Suggestion Saturday: June 24, 2017

Happy Pride to everyone in Toronto! Here is this week’s big list of comic strips and other links from my favourite corners of the web. I loved all of it, and I hope you do as well.

The Secret Gay History of the Babadook. This is a humorous essay regardless of whether you saw The Babadook a few years ago when it came out. (Yes, I wrote that sentence that way on purpose).

Anxious Extroverts. Are any of you anxious extroverts? If so, do you agree with this?

What Is Red Velvet Cake. This was such an amusing essay. I don’t have a vendetta against red velvet cake, but I do refuse to eat olives and brussels sprouts for any reason.

Her Chaos Made Her Beautiful via ‪paulineharley1‬.  I couldn’t agree with this more.

Drag Queens Lead Storytime at Edmonton Library. Okay, this is seriously adorable. What a great way to teach kids to be accepting of everyone.

Bed In Summer. My dad shared this poem with me a few days ago. I thought the rest of you would enjoy it as well.

In Defense of the Fidget Spinner via ‪BethMart07‬. Strangely enough, I haven’t heard or read about any criticisms of this  fad. I was fascinated by the idea of anyone being against something so harmless and inoffensive. It was interesting to read Beth’s defence of it, though, and to figure out whether I should spell defence with a “c” or an “s” in this paragraph. Haha!

No Religious Majority Backs Anti-Gay Discrimination by Business Owners Anymore. Wow, this is wonderful news. The U.S. is changing so fast these days.

From You Asked: Am I Grieving or Am I Depressed? via ‪HDuggalMD‬:

Grief and depression may have some overlapping symptoms such as sadness, crying, fatigue, reduced concentration, and sleep and appetite disturbances. However, grief and depression are not the same. Grief is a normal reaction to a loss whereas depression is a clinical condition.

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The Handmaid’s Tale: The Bridge

This post includes spoilers for “The Bridge” (Season 1, Episode 9) of The Handmaid’s Tale as well as for the book this show is based on. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far. 

Wow, this week was intense! I think it’s my favorite episode yet in this series because of how beautifully everything is coming together.

I’m going to discuss “The Bridge”  by breaking it up into the experiences of certain characters. This is something I did a few weeks ago for “A Woman’s Choice,” and I think it’s a good way to gather my thoughts about everything since there were a lot of exciting and scary things happening.

Aunt Lydia, Ofwarren, and Angela

Aunt Lydia, the woman in the picture on the left who ran the Red Center where Offred and the other Handmaid’s were trained before they were sent out into the world, showed up again this week.

I’ve spent the last eight weeks not having any sympathy for Lydia at all. She has always come across to me as a true believer, and that makes her much scarier than she’d be if she were simply sadistic.

One of the things I’m hoping we get in season two is an exploration of her background. I want to know what could make an ordinary person cling so tightly to a belief system that they know is destroying people’s lives. This happens all of the time in real life, too. It wasn’t something that Margaret Atwood or the other writers had to make up to help the story flow. People behave that way sometimes for their entire lives without ever choosing – or being able to, if you don’t think it’s a choice – to ask hard questions about the things they see going on around them.

Will Aunt Lydia suffer this same fate? She’s a character that I like even less than I do Serena Joy or the Commander, but I still want to see if she ever wakes up and realizes how many lives she’s helped to destroy. Aunt Lydia was present when Ofwarren ceremoniously handed baby Angela over to Warren and his wife before being transferred to a new home. She also showed up later on in the episode after Ofwarren ran away from her new home, kidnapped baby Angela, and stood on the edge of a bridge threatening to jump into frigid water to both of their deaths.

Angela died in her early infancy in the book, so I was genuinely expecting her to meet the same fate once I saw her mother holding her and deciding whether or not to commit suicide. It would have been a darkly appropriate plot twist given how easily people die in this show, but I was glad to see that Angela survived that scene. Whether Ofwarren will be okay depends on how you interpret the final scene she was in. I’m guessing that she’ll live, but it’s honestly hard to say what will happen to her next or whether Aunt Lydia will soften her views at all as a result of this near-tragedy.

How can she deny just how traumatized Ofwarren has been by all of this? We’ve all seen this character’s mental health decline severely over the course of the show.


Moira’s fate seems much more certain to me at this point.

I was shocked and thrilled to see her again this week.This was something I wasn’t expecting to see until season two, if it even happened at all. I loved the fact that Offred convinced her to stop giving up and start fighting for her freedom again. Those two are platonic soulmates. They are so good for each other in every single way.

I silently cheered at the final scene of this episode, too. It was wonderful to see how quickly Moira came up with a plan to escape Jezebels. Here’s hoping that the final episode of this season will show her arriving in Toronto or some other safe place. Moira’s suffering hasn’t been shown on camera as much as Offred or Ofwarren’s has, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s had some horrifying experiences.


Offred’s development this week wasn’t quite so interesting to me. Of course I’m glad that she’s decided to join Mayday and fight back, but that’s something that’s been building since the first episode. I’d argue that we all knew it was coming. I’m only surprised that it didn’t kick off a lot sooner.

What I was expecting to learn about Offred this week was that she was pregnant. There was a short conversation between the Martha of the house and Serena Joy about her monthly cycle, but it’s still too soon to say if Offred is expecting. When I wasn’t grossed out at the thought of people paying that much attention to something so personal and private, I was wondering if this wasn’t foreshadowing for episode 10.

Offred does wonder if she’s pregnant at the end of the book, so there would be canonical reasons to follow the same path. Then again, baby Angela is still alive and will presumably remain that way. It is possible that the writers decided to wait until a later season to dig up this part of the original plot. We’ll have to wait and see.

Next Monday can’t come quickly enough!

Previous posts in this series:

5 Things I Want from The Handmaid’s Tale

Introducing Offred’s World

Gender Treachery

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum


A Woman’s Place

The Other Side


5 Things That People Who Have Allergies Wish You Understood


1. They’re Not Voluntary

Nobody ever wakes up one morning and decides that it would be fun to become allergic to something.

Those of us who have allergies also can’t randomly decide to take a day off from them in order to make other people’s lives easier.

If you don’t have experience living with allergies, you might be chuckling and shaking your head right now. That’s okay. I’d find it a little hard to believe, too, if these things hadn’t either happened to me or to people I know who are also living with allergies so many times that we’ve lost count of them.

There are some folks in this world who genuinely seem to believe that allergies are a synonym for not liking certain foods or being picky.

I have no idea why they think that, but I’ve run into this attitude over and over again. Someday they  might actually realize the differences between these things. Until then, I’ll keep reminding them that nobody chooses this medical condition.

2. Not All Allergies Are Severe, but Even the Mild Ones Suck

There are millions of people in this world whose allergies can and will kill them if they’re inadvertently exposed to the wrong stuff.

In this sense, I’m lucky. My allergies to milk, certain plants, cats, dogs, and many other furry creatures are mild in the sense that I’ve never been in danger of dying because of them.

This doesn’t mean that being exposed to them won’t make me feel absolutely horrible, though. I still cough and wheeze uncontrollably when I do something as simple as hug someone who owns a cat or sit in the same car where cats have previously spent some time.

When I spend time with people who own cats, I have to plan ahead to reduce my chances of having a reaction when I’m around them. This means that I can’t ride in their vehicles, enter their homes, hug them, or sit too close to them. It also requires me to take allergy medicine in advance, change my clothing as soon as I get home, and maybe even hop in the shower to rinse away any dander that might have clung to my hair or skin.

On the rare occasion when I accidentally eat or drink something that has milk in it, my entire mouth will become extremely itchy and my lips will start to swell up a little. It has been so long since this happened that I don’t know if my reaction to it would be worse if it happened again. Based on how scary my last experience was, I don’t intend to find out ever again if I can help it.

3. No, Alternative Medicine Won’t Cure Them

All of the herbs, vitamin supplements, positive thinking, and homeopathy in the world isn’t going to do a thing to change how my immune system overreacts to certain things.

While I appreciate the good intentions behind these kinds of suggestions, it really isn’t helpful to tell someone who has allergies that they’ll be cured if they think happy thoughts or take the right combination of supplements.

At best, you’re going to be telling them about a treatment that will do nothing to help them. At worst, you’ll be blaming them for something they didn’t choose and have absolutely no control over.

By all means, keep using alternative medicine if you enjoy it, but please don’t try to give us medical advice or tell us that we’ll be cured once we drink a special tea or take the right supplement.

That’s not how any of this works.

4. It’s Never Okay To Joke About Exposing Someone to Their Allergens

If you joke around about purposefully exposing me to things that will make me sick, I will lose trust in you.  It’s as simple as that.

You wouldn’t tease someone about having diabetes or asthma, would you?

Now that I’ve typed that, I have the sneaking suspicion that folks who joke about feeding or exposing someone to something they’re allergic to probably do say similarly horrifying and dysfunctional things to people who have other health issues. Oh, how I hope I’m wrong about that.

The fact remains, though, that this is not an appropriate topic for a joke.

5. It’s Always Okay to Ask Questions

With that being said, it’s always okay to ask questions about what is or isn’t safe for someone to eat, touch, or be around. I’ve heard of people whose peanut allergies were so severe that they could have a reaction to smelling peanut butter.

It takes a lot more than that for me to react to my allergens, so that’s why it’s important to ask questions instead of making assumptions about how serious someone’s allergy might be.

I really appreciate it when people take the time to ask me about my allergies and listen carefully to my responses. It makes me feel like they take my safety seriously. That’s one of the biggest things someone can do to earn my trust, and it’s something I wish would happen more often.

Suggestion Saturday: June 17, 2017

Here is this week’s list of links from my favourite corners of the web.

The Jellyfish Effect: Why Bad Ideas Hang Around via JamesTheo. This post was specifically about teaching, but I’d argue the same could be said for any profession.

Emotional Geometry. The anxiety fractal was my favourite part of this link. I can’t stop giggling at it.

Two Gay Dads and Their 12 Kids Officially Become a Family. Have any of my Arizona readers met this family? I love the fact that all of their kids were adopted from foster care and that they kept birth siblings together. That’s a beautiful thing to do.

Boston Pride Parade Debrief. I’ve noticed the same thing happening at Toronto’s annual Pride Parade over the past 12 years. The commercialization of it does have its downside, but I think it will be a good thing for those of us who are LGBT in general. While this specific post is work-safe, the rest of the site may not be.

Why I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Crazy Cat Lady via ‪LindsayDetwiler‬. I’m actually a little jealous of people who can have a house full of cats without wheezing or coughing. I’d be tempted to have a few myself if neither myself nor anyone I loved were allergic to them. We all enjoy breathing and not sneezing our noses off, though, so I’ll have to continue to live vicariously through people who don’t have these reactions to cats.

10 Things Not Say to an Adoptee via ‪HettiRoss‬. The link I noticed between this post and the one above it has to do with judging people. It’s amazing to read about what some folks will say when they discover that you’re different from them in some small or large way. I choose to believe that they’re not trying to be offensive most of the time. We’ve all said things we regret, although that doesn’t make certain comments sting any less.

Hundred-Year-Old Strawberry Ice Cream. It is recipes like this that make me wish I wasn’t allergic to milk. I hope that one of my readers will give it a try. This ice cream sounds unbelievably delicious, especially on a hot summer day.

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The Handmaid’s Tale: Jezebels

This post includes spoilers for “Jezebels” (Season 1, Episode 8) of The Handmaid’s Tale. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far. 

This week’s episode was another unusual one. The plot returned to focusing on Offred, but Moira was definitely competing with her for this viewer’s attention.

For anyone who needs a refresher, Moira (pictured on the left) was June/Offred’s best friend before the Sons of Gilead rose to power. Both women were found to still be fertile, captured, and forced to become Handmaids. While June sort of accepted her fate, Moira fought against it at every turn no matter how badly she was treated as a result of her rebellion.

I didn’t talk about this scene in Faithful, but Moira and June attempted to escape the Red Centre. June was captured early on in their escape, while Moira’s fate was never verified.

These characters did meet up again in the book at a brothel where Moira was sent to work after she was captured again. While I’ve been avoiding spoilers for this show, I had a feeling that we’d see Jezebels at some point and find out for sure what happened to Moira. In order to talk about that, though, I have to first talk about why Offred ended up visiting Jezebels in the first place. It’s not a place that wives or Handmaids are allowed to go.

One of the things I like about this show the most is how it has handled The Commander. There was a time in the beginning of the series when I was a little concerned that they were going to paint him as a good guy who was either misunderstood or had been swept into this new society without having any input into it.

He wasn’t a good guy, and no one pushed him into anything. This week’s episode only gave us more reasons why this was true, starting with the Commander’s creepy urge to pretend like Offred was willingly having sex with him. The scenes where he sexually abused her were hard to watch, but they were completely necessary in order to understand how this character thinks. Women aren’t people to him. They’re possessions. So if the Commander wanted to shave his Handmaid’s legs, obtain illegal makeup and clothes for her, and then smuggle her into a brothel for a night, that’s exactly what he was going to do.

The sexist and disgusting way the Commander treated women has never been more clear to me than it was this week, especially when it showed the death of the previous Offred. Some of the other discussions I’ve read about this episode have wondered if her suicide was at least partially the result of the same abuse the Commander is now dumping on our Offred. I don’t know whether or not I agree with this theory, but there were at least three small hints pointing in this direction: our Offred’s dress was at least a size too big for her; the makeup wasn’t quite the right shade for someone with her skin colour; Nick gave the Commander a hard stare when the previous Offred’s body was being taken out of the house.

The only redeeming part of the strange excursion that took up most of the screen time was that Offred and Moira finally got a chance to have a quiet discussion about what happened the night they tried to run away. Sadly, we didn’t get many details about what happened to Moira after she was captured. All we know for sure is that her spirit has been broken and that her only other choices was to go work in the Colonies until she succumbed to radiation poisoning. She was not the same extroverted, confident person she used to be. She was quiet, sad, and resigned to being hopeless. The only sparks of life I saw in her were when she noticed Offred and when Offred later told her that Luke was still alive.

They were small sparks, though, and I could see how they would be easily extinguished. With only two episodes left in this season, I’m not expecting to see Moira again. I’m hoping we’ll revisit this character next year. Maybe she’ll get to have an entire episode dedicated to her point of view the same way Luke did last week? I don’t know if this is too much to ask from the writers, but I’d sure love to know more about what’s happened to her and if or how she’ll escape. It was wonderful to see Moira again, but I also felt like we didn’t get enough details about what her life’s been like.

Her body language was perfect for this episode. I simply would have liked a little more storytelling to go along with it.Let’s keep our fingers crossed for next week! We still have two more episodes to go in season one, so anything can happen.

Previous posts in this series:

5 Things I Want from The Handmaid’s Tale

Introducing Offred’s World

Gender Treachery

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum


A Woman’s Place

The Other Side

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How to Encourage Someone Else to Start Exercising

No, this post isn’t about cajoling, bribing, manipulating, or otherwise pushing people to do what you want if – or even because –  it will be good for them in the longterm. Not only is this kind of behaviour completely ineffective, it’s also destructive regardless of whether it’s happening between friends, relatives, or romantic partners. The decision to… Read More

Suggestion Saturday: June 10, 2017

Here is this week’s list of poems, essays, stories, and other links from my favourite corners of the web. When White Privilege Isn’t White: Confessions of a Complacent Latina via ‪SandraMFalcon‬.The message in this post isn’t an easy one to hear, but that makes it even more important to listen to it. I also loved the link… Read More

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The Handmaid’s Tale: The Other Side

This post includes spoilers for “The Other Side” (Season 1, Episode 7) of The Handmaid’s Tale. It also includes spoilers for the book. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far.  One of the things that always bothered me about the original version of The Handmaid’s Tale… Read More

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing

1. Not Explaining How Things Work One of my favourite books when I was a preteen was Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.” It’s an excellent example of what happens when authors don’t explain how their worlds work. The idea of growing up in a society that had no suffering, premature death, disease, or pain of any kind mesmerized me. I… Read More

Suggestion Saturday: June 3, 2017

Here is this week’s list of comic strips, movie recommendations, poems, short stories, and other links from my favourite corners of the web. The Heterosexual Pride Flag. What would such a thing look like? This artist has a lot of ideas about that. Sun, Moon, Dust. What a unique spin on the fantasy genre! Allergy Season.… Read More

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