Our stories make up who we are. They are about what and who inspired us, changed us, scared us, amused us, opened our eyes and our hearts and turned us into who we are today.
Sometimes we remember our stories; sometimes they are remembered for us.
For example, my brother remembers the story of when we were about six and four and a neighbor busted us for dancing on the roof of our four-story building completely naked at 5:30 a.m.
The way my brother tells the story, our logic was this:
- Mum is sleeping and we don’t want to wake her to ask if we can go the roof.
- Mum wouldn’t want us to get our pajamas dirty.
- Therefore, we should just go on the roof naked without waking her.
The way Mum tells the story is with a sense of pride and wonderment for having such kids’ll-be-kids kids who managed to stay alive despite having no rational fears of heights or getting into trouble.
And the way the neighbor tells the story might be different, too. She obviously felt distressed enough to get dressed and come across the street at a god-awful hour to ring our bell and chastise my mother for sleeping while her kids were dangerously careening upon the roof and, she added, for raising hippy kids.
Why do the differing perspectives matter? Our stories influence who we become, because they are biased by each story that came before. Had my mother’s reaction been different, had we been micro-managed after dancing naked on the roof, our story would be different, and importantly, so too would every story have been different afterwards.
If this story happened in another family, the story might be told as a cautionary tale – never let your children out of your sight/lock all the doors and windows at night.
But in my family, it’s told with love and amusement, and it is that attitude that shaped us. Certainly we were told to never go on the roof again, but we were still allowed to explore and wander and come back with tales of adventure.
Mum often sums her story with a wave of her hand and this statement: “No harm done. After all, they were just dancing.” And I love this declaration because it kind of says as long you're dancing, you'll be all right.
Steve Martin in The Jerk is the only acceptable jerk.
1. Uber-mini, frayed jean short-wearing jerks.
Stop accosting me with your bushy-beaver-styled shorts, ladies. You know that right? That the frayed bit looks like a bushy beaver? It does. And it’s terrible. Knock that shit off. 2. Jerk hairdressers.
You know the type – when you show them a picture of the haircut you want, they say: “You know you won’t look like her, though, right?”
Oh – you mean a new haircut won’t make me look like Michelle Williams? I won’t suddenly be 5’’3” with the perfect pout and a B cup? My eye colour and face shape won’t change? So you are saying this $60 haircut isn’t a total fucking makeover?
Oh. I had no idea. I guess I won’t bother then.
Or … you can cut my hair to look like Michelle Williams’ hair and let’s quietly assume we both know you aren’t a:
- Plastic surgeon or
Just cut my fucking hair. 3. “I’m not a racist, but …” jerks.
Yes – you are. Starting your sentence off with a denial does not make the rest of your racist comment less racist. Go on home and watch Fox News, your preferred corporate-purchased media creation with its news models sharing gorgeous stories about how minorities created the financial crisis and rah-rah white America. Yay racism, oops, I mean news! 4. Jerks who say “first world problem”
when you complain about stuff. I get it. My car breaking down is not as bad as the incarceration of Palestinians right now or the mass bigotry in Ferguson, but a broken-down car still sucks and I think I’m allowed to vent for five minutes.
Also, you’re an inconsiderate dink. Why don’t you go take another selfie and post it with the tagline: “I don’t actually know what’s happening in the world. LMAO!” Which actually is a first world problem. And speaking of venting ...
I feel better. Do you feel better? Or do you feel like I missed important jerk categories?
Indeed, there are a billion kind of jerks, but in an effort to not spend my entire week writing about them, which would put me in a foul mood and turn me into more of a jerk than I normally am, I focused on four. Trust there are more coming, people. Trust.
You know those lists you write when you are trying to figure out what it is you want from your next partner? They* say you’re supposed to be putting your desires out in the universe so the universe can give you what you want.
Now, I think the universe part is coo-coo for Coco-Nuts. The universe doesn’t give a shit if my next boyfriend likes modern art or not, but I think making a list helps you better understand what you are looking for, and so I’ve been writing those lists forever.
In the early days, the lists were weirdly vague and specific, and included things like: has good relationship with family; open-minded; like to talk; plays pool; laid-back; wears baseball caps. (I had a thing for baseball caps.)
My most recent list was a bit more concrete, but still had a few of the same desires, including: likes to talk. Talking is kind of my thing. I like to talk about everything. Nothing is taboo. Nothing is too silly.
And so I need to be with someone who also likes to talk, and in the same way that I do: rambling, philosophical, deep, bizarre.
This all brings me to conversations with my boyfriend. Because he’s the best at talking with me, taking me seriously and being involved when it matters, and totally letting me blather on about weird stuff without poking too much fun, unless necessary.
Here’s an example:
- Me: Is it super egotistical to want to hang out with myself, like as another person, hanging out with me?
- Him: Yes.
- Me: I think it would either be really awesome or really irritating.
- Me: I wouldn’t know, though, that I was hanging out with me. I would just think I was a friend. But the me hanging out with me would know and then tell me the next day so that I would know what it’s like to spend time with me. It would be tricky.
- Him: That’s your assessment of this situation: tricky?
- Me: Yeah.
- Him: So the logistics of you hanging out with you would be tricky. That’s all. No other issues?
- Me: Well, what would you consider the situation to be?
- Him: Impossible.
- Me: I thought you would go with ridiculous.
- Him: That, too.
And then I hugged him because what else do you do to thank someone for listening to that kind of foolishness?
What does this have to do with the list? My last list kinda threw me when I found it. Why? It listed exactly the things I love about my boyfriend. Now don’t get all excited and think I’m going to change my mind about the universe business – I’m not – but I do think that as I’ve gotten older and gotten to know myself better, I’m getting better at figuring out what I want.
So go write a list of what you want. Is it a partner, job, lifestyle, living space? Whatever it is you want, get to know your want better and then go make it happen. And don’t thank the fucking universe for making it happen. Thank yourself.
*No fucking clue who “they” are officially, but we all know who they are, right? Right.
I am so tired of the sport player hero thing. Think of the rags to riches sport story: Guy grows up poor but plays football all the time and gets into the NFL even though his one parent neglected him. NFL recognizes the marketing potential and has this guy smile a lot and say a few sentences after games about teamwork. Bam – hero!
Officially bored to the point of being annoyed. And here’s why: I’m a word nerd.
Had you heard? It’s true. I am.
The word hero comes from ancient Greek and it refers to “characters who, in the face of danger and adversity, display courage
and the will for self-sacrifice
for some greater good
of all humanity.” There is a morality to the hero that is strong enough to make them accept personal danger when it’s the right thing to do.
It doesn’t mean “wins games” or “hugs cancer kids” or “doesn’t beat his wife.”
Maybe the sport story has adversity and courage, but where’s the self-sacrifice? Where’s the greater good? I’m also a finicky bitch.
It’s true. Story checks out.
I’m not that impressed by someone being good at one thing. Especially if they have trained to be good at that one thing their whole fucking lives. Especially if, because they showed talent early on, they were wooed with money and fame and free education they didn’t even have to study for so they could focus 100% on being good at one thing.
He trained to play football really well and he does. Great? Sure. Hero? No. You know who are heroes?
To name just a few, these guys are:
- The “Unknown Protestor” who risked his life and freedom by standing in front of the army tanks at Tiananmen Square, barring their passage.
- Emile Zola who risked his career and life to help exonerate a falsely accused man by writing a newspaper article accusing the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism.
- Edward Snowden who risked his career, freedom and life by sharing with the media confidential government documents detailing the existence of numerous, illegal global surveillance programs
I’m not sure what level of sport skill they have, but they changed the world, so that’s pretty cool, if you like that sort of thing. No? You don’t? Then by all means worship a guy who throws a ball.
I asked my boyfriend what to blog about this week, and when he didn’t have any ideas, I probed further:
- Me: “What have I been yapping about lately?”
- Him: "Well, yesterday you were all about pooping, but I don’t think that’s a good blog topic.”
Which leads me to this week’s blog topic: "I got 99 problems, but a poop ain’t one." Or "let's talk about poop, baby." Let’s talk about poop, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good poops
And the bad poops that may be
Let’s talk about poop
Let’s talk about poop
Let’s talk about poop
Let’s talk about poop
Okay! Let's talk about it! Pooping in public:
Do it. Don’t hold it in. Just wait until the last minute, use the last stall, check for toilet paper and then poop. Also, courtesy flush to cover up noises. Best public pooper in Vancouver:
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The bathrooms are on the main floor, which is open to the public, and the stalls are completely private. Also, they have good toilet paper. Worst public poopers in Vancouver:
City Centre Mall. I have seen poop on the walls above the toilets there. Also, Parallel 49 Brewery. Oh. My. Just disgusting. Trucker's wouldn't poop there. Poo smell cover-ups:
Poop excuse to get off the phone:
- Best – light a match.
- Worst – perfume. Because now your perfume smells like shit.
This comes from Tommy A, circa 1988, who told me the very best way to get off the phone with someone was to tell them you had to take a shit because: “What can they say, Shan – you gotta go when you gotta go.” This is pre-cell phone days, obviously, because now we can poop-n-chat. Poop thing people never admit:
That they read while pooping. Except for this one couple who keeps all their magazines in a basket in the bathroom which led me to admit that I love pooping at their place because I got to read their trashy People/US Weekly mags. Funniest poop story I know:
When I was about 10 and my bother 12, he took a huge log of a poop, a huge lumber jack’s arm of a poop, and it wouldn’t flush down.
- My brother: What should I do, Shan?
- Me: Flush again?
- My brother: I tried. Didn’t work.
- Me: I don’t know, then.
- My brother: Come look at it.
- Me: No!
- My brother: It’s huge.
- Me: How big can it be?
- My brother: Come see.
- Me: Ok.
For some reason, we were both immensely worried about this giant poop. Like wild animals, it was imperative that we hide the evidence. So, after some thought, we decided to get the big kitchen knife and cut it in half. Genius! But it still didn’t flush. In for a penny in for a pound, we cut it into smaller pieces. And when that still didn’t work, even smaller pieces until it finally flushed.
But then we had the gross poopy knife to deal with. Less success. I wasn’t washing it. He wasn’t washing it. We agreed to throw it out and feign innocence when asked about it (sorry Mum!). Best poop book: The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business
. It’s a book filled with mystery and revenge and poop. : )
I asked my boyfriend to read this article and to let me know if I had forgotten any poop stories or ideas. He read it.
- Him: That is so gross.
- Me: What?
- Him: The story about your brother’s poop.
- Me: Ya. But it’s funny, right?
- Him: Sort of.
I hope everyone has a great poop today.
Walk a mile in my shoes
… and then shoot me in the back of the head.
… and bomb the city where I live with my family, friends, neighbours.
… and teach my child to hate.
… and steal my peace.
… and steal my future.
Walk a mile in my shoes
… and then tell me my feelings are irrelevant.
… and tell me my belief is false because it is not your belief.
… and tell me how to raise my child.
… and tell me the way I suffer is trivial.
… and tell me my life doesn’t matter.
Walk a mile in my shoes and tell me you are more human than I am.
This guy's big headed.
There’s a lot of this talk: “If people like me, good; if they don’t, that’s their loss.”
It is? A loss, I mean. If you meet someone and you don’t like them, do you go home and write a sad entry in your diary:
Dear Diary, I met a real jerk tonight. I didn’t like her at all, yet I feel this void …
No. No, you don’t.
I agree with the first part – it is mostly good when people like you. But assuming it’s a loss if someone doesn’t like you is, frankly, a little narcissistic. Just a little big headed. Just a little you-centric.
I think what we might want to say is this: “If people like me, good, and if they don’t, that’s okay, too.”
Right? Because it is okay if people don’t like me. Or you. Or that guy. It really is. And it’s not at all a loss for them.
And if you truly believe that their life without you is a lesser life, well, then you might lack a little self-awareness and empathy and you might be a little hypersensitive, so I can kinda see why people don’t like you.
Turtles are part of a balanced breakfast.
My boyfriend is a patient man. His chores include making coffee* and taking me seriously. It’s taxing, I’m sure. Especially when I wake up, roll over and, instead of saying normal things like good morning or asking how he slept, I ask: “Why do turtles live so fucking long?”
He looks at me as if to say seriously
- Me: “Seriously.”
- Him: “I don’t know. Cockatiels, too.”
- Me: “Dinosaur throwbacks.”
- Him: “Yup.”
- Me: “Do you think they get bored?”
Because I would. And then he made coffee, which was a wise choice.
Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers, for example:
- Me: “Why is pee yellow?"
- Him: “Something to do with the liver.”
- Me: “Oh.”
Because even though I always ask, I don’t always care. That’s a bit weird, I know. But I hope you are comfortable with that because I haven’t looked up the answers for this article. Lazy? Sure. I’ll take the blame, but how can we really know anything anyway (see below)?
Maybe you are thinking that by avoiding me in the morning hours, you can avoid this behaviour entirely. Wrong. It’s not always morning. It’s just always.
Recently on a walk home from a night of drinking:
- Me: “Do you want to play Yahtzee when we get home?”
- Him: “No.”
- Me: “Not even a little? We can play a lightening round.”
- Him: “No. What’s a lightening round?”
- Me: “It’s super fun – ”
- Him: “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to play.”
- Me: “How can you be sure? You didn’t let me explain.”
- Him: “I just know.”
- Me: “But how can we really know anything?”
Silence. In this silence, I like to think that he was thinking something like: “Shannon is so smart. I enjoy how she goes from wanting to play boardgames to discussing philosophy. I love her so much.”
But probably he was thinking: “Oh god – I hope she shuts up.”
- Me: “Seriously. How can we know anything? We can’t. Not for sure. We don’t even really know what knowledge is, never mind how we acquire it. We believe we know things. That’s faith, not knowledge.”
- Him: “It’s late and I’m tired. I don’t want to talk about this.”
- Me: “And for sure you don’t want to play Yahtzee?”
- Him: “Yes. For sure.”
Silence. And in that silence, I was desperately trying to remember a quote from Immanuel Kant about how silence provides meaning, but I could not. And the irony was completely lost on me at the time.
*Other mornings, the first thing I say to him is this: “Coffee doesn’t make itself, honey.” He never suffocates me with the pillows, either. Ever. It’s like a miracle.
I have a terrible search history. I could get arrested in some States (but not provinces, so I’m probably okay). Certainly fired. No kidding. If my company wanted cause to fire me (and being a smartass to everyone and telling awkward jokes to HR wasn’t cause enough), they need look no further than my Google search history.
Maybe you’re thinking: “Oh, you mean, like, because you look at Facebook and your personal email?” No. No, I don’t mean that. And, FYI, you are boring.
Maybe you’re thinking: “Porn. Were you looking at porn?” No. Not that. I’m not trying to get fired.
I was tricked, people. Tricked!
Get Fired 1
I’m at work talking to Alona about which clothing steamer might be the best for me to buy. Innocuous enough, no? Yes. Then along comes Bryan. He joins the conversation.
He helps: “Have you heard of the Cleveland steamer? I’ve heard it’s pretty good.”
So I looked it up. On my work computer. In the office. I typed Cleveland steamer into the Google search box and in less than a second a picture of a guy taking a shit on a girl’s chest popped up. Because that's what a Cleveland steamer is -- someone shitting on your chest.
Get Fired 2
I’m at work talking to Andrew and Jaime about this cute video I saw on YouTube. It’s parents rapping about what it means to be a good parent.
It’s really cute, I say.
Wanna see it, I ask?
They do. But I can’t remember what it’s called, so I Google “parents rapping.” The first link that comes up is “how to rape your kids.”
What. The. Fuck. WTF?
No. No, Google. Wrong, Google. Parents rapping. Not raping. That second P is integral to my intent and to any possibility of my running for office one day.
There is no Get Fired 3. I smarted up.
But Fired 1 and 2 are in my history now. Forever. In ten years someone could fire me for looking at people shitting on each other and wondering what might be the best way to rape kids. And the only thing worse than getting fired will be knowing there are people in the world who think I’m into that. Ugh.
Dear Bryan: I will get you back for that one day. Also, you are gross for knowing what a Cleveland steamer is. I guess I am, too, now. Love a sad, gross Shannon.
- Cats don’t understand pointing. You point at something and they smell your finger. I think that’s funny.
- I think hugging is dope. This is scientifically proven. Or not. Whatever. Let’s not argue. Hug?
- Tricking people into believing a false story for no reason at all is fun. I just tried to trick someone into believing that a local school closed for the day because an ice-cream truck crashed into the gymnasium. Didn’t work. It’s hard not to laugh when being that ridiculous.
- The funniest joke I’ve heard in a long, long time is this: "What did the fish say to the actuary? You’re a loser." You had to be there. There was a stuffed fish involved. Also, I co-wrote it.
- I both hate and like hot-dogs and it works like this: Hot-dogs are gross and have a weird, unappealing smell. I suspect they are made of floor sweepings from the meat factory, which includes rats, rat shit and factory worker DNA. But they taste good with mustard. See?
- I want to plan my own funeral. There would be live music and delicious tapas and good wine. I would like it to be held on a boat. Every once in a while I think to myself: “Damn. I wish I could go.”
- I often think about whether Michael Jackson diddled those kids or not. I think not. But maybe he did. It’s weird that he spent so much time with other people’s kids. But it’s also weird that he had a chimp. It really bugs me that I’ll never know.
- I think online dating is the bomb, and when I finally met someone, I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t shop for boys online anymore.
- When I post strange FB status updates, I sometimes judge the people who “like” them.
- My mother used to joke that she wanted to call me Shannon “Magic” Wand and I really, really wish she had. I also wanted glasses and braces when I was a kid. A lot.
- My least favourite word is nostril. Who the fuck came up with that one? Nose hole would’ve sufficed.
- Terrible outfits fascinate me. What were they thinking, you know?
- We think it’s silly that people used to think that cameras were magic. But I think they kind of are. Especially Polaroids. Also, why would anyone use “roids” in part of their name?
FYI: I highly recommend making a list like this. It’s a great reason to drink wine.