Friday, December 31, 2010

More advice for budding arts-and-crafts entrepreneurs

In retrospect, I wish I'd started this blog way sooner than I actually did.  I should have begun building a fan base for my paintings (and the twisted sense of humour behind them) before I even opened the store on Etsy.  Then when the store actually did open, I'd have a built-in audience who'd run over to see it.  As it is, I opened the store and now I'm trying to drum up an audience from scratch, and it's becoming obvious that this will take a while.

So, yeah, a word to the wise: if at all possible, get people interested in you and your product ahead of time!

Another thing I wanted to mention is that rookie mistakes are inevitable and you need to be aware of this and forgive yourself (and try to have some money in reserve so you can fix things if need be).  For instance, I ordered business cards and then a month or two later I realized I should've gone in a different direction with them.  The cards I ordered are totally cute and still useable, just...not quite in line with my new and improved idea of how my brand should come across (by then I had made my store banner - the same one you see at the top of this page - and decided my promotional materials should all match it).  I beat myself up for a while over wasting money, not thinking things through, etc., but then I realized that everything is happening exactly as it should.  I needed to actually have the business up and running before I could know how best to represent it; I needed business cards before the business was up and running so I'd have promotional materials to pump it up.  No matter how compulsively I tried to plan things out ahead of time (and I am a compulsive planner, oh yes), it was inevitable that my ideas would grow and change as the store actually took shape.

Therefore, my second piece of advice to those starting a business is: plan ahead, but be flexible...and don't expect that you'll do everything perfectly from the getgo.  All businesses have a bit of trial-and-error to them and if you put "I'm gonna stick to my original plan" blinders on, you could miss out on a lot of cool opportunties.

And here's a weird thing: when I sold that painting the other day, I realized "Oh - there's one less item in my store now.  I'll have to replace it.  And if more people buy things, I'll have to replace those, too!"  I mean, I knew all of this in theory (and I have many more paintings I haven't uploaded yet, so I'm certainly in no danger of running out) but in practice it kind of caught me by surprise.  I'd become so obsessed with promoting She Said Pop that I've been doing very little actual painting lately!

My third piece of advice, then, is this: promoting your store is really important but don't lose sight of your primary mission: to make an amazing product!

I hope these thoughts have been illuminating and helpful. :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

An open letter to George Lucas

Dear George (can I call you George?),

The Star Wars franchise holds a nostalgic place in my heart.  Episode IV came out when I was three or four and my parents took me to see it in the theatre; it was quite possibly the first movie I'd ever seen.  Later on, I saw Episodes V and VI in the theatre and enjoyed them quite a bit.  And episodes I, II and III are...also examples of films you have made.  Anyhoo.

One of the things I like about the Star Wars movies is that certain villains are named after English words with the the prefix "in-" removed, like Darth Vader* and Darth Sidious.  I've taken the liberty of making up some more totally rad villain names for you in case you want to make more Star Wars movies someday and can't think of any:

Darth Carcerated
Darth Cestuous
Darth Toxicated
Darth Ept
Darth Capacitated
Darth Sipid

Oh, but let's not forget Darth Maul, where you clearly said to your creative team, "Guys, let's throw all attempts at subtlety out the window and flat-out name this guy after the fact that he mutilates people."  That was awesome.  If you want some more names that describe what a villain does to his enemies, I came up with these:

Darth Wedgie
Darth Noogie
Darth Kidneypunch
Darth Defenestrate

And if it's okay to depart from the formula and take the beginnings off long words that don't start with "in," I also have:

Darth Turbation
Darth Latulence
Darth Lamydia
Darth Crastinator

Like I said, you can totally use these.  I don't need them for anything.  And I'm not even asking for any money!

If you do use any of my ideas in one of your movies, though, it'd be really nice if you could put my name in the credits.  But only if you want to.  And only after all the actors have already been listed...I don't need to be first or anything.

May the force be with you,

*Okay, my boyfriend just told me you got the name Vader from the word for "father" in German or Latin or something.  But we both know you also noticed the similarity to the word "invader" and thought "OMFG cool".  Right?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Today my mighty Etsy store got its first sale!  Let's all do a happy dance!

I packaged the order up the minute I got home and shall send it off tomorrow.  The brand new, meticulously packed cardboard box looks so...official!  It makes me want to squeal a little bit.

My tentative theory is that people will be more likely to buy things now that "the seal is broken" and I have a sale under my belt (I know I prefer not to be someone's first buyer...that "100% positive feedback" section is so very comforting...).

Wish me luck!

Gender Wednesday: Contrast

My absolute favourite body type on a guy is slender and androgynous (like The Boy, around whose ankle I can touch my finger to my thumb)...but I can definitely appreciate the contrast of muscled manly-man vs. pretty pink lace, yes indeedy. (link NSFW...duh.)

Contrast is in fact a huge part of my longtime fascination with androgyny and crossdressing.  I remember seeing k.d. lang perform on tv when I was a kid (on an awards show, I think?); she was wearing a dress, and it looked all kinds of wrong on her.  Initially I mistook her for a guy, actually.  And yet, in male or gender-neutral clothing, k.d. doesn't look male to me.  Her clothes bring out the feminine or masculine aspect of her features depending on what she wears; her face is like an optical illusion, but instead of rabbit/duck it's guy/girl.

For me, the whole flipping-back-and-forth thing makes androgynous optical-illusion-faces endlessly fascinating to look at.  I tried to capture that perfect state of between-ness in this painting:

Girl or boy?

Did I get it right?  Does this painting flip back and forth for you between male and female?  Or does it look only like one or the other to you?

(pssst - it's The Boy in drag.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Art is what brings us together

I'm currently reading the book Eat Pray Love, an autobiographical story about a woman writer who travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of herself/god/inner peace/really good gelato.  I'm at the India part now, and the author is explaining that meditation is a way of getting past our own egos (which tell us we're different, separate and special) and realizing that (in addition to being different, separate and special) we're all part of each other and part of the universe.  I hope I described that properly...I'm too lazy to look up the actual quote.

I also own the Stephen King autobiography/how-to book called On Writing, which describes writing as telepathy: you're essentially sending thoughts to the reader across space and even time (Shakespeare transmitted his thoughts centuries ago and we can still pick them up) without speaking a word out loud.  I love and agree with this theory, and further posit that art and music do the same thing.

I've heard people say that the arts are as important to society as math or science or history, and although I wanted to believe this statement (for obvious reasons), I never really understood it.  But I get it now.  The arts are important because, like telepathy, they help people communicate; and, like meditation, they help elevate humans and let us sense that we're part of something bigger.

I experienced a pure transcendental moment at a Regina Spektor concert a few years ago (though at the time I didn't think of it as meditation or telepathy).  Regina played Samson, a bittersweet breakuppy song, and it was as though the audience's energy amplified the sadness of the song.  I burst into tears, and I think a lot of other people did, too, and for those few minutes the barriers between us (our egos?) dissolved and we were all just floating together inside the song.  Letting Regina's thought transmissions buoy us up, flow around us, sweep through us.

But my most amazing spiritual experience ever was with my own art.

I often use painting as a form of therapy - I vomit all my emotion out on the canvas without censoring or editing myself.  This usually results in pictures that feel to me like melodramatic baby tantrums:

Call the waaaaaaaahmbulance!
I honestly figured people would look at this stuff and be disgusted by how maudlin I am, how utterly whiny and emo and pathetic.

I haz a sad. :(
But instead...people relate to it.  They see some particular painting of mine and it knocks the breath out of them and they go "Oh my god I so totally get this!"  Our experiences may be different - maybe something I painted out of breakup sadness reminds you of a recent death-in-the-family sadness - but the feelings are the same.

The positive reaction to my work made me realize three things: 1) I'm not the only one whose inner child is a petulant little drama queen - I've watched people look into my most emo paintings and see themselves as surely as if they were looking in a mirror.  2) When people love and understand my work, it makes me feel less alone.  Imagine telling someone your most horrible private secret embarrassing feelings and having them go "So what's the big deal?  I feel like that all the time" - that's what it's like.  3) Holy crap, my paintings can dissolve people's egos and make them one with the universe!  I must be pretty good!

And that's about the time I decided to do the Etsy thing.  Before that, I was painting this stuff purely to put my demons into the canvas where they couldn't bite and scratch at my insides anymore.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Conversational Snippet #7: Lady Gaga

Shambolicguru: I have a grudging respect for Lady Gaga.  I'm not into her music per se, but at least she writes it herself.  And she can even play an instrument!

Me: I didn't know that.

Shambolicguru: It's true!  Actually, I think she can play two: piano and guitar.

Me: That's hard to picture because usually Lady Gaga is wearing, like, a lobster-shaped oven mitt on one hand and a ukulele stapled to the other.

Shambolicguru: I heard she has a special device for playing the guitar that's basically a just pig she straps to the ukulele.  She puts on the pig, and then she kinda...flails.  [Pantomimes strumming a guitar with a pig that's strapped to a ukulele that's stapled to his hand.]

[I have awesome friends]

Friday, December 24, 2010


The holidays are a time for relaxing with our loved ones.  It says so in all the Hallmark cards, and who am I to argue with Hallmark?  They're a huge and powerful company and I'm just, like, some chick with pink hair. 

Anyway.  I'm gonna close my laptop, put on some flannel jammies, and watch cartoons in a big cuddle pile with my boy and cat while consuming potentially lethal amounts of chocolate.

Posting will resume on Monday, December 27th.

Merry Christmas*, everyone!

p.s. I'm working on a fun little treat for you guys.  It should be ready in the New Year.  Stay tuned!

*If you don't celebrate Christmas, please pretend I just wished you a super-happy weekend instead.

Overthinking Christmas Carols

Yesterday I heard that Christmas carol, Do You Hear What I Hear, and for perhaps the first time I noticed that the lyrics (referring to Jesus, of course) say,

"A child, a child shivers in the cold,
Let us bring him silver and gold"

This strikes me funny.  I suppose the point of that verse is, "there's a baby over there, let's go pay our respects" but to me the way they phrase it sounds like, "Oh my god, there's a cold baby over there!  Let's warm him up...with this pile of metal!"  I picture the Three Wise Men tenderly stacking gold bricks on top of baby Jesus until he's completely buried.  Or maybe they give him some silver and gold coins to buy a blanket with...seems to me it'd be more effective to give Mary or Joseph that money, though.  A newborn baby can't even support the weight of his own head - you can't expect him to pop into town and purchase supplies.  It's generally expected that the parents will take care of that.

Speaking of weird carols, I remember hearing the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus when I was a little kid and being horrified by it - this kid is witnessing his mom cheating on his dad!  And on Christmas, too!  Plus, don't most Christmas specials allude to a Mrs. Claus?  So this illicit kiss has the potential to ruin the lives of at least three people: the kid who witnessed it, the kid's dad, and Mrs. Claus.  What an appalling song.  Why would anyone consider it festive?  I was genuinely upset.

I expressed my concerns to my mom, and she explained to me that it's actually tongue-in-cheek: the kid's dad had dressed up like Santa to give the kid a thrill and simply hadn't taken the costume off yet. It was actually the kid's parents making out.  Cute, right?

Well, not really.  The lyrics are from the point of view of a child who genuinely thinks his costumed father is Santa Claus.  The child truly believes he's witnessing infidelity, although he seems oddly calm about it:

"Oh, what a laugh it would have been
if Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night"

Either this kid is retarded, his parents are swingers, or the songwriter has no fucking clue how a child's mind works.  I hate this song.

Another song whose lyrics bug me (this is not technically a Christmas song, but is nonetheless played during the holiday season): Baby It's Cold Outside.  This is a duet between a woman and a man: she's trying to make polite excuses to leave his house and he's pushing her to stay and have sex with him.  Possibly the woman wants to stay but is making a token objection so as not to look like a slut (part of her bit of the song goes "I ought to say no, no, no, least I'm gonna say that I tried"); possibly the man is just a big ol' date rapist (most of his lines are kind of creepy, and at one point the woman says, "Say, what's in this drink?" which...can't possibly be a good sign).

Y'know what takes the song from icky to awesome, though?  Reversing the genders and adding Muppets!

Y'know, I can also think of a few non-Christmas songs that are creepy or stupid or horrible and nobody else seems to notice.  I'll have to make more posts like this one in the future.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Conversational Snippet #6: Other People Don't Seem to Make These Kinds of Connections.

[The Boy and I are walking home with two pizzas.  The Boy is carrying them both.  Halfway to our destination, he slides out the bottom box and puts it on top.]

Me: Hey, it's like bees!  You did a bee thing!

Boy: Huh?

Me: Bees hibernate in winter in a big clump, and every so often they'll switch it up so the outside bees get to be on the inside.  They take turns keeping each other warm.

Boy: Okay...

Me: ...Well, in the case of the pizzas, heat rises, right?  So by bringing the bottom pizza to the top...

Boy: Ah, I understand.


Boy: "Blogic!"

Me: Yes.

[Turns out The Boy had only shuffled the pizzas to keep his hands warm, which probably makes more sense.]

...But god loves everyone, regardless of cookie preference.

I used to know this guy who really, really liked gingerbread.  He'd go to the bakery near his house every day or two, buy a gingerbread man, and slowly consume it on the walk home. 

Always a gingerbread man.  Never a gingerbread woman. 

I'm not sure, but...I think he might have been gingerbread gay.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gender Wednesday: Hair and Sexiness

I used to have long hair, like most chicks do.  And like most chicks, I was obsessed with my long hair and used it like some kind of security blanket.  If the hairdresser trimmed off an inch more than I'd asked for, I felt...I dunno, castrated or something, even though my remaining hair still reached well below my shoulders.

I'm sure my hair obsession came from society's deep-seated and omnipresent conviction that on women, hair=sexiness.  Women are like that  guy Samson from the Bible: long hair gives us power (except instead of physical strength, our "power" is the power of attracting men, which is far less useful).

And then one day I got an urge to cut my hair short - to change my look in a radical way.  But I was so afraid of chopping off all my sex appeal that it took me literally years to finally get that haircut.

I shouldn't have been afraid.  Short hair is awesome.

See, here's the thing: my short hair didn't repel the next great love of my life, dooming me to die alone.  It repelled guys I wouldn't have wanted anyway.  After I finally cut off my iconic girly-girl mid-back-length pelt, beefy hairy dudes who revel in traditional gender roles stopped checking me out...and wispy genderfluid dudes (like The Boy) started checking me out.  Fuck yeah.

And it's not just about what other people think: my mostly-buzzed hair makes me feel sexy, regardless.  The media portrays female sexiness as very passive and ornamental: most people's idea of a generic "sexy woman" is probably someone in shoes she can barely walk in, a skirt she can't bend over in, a top that will expose her breasts if she tries to move too quickly, and no pockets.  All she can do is stand there, pose, and be pretty.  For me, though, female sexiness hinges on feeling functional.  I'll never feel as attractive teetering around on stiletto heels as I do striding solidly in my shit-kicking boots (and I think other women look hotter in practical clothes, too). I thrive on feeling strong and capable and being able to move freely, and my relative hairlessness is awesome for that: my hair never falls in my eyes, sticks to my lipgloss, or obscures my peripheral vision anymore. 

Conversely, I really dig the "passive and ornamental" brand of sexiness in a guy...and usually love when guys have long hair (and short skirts and heels, for that matter).  I also prefer a guy who telegraphs his interest in me through strategic use of giggles and Bambi eyes but waits for me to make the actual first move.  I guess I'm all about role reversal...I'd claim to have the brain of a dude but I'm not actually sure there's any such thing as a "dude brain" or "chick brain".

But that's a theory for another time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do you need a laugh today?

No matter how many times I watch this video, it always makes me laugh until my stomach hurts and tears roll down my cheeks.  When I come home from somewhere in a grumpy mood I've been known to burst into the living room yelling, "Boy, I need 1,000 CCs of Batman Pug, stat!" and The Boy immediately begins to cue it up on his laptop (and usually also gives me a shoulder massage.  Yep, I think I'll keep him).

I have recently discovered another great animal/song thing.  Here's what the actual song sounds like, in case you're not familiar with it (I figure everyone knows the old Batman theme song by now but not everyone would know Drowning Pool.  Am I wrong?):

And here's a passionate and heartfelt rendition of that a parrot:

You're welcome. :)

"Revolving Karma Gate" would be an awesome band name.

The main access points to the Toronto subway system have turnstiles, but some stations have secondary entrances/exits with kind of a revolving gate setup (because there's no staff member there to stop people from jumping a turnstile).  Except obviously these contraptions only go halfway around, otherwise you could get right back into the station again without paying.

Last night, The Boy and I were going home from grocery shopping and entered the subway station via a revolving gate thingy.  Once we were in, I saw that there was a twentysomething blonde with a suitcase and guitar case (and I think a knapsack, too) trying to negotiate her way out.  She couldn't fit herself and her stuff into the gate's compartment all at once, and there was nobody with her and nobody else around.

I was like, "Hey, do you want to go through there with just the guitar and I'll push your suitcase out after you?" and she said that would be great, and once she and her stuff were both safely on the other side she thanked me and wished me a good evening.  And I have to say, the whole experience made me really, stupid-happy.  I feel like this might be sort of weird so I shall endeavor to explain.

Firstly, I'm pleased that she trusted me with her personal belongings, even though it was dark out and The Boy and I were total strangers who outnumbered her and if we'd decided to run away with her suitcase instead of passing it through, we probably could have.  The fact that she took a chance tells me that we give off good vibes, and I like this.

Secondly, it made me happy that I was able to help someone so much by doing so little.  With about two seconds' effort, I saved this person from possibly getting wedged in the revolving gate thingy and having to yell for help - or at least from having to schlep herself and all her gear across the station to a different exit.

And last of all, I'm a big believer in karma so I figure this small act of kindness will get passed along and make the world a slightly brighter place.

In conclusion: thank you, trusting blonde musician chick, for giving me reasons to feel happy with the universe. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another treasury, yay!

Yesterday someone featured me in another treasury - I think that makes three days in a row!  This makes me so, so happy - it means that even though I haven't gotten a sale yet, people appreciate what I do.  People are looking, and people are liking.  So it's just a matter of time. :)

This might be my favourite treasury yet because, as you know, I am obsessed with themes of love and heartbreak.  The treasury's theme is "You Jerk!" and I've already favourited a bunch of the awesomely snarky items featured alongside my "Don't" painting.  Go see the treasury here.

You can check out the treasury's creator, Jaffajaf, here.  Or go directly to the fucking awesome fluorescent green stuffed toy skeleton in her store by clicking here.  It's child-safe and it glows under black light!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shoutout Sunday: Kyle Byron Nutrition

Most of my shoutouts are going to tout online places that anyone in the world can check out, but sometimes I just gotta praise someone local: in this case my nutritionist, Kyle Byron.

Whether you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or just have more stable energy levels throughout the day, eating right is important.  In my particular case, I was feeling really draggy all the time and knew my diet was to blame.*  I'd been trying to make nutritional adjustments for myself, but nothing was helping; Finally, I admitted defeat and decided to seek the guidance of a trained expert.  And this, of course, is where Kyle came in.

Obviously, a good nutritionist should know a lot about food.  Kyle certainly does: he has a BSc in Human Nutrition (with honours).  He's clearly passionate about the science of food and he taught me lots of things I didn't know before (and I was already a lot better-informed than the average bear...dealing with several major food sensitivities will do that to a person).  I told Kyle about my wacky food issues and he designed set of guidelines for a healthy, complete diet that stayed within all my parameters and only included foods I actually like.  So that's pretty awesome.

The less-obvious part of being a good nutritionist - the part that didn't occur to me until I experienced it - is knowing a lot about human nature.  Kyle realizes that it's really hard for most people to make drastic life changes all at once, so we proceed in baby steps: at each appointment, he gives me one or two new daily food-tasks to fit into my day.  If I encounter a setback**, I don't feel like he's judging me or secretly thinking that I suck; he just gently nudges me back on track.  In fact, recently I got really blocked - I couldn't make myself take the next baby step - and I asked Kyle if I could take a break from our appointments until I got my sense of discipline back.  Kyle replied that we could totally take a break if I wanted, but that he'd prefer to help me work through my mental block instead.  He understands the underlying reasons why people make bad food choices and considers it part of his job to educate people.  And, indeed, we did make some progress there, because...

Kyle's knowledge goes above and beyond what you'd expect a nutritionist to know.  Did I mention that he's also a certified personal trainer?  Well, he is, and this puts him in a unique position to see how food and exercise dovetail to improve your health.  He also knows techniques for dealing with stress and getting a proper amount of sleep.  In our last session, I don't think we talked about food at all; we mostly discussed the fact that I need to buy a warmer winter coat (so that I can go for walks, which will lower my stress and clear my mind, which will help me go to bed earlier, which will help me wake up earlier, which will give me time to chop vegetables for my omelets and salads!).

I love that Kyle emails me notes/reminders/nutrition charts after each session and that he remembers all my details whenever we talk - that's just good business right there.  And even though he's technically a jock (he's into rugby, jiu-jitsu, and lots of other sports, plus there's the whole personal trainer thing) I have never once seen him crush an aluminum can against his forehead or scream the word "EXTREEEEEME!" at the top of his lungs***.  He seems like a guy who could relate well to anyone.

Since seeing Kyle, my energy levels and even my mood have improved quite a bit.  I also lost ten or fifteen pounds in the first month or so, which wasn't one of my goals (but I like it!).  And our journey isn't done yet!

If you want to make some positive changes to your body and you're able to get to the Spadina and Adelaide area of Toronto, you should consider seeing Kyle, too. 

*You would probably be amazed at the things diet can cause...if you have an issue with your health and nobody can figure out why, try testing yourself for food sensitivities!  Actually, do that even if you do think you know what's up.  Years ago my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression; eventually, I figured out that I could lift my mood considerably simply by cutting soy out of my diet.

More of my wacky food issues: if I eat gluten (so basically, anything with flour in it) I feel all bloated and then fall into a horrible inescapable coma sleep that lasts for hours.  Gluten was also making my cuts/scrapes/bruises take forever to heal - and contributing to my low energy - because it kept me from absorbing the nutrition in my food properly,

And either the gluten or the soy (or both) must have been giving me "cloudy brain" (a frequent symptom of food sensitivity) - now that I've cut those things out, I no longer trail off in mid-sentence all the time.  Eating differently actually made me smarter!

So remember: food sensitivities can cause a lot more issues than you realize.  Pretty much everyone would benefit from doing the process-of-elimination thing to make sure their body is okay with the food they eat.  Kyle can teach you how!


***you laugh, but I was seriously worried.  Everyone knows that jocks and nerds are natural enemies; also, naturally athletic types usually don't see that my low-energy thing is an actual physical problem.  They think I'm faking it for attention, or I just need a pep talk, or something.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A New Treasury!

Remember the spooky Victorian butterfly painting I did a while back?  I finally uploaded it to Etsy and within hours it was chosen for a treasury!  CreativeCabin131's treasury is called I Went Art Shopping, and there's all kinds of cool, colourful stuff in there.  I'm honoured to be part of such an awesome collection.  You should check it out!

Conversational Snippet #5: Noise in My BRAIN.

[I'm easily startled, and sometimes unexpected sounds or physical sensations bother me.  In this particular case, Birch was driving me crazy and The Boy had just hustled him off to the next room.]

Me: I seem to be having an especially sensitive day today when it comes to random noises.

Boy: I noticed.

Me: Just...just...that agonizing slow crrrrrrrrrinkle when Birch decided to lie down on the empty potato chip felt like it would never stop...I kind of wanted to tear his little cat head off*.

Boy [calling out]: Did you hear that, Birch?  Mommy doesn't like you anymore!

Me [calling out]: Don't listen to him, Birch.  Mommy never liked you**.

*Ironically, that would have made an even worse sound than the chip bag.
**Totally untrue.

NB: I have recently been made aware of a book called The Highly Sensitive Person.  The gist of the book is that jumpy freaks like me actually have a differently-wired nervous system than other people, so we experience sensory input more intensely.  In other words, there's an actual, physiological reason why I'm like this.  Which is kind of comforting.  I have not purchased this book, but I plan to.

Caturday: ...Because Nobody Ever Calls Their Pet by Just One Name

Here, for your dubious entertainment, is a list of nicknames The Boy and I have given to our kitty, Birch.

Baby Birchy
Birchismo (like "machismo" - a sarcastic comment re: his manliness)
Bunnycat (because he is sooooo soft)
Duckbilled Bratapuss
(because he is a brat)
Dumbapuss (because he is dumb)
GET YOUR ANUS OUT OF MY EYE!!!!! (we yell this at him so often, he probably thinks it's his actual name.  Why do cats always have boundary issues?)
GODDAMMIT GET AWAY FROM THERE (another phrase that gets nickname status because of how often we greet him with it)
Poo Paddles (after his paws, which he uses to bury litterbox evidence)
Powderpuff (because he is fluffy and spoiled and wussy)
Prison Birch (when The Boy pretends to hump him...yeah, I don't know either)
Purr Machine
Shopping Cart ("I think Birch just looked up when I said his name!  Does he know his name?" "Maybe…try calling him something totally random and see if he looks up.")
The Purrminator
Tribble (actually his middle name.  A Star Trek creature known for its purr.)
Uglypuss (but we're just kidding.)

Also, a list of songs we I sing to Birch (incorporating him into the lyrics, of course):

She's a Lady - Tom Jones ("he's got style, he's got grace/he's got whiskers on his face/he's a Birchy!")
What's New, Pussycat - Tom Jones ("what's new, Birchycat?  WHOAOAOAOAOA...")
Oediupus - Regina Spektor ("then one morning I woke up and I thought BIRCHICUS BIRCHICUS BIRCHICUS BIRCHICUS"..."'cause Birchy-two is still a goddamned number!  Birchy-two still counts!")
Various loud and dramatic classical instrumental pieces ("Birch Birch Birch BIRRRRRRRRCH")

I'm sure there are more songs but these are the only ones coming to mind right now.

By the way, Birch likes to act embarrassed when I sing to him but I know he secretly loves it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm in a treasury!

So, for those of you not familiar with Etsy, there's a thing called a treasury.  A treasury is a themed assortment of various Etsyers' items, and anyone on Etsy can make one.  Sometimes an Etsy admin might even like a treasury enough to put it on the front page.

Today, someone decided to put my breakup painting of the crying eye into a treasury!  The theme of the treasury is "Princess for a Day: Rapunzel" and the creator, SerendipitybySusanne, actually arranged the photos so they tell a story.  I think it looks beautiful.

Wanna see?

Conversational Snippet #4: Liability Wars

(The Boy and I are watching Star Wars Episode I on DVD.  Darth Maul has just been pushed off the edge of a...ventilator shaft?  Or something?  I dunno.)

Me: What is with all these bottomless pits in the middle of everybody's workspace?  Didn't practically every Star Wars movie have someone falling into a pit?

Boy [thinking]: Most of them, yeah.

Me: That's a huge insurance risk, you know.

Boy: ......?

Me: Well, it's a big liability issue.  I'm sure most insurance company guidelines would require at least a guard rail around a bottomless pit.  Maybe even a chain link fence with a lockable gate.  The Empire would have a hell of a time trying to get coverage.

Boy: ......


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shameless pandering

So, guys...I just wanted to point out that if you have a blog (or even just a Google ID, I think) you can click "follow" (over on the right side of your screen) and you'll be alerted every time I make a new post.  More info on that here.

Also, if you think my blog is funny/interesting/entertaining...please tell your friends!


Is it just me?

I've known a lot of people who pay for things using their debit cards whenever possible.  They feel weird carrying around large sums of money, presumably because they fear a criminal with X-ray eyes will see the wad of cash right through their purse/coat/wallet/etc. and target them for a mugging.

But as often as not, these same people own a shiny new top-of-the-line cell phone that they'll take out and use anywhere, anytime, without a thought.

Mind you, I've never heard of anyone getting mugged for their cell phone (or laptop, or iPod), so maybe there's a method to this madness.  To me, though, it's an amusing contradiction to be afraid of carrying $100 cash in your pocket when you regularly brandish a $400 phone in your hand.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gender Wednesday: Walk Like a Man

Did you ever read the book Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent?  It's about a woman who goes "undercover" as a man for a year or so in order to see what it's like to live as male - and to see how men behave when they think there aren't women around.  It's interesting as hell and I'll probably talk about it more at some point.

Anyhoo, one part of the book that really grabbed my attention was when Norah described how movement affects gender presentation.  She said that sometimes, during her "undercover" stint, she would pop to the corner store to get milk or something and she wouldn't bother to dress like a dude - but out of habit she would still be using her acquired dude mannerisms.  And because of this, despite the fact that she was wearing a tight white tank top and had obvious boobs, people read her as male.

So, it would seem that when people are assessing which sex you might be, they'll note how you act and move as much as, or even more than, what you actually look like.  This idea intrigued the hell out of me and I immediately started working on a "boy walk" to use if I were ever walking home late at night and felt a bit vulnerable (and of course it would also be helpful for my handful of crossdressing experiments).

Trial, error, and second opinions from friends taught me that a "boy walk" meant keeping my legs in a bowlegged stance that felt completely alien and ridiculous (but actually did look normal when I put on my baggy dude-jeans and practiced in front of the mirror).  Also, I needed to swing my arms a lot less than usual; I would kind of swing my shoulders instead.

Conversely, then, we can infer that a chick-walk means keeping your knees together, penduluming your arms, and trying not to let your shoulders move too much.

But don't take my word for it!  I recently found this video that tracks how a man and a woman walk by using motion sensors on all their joints (ignore this "walking away/walking toward you" caption crap; it's irrelevant).  It's really cool how they isolated the movements themselves without showing you the people doing the moving; it really lets you compare the two walks better.  Please also note that in addition to the stuff I said above, it seems that guys hold their elbows out from the body while women's elbows face inward.

...And here, just for fun, is a video I found where a cute boy teaches us how to walk like a male vs. a female runway model.  If we assume that a model moves like an exaggerated version of a normal person, this could be a useful guide for anyone wanting to crossdress or transition (you'd just need to tone it down as necessary); but to me it seems like the "male model walk" is almost completely average and unobtrusive while the "female model walk" is a ridiculous wiggly strut that you'd never see anywhere else.

But hey, on the upside, slender Asian boy in a bra. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An open letter to the creator of the Nicorette inhaler

Dear Sir (I'm not even going to pretend you might be female),

How did your product get to the manufacturing stage without anyone mentioning its striking resemblance to a plastic tampon applicator?  Do you have any women working in your marketing department at all?

I don't have an MBA or anything but I feel that you're not really understanding the motivations of your target audience here.  Most people start smoking because they think it looks badass.  Eventually, they may want to quit smoking because they're sick of being short of breath and coughing up tapioca pudding, but - and this is important - they still probably want to look and feel badass.  And you're unironically telling them to fellate a feminine hygiene product.  In public.

"Mmmmmm, fresh!"
I mean, seriously.  You couldn't at least have made it black?

Anyway, if this thing isn't exactly flying off the shelves, now you know why.

Meredith Viner

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookie wisdom that blows my mind

This is the most awesome fortune I ever got in a fortune cookie (seriously):

If you only speak well of people, you never have to whisper.

I never expected to receive practical real-world advice from a dessert.  It was pretty awesome.

Do you guys have any cookie fortunes that made an impact on you?  Or any really good life advice in general?

Another strange thought.

When Pan gets cold in wintertime, does he wear faun johns?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shoutout Sunday: Bathwerks

I'm not normally a person who wears perfume.  For one thing, my body chemistry turns many perfectly lovely scents into a combination of cinnamon and burning polyester.  For another thing, I worry that other people will find the smell of my perfume gross - better to aim for total scentlessness, I figure, than to try to smell good but fail.

Still, every few years I have a brief ill-advised craving for a new perfume and I go all over the place obsessively trying different things out (and usually don't end up buying anything).

But then everything changed.

A while ago, I did some apartment- and cat-sitting for a much girlier friend while she was out of town.  She said I could use anything of hers that I wanted while I was there, so one night I painted each of my fingernails a different colour using her many nail polishes, sparingly applied some of her MAC lipgloss (Russian Red), and poked around among her many bottles of perfume.  One of them was "Dark Chocolate" from Bathwerks and OMG IT MADE ME SWOON.  This stuff isn't a mixture of different elements with a top note/middle note/base note; it just purely and unmistakeably smells like dark chocolate.  And when I spritzed a bit of it on my neck, it still smelled like dark chocolate even the next day!

In short, Bathwerks Dark Chocolate solved all my perfume issues in one fell swoop: it smells amazing, lasts a long time, and I figure very few people will be offended by the smell - you almost can't go wrong smelling like a yummy dessert, right?  Indeed, although the scent doesn't leave a huge trail in its wake (another plus for me), if I'm in a crowded car or elevator someone will always eventually ask "does someone have cookies?" or "who smells yummy?"

By the way...the Dark Chocolate perfume happens to be half-price right now.  Also on sale: their Creme Brulee and Sugar Cookie perfumes.  Sugar Cookie also smells exactly like the real thing; I've never smelled real creme brulee but I can tell you the Creme Brulee perfume is heavy and sweet and creamy and delicious, which seems about right.  If any of these sound good to you, go order them online while they're only $15!!!  You really can't go wrong!  And their shipping is pretty fast - I always get my stuff within three days - so if you live in Canada you could order now and get your goodies by Christmas.

But there's more!  Bathwerks doesn't just make perfume; as their name indicates, they make bath stuff (and lotions and scrubs) as well!  They claim all of their products are made with wholesome ingredients (I'm no expert on this stuff but it looks like their ingredient lists do have more recognizable ingredients than unpronounceable chemicals on them, which is a good sign).  Also, if you're not as into the desserts as I am, you can get their products in scents like bergamot, English tea, or rose geranium instead.

Here are brief reviews of all the things I've tried:

Solid Bath Oil: this is a bar of cocoa butter (looks just like a chocolate bar).  You break off a square and toss it in the bath, and it melts into a delicious-smelling, moisturizing bath oil.  They have white-chocolate ones and regular-chocolate ones; I've tried both (chocolate orange and dark chocolate, respectively) and both smell lovely and will leave your skin feeling nice, although the regular chocolate kind will leave a brown bathtub ring.  Solid bath oil is on sale right now!

Milk Wash: a yummy-smelling, moisturizing body wash.  I have the dark chocolate one, and it feels and smells great.

Creme Fraiche: a very thick moisturizing cream that comes in a tub.  I have this in (what else?) dark chocolate.  It's rich and luxurious, smells exactly like the perfume, and totally soaks into my skin - not like a lot of drugstore moisturizers where you rub your arm ten minutes later and get that "eraser shavings" effect. This is also on sale right now!

To be honest, I almost didn't want to tell you guys about this stuff.  I wanted to hog all the delicious dessert-scented goodies to myself.  But then I thought, "if nobody knows about it, nobody will be buying it, and then maybe Bathwerks will discontinue it, and I can't let that happen."

So there you go. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caturday: ChildBirch

So guess who just got a phone that can record video?  The Boy.  MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Caution: this video immortalizes a "game" I play with my cat that I find endlessly hilarious and you will find completely stupid.  If you watch this, you will never, ever get those 17 seconds of your life back.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Because I am a grown-up.

It's getting cold out and although my closet has yielded many gloves and mittens, none of them actually match each other.  Also, I need a toque of some sort to protect my naked scalp from the howling Canadian winds.  So, last night I went to the mall.

I did not end up buying mittens or a hat.

Know what I did buy?  Cookies.  And I ate most of the package on the way home.

Don't tell my mom.

Open Letter to a Spammer

Dear sir or madam,

Thank you for your generous offer to add up to 2" to the length of my penis.  However, I do not in fact possess a penis.  Furthermore, if I woke up one day to find that I had spontaneously grown a penis, its size would be the least of my concerns. 

In conclusion: your ongoing interest in enhancing my boudoir activities through organ enlargement is creepy touching, but unnecessary.  Please remove me from your mailing list.

Kind regards,
Meredith Viner

I can seeeeeeeeeee you...

Sometimes, viewing my blog stats kind of feels like an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse for me.

Like, I see that there are a fair number of people who've viewed a post but didn't comment and I can't help thinking, "Ah-HA!  You think you're being so stealthy, visiting without leaving a trace, but I know you were here."

Incidentally, I've gotten some page views from Greece and Croatia, and I don't personally know anyone living in those countries, so that comes as a pleasant surprise.  Did they find me via a friend of a friend?  Did they land here randomly during a bout of late night 'net surfing?  I have no idea - the stats aren't that specific.  Either way, I love knowing that my words are being read by strangers from distant lands.  As someone who grew up in the time before internet (*gasp!*) I still find it wondrous how the 'net can connect people who would otherwise never have met or spoken.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tabloid Talk

Y'know how sometimes there's a famous person who's had so many plastic surgeries that they look really wonky and weird?  There are inevitably a bunch of people (on message boards and whatnot) going "What the hell?  How does s/he possibly think that looks good?!?"

I always assumed the person doesn't think they look good.  I figure they got one or two little surgical tweaks that they really liked and then the third one was like "OMGWTF THEY SHAVED MY NOSE DOWN TOO FAR AND NOW I LOOK LIKE SKELETOR" so they got another surgery to try to fix the bad one but it accidentally made things even worse so they got something done to a different part of their face to try to distract from the problem area but that didn't work out so well and from there the whole thing just got totally out of hand.

In conclusion, I don't think oversurgeried stars think they look good (necessarily); I think most of the time they know they fucked up but they're keeping it on the downlow because going around saying, "Hi, I feel ugly and also stupid" is not a fun or productive way to live your life.

But I could be wrong.

Et Tu, T9?

When I'm typing text messages on my phone, my style is to focus only on the keys, type the entire word I want, and trust that the T9 predictive text thing will know what I meant.

Sometimes, that trust is misplaced.

Apparently my phone thinks Hallowe'en should be

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gender Wednesday: Selective Hearing

If I tell someone I bought a shirt for my boyfriend, they would assume that the shirt was an actual gift for him - i.e. that he would be the one wearing it.

If I tell someone I bought pants for my boyfriend, they would assume that he would be the one wearing the pants.

If I tell someone I bought socks for my boyfriend, they would assume that he would be the one wearing the socks.

But if I tell someone I bought lingerie for my boyfriend...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things I've Learned as an Entrepreneur

So, I've had my Etsy store up and running for a month or two now, and I've started this blog partly to help promote it, and neither thing is quite going the way I'd pictured.  I thought I would share the stuff I've learned.

I feel kind of silly now, but when I was in the planning stages of all of this, I really thought I might start getting sales right away.  After all, my paintings are eye-catching and well-executed and I think it's clear from my policies page that I'm detail-oriented and have mad customer service skillz. 

Basically, I figured people would find my store by searching phrases like "transvestite" or "drag queen" (sure, not a lot of people would be searching those terms, but the ones who did would find me.  I tried those searches myself and only a handful of items came up, mine among them).  And my inherent awesomeness would shine through and the searcher would end up buying something and word of mouth would spread and then I'd be off and running.

I was actually worried that business would pick up really fast and I might have a hard time keeping up - so before I launched the store, I made sure I was 100% ready.  I bought bubble envelopes and three sizes of cardboard boxes in bulk so I would never have to scramble to get shipping supplies.  I bought ribbon and tissue paper to wrap people's purchases in.  I ordered business cards and thank-you notes.  I rented a mailbox so I could put a return address on packages that isn't my actual house.  Turns out I could probably have opened the store first and still had plenty of time to order all that stuff, since nobody's bought anything yet; still, I'm glad I got prepared ahead of time and I recommend that you do, too, if you're setting out to sell things online.  Better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it, as they say.

Anyway, I was going to tell you what I've learned.  This is the crux of it:

Only a tiny percentage of people take action.

Meaning: if you tell a hundred people to check out your Etsy store, only one or two people will actually do it.  If a hundred people look at your Etsy store, only one or two of them will "heart" the store or one of its items.  And if a hundred people "heart" something in your store, only one or two of them will actually go on to buy something (this of course is speculation since I haven't gotten there yet).

On a related note, only a teeny-tiny portion of people who read a blog will comment on it, which is something I didn't know before; I comment on other people's blogs all the time (EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO MY OPINION DAMMIT) and assumed my level of talkativeness was normal.  But nope, now that I have my own blog I can see how many people view it vs. how many people say stuff, and the two figures are very very different.

So basically, if you've just opened a store and you want to generate sales ASAP, just having a good product and good service isn't enough.  You'd better be prepared to walk around wearing a sandwich board and ringing a bell - you need to trumpet your product to as much of your target market as you possibly can, every minute of every day.

To be honest, I'm not really prepared to do the sandwich board thing full out.  I don't want my acquaintances to run when they see me coming because they know I'll be asking "Did you look at my store yet?  Did you?  Did you?  I put new stuff up today!" 

I will, however, do stuff like putting up a Facebook fan page and a blog so that people can choose to check me out when it's convenient for them.  And The Boy says it would drum up further publicity if I got my stuff out in the real world by attending arts and craft fairs and whatnot.  He's right, of course, and I'm going to try.  It's just hard because a) I have issues with shyness/anxiety and b) I think it would be difficult even for an extroverted person to sit and smile while people critiqued their hard work right within earshot.

It'll take a while for things to build momentum for me, but I'm confident it'll happen.

But, guys: if you've been to my store and you noticed some big obvious thing that needs improvement, please tell me in the comments*. 

* "Stop being so weird and start painting pictures of nice things" is not useful advice here; weird and gross is fundamentally who I am.  What I'm looking for is advice on how to present my weirdness and grossness as well as possible so that other weird and gross people will want to buy things.  I need to know whether my pictures and descriptions are eye-catching and my tags are accurate.  Thanks. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

'80s Hair Band Extravaganza!

Yesterday The Boy and I saw the play Rock of Ages, courtesy of his parents (thanks guys!).  For those who don't know, Rock of Ages is a musical about two crazy kids in the '80s who fall in love - and the songs are actual rock songs from that period.  Really, the plot is just a thin excuse for a bunch of actors to dress up in flamboyant clothes and sing Styx and Bon Jovi songs...not that there's anything wrong with that!

Our seats were freaking fabulous - the very front row of the balcony, where we had an unobstructed view of everything that was going on.  It was neat seeing live performances of songs I remembered from my younger days, and I loved the costumes - they really got that 80s aesthetic down pat (except for the girls' hair - it needed to be BIGGER and CRUNCHIER dammit!  Don't they manufacture AquaNet anymore?).  You know what's trippy, though?  Realizing that most of the actors in the production were probably too young to remember the songs (if they'd ever heard them at all!).  To these kids, being in the play was probably like learning a hilarious-sounding foreign language.  Whereas to me, those outfits and songs were just...high school.

Truth be told, although the music from Rock of Ages holds a certain inevitable nostalgia for me, I was never a huge fan of the genre(s).*  And so I was both surprised and deeply, deeply humiliated when the actors started singing "We Built This City" by [Jefferson?] Starship and I got goosebumps.  YEAH THAT'S RIGHT I GOT CHILLS FROM THE OPENING LINES OF ONE OF ROCK'S CHEESIEST ANTHEMS.

I just...I don't even know what to do with that.  It calls my entire perception of myself into question.  I may have to take a pilgrimage to Tibet to do some soul-searching.

*If someone did a play featuring Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure, and The Human League, on the other hand...

Word of the Day #5

Today's word, pudendulum, is a combination of "pudendum" and "pendulum".

I can't tell you how I came up with this word because I am too much of a lady.  All I can reveal is that it may or may not have involved naked Boy gyrating for my amusement. 

New Feature: Shoutout Sunday!

I've decided that on Sundays I'll tell you guys about something or someone that I think is super cool.  Unless I run out of ideas, in which case I won't.  But I think I can do this!

For the inaugural edition of Shoutout Sunday, I'd like to point you toward Hyperbole and a Half, the blog I've been obsessively reading for the past week.  Blogger Allie Brosh is fucking hilarious.  I've been steadily working my way backward through her posts and I have to say, although the earlier stuff is still funny (observational humour, photos, amusing Photoshoppery, etc.), she really hit her stride a bit more recently (I don't see any dates on her posts so "more recently" is all I can tell you) when she started telling anecdotes about her life and illustrating them with little-kid style drawings.  Drawings done in MS Paint, of all things!

My very favourite story is probably The Party, which had me laughing so hard that I could barely breathe.  Eventually my laughter transcended sound itself and became long intervals of subaudible squeaking punctuated by huge, wheezing gasps.  That's how funny The Party is.  I then made The Boy read it, and he also laughed a lot, and we've been randomly texting each other "PARP!" ever since. (If you want to understand that reference, you'll just have to go read the story now.)

There's also this little comedic riff, which I fell in love with because I'm a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation.  And, oh, there's this story which is completely based on my life (well not really but it might as well be).

There is also a Zazzle store, which...OMFG THE STORE HAS A "PARP" T-SHIRT!  *SQUEEEEEE!*


 In conclusion, if you like hilarious stories about dogs, childhood, grammar nerdery, and other things, you'll probably like this blog.

Also, I'm aware that I'm technically posting this on Monday, not Sunday (it's 12:32am), but I'll try to be more on the ball next week.

Additionally, I'm aware that my blog's timestamp is improperly set and I need to get on the ball with that, too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Conversational Snippet #3: Pizza Party

(While standing in line at Pizza Pizza)

Boy: I've never understood the concept of the "Party Pizza".  Aren't all pizzas purchased for some kind of party?

Me: Not funeral pizzas*. 

Boy: A funeral is a kind of party, too, really.

Me: [Thinking about it for a moment] That's true.  A party where the guest of honour is always late**.


*not a real far as I know.

**'cause "late" is a polite euphemism for dead!  SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New feature: CATURDAY!

I've decided to try to do a cat-related blog post every Saturday - an anecdote or ramble or even just a funny picture.

Today, I will tell you how and why I acquired a cat in the first place.

It's funny - if you'd told me even five years ago that I would willingly become a cat owner one day, I wouldn't have believed you.  I've always been a hardcore dog person.  I didn't hate cats, but I kept having unpleasant experiences with them - trying to pet friends' cats and getting my hand attacked, for instance - so I was definitely cautious with cats.

But then in 2008/2009, through a series of bizarre circumstances, I ended up babysitting one friend's cat(s) after another after another.  Basically there was at least one cat in my house at any given time for about a year.  And...they started to grow on me.  I got to know each kitty really well, and it turns out each one had a distinct personality and a set of hilarious quirks - none of which were "let's rip up Meredith's hand when she's trying to pet us."*  One cat in particular used to lie pressed up against my butt/lower back while I perched on the edge of the couch painting, and I loved that; his steady, purring presence helped still my twirling brain and put me in the right headspace for making art.

Eventually the catsitting ended and I decided I wanted a pet of my own - but I'm really not in a place in my life where I can care for a dog, as much as I'd love one.  And so I decided to shop for a cat, although I felt kind of conflicted about it.  What if I wasn't cut out for cat ownership in the long term?  What if I got a cat who seemed nice but turned out to have a streak of pure unadulterated evil in his little peanut brain?  I was (and am!) still pretty scared of a cat's claws, so if I got a cat with rage issues I'd end up feeling terrified in my own home.  I'd have to wear shoes all the time and tiptoe around with a flashlight and a baseball bat, or something.

These are the very first pics I saw of him. :)
But my friends convinced me that I would be fine, and when I started browsing the Toronto Cat Rescue's** website I fell in love with a photo of this one little guy they'd named "Sinatra".  I love animals who are really distinctive looking - I'm shallow like that - and this Sinatra kitty had blue eyes and a hilarious black blob in the middle of his face.  Better yet, his description made him sound like the best, most well-adjusted cat in the whole world: very sweet and calm and friendly.  They estimated that he was two years old, which I also liked - a kitten is more prone to playfully attacking people and that would freak me right the hell out.  I immediately contacted the Rescue to make an appointment to meet him and it turns out his foster home was right up the street from my house!

The conjugal cat visit went well.  I brought a friend for moral support and a second opinion; the foster mom sat my friend and I down in her spare bedroom, brought "Sinatra" inside and shut the door so we could all hang out.  He was, of course, all distracted because he was in an unfamiliar room with unfamiliar people.  Mostly he just prowled around the perimeter of the room on his belly to make sure the premises were secure, but it was still obvious that he was a pretty mellow kitty - not the type to pounce on my feet or scare me with a lot of sudden movements.  What really clinched it for me is that when he came close enough for me to gently hold one of his front paws, he didn't scratch or hiss or even try to pull his paw away; he just looked down at my hand and then back up at my face like, "Buh?"

I had a really good feeling about this cat, and my friend did, too.  His foster mom had told me all kinds of things about his health, habits, likes and dislikes, and it sounded as though he and I would be really compatible.  So...I took a chance and said yes. 

Over the next week I agonized over getting exactly the right dishes, litter box, toys and food for my impending bundle of joy.  When I finally took him home, he adjusted way faster than his foster mom predicted: he did start off hiding under the bed, but within half an hour he was on the couch with me, purring and rolling over for a belly rub.  He truly was an awesome and friendly kitty right from the beginning; little did I know that he would bond with me more and more strongly as he realized I was his permanent mommy.  He's a part of me now...a furry little piece of my heart.

Meanwhile, the name Sinatra didn't really do it for me.  I posted on Facebook asking for name suggestions and my cartoonist friend Brett (of Weird Green Cat fame) suggested Birch "because birch trees are black and white."  It was perfect.

And that's how we became a family. :)

*By the way: the many seemingly random hand-clawings I'd experienced in the past had given me the idea that cats are all deeply eeeeeeeevil, but in retrospect I realize I just wasn't approaching them properly.  I tended to go for the head-pet via the direct route: darting my hand straight toward a cat's face.  This would quite understandably make the cat go "OMGWTF" and swat my hand away (it works with people, too). 

**I can't speak highly enough about the Toronto Cat Rescue.  Their volunteers are friendly and dedicated and amazing and they're always completely honest about what each cat is like - they want to put the kitties in a permanent home, not foist them on someone who will discover some horrible secret and bring them right back.  If you're shopping for a cat, please please please check out the Toronto Cat Rescue's website instead of going to a pet store.  They have cats and kittens of all ages and descriptions - you won't be disappointed!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I found this on a subway station wall:

Once you see the pie in the No Smoking sign, it cannot be unseen!

...And it works, too.  I have never once seen anyone on the subway eating pie.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids and dogs

I was the kind of kid who got picked on a lot in school (shockingly, being precocious, socially awkward, and freakishly tall is not a recipe for grade-school popularity.  Oh, and also I had glasses and braces.  And my clothes never fit right because of my extreme tallness.  And I had a few years where I cut my own hair). 

Since then, I haven't really hung out with kids too much; I don't have kids of my own, my friends don't have kids, I'm an only child so there are no nieces or nephews...basically what I'm saying is that the last time I spent any substantial amount of time with children, it was recess and they were chasing me through the schoolyard with sharpened sticks or something.  I don't know how to relate to kids as an adult.

A while back, a friend and I were in a restaurant waiting for a table.  A couple with a little girl was also waiting, and my friend started making small talk with this little girl: "Hi there!  I like your dress.  Are you having lunch with your mom and dad?  What are you going to eat?"  And I was amazed by this because I never know what the hell to say to kids.  I mean, at times in my life I've felt called upon to acknowledge the existence of a child (when someone brings their spawn to work to meet everyone, for instance), and I draw a total blank.  I'm like, "Um, hey. What's up?" and so far no toddler has ever given me a satisfying answer.

I do have the capacity for gentle, playful banter, though.  I know this because I've caught myself talking that way to random dogs that I pass on the street.  I always pretty much ignore the owner and focus entirely on the dog: "Hi there!  Look how pretty you are.  Did you go to the park with your daddy?  Did you have fun?  Were you a good doggie?"  I know that dogs probably don't understand my questions and definitely won't answer them, but I try to engage them in conversation anyway.

Perhaps the solution to my awkwardness with kids is to pretend that they're dogs (commence with the leg-humping jokes...NOW!).

Yesterday morning I was walking past a school bus that was stopped at a red light and a girl inside tappity-tapped on the window to get my attention.  When I looked up, she waved at me.  It didn't seem malicious, so I smiled at her.  She smiled back, and I kept walking.  It was nice.

That's the other thing: even though I feel awkward as hell around children, they usually seem fascinated by me.  Probably because I look like a cartoon.

Children respond to me for some reason.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gender Wednesday: Poses.

I'm toying with the idea of doing regular "features" on my blog, so let's try this: on Wednesdays I'll make a post about crossdressing or gender.  Starting.............NOW!

The Boy, as I may have mentioned, enjoys presenting as female sometimes.  He likes to feel sexy and pretty, and regular boy-clothes don't really allow for that the same way fishnets and pleather do.

As for me, I've experimented with dressing as a boy once or twice - mostly out of curiosity and an urge to mess with people ("if I go out in public like this, will I pass?"), and partly to ramp up the contrast when The Boy is being The Girl.

The problem, though, is the photographs.

My hard drive has approximately fifty gazillion photographs of The Boy vamping it up in girl clothes.  He strikes all the archetypal "sexy woman"-type poses: crawling sexily across the floor, looking coquettishly over his shoulder, lying on his back with his legs in the air, and many, many more.

Also on my hard drive: approximately five photographs of me as a dude.  In them, I am striking all the archetypal "dude" poses: grabbing my crotch, giving the finger to the camera, and standing there with my arms hanging like salamis...and that's basically it.  I'd get The Boy to take more photos of dude-me, but they would all look just like those first five except with a different shirt.

Maybe the shortage of viable boy-poses is why drag kings seem so much rarer than drag queens: it's hard to be campy as a boy.  If you try to do a satire of manliness, you just end up leering and grabbing your wadded-up pants-sock every single time.  Meh.

Conversational Snippet #2

Boy: I thought about buying you an advent calendar today, but then I thought "will she actually be able to pace herself?"

Me: You'd be surprised at how well I do when there's portion control.  Those little perforated cardboard doors would hold me at bay...but I'd know the chocolate was there.  Waiting for me.  And it would drive me insane.

Boy: That's exactly what I thought would happen, so I didn't buy one.

Me: And this is why you're awesome.

(He had bought me a full-size chocolate bar, though - another reason why he's awesome.)