The Conformist

I’m officially a yuppie.

I realized this while driving my Toyota Prius down a Vancouver street, listening to U2, with five avocados in a reusable grocery bag on the seat next to me.

(FYI – the official, Mirriam-Webster dictionary definition of “yuppie” is: a young college-educated adult who is employed in a well-paying profession and who lives and works in or near a large city. While I’m not especially young (I may or may not be in my mid 30s) or in an especially well-paying profession, I do live and work in a large-ish city so that should count for something.)

It just sort of happened… I slowly grew up and began conforming to accepted behavior and established practices – including shopping at Whole Foods, eating tofu, and listening to classic rock.

(Believe me, I didn’t seek to conform. For much of my life, I definitely did not conform. In fact, some might have even called me a nonconformist because my behavior and/or views definitely did not conform to prevailing ideas or practices – i.e. I wore thrift store clothing and dyed my hair yellow and read experimental poetry!*)

I digress.

I want to talk about the best thing about conforming… Whole Foods.

I love Whole Foods.

I love everything about it… I love the smoothie station. I love the natural products. I love the cashiers with their green aprons. I love that some Whole Foods have bars and food and a really great happy hour. I love that all of the bathrooms have toilet seat covers!!!!! I love the paper bags which are super handy for so many things. I love the high ceilings. I love the pre-cut watermelon. I love the varied and vast assortment of kombucha drinks. I love that you can return anything with a receipt (I returned a chicken that tasted gross last week). I love the free parking. I love the free samples. I love that they have six kinds of tamari. I love all the things!

And you know what? It’s okay.

Conforming is okay.

It’s just going with the flow, playing the game, meeting halfway, rolling with the punches, following the beaten path…**

I mean, we all grow up, and we all feel a little bit less, and we all die a little bit inside every. single. day. This is totally normal. This is just growing up, and taking on responsibility, and signing on the dotted line of a mortgage that you can’t afford. It’s totally okay. This is just being an adult.

It’s just maturity… and it’s fine.

I mean, they have six kinds of tamari.

 

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* And! Because I was a member of a Protestant church in England that dissents from the established Anglican Church (which is also called a nonconformist)!

** These are all just synonyms of conforming.

 

 

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The Momentous Moment

There are moments in one’s life that define one (and one’s life).

In other words, there are going to be moments that define you, determine your fate, and are important in you life’s journey. Some might even call these events momentous,* which, I must say, is a really good word to describe such things.

A job interview. A first date. A first kiss. A third wedding… Those kinds of things.

Moments that are etched in your mind forever. Moments that you will never, ever, ever forget… No matter how much you try, and how much time has passed, and how much therapy you have undertaken, and how good your therapist is.

Those kinds of moments.

I hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Not all of these moments are good. Sometimes these moments are really, really bad and also quite embarassing.

If, for some lucky reason, you have never been embarrassed and have managed to coast through life poised and graceful, then I actually feel sorry for you because embarassment builds character (and you can quote me on that).

If, like me, you have not managed to avoid embarassment (the self-conscious emotion dictated by a disconnect between how we feel we should respond or act in public and how we actually respond or act), then you might appreciate this story.

The date was March 30, 2015. The city was Burbank, California. It was around 6pm. My husband and I were meeting some friends for dinner at Adana, a Persian restaurant that had recently been praised by The New York Times writer Mark Bittman. In other words, it was quite a scene**.

The restaurant is in an indrustrial area on San Fernando Road, which is a busy four-lane road. The windows have dark drapes that are kept closed, and you wouldn’t know it was any different from the self storage next door, except for a small sign that says, Adana.

As we walked up to the restaurant, we noticed a Buick LeSabre*** pull up in front and an older gentleman get out of the vehicle. We didn’t pay much mind, because there are approximately seven billion people on earth, and he was just one of them.

I wish I had.

I opened the door, stepped inside the restaurant, and was immediately blinded by no fewer than 100 camera flashes and a very enthusiastic and deafening rendition of “Happy Birthday” that quickly trailed off when they realized I was not the birthday boy.

I stood there, paralyzed with fear, in front of at least 100 Armenians that did not look happy****.

My whole life flashed before me: my first job interview. My first date. My first kiss. My third wedding… And then I thought about how bummed all of these Armenians would be to go through their photos later, and see pics of some stupid white chick.

I reached for my husband’s hand… knowing that we have taken sacred marital oaths and consumated our marriage literally dozens of times, to signify that whatever life brings our way, we will get through it together…

Yeah, he was nowhere to be found. Apparently, when he saw the flashes go off and heard the singing start, he ducked back outside the restaurant, leaving me alone, red-faced, literally***** dying of embarassment.

Finally, a waiter rushed over and pulled me aside, just as Buick LeSabre guy opened the door, and was immediately blinded by no fewer than 100 camera flashes and a very enthusiastic and deafening rendition of “Happy Birthday” that was sung through to completion.

My husband entered the restaurant and rushed over to me, but it was all very momentous and I needed to sit down.

Let’s just say we didn’t consumate our marriage that night.

 

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* If you’re the kind of person who likes to throw around big words to prove to the world (and specific people) that you’re very highbrow and fancy, I would suggest adding momentous to your vernacular. Momentous (if you don’t already know) is an adjective to describe a very, very important decision, event, or change, which is of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.

** You know, associated with or immersed in a particular cultural scene.

*** I can’t actually remember what kind of car it was, but if you’re telling a story and you need a car make and model, I highly recommend a Buick LeSabre.

**** Okay, full disclosure: some of them looked happy, and some of them did not look happy.

***** Not literally.

 

 

The Oprah

Oprah announced that she will not be running for president in 2020, stating, “It’s not something that interests me… I don’t have the DNA for it.”

And the world let out a collective sigh.

Oprah was, and is, relatable, brilliant, emotionally intelligent, inspirational, and she has great hair. Oprah would have made a great president.*

I hope she still has this jacket

When I was seven years-old, watching Oprah’s first syndicated tabloid talk show that I definitely should not have been watching at age seven, I knew that she was destined for more. (I was a very perceptive child.)

Aside from having the it** factor, Oprah is Oprah. And when you have just one name, you are always destined for more.

I mean, the very fact that your parents looked at you and said, “This child only needs one name!”

Side note: It must be really nice to have parents that think you are so special that they give you just one name. In fact, I’ll bet that having parents that think you are so special that they give you just one name contributes to increased feelings of self-worth that sets you up for a lifetime of success. It’s just a theory – but I think it really checks out.***

Still, I’m sure that there are pros and cons to having just one name.

Pro: You’re definitely destined for greatness. See: Madonna. Cher. Beyonce. Bono. Sting. Prince.

Pro: You get to hang out with other people that only have just one name because you are all fabulous, and you can relate to each other on a one-name level.

Proof

Con: It can get confusing at Starbucks when the barista calls out your order: “Oprah!” And you look around, and you wait to make sure no one else is reaching for the non-fat, half-caff, extra hot latte because at Starbucks, everyone is special and is called by one name.

Con: I would imagine it’s not super convenient when you’re registering for Amazon Prime, and it requires a last name.

I digress.

Oprah should run for president.

 

 

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* Dear Oprah, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that even though you said you didn’t want to be president and that it doesn’t interest you and that you don’t have the DNA for it, it is totally cool if you want to change your mind. For the longest time I thought that I hated avocados, but then I tried one and I loved it, and now I eat avocados all the time (5x/week). Another example: I thought knitting was for sad, old people, but I now know that it’s for very cool (and warm!) people, so I’m considering taking it up. I don’t know how much thought you actually gave to the presidency, but maybe just let it percolate for a few extra years. Washington D.C. is lovely, and there’s a restaurant there that has pizza with a sourdough crust, which is really, really good. I can’t remember the name right now, but if you end up being president I’ll make sure to get it to you.

** Charisma! Something magical that you just can’t put your finger on!

*** I have three names, and I have suffered.

 

The Womance

I was so sure that I had created a new term.

It wouldn’t be the first time… Barf bag ripper. Wacky bat nuts. Those terms came from my brain, vibrated through my vocal chords, and then spat out of my mouth – and were quickly and firmly entrenched into the lexicon of modern English.

Last fall I spent a week at Royal Roads University doing a residency for my Communications Management Post-Graduate Certificate. During the residency, I met a very special group of ladies (and one man!), and we just clicked. 

To be clear: I don’t mean that we made a short, sharp sounds as of a switch being operated or of two hard objects coming into contact. Or, the act of selecting options on an electronic interface by pressing a button or touching a screen.

(I mean, we definitely did both of those things, but that isn’t what I meant by clicked.)

What I meant by clicked is that we immediately formed a very close relationship in a way that is usually associated with an empowering summer camp experience, or a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

In five short days, five of us went from strangers to best buds, and our friendship has continued to flourish. We may live in different cities in Western Canada, but we text and email regularly, we send holiday cards, and we meet up when we’re in the same city.

Last night we were texting, and one of the ladies commented on our bromance (you know, a close, emotionally intense bond between two men).

I replied: “You mean womance.”

I was so proud of myself. I wrote the word down on a scrap of paper: womance… Yet another phrase to be quickly and firmly entrenched into the lexicon of modern English. I felt super cool, self-important, and lofty.

And then I googled it and I found out its already a thing. (insert crying emoji.)

According to Wikipedia, womance (also called a sismance, or shemance) is a close but non-sexual relationship between two or more women. 

So it’s already a thing.

So many things are already things!

This happens to me all of the time: I’ll think of some thing, and then I’ll get all excited, and then I’ll google it, and then I’ll find out its already a thing, and then I’ll become so disheartened that I need to go lie down.

Creativity is really a blessing and a curse.

*googling*

That’s already a thing.

I have to go lie down now.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sympathy

A note about this blog: I was already considering the subject of sympathy before I was struck down with the gruesome norovirus last week, which then transitioned into a monster cold/flu that had me down and out for the last seven days. 

As we all know, “sympathy” is a Latin term from the late 16th century, from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathēs, from sun- ‘with’ + pathos‘feeling.’

Sympathy means, roughly (and, according to Dictionary.com) – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

An example of misfortune could be* contracting the norovirus and then spending 14 hours on the cold, hard, marble floor of your bathroom between bouts of barfing and wondering if there is a God, and if there is a God why does she/he/they let very bad things (like the norovirus) happen to good people**, followed by three days of trying very hard not to barf. And then, just when you think it might be over, you are plunged into an extreme cold/flu that knocks you out for another four days, giving you plenty of time to consider your life’s choices, and where it all went wrong. Because when your face is dripping with mucus and fluid, no one can see your tears.

That is definitely an example of someone else’s misfortune where you might want to express some sympathy – maybe with a card, or some flowers.

We could all use more sympathy (“we,” meaning all of humanity).

Expressing sympathy means that we have looked up from our phones*** and thought about someone else, and their misfortune.

It’s nice to think of others.

It’s also nice for others to know that you are thinking of them.

It’s also nice to think of others, thinking of you, thinking of them.

For example, when I very, very sick last week (like really, really sick), I got a very thoughtful text from a friend asking how I was, and I have to say, I was really touched****.

As I laid on the cold, hard, marble floor of my bathroom, wiping the barf from my cheek, and weeping (and! questioning God!), I heard that familiar ding from my phone, and I thought: “Someone is thinking of me… Someone has looked up from their phone, and then looked back down at their phone, and used their finger to type me a short message. I’m going to use everything I have in me to get up off of this floor, and check my text messages.

It turns out that the ding was actually my cell phone provider alerting me about data overages.

But still.

Two days later, when I got that text from my friend asking how I was, I thought it was really nice of her to think of me.

Because I love sympathy.

 

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* Just one example.

** Or, at least – people who try very, very hard to be good.

*** It’s always a phone.

**** Moved emotionally, not caressed or handled.

The Busy Is Real

Hello again.

It’s been a while.

First of all, I want to apologize.

(I’m a person who doesn’t mind apologizing. An apology means “I see you were harmed by my action, and that matters to me”. I know that there are many very unpleasant people that flat-out refuse to apologize no matter what they say or do, and I feel sad for those people.)

I am very sorry that it’s been so long since my last post. I know how much that each of you look forward to getting Hold Your Horse (the blog that you’re reading right now) delivered straight to your email inbox, along with valuable Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons.

I also know how much my blog brightens even the darkest winter days, and how it restores your faith in humanity, while also reminding you how valuable the gift of laughter really is.

I know all of these things.

I haven’t had time to write anything – except my name, and a 3800-word essay – for the past eight weeks because I have been so freakin’ busy.

I know that everyone is “busy”… everyone has lots of stuff going on at any one time. There’s lunch, and then there’s dinner, and then there’s that thing on Thursday with your cousins, and then there’s laundry, and then there’s paying bills, and then there’s work, and then there’s that important meeting, and then there’s all that paperwork, and then there’s the thing with the thing.

Busy! So busy!

I also know that people often tell people that they are “busy” as an excuse for not doing things they never wanted to do anyway.

That is not the case here!

The busy is real.

I have wanted to do all the things* (including write blogs for the enjoyment, of you, my attractive, stylish, and vivacious reader) but I just have not had the time (because of all the busy).

I’m going to try to post more regularly in the coming year because: a) I love to brighten dark winter days; and 2) when people tell me that they liked my blog, or that it made them smile, I am touched**.

Thanks for all the love and support this year.

Merry Christmas, and wishing you all the best in 2018.

Love, Kim

 

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* Send cards, phone (anyone), attend holiday events, see people, talk to people, sing Christmas carols, make sweet love to my husband, see Star Wars, eat a balanced breakfast.

** Moved emotionally, not caressed or handled.

 

The Ref

So, I love sports now.

Pucks, balls, birdies – you name it – I love it.

Go sports!

The husband and I even like to occasionally take in a live sporting event from time to time. There’s nothing like it (there are obviously similar things to it, but nothing exactly like it – except for things that are exactly like it, like other hockey games, for instance).

Last week was one of those times.

We made our way to our seats, ready and excited to see some live sporting action.

Unfortunately, when you go to see a live action sporting event there is a factor you must take into consideration… A drawback to an otherwise lovely experience… You are not alone.

There are often (almost always) other people there.

At Rogers Arena in Vancouver, you are often surrounded by approximately 18,629 people, and often many of those people have been partaking in “loudmouth soup*.”

Last week was one of those times.

There were four gentlemen** seated directly in front of us that were partaking in a lot of things: mainly Parrot Bay Mango Coolers, but also (and in no particular order ), arm punching, SnapChatting, nudging each other hysterically, eating beefy burgers, and yelling at the ref.

One of the gentlemen** yelled at the ref a lot… A lot! Things like: “F— you.” “F—ing zebra.” and the classic, “Ref, you suck.”

It got me thinking… What if the ref heard this guy? What if the ref not only heard him, but took it to heart, got rattled, and became so distraught that he questioned his life choices… What if the ref called in sick for work the next day (even though he wasn’t really sick), but just so he could cry… What if the ref found himself googling, “career change” and then remembered how much he liked the game Operation as a young boy…. What if the ref went back to school to become a doctor… What if the ref not only became a doctor, but went on to complete an additional doctorate degree in cancer research, and then found a cure for all major cancers???

I mean, I guess then we would all have to hand it to the Parrot Bay Mango cooler-swilling ninny in section 301, row 12, seat 107, wouldn’t we?

* stands, starts slow-clapping *

Bravo.

 

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* The term respectively stolen from a masterpiece titled Dumb & Dumber.

** I use the term loosely.

IMG_0649

Go sports!

 

The Peafowl

I recently spent a week at Royal Roads University doing a residency for my Communications Management Post-Graduate Certificate.

I could go into detail about how it was one of the best weeks of my life, I learned a lot about myself and others, and I made some amazing new friends…

But, I won’t.

Because I actually really want to talk about peafowl (people don’t spend enough time talking about peafowl).

Royal Roads is known for a lot of things*, and one of those things is the many peafowl – peacocks and peahens – that wander its grounds.

Here’s one wandering now…

For your information, many peafowl happen to be called a bevy (seriously), and while it’s not my favourite type of bevy**, it’s not a bad bevy.

(A bevy of peafowl is really a sight to behold, and I sincerely hope you have the privilege one day.)

Did you know that when a peacock fans its ornamented train for the ladies during mating season, its feathers quiver, emitting a low-frequency sound inaudible to human ears?

Well, it does.

It’s facts like that one that make me realize my decision to talk about peafowl (instead of one of the best weeks of my life), was indeed, the right decision.

Why did the peafowl cross the road?                   No seriously.

I mean, I could tell you about how my group came together to create a presentation on leadership and team-building best practices for an IBM executive in a mere four days; and how we re-energized by dancing to Michael Jackson by the ocean; and how we sustained ourselves with beer and chicken strips; and how we knocked our presentation out of the park (a home run); and how we became forever friends in the process… But, did you know that peafowl can fly, despite their massive trains?

I sure didn’t!

I mean, I thought I was just going to take a Post-Graduate Certificate in Communications Management, and attend a residency on campus – no big whoop – but then I end up learning so much about peafowl (and myself, and others, and humanity in general…)!

Who knew?

I sure didn’t.

 

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* I’m not entirely sure of what all the things are, but I do know that it’s a lot of things.

** Um, that’d be Scotch Whiskey.

 

 

The Mind, It Boggles

Do you ever think about the fact that we are all just clinging to earth, as it rotates on its axis, at around 1674 kilometers an hour, and also orbits around the sun, traveling 940 million kilometers each year (give or take)?

I mean, it is pretty crazy, right?

We are all part of this constant, even movement that’s been going on for hundreds of millions (possibly billions, maybe even trillions) of years.

It’s mind-boggling!

Sometimes it actually boggles my mind, and I have to stop and have a stiff drink.

The idea that we are all hanging out, and hanging onto, this precious earth, as it spins and orbits, oh, and also gives us everything we need to sustain human life (water, air, food, and a new season of Will & Grace)… I mean, it’s all just too much to think about sometimes (a Gin & Tonic helps).

But here’s the thing: it’s worth thinking about sometimes!

It is important – and necessary – to consider the earth, the miracle that is life, and why you are on this earth right now.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick delivers a famous line: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” referring to his chance encounter with his ex, Ilsa, who walks into a club with her current husband (who happens to be a Czech resistance leader wanted by the Nazis). I mean, it’s quite the coincidence.

But you, being here, on this earth, right now, is also a rather large coincidence. Possibly too large.

So, maybe it’s no coincidence?

Why are you here, on this earth, right now – as opposed to being here (on this earth) during the middle ages, or Proterozoic era, or (and I wish this was true for me) the Ming Dynasty?

Good question, and one that is definitely worth pondering.

I am of the opinion that we all have a purpose.

Everybody’s purpose is probably different, but they most likely involve showing love, being kind, and caring about other creatures (people, animals, bugs, some types of flowers) that also happen to be here, on this earth, right now.

I don’t know what my own purpose is, but I think it’s worth thinking about.

Why am I here, on this earth, right now? (I need a drink.)

Some people think our universe is all just a huge fluke, and there is no reason for our existence. They might be right.

But I don’t think they’re right.

Unless this is all a Truman Show-type hoax?


 

The “Hi, how are you?”

I love to disarm people.

And by disarm I mean, to divest or relieve of hostility, suspicion; win the affection or approval of; to charm.

I also love to disarm people by depriving them of a weapon or weapons. Both ways of disarming are obviously great, and helpful in many situations, but I’d like to speak to the former.

A few of my friends have said when they go through TSA at the airport, or cross the border at a land crossing, they get very, very anxious.

And it’s not because they are smuggling drugs (as far as I know).

They are just normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill Canadians that want to get on a plane or do a Trader Joe’s run. These are good people, with nothing (or very little) to hide, that are just jonesin’ for a jar of Tomatillo salsa. But for some reason they get sweaty palms and a dry mouth when they talk to a TSA agent or border guard.

Maybe it’s the crew cut, or the dark shades, or the attitude, or the fact that they have a gun*?

Or, maybe it’s because they (my friends) have  unconsciously-held issues with authority that makes them respond to power and/or control in inappropriate ways, and perhaps they find themselves fluctuating between over-compliance and hostility? I mean, I’m no psychologist, but that’s probably it.

Whatever it is that makes people so nervous and awkward that they blurt out their SIN number, mother’s maiden name, and sexual history (when he just asked you the purpose of your trip), I can help.

It’s called, the “Hi, how are you?”

It’s very easy… (I really wish I could make money from sharing this information with you).

As you approach the TSA agent or border guard – before they have a chance to say anything – smile and say, “Hi, how are you?”

It literally disarms them.

And by “disarm” I mean, to divest or relieve of hostility, suspicion; win the affection or approval of; to charm – I do NOT mean, depriving them of a weapon or weapons*.

It’s just that simple.

Those four little words literally disarm them (again, I mean to divest or relieve of hostility, suspicion; win the affection or approval of; to charm – I do not mean depriving them of a weapon or weapons*).

Most people do not extend pleasantries to their TSA agents or border guards, which is a shame because their job is tough, and thankless (without thanks), and I’m sure they would benefit greatly from a few more positive interactions at work**.

So, next time you find yourself face-to-face with a TSA agent or border guard, just say, “Hi, how are you?” and feel free to thank me later***.

A few notes:

  • You must say it quickly, all in one breath: Hi-how-are-you?
  • You must have your music off.
  • You must have your sunglasses off.
  • You must be a woman.
  • You must not try to be funny.
  • You must limit eye contact to six seconds.
  • You must not be chewing gum.
  • You must not be smuggling drugs.

See? Easy!

 

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* I’m obviously talking about the TSA agent or border guard.

** NEVER DO THIS. DO NOT TRY TO DEPRIVE A BORDER GUARD OF A WEAPON OR WEAPONS. YOU WILL GO TO JAIL, OR WORSE.

*** Who wouldn’t?

**** With cash.