dramatic self-realization of the week, part 4

I never understood the appeal of colouring books. The perfectionist in me was horrified that I’d be responsible for, let’s face it, ruining how the image looks with my clumsy colouring skills, and my hands cramped in protest: I can’t physically write or draw or colour for long without my weird elf hands just seizing. I loved the aesthetic of beautifully coloured images, but hated the pain I’d have to go through to not even come close at making anything pretty. Nice idea, but not for me.

I also fucking love building pretty Lego sets.

There’s something deeply, intensely relaxing about letting go and following instructions for the sake of beauty and joy. If I do it right, my reward is this odd, colourful little piece of art that fits right in with my entire aesthetic and I can’t kill it. I am in control of the speed at which the project is completed and the preciseness of instructions followed, but not the beauty of the outcome.

Assembling Lego is my colouring book. It makes my world a little bit quieter and a little bit brighter at the same time. It keeps my hands occupied. I can listen to music. I don’t have to think or listen or focus or create, I can just tune out and accomplish something for fun. The end result affects, and is for, no one but me – and there is no pressure about it. It is, or it isn’t. That’s it.

Is that what true relaxing is?

Anyway, if this is the same reason people love colouring books, I totally get it. This is niiiiice. My brain is napping.

The irony of finding following instructions the most relaxing thing is like 3 extra layers of fucked up that I am not yet ready to face thank you.

That was a lot of fucking words to say “I like Lego” Sorry.

we’ll carry on

Welcome to the Black Parade Pity Party!

First is first: my COVID is progressing mildly. I’ve had some instances of Feeling Gross, but for the most part it’s a chest rattle and some l33t light hacking. I’m still infected (extremely and immediately, according to the last two rapid tests), but otherwise fine.

That doesn’t mean I’m not not ENTIRELY MISERABLE, though. My entire week has been a towering inferno of disappointment and salad dressing, the details of which I will now describe in agonizingly inane detail.

So, this COVID thing. I can’t leave the house even more than I usually don’t leave the house, and it’s giving me significant cabin fever. Amongst my COVID angst:

  • Ed’s been home since Wednesday, and we haven’t been able to hug or kiss or make an mockery of procreation. I need hugs! Although tbh I really like the separate bed thing as it turns out I enjoy getting enough sleep.
  • I had plans for tomorrow that included three things I was looking forward to:
    • Hanging out with Shan (Shanging)
    • Breakfast at Deacon’s Corner which is my favourite and it’s been so long and I’ve been ever so good
    • Running around downtown Vancouver on a spectacular spring day, just existing

Side note – missing out on any one of the three items above would have been keenly felt, but all three of them together is just a dick move, universe.

On Monday, I’m missing lunch in Vancouver again (!!) with friends I haven’t seen (in SIXTY YEARS no lie at) my other favourite, Anton’s, to celebrate Shan’s belated birthday. I’m extremely sad to miss this for basically the same reasons as above, except with pasta for daaaaaaays. I’m actually double missing this one: even if I didn’t have COVID, I’m doing an online conference all day Monday. The COVID just makes it extra layer of fun, because Ed probably shouldn’t go either even if he’s negative, just in case.

That’s all bad, right? WELL THERE’S MORE!

  • An interesting development I was courting fell through and it made me sadder than I had anticipated
  • A pair of shoes I ordered are too big and an item was missing from the order (sold out and oops)
  • I’m insanely busy at work and this is the worst possible time I could have picked to get sick, so I’m stressing out about my work not getting done
  • .. and the same time, I’m still working except now I have guilt that I’m not working at my best or quickly enough which Jesus Christ woman pick a neurosis and stay in one fucking lane
  • .. and that whole “stressing and working myself into Scary COVID” thing hovering back there somewhere
  • *ahem* all that to say I was supposed to go to a work retreat thingie the week after next and I was nervous but really kinda excited about it – but because of my covidity AND my workload, I decided it be best if I didn’t go

I think that’s it. All the big ones, anyway. I could probably go on for an hour, but that sounds exhausting.

Basically, I am a very sad duck and I am allowed to be so. Feeling sad is a natural reaction to disappointment, and no one is judging me for my sadness.

*cough*

Anyway, join me next time when I explain how my special flavour of damaged is a paradox and that’s so on brand I could just fucking spit !

the saviour of the broken, the beaten, and the damned

(hi k! i am flirting with you in reference form!)

this post made me cry

You are never going to believe this, but I have things to say about Turning Red.

The framework in which I make it all about me (part 1 of 2 – I have so many words): I don’t watch sad things. A whole lot of Pixar’s catalog is off-limits to me, but I made an exception so I could watch Turning Red. I actually timed how far I could make it into the movie before I started crying: 27:09:11.

Man I love data.

As a Chinese-Canadian woman, I am exercising my right – nay, my DUTY – to provide my unsolicited opinion on Turning Red:

Honestly, I did love it. It was spectacular to see myself represented as not only the main character in an animated film, but one set in Canada! My icy heart melted, and please excuse my Divine Ya-Ya squirting here but I’m so happy for all the women and girls that’ll experience the sheer delight of representation. It’s such an important thing. You can tell, because of all the white men losing their absolute shit at the movie. It mentions periods! The movie isn’t even ABOUT periods – it’s an analogy – but periods are MENTIONED and there are PADS and THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Obviously everyone’s first period story is different, but I honestly don’t understand any of the outcry. It’s a biological function that affects 50% of the population – that’s over 3.5 billion people – yet it’s “too personal” a subject to discuss. Yeah, get the fuck out of here with that bullshit. We were taught about periods in grade 5/age 10. Mine came in at age 11. Still waiting to turn into a panda, though.

I also watched Encanto recently, and while that movie made me cry sooner than 27 minutes in, I *sobbed* throughout Turning Red. Full on ugly cries. I wiped my tears away with a hot dog bun. I don’t recommend it.

It’s not just the main story that made me cry, though – so much of the film is so well done (minor spoilers ahead):

  • The friendship between Meilin, Miriam, Priya, and Abby: I wish I had friends like that when I was 13. Hell, I wish I had friends like that now. Note: if anyone is looking to start a friend group, I will gladly be your Abby: I’m short, round, weird, and enthusiastic, and I probably already own pink overalls.
  • The relationship between Meilin and her mother made me sob because I also had a Skydome-destroying fight with my mother, but we didn’t get our happy ending. And it was in Victoria. Ever wonder why they replaced Memorial Arena with the Save-On-Foods Arena? Yo.
  • Elder relatives! I don’t know any of mine. More crying.
  • Being “different” yet beloved? How does that even work? I cried because I want to light up rooms I’m in.
  • Absolutely no big deal being made about Tyler being an annoying shit bully who is secretly probably gay and becomes the 5th member of the friend group by the end. I cried because it was cute.
  • I skipped the boy band craze of multiple generations, so I cried because I was confused. This may have been where the hot dog bun came in, but my memories of the evening are soggy.

If you haven’t yet watched Turning Red, I recommend it. I love that Pixar is finally starting to tell stories from BIPOC POVs and from women – Domee Shi previously won an Oscar for the Pixar short Bao. I’m going to reuse a trick that went around at the height of Black Lives Matter campaigns – even if you aren’t watching the video, stream it in the background so it registers the view. More viewers = more chances for people to tell their stories. Hollywood is finally starting to realize that brilliant things can come from people who aren’t cis white hetero men, so let’s help that along any way we can.

TL;DR: Movie good. Feelings bad. Therapy coming.

lowered standards

Back in March of 2020, all we wanted was for things to go back to normal.

It’s February 2022, and “normal” is no longer a thing. We’ve all been told that this – whatever “this” might mean to you – is the new normal, so buckle up and sit still.

I don’t want 2020’s normal anymore. I can’t imagine actually going out into the world without a single worry about other people’s vaccination status or viral load. Crowds – even crowds full of my favourite people – are an alien concept. I’d no sooner volunteer to be in any kind of crowd than I would, say, gather up a station wagon full of idiots and caravan into the nation’s capitol to proudly declare on a global stage that I’m really *that* stupid.

What DOES bother me is how quickly the rules change, and how badly I want things to go back to .. something. Not “normal”. Each week, it seems like I’d be happy with what we had last week because it keeps being taken away. This time two months ago, we had plans to finally see our friends and were talking excitedly about spending Christmas together for the first time in two years. The week before Christmas, all gatherings were cancelled due to the surge in Omicron. Thanks to another climate disaster, we had a tiny loophole that allowed us to cross the border for essentials – in my case, packages and a long-awaited trip to Trader Joe’s. Then TJ’s was too risky – so many people! – but I could go to Safeway, right? Then that became too much, but at least I could get my packages and some yogurt from the dairy store and it was so little but it was good enough, until it changed again – now I can’t get packages OR yogurt OR groceries OR see my friends and fuck all I want is the few freedoms we had 6 weeks ago. Or two weeks ago. Or yesterday.

What’s left to take?

I’m speaking strictly from my own pity party, of course. We’ve all been negatively affected by the last two years of confusion and fear and mixed messages. I’m not blaming anyone for this current mess (except you, anti-vaxxers and mandate protesters – go fuck yourselves!), and I’m fully aware that it’s my own sense of mortality actually stopping me from just doing whatever the fuck I want. There are no physical barriers to me packing shit up and going .. anywhere. It’s logistically complicated, but I thrive on the logistically complicated so that’s not the problem. It’s that annoying little sense of “for the greater good” that I can’t seem to shake, which is not really a bad thing as that’s basically what separates us from them, good from evil, true Canadians from the freedom convoy, etc. I wish things were different. I don’t think we’re going to get there with trucks and nazi flags and ignorance.

At the end of the day there’s nothing left but patience but it’s so hard and I’m so lonely and I miss everything.

But I’ll keep calm, I’ll carry on, I’ll listen to a lot of sad weepy songs, I’ll cut some fancy vinyl signs with giant cocks, and this too shall pass.

Hopefully.

I’m sad and tired and lonely, but I’m alive and loved and safe. What more do I really need?

tee hee

If you know just one thing about me, know that I am pro orgasms. On the controversial topic of climaxing, I am all for it. As often as you want, anywhere you want*. Go orgasms! Manual, digital, analog, solo, group – it’s all good! Hooray for sex juices!

HOWEVER.

THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE.

I was looking around the internet, minding my own business, when I stumbled upon a website that sells .. cum sponges. They’re small absorbent cotton rolls on a stick. You use them to extract cum from your vagina (or anus, I suppose) for that fresh, not-just-cummed-in feeling.

Toilet paper is still a thing, right?

I love cum (there’s no way to say that without being entirely awkward, but I’m just gonna own it), but this is awful for several reasons that you better believe I’m about to share with you here:

  1. Buying a specialty product to do a specific task that LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE could do: toilet paper, socks, a discarded t-shirt, your cat (don’t do this), etc
  2. Buying a specialty product that is entirely unnecessary: there’s a lot of shame and shade being thrown about over needing to “waddle to the bathroom”, but the ungainly post-coitus shuffle to the bathroom is part of the miracle of going to pound town
  3. If you’re too embarrassed to get up and attend to your needs after sex – fix your hair, get a drink, give yourself the orgasm your partner didn’t – you shouldn’t be having sex
  4. If anyone gives you a hard time over the hasty, unsexy clean-up walk, they don’t deserve the orgasm that created the need
  5. THIS IS SO BAD FOR THE PLANET holy shit you made a disposable, plastic, boxed, possibly individually wrapped item that is in no way necessary or useful
  6. THE REVIEWS oh my god these women are so happy that there’s a “solution” that doesn’t involve rolling over and going to sleep and dealing with the aftermath in the morning (“the trickle”) – basically, implying that these women don’t do the post-sex pee thing. YOU HAVE TO DO THE POST-SEX PEE THING! It’s like the third most important part of sex!! Not only does it eliminate the need to put more garbage in landfills, but it’s necessary for health and safety! ALWAYS PEE AFTER SEX!
  7. This gif:
I call shenanigans on this gif – there isn’t nearly enough Twinkie cream on that sponge for this to be real

8. These reviews:

what

I need – NEEDKhaby Lame to make a video about this. He can borrow my towels.

I like opening up the conversation about the realities of sex. I don’t like the implication that these women previously just walked around full of baby batter and went about their day, constantly worried about wads of semen causing a social faux pas. I also don’t like the founder’s tee hee humble brag about the sheer volume of her husband’s sex pudding. Is volume something people look for in a partner? “I really like Stan, but he only deposits up to 10ml of creamy risotto into my snatch at a time. I wish he was more like Johnny – he’s an asshole, but he cums like a firehose!” And don’t get me started on the “mistaking last night’s milky leftovers for my period” thing, or we’ll be here all fucking day.

Look, if you take only one thing away from this post, let it be this: ALWAYS PEE AFTER SEX. Even if you use a condom, or toys, or food (don’t use food). If anything whatsoever gets all up in your lady garden, go to the bathroom afterwards. If your partner makes fun of you for the necessary cleanup, a) don’t sleep with that person again, b) limit your sexual activities to the bathroom so there’s no waddle involved, c) I don’t know, maybe keep some tissues by your bed or something. Don’t buy a disposable product to splunk out your flesh cave. It’s bad for the environment, bad for your hygiene, bad for women, bad for impressionable youth who aren’t being taught to ALWAYS PEE AFTER SEX, and bad for my mood.

I’m all for the betterment of society, but not like this. Never like this.

Disclaimer: The preceding post is Not Safe for Work. Please exercise the necessary precautions.

infinite overboard

We don’t generally celebrate Halloween. Giving our religious background, we don’t feel right worshipping Satan and hahah yeah that’s not it. Honestly, in-office Halloween celebrations were the only real “celebrating” we did, and once the office went away, October 31st was just another day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halloween – I just didn’t have an excuse to dress up, because I had nowhere to go. For the last 6 years, my default costume has been “Sexy Technical Writer”, because I wear it so well.

My last actual attempt at a Halloween costume was in 2014, when I went to work dressed as an anachronism: Han Solo outfit, Star Trek crew badge, phaser, and Starfleet Academy class ring, Firefly’s Independents flag, a wooden stake, an ADAM syringe from Bioshock, and a dozen other nerdy bibs and bobs from assorted universes. I thought I was brilliant and hilarious, but I had to explain it a lot and any costume that requires a lengthly explanation is probably not the success you’re hoping for.

Last year for Halloween we were on Salt Spring Island. This year we have no plans that don’t involve sitting on our balcony, but for the past year or so I have been all about the overkill: let’s do something, but let’s do it BIG and COMPLICATED. Things that start out as a simple “wonder if I could do this” turn into productions, with logos and labels and quality control and databases. Forgetting simple things led to digital display boards and spreadsheets. Reorganize the spice cabinet? MAGNETS. So, when I decided I wanted to do Halloween for realz this year, shit got chaotic.

It started out kind of simple: if I got a specific wig and dress, I could call it a day and it would be a low-effort but decent costume.

Then I remembered a) we have a door, and b) the door is yellow. It, like everything else in my life, snowballed from there.

I was going for “pumpkin”, but “Lovecraftian horror” is good too

All I needed to do next was stand in front of the door:

stand in the place that you live

I did a pretty good job standing, but it was missing something:

what is this, an infinity room for ANTS?!

WAIT this is Halloween – where’s the candy?!

ngl I am fucking hilarious

Pumpkins are not just for Halloween, but you can’t have a Yayoi Kusama costume without at least one pumpkin:

also, cat

.. or a dinosaur:

special guest star: lil yayoi!

Or everything all at once:

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to spend most of November attacking my door with a paint scraper and some Goo Gone, but I don’t care – it was worth it. I may never do another costume – this was surprisingly expensive to put together because I kept having ideas – but I did the heck out of this one and the pictures make me laugh.

Also did I mention that I BUILT A FUCKING INFINITY ROOM BOX?

I have an office redecoration idea but I’m gonna need a lot of mirrors

Thank you to Ed for indulging my idea and helping with the picture taking and grosser parts of the pumpkin carving process!

I wonder how long I could keep my door like this.

Happy Halloween from #halfwack!

i love you, diet coke

Abby Ellin is powerless over Diet Coke. So is Dan Kois, but he’s in a much better place about it all. “What this topic truly needs”, I thought, “is my own two cents as a lifelong Diet Coke drinker slash addict”. My platform isn’t as wide as the NYT or Slate, but oh MAN do I love words, so I’m jumping into the fray.

Diet Coke. I’ve been drinking it near non-stop since I was 13 years old. We had a soda vending machine in our school, and I hit that thing up several times a day until I could source my own supply, and I’ve never looked back.

People have been trying to get me to stop or at least cut back on my Diet Coke consumption for as long as I can remember. An ex boyfriend once brought me a Super Big Gulp of Diet Coke from 7-11, but he mixed the Diet Coke with regular Coke in an attempt to trick me into thinking regular Coke wasn’t so bad. It didn’t work. We broke up (5 years later, but I’m certain this contributed to the end of the relationship).

When I was younger, Diet Coke was tied to my identity. I was the girl who lived on Diet Coke and Tic Tacs. The occasional lemon slice in my drink saved me from scurvy, but there was not a lot else that passed my lips. I also felt like garbage most of the time, but the Diet Coke had nothing to do with that. It was just a coincidence, is all.

Did you know Diet Coke used to come in 3 litre bottles? It was so great. Give me a straw, a bottle, and I was literally set for the night. I was a Swatch Dog and Diet Coke head through and through, and I was happy as a fucking clam. I have a personal rule of always bringing my own drinks with me wherever I go, and it started from this period of my life: anyone else could easily grab whatever was on hand to drink, but I had very specific requirements so it was just easier to supply my own. To this day, you can guarantee that if I leave the house, I will have a travel tumbler full of ice and Diet Coke and probably an extra bottle stashed somewhere for thirst emergencies.

There are currently 53 710ml bottles of Diet Coke in my house. This is approximately 4 weeks’ worth of Diet Coke; fewer if Ed gets thirsty and dips into my supply. I only allow it because he is the transporter of my Diet Coke: we buy flats of bottles at a time, but I am weak and brittle so he does the heavy lifting. For this, I allow him access to the stash. He knows not to abuse my benevolence, or there will be hell to pay. I don’t know that this house has ever NOT had Diet Coke in it since the day we moved in, and I plan to keep it that way for the unforeseeable future. I’m set in my ways, okay. I am an old dog. I do not need new tricks.

My addiction (if you insist on calling it that – I prefer to think of it as a partnership) is easy to maintain in North America, where Diet Coke is available almost everywhere. That’s not the rule, though, and while it’s rare that I find myself in a place where Pepsi is the only option, it rarely affects me because I bring my own drink. You can keep your Pepsi and your various toxins. I’ve got my own back.

Unfortunately, Diet Coke is not universal. There are large parts of the world where Diet Coke does not even EXIST, and sometimes I go to these places. I’ve had to think long and hard about some of our trips where I won’t have access to Diet Coke: do I REALLY want to go there? I almost always do, so I have to come up with a way to manage myself. Sometimes, I’ll try to power through. The longer the trip goes, the more irritable I get – I’m not getting any caffeine and it can’t be fixed through other means, so what do I do? Suffer, that’s what. Here are some of the places I haven’t been able to get any Diet Coke, and how I survived:

  • Cuba: Coke isn’t sold in Cuba at all, for obvious reasons. They have a national soda – tuKola, which does have a diet variety – and it’s terrible. We were there for a week. It was difficult.
  • Japan: I was too excited for this trip, and forgot to check the availability of Diet Coke. This was a huge mistake, as Japan does not sell any diet drinks whatsoever – no Diet Coke, no Coke Zero, no Coke Light. I had an extra 1L bottle with me that I nursed for as long as I could, but by the 3rd day in Japan, I was completely out of Diet Coke. I ended up drinking a lot of Milk Tea, and then I got diabetes. True story!
  • Spain: Spain has Coke Light. Coke Light is garbage. Suffered the first time, then started stuffing my suitcase. Last time we were in Spain, I managed to make my supply last until we got to Madrid, so just over a week – that’s pretty good, but then I spent the remaining week being sleepy and unrefreshed.
  • Morocco: There is no Diet Coke in Morocco.
  • Amsterdam: There is no Diet Coke in the Netherlands. For this trip, I stuffed my suitcase full of Diet Coke. It’s always risky – I don’t really recommend putting pressurized contents in your suitcase – but I was desperate, and all the bottles survived the trip. I was caffeinated until the last three days, which is pretty good.
  • France: There is no Diet Coke in France. It makes me grumpy and sour, and then I just blend into French society.

This is going to sound stupid (to you; to me it’s just logic), but part of the reason I love traveling to the UK and Ireland so much is because Diet Coke is readily available. I may not always get it in my favourite format, but it’s there and easy to find and always delicious, so it feels like home.

Speaking of formats, you better fucking believe that the format of the Diet Coke is important. We all have our favourites. Here’s my own list of preferred Diet Coke formats, going from marginally acceptable to outright delightful:

  • Straight out a bottle or can, like a neanderthal
  • McDonald’s fountain Diet Coke. Super cheap in the summer, easy to get, almost always acceptable if not actually decent.
  • Wendy’s fountain Diet Coke
  • Five Guys fountain Diet Coke is always amazing
  • Chipotle fountain Diet Coke – this is my go-to when in New York, because there are more Chipotles there than any other restaurant and the Diet Coke is always great
  • From a can or 500ml bottle, over a ridiculous amount of ice
  • 2L bottle, over a ridiculous amount of ice
  • 710ml bottle, over a ridiculous amount of ice

I might also be addicted to ice. Anyway, any of the above list is an acceptable method of Diet Coke delivery. Other methods are fine in an emergency, but not ideal: 7-11 fountain pop used to be my go-to when I had very little money AND taste, but it’s actually disgusting. Same with Burger King – their fountain pop is okay if there is a Situation, but I would prefer to get it from any source listed above.

.. as long as it’s fresh.

What, you didn’t know Diet Coke had a shelf life that affects the taste? Oh, honey.

When we buy my weekly supply, the bottles must have a date at least two months out. If it’s any closer, or gord forbid PAST that date, the Diet Coke tastes sour and skunky and sad. I’ve been known to empty and recycle entire flats of expired Diet Coke, because my vices are really very reasonably priced, so why should I settle for sub-par? I’m better than that. I deserve the freshest Diet Coke available, and I will hold out for it. I’m not unreasonable, I just know what I like.

And I like Diet Coke.

Sometimes I worry about my consumption. Earlier this year I had issues with my heart rate, and my doctor suggested I cut back on my caffeine. Thing is, Diet Coke has far less caffeine than tea or coffee. I can drink my usual daily amount (2x 710ml) and still intake less caffeine than someone drinking a single cup of coffee. More than a regular Coke drinker, but who cares about them?

DrinkCaffeine
12oz/355ml can of Coke34mg
12oz/355 can of Diet Coke46mg
12oz of coffee140mg

My daily intake is an average of four cans of Diet Coke, which puts my caffeine intake at 184mg. More than one cup of coffee, but who stops at one coffee? And more specifically, who cares about them?

I did actually try to find a fountain Diet Coke dispenser for the home, but I got nowhere. This would be a lot easier if I was in the US, but up here you can only buy the bags of syrup if you’re a restaurant. I’ve tried to talk Ed into getting a Coke Freestyle machine in which all the options are Diet Coke, but he muttered something about a prenup before walking away so I don’t think we were on the same page. He does put up with my needs though, which I appreciate. And I really do try to make my habits not affect anyone else whatsoever – it’s very rare that I’ll hold up a group because I NEED MY CAFFEINE FIRST (looking at you, coffee people) – I just bring it with me. And if I need to duck into a store to grab some more, I’ll catch up with you.

Diet Coke isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. For starters, it means more for me. And yes, it’s possible that the staggering amount of chemicals I’ve ingested over the last few decades means my remains will not decompose but rather stay eerily preserved for future historians to uncover and study with dignified awe and esteem. We all leave our mark on the world one way or another, and mine shall be a glorious glowing crater of a crypt that someone will mistake for some sort of holy relic and I’ll spend my eternity being revered by people who have greatly misunderstood my message.

But in the meantime, it’s going to be one hell of a satisfying ride.

none of these are drinks: they’re a stash jar, tiny purse, and a tinier portable battery.

karma chameleon

My anxiety is really superstitious. If I don’t complete the rituals involved in dozens of insignificant acts, the world will end and it will all be my fault. I don’t have time for that kind of existential crisis, so I cross my fingers and throw salt over my shoulder and never give my bad thoughts voice or they’ll come true and that would really suck. No ladders or broken mirrors or umbrellas opened indoors. Can’t hang a new calendar early, or even change the page – mostly because that would be really confusing, but also bad things will happen apparently so I just avoid it altogether. No need to invite the bad times, right? And there’s lots of wood around to knock on, so we should be okay.

My superstitions go hand in hand with the idea of karma. It’s generally pretty easy to avoid being a bad person, but somewhere in the back of my mind I worry that the point system is real and any time I’ve accidentally littered I get negative points and that’s why I don’t know math. It’s stressful and it makes me have internal debates about doing things that are beyond inconsequential, but WHAT IF. I swear I’m not indecisive, I’m just weighing the contents of my soul so if you could just give me a minute here, everything will be fine.

All of this is to say that I have an ethical problem of my own making, and I’m not sure what to do about it: Is it “bad” if I take an opportunity I did not earn?

Before I explain fully, here are some pertinent facts:

  • This is not a tangible object
  • If I don’t follow through, it ceases to exist
  • No one will miss out on anything if I take it OR if I don’t
  • No one will lose any money if I take it OR if I don’t
  • The odds of getting “caught” are almost non-existent
  • Taking the opportunity (or not taking it) will affect zero people other than myself

.. but I didn’t earn the opportunity, nor did I pay for it. It’s not mine, but it could be if I took it. So, do I take it?

I was supposed to go to Prague in April of 2020. That didn’t happen for obvious reasons, and I was given a flight credit from the airline. To use the credit, I have to book a flight before the end of this month for travel before the end of July 2022. If I don’t use the credit, it simply disappears. I can’t transfer it to anyone, or use it for anyone other than myself.

No brainer, right? Use the credit, book a flight, maybe go somewhere next year.

This is me, and nothing is ever that simple. The problem? I received a refund for that flight.

.. twice.

Prior to my flight, all airlines and agencies were telling customers to “go through your bank” to deal with pandemic-cancelled trips in the hopes your credit card company could come through for you. It took several hours on hold with a bunch of different companies, but eventually my bank did reverse the charge for the flight. The money came with a warning: the airline is given an opportunity to fight the charge reversal, and if that happens, the bank would claw that money back until a resolution is worked out. I left the money where it was, but no one ever came for it and whatever statute of limitations the bank put on that refund has long since passed.

I didn’t know that would happen, though, so I also submitted a claim against my travel insurance. I didn’t think anything would happen there, because in the ten years since I became an International Kimli of Mystery, not once has travel insurance ever worked out in my favour. Not even for our Super Typhoon’d trip to Japan that we didn’t take in 2019, for loophole reasons. I guess “global pandemic” isn’t something the insurance companies wanted to deal with, so they processed my claim and cut me a cheque.

Because of my aforementioned anxiety around karma, I actually tried to return the funds. I called the bank multiple times, but could never get through to anyone to explain the situation and eventually I stopped trying. I think I reasoned with myself that by waiting on hold for longer than I waited to get the charge reversal the first time around, I had done my due diligence in trying to do the “right” thing. I forgot about the duelling refunds after that, because I had so much going on in my life at the time. So busy. Jam-packed life of action.

Time rolled onwards, and it’s now the summer of 2021. Ed and I have both received all vaccines, and things are starting to look positive for the first time in almost two years. I logged into my favourite booking site to do some wishful thinking when I saw a button that said “Check your credits”. I did, and wtf: I have a credit with an airline. For a flight I’ve already been refunded for, twice.

Now what?

I could book a flight, of course, but would it be “wrong” of me to do so? And if so, by who’s standards? If I had to choose an entity that would suffer from my deceit, I suppose it would be the airline – but at the end of the day, do I really care about an airline’s bottom line? No. Fuck ’em. If they didn’t screw me, they’d screw someone else.

So that’s what I’m wrestling with. What would you do if you were me? As I see it, my options are basically:

  1. Try to book a flight. What’s the worst that could happen? By next summer, the Kappa Beta Phi variant will limit our freedom anyway, so I’ll probably just end up with another credit and have the same non-problem.
  2. Ignore the credit. I’ve already been given my just desserts, and I had seconds. Taking more would just be greedy.

Each of the refunds I’ve been given for the cancelled Prague trip come from different corporations – the bank, the travel insurance company, and now the airline. No one is going to hold a meeting with the other companies to find out if anyone has been double or triple-dipping during the pandemic confusion, so if I DO try to use the credit – strictly for science, obviously – no one loses out, the airline would just re-sell the seat. If I don’t take it, the only person who loses out is me. I really do hate losing out, but .. karma.

What’s stronger: my need to see this through just to see if I can, or my anxiety?

something about this feels suspect