Saturday, July 31, 2021

pre-birthday rant

More from my favourite Blowing Own Horn department: U of T sends anonymous assessment forms to students when the term ends, and then forwards them to the teachers. Mine included this:

What recommendations do you have for improving this course to enrich the learning experience for future students?

None whatsoever. Beth Kaplan is an outstanding instructor who is an expert in her subject matter and is able to communicate it masterfully to the various learning levels of the students.

Suggest more strongly purchase of the tutor's book on writing which I just now obtained and which is very valuable

So kind! Thank you. Especially appreciate the suggestion about the textbook "True to Life." 

Turned on the Olympics by accident the other day and saw the one race I feel remotely connected to, women's rowing, because one of the eight powerful young Canadians is from Cabbagetown. It was thrilling; I was shouting, Go girls go! You can do it! as they pulled ahead and stayed ahead the whole way. Gold! It's surprising how much a gold medal matters at a moment like that, when it really does not. 

I turn 71 tomorrow. I know, impossible to believe in one so young. But something is happening; I am turning into a crabby person. I see things all the time that infuriate me, big things and small things, and I've upped my "crabby complaint letters" game. I've always believed in writing letters of complaint and also of praise. But I fired off 3 last week, one about the constant drag racing at 3 a.m. on the Don Valley Parkway, the racers unimpeded by the slightest attention from police, and two about truly stupid articles in the Star. I'd write a letter to the BC Health agency that awarded people who got the second vaccine a big yellow star, but what's the point? Or to register my disbelief that recently a new store opened in Toronto, a luxury vegan clothing store — for dogs. May I puke politely? 

I find this New Balance ad offensive, do you? The sexualizing of a very young girl, giving her a closed, almost surly face and a provocative off-shoulder shirt - in what way does this ad sell children's running shoes? Especially in our age of #MeToo and Jeffrey Epstein?

I tried to complain to New Balance but can find no way to get through. So I'm complaining to you.

Focussing on these small things is a way of avoiding the big things - the physical and moral disintegration of our planet. I started reading a book highly recommended by Judy: The Industry of Souls, by Martin Booth. The writing is wonderful, but it's about the gulag. I don't think I can bear it.

Change of plans. Tomorrow, 80% chance of thunderstorms, 0% chance on Monday, so my Sunday birthday party with family and a few friends has been deferred a day. I will spend my birthday in blessed solitude. A day to contemplate my over seven decades, try not to be crabby, and maybe actually do some work.

PS In case you're a very young reader who doesn't understand the significance of the yellow star, here's one that was torn off an overcoat and given to my American soldier father after the liberation of Paris from the Nazis. 


  1. One of my children gave me a Roz Chast book for my birthday a few years ago: Another Thing I Hate. And wow, I hadn't realized that I was getting cranky in my later years! Have a lovely birthday. I envy you the rain. We had a very brief mist here late morning, just enough to get my hopes up, but not enough to even make anything damp, including a clothesline full of laundry. (Another thing I hate. The heat and drought, not the laundry!)

    1. Roz Chast forever! I must look for that book, because I could have written it. When drivers speed by me on city streets I shout after them, "Asshole! Slow down!" Yes, we've had a wet summer here, and you another heat wave. Our provinces are reversed. But how wonderful that some of your family are there and that you are making them ice cream.