“I Think He’s A Wizard…..”

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These are conversations I had recently with my friend Rebecca, and I decided they were too good not to share. Also, I figured it was about damn time I wrote another blog post, and since I don’t have anything interesting to report, this is going to have to do. 


*a couple weeks ago, on the phone*

Rebecca: I got some stuff at a yard sale today.

Me: Oh yeah? Like what?

Rebecca: Well, there were a few things I wanted for my apartment, but the woman was getting ready to close up shop, so she insisted I take a bunch of stuff. So I have some purses, and some Catholic figurines….

Me: You bought Catholic figurines?

Rebecca: They were included.

Me: Well, what are they?

Rebecca: There’s one of this woman kneeling down with a sheep…..and another woman with a halo thing over her head. And this guy in a fancy purple robe…..I think he’s a wizard.

Me:…..A Catholic wizard? Wait…..are there two other dudes who are dressed kind of like him?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Me: Um, dude. They aren’t wizards. They’re wise men. And the woman with the halo is the Virgin Mary. I’m pretty sure you just accidentally bought a nativity scene. How did you not know that?

Rebecca: Because I’m Jewish?

Me: Oh. Right. Good point.

*Yesterday, after coming over to Rebecca’s and seeing her purchases displayed on the side table*

Me: Hey, is this your nativity scene?

Rebecca: Yeah. It’s great, huh?

Me: Oh! You didn’t tell me you got the manger too….Where’s the baby Jesus?

Rebecca: He might be in the freezer with one of the wise men.

Me: ……..why is the baby Jesus in the freezer?

Rebecca: To kill any germs on him.

Me: Of course.

Rebecca: Here. Here’s a frozen wise man. *rummages around some more in the freezer* Oh. Maybe I didn’t get Jesus…..

Me: So…you bought an entire Catholic nativity scene, minus the baby Jesus? So everyone’s just standing around an empty manger? 

Rebecca: Yeah. It’s a Jewish nativity scene. We’re still waiting for him. 

Me: That actually is kind of appropriate.


We Must Accept Finite Disappointment, but Never Lose Infinite Hope.

Well, it’s happened again. Sometimes it comes on suddenly, like a tidal wave, other times, like this time around, it sneaks up on me, like a predator stalking it’s prey. The one thing I have learned over the years is that, eventually, the depression will come back. And so it has. And it’s changing my life, for better or for worse.

I am about to embark on a leave of absence from my job, because thanks to my mental health issues, I can’t work right now. So many thoughts swirl through my head when I think about this situation: “How can I afford to live?”; “What will people think?”; “What does this mean about who I am?”. It can go on and on. As someone who has so much of my identity wrapped up in what I do for a living, it’s terrifying to think of not having my job to structure my life, to give meaning to my days.

My pride has also taken a big hit. It’s a humbling experience to have to come to a point where you have no choice but to accept your limitations and make decisions based on them. I think: “But I’m not the sort of person who can’t hold a job”; “Does this mean I’m a failure?”

And then there’s the anger.”How can this be happening to me AGAIN?”; “Haven’t I been trying so hard for so long? Why don’t I see results?”

So, I’m disappointed. Clearly. But as it says in the Martin Luther King Jr. quote above, I also believe that we can never lose hope. And so I hope. I hope that this break will give me the time I need to get well. I hope that the people around me will understand. I hope for a future for myself that includes happiness and joy and love and all of the wonderful things that life has to offer.

If I’ve learned anything from my experiences with the black hole of depression, I’ve learned this. Sometimes it feels like you are trapped in a dark room with no doors and windows and it seems like you will never get out. But just because you can’t see the way out into the light doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sometimes you just have to feel along the wall for a little while to find the door.

So that’s what I’m going to do. My life is on the other side of that door, and my hope is a small candle that will light my way until I find it. And if you’re someone who’s feeling similar to this right now, who’s trapped in your own version of that dark room, just keep looking for the door. You can find your way out too.

Never lose hope. I promise I won’t.

Conversational Geniuses: Part Deux

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Earlier this afternoon….

Rebecca: Want some MSG soup?

Me: No. I’m good. Wait. what kind of soup?

Rebecca: MSG soup. Tomato.

Me: Sure, I’ll have a little.

Rebecca: Well, it’s cuppa soup, so do you want a cup?

Me: I don’t want to eat all your soup.

Rebecca: This shit’s so good you’re gonna cry. You’re gonna be like: “where’s this been my whole life?” Fucking Lipton bullshit soup.

Me: I’m excited.

Later on…

R: I’m gonna watch 30 Rock. And so are you.

Me: Am I? That sounded ominous.

Rebecca: It’s just going to be on.”Episode 5…there is no I in America….”

Me: (singing)….there are no cats in America……remember that movie?

Rebecca: Yeah, what is it?

An American Tale. You know, Fievel.

A few minutes later…..

Rebecca: This is yours. Don’t spill on my couch. (places a cup of soup on the table beside me).

Me: Thank you! I won’t.

Rebecca: Not that you will. I probably will. That was more of a note to myself.

This is what our hang-outs look like. We’re pretty boring. You’re welcome for this extra-special glimpse into my life.

Conversational Geniuses

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Here’s a transcript of a conversation I had with my friend Rebecca this afternoon.

Rebecca: I think I might have overdosed once, but just made it through.

Me: I definitely had alcohol poisoning once, but didn’t go to the hospital. I occasionally miss alcohol.

Rebecca: You know if I were to get an alcohol buzz right now, I would immediately need heroin. I used to drink just to get up the nerve to go to really dangerous neighbourhoods to buy drugs.

Me: I just drank….because….I’m an alcoholic.

Rebecca: Well, that’s why I do drugs.

me: Your cat is adorable.

Rebecca: She really is. She just loves the love.


We need hobbies.  STAT. 

A Series of Letters to People I Owe Money To.

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Dear Rogers,

I KNOW. Please stop calling me. I will not answer my phone when you call me during the day, because, as you WELL KNOW, you charge me for daytime minutes. Maybe if you didn’t charge an arm and a leg for your phone service we wouldn’t be in this predicament. I can’t imagine that you will be in financial dire straits if you don’t get my 150 dollars immediately. So back off.




Dear VISA,

I am writing this letter to let you know what I think about your policy of loaning money to people who can’t possibly be trusted to pay you back. Quite frankly, I think you’re a fool. Shame on you for lending me that much money with NO PROOF whatsoever that I am the sort of person who makes good on IOUs. You have no one but yourself to blame.




Dear OSAP,

Don’t you have something called loan forgiveness? Can I have some of that? Forgiveness is such a wonderful spiritual principle – I recommend you practice it more often. And you can start with me. 




Dear TD Bank,

Thank you for lending me all that money when I was a student. Unfortunately, I’m just a social worker now, which isn’t the most lucrative profession in the world. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop taking all that money out of my bank account each month; I kind of need it for smokes. I appreciate your understanding.




Dear Mom and Dad,

Just add it to my tab. 



Why I’ll Never Be A Comedian: Part 2

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You might be wondering, after reading the title of this post, what happened to Why I’ll Never Be A Comedian: Part 1. That’s a really good question. You should ASK THE FRIGGIN’ INTERNET BECAUSE THAT’S WHO LOST THE ALMOST ENTIRELY COMPLETED ENTRY I WROTE AT 3:30 IN THE MORNING.

It would seem that I have no sense of humour when it comes to these things. More proof that I’ll never be a comedian, I guess.

Phoenix Re-Rising and A New Sun Shines……

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Some of you may know that I have tattoos. My very first one was of a small-ish flaming sun on my right shoulder that I got when I was 18 years old. The next 2 were ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on the inside and outside of my left ankle that symbolize mother and father (I love you Mom and Dad!) when I was about 25. After that my addiction was in full force.

When I decided to quit drinking  the last last last time (it’s funny now that I’m in AA. Oh, you didn’t know that either? Well, now that I’m in full confessional mode, I might as well lay that out there too) and smoking (the last last last last…… oh, fuck it. Who’s counting anymore?)  I opted for a much larger tattoo. I chose a phoenix, the symbol of rebirth, and had it tattooed all the way down the left side of my back. I had had my last drink about a week before, and I smoked my last cigarette right before I walked in the door of the tattoo studio. And that was it. I didn’t look back. For about 6 months that time.

Lucky for me the metaphor of the phoenix is that it rises from the ashes OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, so this Monday I went back to my tattoo artist, Jen, (TCB Tattoo on Queen and Bathurst, I recommend her!) and told her I wanted 2 things done. Well, 3. The first was just that I needed a touch-up to my final tattoo that I had done last fall, the word ‘breathe’ on my foot. But I also told her I wanted a new sun covering up the old one, as the old one was faded and tired looking, and needed some sprucing up. With all the changes coming up in my life in the next couple months, work moving to a new building, me moving to a new apartment with a new roommate (more on that later), my ongoing commitment to recovery, I felt like I wanted a symbol of a bright new day. So I got one.

And then there was the phoenix. I asked her to add some new feathers and flames to the bottom. Because this week I was going to tackle the smoking problem again. Those of you who know me well have heard this a million times over and are probably rolling your eyes so far back in your head you can’t even read this anymore. I don’t blame you. But I have to see it this way: if I stop trying to quit, it sure as hell will NEVER happen, so I have to at the very least keep on damn well trying. So with the tongue-in-cheek metaphor of there being new ashes to rise from, we added some new flames to my phoenix. And tomorrow is the 9th. April 9th, 2011 is my alcohol sobriety date. And now, fingers crossed, it will be my nicotine sobriety date as well.

Here’s hoping.

Veritas Vos Liberabit…..

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Or, for those of you who don’t speak Latin, “The truth shall set you free.”

This is hopefully one of those times where that will be the case. Because I am taking a leap of faith by posting this on here. A BIG leap of faith.

Today is an anniversary for me. Exactly a year ago I walked out of the doors of the treatment centre where I had spent 3 months being treated for an eating disorder. For those of you who are reading this and don’t know me well, or who aren’t very familiar with eating disorders, you may be thinking a variety of thoughts, that may look a little something like this:

“But she’s never been really skinny…”

“But I’ve seen her eat all KINDS of food….”

“She doesn’t look like she has an eating disorder…..”

You aren’t alone in thinking these thoughts.

The thing with eating disorders, though, is this: they don’t always look like you expect them to. In fact, they often DON’T. The people I’ve met both in treatment, and in groups that I attend, are all different shapes and sizes, and many don’t look like the stereotypical “anorexic” bodies plastered on the covers of the celebrity magazines we see on the drugstore shelves.

Here’s the other thing about eating disorders that you should know. It’s not about your body.

I mean: on the surface, it is. But ultimately, it’s all about out of control thoughts and emotions, and trying to find a way to regain control and to not feel. It’s about not feeling good enough, and wanting to feel good at something. It’s about being afraid of life, and shutting yourself off in your own little world with it’s own set of rules so you can feel safe. So you decide, “if I can just focus everything in my life down to this one little thing, my body, and controlling THAT, everything will feel in control and I won’t feel so bad and I will be safe from the world .” But it’s an illusion. Because the illness takes on a life of it’s own and spirals out of control before you realize what’s happening, and suddenly you are being controlled by a voice in your own mind that tells you what to do and think and feel. It’s unnerving. And exhausting. And ultimately, frightening.

So why am I admitting this in such a public forum? Because eating disorders, like addiction, are all about secrecy. And the secrecy needs to be fought, so I’m continuing the fight. If you had asked me a year ago when I walked out the doors of the treatment centre where I thought I’d be one year later, I probably would have told you that I would be completely recovered and that my life would be all sunshine and roses. Okay, maybe not the sunshine and roses part, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that one year later it would still be such a struggle every day to say “yes” to recovery, to fight the voice that fills my mind with such negativity, to be constantly preoccupied with food and my body. Don’t get me wrong: I have a wonderful life filled with amazing people, a great job, a remarkable family and an awesome support system. I wouldn’t trade those things for the world. But there are certainly days where I think, “gee, this could get a bit easier any day now….”

So I’m admitting it because it’s time to take the next step. This is a part of who I am, for better or for worse. I don’t have to like it; in fact, I don’t like it one bit. I’d rather it not be a part of my story, but I’ve come to accept it. So I decided to share my story in the hopes that sharing it and putting it out there will force me to be more honest about it, and hopefully it will allow me to let it go completely. And if the fact that I don’t look like the eating disorder stereotype can break that idea down a little for some people, then all the better.

Who Packs Before The Day Of? Not This Kid.

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My workplace is moving to a new site. This is cause for great celebration, for a number of reasons that I will not go into.  This is also cause for great packing. For some of us, who work in areas of my current building that are going to be renovated prior to the move, this is cause for packing NOW. Or, if you’re me, this is cause for half-heartedly moving about 12 books from your bookshelf to an empty drawer in your filing cabinet, and then, armed with a black Sharpie and a roll of masking tape, labelling three pieces of furniture “Jenn’s Office”, before deciding you have done more than enough and heading home for the day.

For those you who have read this: http://thecomedyinbetween.blogspot.ca/2010/09/tomorrow-and-tomorrow-and-tomorrow-ode.html , you’ll know that I’m the Queen Procrastinator. Historically, I have not been known to do silly things like pack days or weeks in advance when a move has been coming up, because that’s like admitting that something like time has a hold over me. No, I like the pressure. Former moves have included doing things like starting to pack the day of, and continuing to pack through the night while drinking beer with Braedon and Trish, since everyone was showing up to help move the next morning at 7. Now that I’m remembering, I think that move also included drinking on the street, a shopping cart and dumping bags in an apartment building’s dumpster…….*sigh. Memories.

But I digress. What was my point? I don’t think I had one….(I rarely do).  I guess I started writing this in response to the niggling anxiety in the back of my mind that I should have done more packing today……BECAUSE I SHOULDN’T HAVE. Because that’s not how I roll. It’ll get done. It always does. Probably on Thursday at about 4:52 p.m. in a whirlwind frenzy right before I leave for a week’s vacation. Because THAT is how I roll.

Saltine Cracker Challenges, And Other Reasons I Will Miss Allison

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So a week ago my good friend Allison moved back to Windsor so she could take an awesome job working for United Way. It’s the perfect job for her, and I am amazingly happy for her, but I am selfishly sad that she will no longer be living in Toronto, because she is awesome. We have known each other now for 11 years, and she is one of those friends who it doesn’t matter how much time passes, you pick right back up from where you left off the next time you see each other.

We met playing in the jazz band at the School of Music in Windsor when I was in my first year of university and quickly discovered that we had some things in common: namely, playing saxophone and beer drinking; which, in university is really all you need to strike up a good friendship. Over the years of saxophone playing and beer drinking together, we discovered we had plenty more in common, including a  passion for psychology, social justice and politics. It was thanks to her suggestion that I found myself pursuing a masters degree in social work, rather than psychology, which, as it turns out, was exactly where I belonged.

Along with the years of jazz-banding and wind-ensembling together, Allison and I also had some fun adventures. Like the nights we would spend at our favourite pub, Big Dick’s, where we went every week for dinner and stayed until close, polishing off 7 to 10 pitchers of beer, making the bartender exclaim “I’ve never seen chicks drink like this!” Or our road trip to the winery in St. Catharine’s to surprise my parents for my mom’s 50th birthday and my dad’s 48th. Or our weekend benders where we had the 30 minute rule, where after 30 minutes someone else got to decide the next bar to go to……

Or the night we followed 2 American guys home from a pizza place downtown to their hotel room at the casino to meet their “little person” friend named Spike.

Good times.

After I moved to Toronto, and then she moved to BC, we kept in touch, and visited. I was pretty stoked when she decided to come to Toronto to take a job with the Ministry of Health, because that meant more fun times, like karaoke nights dressed as our favourite pop stars for her birthday. Of course, as I didn’t drink anymore, it also meant that we had to find new ways to entertain ourselves, so some Sunday nights were spent watching food challenges on youtube, which then resulted in things like this happening:


 And then this:
Followed by this:
I think we get points for perseverance.

Allison, even though you couldn’t eat 6 saltines in under a minute, I still love you. Thanks for being such an awesome friend over the years. Good luck with your new job, even though I know you don’t need luck. You’re going to rock their socks off.