gone for good

Today my last outward marker of being Canadian was removed. It wasn't due to my desire to culturally assimilate.* After all, I come from a society that professes multiculturalism (although I have found that theory and practice can vary greatly). To avoid trouble with law enforcement and government regulations, I was required to register my vehicle in Utah. I had to replace my beloved Alberta plates with "Ski Utah." I feel strangely sad about this event. My little silver bullet is the first car I have purchased. Five years later she is fully paid off and her first accessory (i.e. plates) is gone. Sure I get mocked for my car but she's been reliable and affordable. Now, I'm not planning to add a Canadian flag to my car window or sew a patch on to my backpack, as I still have my spelling and pronunciations! I also don't want to be a walking stereotype.

While there are certainly differences between American and Canadians, they are not extremely obvious. I remember vacationing in Mexico and feeling completely lost. The language barrier made it difficult to carry on a conversation with most people. Pseudo-sign language was the name of the game. I wonder what it is like for immigrants who deal with vastly different cultural ideals combined with language. Certain behaviours or beliefs likely made sense in their country of origin, but now those might be challenged. Does it impact their view of who they are?

Identity is an interesting thing. Growing up I didn't necessarily equate part of my identity as "Canadian" but now I do. However, if I live in the USA the rest of my life will I still hold as strong to my country of birth? I've thought about attempting to articulate "my identity" but it has been a trying task. I suppose my identity includes my profession, my family, my experiences, my appearance, and where I was raised. That seems such a sterile definition, as I see identity as more fluid. What do you consider your identity? How do we develop our identity? As Linda Richman would say "personal identity is neither personal nor identity... let's discuss."

*Wikipedia cannot guarantee the neutrality of this article so best of luck.


shouldn't we all?

You see it posted in public washrooms that But shouldn't we all? I remember seeing a Candid Camera episode when I was younger. The gag was this: Man puts his hands under the automatic sink. The sink beside him goes on instead. Man looks confused and moves hands to that sink. That sink then turns off and another one turns on. Man repeats cycle until frustrated and leaves with dirty hands. Man laughs when he's told to "smile, you're on candid camera!" The host said it took over 8 hours of shooting to get enough for the show as many men didn't even attempt to wash their hands! I was shocked but have since discovered that this is not an uncommon practice. Apparently some men don't feel that urinating requires a follow-up soap fiesta. I become a major germaphobe in public restrooms. I flush with my foot, hover over the toilet seat, and try to not touch a thing after I wash my hands. At home I have to shut the toilet lid and make sure my toothbrush is in a drawer. Call me crazy, but I just don't want fecal matter all over it. Don't believe me? Check this link.

People of the world, don't just think staff must wash their hands, think ALL must wash their hands. Maybe then public bathrooms can become less frightening. Well, a totally touchless experience would also help!

(Just when my blog starts to get all serious, I get involved in potty talk and overshares)


men are from mars and who cares about women?

Since discovering blogging I've lurked on quite a few feminist sites. Typically I use my blog for nonsense. However, there have been several no-nonsense things on my mind, one of which is my complete annoyance with home product advertising. In the USA approximately 60% of women are in the workforce, only 14% less than men (making about 76 cents on a man's dollar). Yet, how often do we see commercials with a man enjoying a new mop or discovering the convenience of a flushable toilet scrubber? One of the most offensive ads I saw was this revolutionary vacuum that was quiet and easy to use. The husband and child slept on the couch while the wife vacuumed. The perfect picture to showcase the silence of the machine. When this dutiful wife finished her "chores" she was able to meet the rest of her family who were already enjoying themselves at the beach. It would be refreshing to see commercials featuring men, and not the inept stereotypes, doing housework.

But the topic I wish to discuss is John Gray's so-called self help book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". This book has been a thorn in my side for years. I hear people recommending it, blogs espousing its "greatness" and hear it thrown around in common vernacular. Pop psychology can be entertaining even for a budding therapist. I've been known to tell people that I'm a Red-Yellow and my mantra last year was "he's just not that into you." However, Mr. Gray's book perpetuates gender stereotypes, promotes power differentials, has no empirical basis, and absolutely infuriates me. I read an article in my master's program and was able to locate the article online. It takes 15 minutes of your time but is well worth it. Gray's book was analyzed by three women, yes women, but the book speaks for itself.

The authors of the article note that Gray "paints a picture in which women have high needs (even desperation) to communicate with male partners who would prefer to talk very little or not at all. Men communicate with coworkers and women they are dating because these conversations are goal driven." Gray also paints women as good listeners, but men as insensitive and incompetent listeners. Gray's book gives disproportionate amounts of advice to women compared to men. To ensure women really understand how to support their partners, Gray takes the time to dispense advice over two pages. However, he feels men only need two short paragraphs to fully understand how to support the women in their lives.

Zimmerman et al., go on to say that " Gray's basic thesis-that men and women are instinctively different in all areas of life-and his recommendations for dealing with these differences serve to reinforce and encourage power differentials between men and women, thereby eroding the possibility of deep friendship and sustained intimacy in their relationships. ... [T]his position is counter to a growing body of research that underscores the importance of shared power for achieving an intimate and effective relationship (e.g., Gottman & Silver, 1999; Rabin, 1996; Steil, 1997)." Gottman, one of the researchers quoted, is an eminent researcher in Marriage and Family Therapy, recently featured in the fascinating book, Blink. He was also the first theorist I was introduced to in my studies.

The authors conclude that "Gray (1992, 1994) describes women as plagued by problems, overwhelmed with negative emotions, desperate for conversation and emotional connection, inefficient, emotionally unstable, illogical, insecure, and passive. Gray's (1992, 1994) materials also portray men in a negative light... as insensitive and emotionally inept... manipulative and primarily motivated by self-interest."

This has been a New York bestseller and is touted as "the classic guide to understanding the opposite sex." To me, it's the classic guide to perpetuating gender stereotypes. It promotes women to be passive and to put men's needs above their own, while giving little credence to men's sensitivity and motives. The book spends disproportionate amounts of time devoted to understanding men, although men are apparently simpler beings. As tempting as it is to use several puns to include our favourite planet, Uranus, I'll refrain. I believe that men and women are from earth, and this book should be sent to outerspace never to return.


random observations on the drive home

It's been one of those weeks where I've thought about a lot of things, but have had no desire to formulate them in to a post. I was fairly brain-drained from work today, as a lot of unexpected things came up... one of which was fairly upsetting to me. I'm understanding more and more that life as a therapist can be very rewarding but can be very draining. On the drive home I just zoned out (in the safest way possible of course), and just did some people watching via the car. This is what I saw:

First to catch my eye: A car that had "re-married" written on the rear windshield. I found it very odd, and concluded that it must be a joke. The two people in the car looked rather young, and because I like to be right, I am going to assume they were "just married" and someone thought it would be quite amusing to put "re" instead of "just." I guess I missed the funny memo.

Second to get a stare: An old woman who was barely able to see over the steering wheel. This one easily caught me because she had a tendency to drift in to my lane, and almost smacked in to a pedestrian. I'm sure she is a lovely woman, and a faint smile crept across my lips when I saw the slight pink tinge of her hair. But I also felt like an ageist when I thought "they really shouldn't let old people drive." I'm sure she mutters "they really shouldn't let young kids drive" as I scooted in front of her.

Third to get a second thought: The greasy, Little Caesar's joint on the turn to go home. I almost thought about turning around to get a five buck pizza but knew that I'd bite in to it and regret it. It was an impulse thought due to my exhaustion. I am feeling rather hungry now, but I think some cereal will do the trick.

And my last coherent thought: Seeing the huge piles of snow and laughing to myself about getting stuck in the driveway yesterday. I'm house sitting for friends, and when I opened the garage I could not believe how much snow there was on the ground. Mistaking my Canadian car to be tough enough to take it, I managed to get stuck. A kind neighbour helped dig me out so I could get off to work. As I got closer in to the city, I noticed the huge difference in the amount of snow on the ground. There was at least a 5 inch difference in a matter of miles. My boss must have thought i was totally crazy when I called to say I might not get to work as I couldn't get off the driveway. I was almost excited at that thought of staying in and drinking Ovaltine, until I remembered that snow days for work just means more catching up. I loved snow days as a kid. And also, I discovered that the Ovaltine here doesn't taste as good as back home (hint to those that might love me enough to send me some).


where you sit

I had one of those "do you see the faces or the vase" moments on Friday night. I went to dinner with a friend, and my seat faced the door. As we were talking I noticed a lovey-dovey couple at the door. She was nestled in to his neck and his arms were draped around her waist. I found the display quite amusing and had my friend turn around to check it out. She did a quick glance over her shoulder and we shared a good laugh. I've never quite understood why some couples find it difficult to avoid pawing each other in public. About 10 minutes later, my friend interjected "So first we have the touchy couple, now we have the awkward first date couple. They are sitting behind you." I glanced over my shoulder to notice that it was the same couple I had pointed out earlier. It took some time to convince my friend that they were indeed the same two people, as the scenes were so dissimilar. Once seated, they had little to say to one another. Since my back was to them, my friend relayed all that she saw. It was noted that there was little communication and a general sense of unease.

We pegged them the "physical couple." You know those couples... cerebral attraction does not appear to be the main selling point of the relationship. When they're not pawing each other, they have little to talk about. Perhaps I'm jumping the gun, I mean, they may be the kind of people that are quiet to begin with. All I know is that I would rather be in a relationship that is amusing, full of conversation, and intellectually stimulating. Of course, kissing doesn't hurt! (Caveat: not in public)


tag... you're it

I've come across a new thing on the blogosphere... It's called "tagging." Much like those mass emails you get, other bloggers tag you and then you tag others. Well, my time has come and I've been tagged by tr1c14 from Woman in Comfy Shoes. I'm supposed to share five weird things about me. I think we inherently think all our quirks are normal, so it would almost make more sense for friends and family to write this (although I'm sure they won't hold back in the comment section).

1. I despise the word panties (see post from a few days ago if you haven't already read it)
2. In my early twenties, my sister and I were sitting together in church and she noticed that my third toe on each foot was a different length. I had never noticed.
3. Not that being religious is weird, but people are often surprised to find out I attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you know... the Mormons). I think that stems more from stereotypes of how we are perceived to be.
4. I pretty much like all food, but I have yet to enjoy olives. I try year after year thinking my tastes will have become refined with age but they still taste icky.
5. This one is going to receive a lot of backlash, but our family had our dead dog in our freezer for a few months. Yes, it was crazy-making but you couldn't see him. I believe he was in a box. We had the intent of burying him when the ground thawed but in the end we just took Jiggs back to the vet to cremate him. Ha ha ha... despite that story, we Kelly's are quite normal. Well, unless you come for Sunday dinners.

So now I have to tag five people:
1. David at Mr. Pulsipher Goes to Washington because he has sent me several of those email things.
2. Lou at Goose Girl because I don't know her that well.
3. Elisabeth at Lisbeth's Fruit Basket for the same reasons I tagged Lou.
4. Danielle at Ms Kaz just to see if she'll ever post something new.
5. Ruby G at Sherpa's Wonderin's to get her back for making me wait to see who I matched up to on the celebrity match-up game.

*I thought it would be appropriate to add a weird picture of me with this post. I was pretty impressed with how big I was able to get my hair this past summer for a "trailer trash", err, manufactured home refuse party.


politics and such

(Note: If you don't link to all the articles, please at least link to the GEM one).
I grew up in a very politically involved family. My dad was often involved in provincial campaigning for various Progressive Conservative candidates. I remember fainting at one winning celebration after inhaling too many helium balloons. There wasn't much to entertain ourselves with and so we made do with what had. Let me begin with a brief synopsis of the PC party for those unfamiliar readers. Back then, the PC party was just right of centre, then an ultra conservative group broke off and formed the Reform party which became the Alliance party. This new party was more akin to the Republicans of today. So in Canada we had the New Democrats, the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives and the Alliance. The Alliance freaked out a lot people in the East and a few of us in the West. After many years of vote splitting between the PC's and the Alliance, they merged again in to one party... the Conservative Party of Canada. Unfortunately, a lot of the nutty Alliance members were still in play. So this left several disillusioned Kelly voters. Politics became less discussed, unless it was a heated debate about gun control or gay marriage. I have felt partyless for many years in Canada. I've heard all the pros of being fiscally responsible but deep down I'm a bleeding heart liberal (not to be confused with the Liberal party). With the topple of the minority Liberal government, Canadians now face another election in less than two years.

Liberals have been plagued by the sponsorship scandal. Conservatives still have too many ultra right-wingers, and the NDP are really the pipe dreamers of the group. I suppose the Natural Law Party might be a good alternative. I'm all for federal spending on the research of yogic flying... ha ha ha.

Anyway, I have felt rather out of the loop since being down in the USA, but my brother sent me this gem about a Liberal ad campaign. The Liberals had to know that someone would do the research on these "average Canadians." But that's just it... the average Canadian isn't going to find out about it, and may actually believe that these were random people on the street. I cannot stand campaign ads. I abhor the weak attack ads that are far too common in American politics. Kim Campbell's group made the mistake of running an attack ad in the 1993 elections, which was developed by an American company. Although it is argued that this ad may have helped or that such ads do help in campaigning, I think many people found it offensive... and so they should. It was pulled after two days so what does that say? I've become cynical towards politicians. Political platforms have become a forum for empty promises. Political decisions are often swayed by lobby groups with the most money or in Canada, decisions are made to keep Ontario and Quebec happy because they hold the votes.

It makes me want to throw my hands up and say "to hell with it." And yet, thanks to my parents influence, I feel compelled to vote and exercise the right I've been given. My wish is that politicians would really listen to their constituents and be moral. Is this to much to ask?


sometimes my own behaviour baffles me

I'm sure we've all been amused by stupid warning or direction labels on products, such as "do not use while asleep" for curling irons. I also like the large warning tag on my blow dryer that says "do not put in water." I wonder if some person thought a genius way to save time was to blow dry his/her hair while finishing up in the bath... only to find out how much electricity likes water. I wish Phil Connors would tell us what it was like to die that way.

You would think that with all my years of showering, I would have come to the realization that reading the directions on shampoo and conditioners is useless. The typical instructions are "lather well, rinse, and repeat if necessary." You might get the occasional "leave in for 60 seconds" on your conditioner but I'm usually soaping up during hair conditioning so regardless of what the bottle says, I do it anyway. And yet, each time I try a new brand or even my typical Redken brand (my one materialistic weakness is hair products), I read the stupid label. Sometimes I read the label out of boredom and sometimes I think there might be some new, incredible instruction, but mostly I think I have this compulsion that I just have to read it. Compulsions are strange things.


what's in a word?

I apologize for my tardy posts as of late. "Oh six" started off with a bang as I had good friend's in town for a visit. Thus, all of my spare time was spent soaking up their company. On Thursday night, my friend's and I ate at the fine establishment of International House of Pancakes (note sarcasm). Lisa was determined to have fruit and whip cream on pancakes, and since we had Cafe Rio for several days, I was more than happy to acquiesce. It was also close to midnight so it felt like it was time for breakfast.

On our way out the door, Sarah said "did you notice that server's name? It was spelled N-I-C. Do you know what that means in French?" When neither of us knew, she gave us a hint that it was equivalent to the worst word in English... but worse. However, Sarah and I had a difference of opinion over the worst word. To keep my blog clean, I will let you use your imagination on what two words we had a difference of opinion on, but needless to say she was thinking of a swear word and I was thinking of a dirty word. So in the car I made my list of worst words. It went a little like this "Vulgar word, Curse word, then Panties." The third word makes my skin crawl. I have no understanding as to why but it just does. I cringe when my sister says to her daughter to put her panties on. I shudder when my friend's say it to me to amuse themselves. I just about faint when I say it myself... well, I'm being dramatic, but I really hate it. I had a friend who said the word "moist" was his kryptonite.

My friends and I also discussed words that we like to say. I wish I could remember Sarah's word but it was something that surprised me. At the time I couldn't think of a word, but after some thought I realize I do enjoy saying "lickety-split" and my current favourite is "pish", as in "pish posh" or "oh pish." I like how they roll off my tongue. It is curious to me that rather benign words can take on a life of their own for people. So now I'd like to know what words people enjoy and what words they can't stand. Please note that there is no need to say vulgar or rude words. I'm talking about the panties and moist's of the world.

Ready, set, go...


tides of change

It's a new year, and so time for a new face for my blog. I'm not sure how long this new template will stay, but I was in need of a change. As for change in my life, we'll see. I've always found the idea of a "New Year Resolution" interesting, probably because I've rarely made specific resolutions on New Year's. What is the pull of January 1 that pushes people to reevaluate their life? Perhaps the long standing tradition has become ingrained in our genetic profiles. Ha!

Typically the new year has been an opportunity for me to reflect and evaluate my life. A new outlook that I am working on and will continue to work on in two thousand and six is to focus only on those things in my life that I can control and let go of the things that I can't. I can be a better daughter, sister, co-worker, friend, individual. I can be more patient, more giving, kinder. I can't make my life perfect and I can't control the actions of others. People will inevitably let me down, I will let myself down. I will likely spend a few more Friday nights alone, reading a book, browsing the internet or watching a movie rather than being on a wildly romantic date. And yet, I feel oddly fulfilled. Sure there are moments of loneliness and insecurities, but I suspect every person, whether they are married, single, childless, or child-a-plenty, have times when they feel alone in the world and wonder why anyone might love them. It is a beautiful thing when you begin to appreciate and love yourself. This is a work in progress, one that has begun through both the tragic and comic life experiences and those precious people that have been placed in my life. And it feels good...

If I were to make one resolution this year it will be that I won't wait till December 31, 2006 to make new goals in my life. I hope to continue my long standing tradition of making goals throughout each year. And like years past, I will likely succeed in some and fail in others. I hope 2006 will be good to those I love and those I don't.

Happy New Year