Fighting Words

I fight with myself a lot. I think I should go to bed earlier. I should drink more water. I should reply to emails within two days, not two weeks. I should eat earlier, because a yam and pulled pork burrito at midnight can’t be advisable for anyone.

I feel like I should read more and quit buying lattes at Jimmy’s every Saturday and Sunday. Am I eating too many muffins in a week?  Is two too many? They are citrus date bran, so, surely this is semi-acceptable?

I struggle with having a career that ignores my creative tendencies. Yes, I could freelance, but, in my mind, I can only effectively do one or the other. I should be doing something constructive with the three book-length manuscripts I have shoved in a box. They’re featured on a To-Do list. Every week. And then I listen to Tucker Finn’s CD and feel like her lyrics are a cosmic message, a fortune cookie just for me. 


And my get up and go
It just got up and went
And I know what I did
But it’s not what I meant
Now I’m frittering
God-given talents away”

(I’ve Been Doing Okay, Tucker Finn, The Cup & The Lip)

I think I should pursue writing full force. But I cross my arms defiantly, resistant to giving up my enviable shifts and secure income.  I don’t want strife.

I don’t really want a stuffy 9-5 job with a water cooler, dishwater coffee in the kitchen and weekends off either, but sometimes, I think I do. I must be missing out on something, no? I talked to a floral designer tonight who works at Starbucks part time (for the benefits) and puts in over 75 hours a week. I work maybe 30 hours, give or take. He is trying to find a work-life balance, and I am reminded that I certainly have that. So, why do I see-saw?

Who are “They” who decide what “we” should be doing?

I have never baked a pie of any sort or made a pot roast or a turkey or read the books that the New York Times dictates that I should. Do I need to do these things too? Should I be watching Jersey Shore? Is my life a bit less meaningful because I’ve never watched Dexter or Dancing With the Stars? Or Glee?

I don’t take vitamins. Should I? They say we should. My mom tried to get us in on this craze when we were sub-10 years old. They were Flintstone vitamins in child-friendly flavours like grape and orange and fruit punch. We fed every single one (and they were individually shaped like Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, Bam-Bam and Dino) to our dog, Xanadu. He went blind, lost most of his teeth and all the fur on his back end and tail. Case closed.

I eat way more cashews, peanuts and almonds than is permissable by the Canadian Food Guide. We won’t even talk about the carb count in my weekly bagel, pita, fougasse, English muffin, Naan bread consumption. Surely I’m not the only one?

I take extra hot wasteful showers even though I learned how precious water is in Africa. But I compost every silly thing, even if it’s one furry blueberry. I responsibly recycle but shake my head in disappointment as I have that above-mentioned weekend latte in a to-go cup because it just tastes better. Travel mugs kinda ruin the authenticity of my experience.

 I instantly make myself feel better when I think of my co-worker who started buying sleeves of disposable coffee cups for use in her home. In a cost-cutting measure, she reasoned that if she bought a fancy-schmancy coffee maker for her kitchen, she’d be more inclined to grind and brew her own coffee.  Her daily habit was becoming expensive. Weeks into this new venture, she wasn’t enjoying her home-brewed coffee at all. Why? Because of what she was drinking her coffee out of. She needed the disposable cup.

I buy weekend newspapers as thick as the Bible with ten sections that I don’t read, when I could read the same news online and not slay thirty innocent trees at a time. Yes, this is coming from the same person who stood boldly on the logging roads in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island at age 18 trying to save those precious trees from the pulp mills.

Who am I?

I eat meat, with great guilt, as I preach about saving the chimps, meerkats and burrowing owls. I weakly justify my behaviour with my family pig farming heritage. Surely that makes it excusable?  But, then I think of how enraged I become at the bushmeat industry in the Congo, where chimps are butchered and sold at markets. Who am I to judge as I eat my Angus beef burgers with sweet potato fries? As I gloat about nights with fine wines, caribou pate and muskox jerky?

I love animals right down to my marrow. I want to give all my savings to mistreated donkeys, abandoned dogs, orphaned sloths and rescue greyhounds. But I eat hamburgers and go out of my way for bacon-wrapped-anything?  I think of making a chorizo sausage, pancetta  and black bean stew and dream of prosciutto-wrapped shrimp?

Yes, I fight with myself. Does anyone else?

I feel like I should learn something new—like cheese-making, life drawing, cake decorating, something. I should read more biographies instead of Facebook status updates. But I get a good roar out of Facebook and the people I find there. It makes me happy. So do the lattes at Jimmy’s. And those stupid muffins that are really glorified icing-less cupcakes.  And I like the tangibility of the newspaper and the ink on my forearms and fingertips.

Luckily I run, and find motivation for that. But then I think I should run longer. And probably stretch. My chiropractor, Marco, says I should be running races. Really? Am I not living up to my potential again? Is there an online program where I can plug in my daily activities to see if I am being engaged enough as a human being?

Like I said in the beginning, I should go to bed earlier.

It’s 2:24 a.m. Again. I have Tucker Finn on repeat. I am eating too many cashews and drinking wine, not water. I’m thinking of my grandfather. He only started new things on Mondays, and I think that’s a great idea.

Yes, this Monday I’ll do something about all these things. Or one, or maybe none. But, at least I’ve acknowledged them. 

Surely I’m not alone? Do we all fight like this? Is it the human condition?

Listen to what I’m listening to here:

Categories: Polyblogs in a Jar | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Fighting Words

  1. Gail

    Hey Jules, you never cease to inspire and to address the little items nagging at us in the back of our minds. Your gift is to put it into words those thoughts that flash through our heads at 1000 miles per day. I think we all fight with ourselves, whether it be over eating meat, animal rights, wasting water, recycling etc. One of my recent fights with myself was do I send more money to my Malawian family or buy an Eileen Fisher sweater? I wound up doing both, my conscience got the better of me when I bought the sweater. So I guess in that particular fight it wasn’t the ‘they’ that decided what choices I made it was the ‘me’. I think it is actually good that we fight with ourselves (not constantly, but sometimes) it means we have a conscience.
    P.S. Another fight I have is not hate your metabolism!

  2. Love, love, love this piece. No, you are not alone, and thank God, now I know I’m not either! What’s crazy-making to me is that the little battles never get resolved. Which side (e.g. the take-out lattes that provide one of life’s simple pleasures, or brew at home, saving money and the environment) take priority? And please…limit myself to 12 cashews/serving? No bloody way! (As I gaze in dread at the numbers on the scale telling me what I already know…that I clearly consume way too much fat). It seems to me I’m constantly wobbling on dozens of internal teeter-totters like the ones you described. Being kept in “off-balance mode” physically might be great for core strength, but it is draining and distracting when it occurs in one’s conscience!

  3. Wendy M

    I am certain we all fight with ourselves …. impossible to be perfect. Good to stop and examine though. I am constantly resolving to do something differently.

  4. Hello Jules….
    Always a welcome sight, these ramblings of yours. As to should you or shouldn’t you, all I can suggest is that life is not a competition. No one can save the world. A movement becomes a mob. But thinking is good. And writing is good.

  5. Lauren

    This post hits home with me. I feel like I waste so much, including hours of my life that I spend doing, essentially, nothing. I try to do new, productive things every once in a while to make up for it, but I know my life will probably never be quite as “sustainable” as it was when I was living en brousse. I think it’s a chronic human condition to be wasteful – it’s built into our DNA. I try not to let that be my excuse for buying Jimmy’s way too often (I’m supporting local businesses!), or eating bacon with just about anything (pig farmers need money too!), but I seem to be running out of other excuses, and fall back to that one when I can’t think of something better.

    I noticed you mentioned cheese-making. If you’re serious, I would gladly be your partner in dairy crime. I’ve wanted to do it ever since I ate my first lump of organic, locally crafted chevre back in high school but the only person who has agreed to do it with me lives in DC!

  6. Hi Jules. You rock. I will buy all of your books.

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