Friday, September 24, 2010

Last Words

Greetings Friends,

It's no secret that new words enter our language on a somewhat regular basis. We find new ways in which to express ourselves, and before we know it, those new words and expressions we find ourselves using, go viral.

These days, you don't even need the stamp of approval from Merriam Webster or Oxford. They are no longer the last word when it comes to words. Now, all you have to do is plug your word into Google, and chances are, you'll find a Wikipedia page with a detailed explanation of what whoever wrote the page, thinks the word means. And the list keeps on growing.

When I was working towards my undergraduate degree, I took a Linguistics course as an elective. One exercise the professor made us perform was to make up words that were a combination of other words. Not compound words, but words that combined similar ideas. It was never my intention to become an etymologist, but the concept intrigued me. The way people use, and often misuse words, greatly intrigues me.

So, it's time for another Friday list: Nava's Favourite "New" Words:

Jeggings: This is one I just became aware of the other day. They're a garment that resembles a very tight pair of jeans, but are actually leggings. The effect is supposed to look tight, without actually being tight.

Bromance: a close, platonic relationship between two men.

Frenemy: a person with whom you are friendly, but inherently despise.

Metrosexual: a straight man who cares exceedingly about his appearance and personal grooming habits.

Defriend/Unfriend: the act of deleting someone from your online social networking universe. The modern-day equivalent of "flat-leaving".

Staycation: a cheeky term used to define one's decision to stay home, because taking a vacation is too expensive.

Tweetup: A meeting arranged via Twitter posts.

Microblogging: posting very short entries on a blog. Aren't those actually Tweets?

Netbook: a small laptop. Too bad; I'm partial to the big ones.

Soft Skills: the ability to interact effectively and harmoniously with others. I'm sorry, but I prefer "social" skills; abilities many people seem to be lacking nowadays.

Hikikomori (Japanese): the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males. Just because I spend most of my days with my laptop, does that mean I'm "hikikomoric"?

Toxic Debt: debt which is at high risk of default. Duh.

Chillax: to simultaneously calm down and relax. There's a town in British Columbia named Chilliwack; is it cool to "chillax" in Chilliwack?

And finally, some oldies, but goodies:

Sick: a term used to describe something that looks or is, smokin' hot, as in, "Those shoes are sick with that dress".

Perfumista: similar to a "fashionista"; someone who adores fragrances.

Dude: a term of friendly endearment, like "buddy". When did it become acceptable to call everyone "dude"?

Have a sick weekend.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Men and Women Still Can't Be Friends. Or Can They?

Greetings Friends,

As a prelude to tomorrow's contribution to The Perpetual Post, I give you two iconic scenes from one of my all-time favourite movies, When Harry Met Sally... Please scroll down to view the first "men and women can't be friends" segment. Technology, once again, has not been fully cooperative.


Men and Woman Can't Be Friends

Monday, September 20, 2010

Evil Canadian Empires

Greetings Friends,

Back in my Brooklyn days, getting cable TV was about as easy as finding piles of hundred dollar bills in random shopping bags. After much kicking and screaming and fighting with Cablevision, my favourite New York cable television entity, technology came to my household in August, 1989. This was after years of living vicariously through people whom I knew, living outside New York City, who had been enjoying Sportschannel, CNN and MTV since their inceptions. Living in New York City, well within range of over-the-air network television signals, meant that we lagged far behind the rest of the state, which didn't have that luxury; unless you were privileged enough to live in Manhattan, with access to Manhattan Cable and all the freakish public access channels. Alas, I was not so lucky.

I spent close to 20 years complaining there was nothing on television, despite the hundreds of channels I had access to. Now that I no longer have a top-of-the-line cable system, I am lost without it. Yeah, I still have cable, but access to premium channels like HBO are prohibitively expensive here in Canada. Why? As the title of this post explains, the two biggest providers of cable (or satellite in Bell's case), Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, are extremely adept at fleecing the Canadian population, charging outrageous amounts of money for premium television channels, as well as high-speed Internet, mobile phone service and even land-line phone service.

Since I've been living in Toronto, I've had major run-ins with both companies. When I first moved here last year, I entered into an agreement with Bell's offshoot mobile phone company, Solo, for a plan I was told included long distance minutes to the US, as part of the monthly charge. After 10 days, my service was cut off because I had exceeded the "spending cap" they had placed on my account, because the charges for the long distance minutes I'd racked up exceeded the amount of credit they were willing to give me. It took me over a month to get a straight answer from anyone, which ended up coming from someone at a Bell Canada corporate office here in Toronto. I was allowed to break my contract, since I was so obviously mislead by an inept sales rep who erroneously told me my long distance minutes were included in the charges. That sent me scurrying to Rogers Communications, who graciously offered me an iPhone 3G for less than the going rate, because I purchased a high-end package which includes long distance service to the US, a data plan for Internet access, unlimited texting, and a mobile Internet device for my laptop. All told, Rogers gets close to $200.00 a month out of me for all this; but this relationship has also been fraught with lies and miscommunication. My plan includes free talk time on nights and weekends. I was clearly told that this included long distance to the US. Of course, I made a point of talking to my friends and family in the States during the allotted "free" periods, until I received a bill one month for close to $300.00. After scraping myself off the floor, and sifting through the details of this bill, I noticed that I went over my allotted 500 long distance minutes, and was charged 35 cents a minute for every call over and above that limit. I was flabbergasted, and seething. I placed a call to Rogers, and thankfully, the excess charges were waived, but I was again misinformed about the long distance situation. This seems to be an issue with all the Canadian service providers, whereas in the US, they've been long been offering unlimited calls to Canada and across the US, in their upgraded packages. Here in Canada, you still have to purchase your US long distance minutes separately, at a pretty hefty cost; usually about $25.00-$35.00 extra per month. Why is this the case? Well, the reason, these usurious thieves claim, is because Canada does not have the population to support more reasonable charges for these services. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you; in Brooklyn.

The charges are so high because idiots like me are willing to pay them, and they're pretty much the same at the smaller companies like Telus and Fido. Recently, more competition entered the market, but the long distance plans are just as expensive. This is nothing more than an across the board cash-grab.

As for the cable television services, I'm afraid the same applies. Right now, basic cable is all I can afford; even the same, high-definition digital cable box I had in the US, which was free with the high-definition cable plan I had, costs almost $500.00 here in Canada. And, the premium digital channels, such as HBO Canada, and Canada's The Movie Network, which shows many of Showtime's and Starz's original programming, are extra. So, in total, mobile and land line phone service, high-speed Internet and premium cable/satellite,  is about a $450.00 a month expense. If I were a smoker, I'd rather light my cigarettes with that money, instead of giving it to these thieving bastards. At least I'd be contributing to my own demise, instead of lining someone else's pockets. And I remain unconvinced that the fact that Canada's population is 1/10th that of the US is the reason. They charge what they charge because they can, and that excuse is a biggest load of malarkey I've heard since Glenn Beck landed at Fox News.

Last night, I missed the premiere of HO's newest blockbuster series, Boardwalk Empire. I've missed a year of Real Time with Bill Maher, and a bunch of other programming I used to watch religiously. That doesn't mean I'm not glad to be living here in Canada, but it's never been more obvious to me how life is full of so many little trade-offs. Television is just a small part of life for me, but when it's intelligent television I'm missing, that pisses me off. I'm not saying Canadian television doesn't have its share of intelligent programming, but I really can't help feeling deprived. It's a small price to pay for all the advantages I have here, but I still wish I could have the best of both countries on my television. Hopefully one day I will; then, I'm sure I'll find something else to bitch about.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Are They Insane?

Greetings Friends,

Here she goes, picking on the women again... but if this doesn't make you shake your head, I honestly don't know what will.

The image on the left is of clothing designer Georgina Chapman, wife of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and purveyor of the Marchesa line of gorgeous red carpet-ready gowns. Actress Ali Larter (last seen in the series Lost) is on the right. Both are perfect examples of how to look gorgeous when you're pregnant, and I give them kudos for that. The one thing I must take issue with are the shoes; particularly Chapman's: is it really necessary to potentially do harm to yourself and your unborn child by wearing such ridiculously high platform stiletto heels? Especially when you're tottering perilously close to a subway grating? Hell, at least Larter is safely on the red carpet. We all know that smoking, drinking and drugs are at the very least verboten while pregnant, so shouldn't high heels fall into the same category? Methinks the answer is an unequivocal "yes".

I'm not saying that women should have to succumb to the Victorian notion of "lying in" while they're great with child. Nor do I believe they should swaddle themselves in the maternity attire of yesteryear that tends to make one resemble a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. There has to be a happy medium somewhere, and those heels are not it. Wouldn't a simple 2 inch heel suffice? Pregnancy isn't a permanent condition; a few short months of stylish compromise never killed anyone, but those heels could potentially cause some lasting damage. With all the technology at our disposal - the ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and the myriad other tests pregnant women are now subjected to, you'd think they'd want to take every possible physical precaution, including the stowing of the Louboutins and Blahinks in favour of something a bit more sensible for the time being. I realize a pair of Chuck Taylors wouldn't be complimentary to either frock, but lopping off a few inches of heel height wouldn't have landed either one of these women on any "worst dressed" list. Is that too great a sacrifice to make for your unborn child?

What I'm trying to wittily (I hope) bring to light is the fact that women, and men, are no longer willing to make the sacrifices necessary to become parents. During a woman's pregnancy, there isn't much the daddy is affected by, until the screaming bundle finally lands in his arms. But the defiance on the part of pregnant women, particularly those who find themselves subject to a "bump watch", like Chapman and Larter, is maddening. Other women will find it necessary to emulate this defiance, by attempting to sashay through their own pregnancies wearing stiletto heels. These are the women who may find themselves flat on a gurney on their way to a hospital emergency room after taking a spill in a pair of 6 inch heels. The possibility of something like that could be life threatening for both mother and unborn child. Why take the chance? Yes, we would all love to walk the red carpet, looking as glamorous as the Hollywood A-listers, but there comes a time when you need to think of someone other than yourself. Especially when that other person is incapable of deciding what's best for them. So, before the breast milk vs. formula debate ensues, protect yourself and your foetus by sticking those heels in storage for a while. Get used to having to worry about someone else for a change. Your child will thank you for that.

Again, I must disclaim that I do not have children. However, I did discuss this topic with my friend D., the mother of two wonderful boys, and she concurred that the footwear choices above were "absolutely ridiculous".

Have a safe and wonderful weekend.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Conspicuous Consumption

Greetings Friends,

No, this not yet another gender-bashing post; the reason I picked the ladies from Sex and the City as my "image du jour" is because the characters from this very popular HBO show (yes, I am a fan) epitomize what it means to be a conspicuous consumer. 

I was thinking the other day about what this show meant to the spending habits of not just American women, but of Americans in general. Yeah, we've always been somewhat label conscious, but the advent of Sex put our acquisitiveness into overdrive. Carrie Bradshaw, the "writer", with her seemingly endless supply of designer frocks, shoes and handbags made us all think that life on a shoestring no longer existed. We were all anxious to enjoy the same perks of the profession, which in Carrie's world included unlimited access to the best of everything, even if the show did subtly downplay the excess on occasion. We avidly followed Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte through six seasons of countless men, and countless costume changes, including the very liberal and obvious inclusion of enviable accessories. Man, was I hooked. My own shoe and purse collection grew by leaps and bounds; granted I did not have a closet-full of Blahniks and Fendi baguettes, but let's just say there was a lot of variety.

When Sex and the City 2 landed in theatres back in May, I was downright shocked that it was so universally panned by critics. Then, when I listened to why it was panned, I thought, well, they're not wrong. The days of prolific excess were over, and their reappearance in the movie made everyone extremely uncomfortable. There were rumblings of, these-women-are-now-in-their-40s-and-are-no-longer-behaving-in-an-age-appropriate-manner, which I totally scoffed at; but the ongoing litany of excess was something I couldn't ignore. The general obsession with logos and celebrity has reached a pinnacle of pervasiveness I can no longer tolerate. Plus, I am now attempting to earn a living as a full-time writer, and the reality of the situation is, a freelance writer bears no resemblance to Carrie Bradshaw. I don't care how many fashionable friends you have; if you want to earn a living, your laptop not only becomes your favourite accessory, it is your lifeline to making money. No two ways about it. 

I'm not saying I thought any of it was real for even one second, but many people did. For those who don't know what a snake pit New York City can be, life really did look fabulous. In reality, it can chew you up and spit you out faster than an A train, speeding uptown from 59th Street to 125th street, with no local stops. Now, you can no longer go around searching for "labels and love" without encountering some derision from the once mighty who have fallen so far. Many mistakes were made, and many judgments were passed by a lot of people. As far as I am concerned, we are still in a period of recovery that certainly does not warrant the type of in-your-face consumerism Sex and the City made famous. We need to take a while to reassess those mistakes, and try our best not to repeat them. Some of us will learn, some of us won't. I'd like to think I fall into the category of "Now I Know Better", and I'm certainly doing my best to stay there. 

I may not ever live a Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle, but at least I can be proud of the work I do. I no longer live in New York, and I no longer covet the things I once did. Sure, I still love my books, shoes, purses and scents, but I always have. It didn't take 4 larger-than-life Manhattan women to show me the ropes. But the same 4 fictional women taught me to appreciate what I do have, and let go of what I no longer need.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Am I a Self-Hating Woman?

Continuing on from Wednesday's "Afflicted or Affected" post, I want to clear the air about how I feel about being a woman. I don't hate it, but sometimes, I will admit I'm not fond of it. Mind you, I don't for a second want to pull a Chastity Bono by referring to myself as "Chaz" and acquiring a certain appendage. Nope; Uh Uh; Not gonna happen. However, there are times when I wish my own gender would buck up and stop acting so fragile and "precious".

Above is an image of the Wilson sisters, two of the coolest rock 'n roll chicks ever. Loved by men because of their looks (and hopefully their collective talents as well), and envied by some women for being a couple of legitimate bad-ass rockers during a time when the world of rock music was dominated by all-male groups like Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Aerosmith, etc. I adored them then, and I adore them even more now. For Ann and Nancy, it was all about the music, rather than submitting to the subjugation of the male dominated genre of rock 'n roll. They legitimately kicked ass, but retained a degree of femininity that blurred the gender lines in a really significant way. They held their own with the men, and are still around making music. Here is a recent photo of them:

Click on this link to see a snippet from an interview they did in support of their new album, Red Velvet Car. What I wouldn't give for an actual album; downloading it onto my iPod doesn't seem in keeping with where the Wilson sisters came from, but I'll take it, considering the impressive legacy. I don't care how long I live or what's going to be on my iPod (or whichever device will be in use) in 30 years, but rock 'n roll will never go out of style; at least not to my ears.

I have to admit my gender "discomfort" and "tomboyishness" may have something to do with the fact that my only sibling is my older brother. If not for him, I would have turned out much more "precious" than I did. Make no mistake; I am far from fragile, and nobody in their right mind would ever consider me "dainty". That's not a bad thing. I revel in my independence and I pride myself on not backing down to the fears many women succumb to. I can recite the New York Islanders 1979-80 Stanley Cup Championship team roster by heart, answer the phone after dark, eat in a restaurant by myself; hell, I'll even jump in the car, by myself, and drive a few hundred miles if I need to. What's the problem? Yet, so many women are paralyzed by crippling, ridiculous fears that don't make me bat an eyelash. Does that make me any less female, and should I reconsider acquiring that appendage? Or, do I have a metaphorical appendage that sets me apart from a typical female? Sure, I like to joke about having balls or "cojones", but is that really an accurate assessment? I love being a woman, and I have no desire whatsoever to switch teams. I just constantly wonder why my gender can be so meek, frail, frightened, combative, back-stabbing, psychotic, jealous...shall I go on? I am not suggesting I'm immune to such behaviour myself, but sometimes, women tend to sabotage themselves in ways the male gender finds completely alien. Honestly, so do I. And despite all that, no, I am not a self-hating woman; I just wish being a woman didn't come with all the baggage it does. Not that men travel lightly by any stretch; Ideologically, you won't find many men who are afraid to go to the supermarket at night by themselves, but ask a man to purchase a box of tampons, and see what kind of a reaction you'll get. OK, maybe not from all men; I'm willing to bet there are still quite a few who won't do it.

In the meantime, I'll just have to keep hoping for a revolution. I am too far gone to be a revolutionary, but I can do my best to spread the word from my pulpit, such as it is. Ladies, do me a favour: try to see it my way. Just as you shouldn't dress, scent, or do anything else to please a man, don't deny yourself what you really want out of fear. Or, humour me by at least thinking about it.

Have a lovely weekend. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Afflicted or Affected?

Sometimes, the acknowledgment of having too many self-involved people in your midst can lead you to embrace a mode of behaviour that could be perceived as somewhat "bitchy". This is one of those times.

I know two individuals who claim to have a severe "allergy" to fragrance. Mind you, I am not discounting the existence of fragrance allergies, but what I am highly skeptical of is the appearance of this affliction whenever it's convenient for the affected individual to draw attention to herself. I have seen this happen too many times to consider it coincidence. In my view, it is most certainly an affectation brought to light at precisely the point when one or both of these individuals feels the overwhelming need to entice others to pay attention to her.

Let me point out that neither affected individual reads my blog. They are both aware that I blog, but cannot be bothered to support my efforts. One individual is a highly skilled professional; the other is a small business owner, whom I fear will eventually chase away 100% of her clientele with her "scent free environment" mandate (she owns a retail establishment), among other shortcomings. I feel that way because both claim a hyper-sensitivity not only to perfumes, but to scented personal hygiene products such as soap, shower gel and shampoo. Granted, I, too have been knocked back on my kiester on occasion, by a strongly scented something; Chanel No. 5 will chase me out of a room faster than a Democrat from a Tea Party gathering, but generally, it takes quite a lot to get my nose out of joint. Pun intended.

OK, so you're probably thinking I'm an insensitive bore, with no sympathy whatsoever for the plight of the afflicted. You couldn't be more wrong; I just happen to believe that a fragrance allergy, in most cases, is an affectation, rather than an affliction. Yes, I fully acknowledge that overdoing the eau can cause certain individuals serious discomfort. But, when I've managed to wear fragrances (and quite potent ones at that) around both these women, without either of them so much as sneezing, that is solid proof that this perceived "allergy" is nothing more than an attention-getting ploy. If a judge and jury of my peers were present right now, I'd have no problem placing my hand on the good book and offering sworn testimony to that effect. Oddly enough, I've never met a man who is hyper-sensitive to scent; mysteriously, this affliction only seems to hinder the female gender. Hmmm...

I am by no means an expert in psychology; nor do I feel qualified to identify someone as a hypochondriac. But, when you consider why women wear fragrance, or at least why they're told they should wear fragrance, the fragrance sensitivity issue seems to be an exclusively female one. Why? I believe most women feel fragrance is supposed to be an attention grabber. Glossy print advertisements tell you it should make you feel sexy; you'll have men falling all over you if you wear a certain scent. Boiled down, women scent themselves for men; well, theoretically. I don't buy that. Attention is attention, no matter from whom you get it. If your appearance and/or your scent are garnering attention, be it from the opposite sex or from other women in your group, there will be an element of resentment from those who are a bit more wallflower-ish. Yeah, well, that hypothesis doesn't really blow my skirt up either. So, what is it then?

A while back, I wrote about the Narcissism Pandemic I think we're in the midst of, because of an overinflated sense of importance that seems to be rampant in society. People have become so attached to their high-tech gadgetry, that if your mobile isn't consistently ringing, or you're not receiving at least 200 text messages a day, you're non-existent. Gadgetry isn't the only vehicle with which this can be achieved: you can feign illness from just about anything.

I just finished reading the novel The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates, which takes place in Niagara Falls, New York, during the time when Love Canal was first discovered to be a toxic waste dump. The evidence was overwhelming, as we know, and many residents, including children, were irreparably harmed by the effects of living amidst the toxic sludge. Of course, the manufacturing and chemical sectors that were thriving in Niagara Falls at that time, denied their role in sickening the local population. It wasn't until the late 70s when former President Jimmy Carter was finally able to declare the area a federal disaster zone, but by then, the damage had already been done. Love Canal is only one example of how big business and politics can come together as a formidable obfuscating force. And, the end result is usually staggeringly detrimental. I'm not saying that my sensitive schnozzed acquaintances bear any resemblance to the people who were sickened by living near Love Canal; what I am saying is that there is a horrifying loss of perspective among humans, and there is a growing segment of the population that simply lives to complain. Why? Because like perfume, complaining has a way of garnering attention. Keep in mind, though, that the less attention you get (or the more attention you want), the more apt you are to complain. And, blaming someone else for what ails you is the "prime directive" by which the complainer lives. It's always someone else causing the grief, never the person who is seeking the attention. Making someone else feel badly will make the complainer feel good; and get noticed. Ultimately, those around the complainer will grow weary, and eventually, the complainer will find herself alone, devoid of anyone to whom she can voice her complaints.

To my two acquaintances specifically: quit beefing about your fragrance "allergies". I know you're never going to read this, but there are others who will. And while they may not know you personally, they know others like you, and will agree that your "affliction" is nothing more than a selfish "affectation" meant to draw attention to yourselves. Do them and me a favour: take a minute to think about whatever it is that's really bothering you. Look inward instead of outward, and try to figure it out without getting anyone else involved. You may begin to see the world change before your eyes, and realize, your own little corner of it really isn't that bad. If not, keep it to yourself; we really don't want to hear it.

In the meantime, I will continue to waft through life, whether you like it or not. One day, I might smell like the inside of a Roman Catholic church. The next day, Turkish Delight. The day after that, it may very well be pipe tobacco and stewed fruit. Instead of complaining, take a whiff; you might just like what you smell.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labour Day!

Greetings Friends,

Here's hoping everyone in North America is enjoying the final weekend of summer.

See you on Wednesday.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Blocked Like a Basement Toilet

Greetings Friends,

It was bound to happen at some point. At least it's a holiday weekend, and I've got the new Jonathan Franzen novel Freedom queued up for some inspiration. Wish me luck.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend. Try not to feel too depressed as we bid adieu to yet another summer.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is it Really Over?

Greetings Friends,

The image above is of Toby Kieth during one of his USO performances for the brave men and women of the US military. Not a fan of American country music, I'll never forget the first time I heard Keith sing his song, Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, during halftime of one of the 2002 Thanksgiving Day NFL contests (I know the Dallas Cowboys were playing, I just can't be bothered to find out who their opponent was). I was standing in my Long Island kitchen, fussing over a pot of stuffing; a recipe I'd never before attempted, and I was understandably nervous. I snickered at the television when Keith came on, because, as I said, I'm no great fan of country music. I was not paying particular attention to the song he was singing, but this one stanza almost made a mockery of my culinary efforts:

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U. S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way

When I heard the last two lines, I dropped my spoon, and said, "What the f$%&k did he just say?" in disbelief. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who took issue with his lyrics; members of the all girl country group, The Dixie Chicks, turned Toby Keith into the poster boy for American pugilism, and caused a shit storm of epic proportions that threatened to bring down their very successful careers. For a long time, I applauded them for their outspokenness, and declared my own hatred of Toby Keith to whoever would listen. All this despite the fact I thought he was pretty hot in a scruffy, grizzled Russell Crowe sort of way. But that line, "'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass / It's the American way", pissed me off big time. This was before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and George W Bush's ridiculous "Mission Accomplished" stunt on the aircraft carrier, when no one really knew what was in store for us, post 9/11.

A couple of years later, Toby Keith turned up on The Colbert Report, and I found out he was not the raving pugilist I thought he was. He was intelligent, and articulate; most of all, he seemed to really give a damn about the fate of America without crying crocodile tears or throwing a hissy fit a la Glenn Beck. My opinion of the man went up considerably. Not that I bought any of his CDs or went out of my way to listen to his music; although he's still pretty damn cute. It just goes to show you, the first impression isn't always the correct impression.

Fast forward a few more years to yesterday. I watched President Obama's address from the Oval Office last night, declaring the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the complete withdrawal of all American combat troops. There are still 50,000 service men and women staying behind to mind the store, but the majority of these brave souls have completed their tasks. Now, American military might can focus completely on the conflicts in Afghanistan, and come to the aid of the many Canadians who have been serving so bravely for so long. My hope is that this war will not be fought in vain, as the Iraq war was. George Bush's hard-on for Saddam Hussein was evident from the day he took the oath of office, and if 9/11 hadn't happened, I remain convinced he would have found another reason to try to depose him. After all, what better way would there have been for him to "avenge Daddy" by completing the job is father, George H.W. Bush, failed to as president? Which misfit son (Fredos, as I like to refer to them) would pass up the opportunity to impress his daddy? Especially when he bought and paid for your job as leader of the free world. Your average drunken screw-up son would never get that sort of an opportunity, but if your last name happens to be Bush, well, we now know literally anything is possible.

As I watched Obama last night, I wanted to believe the impassioned words he spoke about America emerging from almost a decade of dark days, and looking forward to better ones ahead. How many of us dare to hope this is true? Will the returning GIs take advantage of all the opportunities he is offering them, practically begging them to invest even more in the country that sent them to fight a misguided war? With all my heart, I hope they do. I hope they take the opportunity to get the education they so deserve to have; to go on to live full, productive lives as proud Americans; instead of revisiting the horrific era of out-of-control consumerism that all but destroyed the American middle class. After 9/11, George Bush told everyone to go shopping. And look where it got us. As I sit here, on Canadian soil, typing this missive, the American in me is sorry I left. The Canadian in me is grateful for the opportunities presented to me over the past year, which, sadly, as an American, I never would have had. A nation divided against itself cannot stand; this has never been more true of present day America. But a dual citizen divided against herself is standing on some pretty solid ground right now. If that ground were below the 49th parallel, it would be quicksand. 

I'm not planning to acknowledge the 9th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 here next week. Enough will be written and said that will make up for my not partaking. However, I would like to say, I hope I live long enough to witness the legitimate healing of the wounds that are still so terribly raw. Any number of buildings and memorials erected will never make up for the sacrifices made by so many, if real peace is never achieved. Again, I do so hope to see that day come.