Thursday 30 April 2015

Me vs The Never Ending Story

A little while ago, a couple of friend and I got together for lunch. Over the course of the meal we started talking about fears and how irrational some are. Husband often tells me that my fear of being eaten alive by a cougar in my backyard is irrational. I disagree. That’s a perfectly rational concern.

What I will admit to is a completely irrational fear of werewolves. I’m not even a particularity big fan of regular wolves, so the were-variety is a big nope. I know they aren’t real (…werewolves that is. I have to assume plain wolves are real), and over the years I’ve even managed to watch movies that have them in it.


That said, I still prefer it when the people turn into simple dog-like werewolves, rather than the nasty, slobbery, terror-beasts that Hollywood loves to throw at us.

The one exception to this slowly lifting embargo on werewolf movies is The Never Ending Story. Even writing the title makes me unhappy. I can’t put into words how much I hate this movie. It’s 107 minutes of nightmare-inducing time you can’t get back.

The whole thing from start to finish is just creepy. From the weird, depressed, given-up-on-life rock creature and snail man, to the completely macabre horse-that-tragically-dies-in-the-Swamp-of-Sorrow part, this is a terrible movie.

This is a KIDS movie!  The sheer volume of depressing imagery is just startling. Honestly, what part of this collection of terribleness did the focus group think was a good idea to brand as a positive childhood movie experience???

And if a dead horse and dying civilization wasn’t enough for the tender tween audience, then there was the luck dragon. This lump of animatronics was just disturbing. It was like a hairy snake that this disturbing kid chose to ride on.  Its face was weird, its body was weird, its script was weird. Nope. 

But the Nothing is what really killed this movie for me. That, and it’s weird werewolf manifestation/asshole sidekick that pretty much wanted to rip the world to bits piece by piece while the inhabitants sat there and took it like a bunch of disinterested captive pandas. 

I don’t even remember all the details, because all I know is that as a kid (and subsequently as an adult) it was scary as fuck and I’ve tried to forget as much of it as possible. I can’t even look at pictures of it without flashbacks to all the horribleness of the movie. Basically, it ruined me for all wolf-like creatures forever.

This article
pretty much sums up my feelings:

And then for some reason, they made a sequel. It was just terrible. 

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Just got back from an exciting/tiring Mexico vacation with the family. I'm sure there will be upcoming posts about it, but for now I'm recovering. Thanks for the continued reading, and I'll have something new up soon. :-)


Friday 17 April 2015

Me vs My Gender-Neutral Name

Short hair, still a girl.
My name is Jamie. I’m a girl. I know that in the past I’ve had short hair, but that’s ok, I’m still a girl. I only say this explicitly because you would not believe the number of times this has seriously confounded people who meet me for the first time.

When I screw up a gender-neutral name and wrongly assume male or female, I find the best tact to take is something along the lines of “Oh sorry”. Frankly, it’s probably happened to them before.  Disappointingly what I have frequently gotten is “Oh, you’re a girl? But that’s a boy’s name”.  Gosh, thanks. I’ll let my parents know they did it wrong. Good thing you were here to point that out!

To me this is a special kind of ass hattery. In a world where names like Sealice exist (and yes, this can be read as either Sea-lice, or as Viagra’s less popular erectile dysfunction pill competition, Cialis), I think that a girl named Jamie is hardly something to be that concerned about.

I also recognize that some people think I spell my name the “boy” way. As I’m in fact a girl, I would argue it’s also the “girl” way. To be fair I don’t add a lot of extra vowels (Jaimie or Jayme, which ironically get red squiggly lines on my spell check), but I rarely have people stare quizzically at the name while wondering how to pronounce it (For example La-a, also known as Ladasha….yes, really).

Because people often just assume Jamie is a man, my gender-neutral name offers a unique perspective on the quiet gender discrimination that Jennifers and Stephanies are unlikely to even realize is happening.

The first really blatant time this happened I was as a teenager applying for my first job. As if it isn’t already a miserably hard task getting a job with no job experience, enter gender discrimination.

I applied to be a delivery driver with a pizza company. I got a call from a woman asking to talk to Jamie. I said that was me and her response was “Jamie? I thought Jamie was a man. We don’t hire females to be drivers”. I was speechless. And as if that wasn’t enough, she tried to placate me by telling me it was for my own safety.  Thanks. I’m glad that some faceless harpy on the other end of the phone has nothing but my best interests at heart. I’m sure it has nothing to do with liability at all.

Ten minutes later she called back, asked for Jamie AGAIN, and then said “Oh right, you’re a girl. Never mind” and hung up. Just wow.

I really think that so transparently and unapologetically using gender discrimination in your hiring practices is shameful. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s not supposed to happen. I get that if I applied to be a male model, I would be turned down for lack of penis, but that should be about the only one. I’m pretty sure I can drive a pizza around. Is it the safest job, maybe not, but I applied for it and should have at least been given a chance. Hell, find me unqualified due to my terrible disposition, but not because I have a vagina.

Frighteningly this wasn’t an isolated incident. A few years later I was looking into becoming a helicopter pilot and attended an information session at one of the local schools. I took my husband with me, and when we walked in the instructor looked at him, shook his hand, and said “You must be Jamie”. I looked at him and politely informed him that no, in fact I was Jamie, and was here for the info session. Without missing a beat he looked me up and down and said “Oh, I guess we’ll have to discuss female issues now”

….Like what issues exactly? How my period will cause the plane to fall spontaneously out of the sky? How my breasts will get stuck in the steering mechanism causing erratic flight patterns? (I have nowhere near enough boob for that, btw) Or maybe they worry about how my femininity will cause all the men in the logging camps to refuse to fly with me (to which I say tough shit, get in or walk up the mountain).

He told me flat out that I would have problems getting hired because logging camps didn’t want to put in the effort to accommodate women. They wouldn’t tell me that, but that’s what would happen. Well, there went my confidence out the fucking window.

Despite all the ridiculousness that I have to put up with given my name, I’ve come to really enjoy it. There are definitely some perks.

My favourite is the ability to make all telemarketers feel incompetent. Depending on how my day is going, when they ask for a Mr. Jamie, answers will range from no one here by that name to breaking into a tirade about how they shouldn’t make assumptions based solely on names. What if I was a boy named Sue?!?

It also made middle school a bit more entertaining. For most of my grade 8 year, my mother would get almost weekly phone calls notifying her that I wasn’t in school. This would cause my mother to panic because she had dropped me off in the morning, and the school would then be scrambling to find me.

I was always in school. Every. Single. Time.

One day the secretary called (again) to tell my mother (again) that I wasn’t in school. The difference was that she said “Your son Jamie isn’t in school”. My mom asked (somewhat confused) if they were aware that she didn’t have a son, and that Jamie was her daughter. It appeared that no, they did not know that, and that for most of a year they had been looking for a non-existent, but apparently highly truant, boy named Jamie. HE was never in school.

To really bring the whole gender-neutral name issue home, I managed to marry a man with an uncommon and gender-interchangeable name. This makes calls to utility companies very easy as we can both pretend to be each other without difficulty. Yeah, sure, he’s Jamie this time.  

Finally to keep the tradition going, we accidentally did this to our kids as well. I personally don’t find Avery a traditionally boy name, but apparently it is. I’m sure she’ll survive. It’s her name now. And Gabriel….well, I would personally spell it Gabrielle if it was a girl, but that hasn’t stopped innumerable nurses from being surprised that I had a baby boy.

Basically I think that it doesn’t matter. Name your kids something you like, try not to be too evil about it, and I’m living proof that we’ll sort it out for ourselves eventually.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Me vs The Shopping Mall

Since moving out of the big city, I’ve found very few occasions to visit a mall. This is good in that I’m slowly divesting myself of shit I don’t need. However in those instances where I do legitimately need something, I am finding the mall a daunting, foreign place full of fanatical bargain hunters and teens dressed clothing made for dolls.

In a world where I am able to get pretty much everything I need (and don’t need) online, I very rarely find it necessary to go to a shopping centre. When it becomes unavoidable, I’m usually with two small children who like shopping even less than I do, and who make a point of letting me know that as loudly and as frequently as possible.

Just recently I was liberated from the screaming necktie I call my toddler and his diva sister counterpart who wants EVERYTHING she sees, and was offered the opportunity to have a day of shopping alone.  I love my kids. I don’t love shopping with my kids.

Prior to embarking on this adventure I was excited. It had been a long time since I’d had a day to myself to get things done without the whining that usually accompanies my 5 yr old on errands. I spent the weeks leading up to it planning my shopping list so as not to forget anything, and I was ready. I was so ready.

Until I got to the mall.

Now I haven’t lived outside of the big city for that long, but getting hit in the face with the shameless commercialism of a giant mall is overwhelming if you haven’t dealt with it in months.  If I hadn’t had a list, I would have walked around in a daze of neon pants and ugly hats for an eternity. It’s like some kind of fairy kingdom where you lose time and come out years later.

Before I found my way out again, I made a number of observations that I presume I had ignored or repressed during my days of having a mall only a stone’s throw away from where I lived.

Firstly, teenagers (and I’m sure there are exceptions) are blind. I have to assume that they get up in the morning, stumble unwittingly into their younger sibling’s closet, and accidentally put on their clothing, as everything is size tiny and hideously patterned.

One girl came out of the dressing room in what was possibly the shortest dress I’ve ever seen. It might have been a top. It should have been a top. I desperately wanted to go up to her and say “Excuse me, but your vagina is showing”.  

Now I like short skirts. I’m not 109 years old and getting my sensibilities offended, and I’m not saying that we need to get out the ruler and measure fabric distance from the ankle before leaving the house. That said I think most of us would agree that if your clitoris is visible, your dress might be too short.

The next thing that really jumped out at me was how terrible the clothing actually was. The fabric was some combination of cheap, scratchy, and stiff, the neon patterns induced seizures, and there were way too many appalling floral prints. Now I know that 1990’s fashion (and I use the term fashion ironically) has been creeping back for a while now, but seriously? As a teenager I used to get near identical clothing in Mariposa.

This takes me back to my first point about teenagers being blind. I look back at photos of myself in the actual 90’s and am horrified by what I considered wearable. Apparently the fashion sense of this age group hasn’t improved much since then.

Finally, I think customer service has really started to phone it in. I realize that disenchanted students staff most of the stores, and they are pretty much just following the script given to them, but can we all at least agree to aim for a bar that’s a little bit higher?

I walked into a store that sold nothing but flip flops. Not shoes, not a variety of sandals, JUST flip flops. The girl looked up at me and said hello, how am I, etc (This is good, greet customers, high five). I get 10 steps in and she looks at me and asks if there was something specific I was looking for?
I could only buy flip flops in this store. What kind of specificity was she looking for exactly? While this was probably just what she was supposed to say, I found it hysterically funny. I was tempted to ask if she carried flip flops just to see what her reaction was.

Suffice to say I left the mall losing 3 hours of my life I couldn’t get back. I can’t believe that there was a time in my life that “going to the mall” was an actual activity. At some point in my life, this even constituted a dating situation. So sad.

On the up side, I did manage to achieve some level of shopping success, and while it was trying, at least it was free of wailing toddlers and 5 year olds asking me why that person over there has such ugly hair. Loudly.

Next shopping trip: online.