Repost: An Alphabetized Tribute to Canada

Tomorrow is Canada’s 150th birthday and I have never been happier for my beautiful country. Nobody deserves it more than you, Canada. Some years ago I wrote this poem for my one true love and I share it again now. Bonne fête, Canada!


An Alphabetized Tribute to Canada

A is for arctic, it’s damn cold all the time
B is for Bluenose, the ship on our dime.

C is for Canadarm that helped with the space quest
D is for donut, Tim Hortons is best

E is for Elizabeth, she’s our head of state
Americans may laugh, but haters will hate.

F is for Ford, the mayor who smokes crack
G is for goose, our bird that fights back

H is for heist, our syrup was stolen
I is for ice hockey, the sport we get gold in.

J is for John; A. Macdonald, that is
Who got the job done while poppin’ some crys

K is for Klondike, where we searched for some gold
L is for the love that I feel for my home

M is for maple, moose, maritimes, and Mountie.
Also for McCullough and his stem cell discovery.

N is for Nanaimo bar, haven’t tried it? A pity.
O is for Ottawa, our capital city.

P is for Pemmican, a First Nations dish
Q is for Quebec, separate? They wish.

R is for Riel, for the Metis he fought
S is for snowfall. It’s June, please stop.

T is for Trans-Canada, it connects all of us
BC to Newfoundland, certainly a plus

U is for universal, education and healthcare
V is for Vancouver, and the dim sum you have there

W is for walkie talkie, it made our lives better
X is for x-ray, who came up with this letter?

Y is for YAHTZEE!*

Z is for zed, yes we say it right
Oh Canada, I miss you tonight.

* invented in Canada


I am in D.C., living life, eating popsicles. Flying over the White House and thinking about who is currently occupying it felt similar to the time a window fell on my head. Not good, and surprised that you’re still alive given the circumstances.

I was giving a presentation today and wanted to fit in with all the movers and shakers so I wore my sole grown-up outfit. It’s easy to confuse graduate students with old mops, given our dress, hygiene, and (lack of) social skills. Today, though, I dressed like a real person. I felt very Michelle Obama-y until a homeless man on the street told me I should wash my shoes.

After the talk I explored a bit but apparently kept trying to enter “secure areas” like the “Oval Office”. “You’ll never silence Canada!” I yelled, as I fled the scene. I guess I’m on some kind of list now.

Sometimes when I’m alone visiting a city I try to make friends by finding a park and chatting with people but today a bird bit me.

This is my life now.



My friend, Jude Law.

This is the story of how I met my ex-best friend, Jude Law. I say “ex” best friend not with disdain, but with the reluctant acceptance that many friendships, like the old squirrel that used to live in the tree beside my house, will die. Or look identical to other squirrels such that I lose track of the original squirrel. In any case, I give you our story.

Back in my mid-years of graduate school (I have accumulated so many years of graduate school that I can now call some “mid”), I thought “this is seems hard and I like the Queen so I’m going to London”. I spent about a year in the UK, doing some researching and perfecting my now beautiful and not-at-all-offensive British accent. One night I was out for a stroll. By that I mean that I walked 5 blocks, got tired, and decided to take the bus home.

Because my legs were wary from those 87 steps I took, I sat down on a short brick fence as I waited for the bus (or double-decker as we Commonwealthers are wont to say. Hup hup cheerio.) Beside me was a homeless fellow with a dog. Like any good citizen, I strongly prefer animals to humans, so I immediately started to ask the man about his canine. As we were chatting, a youngish dude stopped in front of us and put a 5-pound note in the homeless man’s cup. I looked up. It was Jude Law.

Now Jude Law is a good-looking dude but there was also a cute dog beside me, so obviously I was all “meh, you’re kinda standing between me and this dog I’m going to steal so buzz off”. But Jude, ever the best friend, looked at me, paused in thought for a moment, and reached back into his pocket. He pulled out another something-pound note and tried to hand it to me.

At first I was confused. Then I quickly realized that he had made the mistake so many people had made before. Jude Law thought I was homeless. I told him that I was ok and held my hand out in a “no” gesture. Jude Law looked embarrassed. I started to explain to him that there was no need to be embarrassed. I started telling him that my own parents mistook me for a mis-shapen potato when I was 6 but as quickly as Jude entered my life, he left.

Erik Pevernagie, a Belgian artist, once said that “a fleeting moment can become an eternity”. That is not how I feel about my encounter with Jude Law. But I do feel that way about a donut I ate earlier today.

Hey, Jude.


My parents sent me these photos from home



And then I looked around at my view


I’m not sure I’ve made good life choices.


Sometimes I think about what bad people will be reincarnated as and it makes me feel better about the world. Like Donald Trump will be reincarnated as the athlete’s foot I once had. Everyone hates it but for some reason it is always there and won’t go away until you destroy it with chemicals*. I hope to be reincarnated as a common sparrow, or at least as one of those old railroad trolleys. When people think about those old trolleys, they are all “meh, I see why you’re here but probably something better and more efficient is out there but also you are very strong and have boyish good looks”. Stuart McLean will be reincarnated as the next generation of Barack Obamas because they are perfect in every way.


* There is a non-zero chance I will get arrested for writing this.

The bird.

Several weeks ago, I was walking home at night and almost stepped on a small bird that was hanging out on the sidewalk. I was both confused and intrigued. Why didn’t the bird run away from me as other people do? There is clearly something wrong with it.

The bird was sitting upright and was alive and chirpy but I don’t think that all the lights were on upstairs. Maybe it flew into a window? Maybe it is also doing a PhD and goes home every night, completely delirious and takes shots of vodka until the world seems better? I mean… I don’t do that…

Anyway, I left the bird on the sidewalk and ran home to get a shoebox. Returning to the bird, I picked it up and put it inside the shoebox with the intention of returning home and nursing it back to health. While I’d like to say that this was for purely unselfish reasons, I really just wanted to train it to bring my sweater to me in the morning, Sleeping Beauty style.

Let me tell you two things. One, the bird did not bring my sweater to me. Two, I need to wrap up this story because the grocery store near my house is closing soon. So I bring the bird home in the shoebox and put it in the corner of my room. I go to sleep thinking that I will take it to some park ranger or sell it to a wolf in the morning.

Alas. At 2 a.m. I am awoken by a bat from hell, speeding around my room and knocking over all of my economics textbooks I mean cool things that interesting people have. I grab my baseball bat, The Educator, and begin swinging wildly and knock over more… cool things that interesting people have… But when I realize that it is the bird, I try to guide it out of the apartment. You might be wondering why the bird was unable to fly 5 hours earlier but now was cruising like the Air Force One (is this a shoe? I’ve never understood American culture), but I don’t have a good answer. Eventually I was able to get the bird out of our apartment and into the apartment building hallway. The bird flew up the apartment building stairs and I tried to follow it for a while but got tired after climbing three steps.

And that’s the story of why there is a bird living (or.. maybe not living..) somewhere in my apartment building. Good night!

Some Thoughts on Lives Mattering.

All the time, I’m hearing people say: “Sure, Black Lives Matter, but really All Lives Matter! Let’s not discriminate!” (I also hear people say that only All Lives Matter which I suspect is really just code for “I’m very racist and should live on an island alone”).

Fellow white people: nobody is saying  or has ever said that your life is unimportant. This is demonstrated by the fact that we are in all the history books, we are not in danger when we come into contact with authorities, and the judicial system is probably going to be fair to us. You don’t need to shout that our lives matter because we have been absurdly aggressive about making them matter and making them matter more than other people’s.

There are groups of individuals for whom this is not true. Black people, for example. This is why we say that Black Lives Matter. It is not a threat. It is not divisive. It is simply saying “Hey, here are some people who matter and we are acting like they don’t. Maybe we should change that”. White person, we already know that your life matters so stop trying to be part of the tag line.

It’s like this. Say we go back to the time when women couldn’t vote. Then we have a rally that says women should be able to vote. Would you then be like “hmm.. I think these women are really saying that men shouldn’t have the right to vote, despite the fact that they are clearly just asking for their right to vote, so we should have a rally saying that men should still have the right to vote”. No because that’s stupid. If you would think that then may you be stung by a thousand bees.

For those of us white folk who say sure Black Lives Matter, but All Lives Matter, let’s be honest about what this is really saying: We feel very uncomfortable with (1) having to recognize that we are implicated in hundreds of years of racism, and (2) having to recognize that it is still happening today. The good news is that you can support the Black Lives Matter movement and rest assured that your life, and mine, will continue to matter. Our lives are irrelevant to this conversation except that we can use them to be allies.