I was walking down a dark bike path, cell phone in hand, noting the sound of every step and scuffle strangers made on the cold, wet pavement. I was in Ottawa undertaking the final phase of my archival research for my PhD dissertation and this was the evening of a particularly long and intense day; we had been in lockdown in a federal building after the murder of Nathan Cirillo and the dramatic events that unfolded at Parliament’s Centre Block. On uber-high alert, I consistently reminded myself why I needed to pay such close attention to every detail of my surroundings. “Okay self. First: last news update. There may be suspects still at large. Fuck. Second: You are an Indigenous woman and statistically have a one-in-three chance of being sexually assaulted. Fuck. Third: No one better mess with me. I have an umbrella, a set of keys, and a large purse and I am not afraid to use them. Double fuck.” Trying to dismiss all of the above, I attempted to rationalize the uncertainty of my situation. “Listen here self: you don’t have to worry about that strange man walking behind you. You’ll be safe you cause you are FAT! Hahahaha – joke is on him! Wait…what?” Continue reading
1. Bitching to My Personal Trainer
An intense plyo circuit releases sweat and produces endorphin rushes. It also makes me spew verbal diarrhea. I typically begin by moaning about my physical aches and pains. “I don’t like to complain, but… my Achilles, my upper back injury, my left hip…yadda yadda yadda.” Then I moan about my personal life. “I love my baby, but…my exhaustion, my laundry, my empty fridge…blah blah blah blee blah.” Why on earth do I do this? Continue reading
This week I went to a lunch time talk by James McCormack, PhD Pharmacy, called “Nutrition and the Evidence Conundrum: What We Know (Very Little) and What We Will Likely Never Know (A Lot) About Nutrition.” Although the title caught my interest, I attended for more sinister reasons. The poster promised free snacks and I was desperate for new blog material. Though my life is busy these days—mostly deciding whether my son’s poo is “normal,” “semi-soft” or “in need of prunes”—not much of what I do is worth discussing. I continue to work out 5-6 days a week, lifting weights, enjoying full-body training with DYT, and teaching spin classes. In fact, I have done 795 push-ups so far this month. Bored shitless yet? Continue reading
I first learned of the classic children’s bedtime story Goodnight Moon from a New York Times series on writing, by writers, for writers, called ‘Draft’. Aimee Bender wrote an essay entitled, ‘What Writers Can Learn From Goodnight Moon’. Having appropriated her title, I’ll try to put into practice one or two of her recommended lessons. Continue reading
It started just before midnight on Saturday January 25, 2014. I was in a state of panic, frantically searching for my cell phone while amniotic fluid poured out of my body, leaving trails across the bedroom carpet. The bed was already soaked when I sat down to text the following message to my partner: “My water just broke. Come home and drive me to the hospital.” After a few minutes, I added: “I am not joking.” “Holy crap,” he responded. “Cashing in my chips and on my way.” “Are you drunk?” I bluntly asked. “No” was his one word reply. He later told me that he was indeed a bit tipsy, enjoying his last night out as a free man. Continue reading
I was thinking about pain this week, mostly because I was in pain. Continue reading
So what have I been up to lately? You can spot me most mornings wearing sensible shoes and sporting thick eye bags as I push a stroller—my adorable son is inside—to the café, the spray park, the public library, the grocery store, or the Shopper’s Drug Mart. Much to my surprise, Sebastian attracts a lot of attention from just about everyone: male construction workers, female baristas, old ladies with boney fingers that like to poke chubby cheeks. Every single day, I hear the following phrases at least five times: “What a beautiful baby!” “Look at those eyelashes!” “What big blue eyes!” He is going to break all the girls’ hearts when he is older!” While I enjoy the first three comments, I bristle at the last one. I do not want my baby to be sexualized and/or hetero-sexualized in this fashion. He might grow up to be gay, trans, asexual, shy, or awkward. At least I hope so. These options are better than the proffered vision of him as an ultra-masculine sex bomb barreling through life, moving from one lady to the next. But I digress, for the main issue I want to discuss today is how this public reaction to my son’s appearance is literally creating his world. Continue reading
I am standing in line for the “family bathroom” at Southgate Mall, waiting to use the nursing chair. Although I am pretending to be relaxed—chatting with the mother of a one-month old son—I am in fact terrified. Are there any feminists about? I scan the crowd for the tell-tale signs of bra-less tits, angry fists raised in the air, and armpit hair. Continue reading
Going for a walk? Count your steps. Going for a coffee? There’s an app to capture caffeine intake. We can monitor our personal activity as never before. The clever wags are calling it “the biometric selfie”. Whatever you call the phenomenon it is clear, we have an itch to count and measure what we accomplish and how we live. Continue reading
Yesterday I received an e-mail from some antiabortion guy, asking me to have an expose of so-called “crisis pregnancy centres” removed from the internet. How flattering that he identified me as an all-powerful pro-choice goddess. Continue reading
You might already know that I am a habitual and possibly obsessive list maker. I have at least three lists in my purse at any one time, as well as a master agenda for the month on my desk at home. I like to write these lists by hand as an aid to memory, but many remain in my head, constantly shuffled and reshuffled: Who is due for a dinner invitation? What provisions are currently in my kitchen? What books should I read next? What are the top five best moments of my life? Etc. Continue reading
Hey D! I just read your last post on Lianne’s blog about belly fat. Now there is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I had an idea for another topic, although I’m sure you already have thousands; it is something I’ve always wanted to know: “Do you need to exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time to burn fat?” There are so many different time saving exercise programs out there now, like Tabata, 20 minute interval training etc. As a busy mom, I’m intrigued by this concept of the shorter workout, but am not sure that it would actually burn fat.
Everyone told me that having a baby would change my priorities. That turned out to be somewhat true. Yes, my son is of primary concern, but he has shuffled rather than replaced other interests. Now that my time is tighter than ever—I have always multi-tasked and had too much to do—I have begun noticing which activities remain important in my life, and which ones have been discarded with the excuse that I am “too busy.” You will not be surprised to learn that fitness remains near the top of my list. Yet I was surprised by some of my choices. Below is an accurate list of things that are important to me, and things that no longer make the grade. This confession is based on my actions rather than on any idealized vision of myself. After all, I think that hopes and dreams count for shit. You are what you do and have done, not what you say you are or what you plan to do in the future.
It’s hard not to get upset when you start back at the gym after a prolonged period away. I was off for two full months while recovering from a caesarean section, forbidden by my doctor from lifting anything over ten pounds. I was inclined to follow his advice after reading online descriptions of post-partum women who had ripped their stomachs open by training too soon after surgery. Although I had worked out seriously until I was 8 months pregnant, and then in a somewhat lame-ass way until two days before giving birth, I was shocked by how quickly my fitness level declined. Previously I had done shitloads of full chin-ups, but now I am back on the assisted pull-up machine, managing five sets of five slowly with 50 pounds of weight counterbalancing me. And as for full push-ups? Forget it. I have returned to my knees. How the mighty have fallen. It is truly humiliating.
How hard is that? Food is fuel silly.
If it were only that easy. I hate being hungry. I really hate being full. I am afraid of food. But food is fuel, right?
When people are afraid of food they have strange eating patterns. We will decide, for example, that there are six foods that are safe. At least, that is what I did. Continue reading
Pregnancy has not changed my life that much, so far. It has, however, attracted more than a few remarks from both acquaintances and strangers. My increasingly evident belly—I am scheduled to give birth by induction in only a few days—leads people to believe that they know something about me and my future. While I vowed not to blog too much about my “ladylike” pregnancy (i.e. it is conformist in a way that reminds me of Edwardian pantaloons), I have a few funny incidents that I cannot resist sharing with you. Continue reading
After attending two conferences in as many weeks, I have learned that strangers, especially white men, feel entitled to make unsolicited comments about women’s pregnant bodies.
These men can be from all walks of life – hotel staff, airplane travelers, and conference acquaintances. Yet no matter their position, when they see a pregnant woman working or traveling alone, their response is to (a) notice the woman’s belly; (b) make a remark about it; and (c) engage in unwelcome behaviour. Continue reading
This gallery contains 32 photos.
After finishing my book, which is now in the hands of external referees, I realized that many photographs—taken by the incomparable artist and designer Patrick J. Reed—could not be included in it. I think his images offer feminist interventions in the often heteronormative, … Continue reading
I have been thinking about this project for quite some time, and post here sections from the introduction to my book “Feminist Figure Girl,” written at the end of last year:
It is December 12, 2009, and I am at the gym, feeling euphoric. Continue reading