Not To Be Trusted With Knives

… as described via Tweets on a night that the Calgary Flames play the San Jose Sharks in a winner-take-all Game 7:

8:01 p.m.: The world’s largest flying insect is in my kitchen and it’s freaking me out!!!! HELP!!!

8:03 p.m.: Seriously, I can’t get to my tea ‘cuz the bug is over there

8:23 p.m.: Please San Jose, please win! If this giant bug kills me, I don’t want to die knowing the Flames made it to the next round of the playoffs.

8:30 p.m.: Techniques used for defending self against giant flying bug: swiping at it with hockey stick; throwing exams at it.

8:49 p.m.: Crisis averted. The monster has been captured & released outside my apartment. Please resume your regularly scheduled Calgary Flame hating

And in case you don’t believe it was huge, I took a picture. It was a monster!

{March 5, 2008}   Stress Hurts Your Brain

At work, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about addictions, trauma, violence, and mental health. And to be honest, it can be a really downer reading things like “Most violence against adult women is perpetrated by intimate partners” and “…past victimization increased the risk of a new rape incidence by a factor of seven and increased the risk of a new physical assault incidence by a factor of three,” and “…women who reported being raped in the preceding 12 month months averaged 2.9 rapes in the preceding 12 months…”1,2 all day long.

But the following sentence in a paper about the effects of stress on the brain that I was reading today made me smile:

Along with epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinepherine, glucocorticoids are essential for surviving acute physical stress (evading a predator, for example) but they may cause adverse effects when secretion is sustained such as when waiting to hear about a grant renewal.2, 3

Also making me smile in this paper were the use of the words: hippocampi (the plural of “hippocampus,” the structure in the brain that is involved in learning and memory) and Cushingoid (to describe people with Cushing’s syndrome, a disease in which individuals produce excessive amounts of glucocorticoids (a hormone we produce in response to stress).

Say them with me: Hippocampi.  Cushingoid.  Fun to say, right?

Oh yeah, and the moral of the story is stress hurts your brain.  So chill out already. =)
1All three of these quotations are from: Najavits, L., Weiss, R. D., & Shaw, S. (1997). The link between substance abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder in women. American Journal on Addictions, 6(4), 273-283.
2Emphasis added
3Sapolsky, R.M. (1996). Why stress is bad for your brain. Science, 273, 749-750.

{January 24, 2008}   I h8 being sick

Not that I imagine anyone actually likes being sick. But I really, really hate it. My bronchitis-related coughing and tiredness led me to call in sick both yesterday and today. I have just been too tired to actually be productive and I’m probably spreading germs to all my co-workers.1. And I really, really hate calling in sick.  Of the 9.5 months I worked in 2007, I only took one sick day and that was the day I got my wisdom teeth out – I scheduled my sick day for the least possible disruption!  I seem to have inherited my father’s “work ethic.2” My father, you see, is obsessed with perfect attendance. He’s been at his current job for ~14 years. And in that 14 years, he has never missed a day. Not. One. Single. Day. And he has never been late to work. Not once in 14 years. At his previous job, where he installed transmissions in Mack Trucks before the factory closed down, he could tell you each of the individual days he missed in the 20+ years he worked there. “The day your sister was born,” he would tell me, “And the day you were born. I took a day to go to your grandmother’s funeral and a day to go to your grandfather’s funeral. There was the time I had pneumonia. I took an afternoon off once to go to my good friend’s funeral.”  So I have this crazy idea that calling in sick means I’m bad.  I’m not dedicated to my work.  I’m weak.  Objectively, I know all this is ridiculous.  I know that going to work when I’m sick would only mean that I’m not resting, not getting better, dragging out the illness.  Plus, I’m wouldn’t even be all that productive if I were at work, because I’m so damn tired.  Not to mention potentially infecting everyone around me.  But my gut reaction is still to feel guilty about missing two whole days of work!

GAH!!!  There was just a spider crawling on my couch!!  Right fucking next to me!!  Here I was, innocently proofreading the first overlong paragraph of my blog posting and a big goddamn motherfucking spider comes crawling along, less than a foot from where I am sitting!  It’s like the motherfuckers *know.*  They *know* the terror they instill in me.  They smell my fear and they are evil.  Now I forget where I was even going with this blog posting.  Is this week over yet?

1And seeing as I work in a hospital, it’s not very kind of me to go there spreading my icky germs to people who really don’t need to be exposed to any more germs than they already are!
2Which I usually call “work ethic to the point of stupidity.” The man went to work with shingles, for god’s sake. Shingles! And he works in a factory on a very, very hot oven making brake parts, where you have to wear coveralls and it’s very, very, stupidly, ridiculously hot2
3I know this because I worked there too, for a summer3 during my undergrad.
4Longest four months of my life!

{January 3, 2008}   The Cake, the Bad and the Ugly.

How many times do I have to say this? SPIDERS DO NOT BELONG IN MY HOUSE!!!

This morning when I turned on the tap in my bathroom, I discovered one hella big motherfucking daddy long legs spider1 sitting directly under the spout, so that when the water turned on, the motherfucking big spider came crawling out over the top of the spout2! After much screaming and throwing things at it on my part, the monster got what it deserved – death and a watery grave in the sewage system of Vancouver. Motherfucker.

And speaking of scary, I’m going to see this horror movie tonight. Sneak preview. You know you are jealous. Admit it.

Also, there is cake at my work today. It’s one of my co-workers’ last day of work at our office today and, well, we use just about any excuse to have cake. There is truly a lot of cake in my life.

In summary: spiders bad, cake good. Cake with spiders in it – very, very bad.

1In keeping with my long-standing policy on refusing to look at pictures of spiders, I am not linking this to its Wikipedia page.
2Even just typing that out gives me the creeps!

Go to your hockey game and, when you get to the arena, discover that your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone is not in your jacket pocket. Look around your co-op car, but don’t find it, and tell yourself, “oh, I’m sure it fell out of my pocket when I had my jacket on the couch. It’s clearly just sitting on my couch.” Arrive home, 5 hours later and don’t find your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone sitting on the couch. In fact, don’t find it *anywhere* in your apartment. Use Skype to call it, expecting to hear your beloved ringtone on your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone, but don’t hear it. Keep Skyping it, and think you can vaguely hear it, but then decide you are just imagining it and feel the sinking realization that you may have lost your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone for good. Because it clearly is not in the apartment. Run back out to your co-op car, and search every inch of it, three times, but don’t find your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone. Your $550 beloved Palm Treo Smartphone that you definitely do not have enough money to replace. Try Skyping it and running outside to see if you can hear it ringing in your co-op car and swear that you could hear it, very faintly as you run outside and curse your low number of rings before the voicemail picks up. Find a friend who is awake at 12:30 am and Skype them, telling them they have to keep calling your cell phone until you find it. Realize at this point that you have now lost the key to your co-op car at some point during your frantic running around looking for your phone. Run outside, just to see if you can hear it coming from inside the car, even if you now have no key to get into said car. Mercifully, mercifully, hear your beloved ringtone on your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone, run to the car, but then realize that the sound is not coming from inside the car. Look around in the darkness, listening…. where is that beloved ringtone coming from? Realize in horror that it’s coming from across the road, where you had the car parked before you went to hockey, now some 5.5 hours hours ago. Find your beloved Palm Treo Smartphone sitting in a pile of wet leaves on the side of the road, where it must have been sitting for almost 6 hours! Where, mercifully, miraculously, inexplicably it was neither stolen nor run over2. Pick it up, caress it, tell it you are so, so sorry and you’ll never let it fall out of your pocket again.

Now face another half hour of searching for the co-op car key. Which it turns out you dropped on the front lawn, but this somehow requires you go over the lawn with a fine toothed comb like six times before it turns up. Finally, mercifully be able to return your co-op car at 1 a.m., face the walk home from dropping off the car knowing you still need a post-hockey shower and you have to get up at 6 a.m. *Sigh*.

I’m pretty sure this experience will increase my phone- and car key-losing paranoia, which was already at what I believed to be an unreasonable level, exponentially.

1Alternative titles for this blog posting include, “Also Not To Be Trusted With Cell Phones,” and “Truly the Dropper of All Things Valuable.”
2The one benefit of living in the sleepy area of the city, where all the elderly people live. No one is outside past 5 pm and so no one can hear your cell phone ringing and steal it. If I’d dropped a $550 gadget on the side of the road in downtown Vancouver or Kits, it would have been gone within seconds!

So I get a call today that a Telus dude thinks he can fix my internets without me even being home. You know, like gets my hopes up and whatnot. Then he calls back and says he could not, in fact, fix it from the outside, so I’ll still have to wait ’til Saturday. And then I’m like all sad and stuff.

Later in the afternoon, I get a call from another Telus dude who says he can be at my place in half an hour and can I get there?1 Fortunately, this was around 3:45pm2 and what I was working on could be done at home, so I grabbed my work and booted it home, arriving just as the Telus dude arrived. So I let him in, profusely apologizing for the messiness of my apartment3, making a surreptitious check around my bedroom to make sure I haven’t left anything too incriminating lying around, as my modem lives in my bedroom due to the fact that it’s the only place in my apartment with a jack.

And then, miracle of miracles – he fixed it! Just like that! He clicked some stuff and did some other random fiddling with cords and suchlike and bingo bango bongo, I have internets again! I can even feel the warm glowing warming glow of the wireless internet-y goodness making their way from my wireless modem/router to my laptop. No really, I can.

I believe that the business lingo for this tell-them-you’ll-be-there-on-Saturday-and-then-when-you-show-up-on-Thursday-they-will-be-all- happy-about-it is called “Underpromise, then overperform.” I have no idea where I heard that, and I’ve probably completely messed it up. But the idea is that you promise something that is much less than what you can really do and then you will supposedly look good when you get it done faster. But I’m not falling for it. I still know that I was without internets for over 5 full days and I won’t forget it Telus!

And now, a list of things that I missed doing and am ever so happy I can do again, now that I am jacked back into the Matrix in my own home:

1for the record, although this sounds like the start of a porn or something, it totally wasn’t like that.
2I was going to work ’til 5 pm.
3Which is a whole other story, but involves me having chucked a whole bunch of boxes that Dani had neatly stacked in the corner all over my room in an attempt to see if the modem was plugged into the jack in said corner and not putting them back since I figured that the Telus dude would need to access the jack, which he did; a half assembled Ikea bookshelf, which was abandoned only half assembled when I discovered that I’d put the sides on facing the wrong way and I didn’t have a hammer to remove all the nails that needed to be removed to fix the wrong-way-facing side problem, the nails having been nailed in using the heel of one of my sturdier pairs of high heel shoes; my not having been home a single night this week to do things like tidy up my place; all combined with my general level of messiness.
4I’m going to leave it up to your imagination exactly what I’m talking about there 😉
5I only call long distance on Skype. Seems silly to pay long distance charges on my cell when I can talk for free via the series of tubes that makes up the intarweb. And then when my intarweb is down, it turns out that I’m just too cheap to pay for long distance now.

{August 23, 2007}  

This could quite possibly be the last photo of my pretty jawline while said jaw still contains all its teeth! Unless, of course, I take pics in the morning at the oral surgeon’s office. Which, knowing me, is quite possible.

For the record, in this photo I am reading websites about wisdom teeth extraction on my laptop. And I’m drinking wine out of a Canucks glass. Two things: (1) I’m drinking wine because I was also making risotto, which requires wine, and thus I believe it is a crime to make risotto without drinking some of the wine, and (2) if Santa reads this blog, I sure could use some nice wine glasses so I don’t have to drink my wine out of Canucks beer steins!

OK, Beth need sleep now. Peace out.

{August 23, 2007}   Going Under the Knife

Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m., I’m getting my wisdom teeth out. And I’m really not looking forward to it, because I don’t like the following:

  • needles
  • pain
  • getting up early

I’ve needed to get my wisdom teeth out for a while now, but never had the dental coverage for it. UBC claims to have medical and dental for their students (they make you pay for medical and dental at any rate), but it pretty much doesn’t actually cover anything. But now that I have a big girl job, with actual benefits and suchlike, I can do such things as have parts of my body taken out, for the low, low price of $5001.

I’m going to be knocked out by IV sedation – I talked about it extensively with the surgeon at the consultation but, of course, don’t quite remember all the drugs included in the cocktail2 – I think it was some combo of benzos and opioids. I’ll have to remember to ask him again tomorrow. Apparently this will cause me to sleep through the whole procedure3, but is nowhere near as risky as general anesthetic (i.e., unlike a general, the risk of dying from sedation is pretty much nil)4. And when I get out of surgery, I’ll feel like I’m drunk. Thankfully, Rachel is coming with me to make sure I actually make it home in my altered state – she has experience in this realm, so I’m confident that I’ll be fine.

On the way home from work I figure I’ll stop at work for frozen fruit (for smoothies) and ice packs. Anything else you recommend?

1My insurance doesn’t pay the specialists fees which, apparently, aren’t cheap.
2because I did ask him for all the details.
3Why does “procedure” sounds worse than “surgery” to me?

4*knocks on wood*

Note: That pic is not me, but that’s pretty much what my bottom wisdom teeth look like. The pic was stolen from the interwebs, but not really stolen ‘cuz it’s under a Creative Commons license that says I may “copy, distribute, display, and perform the work”… and look ma, I’m even linking to the license.

{August 20, 2007}  

I’m pretty sure my iPod is sentient. I usually play it on “shuffle songs” and, having an eclectic mix of artists, you never know what crazy song is going to come out next. But when I’m in an emotionally heightened state, it seems to play songs that are totally appropo to the situation. Like the day that Dani moved out, when I was really dreading going home to our apartment, which was suddenly my apartment, my iPod played a string of songs, most of which I can’t remember, save one which epitomized the lot – Lonely Day by System of a Down

And now today, just now, waiting for the bus, my iPod spits out The Dresden Dolls’ The Jeep Song and then Elvis Presley’s Fools Rush In. The former with lyrics which are appropriate to the point of hilarity, the latter with a title that sums up my sentiments.

OK, so I’m typing this on my Palm Treo1 and now I think my iPod is on to the fact that I’m onto it2. Because it’s starting to play songs that don’t even remotely apply at all to the situation at hand. The Authority Song by Jimmy Eat World. Bonecracker by Shocore. OK, now it’s really gone too far – Van Morrison’s Brown-Eyed Girl?? To a girl so arrogant about her blue eyes that she wears eyelash bling? Very funny, iPod, very funny.

Yes, this is actually how my thought process works. My head is a fun place to live.

Update: I’m in the middle of writing tomorrow’s blog posting and my iPod chooses to play Heart’s What About Love. Which could only be more appropriate if it was my other favourite Heart song – Alone. Bastard3.

1Very slowly, due to the tiny-ness of the keyboard.
2I think my Treo may have sent it a text message.
3That “bastard” was in reference to my iPod. Mostly.

With all the weddings I’ve been going to lately, and the ensuing discussions about removing “obey” from the old wedding vows, I’ve decided that, should I ever get married again, this post’s title is the vow I would want my partner to make.

In other news, I’ve nearly recovered from the trauma of discovering a wolf spider crawling amongst my dishware. I’m no longer completely terrified1 to enter the kitchen and have even progressed to being able to open up the cupboard in which said monster was found with only minor heart palpitations.

1my terror has been downgraded to merely “severe”.

I came home on Sunday and Dani was in the middle of packing. She’s almost done her summer course and will be returning home to work for the summer before heading out to her internship in the fall. I’d been trying to avoid the fact that my roomie will be leaving me soon, but it’s hard to ignore that when the boxes are stacked up and the cupboards that were formerly stuffed are bare. I’ve started to unpack my own things (predominantly kitchen things which I couldn’t bear to part with during the Purge of ’06), which I had left packed up since I moved in here, as we’ve been using all of Dani’s kitchen things and there really was no need to use two toasters/kettles/sets of cutlery/etc. at a time. It’s been fun finding some of the things that I forgot I even owned, but it’s got an overtone of saddness, because it’s another reminder that Dani’s leaving**.

I went into the bathroom the other day and saw a lineup of vitamin supplements. Dani always puts her vitamin supplements out on the counter for the week. When I looked at them, it hit me that those supplements represent the few days left before she leaves. And that made me sad.

All I can do now is enjoy the last few days we have. We are going out for dinner tomorrow and on Tuesday, her last day here a bunch of us are going to go out to some as of yet undetermined location for drinks and chilling. And possibly crying. Boo.

*with my apologies to the Crash Test Dummies.

**it also doesn’t help that some of the things remind me of my past life, which I’ve been doing a good job of relegating to its proper place (i.e., the past)

{December 28, 2006}   2006

2006 is a year that just can’t end soon enough. For months now it has been apparent to me that 2006 was just not my year. The first thing that comes to mind is getting divorced – while definitely the right decision for me, deciding to end a marriage of almost a decade (not to mention the events leading to the divorce) was not a pleasant experience. One thing that was helping to console me through this ordeal was that I was soon to finish my PhD and would be moving away to start a job that I can only describe as a dream come true. And then, due to circumstances I care not to discuss in a public forum (but which I can assure you were most decidedly unfair), my PhD defence was delayed by four months. But there was hope – my dream job would wait for me! It made those four months bearable, knowing that I would still get to move away, to get my fresh start and to be doing some fascinating research in an amazing location. Then, five days before the rescheduled defence I was informed that, due to unforeseen circumstances (and again, due to something completely beyond my control), my dream job had evaporated. It mattered not that I’d gotten rid of all my furniture, moved out of my old apartment to sublet a friend’s place “just for the summer” under the understanding that I’d be moving away to my new job in September. It mattered not that I’d turned down another job offer to take this one. Needless to say, that’s the last thing I needed less than a week before what was sure to be stressful event – defending a body of research before a committee of 5 professors and a public audience, where an insufficient performance could mean you don’t get your degree (!); but somehow, somehow I managed to make it through. It wasn’t the best performance I’d ever given, as I truly felt suffocated by the stress of it all, asking why, why, why did everything have to happen to me all at the same time?? But I survived and when the examining committee chair said the words, “It is my pleasure to inform you that the committee has decided to grant you your Ph.D.” I just wanted to cry with relief. Six years of blood, sweat and tears, finally come to fruition. It was August and it was one of the first good things that had happened in 2006. Sure I was now unemployed and homeless, but I had a PhD, dammit. Unfortunately, the bad luck streak didn’t end. Shortly thereafter, I nearly got another good job* in a fantastic location and I thought “my luck has finally started to turn!”… but then they decided to hire someone else. Someone else with more direct experience in their type of research. Sigh. And, since then, despite the multitude of resumes I’ve submitted – nothing. Four months of unemployment to end this seemingly endless year. Before this, I hadn’t been unemployed since… well, since I got my first paper route at the age of 8. In fact, I’ve had such a streak of bad luck this year that I had a law named after me – Beth’s Law.

But, recently, I’ve come to realize that my troubles pale in comparison to those of many people I know. I started thinking about this a few days before Christmas when my ex called to tell me that his best friend had just had a heart attack**. His best friend who is a mere 29 years old! Who the hell has a heart attack at 29 years old?? As I recovered from the shock of this unexpected news, my head began to reel as I started a mental tally of all the terrible things that have happened this year:

  • one of my closest friends tragically lost his mother to cancer
  • four of my good friends lost grandparents
  • one of my best friend’s aunts, at 47 years young, had a very debilitating stroke
  • my grandfather had heart surgery (which we are very thankful he has recovered from)
  • my grandmother had a heart attack (which we are very thankful she managed to survive) and was diagnosed with a breast cancer that is not being treated, as the doctors believe she could not survive surgery, chemo or radiation
  • a dear friend of mine had a tumor the size of a football removed from her abdomen (and we are counting our blessings with that one, as she seems to have recovered nicely, thank goodness)
  • one of my dad’s work colleagues drowned
  • like mine, my sister’s marriage of 12 years also ended; unlike me, however, she has a 2-year-old daughter

So I started to think about how the things that had gone wrong in my life personally paled in comparison to what people I care about have experienced this year. I’m healthy, my family is healthy and I haven’t lost any family members. And as I was mulling over this blog posting in my mind, my roommate, who is home for the holidays, called asking me to look up her friend’s cell phone number in her phone book. His brother was in a car accident, he’s in the ICU, unconscious, and she wanted to call and see how he was holding up.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to answer the phone. There’s only 4 days left of 2006 and I shudder to think what those days will hold. I’m holding out hope that 2007 will bring brighter days – a job, some stability and no more people having unexpected health issues at unreasonably young ages. Is that really too much to ask?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go unplug my phone and hide under my covers until the New Year, in the hopes that the Fates will forget to curse what is left of my 2006. Of course, since I live in a basement, that won’t help me if that big earthquake that Vancouver is overdue for hits, burying me in rubble***. Oh well, it will make a nice break from the hurricanes we’ve been having lately.

*and by nearly, I mean the words, “I would like you to come and work with me” were actually spoken.

**Paul, if you are reading this (and I know you are), all those times I told you to “go to hell” – I didn’t mean it literally. Yeesh.

***on the bright side, I do have earthquake coverage as part of my apartment insurance!

To be cross posted at Indie Bloggers.
Update: cross-posted here at Indie Bloggers.

{November 29, 2006}   I’m DEVASTATED!


Taylor Pyatt is… *sob*…. he’s…. *sob*…. he’s not single!!

I heard about this over at the Pink Seats. Which I am never reading again, btw.

I’ll just have to console myself with the new boy in town, Jesse Schultz. Jesse was called up from the Manitoba Moose to play in the big league. Jesse also happens to be 24, which is, coincidentally, my favourite age.

Isn’t he just adorable?

Jesse, if you are reading this, I know you are new in town, so why don’t you let me be your Vancouver tour guide? Call me!

And, of course, there is also still Marc Chouinard.

{May 23, 2006}   Done and done

I’m typing this posting from my new apartment! I moved! And I survived the move! Sure, I’m surrounded by piles and piles of boxes, into which has been folded/squished/stuffed virtually everything I own, which will probably take me all summer to unpack. And sure my apartment contains the possessions of no fewer than 4 people. And sure my countertop dishwasher is about 16 feet too tall to fit on my new counter. But I’m in my new home and I love it!

Many thanks to Erika, Shalu & Deepak who helped me move all my stuff and did it with smiles on their faces. And to Erika’s dad, who lent his truck! I’m so lucky to have such wonderful and generous friends!

OK, now it’s back to these damn hell thesis revisions, despite the fact that I did not sleep last night. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead, right?

I really hope that’s true. Because if it is, I’m going to be the strongest person EVER!

I’m moving. I hate moving, but I’m doing it anyway. Moving to a cheaper place – not too far from where I am now, but much more affordable than my current place. It’s actually just a summer sublet, so I really, really, really hope that I’m done by the end of the summer, because if I’m not, I’ll be homeless! So on top of my professional and personal crises, I’ve decided to throw a move into the mix. You know, just for kicks. Oh yeah, and the shed where I will keep my bike at my new place has black widow spiders**. Seriously.

On a much happier topic, I bought a new pair of shoes on ebay! I had seen a pair of shoes that I really liked when I was in Seattle, but they only came in pink*** & lime green. And I’ve been obsessed with finding these shoes in a reasonable colour, but the only pair I’ve been able to find in Vancouver cost $90, which is much more than someone who is moving into spider-haven to save some cash is willing or able to pay for a pair of shoes. But I found them for super cheap on ebay (even with shipping and the exchange rate)… what do you think?

*When I Googled this to find out who originally said this, I was surprized to discover that it was Nietzsche – I hadn’t realized that before. I also saw another good quotation during my Googling: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” You said it!

**And you know how I feel about spiders!! When I took Zoology in my undergrad, I didn’t even read the chapter on arachnids. I was willing to sacrifice any marks pertaining to the eight-legged monsters in order to not have to look at pictures of them in my textbook.

***And you know how I feel about pink!

et cetera