Wednesday, 27 October 2010

I Hope I Pass

Why is it that whenever I schedule my annual physical, I suddenly feel as though I am cramming for a final? Tomorrow's date has been circled in red on my calendar for the past two months (is it actually possible to circle a date in red on iCal?) and I have been frantically scurrying around hoping against hope that I do all the right things leading up to the day of doom, and that I don't do anything stupid to f@#* it up! Is there enough time to get into good enough shape to run that 10K I have been promising myself for lo these many years? Is there enough time to exercise this week? Can I work out enough to drop 10 pounds before the weigh in? Maybe I should increase my regimens to twice daily. Of course that would require that I a) have a regimen and b) that I stick to it at least once a week let alone once a day. And no, sitting on the couch drinking a Diet Coke while watching The Biggest Loser is not a regimen!

Is there enough time to get my blood work in order? I promised myself after last year's examination that I would become more diligent in the taking of my daily supplements. Of course that vow lasted just about as long as the one to finally run that 10K. I can only hope that cramming One-A-Days, B12, Ds, and calcium pills down my throat for 14 straight days might just stave off my chronic anemia and Vitamin D deficiencies. But, we all know that there is a fine line between hope and delusion. 

I can't eat that popcorn tonight. The salt might cause me to retain water and push the scale up a pound or two. I haven't indulged as much as I would like in my favourite chocolate. The calories ingested would take too much effort on the treadmill to shed. I am not sleeping properly because I am too stressed, and I am too stressed because I am not sleeping properly. Exam anxiety? Just like my old school days. I really do need help.

In seriousness, I am actually quite conscientious about my yearly physicals and the adjacent tests (mammograms, blood tests etc..) that go along with it. But just like everybody else, I allow myself to fall into habits that are either easier or far more pleasurable-hence my dependence on chocolate and Diet Coke. That said, there is a great deal of significance that accompanies these annual doctor visits. As I age, I worry more that things won't always be ok. I worry that I am breaking down slowly but surely. I know that I need to work harder at maintaining my health even though it gets easier to ignore it.

Judaism has a great deal to say about what I like to call these "well baby" visits. In Deuteronomy 4:15 we read the words v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem. "Be extremely protective of your lives." 

Maimonides, himself a physician, declared: "Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God - for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if one is ill - therefore one must avoid that which harms the body and accustom oneself to that which is helpful and helps the body become stronger." (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deot 4:1)

Finally we have the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his book Horeb: "You may not in any way weaken your health or shorten your life. Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly injure your health.... And the law asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb than in the avoidance of other transgressions." (Horeb, Chapter 62, Section 428)

We are instructed by our tradition to keep the body healthy and whole so that we may better understand God and God's world. Ok! So I don't always do it well. I should exercise more often and more strenuously. I should certainly take my vitamins on a semi-regular basis, and I should absolutely drink less Diet Coke, but I can also take comfort that I am trying. I have made a more conscious effort in my diet. My vegetarian menu has become second nature and it has had the added side benefit of making me more aware of everything that I eat. I have cut my junk food consumption dramatically (Younger Son joked the other day that there are more popcorn seasonings in the house then there is meat in the freezer for him!) and I eat mostly fresh and local products, chocolate notwithstanding. I am really trying to get a full night's sleep, but some things must be taken in baby steps. My stress levels? Give me a break! Type As don't cure themselves overnight. I realize that I can't fix an entire year of suspect health habits in a three week cram session, but I can hope that following tomorrow's examination the good doctor will proclaim me fit enough for another year of debauchery and decadence. I think that I might celebrate with Diet Coke!

Monday, 25 October 2010

My Favourite Tweets from Municipal Election

Some of my favourite tweets from election night 2010 in the Big Smoke.
  • From flyguyPR: Calgary meet traditional Toronto politics (Mr. Nenshi). Toronto meet traditional Calgary politics (Mr. Ford)
  • From moongoddess: Next time, Vote Quimby!...oh wait, you already did... sigh 
  • From livinginthepost: if you voted Ford, you no longer have any right to make fun of the Tea Party in the US.
  • From torontocranks: Wonder how things would have been different if Giambrone had managed to keep his pants on?
  • From JasonJHughes: Rob Ford is the Nickelback of Mayors. All the votes, yet no one admits to voting for him
  • From JayGoldman: To those of you who voted for Rob Ford: Congrats! you have just George Bushed our city. Thanks
  • From AntoniaZ: Dunno what's scarier. Rob Ford as mayor or Ben Mulroney on a political show
  • From snotforprofit: The Penguin is the mayor of Gotham City!
  • From LaurAlexisBanks: I've never ever been this discouraged by the democratic system. What a horrendous gong show. (Note: This is about the travesty of an election in Vaughn!!)

Twitter was the most entertaining part of the entire evening. I am without words myself, so I turned to the witticisms from the Twittersphere. Thanks guys.

****UPDATE!!! Lest those of you who reside in the City Above Toronto think I am generally unhappy with the election results, I am not. What does stun me, however is that the citizens of this town could return the former mayor to office as a regional councillor in spite of the fact that he is awaiting trial for election spending issues and the fact that he was in the pocket of the developers that have brought the city to near ruin.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Election Exhaustion Syndrome

Is anybody else suffering from Election Exhaustion Syndrome? (EES) I am truly politico-"ed" out! This year seems particularly bad. Not only do we here in the GTA have to endure the slings and ridiculous arrows from the miscreants running for municipal office, but given the strange timing of the election cycle, we are also being subjected hourly to the circus reality show also known as the United States midterms. Our close proximity to our southern neighbours provides us Canucks with numerous benefits, including NFL football, (GO RAMS!!) a reasonably priced three hour flight to sunshine and heat in the dead of the January winter, and Mad Men-just to mention a few necessities. But it also means that we are inundated daily with the idiots, imbeciles and fools who truly believe that they are the answer to all that ails our American cousins. Here are just a few examples of the obnoxious noise and acrid stench emanating from the south.

  • There is the guy running for the GOP in Ohio's 9th district who staunchly claims that he isn't a Nazi sympathizer in spite of his hobby of dressing up like the SS. The spin from both sides of the argument has been migraine-inducing, but suffice it to say that it can't be good politics to dress up like one of Adolph's boys for fun.
  • Then there is the less than-distinguished Senate majority leader who is in the fight of his political life in the desert. He is up against a woman who recently told a group of Hispanic high school students that they looked Asian to her. This gaffe wasn't her first or even her most egregious, but because the majority leader is so universally reviled in his home state, the race is too close to call. His answer to all of this noise has been to actually tell voters not to vote because Nevada has a none of the above option that will most likely help him win the race. OY!!! Believe me when I say that this election idiocy is cutting fairly across party lines. They are all morons!
  • Delaware has become the national joke. Not only did the Republicans toss a sure Senate win into the toilet with the nomination of a boob, but said boob has become a media darling because of her boobiness. It is unbelievable to me that people actually give a rat's ass about somebody whose greatest contribution to the dialogue is that she makes the former governor of Alaska look like a Rhodes Scholar. 
And these are just a few of the lowlights. Canadians-stop that self-important smirking. We aren't that much better. We are currently witnessing a mayoral campaign in Toronto that is now all about holding one's nose when entering the polling booth. The "anybody but" campaign has gained steam, but it has become so unsavoury and so distasteful it is no wonder good and smart people avoid politics like the plague these days. It has come down to two candidates possessing equal amounts of squirm-factor, and the sad part is that nobody expects either man to actually solve any of the myriad of problems plaguing this really terrific city. In points west, north and east of the core, citizens are faced with choices that include a longstanding 90 year old mayor facing conflict of interest allegations, and a mayoral contest in the City Above Toronto featuring an incumbent under suspicion for spending violations (several councillors are also being investigated) and a council that tried to orchestrate a palace coup against her. Ain't it grand??

As if all of that weren't enough, I have been robo-called until my ears bleed, accosted by lawn sign wielding community anarchists, had my mailbox stuffed full of trash, and have endured hours of tv spots so slimy and sleazy that they make me ashamed for those running. It is almost enough to get me and thousands like me to swear off election day.

I think that I can safely speak for millions of others when I scream-UNCLE!! There was a time when politics had some air of respectability. No more. From where I sit it seems to be all about ego, power and money. Those of us suffering from EES are in desperate need of cure. Anybody?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Swedish Ingenuity Once Again Meets Canadian Idiots!

I hate Ikea. It isn't the merchandise, which is actually often amazingly cool and remarkably functional. It isn't the prices, which are stunningly competitive. It isn't even the ridiculous store layouts, which force the consumer into the kid's bedroom department before hopefully and mercifully stumbling upon office furniture. Nope! I hate Ikea because I have an innate inability to fit bolt A into slot B. I cannot for the life of me put their furniture together no matter how hard I try nor how many different projects I undertake. I have yet to master the art of the Allen key, and I have yet to comprehend the funky diagrams with odd-sounding Nordic names like Manstad or Solsta. For all I know these could be Swedish culinary delicacies instead of sofa beds. Instead, I thank God for giving me a man who views Ikea as Hillary did Everest. I honestly think that his testosterone level surges when he opens those cardboard cartons and counts out the hardware. There are beads of masculine sweat that dot his upper lip as he prepares his toolkit and gets down to work. And then, inevitably the shit hits the fan.

Ever since Older Son finalized his move from our house last year, we have been lackadaisical in doing something with his room. If he would have done me the service of leaving the bed behind, I would have simply repainted the walls and kept it as a guest room. But because he decided that sleeping on a mattress and box spring was preferable to a sleeping bag and the floor, we were left with an empty space and a redecorating project that neither of us was truly ready to undertake. After some discussion, The Husband and I decided to convert the room into a music office where I could store all of my instruments, guitar paraphernalia, sheet music and books, and some relevant Judaic CDs. The desktop computer with my full catalogue of Jewish music would find a permanent home in the room, and in order to allow Older Son a sleeping location when he visits, we would purchase a futon that could doubly function as a sofa. It sounded so simple I knew that it was doomed from the start.

While I spent some of last winter at the Southern home, The Husband took it upon himself to choose colours for the walls and trim, and he set to work painting the room as a surprise for my return. He called to tell me about the project.

The Husband: I am painting Older Son's room.

Me: Great. Are you happy with the colour?

The Husband: I am, but I think it looks far better on the walls then it does on the floor.

Me: You painted the floor? You do know that the floor is carpeted???

In spite of the false start and the difficult mess, the room actually came out looking fantastic. The next step in the process was mine. I was to source the appropriate futon. I scoured the GTA searching for just the right piece, the right price and the right fit. The search lasted almost 6 months until the fall Ikea catalogue arrived on our doorstep. There it was. Reasonably priced and the perfect length. The only problem was that it was from Ikea-the bane of my redecorating existence. I knew that it would all work out, though. The Husband is an Ikea-slayer!!

The futon arrived late yesterday afternoon in three cartons. The Husband, all swaggering and macho, grabbed his tools and started in on the puzzle. He was clicking on all cylinders. He had it configured within an hour and just needed a couple of extra hands to help with the mattress and cover. It took 2 university graduates and a university junior almost 45 minutes to figure out how to place the mattress and pad on the frame. 45 MINUTES!!!! We felt like absolute morons. There was no logic to the diagram and nothing seemed to fit. Squeezing the mattress into the cover was like attempting to put toothpaste back into a tube. Finally, Younger Son had a brainstorm and showed his idiot parents how the f@#*ing thing fit together. Thank God for the next generation. We were cleaning up the last remnants, when I decided to try it out. I sat down on my brand spanking new futon/couch and promptly went right through the slats with my ass on the floor. (I am not that heavy! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!) The Husband looked crestfallen. It was like I challenged his manhood. After some quick observation, it became obvious that he had put the slats into the frame upside down. (See!! I told you that I wasn't that heavy.) He repaired the damage this morning and all is again right within his world.

The room is almost complete. I now have a comfortable space in which I can work and Older Son no longer has to crash on the basement couch when he stays over. (He was starting to feel like old storage material that we shove down there so that guests can't see our mess!) This is all solely due to The Husband and his mastery of Swedish diagrams, and Younger Son and his ability to recognize his parents as the idiots they most certainly are. I-I K-(k)need E-everything A-Assembled!!

Friday, 1 October 2010

What is it about Men and Illness?

I have spent the last 5 days playing nursemaid. No, I misspeak. What I should have said is that I have spent the last 5 days attempting to play nursemaid. The Husband, usually the most healthy of souls, has been struck down by a case of walking pneumonia. Now I should make it clear that I have been nagging and badgering him for about a month to get himself to the doctor to get his roiling chest cough checked out by a professional who won't placate him. Getting sick around here during the High Holidays is not an option that I can realistically hope to handle, (yes-I am a selfish bitch!!) hence the nagging and badgering. It was as much about self-preservation as concern for him and his "I never get sick so therefore I cannot be sick" ass.  I have heard it all.

Me: "You need to call the doctor."

Him: "I am fine."

Me: "You are not fine. You sound like your whole insides are coming up every time you expel a hack!"

Him: "I AM FINE!!"

Me: "You are NOT FINE!! Fine doesn't sound like an old man in a nursing home puking up last night's dinner!!"

Him: "F*&@-off!!! I AM FINE!!"

A month's worth of nagging and badgering must of worn him down, because unbeknownst to me he finally engaged the opinion of a professional. On Monday he came home armed with a diagnosis, a bucketful of antibiotics with names that are unpronounceable, and an acute inability to say "Yes, dear-You were right and I was wrong." It was truly amazing to watch this man who refuses to ever relent to illness, finally admit that maybe, just maybe, there was more to this phlegm-laden bark then just allergies. Unfortunately the diagnosis of pneumonia did nothing to slow him down. I attempted to get him to stay home for a couple of days. After 3 hours on day one, I thought that I might end up as a poster-girl on Dateline for having a suspiciously missing husband with no trace of his movements or remains. His boredom was palpable. Oprah, game shows and soaps are definitely not on his TV watch list, and he decided that it was the actual diagnosis of pneumonia that was making him feel so shitty. If I hadn't nagged and badgered him into going to the doctor, he would have continued to feel just fine. Isn't it amazing how his pneumonia suddenly became my fault?

I have been told by several friends that men, when faced with illness, seem to handle it in one of two ways. Either they revert to childhood and hope that their women will care for them like their mother's once did, or they stoically and with intense machismo deny all aspects of the illness so that they can carry on. My man has been stupidly choosing option 2. As I write this, he is at the office awaiting some delivery that probably could have waited out the weekend, but at this point in time is the single most important delivery ever to arrive at any office ever in the City Above Toronto.

The wild irony in all of this is that the Twin Son, not to be outdone or out-ailed, is currently recuperating at home with several broken and cracked ribs brought on by a Peter Pan induced delusion that he can still play hockey at his age without physical repercussions. He is, I am told, on some painkillers of mammoth proportions and can barely inhale without pain. It seems rather fitting that these two idiot split souls should both be suffering from breathing issues at the exact same moment in time.

I have lived long enough in a house full of men to realize that XY chromosomes and physical discomfort don't always mesh well. All I wanted was for him to acknowledge his illness and be proactive towards its cure. I have spent the better part of the week futilely attempting this feat. If anybody has any suggestions, I am open to them all.