My summer school class is listening to Serial, a first for me. And all of the time we’ve spent thinking through 1999 inspired me to go back to see what I was consumed with on the day Hae Lee was killed.

I found an article enumerating my thoughts on fat as a feminist issue. I was appalled. It was terrible. Worst of all, it was written for (published in?) a campus newspaper. Gross. (I’m not linking; you’re free to do your own digging but I wouldn’t recommend it.)

But, in the spirit of the artistic challenge that encourages artists to redraw something, showing the progress that can be made with practice, I am going back to that writing prompt. Nineteen years later, am I less hacky? Well, I’m still self-publishing for an audience in the tens, so probably. But as Katherine Hepburn so memorably said in African Queen, “Never. Theless.”


During The Full Monty, the male cast is critiquing body type until one of the men reprovingly hisses, ‘Fat is a feminist issue!’ Blank looks are exchanged among our blue-collar heroes. ‘What does that mean?’ ‘I don’t know,’ the hisser replies, ‘but it is.’

When I first wrote this article, my understanding of feminism was more intuitive than academic. I related this almost entirely to my own body, and my own feeling about fat.

Pause to go to a Weight Watchers meeting with my mother, because I’m all about repeating imagery. We’re back:

I wrote it from the perspective of a young white girl who had pretty typical self-esteem struggles without ever losing thin privilege. I had grown up with an overweight parent and absorbed many of her self-hating attitudes without really examining them; they hadn’t surfaced because I wasn’t truly overweight and I stupidly thought I had transcended them. I had a steady boyfriend, who I would late marry and even later, divorce, and I had never wondered if my romantic successes or failures were due to fat. The Freshman 10 was sitting pretty easily on me.

So, what’s different, besides the fact that I am now nearly twice the age of that little fluff? For one thing, when I first wrote this piece I was in the last years before my depression surfaced. When that bitch finally came up and unpacked her bags, I was put on a medication that gifted me 20 pounds in little over a month. At the time I wasn’t sure if I’d ever lose the weight, so I gave up meat and started going to the gym. Neither of these drastic measures took hold in any meaningful way; as soon as I found I was pregnant with Blake I welcomed meat back into my heart (or more specifically, my gut). Going off that first medication to grow Blake changed the equation again, and I ended up converting all of that sweaty fear and midnight cookies into a baby, so that when he was born I was back to my pre-depression weight. And I more-or-less stayed there until I started dating Mason, who loves to cook with all of the best things: cream, butter, sugar, salt, meat, cheese. I was eating better quality ingredients but I was also just eating a lot, and I eventually made it back to my high point, this time without the medication to blame.

By the time I joined Weight Watchers I had spent almost 30 years with only a dim understanding of what was good for me and what would keep my weight down. I was running by this time, but running never takes off weight unless you’re one of those ultra-marathon birds, and the weight was making it hard to progress. I could run 10k but I felt ill-equipped to take on bigger challenges. And I was just tired of being out of control. How was it possible that I could eat so much natural, heritage, unsullied farmer’s food and still be this heavy? How could I be this smart and be defeated by my own belly?

I’m not here to talk about my weight loss as if it was particularly important to anyone but me. What it did teach me, though, was that bodies are complicated. And food is complicated. My food is intimately connected to capitalism, regardless of how many farmer friends I make or peas I personally plant, and I needed to understand exactly how insidiously the industry has exploited our most basic emotions to sell us garbage to shove in our pie-holes. I needed to gain weight, lose weight, exercise for fun and learn about food yet gain all the weight before I was ready to admit that I needed help to understand it all. I needed to lose 30 pounds and then gain 10 of it back to really get how complex it all is. And I needed to spend three years listening to other people, mostly women, talk about their own emerging understanding of food before I could start to understand how complex it is for each of us.

Is fat a feminist issue? Of course it is, because in a patriarchal society the anxieties of the culture are visited on the bodies of the most vulnerable. While we all try to get a grip on our addiction to chip dip and moose tracks ice cream it is the women who will bear the brunt of the helplessness and disgust. It is the women who will be blamed for our obese children. It is always the women who have to walk a finer line to be deemed worthy, and fat is just one of many make-or-break issues. Of course men will also suffer, because there is always enough suffering to go around, but the women will be the ones in the cross-hairs for years to come.

Fat is a feminist issue because fat highlights social inequities. Poor women and children are more likely to live in “food deserts,” where fresh and healthy food is just too far away to be practical. Poor women and children are more likely to depend on starchy food bank staples. Poor children are more likely to be fed whatever the school can afford in its breakfast program, foods chosen for their ability to keep well over time and be appealing (i.e. sweet and salty).

Fat is a feminist issue because fat is the end result of industrial food. The industry is not interested in healthy eating, it’s interested in profit, and profit comes from using cheap ingredients that are amped up with the sweet and fatty flavours our unevolved brains equate with survival. I’m not even going to start on the diet industry, as I have an obvious bias, but many “diets” are unhealthy scams that quickly fail and lead to a lifetime of desperate yo-yoing (cha-ching!) Fat can be the only issue a health-care provider is willing to see, endangering countless people whose real issues go undiagnosed because they “just have to lose some weight to feel better.”

Fat is a feminist issue because it is one the ways society judges women to be lacking. It is one of the ways in which society encourages women to tear others to shreds: skinnies on one side, fatties on the other; corporate zombies on one side, woke femi-bitches on the other.

But it is not a feminist issue because I was a little plush and I had a skinny boyfriend. Sorry younger me. You missed the boat on this one. See you next time I need to remind myself to keep working.

Posted by: rocketbride | April 5, 2018

describe yourself like a male author would

Here is a good summary of the inspiration behind this game from Electric Media here.

She dressed like a teenager, but her walk betrayed her advanced age. She had clearly allowed the brassy sun of experience to burn off the fresh dew of youth. Her eyes were locked behind glasses, her hands full of knitting. Her unpainted lips curved faintly at a joke I had yet to make. I noticed a well-worn Garmin watch on her slender wrist and made a mental note to tell her about my PBs.

I leaned in. “What are you knitting me,” I asked.

Posted by: rocketbride | March 30, 2018

The Tragedy of Jesus, King of the Jews

Yesterday at work I was reading Mason’s Dictionary of Literary Terms (I will not apologize for being so awesome), brushing up on the concept of Tragedy. I am in the midst of my first teaching of Hamlet, and I want to make sure that the dusty, half-remembered ideas of Tragedy have any basis in scholarship. Whilst learning about The Spanish Tragedy, I came across the fact that the European Middle Ages produced no formal Tragedy. The author of the entry suggested that the Passion of the Christ fulfilled the Christians’ need for high tragedy, which seems a little weak if you ask me. Why don’t we have any tragedy now, if that’s the case? But anyway, I had a chance to think this through today during the Good Friday service.

Reasons why this might be true:

  • Jesus is a man of stature as both the son of God and the promised Messiah
  • Jesus fits the mold of Tragic Hero in that he is concerned with ultimate morality, thoughtful and emotional, and prone to soliloquy
  • All of the events in his downfall are connected: the reaction of the Priests, the betrayal of Judas, the arrest and mock trial, the crowd choosing Barabbas, the crucifixion and death
  • His fate is connected to the fates of others, all others if you believe the Gospels.

Reasons why this doesn’t work:

  • Jesus is born without sin?? So the idea that the tragic hero represents the hamartia or the bad decisions of everyone is less literally true than it is a part of the litany of faith, i.e. what he took on in his death.
  • Jesus’ death represents a kind of catharsis, but his Resurrection either negates the initial catharsis or creates a larger one?? Again, it becomes about the faith implications of Jesus’ story rather than what is part of the narrative itself.

It’s kind of fun to see Jesus as Hamlet and vice-versa, especially if you imagine the Holy Spirit as the ghost that urges Jesus into revenging himself against the sinfulness of the world, and the parables as the play-within-the-play to catch the guilty. I don’t know that they would have gotten along, what with the whole, “there’s nothing good or bad But thinking makes it so.” I feel like Jesus wouldn’t have been down with that. But at least Ophelia/Mary Magdalene makes it out alive in this one.


Posted by: rocketbride | December 22, 2017

a short programming note

I’m in the process of going through my drafts folder, finishing pieces that I wrote and stashed. If you’re getting notifications whenever I publish, you’re going to be confused as to why I’ve suddenly started to talk about TCAF 2015 or Jian Ghomeshi (especially with all the new shit that’s buried his scandal in the last year). I’m just tying to honour the stuff that was important enough to say but not important enough to remember. 😉

Posted by: rocketbride | December 20, 2017

Thoughts on the Last Jedi (2)

Having spent so long pouring over jokes, thinking about possible scenarios, reading theories and getting ready for anything, I was pretty excited to hit that opening score. The movie itself was a barrage of input, one I’ll need at least one more viewing to fully process. The sunny optimism of the new kids in TFA is gone, and I’m not sure I like Poe & Finn as much as I did. Ultimately, though, I don’t complain about stuff like this; it’s the story that has me hooked, and not liking characters quite as much is sort of like your uncle being a jerk one Christmas: you’re taking the long view, and he wasn’t why you came to dinner anyway.

Even in the worst of my Kylo/Adam fixation, I tried to keep myself from committing to any one version of his relationship with Rey, and TLJ gave me so much more to think about without fully shutting any narrative door. That throne room scene, oh my God. I could never have imagined that a Star Wars movie could make me that elated. People sneer a lot at the idea of “fan-service” – a term which is as overused as genius – but that throne room scene was clearly the work of someone who loved Star Wars and wanted to test the limits of what he was allowed to do with characters who had previously just been samurai set dressing. For a story to be any good, the writer needs to be a fan of the story, which makes criticisms like this particularly meaningless.

I almost wish that they had doubled-down on the Kurosawa influences, that Lucas has always claimed but rarely done justice to. I would have happily sat through a long, slow movie on Ach-To, a nearly-silent story of with the sky and the earth as much main characters as Rey and Luke (and Chewy and the porgs, of course). I loved the new characters but I was never that interested in the goings-on of Poe and Finn, not when there was blue milk to be guzzled. That said, the horse-alien jail break was magnificent, and Laura Dern killed it in her perfect purple ensemble (Hallowe’en!!) and Leia taking up a blaster once again was a sorely-needed punctuation.

But it’s the Kylo-Rey stuff that stays with me. Their indelible connection. How lost they both are. How much sense Kylo makes when he wants to stop the hero-god madness in its tracks, but still can’t free himself from the nonsense of wanting to be Darth Vader II, a stupid idea that Rey quickly shuts down. I had wanted this to be a definitive redemption for him, but I’m ok with the way it was clawed back. Ben Solo will have to work on himself for a long time before he’s safe to play with the other children; it would have been unrealistic for a few conversations with Rey to bring him back from spittle-flecked foaming mouth villany. For one thing, he needs to put on a towel. (I’m really amused by the shocked reaction to the shirt-less scene; it’s not like it’s hard to find pictures of Adam Driver without a shirt. That was kind of his deal for the whole first season of Girls.)

adam sackler

I’m left with a lot of lingering questions about the Rey/Finn/Poe dynamic. This movie seems to have walked back the gay/poly aspects of the characters, something that’s barely subtext in TFA. Is Rey going to reject the celibate Jedi thing as just one more piece of legacy bullshit? Does Poe fall in love with everyone because he was so traumatized by the First Order?


Ultimately, I’m glad I still have so many questions.

Posted by: rocketbride | December 19, 2017

Some thoughts on The Last Jedi (1)

If you’re unfortunate enough to live in my house, you already know that a switch was flipped when I saw SW:tFA in late December. I plunged headfirst into a swirl of delicious obsession; at first with the new cast (taking a lengthy pause over Adam Driver) and eventually reaching back to my excitement about the original trilogy. I collected jokes and fan art on Pintrest. I used the Machete Order to work through 4 of the previous 6 (I still have RotJ to look forward to), which meant that I had to watch Revenge of the Sith for the first time. I traded batshit insane fan theories with my brother, who only reads SW novels and maintains a high level of investment/obsession at all times.
– an unpublished post from May 27, 2016 called “Sad Wars: the Sulk Awakens”

Seeing The Last Jedi on Saturday with two of my three boys at times verged on an out-of-body experience. I can’t remember 1999 very well, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to see a Star Wars movie. Or any movie, really, with the possible exception of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I haven’t read all of the Lord of the Rings books, and I already knew exactly what was going to happen in the Harry Potter movies, so after the first one I wasn’t that thrilled. I had already gotten my story fix from Rowling, whenever a new novel came out. I needed to know what happened to those guys, and the Boy & I spent the intervening years speculating on what might happen to our little magical moppets. I’ve spent 6 years needing to know what happens next in the world of Percy Jackson but it hasn’t consumed me, exactly, in the way that The Force Awakens pulled me into a force-choke hold two years ago, one that has yet to relent.

I have always liked Star Wars, and even though I gave up halfway through the prequels, I knew I was going to see the Force Awakens in the theatre. I wasn’t expecting to be so thoroughly seduced by the sweetness of Rey and Finn finding each other, or the cocky bravura of Poe, or the brooding instability of Kylo. After that first viewing I started watching cast interviews, getting to know the actors who had touched me so profoundly.

Within a short period of time I fixated on Adam Driver, drawn to the awkward, mumbling mass of grey and black separates that seemed to lurk in the shadows of the brash and charming Daisy, John & Oscar. When he first took off his helmet, I couldn’t make sense of his face. I couldn’t stop staring. I went through his back catalogue in Netflix, hate-watched 4 seasons of Girls, found out when his other projects were released and went to see those as soon as I could, just to wrap my head around this mystery. I ended up seeing some pretty great movies, including Silence and Paterson, my first Scorcese and Jarmuch respectively (yeah, I haven’t seen Down by Law, I’m a bad Tom Waits fan.)


And through all of my subsequent watchings of the Force Awakens, I wondered what I wasn’t seeing, based on the layered performances I had seen elsewhere. Other people dismissed Kylo – my space friend – as a tantrummy brat, but I found his instability disturbing and magnetic in equal measures. As much as I hate Heathcliff and Catherine, Kylo is a space opera Heathcliff, and I was 100% there for future developments in the weird relationship he’d built with Rey, even if she was his sister. I have a whole line of thought on that. (And if she wasn’t related, she was the sensible Catherine we all deserved.)

Wuthering Heights Part 2” from Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton

On Saturday, the very best moment was the first moment, when the title rushed across the screen and the John Williams score thundered the first cord. As with H2G2, I had a moment of apotheosis, knowing that this might be the best it would ever get. I was wrong, of course, because I didn’t know about the throne room battle then, but that first moment of delightful anticipation, of feeling that my questions would finally be answered, was sublime. And I love, love, love all the new puzzles to keep me guessing into the wee hours of the long nights.

Of course, being a story junkie means that this full almost-three-hour 8-ball would blaze through me and dissipate before we got home. I need more story and this is the maximum amount of time before a new Star Wars movie. But let me see this one three or four more times, just to take the edge off that realization.

Posted by: rocketbride | October 23, 2017

dear maggie

Today you turn 6, my youngest child, and although it seems arbitrary to note one day as being fundamentally different from the one that came before it, it is good to stop and think about all of the wonderful things you open the door to in my life.

Here are the things you are best at. You are the best at setting up the house to put on a show. You are the best at remembering adults who aren’t in your immediate family. You are the best at showing the world the passion and fire spinning in your core. You are headstrong and bossy, you are sensitive and shy. You have claimed all of my purses – even the felted one – and all of my friends – even Death – as your own. You want to climb over everything. Up until a few months ago, you wanted to spend every day in a dress as fancy as your soul. You have strong opinions about food and family activities that are too old for you. You always want another stuffed toy. And while you can burn with the desire to consume everything, you also turn on a dime and comfort me when you sense that something is bothering me. You are both brash and sensitive. You are endlessly entertaining and often frustrating. We will never stop baking imaginary cupcakes under the stairwell to the library until you figure out some other game.

Posted by: rocketbride | August 9, 2017

Things I Loved About Seeing the Dark Tower Movie yesterday

  1. All of the in-world references, starting immediately from Tet Productions, the logo of which was a Turtle and Rose.
  2. Idris Elba as the Gunslinger. There were a few bad notes in the script, but I totally bought him as the ancient, wise knight.
  3. Matthew McCaunnehey as The Man in Black. I’ve never found that guy handsome, but his slick storytelling and waxy, lizardy looks were perfect for this.
  4. The focussed on the most important relationship: Jake Chambers
  5. Watching Idris Elba reload his gun and shoot things and then reload again. Before I went I watched the trailer three times in a row and I think it made me pregnant.
  6. The fact that the moments from the trailer were just as cool in the larger context
  7. The fact that it’s a sequel to the stories!! No more brilliant answer could have been made to the many many diversions and weaknesses when compared to the original series. Best explanation since “a wizard did it.”

The whole movie watching experience was an interesting departure from my normal MO. Mason had tickets to a fancy beer event, so we went in together and I met Dirk at the theatre. Scherezade joined us for dinner, and then she and I wandered the streets of Toronto eating desserts and discussing the untimely passing of Pixie. It was like the old days, if we had good taste in the old days and sense enough to visit the best ice cream shops and Italian bakeries instead of settling for what was local. We pursued three perfect desserts: hand-made ice cream (passion fruit raspberry tart), Italian cookies – the good kind, not the kind my family always buys (chocolate amaretti), and finishing up with what bills itself as the best Sicilian cannoli in Toronto. We split that last one. Even queens like us have a limit.

Posted by: rocketbride | July 2, 2017


Yesterday was Canada Day, and when I checked in briefly to Facebook there were a number of people celebrating, as well as a significant number of people writing about the flaws in our country. There’s a fear, I think, that we have in expressing happiness in something without a caveat, that we will be judged simple and worse, unfeeling of all the bad things that balance out the good. It’s part of being an adult, I suppose: looking at the shadow as well as the dazzle.

The best thing about the timing of Canada Day is that it comes hot on the heels of National Aboriginal Month in Canada. If you can get through the entire month of June without coming across an opportunity for education, or for appreciating the cultures of the First Peoples, well…it’s possible you’re not trying hard enough. I am uniquely privileged to be in education at a time when focus (and more importantly, money) is being devoted to integrating some degree of Indigenous perspective into the mainstream (i.e. settler) curriculum. There are manifold opportunities for me to learn more, and I’ve been deeply moved by many of these experiences. As a result, I think about First Nations much more than I used to, and all throughout the year. Canada Day brings all of this into focus.

I love history. Since most of my education was on Western European and colonial history, I still find myself loving that (although questioning it more closely than when i first learned the stories). As problematic as the history of Canada (a.k.a. the history of European settlement) is, I still cherish it. I look forward to learning more about the history that was passed over in the search for a simple narrative, in the search to justify civilization in a straight line from Athens to Rome to London to Toronto, but I will never fully abandon the patriarchal colonial narratives. I can’t; they shaped the current discourse.

I also love the current Canada, the big flawed timbit where I make my living and my home. I desperately want to see it improve, so that it embodies our best ideas about ourselves. I want clean drinking water and safe, spacious, well-designed houses, and innovative education and respect and hope flowing to and from the First Peoples. I want my seventh descendant to be proud of us for starting the hard work.

If you know me, then you know that I can be pathetically devoted. I am ride-or-die for Canada, despite its problems. Canada is like a beloved family member with some serious shit to work out. And my job is figure out where I can make the cracks wider, to provoke the breakdown that brings insight and inspiration. We need to run head-first into every uncomfortable conversation that stands in the way of right living. We need to get down in the shit and fix it.

Thank God we have something worth fighting for.

Posted by: rocketbride | June 27, 2017


You and me both, kid. 

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