, the fat in the food coagulating in my blood and stopping it. It felt like a heart attack, or a tranquilizer dart right in the chest, felling me in my tracks. Like when you take your battery out of your phone – just blank screen. Blank. Mother and daughter were full on fighting now but I had checked out and gone somewhere else. We were all still sitting there but I don’t really know what happened after that. Perhaps we went to my friend’s room and drowned out her neurotic mother’s musings with Duran Duran, but whatever happened I know that I was permanently changed. I had been marked with a big scarlet letter “E” on my chest for “eating disorder.” That was when I was tagged in the wild and categorized forever, and even though I was put back into the general population, I carry the mark to this day.”

  • Why do people buy bottled water? I had a conversation with a woman the other day about bringing in our reusable bags. I had remembered because Safeway had a reminder on the door. Anyway, she was going on about remembering her bags and she had a case of bottled water in her cart. Talk about a disconnect! Today I was at Save-on and I saw a line up for people to fill their big water bottles. Now, where do they think the water comes from? Do they think Save-on has some big tank of bottled water somewhere in the store? No, I am sure it is tap water that may be run through the industrial equivalent of a Britta filter. Not only do they have to bring these huge bottles to the store then they get to fill them, drive them home and get them into the house. Instead they could just turn on the tap. No bottles involved.
  • It might be too soon to speak but it looks like the drainage has solved the problems with the septic system. Moving the water out seems to have fixed the problem with water filling the tank when it rains heavily. We have not had it pumped since the end of September. Since we moved in we have had to pump it out in either December or January and sometimes both.


We all know how hurtful gossip can be. We know that it can ruin reputations, hurt people and that it is a destructive force. Yet many of us continue to engage in this behavior. I have a confession to make. I like to listen to gossip. I do not tend to repeat gossip but I listen. My act of listening makes me an active participant in the act of gossiping.

Over the years, I have learned a great deal about what can happen to relationships when gossip happens. I once had a supervisor who would gossip to me about the people I worked with and she supervised. At first it was a lot of fun to spend time with her. She treated me like I was her confidante at the office. She asked me to report back on things that were going on in the office. She would tell me how competent I was in comparison to other staff. I loved the attention.

The longer I worked with her, the more negative things became. I started to notice that not only was I listening to her gossip; I was an active participant. I found myself saying horrible things about my co-workers. As things started to degenerate, I realized that I had to extricate myself. I came to realize that as much as she talked about other people to me, she would talk about me as well. Eventually, I knew I had to stay away from her because I would get sucked in every time. She was funny and engaging and I would participate in spite of my best intentions.

Over the years, I have learned to not spread gossip. However, I still listened to it. I am now in another situation where this has been my only role. I seem to have difficulty in not listening to others gossip to me. I am working really hard to integrate this lesson into my life. It is going to be hard. I am going to work really hard to figure out what is gossip and what is necessary information. I think it is going to be a work in progress for sure.

What about you? What have been your experiences with gossip? Have you been a victim? How do you handle it in your life?

And now for a change…

It has been a while since Deb, the official photographer of the Swamp and the Swamp Rats has taken pictures. She got some absolutely fabulous shots at Golden Ears today. I have also included some pictures of those who don’t go to the park. Enjoy

Pipes at the park
The Punk!
Zoe the Beautiful
A fabulous shot of our beautiful Zoe who is doing so well
The 'Little Man'
The 'Big Man'
She is such a tiny dog
The ever gorgeous Bella
One of the last great pictures of Madison

I am angry, so very, very angry

I am about to rant. If you object to calling it like it is or profanity then stop reading now. You have been warned.

I need to talk about fat oppression. Yes, you read it correctly, fat oppression. Let’s define fat oppression:

From, here is the definition of fat: having too much flabby tissue; corpulent; obese: a fatperson.

From, here is the and the definition of oppression:
the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel,or unjust manner.

Putting it together? Fat oppression is cruel and unjust treatment of people who have too much flabby tissue. Like racism, there is generally a flavor of power being present in the oppression but it is not always necessary. It can be used to discredit people in positions of power when others are trying to undermine them. Wow! What a thing to judge someone on! This can work in many ways. But I digress.

This society thinks it is perfectly OK to systematically denigrate, discriminate and decimate fat people. We are the butt of jokes. If people can’t find a way to tear us down and we are fat then they use that. We get accused of all sorts of things, usually based on assumptions (incorrect at that). Some even have the nerve to diagnose people.

I have had huge issues with my weight and being fat my entire life. What the oppressors don’t know is that I have a metabolic disorder. Yes, there is a medical reason I am fat. I don’t even lose any significant weight when I am deathly ill with colitis. Yet they feel they can use this because this is all they have. So, I am here to tell you the following:

  • Fat people are not stupid.
  • Fat people are not dirty.
  • Fat people do not lack self-control. Point in fact I quit smoking cold turkey 20 years ago.
  • Fat people are not weak; nor are we here to be the butt of your jokes.

I am fucking sick of it. I usually have this shit under control. I am a highly intelligent, well-educated fat woman and I scare the shit out of some people. I scare the shit out of people who see how smart, funny, competent and kind I am.

I am so fucking angry that some people are trying to oppress me simply because I am fat. How fucking stupid can they be? What the hell gives them the right to think that just because they are of a smaller size they are superior? If you think the fat person in front of you is weak, think again. If you think weight is a simple matter of calories in and calories out you are wrong. Let’s judge people on real things – their accomplishments, their ethics, and their values as human beings. Weight, like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation has nothing to do with who we are as people.

If we are not fat ourselves (and half of us are), we definitely know someone who has struggled with weight issues. Maybe it is a friend or a family member. Maybe you are nice and kind to their face but mock them to others because you can. After all, fat discrimination along with sexual orientation and gender non-conformity, are about the only areas of oppression that are still sanctioned in our society. If you don’t believe me, listen to the jokes the oppressors tell sometime.

To the haters and the oppressors out there – I am on to you. So stay the fuck out of my way. I am sick and tired of being denigrated by you because I am fat and a lesbian. I have figured you all out now and I am angry, very, very angry.

My new bra…

I have wanted to get a new bra for sometime. One that actually, you know provides support. Real support. As I age, I find that as I grow older certain parts are drooping. I bought an Enell bra. The thing is like a piece of armour. By the time I got into it, I was pretty sure that my breasts were safely encased in something close to resembling steel.

I am all for support, but this thing felt like nothing I have ever had on before. I went back to the website and checked the measurements. I had the right size and, in fact, I was at the small end for this bra. So, I guess I have to decide if I can manage to wear this bra. Maybe I just need to get used to it. Oh, I bought the ‘lite’ version. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in the full version.

My Weekly Blood Tests

I went to the lab and it was seriously backed up. When my turn finally came, the tech who tried to take my blood missed and moved the needle around for at least a minute before I finally said please stop that really hurts. It is hard going for blood work on a weekly basis when you have bad veins. There are a few of the women there who know me and do a really good job for me. They know my particular needs:

  • Check the left arm. You will feel the vein and not see it.
  • Tie the tourniquet really tight, over my shirt.
  • Don’t use a green needle or you will blow the vein
  • I won’t touch cotton, I will have a tissue ready to press
  • I don’t want a band-aid as they eat my skin. I will sit and press and leave.

When the tech missed I suggested she grab the one who I know always finds my difficult vein. She did fine and I was out of there in 5 minutes once I saw her.

Going every week and with bad veins, I really have to walk a fine line. I can’t ever be difficult or whine – at least that is the expectation I have of myself. I find if I am relaxed and just let them do their thing with me giving them the information that I know works strikes a nice balance. Being someone with a chronic disease, you come into contact with the medical system a great deal. You come to understand what works for you and you must be able to state what you need in a calm, professional and well-mannered way. I have found that medical professionals appreciate patients who know what works for them; patients who are active participants in their own care.

I know that it is very hard to get an IV into my arm. I have learned though that if the nurse uses a hot, wet compress on the top of my left arm a bunch of veins will pop up that are great for IVs. I had noticed these veins when I was in the shower and I always wondered where they went. I tried this at my last colonoscopy appointment and it worked so well. Now, if the doctor had given me enough sedation at that appointment it would not have been such a horrific experience.

I think the whole point of this particular blog entry is to look at ways those of us with chronic diseases can be partners in our own care. My experience has always been that most doctors and other medical personnel (there are exceptions) like informed patients who are active in their own care. It is even better if you can tell them how to treat you in a better way.

Oh, and my hemoglobin is back down to 120. I am not happy by this development. It explains why I have been feeling more fatigued again. Break out the Palfer CF.


There are many things floating around in my head right now.  I have far too much stress in my life right now to formulate interesting and cogent content. So instead, I give you a list of things floating around in my head…here goes!

  • I cannot believe they have canceled Medium. I loved this show! Although one has to suspend disbelief almost all of the episodes were excellent. I especially loved the character development in this show. Every character, even down to the youngest child was given attention. The show also portrayed family life realistically. Then there were the plot lines in the episodes. Almost all of the episodes were different and unique.
  • Music – I honestly don’t know what I would do without music in my life. My playlist has a lot of Indigo Girls, REM, and some Lady Gaga. I have also become re-acquainted with some great Beatles songs. Music calms my soul. I can pour all of my stress, anxiety and emotion into singing. It helps to clear my mind. Quite often, when I am at home, I don’t listen to music. I am now trying to make a concerted effort to feed my soul.
  • I love the time I spend in the morning with Piper. She loves to have her belly rubbed. She stretches her legs out and lies on her back and makes happy little grunty noises. I feel bad for people who don’t have dogs they miss out on so much unconditional love.
  • I have been doing a lot of self-assessment over the last couple of weeks. I have been trying to figure out what it is about my personality that seems to attract and/or encourage behavior in others. I am being purposely vague here on the blog. If I know you and you want to know more let me know.
  • Today, I read one of the most profound blog posts I have ever seen. There is a story there and it is not mine to tell. Hang on Airdrie. If you need anything, let me know.

One or two?

I was already to wade in on the great debate about one or two spaces after a period. I am a confirmed one spacer and I just don’t understand people who use two. I missed the great debate on ‘Q’ and was excited about listening to it today while I geeked out with my new Neat Desk Scanner for the Mac. Honestly, I found the debate to be too full of testosterone for my liking. Seriously, it was  three pompous asses, Jian Ghomeshi included, talking louder and louder.

I can remember learning to type on a typewriter. I was taught to put two spaces after a period. Interestingly, I failed Typing 10. Once I got onto a computer keyboard, I learned to type properly. On a good day, I type about 80 wpm. I was a committed two spacer when I went to university. Part way through my first degree, I was shown the light about spaces after a period. I was so used to putting two spaces after a period that I would have to use search and replace to make sure there was only one space. Eventually, I stopped using two spaces altogether.

I was actually surprised to hear that this debate was raging anew. I have not really noticed a lot of two spacers recently. Although, if someone uses two spaces, I actually feel like it is harder to read. It really seems like there is something wrong when I see two spaces.

As I listened to all of their reasons, which ranged from the real (we no longer use monospaced fonts and typographers say so) to the ridiculous (it saves trees), I couldn’t help but think they missed real reason why one space is right. That reason? Apple says so. If you type two spaces on an iPhone or iPad, a period and one space appear. So the argument has been solved – let the one spacers reign supreme!

So? Are you a one spacer or a two spacer? Why?