Open Letter To The Algorithm Oracle

Dear Omniscient Cloud Oracle:

computer-geek

This may be the Facebook Oracle who affects my future

You’ve always been there, anticipating my secret thoughts, then poking those sensitive, insecure spots. Like a comfortable, yet emotionally abusive boyfriend.  I want out and yet I love you because no one else will ever know me like you do.  

I’ll never forget when I first had my babies and went on a posting rampage, sharing those typical first-time moments: first smile, tummy time, first bath.  And in response, you started sending me weight loss ads. Only you knew I still had 30lbs to go before my post-baby body would be fuckable again and your daily reminders really helped. So. So much.  weightloss-ads

It seems like just yesterday you once again portended my body image issues with advertisements for facial rejuvenation services and breast augmentation. I used to get these in my inbox at least once a week and wonder as I scrutinized my pores and floppy tits: “Did someone complain?  How else would you know?”

If I think really hard, I can remember a time when I may have searched “Single mother’s housing options + Vancouver”  and “How to survive on one income” during a big fight with my husband.  But it was hard to hide my feelings of restless and resentment wcheating-sitehen both my Facebook page and my inbox were flooded with ads for divorce lawyers. You may be disappointed to know my husband and I worked everything out – and without cashing in your coupons for Tinder and Ashley Maddison, but thanks for those thoughtful suggestions.

Timg_2650oday you sent me this ad.

I don’t know how to interpret this and it actually fucked me up a little because I just got through a mid-life crisis and shit like this actually makes me regress a little. I’m hoping you’ll read this blog or sense the intention behind it and consider sending me alternative ads for rock concerts or experimental theatre shows. Or better yet, a coupon offering a heavily discounted membership for a wine club.  Just a suggestion.

Sincerely yours,
Maia

What lovely little tidbits is the Facebook Oracle sending you?  Let me know.

And also subscribe and/or share because it will greatly improve my sense of self-worth and general well being. Thank you.

One of those Sunday Mornings

dad-screaming-at-kid     It was unusually chaotic this morning.  Which really got things off to a good start.

In retrospect, this day was a by-product of human error.

Beginning with the ill-conceived idea that my husband and I could get a few moments to enjoy a small luxury – like coffee in bed, maybe a little light petting -by putting on the Wii and letting the kids play a tank game.

I know… We are the worst people in the world.  Within 5 minutes I’m forced to race into the living room, topless, in full view of the street below and condo windows across the street, to pull my son off my daughter, who was just going for his eyes.  All while my husband runs around screaming that someone in the building will call Social Services for sure and have our children removed from our care. Naomi begins to have an anxiety attack. Just as Felix decides to teach us all a lesson about what the future will be for us all if we don’t side with him over Naomi:  He starts hyperventilating.  Yells something he knows will be very offensive, then starts shrieking,”No. Daddy No,” while running down the hall into his bedroom.  All because my husband has finally lost it and yells, just behind our thin front door, that Felix had better stay in his room or risk being killed. Maybe for real.

brad-pitt

Brad before people found out that he is a normal parent

 Poor Brad Pitt.  I am instantly filled with gratitude that we cannot afford to have staff since one of his staff was certain to have reported his “child abuse” to the LAPD.  This is a complete reversal from my earlier position, which was that the only thing standing between me and complete happiness was shortage of staff.

I have to accept a ruined Sunday morning as punishment because really this was all my fault. For breakfast, I allowed our daughter to finish off the last of Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie (Sure. Take as much whipped cream as you like). And Felix pretty much finished off half a box of cinnamon buns, under my direct supervision. Just because I was just a tad hungover (just one double gin and tonic – Fuck, I hate getting old) and didn’t want to make anything for breakfast or do the dishes after.   So how can I be mad at the kids for my own idiocy?kill-me-now

To celebrate this amazing mental breakthrough, I reward myself by leaving.  (don’t judge me – it was after II make them some eggs and get everyone to the table, chests still heaving from their exertions, still smarting from the injustice of it all.)

“Bye. Just running to the store. Love you. Take care of each other.”

Since Amsterdam, I have been orchestrating and savouring these moments of true Freedom.

I float down the street to the chocolate shop so I can shoot the shit with Heather, the owner and my new life-coach.  She has an idea, easy to execute, that will make me look like a rock-star with the PAC for my kids’ school.  I just love her.

Then I wander up the street to the grocery store, where I try all the samples.  And also pick up the ingredient I need to prepare a glorious Family Sunday Dinner, which is going to become a weekly and mandatory thing – but hopefully in a happy, quality time sort of way.

As I walk home, I look up and am rewarded again with the most beautiful cloud-shaped shades of grey and purpley black.  I let the rain patter down on my face, soaking up all the negative ions. Feeling my heart open and grow patient again. Feeling the tightness in my neck and shoulders. Then holding onto a tree trunk for a little stretch.  I drink in calm and the beauty of a peaceful, glimmering city by a gorgeous body of water.   Thank you. Thank you. My church rocks!! I just have to figure out how to incorporate a little sip of wine during my service and a little more “body” (if you get my meaning…) And I’ll be ready to apply for tax-free status.storm-clouds

I invite you to join my congregation and take a little time away to savour something that makes you feel free.  (and make it a news-free day. Unless it’s John Oliver, then it’s ok.)

Please share a time you’ve found magic in the mundane…

And also I’d deeply appreciate it if you’d subscribe.  This way I can send you this new thing I’m trying:

I’ve got two lines of snappy little quotes you can print off and stick on your fridge…
1) Unsolicited Advice  2) Weird Shit I Overhear

recite-u5hllx

I can also let you know when I’m doing a storytelling gig near you and want to crash on your couch.

xo
Maia.

Medically Sanctioned Parenting Aids: Because giving medical advice is my new hobby

herbal cool kid

 

My kids are six and eight years old.  I am aware that this is considered the “sweet spot” in the whole parenting journey.  This is the time when they’re independent, but still love to cuddle and hang out with me.  Now they’re getting into cool stuff, have interesting conversations, while still believing all my lies – we can just enjoy each other’s company.

I know this and yet, I continuously choose to be overly concerned by how they’ve only eaten half the pizza on their plates, leaving the crust and all the actually nutritious bits – rather than adding my two cents to the debate over which is cooler: Nerf water guns or the rocket launcher looking ones from the dollar store.

Why do I care so much if my kid goes to every single one of his soccer practices (“Do you have any idea how much those classes cost?)  Or if they’re late for Kindergarten?  Really who gives a shit??? And yet, I continuously choose to make this the focus of my attention – over just enjoying their crazy and wonderful little minds.

The problem stems from my brain getting fucked whenever I try to be too responsible.  The pressure to helicopter parent is turning me into someone I don’t like and that asshole is raising my children.  I know this, but my awareness is so delayed, I only realize my missed opportunity after I’ve done it all wrong.

more honest medicine

 

I am ready to admit that the only way to prevent myself from turning into a tight-assed, lame parent, lies in the responsible usage of marijuana. I have a legal prescription for medical-grade pot to address my anxiety and insomnia.  But I find it even more effective as a parenting tool.

For those of you who are judging me or who are reaching for your phones to dial Social Services – consider this:  what would it take for you to get on the floor with your six year old son to play dinosaurs versus lego ninjas – and actually really enjoy yourself? The answer for me is two long hits on a vaporizer.

“Mom? Is Jar Jar Binks bad?”

“Well,” I answer thoughtfully. Because now I’m his intellectual equal.
“He’s good in that he’s supposed to be a Jedi Master, but he’s bad because he sucks and his stupid character ruined the entire movie.”

We spend the rest of the evening lying on the floor philosophizing about Jedi powers and the proper and effective usage of them, while dinner dishes go unwashed and wet laundry moulders in the machine.  It is also hands down my favourite night in recent memory.

These days, I’m experimenting with a new medicine.  Its ingredients include: one thinly rolled joint, two cups of epson salts, some relaxing music, a copy of Vanity Fair and a hot tub of bathwater.

Last night, I barely wait for both kids to get into bed before I indulge.  A feeling of deep relaxation and bliss begins to wash over my tired muscles and over-taxed brain when I feel someone in the room staring at me.  Felix is standing just out of reach. Normally, I would start hollering threats. “Get to bed now or I’ll….(fill in the blank).”  But he’s aware that the effects of my medicine have kicked in. He knows nothing he does will pull me out of the tub, so he sits on the toilet and asks,
“Mom, where does inspiration come from?”

In my current state (hell, in any state) I am powerless to ignore this line of questioning. So we start to talk. Suddenly it’s 11:30pm on a school night and I realize that little fucker has totally played me.

Normally I would be mad, but I’m pleasantly medicated and so I decide just to enjoy. And anyhow it’s my husband’s turn to get the kids ready for school the next day.

What’s working for you right now??

 

Reading The Signs – Manifesting Pt Deux

my-mid-life-crisis-it-only-become-a-crisis-after-i-twisted-m-demotivational-poster-1271994331

 

I’m one of those people who is constantly looking for signs.  I think this is because I tend to second guess everything I say and do. So some sort of external confirmation is absolutely necessary to keep me from driving myself and everyone around me totally bonkers.

Here’s an example of how signs have been working in my life lately:

The other night, right in the middle of sex, my husband offhandedly asks me:

“Do you think you’d ever consider getting a boob job?”

The next day, I get two email solicitations and one Facebook advertisement for three different divorce lawyers.

Could the Internet be the new Oracle of Delphi?

How do those guys working in The Cloud know this shit?  Is The Cloud some sort of spiritual conduit I’ve just been really slow to catch onto? Since high school, the only spiritual discipline I could commit to involved reading my horoscope every morning, but now I’m thinking Facebook ads are way more accurate.

As for signs. The day penile enlargement adverts are replaced by tips for “What to Do With All Those Exciting Job Offers” or ads for offshore bank accounts, will be the day I’ll know something special is heading my way.

The big question I’ve got rolling around in my brain is – how can I sway things in my favour?  There have been a few times in the past when I’ve made magical things happen.   As my restlessness intensifies, I’m trying to deconstruct those times.

When I was 23 and deep in the clutches of an obsession with salsa dancing, I met Tommy Chong – of Cheech and Chong fame.  He was a fabulous dancer who was also in the throes of a midlife crisis.

(note: I believe my life expectancy at the time was 46, so yes it is possible for me to have been having a midlife crisis at 23)

So Tommy and I started hanging out to dance and smoke weed (Absolutely no sex)  Despite that, it was a super fun time. So when he made a few comments about me being “talented” and having “potential” followed by a few suggestions that I could “have a future in script writing” and that he could “introduce me to some people;”  I did what any sane person would do – quit my job, gave up my scholarship and my apartment to sit by the phone waiting for his call.  Which never came.  Even when I left about 10,000 messages, each with increasing shrillness.  

Finally the day came when I had to admit that I’d made a terrible mistake. I was completely and thoroughly fucked.  I had no money, no job or prospects. I had to be out of my apartment in two days and had nothing else to go to. And on top of that, due to me being arrogant and completely self-obsessed, all my friends were pissed off at me and I was too ashamed to call and ask for help.

While lying in the bathtub that night, surrounded by empty packing boxes, I thought about doing myself in.  I even went so far as to place a bottle of vodka and a razor blade on the shelf next to the tub.  Then the haze of self-pity cleared and I could see the entire scene played out  in front of me – how I was really the cause of my own misery.  

I said out loud: “If you can get me out of this, I swear I’ll do everything different from now on.”  

“So, what should I do now?”

“Just put one foot in front of the other.”

As if pushed gently from behind, I got out of the tub and still wrapped in a towel, went into my bedroom, kneeled beside my bedside table and started putting stuff into a box.

There at the bottom of the drawer, tucked way in the back, was a blank cheque Tommy had written me some months earlier to buy some office supplies.

I dried my tears, called a lawyer who suggested I write Tommy a letter explaining why I was filling out the cheque for ten grand and wait for the cheque to clear.  Which it did two weeks later.

I then paid off all my debts, apologized to everyone and hopped a flight to South East Asia, where I travelled and sorted out my head for the next six months.

That’s what I want. I want that to happen. Now. I think the successful formula involves being

  1. Desperate
  2. Saying it out loud.

And because this is an Unhelpful self-help blog.  I don’t really have anything else to offer in terms of hints or suggestions.  But maybe you do….

Please comment. (nicely)

The Manifesting Game

manifesting

 

 

After complaining about all the things in my life that aren’t working, I feel some pressure to move on to the next step (because whiners are the most annoying people on the planet, as anyone who has or knows kids, is painfully aware).  

The next step is: manifesting a way out.  

So now I’m just riddled with anxiety because I’ve never managed to get this process exactly right and this time around, I’ve got too much to lose if I fuck it all up.

I’m like that guy who meets a genie and gets three wishes, which should be awesome, but ends up being a complete disaster because the genie always finds a loophole and it all turns to shit.  That’s what the Manifesting Game has always felt like for me.

“Why do you have to do anything?” my husband asks while I’m pacing and fretting in the kitchen.

I just stare back at him, like he’s the idiot for a change.

“Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Duh.”  

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to just sit around waiting for life to get better. Happy, successful people are out there making shit happen. Just read The Secret or sign up for any self-help class and they’ll all convince you that sitting around waiting is for losers.

I learned all about the Manifesting Game from a guy named Patrick who I met at a “Living An Authentic Life” workshop on Saltspring Island.  The first thing Patrick said to me was, “Y’know how it took Jesus wandering 40 days in the desert to find God?”

He obviously expected a response, so I nodded.

“Well, I did it in three,” he said holding up three stubby, dirt encrusted fingers.

Who wouldn’t be impressed.

Over the course of the workshop, I learned that I had the wrong name, the wrong job, the wrong relationship – basically that my entire life was a mistake and that I was in desperate need of a 180.  I also learned that Patrick had been receiving telepathic messages from Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill, insisting that he join her in Toronto.

“We are twin spirits,” Patrick explained after a “soul gazing” exercise where people are paired off and told to sit cross-legged and stare into each other’s eyes until all “ego barriers” and feelings of discomfort melt away.  “No matter where we are in the world, our spirits reach out to find each other. Alanis’s music just pointed me in her direction and told me it was time.”

“For what?”

Patrick shot me a look, which I interpreted as pity.  “To join her in Toronto and make a baby.”

So when Patrick suggested I hitchhike with him to Toronto, it seemed like a super good idea.

The first day on the road, just past Hope (BC), Patrick rolled a joint. Which I happily shared.  He then pulled out his didgeridoo and instructed me to sit on the ground, focussing on my breath and the pulsing vibrations of the music, which he played a few inches from my head.  After a few moments, the sounds from the highway did seem to dissolve and my head swam with colour and shapes. A while later, after the buzzing in my body slowed, slowed and stopped, Patrick stopped playing and I opened my eyes.

“Now,” said Patrick.  “Set your intention.”

When I didn’t respond, he spoke, looking skywards.  “We want a red van to stop and for the driver to be a French Chef”

He glanced over at me. “What? I’m hungry.”

He then stood up and stuck out his thumb.  I joined him.

About 30 minutes later, a blue van pulled up to the shoulder.  As we ran over, I noticed that the bumpers were a reddish colour, as were the rust spots on the doors. Patrick shot me a knowing look.  Once we settled inside, we began with the small talk:

Where are you heading?  

Toronto

How about you?

Oh just to Merritt for a music festival.

What do you do?

I play mandolin in a klezmer band.  But I was trained as a French Chef.

Because we never specified, while setting our intention, that the driver offer to feed us, he simply let us off by the side of the road.

Another time, when we were feeling cold and hungry, we smoked a joint, played the didgeridoo and asked to find a big fat wallet.  We took no more than ten steps, when I saw one lying in the dirt.  But because we didn’t specifically ask for there to be money in the wallet, all we found was a Subway punch card.

Patrick claimed in all of his years of doing his WalkAbouts, he’d never had one that was so lame.  Our rides were ok, but there were no magical synchronicities or mind-blowing revelations that were typical for him.  When we finally got to Toronto, two weeks later, Patrick discovered Alainis Morissette was touring through Europe, and completely lost it.

The reason, he told me, was that I was not clear. My mind was so muddy that none of my intentions were “readable”. In fact, my mind was so extremely muddy that it infected his mind, skewing the results.  We decided it was best to part ways.

Over the next two months, I continued to hitchhike alone to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  As the weeks went by, I began to realise that Patrick was full of shit. I was perfectly capable of creating cool, magical things in my life, but the seed of doubt he planted remains to this day.

Today, the building blocks of my life, my job, marriage, inner world – are all in disarray.  Fear sends me into a panic that all I seem to create is more chaos.  Because that’s all I feel. Moreover, I know that if I’m not specific and clear, I’ll get what I ask for, but not necessarily what I want.

As I vaguely recall, sitting and waiting was actually part of the “manifesting” process during that trip. But so was pot and a didgeridoo.  I’m on the hunt for a version of those things that I can use without looking completely insane.  But until I get clear about what that looks like, I’ll continue playing at waiting…

Have you ever dreamed of impregnating a rock star? Please let me know.