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it’s all talk

I’ve been trying to figure out, lately, what the point of having difficult conversations is.

I know this is a perspective informed by growing up in a family where there was never any point in bringing anything up, because it would always make it worse, and never make anything better. So I have a deeply held fatalism about the pointlessness of changing anyone’s mind. And in fact–since then, I’ve rarely seen conversation effect a deep change in someone’s point of view.

The racist ex who was racist when we were together–still racist, many many years after breaking up, though we discussed it. Bluntly.

Sexist, anti-feminist relatives: still sexist, still anti-feminist.

Fundamentalist, homophobic, racist, climate denialist relatives are still fundamentalist, homophobic, racist climate denialists.

The people I know who are committed to making the world a better place and already know about injustice are the ones who are most likely to adjust their point of view to accommodate new information, but that’s not them changing. That’s just an extension of who they are, who they’ve already decided to be.

I read all those articles about how to have conversations that change people’s minds, and they’re not convincing. (Ironic, eh?) There’s no scientific method, no experimental design, no quantitative results–it’s all anecdotal just-so stories that reflect the way the authors think it’s supposed to work.

Yet people do change their minds.

I was a fundamentalist, homophobic, racist, deeply misogynistic girl child. I changed.

My relatives didn’t, but I did.

I have some friends who have changed remarkably over the time I’ve known them. I know more who haven’t. Some who have made repeated commitments to be horrible people over decades, and who are no longer my friends.

People can change; most don’t.

How long do you engage with someone?

When do you even bother trying?

When do you stop?

How did I change? Can I even describe that? I was pro-life in grade 9 and pro-choice in grade 12. Was it just that my first opinions were formed by a family I still depended on, and that as I got exposure outside that bubble, I was able to assimilate it? That makes sense, but then why didn’t my cousins? (Of the six cousins on that side, two have made moderate strides away from the super-right-wing awfulness, but I would say they still fall closer to that end a lot.) They also would have gone to schools and interacted with peers who challenged their views and provided new information and perspectives. And it didn’t take.

I had one acquaintance in highschool who was/is deeply misogynistic. He says terrible things about women. He’s the guy posting rape jokes on your timeline and complaining that women are uptight bitches when they don’t laugh. He was abused by his mother; but then so was I, and I changed.

I have one friend who was a boyfriend, who was unbelievably sexist when we first started dating, to the point where I wonder why it was I didn’t dump him right away. I should have. He jokes now that he used to be very Fox News, and it’s true; I joke that he’s my token republican friend, even though he hates just about everything the republicans have done in the past few years. Now when I see him on FB he’s probably posting a cutting rejoinder to a racist comment on a public news feed. He gives me and our conversations a lot of credit in why and how he changed, and that’s nice, but there’s a lot of other people who have had the same conversations with me, and they haven’t changed.

The guys I’ve dated in the last few years who said sexist or misogynistic things then assaulted and/or harassed me. Those statements were an accurate reflection of their views on women, and their actions towards women. At this point it feels like a mountainous risk to engage with a man with those kinds of views; like taking a child’s toy shovel to a stable full to the rafters with manure in the hopes that, at the end of it, you might find a gold coin underneath. And there are so many men with those views.

I went on a date recently with a guy who seemed really nice. He wasn’t super attractive but we talked easily and I was enjoying his company. Until the waiter came by and asked us if we wanted one bill or two, and he said we might order more–even though we definitely were done eating–and then when she was walking by the table made a loud comment about giving her a low tip. I was utterly mortified. “There’s a line-up,” I said; “they probably need the table free.” When he went to the bathroom I apologized to the waitress and asked for separate bills so I could make sure she got a big tip on my order. I know it could be read as everyday borderline rudeness, but in that moment, it felt very much as him putting a woman in her place.

Recently I had a conversation with a guy on a dating app who seemed funny and we were talking well. I mentioned I was going to a dance class and he made a joke about flashdance.

I’ve gotten very tired of stripping jokes. It’s an immediate turnoff. There’s so many ways to take that conversation and the one towards the guy’s boner is just not the direction I want to go.

I told him that I’m not a big fan of the stripping comparisons.

And got back a diatribe about how awful and wrong it was of me to be offended (I never said I was offended) and it should be expected on dating sites for conversations to go that way and that speech isn’t an action so it’s not like he actually did anything (I don’t think I mentioned that this guy is, professionally, a therapist) and clearly I’m going to be offended by everything he says so he’s going to stop talking to me. Red flags flying around like candy at a santa parade.

At least 75% of the conversations I’m in on dating apps die quickly because the guy just won’t stop talking about himself and never reciprocates with a question, or displays any interest when I share something about me. We haven’t even exchanged full names or phone numbers, let alone met, and they’re already slotting me into the Audience category where they are the Main Star of the show. How is that attractive? What expectations do these men have? How is this going to add anything to my life?

I took the apps off my phone. I kind of hate men right now.

(Don’t ask about the ones I meet dancing. They’re worse.)

Dating was a lot easier when I had low self-esteem and a high tolerance for bullshit. I think I had energy for these kinds of conversations and some kind of faith that they would lead somewhere worth going. Now it makes my brain hurt to even think about it.

I have what I think is a FWB. He’s cute. He’s funny. He’s very smart. He thinks he’s one of the good ones–he’ll make comments about sexism or whatever that makes it clear he wants to be thought of in that category–but then he’ll say something victim-blaming about the women in promiment harassment or rape cases and you know, I don’t say a damned thing. It makes me think less of him, and I have not only no faith in the idea that I can alter his thinking by talking to him, but absolutely no interest in or energy for tackling it. Whatever. He’s going to be a liberal sexist. That’s his choice. His reward for that is wondering why we only see each other once a month or so.

At this point there’s no one in my life I talk to regularly who I have major values or human rights disagreements with. They’ve all been polite-distanced to the outer periphery. I feel like I’ve used up my lifetime quota of believing I can make the world better through one-on-one conversations with people who have reached midlife (or later) secure in the belief that other people are less human than they are. Or that they themselves are somehow extra human, and more deserving.

The end result of all of this is that I really don’t have these conversations. Even though I know sometimes it must make some kind of difference, it’s not often enough to make it worth all the work, or all the rage, that goes into having them.

Does that energy come back, do you think? Or have I passed a thresshold where I am just never, ever having a conversation like that again?


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where I’ve been

Nowhere much. The Rock Star thing didn’t pan out, for reasons I’d rather not get into. Working, mothering, writing, thinking, reading, the usual. Dating, and growing increasingly disenchanted with it. Not blogging, or at least, not here.

When I first started this blog there were a lot of things I wanted to process–my family, my marriage, how not to repeat those mistakes–and while I am far, far from being finished, I no longer need to spend so much time thinking about them, and writing it out to find out what I think. It just feels over.

And instead I spent way too much time here writing about dating, which was cathartic and all but a big distraction from more worthwhile pursuits. Also, thanks to the stats post, I’ve mostly come to terms with the idea that I’m going to be single for a long time. Not consistently single, you know, as in sitting here with my non-existent cats, but probably without a long-term partnership. The combination of the unlikelihood of finding all the things I’m looking for plus living in a small town where the options are limited to begin with added to my inability to bend on what I’m looking for, my continued need to feel 99% sure before moving forward in a relationship thanks to my experiences with the Ex and the divorce’s impact on PP, means I’m going to be sitting tight and waiting for someone who is pretty fucking special and worth any compromises which would have to be correspondingly slim–not just a decent guy who seems like he’ll do because I’m tired of being lonely.

I am tired of it. Thoroughly sick of it. Hard-core introverts in the audience will understand when I say that coming home to an empty house every night sucks, but going out every night to spend time with groups of people is just too exhausting for words. On the other hand, coming home every night to the wrong person is in every respect worse.

What this means right now is that I am dating with low expectations and a bad attitude. I put practically no time into it and am more irritated at messages than anything. On the plus side I’m getting a lot better and finding people to go out with who I have something significant in common with (environmentalism or politics or whatever) so when it (inevitably) doesn’t go anywhere, since I didn’t get all that invested in the first place, it usually tempers into a nice acquaintanceship, and at least I end up with people to chat with every now and then.

In any case, work is going well, the Ex is being only a moderate dickhead, I am reading and writing and sewing up a storm, slowly but surely branching out and making more local acquaintances, and enjoying PP, who is as fabulous as ever. You know, I can’t feel too sorry for myself if the reason I’m still single is because I’m not willing to trade the life I’ve got to be in a mediocre relationship. A lot of married people, especially unhappily married people, would probably be quite happy with my life; and I’ll be a lot of single women my age without kids would kill to have a beautiful little girl like PP in their lives. In fact I’ll bet a lot of them are dating specifically because they want to one day be in my shoes, parenting-wise.

So there you have it.

Anyway, I’m not going to be back here again, but I didn’t want to just leave that last post as the, well, last post; so here’s an official goodbye. Thanks to everyone who’s read along over the years. It would have been nice to have a more traditional happy ending, but this one will have to do.

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1. You’ve been in this industry for three weeks already. Get some humility and stop telling the rest of us what to do. I’ve been writing EAs since I was twenty years old and, thankyouverymuch, I KNOW HOW GOVERNMENT WORKS and how this process works. When you try to tell me what to do, it makes you sound arrogant, ignorant and stupid.

2. When you see us doing something you don’t understand, try assuming that there’s a reason for it and asking what that reason is, rather than assuming that we’re all fucking idiots who have just been sitting around waiting for you to show up and correct us.

3. You’re not here as a management consultant. Try to remember that.

4. In our industry, project managers don’t just coordinate and go to meetings, they actually DO THE WORK. That means you are dangerously ignorant of your actual job. Spend a bit of quality time managing your projects, eh? Because as of next week you will have missed some critical windows that won’t be repeated for a year. The clients will be much less impressed with your wonderful and useless spreadsheets when they realize that your incompetence and failure to grasp your actual responsibilities has killed their projects.

5. Throwing outrageous compliments on a pile of offences does not actually work to reduce the original offences.


Dear Readers, the new PM is personable, outgoing, friendly, tries to be charming, and completely utterly incompetent, arrogant, domineering, bossy, somewhat bullying, and dangerously overconfident. I need to brainstorm some ways of dealing with this that don’t involve me slapping her, calling her names, or leading an underground insurrection against her–all of which have been possibilities over the last week.

The simple fact is that she is not ready. She has four weeks of experience in this industry, and she has made it plain (to the serfs, not the lords) that she has no intention of making herself intimate with the details of this process or the implications of the various parts. Thus she is making very bad decisions and letting things fall through the cracks and there is no recourse, because she won’t listen. And our company is much too small to carry such dead weight (especially when I consider what her salary is likely to be). She’s still on probation.

What should I do?

I know that several others I work with have similar concerns, and are equally frustrated. It’s not just me. But as one of the other PMs, I think it falls to me to try to deal with it before it becomes an issue for the projects. So–

The first thing, I think, is to get some sense of whether this is just me and the bubble of people I deal with most day-to-day, or if she is creating equal difficulties for other folks. I don’t want to come right out and say, “tell me if you hate the new PM as much as I do.” I’ll try to feel out a few people over the next week or so, I guess.

The second thing is to document specific instances of the problems we’re having, going back over the last few weeks and continuing for another two or three.

And then the third thing is to sit down w/ the Owner and the VP and lay out the concerns and some options for dealing with it. The main thing is that we really need a PM; I can’t manage this workload on my own, and I don’t know if letting her go is an option. On the other hand, if that’s what we have to do, it all gets a lot more complicated in a few months if she passes her probation date.


This would have been a lot easier if they had just hired someone with an appropriate background. For the love of god, people; she has spent her career to date in EXECUTIVE RECRUITMENT. She doesn’t have the first fucking clue what she’s doing. And she won’t listen.

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and another thing…

You know, today was the first day I noticed that some of you actually subscribe to the blog comment feeds! I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but I am.


That’s not the subject of my post. The subject of my post is (cue creepy music and picture wavy, glowing green font here) … my mother.

My mother, who has now tanked her third business since her retirement a couple of years ago. I’ll take a landscaping course and do a landscaping business! She got the certificate, and did nothing with it, because it was hard to find clients. I’ll become a personal trainer! She bought all the equipment and distributred a few flyers and never got a client, because finding clients is hard. I’ll buy a franchise for providing home care services to elderly and disabled people! She and my Dad spent about $50k on it and setting up the business and that was like three months ago and now she wants to quit because finding clients is hard.

My Dad was over this weekend with my brother and nephew (so include my father in this rant). Gosh, he said. I knew it would be tough but I didn’t think it would be this tough, and I didn’t think your mother would react this way. (She is, apparently, depressed and refusing to answer the phone, thus jeapordizing their contract and possibly putting them in legal trouble.)


This, of course, is what denial looks like.

Because this is the way she’s always been. Something gets hard, she wants to quit, gets depressed when she can’t back out easily, and it’s always everyone’s fault but hers. Argh.

It’s not my money, it’s not my business, and it has no impact on my life, but I get so frustrated when I see them doing such blindingly stupid batshit crazy things and having no self-perception to learn from their mistakes or even see each other clearly enough to know that this is ALWAYS how my mother has been and how she ALWAYS will be.

But this is the same man who knows his mother was abusive and still believes that she was, deep down, a good person who loved them (his sisters are the same way). That his father was a saint for sticking with her instead of an enabler who didn’t protect his kids from a crazy woman with a knife. And this is the same woman who can calmly blame an infant and a child for her own abusive behaviour, because she can’t accept responsibility for anything ever. So I’m not surprised. I’m frustrated, but not surprised. They’re 60, they’ve had a lifetime of practice at seeing lime-green as fuschia and stripes as plaid, they’re not changing.

And because they’re not changing and I can’t change them and it’s a situation I have no control over that doesn’t affect me, except for likely hearing my Dad complain over the next several months about how my mother is depressed and won’t talk to him …. I will let it go.

But not just yet. First I am going to wave my fists a little and yell OHMYGODTHESEPEOPLEAREFUCKINGCRAZYIWANTTHEMALLCOMMITTED!

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I saw the wedding dress pictures. God she’s pretty, eh?

If you want to ask “what wedding,” please visit your local english newspaper’s website. Yes. THAT wedding.

Thank you for having a tasteful wedding and thus freeing the rest of us from the shackles of celebrating our special day in a white silk sausage. Not that I will be doing so anytime soon.

What I like about them is they seem so normal, in so many ways. Down to the multiple break-ups and reconciliations.

Do you wonder what it was like trying to date after breaking up with the heir to England’s throne?

“I went on a date last night with the son of Alcan’s owner, and he was so nice and we had such a great time, but he’s just not the Prince of England.” Would everyone else feel like settling after that, do you think?

Did they get married because they love each other and they want to build a happy marriage? Or because Kate felt that she couldn’t do better than the guy who could make her England’s next Queen?

I guess we’ll find out when they write the tell-all biography in a decade or two. In the meantime, I hope not.

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New insulin pump! Hurrah!

It has a remote control in the blood sugar meter! Double hurrah!

Dressed up for easter in a dress, hid the pump in my bra after carefully disabling the alarms. How nice to have it safely stashed away where I won’t have to fiddle with it or worry about it falling out of my skirt onto my shoes….

…until it started buzzing at the easter dinner table.

One or two little wrinkles left to work out before I try this at the office.

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the confession part

I don’t know. Isn’t this whole blog a confession? Do any of you feel any particular need to learn another deep, dark secret? I mean, it’s not like I spare myself. In fact, wasn’t I writing just the other day about how I take too much responsibility, and confess to things I didn’t properly do?

How about a lighthearted confession?

Grade 8 grad dance. I was wearing that black strapless dress with the little white bolero jacket that stores seem to sell perennially (I’m pretty sure I saw it at the mall last year). I was easily the least popular kid in my school but I was looking forward to the grad dance and got myself all dolled up. (No one asked me to dance and I was crushed, of course, but it took so little to make me hopeful back then–and as it turned out I was just one or two months away from my Era of Sexual Harassment, so it was all about to change.)

I entered the gym where the dance was held with two girls I was friendly with.

“Whew,” said one of them. “Something smells nice in here.”

“It’s probably me,” said Maeve, thinking about the perfume I had just bought and was wearing that night for the first time. Cue awkward silence between the two girls who were undoubtedly wondering how the heck I managed to miss the sarcasm in their exchange. Took me a while to realize I’d announced to the two of them that I smelled like gym socks.

But there you have it, Dear Readers: taking things at face value is a habit I’ve had for a long, long time. It continues to plague me.

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