[Addendum] A couple of very promising things happened to me after I wrote this that have made me feel better about things, one of which is the possibility of a job that I really believe I would actually enjoy doing (apparently they do exist!). But even if I don’t get this dream job, my verdict, in this respect, is that I will just have to find a way to strike a balance. I’m sure there’s a way to keep paying the bills while trying to pursue my silly pipe dreams if I can stop complaining long enough to work towards them.


I’ve owned a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, since I was old enough to read it. This is one of my favourite poems from that book:

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Sittin’ in the sun
Talkin’ about the things
They woulda coulda shoulda done.
All the Wouldas-Couldas-Shouldas
ran away and hid
from the one little Did.

The more I think about how much I hate the word “should,” the more I realize how often I think about this poem. Considering where I am in my life right now, I think that makes sense. I’ve finished the part of my life that was laid out for me – i.e. school – and now I have to actually figure out what I should do. Unfortunately, I fear that I’ve become so wrapped up in figuring that out, that I’ve stopped doing.

I blame the two voices in my head…

Practical/Pessimistic Me: I should choose a career that is suited to my strengths, with good job security and one that will support me financially. There is nothing romantic about poverty; money matters.

Ambitious/Optimistic Me: I shouldn’t compromise. Why should I settle for Plan B when I haven’t even given Plan A – however unattainable it may seem – a fair chance? There are plenty of people who’ve achieved the kind of things I want to achieve – and many more who’ve failed, I know, but at least they tried.

On odd-numbered days, I agree with Practical Me. I have responsibilities. My mother can’t work forever, and according to my relatives, it’s up to me to support her one day, which means having a steady source of income. Plus, if I never try, then I can never fail. Most days, I’d rather be someone with potential, then someone who tried and failed.

On the even-numbered days, however, I feel compelled to side with Ambitious Me. I fear that, eventually, I’m going to end up in a nice house, with a stylish but fuel-efficient car and a very nice two-tier oven and I’m going to be absolutely miserable. As Howard Thurman said, “don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” If pressed to choose, I’d have to say that I’d rather be alive… But then again, Howard, that’s easier said than done.

What is the more responsible choice? There is a responsibility that is figuring out how to survive in this world, and understanding that not all things are possible. That sometimes you have to compromise what you want for what you need.

But there’s also a responsibility that we have to ourselves to not let a soul-crushing job and endless commutes and bureaucracy and income taxes and timesheets and printers crush us under the weight of its all-encompassing … sorry, I digress. Perhaps the truly mature thing to do is to refuse to compromise, and to understand that we often create our own limitations – that, or they’re created by others and self-imposed out of a simple lack of confidence or pessismism.

So what’s reality, and what’s negativity? Maybe what I think I just want, is actually what I need?

I sometimes wonder if all the great entrepreneurs and thinkers and politicians and game-changers of the world succeeded simply because they refused to listen to people – including themselves – when they were told that they should try to be more realistic with their goals.

Another quotation… “Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to” – unknown author.

Of course, I exaggerate. Our choices aren’t always so black-and-white. I get through most days by telling myself that I’ll just work at a job I don’t care about until I can figure out Plan A. Or I’ll work on Plan A in my free time, and keep doing Plan B during the day because, well, it pays the bills. Sadly, I feel that it’s a slippery slope and complacency is always creeping up on me. And time is always in poor supply.

I wish I had a more inspiring way to end this post. But I don’t. I’m sure the “movie” way to end it would be to say, “Screw it! I’ll follow my dreams! Now watch me fly!”

Unfortunately, you’re not going to get that. Perhaps the reason so many popular quotations are inspirational and idealistic is because they were said by people who succeeded (or failed, and then later succeeded). No one quotes failures.

…Or maybe this is just one of those odd-numbered days.

I should probably take some time to think this through. Or I should just stop thinking so much and act… But, I mean, I would act, if I could just stop thinking about what I should do…

Two steps forward, two steps back

Culture, Politics and Current Events

Let’s do some feminist math, in honor of (the last hour of) International Women’s Day:

Book is published that shows it’s possible to turn female oppression into opportunity – now in its 20th printing: +1

It’s called Half the Sky, and it’s written by New York Times superheroes Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof. Read it.

Gold medalist with a penis drinks beer and is awesome. Gold medalists with vaginas drink beer and have to apologize: -1

And that’s in addition to the fact that hardly anyone even cared about women’s hockey at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (although that would include me; see Hockey! post). Also, while official pucks that were used in the men’s gold medal game were going for $3,000-$5,000 on eBay (with one day left in the auction, I didn’t see what they ended up being sold for), similar pucks from the women’s gold medal game went for less than $500. Even taking into consideration the Sidney Crosby Factor, that’s still pretty sad.

Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win an Academy Award for best director: +1

And it only took 82 years. In any case, I’m also enjoying the fact that she directed the gritty war drama, and her ex-husband directed the movie with all the pretty blue colours.

No one wants to dress Gabby Sidibe for the Oscars: -1

At the same awards show, controversy surrounds what designer is going to dress full-sized best actress nominee Gabby Sidibe (for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire). I think this issue has more to do with the inhuman standards of fashion and the superficiality of Hollywood culture than feminism, per se, but, again, both those things affect women more than they do men, so fair enough.

I guess I’d call it even.


Culture, Politics and Current Events

I don’t normally watch hockey, or any sport, for that matter. But this past week, I watched four men’s hockey games during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I was watching when we got crushed by the U.S., annihilated Russia, barely beat Slovakia and – with extremely bated breath – I was watching when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime on Feb. 28, breaking the hearts of millions of Americans (especially that of U.S. goalie Ryan Miller).

Sidney Crosby realizes he's won gold.

I don’t want to be accused of fake, or temporary, or crowd-induced patriotism… also known as Olympic Hockey Fever. I also hope I don’t sound like a bad feminist because I didn’t follow the women’s hockey as closely (who also won gold!). But I have to admit I got really caught up in the drama, the suspense and the excitement, before and after we won. I couldn’t help it. When Zach Parise tied the game with just seconds left, I thought I was going to cry. I nearly stopped breathing while we were in overtime. I clapped so hard I hurt my palms when I realized we won. I typed Facebook and Twitter statuses without looking away from the T.V. And then I teared up at photos of crowds cheering and celebrating in Vancouver and Toronto.

And yet, when I watched that first game against the U.S., I had to Google “power play.” I didn’t know who these players were, and I had to rely on the announcers to walk me through what was happening. What I did know, however, was that I hated Zach Parise and Ryan Miller with the passion of a thousand suns. And I knew that WE. HAD. TO. WIN.

I don’t care that I’m a tourist hockey fan. Or an Olympic sheep. I enjoyed every moment – a whole series of exhausting, terrifying, exhilarating, and proud moments – that I experienced with millions of other Canadians. I’m glad that I can tell people what I was doing and where I was when Canada won gold. Being a part of all that was worth all the stress. And there was a lot of stress. Did you see that goal that tied the game? SCREW YOU, PARISE!

And now back to my normal life.