This is the beginning of a novel that I’ve had saved on my computer for a couple of years now.  Every once in awhile I look at it and try to do something more with it.  But I can’t seem to figure out where to go next.  Writing these few paragraphs was so easy.
For some reason, I decided to look at it again last night.  And for some more inexplicable reason, I’ve decided to share it.  So here’s my attempt at being Terry Fallis (albeit a more profane version)…



(Yes – that was my first and only thought as I looked down at the pregnancy test.  And yes, I see the irony.)

Wait.  Does the ‘+’ sign really mean positive?  Because for someone in my position, pregnancy isn’t a positive, per say.  It’s clearly a negative.  Positive conjures up feelings of joy and happiness – feelings I most certainly do not have right now.

I knew I shouldn’t have slept with him.  I knew it was a mistake.  Goddamn Conservatives can’t keep their things zipped up.  For people who spend their time flouting ‘abstinence only’ policies, they sure manage to have a lot of sex.  One of their many, many charms.

Okay, I’m shaking.  I’m one of the brightest political minds in the country, if not the world, and this little ‘+’ sign has me more nervous than a meeting in Russia with a former KGB operative-turned Prime Minister who could (and would) easily lace my soup with some poisonous substance that would kill me within seconds.  Shit.

Oh god, I’m going to throw up.  This has got to be the fastest onset of morning sickness in history.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Great. I’m acting like I’m in a Lamaze class already.  Don’t think of food.  Think of debating that asshole, Stanwood.  Yes.  That’s better.

Or not.  I need gravol.  Now.  Aw hell, that’s probably not going to help.  I’ll probably throw it up.  Where’s my purse?  There’s always gravol in my purse.  I get motion sickness so easily, and combined with morning sickness – Lord, my first 100 days are going to be pure hell.

My purse.  Gravol.  Damn it, my purse is in the other room with my team.  Can’t go in there looking for gravol.  They’ll think its nerves.  Can’t look weak.  That is akin to committing suicide in my profession.

“Hey, you okay in there?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Josh.  Just touching up my makeup and taking a moment.”

“Well hurry up.  You’re on in five.  Stanwood is wrapping up.”

“I’ll be right out.”

Let’s look in the mirror.  If the public hates weak women, they hate ugly weak women even more.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  I look like a ghost.  Just great.  A deer in the headlights.  Nice cliché.  No wonder I leave the speech-writing to others.  Well, let’s just get through this and then we’ll think about what to do next.

Since when did ‘I’ become ‘we’?

Right.  That ‘+’ sign.

“Liv, it’s showtime!  We’ve gotta go – now!”

“I know!”  Take a deep breath, open the door and kick some ass out there.

“God.  You look awful.”

“Thanks, Josh.  That’s exactly what I needed to hear before I go address the country.”

“You’re not going to faint on national TV, are you?  You know that Stanwood would have a field day with that.”

“No, but I might hurl.”

And with that, me and my entourage made our way downstairs.  I remember walking into the Renaissance Ballroom, the crowd roaring, signs frantically waving back and forth.  The motion made me a little dizzy.  I made my way to the podium at the front, shaking what seemed like a million hands on the way there.  As soon as I stepped behind the podium, the bright lights of all the cameras caused my nausea to sharpen.  I took a deep breath, smiled and waved.  There was no way in hell that I was going to give up this moment, a moment I’d wanted ever since I formed my first informal political party in grade six on the kickball field – the Kids’ Democratic Party (I was a real Roy Romanow fan back then).

I flipped to my prepared speech, knowing the movement of the teleprompter would not help my queasy stomach.  I looked back up at the crowd, and once again gave them my best ‘Olivia Knight’ smile, the smile that charmed many into voting for me.

“Thank you! Thank you, Canada!”  The noise in the room was deafening.

“Thank you!”  I was practically yelling to be heard above the pandemonium.

“I am honoured, thrilled and humbled by your support!  Together, we are beginning a new era in Canadian politics.  But the revolution is just beginning!”  Revolution.  These people have no idea what kind of a revolution I’m going to unleash on the Canadian political scene.  A completely unplanned revolution.

“As leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Canada, and your newly-elected Prime Minister…”  More noise.  My head is pounding.  “I pledge that I will…”

Everything became fuzzy and moved in slow motion.  I saw stars and fiercely blinked my eyes.

“I will…”

Spinning.  Head is spinning.  Not good.

“I wi…”

And right there, on live television, in front of the entire nation which just elected me as its first female Prime Minister (elected being the key word – sorry, Kim Campbell), I threw up.


Let’s just stop right there, shall we?

It’s been 15 years since that crazy June night.  Can it really be that long ago?  It’s really quite difficult to remember my life before then.  Everything changed that night – me most of all.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m sure you know more about me than you care to.  A prairie farm girl from small town Saskatchewan who grew up to become Canada’s first elected female Prime Minister.  I’m one of those candidates that campaign managers dream about: girl wants to do good in the world, pays her own way through college, goes overseas to work with a non-profit organization for a couple of years, comes back, gets into politics, works her way up through the hierarchy, overthrows the ‘old guard,’ embodies the whole Obama hope and change thing and brings ‘the people’ back to the fold.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  The only problem?  I’m a woman.

Ah, yes.  The fact that I can’t take a piss while standing up almost ended my political career on numerous occasions.  If I had a loonie for every time I’ve been told to get back to the kitchen or ironing board, I’d have been able to pay down the debt of a small African nation.  Canadians think they’re so progressive.

I found out I was pregnant the night I was elected Canada’s 28th Prime Minister.  The Americans were on their 51st President and we were still back at 28; that Harper bastard was in office far too long.  But you know that and you regret it.  He was our George W. Bush.  More on that later, too.

Anyway, I found out I was pregnant and then I threw up live on national television.  It was a rather auspicious beginning to my mandate.  However, I was rather disappointed in the headlines the next morning.  The Globe and Mail wrote, “New PM Has WRETCH-ed Beginning.”  Yawn.

I remember the discussion in the hotel room later that night after I’d recovered.  My campaign manager, who then became my Chief of Staff, Josh Zimmerman, somehow got the press to believe that I’d been fighting the flu the last day or so (though he didn’t believe I was sick for a second).  Besides worrying about the horrible press we’d receive the next day, we feared that people would think, “See?  Not even sworn in and she can’t handle the pressure.”  All campaign we’d fought the conservative base and its sexist attacks against me, and spewing my guts on national TV gave them more ammunition for the next round.  That night I really thought I’d become Kim Campbell, Part Deux.


This woman has popped up all over my Google Reader this week.

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and these days, the subject of a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Sandberg wrote a book called Lean In, which seems to have coined various terms such as corporate feminism, boardroom feminism and, my personal favourite, Davos feminism.

In other words, she’s apparently out of touch with all of us regular womenfolk.

She’s been derided by Jodi Kantor (“places too much of the onus on women who are already struggling to fulfill impossible demands, and too little on government and employers to provide better child care, more flexible jobs and other concrete gains”), Maureen Dowd (although who cares), the Washington Post, Judith Shulevitz and others. Nerve lists the top five problems with Sandberg’s feminism, with the most egregious one being that she’s “a little too perfect and a little too lucky.”

But she has her supporters, and some prominent ones, too.  Arianna Huffington lauds Sandberg’s focus on internal barriers women have, and hopes the book will reignite the conversation about work-life balance. Rebecca Traister praises her willingness to taken on the feminist mantle because Sandberg could, and no doubt will be, “labeled a whiner, a troublemaker or simply a woman. It is to her credit that Sandberg has chosen to announce herself, smartly and vociferously, not only as a woman but as a feminist.”  Katha Pollitt’s review, entitled ‘Who’s Afraid of Sheryl Sandberg’ notes that even though the book does not directly address the circumstances most women face, “you don’t have to be climbing the corporate ladder—or, as Sandberg would call it, the jungle gym—to find her message useful.”  And as Matthew Yglesias notes, even though Sandberg represents a rather elite few, the fact that women don’t have access to top jobs such as President of the United States,  Treasury Secretary, or  being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company means that there’s work to be done at the top, too, and that’s not something that should be ignored.

Jessica Valenti states that the biggest problem with feminism is that

We hold leaders to impossible standards, placing perfection over progress. And a movement that does more complaining than creating is bound to fail.

Irin Carmon writes that women should see Sandberg as “less as a natural enemy and more as a potential convert.”

I’m on the fence here.  While I’d certainly like to see less fighting among women about ‘who’s the better feminist,’ at the same time, I’m not on the side of Taylor Swift who thinks women should never be critical of other women.

I suppose it all depends on how we criticize other women.  If Sandberg was flaunting her privilege and blaming women for their lot in life, I’d be heading up the criticism myself.  But Sandberg seems to be trying to help in her own way, and for that she should be applauded.

Feminism, to me, is about two things: recognizing that women deserve the same human dignity that men do, and that women should be able to do whatever it is they choose to do.  Yes, Sandberg had a much easier time making it to the top because she had access to resources that allowed her to choose whatever path she wanted.  But like the rest of us, she knows that women still aren’t seen as men’s equals.  We need to realize that we’re all fighting the same war.  Sandberg is fighting a different battle than most of us, but it’s a battle all the same.


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