Wellness Wednesday: OMG, She’s, Like, SO Bipolar…

a-crazy-peopleAh, the latest “fad” of mental disorders — bi-polar mood disorder.

Following hot on the heels of Aspberger’s Syndrome (“The Big Bang Theory” — I blame you) and, previous to that, ADHD, (Ritalin, anyone?), has trotted the mostly misunderstood bi-polar disorder.    One of the gals I know was being pestered at work for being unreliable, and said she just knew she was “manic depressive”.  Interesting self-diagnosis, considering they (meaning the DSM V) don’t even call it that anymore.  If you’re feeling amazing, getting shit done, believe you can tackle anything, and are spending some coin, you have bi-polar disorder.  If you’re depressed (so 1990s, so you have to freshen it up a bit by calling it something else) and sleeping a lot, then you have bi-polar disorder.

Guess what?

You’re fine.

It’s not little bursts of energy where you decide to clean your bathroom.  It’s not spending Sunday in bed, feeling sorry for yourself for no tangible reason at all.  And, sorry to all the posers, you don’t hear voices.  That’s a psychosis.  And you definitely don’t want that.

Bi-polar disorder is no fucking joke.  I’ve been diagnosed with it myself, and it sucks.  Trust me when I say that my list of symptoms can be long and distinguished.  It got so bad it was heavily affecting my kids, and I knew I had lost it when I started to sob uncontrollably at work and had to leave.  I got a call from the HR department the next day, who gently asked me to stay home and get help.  My performance had plummeted, and they just didn’t know how to deal with me.  I’m a rapid cycler who’s often in a mixed state.

Now, everyone who actually has bi-polar disorder will manifest it differently, but the basic jist of the drift is the same.  Maniac episodes vary in the severity of the symptoms.  The depression is crippling.   My symptoms are considered moderate to severe,  although I’ve never considered suicide, hurting others, and I don’t exhibit violent behaviour; I’m not a worst case scenario.  Thank God.

But bi-polar disorder affects my everyday life.  I’m medicated, and get regular psychiatric and physical care.  I have to be careful to avoid certain triggers.  And I work hard to stay focused and on task without getting distracted (that’s big for me.  My ex calls it my “Oh! Shiny!” disorder).

I’m not crazy.  I come off as a bit eccentric, but certainly not fucking nuts.  I am capable of having normal relationships (and I do), and being successful at my chosen career (and I am).  So my life is pretty normal.  No biggie, provided I’m taking care of myself.

Still, though, don’t co-opt my illness.  Not everyone going through a rough patch has bi-polar disorder, and you probably don’t.  Pass on the jokes, please.  All that does is make the actual disorder something to be shrugged off, something that happens to everybody and shouldn’t be taken seriously.  Please — I’m begging you — take it seriously.

If you think you or someone you love might have bi-polar disorder, get help.  Call your GP and get a referral to a psychiatrist.  Talk to your loved one, tell them what you see, and tell them you are worried.  If you have an EAP at work, use it.  For those in the Edmonton, Alberta area and are in crisis, call the Crisis Support Centre at 780-482-HELP (4357) or check out cmha.ca.

There.  Rant terminated.

 

Relationship Friday: The Ick of Single Parent Dating

Firstly, before I start pissing and whining about the struggle of dating after a long-term relationship and having kids , I think it’s appropriate to tell you a little bit about myself.

My name is Ellie.  I am a divorced single mom of two elementary school-aged children who works a full-time job and has had to move in with her parents (that’s only mostly humiliating) because the housing in my area has exploded in price and I can’t afford a place to live.  I am what I consider an “intermediate level” sci-fi/fantasy nerd (I’ve only seen a handful of “Doctor Who” episodes, but hit me with “Star Trek” or “Star Wars”, and I’m your gal.  I’m working my way through the “Game of Thrones” novels and “Firefly”).   I’m not down with the bar scene, and when I first meet someone, I am painfully shy.

None of the above make meeting someone and establishing a relationship easy.  Tack in the fact that I live in oil country (read: young fools who have more money than brains and will bang anything that moves), and I spend pretty much every night at home.

Oh, I’ve tried a variety of things.  I went out with a friend of a friend, which fell flat pretty much before it got off the ground (awkward the next time I was around my friend, that’s for sure).  I went out with a colleague I met at work, which lasted for a couple of months before I realized that him falling asleep on the couch at 8 p.m. every night was not going to change.  Luckily, when I ended it, it didn’t end too clumsily, so we still have a pretty clean working relationship.  I also tried internet dating, including free sites like POF, and also shelling out (stupid girl) for match.com and eharmony.com.  And those stories are plenty odd with a disheartening track record of 0-11.  Lots of first dates.  Only one or two second ones.

And I’ve heard it all.  Guys who asked if I could “get rid of my kids more often” (asshats) to guys who wanted to meet my kids by the time we’d just finished our appies at The Canadian Brewhouse (creepy).  I met guys who had just been dumped by long-term partners only days before, and other guys who had never had serious relationships — and it showed.

So what’s a girl to do?  I don’t need to have a relationship with anybody; I want to have a relationship with somebody.  Honestly, I do get lonely every once in while.  It would be nice to have a warm hug when I got home, have a hand with the dishes, share my life and goals with somebody.  The sex thing might seem peripheral, but it’s really not.  Being held and cherished is important to me, and I’m not embarrassed to say so.  Em, being the doll that she is, helped me make a list on a bar napkin of what qualities  The One will need to have as we sat in a hotel restaurant during a ladies’ weekend away.  First on the list?  He has to love my kids, and be a good role model for them.  Teach my daughter how a real man should treat her through how he treats me, and show my son how a real man acts by the way he conducts himself.  Ideally, he’s funny, charming, stable, attractive, and makes me feel amazing about myself.

Given the dating pool around here, though, I think I’m shit outta luck.

Am I destined to be alone?  Just from asking around, it would seem like I’m not the only one looking for a quality guy in pretty slim pickings.

Are you single with kids?  How do you find people to go out with?  Do you find people to go out with?  I could use some advice — give me your comments below!

Because We Can: Shows Our Kids Should Watch (Because We Liked Them)

When I watch television nowadays, I cringe.  I hate reality tv (people being famous for being stupid, as far as I’m concerned).  I wrinkle my nose at game shows (ugh to clapping your hands about buying a vowel), and soap operas just make me feel dirty.  But I save my biggest freak-out for kids’ television.

Seriously?  What the hell is “Slugterra”?  Or “Pair of Kings”?  “Kick Buttowski”? And don’t even get me started on that Hannah Montana bullshit.  The plain fact of the matter is that there is television for pre-schoolers (“Dora The Explorer” and “The Backyardigans” ranked as a couple of my faves), and television for tweens and teens, like “Good Luck Charlie” or any kind of comic book cartoon.  But what if you’re seven?  “Sophia The First” gets you teased at school, and the humour in “Ultimate Spider-Man” goes over your head.  So what to watch?

I like what we watched when we were kids.  There was appropriate stuff for whatever age you happened to be, and I watched them all over the years.  Now, I liked “The Flintstones”, that 1960s “Batman” with Adam West, and “My Favourite Martian”, but those shows weren’t really of my time, if that makes any sense.  I think the shows below reflected what was going on during the 1980s/early 1990s (no age jokes, please), and I, for one, think they need a comeback…

The A-Team NBC tv show image

“The A-Team” doesn’t really have an equal on television currently. There is action, humour, and no one ever dies, although shit blows up. There is a somewhat diverse cast of characters (a mentally ill pilot, a narcissistic playboy, the token black guy, and a card-carrying member of the AARP), and all the problems were solved with a happy ending in 60 minutes. Audiences loved it. Try and find that nowadays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

carmen sandiego

I freakin’ loved this show! Cool music, a neat case, and it made me think. I don’t know if they ever caught Carmen, but I rooted for her to get away every time. A geography lesson wrapped in a fun package. And just try and get that theme song out of your head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dukes-31years-ago

Oh, come on. It’s campy and fun. “The Dukes of Hazzard” gave us laughs, taught us lessons (the Dukes were always honest, never racist, and always scrapped for the little guy”), and introduced us to the fashion icon, Daisy Duke. Kids were riveted, and parents not offended. And you know Uncle Jesse could spin a down-home end-of-show life lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

facts of life

Oh, my God — I learned almost everything I needed to know about being a teenager from Mrs. Garrett and the girls. “The Facts of Life” was topical, giggly, and really got what was going through a young woman’s head. It’s serious episodes were touching and real, but the dream episode where Blair kills everyone because they buy their shoes at the supermarket still makes me laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sesame street

Sesame Street. Before Elmo. Before rumours that Bert and Ernie were a gay couple. There was Mr. Hooper, and Maria and Luis. I learned soooo much! (“Onetwothree four five sixseveneightnine ten eleven twelve…”). It incorporated some French into it, even, and was really, really engaging for kids. It actually even took place with a full cast on Sesame Street. Love it. I’d still watch it today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fraggle rock

Jim Henson could do no wrong. “Fraggle Rock” may not have been as popular as “The Muppet Show” or Sesame Street”, but really. It was still awesome. There was a talking compost pile, Doozers that construct buildings that taste like radishes and are constantly getting eaten, and it was just plain smile-inducing. Henson was three for three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Muppt Show

Best. Theme song. Ever. The best guest stars who were at the top of their game at the time came in every week, and I plotzed every time. The two old guys in the balcony just killed me (their names are actually Statler and Waldorf, by the way — write that down) with their sarcastic wit, and “Pigs In Space” was a riot. I double-dog dare you not to love this long-running favourite.

 

 

 

 

 


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Jem

“Jem and The Holograms”. Okay, okay, okay. So Rio was pretty much cheating on Jerrica with Jem, but seeing as how Jem and Jerrica were the same person, it doesn’t really count. Table that for a minute, and dig the wild ’80s fashion and hair, the boss synth songs, and (again) the neatly wrapped up “AfterSchool Special” endings for each episode. Out-RAY-geous!!

 

 

vid_cosbyshow_theme_ep010

Bill Cosby starred in this classic that broke colour barriers and pushed the limits of sitcom television. The black female lead was raising a large family while being a full-time attorney, and Mr. Cosby was a OB/GYN who worked out of his home and was hands-on with his kids. The Cosby kids and their friends, although not like anyone I knew in my lower middle class, white upbringing, were super entertaining, and the themes are timeless. This just could not be left off my list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thundercats

“Thunder! Thunder! ThunderCats. Ho!” It featured a battle between good and evil that is essentially bloodless and oddly never really ends. Although there was a resurgence a few years ago, it was decidedly darker and had more mature themes. Meh. Give me a light-hearted parable any day.

 

 

 

Pop Culture Monday: Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Doing Whatever A Spider Can

So this past weekend, Em and I got in line to see “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.  We had originally been going to see “Moms Night Out”, but it wasn’t playing in our wee city, so Spidey was a last minute choice.  I hadn’t heard great things about it, but it’s a superhero movie where things were going to blow up, so it was my substitute suggestion to Em.

I did not see “The Amazing Spider-Man”, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Web Head and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey.  I’m not a big comic book gal, and trying to get a sitter for the kids was rough at the time, so I let it blow by.  Turns out it was a good thing I saved my money; although the film did well at the box office, it was universally panned as flat and brooding, trying to be too much like a like a heavy character study rather than a light, fun romp.

Not so much with its sequel, thankfully.

Now, I grew up with Sam Raimis’ take on Spider-Man, the ones with Toby McGuire as Peter and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, his love interest from the comics.  J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jamieson stole every scene he was in.  I really liked the first one.  It was funny and interesting, and I thought the Green Goblin was pretty cool.  The special effects seemed good, and oh, my God — it had James Franco as Harry Osborne.  The second film was, well, meh, and the last one just really sucked ass.  The character of Peter Parker became kind of a douche, Dunst looked bored, and it had a weak plot.  Yet another reason to pass on “The Amazing Spider-Man” when it rolled into town.

But I liked this second one.  Like I said, I can’t compare it to the first one, having never seen it, but as a stand-alone film, it works quite well.  Before I go any further — SPOILER ALERT!!

Really, the only thing you need to know going in is that Peter Parker promised Gwen’s dying father (played by Denis Leary), who had figured out his alter ego, that he would stay away from Gwen in order to keep her safe.  At the start of this second film, he has not been keeping his word.  Recap of the plot: Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a bullied and loner employee of Oscorp (owned by Dane De Haan as Harry Osborne, not Leonardo Di Caprio, despite the strong resemblance), has an industrial accident that turns him in to Electro, a villain determined to take out Spidey because he feels betrayed by the web slinger from an earlier interaction.  Joining forces with Electro is Peter’s childhood friend, Harry, who is suffering from some complicated sounding genetic disease that causes skin lesions, turns him green, and will eventually kill him.  Harry sought out Spider-Man to ask if he would give some of his blood to the terminally ill man in an attempt to cure him, and Spider-Man, who has learned more about his origins over the course of the film, turns him down, afraid of what his augmented blood will do to his best buddy.  Harry’s now out for revenge against the superhero “fraud” and even against Oscorp, whose board has ousted him and turned him out on the street.  There’s some neat-o CGI and fights, some chuckles, and an emotional ending that left me a bit choked up as I reached for my watered down Coca-Cola.

And that’s just a brief overview.

There’s a lot going on in this movie.  The relationship between Gwen and Peter.  Electro’s story.  Harry’s story.  Peter’s search for the truth about his parents.  Whew.  But if you can wade through that, it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday night.  I really liked Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone — they just worked for me.  They are super cute together, and I buy Garfield as both Peter and Spider-Man.  Gwen is a bit too much of a convenient genius for my taste, but I like how Stone plays her.  De Haan is okay, I guess, giving us his best tight smiles and lets us see the anger that bubbles just below the surface in every scene he’s in.  Even Jamie Foxx, not my fave despite his Oscar, does alright as Electro, even though I like him better as Max.

So, all in all, not as good as the first Raimi Spider-Man, but better than the second.  If you’re looking for some escapism with a PG rating (although the violence made me wonder what the MPAA was smoking when they rated the thing), give it a shot.

Eight popcorn bags out of ten.

 

Gallery

Because We Can: Retro Kitchens

Retro kitchens have suddenly become trendy.  Go figure.  Grandma’s avocado green appliances and velvet wallpaper aren’t sounding so repulsive any more, apparently.  As a matter of fact, I’m considering buying a 105 year old house that a lot of this retro stuff would really work in (maybe not the burnt orange oven and range, but more stuff would look good than not).   Check it out.  Each picture (except one or two — shudder) has at least one element that is cropping up in modern kitchens, particularly colour.  Is this a decorating style that moves you?

Mint green, aqua, butter yellow, and pink were the hot tamale in the 1950s.  A bright, quirky throwback.  And I love the hidden storage in this kitchen!

Mint green, aqua, butter yellow, and pink were the hot tamale in the 1950s. A bright, quirky throwback. And I love the hidden storage in this kitchen!

The eat-in kitchen was huge in the 1970s, and in older homes, there is no seperate dining room.  Not great for dinner parties, but works for a nuclear family...

The eat-in kitchen was huge in the 1970s, and in older homes, there is no seperate dining room. Not great for dinner parties, but works for a nuclear family…

Not sure how I feel about the green and red combo, but each colour on it's own is neat.  I also like the breakfast bar.  Again, nice for eat-in kitchens.

Not sure how I feel about the green and red combo, but each colour on it’s own is neat. I also like the breakfast bar. Again, nice for eat-in kitchens.

This kitchen is almost exactly like the kitchen my parents had in their first place -- a mobile home in a trashy little trailer park on the outskirts of town.  Quick note on moden craftsmanship: the refrigerator is still running, 35 years later.  Nowadays, you're lucky to get 8 years from an appliance.

This kitchen is almost exactly like the kitchen my parents had in their first place — a mobile home in a trashy little trailer park on the outskirts of town.   Even the colour scheme is the same.  Quick note on modern craftsmanship: the refrigerator is still running, 35 years later. Nowadays, you’re lucky to get 8 years from an appliance.

Loving the brick!  1970s kitchens were full of dark wood (or genuine artificial veneered wood products) and brick (or brick wallpaper or brick board).  Regardless, the real deal still piques my interest.  I like the cupboards, too, actually...

Loving the brick! 1970s kitchens were full of dark wood (or genuine artificial veneered wood products) and brick (or brick wallpaper or brick board). Regardless, the real deal still piques my interest. I like the cupboards, too, actually…

...I have no response to this one.  WTF??

…I have no response to this one. WTF??

Avocado green!  Still a great colour.  You know you like it.

Avocado green! Still a great colour. You know you like it.  And the double wall oven is still a fantastic convenience.

This one gives me a headache, not to mention the fact that it looks suspiciously like there's carpet on the floor.  Gross.  And the floating desk -- while an interesting idea -- just looks weird.

This one gives me a headache, not to mention the fact that it looks suspiciously like there’s carpet on the floor. Gross. And the floating desk — while an interesting idea — just looks weird.  The washing machine in the background, though, is intriguing.  It’s more popular in Europe than North America, but I like it.

Love it.  Airy and welcoming.  Guess I'm a sucker for the '50s over the '70s.  Although I'd be willing to give wallpaper in the kitchen a try.  Because I'm an idiot, I suppose.

Love it. Airy and welcoming. Guess I’m a sucker for the ’50s over the ’70s. Although I’d be willing to give wallpaper in the kitchen a try. Because I’m an idiot, I suppose.

The floor definitely grabs your attention, doesn't it?  Very minimalist, in a way, but it seems to lack storage.  That would suck, especially if you have lots of gadgets or two sets of dishes.

The floor definitely grabs your attention, doesn’t it? Very minimalist, in a way, but it seems to lack storage. That would suck, especially if you have lots of gadgets or two sets of dishes.

A, uh, modern take on the retro kitchen.  Sweet Jesus.  Don't.  Just... don't.

A, uh, modern take on the retro kitchen. Sweet Jesus. Don’t. Just… don’t.

Catch-All Tueday: Hiring, firing, and immigration — oh, my!

polls_pk_wal_mart_ap_0140_785832_answer_3_xlargeEm and I live in an area of the country where temporary foreign workers (or “TFWs”, for those in the know) are everywhere.  Primarily from the Philippines, TFWs can be found in our fast food restaurants, janitorial and maintenance companies, entry-level retail positions, and various other minimum wage jobs.  We’re in oil country, and alot of the Canadian folks opt to work in the petroleum industry for all the sweet cashola they’re convinced is coming their way; this leaves a pretty serious void for service positions, at least locally.

There’s a lot of money in our town, and even the teenagers don’t have to work if they don’t want to (Daddy is in oil, after all).  So there’s no one to work at the Ford dealership detail bay to clean your Escalade, prep your sandwich at Subway, or scan your Preperation H at Wal-Mart.  So what’s an employer to do?  We’ve had large chain stores examine the feasibility of bringing their business here, but eventually back out because finding staff is just hell.  So there’s jobs to fill here, but no one will get off their butt for less than $22 an hour.

Enter the temporary foreign worker program, where employers can sponser foreign workers to come to Canada and work for them.

Controversial, much?

I’ve heard about abuse of the program, domestic workers who apply for jobs but cannot get one because the TFWs will work for less money, and the amazing help the TFW pool has been in areas where businesses are in danger of closing because they can’t find anyone to work.

I don’t claim to be an expert; I’m on the fence about the whole issue, actually, because I’ve seen the program work, and I’ve also seen it cause some problems.  For a bit more insight, check out CTV New’s article on the matter here.

How do you feel about temporary foreign workers?  A blessing?  A mistake?  Leave a comment!  Let us know.

 

Gallery

Because We Can: Men In Suits

Nothing — and we mean nothing — is sexier than a man in a suit.  And because we have such generous natures, here’s a Top 10 Gallery Ellie slapped together to prove it.  Enjoy.

Daniel Craig.  They said he'd never make a good Bond.  They were wrong.  They said bow ties would never be hot -- they were wrong about that, too.

Daniel Craig. They said he’d never make a good Bond. They were wrong. They said bow ties would never be hot — they were wrong about that, too.

Paul Newman.  I'd have eaten boatloads of salad dressing just to get close...

Paul Newman. I’d have eaten boatloads of salad dressing just to get close…

Ryan Gosling is Canadian.  And that alone makes him blog-worthy, dontcha think?

Ryan Gosling is Canadian. And that alone makes him blog-worthy, dontcha think?

Sean Connery.  The original Bond.  And what a suit!

Sean Connery. The original Bond. And what a suit!

A class act in a classy suit.  Ladies, Mr. Denzel Washington.

A class act in a classy suit. Ladies, Mr. Denzel Washington.

Chris Evans.  'Nuff said.

Chris Evans. ‘Nuff said.

I've loved Robert Downey Jr. since his "St. Elmo's Fire" days.  He's gotten better with age.

I’ve loved Robert Downey Jr. since his “Weird Science” days. He’s gotten better with age.

Say what you like about Ben Affleck -- the man can wear a suit.

Say what you like about Ben Affleck — the man can wear a suit.

If I had to choose my favourite womanizing, self-absorbed borderline alcoholic, I'd pick Jon Hamm's Don Draper, all the way.

If I had to choose my favourite womanizing, self-absorbed borderline alcoholic, I’d pick Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, all the way.

Oh, come on.  You knew he was going to make the short list.

Oh, come on. You knew he was going to make the short list.