There is never any question…

January 20, 2007 | Filed Under The Heartless Bitch Way | No Comments

For the last few months I’ve been receiving a particular form of physiotherapy called “Intramuscular Stimulation“. It involves a physiotherapist digging acupuncture needles into spasmed muscles and worming those needles around to trigger the release. Sometimes it causes quite colourful bruising.

I went for a treatment on Thursday… just two days before I was due to leave for a vacation in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, this treatment left me with a rather large, angry bruise on my right pectoral muscle. Despite my best efforts with distilled witch hazel and arnica gel, the bruise is as nasty and purple as ever. Ah well… fuck it.

Our accommodations in Nassau are with a friend who has a condo on the beach… She’s a real sweetheart, but cracks me up. As we sat at her kitchen counter, drinking $6-a-bottle-gin and tonics (made in someone’s bathtub, I’m sure!), the boyfriend said, jokingly, “Did you tell M, that it wasn’t ME who gave you that bruise?”

“I didn’t have to. She knows that if YOU did it, you wouldn’t be here with me right now…. You’d still be in hospital.”

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If only Shamu could do the dishes…

January 19, 2007 | Filed Under The Heartless Bitch Way | No Comments

I listen to the radio in the shower each morning.  It’s a good way to start the day.  The local alternative radio station plays great music; I find out how hellish my drive to work is going to be; I know what jacket to wear (will the snot freeze in my nose the moment I step out the door today?); they keep me entertained with “The Good, the bad, and the ugly” – three stories from the strange side of life; and they have their tech guy come in and talk about the latest and greatest gadgets and tech news.  In and amidst all of this, they generally find interesting news tidbits to talk about.  This morning one of those tidbits was about a story in the New York Times entitled “What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage“.

In essence, the author, Amy Sutherland, was writing a book on exotic animal trainers and ultimately decided to try the animal training techniques on her husband’s “annoying habits”. As we listened in the shower, the boyfriend and I, he could SEE the steam rising off of me, and it wasn’t the hot water from the tap…

Her whole philosophy all boiled down to “Reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior”. Well, yeah, that’s a big fat DUH. If the critter you are training is in fact a critter, or a CHILD.

I think the most important thing Amy learned from this exercise was not how to train her husband, but how to lighten the hell up – dropping her nagging over really unimportant stuff, and learning not to take her husband’s quirks personally. Honestly, I think some women go looking, WITH TWEEZERS, for things to rag on their husbands (and kids) about.  Do you have nothing better to do with your time?

Then again, there ARE the guys who have somehow landed in an enabling relationship where their self-obsessed behaviors are more than just idle and inconsequential quirks.  I find it disturbing that even today, so many women think of and treat men like children, (or animals) that have to be tricked, coerced and “trained” to behave like an acceptable adult.  Even more disturbing is the fact that so many men think it is their god-given right to continue to act like children well past their 18th birthday.

Honestly people!  What ever happened to guys just “Growing the fuck up?”  What kills me is that NEITHER sex thinks it is appropriate for the other to act like a recalcitrant, self-obsessed child, yet too many adult males seem to think that to deny them that “right” is to deny them their manhood. 

Where the hell does this “clinging to childhood” sense of entitlement come from?  Were they weaned too young?

I mean, hell – I don’t want to grow “old” mentally, and I don’t want my partner to either. But that doesn’t mean we can’t grow “up” and act like responsible adults. 

Though he jokes about being 6 years old, the one thing I appreciate about my partner is that he really is an emotional ADULT (ok, except when it comes to food – he’s a picky eater, but I let him know in no uncertain terms what I think about THAT, and I don’t cook around his quirks. He knows how to use the microwave oven if he doesn’t like what I cooked.). But by and large, I have no time, or patience for ANYONE, male or female, over the age of 18, who cannot act like an adult – and that means (at a minimum) living up to your commitments (like being on time, and sharing expenses), not throwing temper tantrums at the drop of a hat, truly accepting responsibility for your behavior, and understanding what being a PARTNER really means (Hint: It means he/she ISN’T going to be your parent or an emotional sherpa for your “issues”).

There is a difference between having a youthful outlook and exuberance and acting puerile and irresponsible. Too bad so many people don’t understand the difference (or choose not to).

Perhaps it’s just years of experience from my end – but honestly, there are so many IMPORTANT things to get bent about, that after a while, the trivial stuff is just so…well… TRIVIAL.

When something is important to me and not important to him, then I take it as my responsibility to deal with it if it bothers me.  I learned LONG LONG ago that it is more stressful and time consuming to NAG, than it is to just do the thing that is bothering you.   It takes me two seconds to move his clothes on the floor to a stack in his laundry hamper.  As long as I have a clear path to the bathroom at night, I’m good.   If I need help with the dishes, or want him to take his turn doing them, I simply ASK. I don’t nag. I *remember* all the good and important things he does around the place and I keep that in balance when I’m stressed and something small that he forgot starts to bother me (we are, after all, human).  And for his part, he helps when asked, and more importantly, without being asked – he takes on responsibility for things that just need doing.  He doesn’t take MY issues or stresses personally.  If I lose my keys, If I’m stressed about small things because I’m overwhelmed at work, he’s never upset or bothered, no matter how distressed I might get.   And I don’t take his distractions and occasional absent-mindedness personally either.

That’s because we are ADULTS. We interact as ADULTS. We recognize that the other person is a) Human, b) NOT out to intentionally drive the other person crazy c) Not responsible for us and our feelings and d) someone we want to build a life with, so that means consideration, respect and love. 

No headgames. No “training” the other like they are a child or some lesser species.

Really folks. It’s called Acting Like An Adult. You ought to try it some time.

Š

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How NOT to Apologize

January 15, 2007 | Filed Under The Heartless Bitch Way | 2 Comments

1)  Wait several months after the incident in question, or better yet, wait YEARS before proffering your “Apology”.

2) Apologize in email. This is really important. You have to expend the absolute bare minimum of effort required. After all, that way you don’t have to do any REAL work. You certainly don’t have to deal with any of that icky “consequence” stuff, and you get to whine to others about how you tried to apologize and all that. 

3) Make sure that reason for your apology was something really apalling. That way the fact that you apologized years later and in email will have the most impact.  Here are some examples:

  • Openly badmouthing your “friend” on public forum
  • Backstabbing your “friend” repeatedly and viciously to mutual friends (This includes lying about them and omitting critical information so that you look like a wounded party)
  • Screaming visciously at your “friend” over a percieved slight in front of other people, and blowing a minor incident out of all proportion so that you can “have your feelings” over shit that has nothing to do with them, at their expense
  • Stealing from your “friend”
  • Sneaking around with your friend’s ex, all the while telling your friend that the ex is a creep and an asshole
  • Lying to your “friend” – and we aren’t talking little white lies here – we’re talking BIG important stuff
  • Falsely accusing your friend of ruining your life and making your existence miserable
  • Deliberately undermining your “friend’s” relationships with others
  • Dating your best-friend’s ex, and dumping the “friend” because you decided you can’t fuck the ex, AND be friends with her at the same time.

4) Minimize/Trivialize the act of betrayal. The worse #3 is, the better this works.  Don’t actually own up to the activity for which you are apologizing.  At most, say that you “behaved badly”, or that you “owe an apology for the way I behaved”. That way you don’t actually have to take real responsibililty for anything. It just LOOKS like you are.

5) Say your bad behavior was the result of a mistake in judgement (poor you!). Do not imply in any way that you had any concious choice in your actions, or any real responsibility for the outcome.  Never in any way admit that your actions were a deliberate and intentional act of betrayal requiring any real contrition or effort. If you can, blame others or your own inexperience for why you fucked your friend over. Extra points if you caveat the excuse with something like, “I know this does not excuse my behavior, but…”

6) Go for the emotionally manipulative close:  State how much you “miss” your friend and the fun you had together, and enclose some trite statement like, “I hope that you are doing well”.

7) Finally, get extra bonus points by trying the sympathy ploy on top of the manipulative close: State that you’ll (*sigh*, hand-at-brow) understand if they don’t want to talk to you again, but you just felt you had to, you know, finally say you were sorry…

As you can tell, I don’t brook much with people who are looking for absolution for acting like a fuckwit by way of a lame, half-assed “apology” that is anything but. If you really screwed me over (and it’s happened a few times over the long years – we all make mistakes about other’s character from time to time), then I’m NOT interested in ever having you as a friend again, so why would I give a rats ass about an “apology” from someone I want no further relationship with? Especially if you don’t even have the balls (figurative or literal) to do it in person.  If made a mistake in judgement once by trusting you, I have no intention of repeating the mistake.  I have plenty of good friends, I don’t need to revive relationships with lazy assholes who have demonstrated repeatedly that they are untrustworthy, inconsiderate, shallow, and insincere.

Contrary to the latest spate of pop-culture touchy-feely crap, I don’t need to “forgive” every dipshit that has crossed my path in order to feel happy and move on with my life. Believe me, no assoholic is going to hold me back from enjoying my time on this planet.  If you are looking for absolution, don’t come knocking on my door: join the Catholic church.  If you are looking for resolution, then if you don’t have the guts to face me in person, you aren’t worth any more of my time than this column took to write. And that’s ALL you are going to get.  (And I only wrote this because a stupid email apology is so laughable and makes good fodder.)

uber-heartlessly,
-Natalie

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Car Shopping Saga

January 13, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | No Comments

My car lease is up at the beginning of February. This meant “car shopping time” – something that I view as a necessary evil. Some demented people think this is a fun activity. I just find it frustrating, aggravating and kind of like repeatedly hitting yourself on the foot with a hammer: It feels so good when you stop.

Warning: For those of you not the slightest interested in buying an economy car, you may find this post like hitting yourself on the foot with a hammer. But if you are car-shopping, you may find my experiences useful.

I have to provide some background as to why I am in the market for a new car. You see, I have really bad CARma when it comes to used or off-warranty vehicles. I can guarantee you that the SECOND a car comes off warranty, some part of it will break on me and I’ll be shelling out two grand on a transmission or drive train… The most memorable time I had an off-warranty vehicle die on me, it was midnight, raining, and my kid was barfing all over the floor of the Vancouver International Airport. Then there was the time that my gas-tank decided to rust through at the same moment my transmission died, which resulted in me causing a major rush-hour snarl on a busy city street as the fire department had to be called for the hazardous waste cleanup.

Yep. My CARma sucks, so it must have a warranty, so that at the very least, I’m not stuck footing the bill to get it fixed.

I have spent the last 9 years leasing. I get a new car every three years, and that’s kind of my little treat to ME, considering they are always “economy” cars. I ignore the urging of my (male) children to “get a BMW mom!”. Yeah, Right. And you want to go to university where? Aside from the cost and impracticality, I really don’t need the speeding tickets and fines I’d get if I owned a something like a Z4. I had enough of those from my motorcycle days.

I’ve been with the same car dealer now for those 9 years. My lease always includes all my oil changes. The repair depot is open till midnight most nights. They have a loaner program if major repairs are required (like the time I got rear-ended and the car needed body work), and a shuttle if I just want to drop it off and pick it up later. The dealership is a 7 minute drive from my house. Very often, they can do simple maintenance while I wait. In short, I LIKE my dealer.

So what kind of cars have they been? Hold your laughter….. They’ve all been Ford’s.

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Is it just me….

January 10, 2007 | Filed Under Politics | 1 Comment

…. or is George Bush just the most GORMLESS-looking leader on the face of the planet?  I mean, there is NO way you could ever apply the phrase “intelligent countenance” to him.  He has small, beady eyes, and he always looks like a deer in the headlights when he talks to the press.  The absolute worst exposition of his trademarked stupified expression has to be on Farenheit 911… when he is told about the attacks on the World Trade Center. Did you see that?  I’ve seen more intelligent expressions on the “special” workers down at the local employment training center.

But hey…  You guys elected him.  I have NO idea why.

Š

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A mile in their shoes?

January 5, 2007 | Filed Under Parenting | 2 Comments

The news is filled today with the story of “Ashley X” – a severely disabled child whose parents chose to have her growth stunted via estrogen treatments. In addition they had her breast buds removed and she was given a hysterectomy.  While commentary on the father’s website is mostly supportive, there is a tremendous amount of criticism – both on the site and on the news about the choices the parents made.

On tonight’s episode of “As It Happens”, on CBC Radio One, Barbara Budd (?) asked a guest doctor whether or not this treatment was done out of convenience for the parents and not truly in the benefit of the child. The doctor explained that by keeping the child small, plus the other treatments, she can be cared by her family for longer and have a better quality of life – fewer bedsores, no issues with menstruation. (The breast buds were removed to prevent large breast growth and the associated discomfort). The goal was to enable the parents to care for her at home for much longer than would be possible if she grew to her full adult height and size. Since she has the mind of an infant, and cannot even hold a toy or roll over, they have NOT, in my opinion damaged her quality of life in any way. 

Barbara countered with the question of  whether or not the issue was really one of convenience for the parents because of a failure of the medical and home care system to be able to provide better care. 

You know it really pisses me off when journalists couch thinly veiled accusations in “hypothetical” questions.  Her parents don’t live in a hypothetical world. They live in the REAL world – something journalists should try more often. Regardless of whether or not a better home-care system would have given the parents more options, the REALITY is that it isn’t there. The reality is that the parents are doing the best they can and made a choice that they believe will allow their severely disabled child to have the best quality of life possible – with her family.  And SO WHAT if it also allows her parents to have a better quality of life too – have YOU lifted a 130lb adult several times a day?  Helped them in and out of a wheelchair or a car, or to go to the bathroom for a bath?  Why is it in situations like this, that so many people think someone is evil for even suggesting giving consideration to the impact on the rest of the family?  This child has the brain of an infant – keeping her body younger so that she doesn’t suffer period cramps, painful swollen breasts, and the inevitable bedsores and issues that come with being too large for a single person to adequately lift or care for, seem like totally reasonable approaches to me. Under the same circumstances, I likely would have made the same decisions.

I’m sick and tired of self-righteous assholes judging parents of disabled kids when they themselves have NO experience and no intention or capacity to pick up the slack and help those people with their lives.  Looking after a NORMAL, HEALTHY child is challenging enough.  Dealing with a disabled child can be devastating.

When my youngest was born, he had “club foot” – his feet were bent in – not his ankles, fortunately, just his feet. I asked the doctor if they would straighten naturally and he said, “Probably”.

Probably? WTF?

So I asked if there was anything we could do to ENSURE that his feet were straight as an adult – that would prevent him from having knee problems, playing sports, and wearing normal shoes.  I was told that with stretching exercises and special shoes, we could be more proactive in ensuring his feet would straighten.

We waited until he was 8 months old to see if they would get any straighter on their own. They didn’t.

So I took him to a specialist, had the $180 shoes ordered (I was on a medical plan that covered 80%), and waited for them to arrive.  The osteopath was an asshole.  When I took the shoes and my then 9-month-old child to him for a fitting, he went into some overblown tirade about how he was ABOVE such trivial tasks as fitting a child’s feet in special shoes that need weekly adjustments.

In the end I took him to a public clinic that specializes in providing physiotherapy and family services for handicapped and disabled children.  They had plenty of experience in fitting specialty shoes and braces.

While there, the physiotherapist asked if she could perform a full assessment on my son.  I said SURE.  (Better to know sooner, rather than later if there is a problem).  She did all kinds of balance and cognitive exercises with him over the next 30 minutes or so, and then handed him back and announced how nice it was to see a child whose only problems were his feet.

After adjusting the shoes, she looked me straight in the eye and said without blinking, “You WILL donate these to us when you are done, right?”  (I did.  You don’t argue with someone like that. She used the right mix of intimidation and guilt.  She could have been a Reverend Mother in another life.)

She explained to me that they have a numbering system for rating the difficulty of raising a handicapped child.  A downs syndrome child is a “3” – it is as difficult as raising 3 children at once.  A cerebral palsy child is a “5”.  Her stories certainly brought home the difficulty of coping with raising a handicapped child – especially if there are other children in the family that need care and attention too.

She explained that they had no problem counseling teens or at-risk mothers for abortion if they didn’t want to carry the pregnancy to term. “It’s hard enough to care for a child you WANT, much less a disabled one that you don’t want.” 

So when I see these anti-abortion activists picketing abortion clinics, or self-righteous assholes criticizing people like Ashley’s parents, it ignites my heartless ire.

How the hell many of those “activists” have adopted heroin-addicted babies? How many of them are fostering the unwanted handicapped, fetal-alcohol-syndrome, and crack-kids in their homes?  Not bloody many, I’d wager.

Yes, there ARE animals and horribly evil people out there who shouldn’t be parents – but Ashley’s parents strike me as anything but. Hell, they are still together 9 years later. (The birth of a handicapped child often spells the end of a marriage).  They are doing the best they can to ensure that she has the best *quality* of life. It’s clear their actions are borne out of love – not evil.  While her father said the decision was ‘easy’ in light of the overwhelming evidence of the benefits, I doubt it was taken lightly.

Until you have walked 9 years in their shoes, you have no right, and no basis on which to criticize their decisions.

Š

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