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so as it turns out, t-bone and i don’t ever learn. as you may or may not recall, we once got lost and almost died during the buntzen lake floating bridge disaster of easter weekend 2008. well, funny story, we totally got lost a couple of days ago in the equally sucky-ass pouring rain debacle of random running day in the university endowment lands. i know what your thinking: running, rain, endowment lands? when did you become such a vancouver douche? well, let me tell ya. it all begins with one relatively bad idea (which i am going to, of course, attribute to t-bone – [sidenote: t-bone selected his own pseudonym. not that it doesn’t rock, i am just trying to establish a long line of, shall we say, “interesting” decision-making] but i digress…). the relatively bad idea is “getting into shape” through the ridiculous practice of getting your heart-rate above couch-surfing. and so, the badness begins.

t-bone just turned 30 and i made him a present cake. for those unaware of my genius, i will just say that a present cake is a cake made out of presents. bet you wish you’d thought of that. anyhoo – in this present cake there was a board-game, a camera, a tonne of candy and chocolate goodness, and a book. this book is entitled the beginning running handbook and was recommended by friends. basically it is a 13-week program that teaches you how to run. and, as it turns out, running isn’t actually that bad (so says the person who likes walking because it is basically sweat-free exercise-lite). so we are on the second week and in order to fit running three times a week we sometimes have to be creative about when and where we run because our schedules don’t always match up. this is how it came to be that we were running, in the pouring rain, in the forest at roughly 7pm on a monday night.

the actual run, despite being 44 minutes (alternating running and walking), went okay. as usual, i almost barfed about midway through and at any and every uphill section. but that isn’t out of the ordinary. neither is the situation we found ourselves in on the way back. basically we were lost. which wasn’t a big deal. at first. so it has just begun to pour again and we realize that the terrain looks familiar. we had walked in a circle on the way out of the woods. curious. so, we consult the map, realize that we are unaware of what direction we are actually going in, and then randomly choose a direction. upon reaching that exact same point of familiar terrain a little while later, we realized that we were f*cked. while i am not a panicky person, i once again realized that we might die out there, in the gentrified woods of the endowment lands, and no one would hear our screams. plus, we were literally soaked, having not brought raincoats to our near-death experience. so, okay, i’ll admit. i panicked a little.

so roughly two hours after we entered the woods for a 44 minute hike, we made it out alive. so again, i know what you are thinking: 1) you’re idiots. which i can accept. 2) get a f*ckin’ compass, you idiots. k, but don’t be so harsh. 3) f*ckin’ die out there, see if i care. now that’s just mean. in any case, i will update you as to either how stupid we continue to be with regard to our health and safety (or you will see us on the news huddled together in a back alley after a run gone wrong that ends in a police/fireperson rescue scenario) or when we get a compass. also, if anyone has developed the microchip locational devices that are used for lost pets for people, just let us know. someone should know where we are at all times. seriously.

alrighty. so back to the problem at hand. you see, i have this dissertation thingy to write. and it’s a lotta words. lemmie tell ya. what i have accomplished so far (while not entirely true) feels like what my blog post pic illustrates. a whole lotta nuttin’. i mean sure. it is kinda like writing the great american (canadian?) novel. it’s big. it has to start somewhere. and it feels like it is never gonna end. i don’t want this to be a bitch and moan session – oh pobre me – i have the entire summer to write a draft of a dissertation that like, four people total, will probably end up reading. i know, i know. woe is me. rather, i would like to either shame myself into it (a particular strategy that i excel at) or at least come up with a productive means of, you know, doing something, um, productive. as a side note, last time i visited the dentist, i asked the dental hygienist to shame me into flossing more (even though she didn’t notice that i floss, um, sporadically – and i’ll try to stop saying um now) and she thought that was 1) self destructive in some way and 2) kinky. i have since changed dentists. i mean, if you can’t productively shame me into action, what good are you?

so i have this weird thing that i know i’ll finish, and i know i’ll finish in good time, but i need to fret about it. i need to be all like, “damn, i’m procrastinating, isn’t that bad?” or “i have a new deadline, poor me, huh?” maybe it is the exorbitant attention i need, OR maybe it is part of my process. this is a conclusion i came to perhaps a couple of years ago (or like, yesterday) and i have tried to go with the flow of it instead of resist it. a fellow blogger, author and artist recently remarked in her facebook status that faith means more than effort (you know who you are). i guess this is the resounding idea behind my “process” idea. i fret. i worry. but i always have faith that what must get done will get done. and it does. faith instead of effort. i should get it tattooed. another one of my dear sweet friends, J., frets for fun i’m sure. and it makes her a functional adult and academic. perhaps fretting makes us feel important. functional. or dysfunctionally productive. or somethin’.

so back to shame. i actually think shame operates as a motivator for me. doesn’t anyone else feel this way? i mean, you can be shamed by someone and their judgement can motivate or it can squash. which sounds better to you? perhaps it is highly dysfunctional, but i think the best kind of shame is personal shame. it is a motivator, a sidekick, a best friend. or maybe just mine. whatevs. my point is, that everyone’s process is unique, possibly dysfunctional, and ultimately productive, right? we all get stuff done. i mean obviously, we should all be less judgmental, to others and ourselves, but don’t we all live in a world that compels us to live up to the expectations of others in order to avoid their disappointment and our inevitable shame? perhaps it is just a matter of not taking responsibility of oneself. i mean, i have to assume that my supervisor cares about deadlines set, or dissertations written, otherwise why would i produce? i have to create a spiral of expectation and shame. otherwise nothing matters – right? i’m not a masochist okay? i’m just justifying why i am not doing stuff, why that is okay, and why it will all work out in the end. in an obviously tongue-in-cheek, non-creepy way. right? gulp.

as for productivity, here are some simple solutions to take my mind off actually doing work.

1) obviously, faith, not effort. perhaps my dissertation will be written on faith alone. does that mean i can take a vacation?

2) personal shame is the answer to all life’s roadblocks.

3) watch oprah when experiencing writer’s block.

4) assume my supervisor has more investment than i do in actually getting things done. that way, they will. come hell or highwater.

5) go outside and drink chai lattes (my new ingestive of choice) for inspiration.

6) instead of doing research, make phonecalls. long-distance ones to people you haven’t spoken to in a long time in order to maximize the call length and time-wastage.

7) make lists on your blog that mean nothing. to anybody. including yourself.

8) enjoy facebook’s new chat system.

9) consider ways to make my life more eco-friendly in acknowledgment of earth day. and/or get irritated by sandra bullock schlepping her soy-based candles after following #3 above.

10) consider other career opportunities that do not require a completed phd. suggestions?

any others to add? also, feel free to shame me now that i’ve fired my dental hygienist. and don’t go easy on me as this could happen to you.

so i changed my blog title. don’t judge. i am allowed to be indecisive. at least in the blogosphere. (blogosphere – what does that even mean? don’t think too much about it, says the new media studies student. just. don’t). indecision does not come easy to me. and that’s not something i’m proud of. cause for years i lived in a world (a sphere perhaps?) of black and white. and that’s tough lemmie tell ya. tough.

gynormous life decisions have always come relatively easy to me, e.g., while i faltered for a week during christmas break during my first year of university, desperately wanting to drop out and become either a chef or a florist (much to my parent’s chagrin and resounding “nos”), by the new year i knew i was going to be a phd student one day. and well. here we are. i would like to say it’s the little things that get me and while that may be true, it is really the small to medium decisions that boggle me. such as: where should i eat for dinner instead of making dinner? should i like camping? how many drinks are too many? and, my personal favourite – should i continue to think about the health of my arteries or should i just give in and eat french fries all. the. time.? so far, arteries are winning. but i’m not happy about it.

i made a decision to write a short blog entry – something i can’t seem to accomplish due to insufficient short-range wit and the fact that this blog may or may not be turning me into an even more rampant egomaniacal attention whore (could you talk more about yerself much?). i don’t seem to be sticking to that decision. but maybe that is just it. as long as i have the big life decisions covered i can completely live a life devoid of simple decision-making. some decisions are easy: should i go on a reality t.v. show? no. would i like to? yes. do i like summer? yes. would i like it to be summer all the time. maybe also yes.

i have recently been thinking a lot about having one’s own “take” on everything. which is essentially like having a position – perhaps deciding on an opinion – and then deciding to act upon that decision. my take. your take. everybody has a take. that is what makes people seem so annoying sometimes – your takes don’t add up or they don’t agree with your take. i also think decision-making is about confidence – the confidence to stand behind your take even though everyone else thinks it is spastically uninformed. in my youth – the heady days of “should i be a chef or a florist” – my take was the law. there were no other takes. my take ruled. that was what living in a world of black and white was like. i didn’t see shades of gray. as i get older – and with a recent birthday under my belt – i realize that life is full of shades of gray. if we can cobble together a take, than that’s something. enough perhaps. existing in academia teaches me this anew every. single. day. and this is not a bad thing. it is perhaps instead an altered mode of being.

so i made a decision to change the name of my blog. and i may or may not stick with it.

so there.

k – i’m not good at taking pictures. actually, i’m really, really bad. so as desperately as i want a flickr site, i don’t have one because a) i take horrible pictures that no one wants to look at, and b) our camera is broken and i don’t know how to use it anyway. anyhoo – i was over at sugar sweet, one of my new favourite blogs, and she did this cool flickr meme thingy that i am going to steal because it looked super fun. also, this being the eve of my day of birth, it seems like a fun way to take weird stock of your life, and in pictures no less, which is fun (and elusive to me, a picture-taking spaz). so theses are the rules of the flickr meme:

1. go to http://www.flickr.com
2. type in your answer to the question in the “search” box
3. use only the first page
4. copy the html and paste for the answer

here goes! (please note: i did not answer questions that appear on sugar sweet’s that i thought were dumb, e.g., my favourite disney princess). i may or may not have added others. i can do whatever i want cause i am the birthday girl).

1. what is your first name?

2. what is your favourite food?

3. what is your favourite colour?

4. who is your celebrity crush?

5. what is your favourite sunday activity

6. favourite drink? (for me, a tie)

and

7. dream vacation?

8. favourite dessert?

9. what do you want to be when you grow up?

10. what do you dream about?

okay – that was stupid fun. do it! i feel inspired to not only take better pictures but also to regularly take stock of the beauty that my life holds. and is.

(also, i thought i was cheating cause i thought you had to use the first picture and i was choosing from the whole of the first page. my post-catholic schoolgirl guilt was wasted cause that is part of the rules – you can choose any from the first page. jeesh.)

i thought it might be time for another rousing rendition of my mediocrity at crafting and maintaining this beautiful blog. since this is my like, fortieth-ish post, i am now an expert on why my blog pales in comparison to those that people read religiously and comment on. some of this list may seem familiar while other aspects of suckage will be entirely new. as always, comments for improvement are welcomed but will resultantly make you unlikeable. just so you know. enjoy.

1. this blog continues to be about nothing. i have recently refurbished my “about me” and “interests” sections. it made me feel better despite the fact that you didn’t notice. don’t pretend you did.

2. because this blog is about nothing, i will never be paid consultancy fees for anything. shitbags of hell.

3. t-bone has recently pointed out that i not only frequently have spelling errors, but that i always do. thanks for that tidbit.

4. i may or may not have mis-named my blog. i mean seriously, even i skip over blogs with titles like hate in them because i am trying to spare myself the entitled vitriol of others. what was i thinking? i hated my other blog. however, i am desperately in love with this one.

5. do people even blog in the summer? i mean, is this blog going to contribute to my pastiness? i really need a tan – like even a spray-on one. seriously.

6. i am even starting to think the minutiae of my life is interesting. is this a blog-induced state equivalent to navel-gazing in the social sciences (mainly anthropology – i mean, i’m not judging, i’m just saying…)?

7. i think all lists must contain 10 items.

8. all i want to blog about is big brother – till death do us part. hey – you know how i feel about being judged about my reality television choices. so stop it. now.

9. i have ceased and desisted sharing my blog. that can’t be good. and if i do i always tell people that they won’t want to read it. how is that for a sales pitch?

10. i can’t seem to talk about anything related to my dissertation which is both a positive and a negative thing. i mean, this blog is about procrastination, right? suggested to me by the one and only dr. beth, who has in fact completed a dissertation, hence the dr. appellation. almost dr. jacks can’t even talk about online dating much less have a blog about it. poor almost dr. jacks. is this what i should rename my blog? methinks i am on to something.

okay, so what has this installment of bad bloggerness taught all of us? not much. but it does suggest that i maybe should change the name of my blog and perhaps share it will others with the same kind of resounding endorsement i give to referrals to my hairdresser or for people to watch flight of the conchords. seriously. watch it. its friggin’ awesome folks.

vote now if you think i should change my blog title to “almost dr. jacks changes the world” or some other fabulous suggestion you wonderful people have.

11. i change my blog so often, people can’t even find it, let alone figure out what it is about (just a preview of bag blogger installment #6).

so roughly more than a half a year ago i moved to east van. where the hip-est of hipsters live. you can live on main street (which is where hipsters now go to procreate) or you can live on cambie where it was once uber hipster-y to dwell. but the real deal on hipster-living is in east van baby, where commercial drive separates the hipster from the poser. for those who don’t live in vancouver, this distinctions between the hipster-ness of neighbourhoods is lost on you. but for those who live in the “couve” (an appellation given by a visiting ontarian friend who would not cease and desist calling it that no matter how much i insisted that it sounded like a euphemism for vajayjays), neighbourhoods really mean something. because the thing is, in vancouver, you pick a neighbourhood and then you live and die by its friggin’ greatness. wherever the individual vancouverite lives, it is the neighbourhood against which ALL other neighbourhoods pale in comparison. maybe this works similarly in other cities that insist on having way to many distinct and unique hoods. or maybe it is just because vancouverites have to be special no matter what form that specialness takes be it from their raw food diets, their insistence on climbing mountains for fun, or taking their equally unique and special dogs EVERYWHERE with them. i dunno. you decide.

so i moved from the westside to the eastside which is equivalent, to some, to moving from the beaches neighbourhood in toronto to scarborough (i would say the bad part of scarborough, but is there a good part? man, i’m a jerk). because the downtown eastside (dtes) is infamously known across canada as the WORST neighbourhood in canada, the eastside generally gets a bad rap, despite the vibrant community life that characterizes east van generally. i sympathize with the people that are fearful of the eastside because the dtes is perhaps the most unthinkable neighbourhood one could imagine – not because of crime or violence (despite widely held beliefs) but because of extreme grinding poverty and widespread addiction and mental illness – two things that invariably land people on the streets. when you live in pristine largely white and shockingly upwardly mobile neighbourhoods like kits and kerrisdale, the eastside begins about at granville street and characterizes everything thenceforth until you hit burnaby. so yeah, living on the eastside (no the dtes) means something very different, but perhaps more “real,” than the tony neighbourhoods that make vancouver so desirable. but what is weird is that vancouver is a young city and so the neighbourhoods, like kitsilano for example, used to be a hippie enclave where you could live a beach bum kind of existence – not too different from the commercial drive neighbourhood of now where hippies gather to exchange patchouli tips and advice about how to keep dreds bug-free. so this brings me full circle back to hipsters – those pioneeering souls who are on the forefront of gentrification – the few, the brave, the musically-obsessed and fashionably-conscienced.

so when i was in cincinnati i roomed with an extremely articulate and intelligent woman who just happened to be ridiculously hilarious. during said stay, she made a joke about hipsters and then abruptly stopped laughing, fearing she had insulted me, whose questionable hipster-like status had not be fully articulated nor denied. i was like, “no dude, that was funny. i’m not a hipster. i mean i don’t think i am. oh my god – am i?” i then evaluated the evidence: 1) we have recently purchased property in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. level of hipster-ness: HIGH. 2) i shop in little consignment stores and revel in the resultant questioning about where i got that shirt or those boots. level of hipster-ness: MEDIUM. 3) i recently cut my hair. i now have bangs. level of hipster-ness: OFF THE CHARTS. i had to face a scary truth. i might be a hipster. where did i go wrong?

after consulting the hipster handbook however, i was relieved to find out that while i might approximate certain hipster characteristics, i am not in fact a hipster. this is largely because i don’t ride a bike, i have never even heard of the word “deck” (except as a wooden object that surrounds pools), and i do not have less than 2% body fat. also, i own and love my television, which in hipsterworld is equivalent to worshiping the devil. so there you have it. i’m not a hipster despite evidence to the contrary. so suck it.

one final note, while i may not be a hipster, i do believe that my wardrobe is misrecognized in my new neighbourhood as something i like to call “streetworker chic.” however, i think the bangs are helping to remedy that. sweetass.

so, i went to cincinnati (previously called porkopolis, swears). and it didn’t suck. like. at. all. in fact, it was pretty friggin’ fabulous. and leonard nimoy had a little bit to do with it. i know, wtf is that all about? but let me ‘splain.

i went to the annual north central sociological association’s conference between March 27 and 30. it encompassed a large swath of sociological topics but i was presenting on a fat studies panel. i presented a paper about fat phobia and authenticity in online dating. it was cool.

let me just say that this was my first foray into the fat studies world and hot damn, it was a good one. i have come to realize recently, cause apparently i am a little daft, that conferences are about meeting fabulous people and getting amazing ideas rather than about the “presenting” itself. however, my presentation went well – especially after my last non-academic conferencing debacle (please see here for more information on that little ditty). so after spending seven hours at chicago’s o’hare due to weather and wiring difficulties, i landed in cincinnati (and got into a cab with a brand new driver that didn’t even know which state we were in. after moving to the front seat, typing things for him into his cheap-ass gps, and still getting lost down a closed-off unlit road in the middle of an electrical storm, i ask him to take me back to the airport. which he did promptly after the third time i yelled it at him. up until that point he was assuring me that he knew where he was going. um, no ya don’t dude. please stop taking my life in your hands).

cincinnati, aka porkopolis, did not actually suck – i mean the downtown was nice, had trendy delicious places to eat, and i even got an up-close-and-personal fireworks show right outside my hotel window due to some kind of marathon happening on the day that i left. but wait, i haven’t gotten to nimoy yet. but i’m gettin’ there. so after some not so spectacular presentations, except one ethnographic methodological paper about “gravers,” that is, those people who gather at the graves of famous dead people as ritualistic secularized pseudo-religious activity, i finally stumbled upon the critical crew, on day two, at my panel. these people were wicked cool and i just happened to be rooming with one of them as well – a highly articulate, inspiring, and inspired woman of only 22. i wish i had been all of those things at 22. at 22 i was tanning too much, drinking too much, going to the gym too much, and dyeing my hair too much. ah, to return to the heady days of painfully “healthy” eating, overtanning, and binge-drinking. wait – that is still my life sans the healthy eating and overtanning. forget it. i don’t wanna talk about my 20s anymore.

so speaking of food and weight (how is that for a terribly disjointed segue?), i must say that i was absolutely thrilled and enlightened by what i learned about fat studies and the people that constitute it at the conference. SUCH interesting people with a refreshing view on life who ingeniously meld my interests in sexuality, gender, various “technologies,” and my new obsession with fat. basically, i have a big fat studies crush and i’m makin’ no apologies.

alright. so leonard nimoy. i am not going to tell you about how when i was a teenager i had a life-sized poster of him on the back of my bedroom door, or about how i had a star trek insignia pin that i actually wore. no, this post is not about my teenage crush on pointy-eared-blue-eye-shadow-wearing leonard nimoy, okay? it is about how he has recently completed a photography book of nude fat women – a sample of which graces the top of this post. had i heard about nimoy’s project – entitled the full body project – and his explanations of his motivations for it (found here in his artist’s statement) – i would have been surprised and pleased, and no doubt, i still am. this is a man who is channeling his creative energy into chronicling the lives of women in the fat liberation movement and to convey the respect these women feel for themselves to others. what i learned at the conference from my fellow panelist, and i think is profoundly interesting to note, is that his decision to capture the images of fat naked women positioned him as a “fat admirer” or “chubby chaser” when he was interviewed by the media. nimoy took a staunch position against taking these pictures as part of a possible sexual “fetish” which disheartened me at first. however, thinking about it further, i have reckoned that what is f*cked up is not his disavowal of the sexual “fetishization” of fat women by saying that he thinks these women are beautiful and worthy of immortalization through film, but that the interviewers were trying to construct what he is doing as “abnormal.” that is, unless of course he is “abnormal” by wanting to get with that in which case it’s normal. messed, eh?

anyhoo – i encourage you to look at nimoy’s project and let me know what you think. i’m going to go back to daydreaming about porkopolis and my reinvigorated fat studies crush.

okay, so here is my attempt at playing catch-up. i’ve been busy, okay. lay off. i have to go all the way back to easter cause it is my favourite holiday, after xmas and halloween (since i was born on a good friday and apparently that means, in folklore no one knows nor believes, i will be a millionaire by my 39th birthday. sweetass), so i have to prioritize and correctly and chronologically relay the minutiae of my everyday life. so here’s a little ditty about me almost dying in the woods. it’ll be good times. swears.

so i like to hike. so what? it doesn’t make me “outdoorsy.” or “one with nature.” it keeps me active and able to stuff large quantities in my pie-hole without consecutive coronaries or other suchlike adverse effects. plus, it allows for one to still be somewhat lazy but give the appearance of activity (that is, as opposed to running which i disagree with as a practice akin to torture). so anyhoo – i’m hiking – at buntzen lake to be exact which is a pretty place. with a lake. and a trail. perhaps my favourite hiking place of. all. time. ‘cept that i almost died there. at easter. like i said.

so the dying part comes in when me and my loved one decide to be troopers and pass our usual turnaround point which is somewhere around a dock and a little suspension bridge that no one EVER goes further than because it requires you to circumnavigate the entire lake. which ends up being about 10km. which is well past jacks’ comfort-zone for exercise-that-approximates-exercise-without-being-too-exercise-y. first, beyond the cute little suspension bridge, there was a significant uphill section. i am adamantly and vehemently opposed to ANY kind of uphill. uphill = the devil. second, we think we are lost when we reach a gravel road which we decide to follow (we are lost at this point but in serious denial). third, we are running out of trail mix (which i despise but was nonetheless filling my previously-mentioned pie-hole with). t-bone (aka loved one), locates us on his phone which has gps and we are somewhere between death and the end of the trail. when i realize i am starving i begin to consider eating all of the trailmix cause i figure we might not survive until the morning. apparently i thought t-bone could eat me once the trailmix was gone and i inevitably perished (due to lack of trailmix and the couple of hours i had been without food. this no food for like two hours and death is an assumption i make pretty regularly).

fourth and finally, the floating bridge that promised to be our saving grace because it was to take us directly to the parking lot (directly equalling in 1.5km) was blocked off and barricaded due to the fact that it was decrepit and “unstable” (and in the end, incomplete) or some such silliness. i say silliness because the barricade was instead telling us to go another 3km along the “safer” road route. see, silliness. more hiking? methinks no. okay so of course we chose the bridge. i mean, it was an alive-like situation out there (the movie version where ethan hawke eats everybody. or does he? i can’t remember if he finds it morally reprehensible or if he chows down. ah, cannibalism). the trailmix was almost gone, people. we had to take the bridge. so after jumping over the orange fencing and over the half-sunken portion of the floating bridge’s beginnings, we were well on our way.

i could tell you we made a good decision. i could tell you that this story doesn’t end with us in the water. but that would be lies. despite not falling in, we did make the brave decision to enter the freezing depths of the lake that is buntzen when the floating bridge prematurely ended roughly 20 feet from land. being brave lazy souls we rolled up our lululemon pants (an impulse buy/mistake made soon after moving to vancity), took off our shoes and socks, and waded into the thigh-high icy depths of oh-my-god-what-a-bad-decision-land. i think i almost had a panic attack and was shaking for about an hour afterward due to the shock and the adventure of it all.

and that, my blog friends, is how i survived the easter hike that almost killed me.