MAIL BAG

‘It wasn’t until I read your article that I knew for sure; my mother is indeed a narcissist’

November 17 2008
MAIL BAG

‘It wasn’t until I read your article that I knew for sure; my mother is indeed a narcissist’

November 17 2008

‘It wasn’t until I read your article that I knew for sure; my mother is indeed a narcissist’

MAIL BAG

POOR US

THANK YOU for your article on the new frugality and how it could make us healthier and happier (“Living on less,” Business, Nov. 3). The recent global financial disaster has emphasized the need to rethink our economic model. The current model predicated on greed and unbridled capitalism has led us not only to the current disaster but to a society that displays excessive consumerism, growing income disparity and greed at the expense of the environment and the collective good of Canadians. We need an overhaul of government regulations to redefine our approach to the economy and capitalism, with strict limits on compensation for executives, a wage for working people that guarantees a respectable standard of living, better use and protection of our natural resources, and a more agreeable attitude toward the common good among Canadians.

Gary Lewis, Owen Sound, Ont.

WHILE MUSING OVER a pint and some burnt ribs at my local pub, it occurred to me that we needed something to lead us out of the wilderness and into a more frugal lifestyle. Here it is: know when you’re content. We are all agitated and obsessed with making more money and buying more stuff. We are tense and distracted, and our judgments are clouded. This same restlessness appears to have settled into our relationships; spouses are replaced just as fast as we replace our things with the next clever gadget. Most of us already have what we need to find contentment, but it is difficult to recognize through the fog of modern living. What’s the point of a high-definition TV when your life is so low-definition you can’t see clearly?

Peter Waugh, North Vancouver

OUR WESTERN LIFESTYLE and way of life is a product of cheap fuel and cheap land. Both are over. We have squandered some of our most productive agricultural land in the name of suburbia. But the pendulum has begun to shift and we will be a better society for it in the long run. Our urban centres will become desirable, walkable communities, mass transit, high-speed trains will become a reality, the air we breathe will be cleaner and the environmental legacy we leave to our children will be a little lighter.

Gaetano Gino Di Ponio, Windsor, Ont.

THERE’S LITTLE JOY in frugality when you live on very little income and all your life’s expenses have gone up in price. Many basic food staples such as wheat products have gone up by over 100 per cent, property taxes have skyrocketed, and the total lack of infrastructure makes us dependent on high fuel costs for the vehicles we need to get around. There is little public transportation in most rural areas, and if there is service, you pay $10 for the 30-km trip to the nearest shopping mall. Frugal is when you have it and use it sparingly; poverty is when you don’t have it, so you can’t use it at all. But don’t forget to be joyful about it.

Helmut Mayer, Meaford, Ont.

AFTER MARRYING 10 years ago, my husband and I decided that we would forgo many things in order to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible. Many of our colleagues and friends questioned our choice, and even laughed at us for our frugality. We chose to buy a starter home rather than a huge mansion-style house, to cook meals at home rather than go out to restaurants, to borrow books, DVDs and CDs from the library, to buy second-hand clothes for ourselves and our children, and to give inexpensive but thoughtful gifts to each other for Christmases and birthdays. Our first mortgage was paid off after seven years, after which we bought a larger home, which we aggressively paid off as well, later selling it for a small profit. We now have the satisfaction of knowing that our current mortgage will be paid off in five

years, our cars are paid for, and our children know the value of a dollar. Yes, our savings and pensions have taken a hit, but by saving literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest on our mortgages, we can more easily weather the current economic climate. Who’s laughing now?

Jonquil Garrick, Rockland, Ont.

MOMMY DEAREST

FOR A NUMBER of years now I have suspected my mother was narcissistic, but until I read Julia McKinnell’s article (“When your mother’s a narcissist,” Help, Nov. 3), I couldn’t be sure. Now I feel vindicated; my mother is indeed a narcissist. In fact, this article could have been written about her exclusively. My mother made my life so intolerable that, in my pain, I thought I was surely alone in suffering such anguish. I now realize that many others must have been undergoing similar angst.

Wilma Ferguson, Stratford, Ont.

WHO’S OPINIONATED?

I WAS PLEASED with the Maclean’s editorial calling for a majority Conservative government (“These times call for a majority government,” From the Editors, Oct. 13). There was no wisdom at all in voting against Harper. Doing so effectively amounted to shackling a CEO and then neurotically expecting maximum performance in the middle of financial turmoil. This deserves disaster, but knowing Harper, he will take up the challenge and succeed.

Shirley Blair, Burlington, Ont.

I WAS HIGHLY AMUSED by a letter in the Nov. 3 edition of Maclean’s expressing a reader’s disappointment with your editorial calling for a Tory majority. She obviously does not understand that an editorial is, by definition, an expression of opinion rather than a factual reporting of an event. Or perhaps she just wants you to publish opinions with which she agrees?

Gerald C. Young, Calgary

AS A LONG-TIME subscriber and a senior who fortunately has the time to read all or most of my Maclean’s every week (helping fight off the numbing of my brain cells), I must say that after reading your editorial supporting the Conservatives (“Budgets for bad times,”

From the Editors, Nov. 3), I almost cancelled my subscription. But after reading the articles by Andrew Coyne, Paul Wells, John Geddes, Peter Shawn Taylor, Adnan R. Kahn, Colin Campbell and Jason Kirby, I decided I would be foolish to pass up a magazine that continues to inform on so many diverse and important issues. Keep up the good work, but consider sending your editorial writer on a paid leave.

Bill Orr, St. Catharines, Ont.

WHAT THE HALLE?

I DON’T MUCH CARE if Halle Berry has orgasms or multiple partners, or that she is fully in charge of her own sex life (Most Improved, Nov. 3). This is Canada, and this is supposedly our national newsmagazine, not a titillating scandal sheet. Your own writ-

ers have more than once suggested that there’s a place for reticence—please put it into practice. When it comes to narcissistic movie stars, I really don’t need to know all that. Anne vanArragon Hutten, Kentville, N.S.

ONLY IN CANADA, EH?

YOUR ARTICLE about Crate & Barrel expanding into Canada has been causing concern to our customers (“Aiming at Ikea,” Home, Oct. 6). The article lists Bombay as one of several companies in the home decor sector to declare bankruptcy. Although it is clearly referencing companies in the U.S., it’s easy to see how some of our Canadian customers have misinterpreted the article as being about Bombay in Canada. While the stores no longer exist in the U.S., the Canadian piece of the business was bought by a Canadian company, is now proudly Canadian and has been operating since February 2008 with no break in service.

Cindy McCleery, Creative Director, Bombay Co. Ltd., Brampton, Ont.

MARC LÉPINE’S MOM

IT SEEMED TO ME, while reading Kate Fillion’s interview with Monique Lépine, whose son Marc Lépine killed 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989, and whose daughter died of a drug overdose (Interview, Nov. 3), that she wants to lay the blame for her children’s legacy on everyone but herself—the man who sired them, the surrogate families and society. She is not the only woman who has faced difficult situations, but she has made some very selfish choices. The dreadful results are something she and 14 other families will have to

live with forever. There is nothing anyone can do to change what has happened, but the shame and humiliation she feels is justifiable. Now, at 70, she writes a book to tell the entire world how she failed at being a parent. I think I would have kept it to myself.

S.L. Curie, Edmonton

FREE TRADE WITH EUROPE

ANDREW COYNE is to be commended for his column exploring an economic union between Canada and Europe (“The bold economic move you haven’t heard of,” Opinion, Nov. 3). History has shown us, as he points out, the sour outcomes that arise from gross protectionism during periods of shrinking economic fortunes. It is precisely at times such as these that our government must take bold actions and open the door to new measures. If Stephen Harper is willing and able to bring us into new and important economic partnerships, Canadians have made the right choice.

Craig Greenham, London, Ont.

A CANADA-EUROPE free trade agreement? We still haven’t cleared problems with the U.S. over our agreement with it. Imagine becoming yes-men to the EU. Canada needs some stable, long-term planning, not just a fireworks display.

Paul Damsma, Orangeville, Ont.

IN PASSING

Studs Terkel, 96, author. He established oral history as a serious genre in American letters and penned numerous bestsellers, including Division Street: America in 1966 and The Good War: An Oral History of World War II in 1984. One critic hailed Terkel’s writing as being “completely free of sociological claptrap, armchair revisionism and academic moralizing.”

Yma Sumac, 86, singer. The Peruvianborn singer with a 4V2-octave vocal range became an international sensation in the 1950s and was a bestseller for Capitol Records from her first album, Voice of the Xtabay. She appeared in several films, including Secret of the Incas, and performed around the world.