Category Archives: Rants

COVID-19, Oil Pipelines, and Water

It’s so great that oil is practically worthless now! Now if the governments would just stop bailing out those companies. We don’t need to extract and use more fossil fuels. We already KNOW they are a limited resource. We already KNOW that the environment is utterly destroyed by these processes, polluting ground water and aquifers and land for animals (including human animals) and plants.

We don’t need more pipelines, and more use of government violence to violate ancestral lands, medicine bundles, and the bodies of the matriarchs. We don’t want the RCMP used as a tool of colonial violence against the land and the protectors of the land.

What we want is clean air, clean water, healthy forests, thriving ecosystems, and an abundance of pollinators and scavengers and all the other bits and pieces that make up a healthy planet.

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Universal Basic Income and COVID-19

If we already had Universal Basic Income (UBI) in place, COVID-19 would have had way less  economic effect on people, especially poor people, especially renters and students and workers in the gig economy. If everyone had a certain amount of money every month no matter what, we’d all be able to pay our rent and get some groceries during quarantine / isolation / lockdown / social distancing.

Just give every single person in the country, regardless of income or employment status, a certain set amount. The rich would end up paying it back in the their taxes, but at lower income levels, people would have disposable income (thus stimulating the economy, because disposable income and spending are what do that, NOT jobs—jobs are just a means to the money). The costs of this would be balanced out by the fact that we wouldn’t need any more welfare system, no Employment Income Assistance for people on disability or out of work, All those systems would be dismantled: no more welfare fraud lines, no more meetings to prove you’ve applied for a certain number of jobs, no more rent on huge office buildings to house these systems, , etc. And if that doesn’t save enough money yet for UBI, then tax the rich, tax the corporations, and tax the churches. Tax them at the same rates as individuals. It is fucking ridiculous that huge corporations get tax breaks while people on disability can’t make ends meet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Queer on the Exam Table

During my recent medical checkup , I discovered that my healthcare practitioner is homophobic.

It has been four or five years since she asked about any sexual activity on my part, probably assuming that after my divorce I wasn’t hooking up with anyone. But now that my new partner (cis male) has moved in, she was asking about birth control, a possible STI check, and general questions about my sex life.

When I replied to a question by saying that no, PIV / penetrative sex is not the main kind of sex I have with my partner, she looked confused. So I added: “Well, I’m queer, right?” (I don’t know what I thought this would explain, but I felt sure this had come up at some time in the past, and I thought I was reminding her…?)

She still looked confused so I added “Like, bisexual?” (trying to dumb it down) “Like, I’ve had lots of sex where there wasn’t even a penis in the room?” and then she looked super surprised and said “You mean you have relationships with women outside of your relationship at home?”

No!” I exclaimed, scooching my naked butt down to the edge of the exam table for my pap test. And she looked flustered as she busied herself unwrapping the speculum: “…but if you’re…?”

I put my feet together and dropped my knees outward so she could head into my vagina with her gear. “This relationship is monogamous,” I told her. “I mean, sex is sex. If you adore blondes but you’re with a brunette, that doesn’t mean you have to sleep with blondes on the side, right?”

But then I dropped it, because the cold speculum was going in and I felt really, horribly, uncomfortably exposed and anxious and unsafe in a way that had nothing to do with the pap test in progress.

Her assumption that as a queer (or I guess “bi,” since she didn’t really seem to understand “queer”)  woman, I would of COURSE be screwing women outside of my relationship at home shocked me. Not that I want people to assume that everyone is monogamous, either, but the assumption of promiscuity—relationships with women, not with a woman—I don’t know how to explain it; it was a combination of word choice, tone of voice, and body language that made me feel as if all the negative and conservative connotations of “promiscuity” were running through her head (as opposed to, say, a respectful grasp of the concept of non-monogamy).

Because look. Being queer or bi doesn’t mean I can’t be monogamous. Being a cis woman who was married to a cis man for years doesn’t mean I can’t be queer. Being in a monogamous relationship and screwing someone else would make me a cheating asshole. Whether we’re monogamous or polyamorous or cis or gay or trans or whatever the hell we are, we deserve to have our healthcare providers ask respectfully—or at the very least, professionally—about these things rather than assuming and presuming *the worst (*it’s hard to articulate this because while in my world it’s 100% fine to fuck as many people as you want any way you want as long as everyone is honest and consenting, the attitude I was getting from my practitioner is that these “relationships with other women” were putting me in the “slut” category which personally isn’t a word I stigmatize but obviously carries negative weight for her… does that make any kind of sense?)

The assumption that a queer / bi woman has to be fucking both men and women (never mind the assumption that “men” and “women” are the only ones out there). The assumption that the sex life of a cis woman and a cis man would obviously consist mostly of penis-in-vagina sex. The assumption of heterosexuality in the first place. The confusion and surprise and discomfort she could not even suppress in this interaction.

I am disappointed that some healthcare providers are still so ignorant about LGBTQ* people. I am enraged that the same old, tired, ridiculous assumptions and stereotypes are present even in a professional setting. I am shocked that this particular provider didn’t even know enough to shut her mouth about her biases.

But mostly I am sad and hurt and feeling bleak about our continued working relationship as well as the difficulty of potentially trying to find a new healthcare provider.

She made me feel alien. Other. Misunderstood. Judged. And ultimately unsafe.

Those are terrible feelings to have about the person I have to trust with my iffy health.

 

 

 

“The Miracle Thyroid Diet,” My Ass!

Almost nothing makes me as hostile as seeing people wreck their health to meet bullshit arbitrary beauty standards. So I was enraged a couple-three weeks ago as I stood line at the grocery store reading the magazine headlines (my sole source of celebrity news) and saw the following:

thyroidcureimage

Really, people? REALLY?

Hyperthyroidism is no joke

I am currently in the middle of my third round of hyperthyroidism. It is no fucking joke. It can have long-term effects on your body (even after being treated) including increased risk of such fun things as heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and even serious vision impairment.

This is how hyperthyroidism feels for me

When I’m hyperthyroid, I get anxious to the point of fear, I get palpitations, shakiness, and trembling hands, I’m hungry all the time, eating four or five full meals a day and pooping twice as often (and as much!) as usual. I randomly break into sweats. At first, before the thyroid hormone levels get too high, I get up in the morning with incredible bursts of energy but it is jittery and unproductive, as if I’ve had three hours of sleep and seven cups of coffee. As time goes on, I am just tired and hyper at the same time, my heart racing but the rest of me just wanting to rest. Having a shower or folding my laundry can suddenly make my heart race and my whole body break into a sweat, leaving me exhausted. However, no matter how exhausted I am, I can’t sleep a full night, as my pounding heart wakes me up at 120 or more bpm. My already high blood pressure is exacerbated. I can hear my own heartbeat like somebody’s bass played too loud a few houses down. My arms and legs are weak and I can’t do my normal daily things like walk the dog or run up the stairs. This is worsening over time, and will not improve until my hyperthyroidism is fully treated, which can take months.

Weight loss, hair loss, and bug eyes

The first time I was hyperthyroid, I didn’t know what was going on, and it took quite a while for me to get myself to a doctor for it. By then, I was losing weight no matter how much I ate. A “silver lining,” one of my aunties called it, and I almost decked her. That kind of weight loss is horrible. I did not become fit and toned. No, I was loose-skinned and bug-eyed, and my hair was falling out. I lost close to half my hair at that time.

And back to the bug eyes for a minute: Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder which is the form of hyperthyroidism that I have, can also have permanent unpleasant effects on your eyes. They bug out from the pressure of inflammation. This can lead to permanent difficulties with vision. Today as I write this, I have blurred and double vision, as my eyes are not tracking together due to uneven pressure. So I’m also getting frequent headaches, as my job involves sitting at a computer all day.

Hyperthyroidism outweighs your petty cosmetic concerns

So my question is, why would anyone want to simulate this? When I was trying to find an image of the magazine cover I’d seen to include in this blog post, I was angry and shocked at just how many magazine covers there are out there touting hyperthyroidism–or, as we should be calling it here, thyrotoxicity–as a reasonable weight loss tool. I am horrified and frankly disgusted that anyone would see thyrotoxicity as a good idea for losing weight. Honestly, and with all understanding and due respect for the way society pressures us to conform to beauty standards and also for all the ways in which our own damaged self-esteem makes us feel that our worth depends on meeting those standards and and also for all the ways we can be devalued for not engaging in the project of trying to be outwardly the whitest, thinnest, blandest Barbies in town, I honestly have to say if you are that fucking desperate to lose weight for appearances, get yourself some goddam therapy, or research the Health At Any Size movement, or stop hanging around with assholes who judge you for your appearance, or god, I don’t know but just STOP

STOP STOPSTOPSTOP STOP

STOP!!!!! damaging your HEALTH and your LIFE and your HEART and your EYES for the sake of losing weight.

There is NO WORLD in which thyrotoxicity can be reframed as a healthy way to lose weight. Don’t even go there. There is no fucking silver lining, dear auntie. Inducing or prolonging hyperthyroidism to lose weight is self-destructive and ridiculous. I don’t wish this disease on anyone, but if you’re going to do it on purpose, well, one potential outcome of hyperthyroidism is death. Be careful what you wish for.

Why are Vets so %$#ing Expensive? (…or, an update on the Brindle Dog)

Last week, I took the Brindle Dog to the vet. (YES!!! The Brindle Dog is still alive! It’s amazing and wonderful!)

I took her to the vet because she continues to decline and sometimes the only thing that reassures me is having the wonderful Dr. Beggs actually lay hands on her and talk me through my worries.

This is the appointment where I finally made the decision to stop trying to keep my dear old dog alive. No more diagnostics, no more trying to figure out how the cancer is spreading. Now she just gets her painkillers and steroids and antacids and all the other pills and supplements she needs to be comfortably pain-free. She’s a sweet grey-faced old girl, wobbly in the back end, slowing down both physically and cognitively, with the start of kidney disease, pale gums due to anaemia, and a newfound tolerance for the cat. Her most favourite thing in the world is treats, and her second most favourite thing is cuddles.

All kinds of things are falling apart for her now, but I have had over two years since her initial cancer diagnosis to say goodbye. It is okay now if she has to go. She’s tired. Partly that’s the anaemia, partly that’s the cancer, partly that’s old age (fourteen is pretty good for a shepherd!), and partly it’s her anxiety to keep performing well and stay on top of things. I try to mitigate that for her by anticipating her needs, and encouraging her to follow the Fluffy Dog’s lead, but she has always been a dog who feels responsible for warning and protecting her pack.

The old Brindle Dog has to pee an awful lot now. I’m up once or twice a night with her. She clicks down the hardwood hallway to the back door and whines softly, not wishing to bother me, but in need. My “mommy ears” hear even her tiniest squeak, and I go out into the yard with her, squinting at the night sky while she sniffs out the right spot. Then time for a quick cuddle before we both lie down and fall back asleep.

But back to this vet appointment. We had done bloodwork, one last draw to see what was going on before I made my decision to stop trying so hard. I’ve spent so much money on this dear dog over the last couple of years, all the checkups and medications and supplements and tests…. It adds up to a lot.

So I went to pay my bill after this visit and bloodwork and when the number popped up, I was surprised. “Are you sure this is right?” I asked, and the staff nodded warily, no doubt ready for a rant about the cost. “It seems wrong,” I said. “Are you sure you got everything? We did bloodwork, too. This seems too low!”

Now it was the staff’s turn to be surprised. I guess it’s not very often that people think they’re not being charged enough at the vet.

But the thing is, a veterinary business has a lot of overhead. For this particular visit, the bloodwork was less than $70 and the follow-up visit was less than $50.  Basically that means they lost money on my visit.

Here’s the service I got for this single visit:

  • two different people dealt with me to book the appointment in two separate calls: in the first call, they kindly squeezed me in for a Saturday, then I called back and changed the appointment to another day.
  • on the day of the appointment, I showed up early and called from the parking lot (phone call number 3) to let them know I was there and ask if I could come in (the Brindle Dog is horrible with other dogs). I couldn’t go in yet, so…
  • when it was safe to go in, a staff ran out through the cold to knock on my car window and let me know I could go in.
  • the Brindle Dog was cooed over, petted, and weighed. Staff recorded her weight and took me to my favourite room, while skillfully and discreetly keeping the Brindle Dog away from any other dogs.
  • A vet tech came in and took a thorough history and listened to me describe my dog’s faeces, urine, energy, coat, lumps, appetite, water intake, oestrus, cognition, medications and supplements and treats, stamina, itchiness, and general demeanour. She took copious notes and was empathetic while at the same time asking pointed clarifying questions.
  • Before she left, the tech asked if my dog would like a blanket to lie on, and when I accepted, she returned with a large, thick, soft, clean blanket.
  • Before the vet came in, she and the tech reviewed the history.
  • The vet came in, took the time to greet both me and the Brindle Dog in a sincerely welcoming way, and admired my old girl profusely. We went over the history together, and the vet did a physical exam. She discussed her findings with me and we talked about various options (including a possible blood transfusion  and an ultrasound). I agreed that we should do a blood test, and the vet went to get two techs to do the test right away so we could have the results before I left.
  • Two vet techs came in to draw blood. Because many years ago I trained to be a vet tech and worked as one for a while, the people at this clinic always kindly allow me to be present for these kinds of procedures. I helped hold my old Brindle Dog while they drew her blood. The blood draw involves the education and expertise of the techs; their ability to soothe and manage an anxious, high-strung, confused old dog; the actual physical materials (syringe, alcohol, tubes, etc.); the lab equipment needed to actually analyse the blood, including not just the machines themselves, but the slides and the chemicals, and the knowledge needed to use them; and finally, the education and experience needed for the vet to interpret the results, explain them to an anxious owner, and make appropriate recommendations.
  • The vet came back and I told her I want to start just letting the Brindle Dog go. We discussed what that means to me (I’d give antibiotics for an infection or stitches for a wound, but not blood transfusions for her anaemia, for example). The vet had compassion for my decision and was able to outline all my options without pushing any of them on me, so that it was very clear what I was declining and what consequences that might have. When I asked the question that all vets must dread (“Am I doing the right thing?”), she was supportive of my decision and respectful of how difficult it is.
  • When we were done, the vet and staff worked together to make sure the Brindle Dog and I had a clear dog-free path out the front door to the car, and then I returned to pay my bill and discuss how cheap it was.
  • After I left, they had to clean the floor of the exam room of fur and drool, clean / sterilise / replace any materials and equipment used, replenish the generous amounts of treats they’d given her, launder the heavy blanket they’d brought in, add any notes to the chart, compile my bill, process my payment, and send me a follow-up email with some additional information I wanted. (Also, one of the techs drawing the Brindle Dog’s blood got a full-frontal canine sneeze in the face, so there was some clean-up and washing of glasses involved there!)

I know that’s a lot of detail, and maybe the service I get there is a particularly good because I am a long-time client who does my damnedest to be polite and appreciative to every person with whom I interact no matter how anxious or stressed I am. But my point is that when you pay for veterinary services, you are not just handing your vet that full amount to put in her pocket. You are paying for staff, rent, utilities, materials, continuing education, sick time, repairs and replacement of equipment, and on and on and on. I had face-to-face contact with one veterinary doctor, two veterinary technicians, and three reception staff on the day of my appointment, and a fourth staff on the phone beforehand.

There are people at my work who walk in every day with a grande latte from Starbucks. People with season tickets to the Jets and / or the Bombers. People who have season tickets to the symphony or the theatre or who go to Mexico for ten days every winter. So many of these people are happy to ask Google or ask me (with my outdated and limited vet  tech experience) what to do with their dog / cat / bunny / budgie because “I don’t trust vets. They’re just out to make money!”

Right? How horrible that vets and techs and their staff have to earn a living like anybody else! How awful that they are trying to give the best service possible at reasonable prices in a competitive market! How reprehensible that they are starting local businesses and creating employment!

A big part of the problem is that people feel like vets are guilting them into choosing the most costly diagnostic and treatment options. But honestly, they’re not. The guilt is all yours, and that’s your own issue to work out. Vets are explaining all of the options and the potential consequences of declining those options, primarily because that is the correct, professional, and ethical thing to do, but partly (wait for it) because they don’t want to get sued by your sorry ass when you make a stupid decision. (Oh, yeah, add insurance to the list of bills they have to pay!)

You should trust and follow the advice of your typical veterinary doctor as much as you trust and follow the advice of your typical family doctor. Yes there are better and worse ones, yes there are ones who care more or less, but it’s on YOU to be an informed consumer and take responsibility for the decisions you make based on the information they give you.

Take the Brindle Dog, for example. Maybe if we did an ultrasound we’d find out more about how her cancer is spreading and we’d be able to try some different treatments to help her. Maybe a series of blood transfusions would prolong her life enough for her to have this whole upcoming summer to nap in the sunshine. But I decided not to do this. Partly because she’s gone through enough already. Partly because the meds she’s on now seem to be keeping her comfortable and happy. And yes—partly because of the cost. I know she will probably die sooner than she otherwise might because of these decisions. But that is MY decision. I am not going to whine that the vet should give me a discount or freebie on potentially life-saving or life-prolonging treatments. I chose to have this dog and she is my responsibility. Dr. Beggs and her team provided me with the information I needed to make a decision I can live with. And I am going to own that decision.

And honestly, if you have season’s tickets to pro sports or a daily latte or an annual trip to Europe and that’s more important to you than paying a medical professional to take care of your loved one, you don’t deserve a pet. These animals trust us to make good decisions on their behalf. We owe it to them to get them the professional care they need to the very best of our ability, even if we’re grumpy that there is a cost involved. Medical care for your pets is not optional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say Something

The news is terrible everywhere.

Sunday night it was a shooting in a mosque in Quebec City. Six people dead, nineteen injured. The shooter was a white guy, a Trump supporter.

Monday night I was supposed to go out for dinner with an old friend from high school, Joanne. She texted me to ask what time I wanted to meet up. I was torn. I love getting together with her, but I really felt the need to go to that evening’s vigil for the victims of the shooting.

After a bit of texting back and forth, Joanne and I agreed that she and her daughter would pick me up and we would all go to the vigil together.

The vigil was… like any other. Some hundreds of us huddled with our toques and mittens, clutching our jars and glasses containing lit candles, rocking on our feet and curling our toes to keep them warm during the sad and inspiring and heartfelt speeches.

At one point, two protestors interrupted the speech with their signs to condemn Canada for having removed and endangered their children, and at first it looked like they were going to be ushered off the steps of the Legislature, but ultimately they were allowed to speak. I felt sorry for them and moved by their family’s plight, and I was grateful to them for interrupting the “wishful thinking” thread running through most the vigil in which speaker after speaker almost unanimously praised Canada as being a safe haven and a place where diversity is welcome and celebrated.

Because that wishful thinking lets us off the hook. If it was that safe here, those parents wouldn’t be mourning the disappearance of their children. That mosque wouldn’t have been shot up by a racist. Our jails wouldn’t be overwhelmingly filled with non-white people, particularly Indigenous people. Companies wouldn’t be bringing up migrant labour from Mexico and housing them twelve to a trailer for the summer. Women wouldn’t be getting raped and then blamed for it. No one would be trying to degay anyone or murder trans people.

But we keep giving those speeches and we keep repeating it to each other. Because we want to believe that’s not us. We’re not homophobic or misogynist or racist or classist or ableist or transphobic or in any way discriminatory. We would never (shoot Muslims) (rape anyone) (disown a queer family member).

It’s not enough. It’s not enough to stand at a vigil with a candle on a winter’s evening, no matter how comforting it is to mourn in community, no matter how important it is to be a body in the street, to stand up and be counted, to be another face in the lake of faces when the TV cameras pan across the crowd. These are important, but they are only a small step. Showing up at a vigil does not challenge anything or change much.

It’s hard to change. Hard to change within ourselves and hard to change our behaviour to intervene when we should. There’s so much work to do to unlearn all the crap we’ve been taught and fed, the lies we breathe in, the stereotypes we drink like water.

And there’s also so much work to do to learn how to interrupt others. It’s not necessarily our job to change people’s minds, but it IS our job to clearly express what language and behaviour we will or will not tolerate. It IS our job to not remain silent. We, especially if we embody multiple sites of privilege, have no “right” to remain comfortable and safe. The idea that this is a “right” is a facet of our privilege. Say something. Say anything.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across Captain Awkward’s blog. Since then, I have read every single post, and probably 90% of the comments. The blog and the community that has built up there is very supportive and insightful in terms of articulating boundaries, taking responsibility for one’s own feelings and actions, dealing with annoying or abusive people, and holding others accountable for their own behaviour.

Captain Awkward is not perfect, but she owns it. She corrects her mistakes, apologises when necessary, and is responsive to feedback from her commenters. Most of the regular commenters are the same way. It’s an interesting place and I am sharing this with you in the hopes that hanging out there for a while over time might be as helpful to you as it is to me.

Some of Captain Awkward’s posts are specifically geared to how to deal with racism and Trumpism and sexism and other forms of discrimination. Others are more about dealing with difficult people and situations in other contexts. But there are lots of recurring themes: Use your words. “No” is a complete sentence. Let it be awkward. Build and maintain good boundaries. These are valuable skills and concepts for changing the world, bit by bit.

I’d love to hear what online resources have been helpful to you in learning how to stand up and make change. The more information and strategies we have, the better—as long as we actually put them into practice.

 

 

So this guy tried to pick me up…. (or, A Tale of Three Men)

Last Friday, I played a gig with two other DJs. I was up first, and I tried something totally new (for me): a set of music from my childhood. Pink Floyd, Cream, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, David Bowie, The Talking Heads… Music I remember falling asleep to as a little kid. If I’d come up with the idea a little sooner, I would have loved to add some Golden Earring and Moody Blues and ELO, but anyway, it was fun.

There was a guy (we’ll call him Stripey Shirt) who was pretty drunk and trying his luck with a lot of the women at the venue. With me, it was “Wow, you got some good dance moves. I mean, I’m from Jamaica and I know you got some good moves!” while his arm was on the back of the chair in which I was sitting. I was leaning away from his arm and planning how to extricate myself when he added “You gotta give me your number. I want to you DJ a private party I’m throwing!” I laughed at him and said “Yeah, because THAT sounds totally legit!” Continue reading

Weekly Pet Peeve: Distracted Drivers

Content warning for traffic accident, gore, and trauma.

Last night, a friend and I had dinner at the Marion Hotel. It looks kind of scruffy on the outside, with the beer vendor out back, the parking lot full of pickup trucks, and the line of gleaming Harley-Davidsons out front all summer. But the sweet potato fries are fabulous, and the servers are great.

But my friend told me a shitty story. Her sister-in-law was killed last year by a distracted driver. The SIL was out cycling with a friend. A driver was weaving all over the road because she was texting. She struck my friend’s sister-in-law and killed her pretty much instantly. The friend cycling with her wrote a Victim Impact Statement for the court about how she saw her friend’s brains crushed out of her head onto the roadway, and her pretty blue eyes go lifeless, and blood everywhere, and how she now has flashbacks and nightmares in which she relives the event.  The victim’s daughters wrote impact statements, too, about how now their mom won’t ever know her first grandchild (one of the daughters is currently pregnant).

The sentence was handed down recently. The “distracted driver” got her driver’s license suspended for ninety days. That’s it. THAT’S IT. I put “distracted driver” in quotations because my preferred term is MURDERER. It’s not involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide or whatever. It’s pure and simple murder.

If you text while driving, if you drink and drive, if you smoke pot and drive, if you are distracted or impaired in any way—especially ways that you KNOW are illegal!–then you are an asshole, a shitbag, a waste of fucking skin, and you deserve to have your license revoked forEVER, your car impounded, and your name made public.

I can hear the whining now: “But the punishment should fit the criiiiiime!!! It’s not faaaair to do that to someone just for having a couple of drinks / toking up / texting!!!”

You’re wrong. It’s entirely fair. If someone puts my life at risk for the sake of their own convenience or recreation, they deserve to be charged and convicted with Attempted Murder.

 


Edited 13 May 2016 to fix a typo.

 

Weekly Pet Peeve: Toast-Related Injuries

You know when you make the perfect toasted tomato-and-cheese sandwich? With a tasty, juicy tomato in thick slices, and some sharp old cheddar, and coarsely-ground black pepper. With the stone-ground whole wheat bread toasted to the exact perfect crispiness, and the layers of tomato and cheese perfectly constructed. When nobody interrupts your progress, so by the time you slice the sandwich in two and sit down to take the first bite, everything is still fresh and warm.

And then, with that first bite, the top layer of toast scrapes the top of your mouth raw, so that every chewing motion hurts, and the pleasure of savouring your perfect sandwich is lost.

I hate that.

 

 

Weekly Pet Peeve: I Am Not a Mental Health “Consumer”

Words matter. The labels we are given or choose to use matter. Language structures how we think, and how we think structures how we use language.

Once we were victims or sufferers.

Then we were patients (and if we were lucky, ex-patients).

Clients.

Person with X.

Survivor.

All problematic in different ways, but none as problematic for me as the trend to call us users or consumers of the mental health care system. My mental illness is not a commodity. To deal with it, I am not choosing or shopping or consuming or using the mental health care system. That implies that there is actually an array of effective, accessible, affordable, respectful options from which to choose. To commercialise mental health care (and all health care), to position the people who need health care services as users, as consumers, as if we are freely choosing to use and consume resources, as if we are the same as anyone shopping at WalMart for plastic toys made by kids in factories in overexploited countries, is to make illness and its treatment on par with any other goods and services in a capitalist system. That is absurd. Getting help isn’t as simple as picking out canned goods at the grocery store. Health care is not a commodity, and illness is not a lifestyle choice. Continue reading

Weekly Pet Peeve: “I’m not racist, but…” (aka “Some of my friends are…”)

I got nothing against passive-aggressive a-holes, but...

I got nothing against passive-aggressive a-holes, but…

In all its various permutations:

“I’ve got nothing against gays, but…”

“I’m all for equality, but…”

“I got no problem with immigrants, but…”

“There’s nothing wrong with blue collars, but…”

And so on, and ’nuff said.

 

 

Weekly Pet Peeve: People Talking Through the Show

This week’s pet peeve is piggybacking on For the Love of God—Make It Stop, about a person talking in a movie theatre during the movie. This is a huge peeve of mine. Not just in movie theatres but also at home. Not just during movies, but also during TV shows. Or even YouTube videos. Or when I am on the phone, and someone in the room is talking during my phone call because they have something to add or to pass on to the person on the other end.

JUST SHUT UUUUUUUUPPPPP!!!!!!!!!

OBVIOUSLY I am paying attention to The Thing. Either pause The Thing, or wait for The Thing to be over. And if The Thing is something you’re trying to share with me, please don’t abuse my patience and wreck my enjoyment with “okay, here, wait, here it comes, wait, yeaaaah!!!” and hysterical laughter even before the funny part.

Also, if we’re watching a movie together that you’ve seen before, ffs do NOT speak along with the dialogue. Especially do not say the lines right before they happen! And honestly, seriously, don’t watch my face the whole time to make sure I am laughing at the funny parts or otherwise responding immediately and obviously the way you think I should.

In general, I really prefer to experience media by myself. People can be so annoying. Don’t they know they’re causing me to miss plot development? That information is there for a reason! I need it!

The dogs can be annoying, too, if a movie doorbell rings. But somehow, watching the Brindle Dog barking wildly at the TV with a shocked and betrayed look on her face (through what interdimensional fuck-up did a doorbell appear in the living room???) is far more entertaining than biting my tongue (and sitting on my fists) when dude in front of me at the theatre is muttering into a cell phone.

 

Weekly Pet Peeve: Workplace Phone Manners

The Peeved Pet.

How I look when people don’t know how to talk on the phone at work.

I was so focused on writing about Poe today that I nearly forgot the Weekly Pet Peeve. My heart’s not in it 100% today, so I’ve hauled this one out of my drafts and tweaked it a bit:

You know what I hate? When people are making a work-related phone call and don’t bother to introduce themselves properly. If you are calling in an official capacity, you should at the very least state your first and last names, and preferably also what your organisation is.

I’ve had people call and not say their names at all, or just say “This is *Sarah” and then demand client information. And then I have to go through the whole interrogation to find out the relevant identification of Sarah, during which time Sarah is getting more and more irritated. Would this not be easier if she started out with”Hi, this is **Sarah Palin, I’m a social worker at XYZ Child and Family Services and I’m looking for information on Jane Doe who is a permanent ward of my agency”? Yes, it would indeed be easier. So, Sarah, when I point that out to you in the course of our phone conversation, there’s no need to get all hissy. Because the minute you raise your voice to me, I’m hanging up. Continue reading

A Hard Weekend Ends with a Crash

Happy Monday, everyone! That’s not my normal salutation (it’s more a sarcastic “Happy” Monday!), but after the weekend I had, I’m glad to get back to the work routine. I got some bad news on Friday (I’ll write about it soon) and that affected the rest of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I did go over to a good-acquaintance-maybe-becoming-a-friend’s place for a long- awaited tea-and-cookies visit (and cuddles with her fabulous Golden Retriever).

But on the way home, I got rear-ended. This is the third January in a row that I have been rear-ended by a white pickup truck while I was stopped at a red light. Continue reading

Weekly Pet Peeve: Pregnancy Horror Stories

Shocked disbelief.

Shocked disbelief.

People tell their pregnancy and delivery horror stories in great and gory detail. I get that. People like to talk about big events they’ve experienced, and they like to compare their experiences to those of other people, and they like to maybe sometimes perhaps exaggerate just a little bit to make their stories more vivid and to get a better response from their audience. And childbirth is pretty high up on the pain-and-danger scale, so it makes for a good story, with lots of potential permutations and complications to allow for some one-upmomship (ha).

But what is absolutely mindboggling is when people tell these stories to someone who is pregnant!!!

Seriously! Who does that? (Tip: That was rhetorical. Just last Friday, on E’s last day of work before mat leave, one of her colleagues was explaining to her how horrifically painful childbirth was going to be.)

I just don’t understand how you could look at a massive pregnant belly and think it would be a good idea to Continue reading

Weekly Pet Peeve: Comments about Appearances

Shocked cat: How I feel when people comment on someone else's appearance.

How I feel when people comment on someone else’s appearance.

If you’re going to comment on someone’s appearance, don’t.

But if you’re one of those people who can’t resist, here’s a tip: say something actively positive. The whole “Ooooooh, I see you got your hair cut…” or the dubious “Are those new glasses?” aren’t actually pleasant things to say to someone. If you must, then try something like “Hey, great glasses!” (complimentary, and does not require a response.)

The whole “neutral” thing is kind of passive-aggressive and  an infringement on people’s personal territory. What gives you the right to make a random unasked-for comment about someone’s appearance, or on a choice they’ve made? A choice that was possibly difficult and is certainly personal? On a haircut they maybe aren’t happy with, for example? Continue reading

Pet Peeve: “You look tired!”

Aaaaaand what? You thought pointing that out would be useful or helpful in some way? You thought it would be a good conversation starter? Why not just tell me I look like shit and be done with it?

There’s one person in particular at my workplace who often starts conversations this way. She’s really quite lovely, but I find it frustrating. Today, on her way back to her office from the bathroom, she stopped at my desk to ask concernedly “Do you have a headache today?” My tongue is bleeding a bit from the effort it took not to say “I do now!”

Actually, I don’t have a headache today. But I do have a classic BRF and I’m still trying to keep my head down as the holiday spirit continues. Sure, the trees are coming down and the wrapping paper is all in the recycling bin and the New Year’s hangovers have diminished. But it’s the first day back at work for office drones, and they’re all buzzing around the hive asking each other “Did you have a good holiday?” And when I reply “I survived it,” they laugh merrily and say “Oh, I know what you mean!” and then go on to relate long tales of family dinners, gifts given and received, Polaroid-worthy moments with kids, cute quotes by grandkids, long walks in the snow with bounding Golden Retrievers and so forth. (Although maybe some of these were ads?)

My point is: maybe I am a bit tired. It’s good of you to remark upon it. I’m so glad to know it shows so clearly. And I’m so grateful to have it pointed out.

Research is important but it’s not necessarily accurate

Rumpydog posted yesterday about a study comparing dog people to cat people. I was intrigued, but also (as usual) prepared to be hypercritical of research assumptions and methodologies, and in particular the “commonsense” taken-for-granted beliefs that shape the initial formulations of hypotheses. I love good research and an armful of endnotes, but part of what I love about it is looking for flaws. (Although when you point out my typos I will be embarrassed and probably need a bunch of cookies for comfort.) Continue reading

Surrounded by Addicts

Sometimes that’s what it feels like. There’s addiction in my family, but people don’t talk about it much, if at all. I learned all the childhood things you learn in an alcoholic family system. Although I had no words to explain what was going on, I internalised the behavioural patterns that go along with this dynamic.

Almost every dating or cohabitation partner I have had has turned out to have a drinking or drug problem (or both) except for my very first love (who was Muslim, so the no-alcohol thing was part of the package).

The addictions of my partners keep taking me by surprise. I like to think I am a pretty smart and perceptive person, but if you want to figure out who’s the addict at any given party, take me along and see who I start hitting on. I’ll hop into bed with them, then fall in love and move in, but it will seriously take me weeks or months or even years to wake up one day and realise I’ve done it again. To realise I am once again emotionally and financially entangled with an addict. It makes me ragingly furious at how I’ve internalised all their bullshit, how low my self-esteem has plummeted, how stupid I have been in not seeing it coming, how naive and ignorant I am in this area. It makes me doubt myself and all my perceptions, in a way that reinforces the effects of the addict’s gaslighting and crazymaking of me during the relationship.

Basically, by the end of these relationships, I am a hot mess. I’ve believed the lies they told me to explain the red eyes and the missed appointments and the headaches and the late work nights. I’m the stable, rational, competent one who keeps the household running even though I don’t know where all the money is going and my partner is always too sick or too busy to help out. I’m generally kind of suspicious and cynical, so I am always convinced that of course I would know it if something was going on, of course I would know if my partner was drinking or doing drugs, of course nothing would slip by me.

But it slips by me all the time. And by all the time, I mean five of the seven actual relationships I’ve had over my lifetime. (One-night-stands and brief fun flings have been excluded from this study.) After my last split-up,  I decided it was time to end this ridiculous cycle, and so I resolved not to get into another relationship for at least a year.

That first year of living alone was hard, but also wonderful. It’s been three years now, and I’m still single, and I still love it. But I have not yet broken the cycle. A person with whom I am very close (but not romantically) is an addict. And our relationship has now moved into the part where the addict occasionally treats me like shit while I keep trying to smooth things over because obviously people are drunks or druggies because they are so miserable, so why would I add my anger to the mix?

For a long time, I thought I was bringing this upon myself. By being too nice, or too bitchy, or too frigid or slutty or naive or whatever. In a way, that is probably true—not that I am too anything, but that the pattern of interaction with addicts is familiar to me. I do not see the warning signs because I have been raised and trained and reinforced not to see them. This is a huge blind spot for me.

The disease model of alcoholism and addiction says that this is a biochemical disorder or predisposition to addiction. But you can be sick (cancer, AIDS, PTSD, common cold, depression,) and not be an asshole. Whereas addicts all turn out to be assholes in the end, even if they were lovely and kind people to begin with. I prefer the behavioural model of addiction because it more accurately reflects my experiences with a long chain of addicts. Behaviour is something that is learned and can be unlearned and replaced with other things.

Also, it helps me to remember that their actions are a result of their choices. Addicts will use all kinds of excuses and justifications for why they get high. A classic one within romantic relationships is “I wouldn’t need to drink if you were only nicer / more understanding / less demanding / willing to fuck more often / etc.” and this obscures the fact that the drug use is in fact a choice. And if it doesn’t feel like a choice—if the addict is really at the point where it feels like it’s no longer a matter of free will—well, being a manipulative jerk is still a choice. Emotionally abusing your partner is still a choice. Refusing to take responsibility for your own actions is still a choice. There is nothing I ever did as a teenager or a middle-aged woman or any in-between age that forced anybody in the world to take a drink or snort a line. That was their choice, every single time.

And my choice, every single time, has been to walk away. It has often taken a lot of time and agonising and therapy and journalling and crying myself to sleep, but in the end I have always decided not to stick around to be the Helpmeet Scapegoat. It is not noble or admirable to let yourself be treated like garbage under the guise of being a good, loving partner. Helping other people only goes so far: I don’t require effusive thanks and gratitude, but I DO require that people not try to blame me for their own actions. I prefer to be surrounded by people who take ownership of and responsibility for their own lives.

Which brings me to this person in my life. Yes, I have known for ages that he is an addict. I love him and worry about him. But now we have progressed to the stage where he is both leaning on me and treating me disrespectfully. And it’s been kind of a wake-up for me this week to realise that despite remaining single-on-purpose for three years, despite all my self-congratulations on how wisely I am keeping myself safe and breaking the cycle, I am right back here again. I thought the danger was in romantic relationships, but it’s not. The danger is in my huge blind spot. The blind spot that lets me Wile.E.Coyote off the edge of the cliff. Right now, I am suspended in mid-air, looking down with a comical expression of surprise and dismay, while the audience groans “Not again! When will she ever learn???”

They say people re-enact situations to try for a different outcome. If that’s the case, I feel like I am seriously failing at this lesson. I’m mad at myself for letting myself get into this situation again. But I can see two good things: The first is that I now know this problem can come from anywhere, not just romantic relationships. This is a valuable lesson.

And the second thing? I have been through this before. I know I am strong enough to survive it.

 

How to Tell People They Sound Racist

Here’s a short video I love and share widely: Jay Smooth’s How to Tell People They Sound Racist. It’s an entertaining and articulate take on how to deal with people who make racist comments.

The take-home message is to separate the person from the problem by focusing on what they did rather than who they are, in an effort to prevent the discussion from being derailed by the whole “I’m not a racist!” defence and keeping it to “that thing you said was racist.”

I really like his advice and his analogy of someone who steals your wallet: you don’t chase him down to find out if he feels like a thief deep in his heart; you chase him because you want your wallet back (i.e., you want to address the harm done regardless of the thief’s unprovable motives and intents).

I’m white, and have struggled a lot to come to terms with the racism I’ve internalised from birth onward. I’ve mentioned before that I was racialised from an early age by my Danish grandfather who felt that I was a half-breed because my mom’s family is from the south of France (“they’re not really white that far south”). I would like to think that I am non-racist but I know the best I can hope for is to be anti-racist—to examine my own words and actions, to strive to do better, to interrupt racism when it occurs around me, and to be open to anger and criticism if I screw up.

It helps that I am also an outspoken feminist, and that when I took my Women’s Studies degree I was extremely fortunate to be taught by professors who were passionate about the interconnections of oppression. I learned and deeply believe that all the isms (racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, etc. etc. etc.) are interconnected and mutually reinforcing (Marilyn Frye’s essay “Oppression” was helpful for me in understanding this). Also, my experiences as a feminist dealing with men (and a bisexual dealing  with straights) helps me to understand the ways in which men (or whites or heterosexuals) just don’t get it sometimes, regardless of how good their / our intentions may be. So not only do I consider racist speech and acts to impact me personally even though I am white, I am utterly convinced that this is also my fight. I might do it wrong sometimes and I might not have as full an understanding as I one day will. But inaction is not an option.

Jay Smooth says, regarding dealing with people who have said / done something racist: “I don’t care what you are; I care about what you did.” I think this applies to people like me (white) who abhor racism. We can be totally anti-racist in our hearts, but if we don’t actually do something about it, then we’re doing it wrong.

Applying Jay Smooth’s strategies to conversations about race—holding others responsible for their words and actions—is one way to take action.

My House, My Rules? Well, sometimes maybe.

Someone recently wrote in to Captain Awkward with a question about how to handle her parents’ insistence that she and her partner (who live together) not sleep in the same bed under the parents’ roof during holiday visits because the couple are not married. In fact, on a previous visit, the letter writer’s boyfriend had to sleep outside in a tent.

Captain Awkward’s advice is great, as always, and the commenters have expanded on that advice. But this kind of thing infuriates me, especially the whole “my house, my rules” thing (which is being debated in the comments as well). I don’t know how coherent I can even be about this, Continue reading

Stop Telling Me to Be Thankful, Dammit!

Like many people, my relationship with my family is… complicated. Which means holidays can be… interesting.

The Americans are busy being thankful today. We Canadians did that last month (I think it’s because harvest comes earlier here in Canada. By next week, we’ll be approaching Absolute Zero). As we pass both Thanksgivings and I turn a side-eye toward Christmas, here are some posts I’ve been appreciating:

Thanksgiving. It’s not always happy by the Bloggess.

Captain Awkward’s Ugh… Holidays.

The awesome cartoon sonofabeach96 dug up.

GettingrealwithPTSD linked to a piece about Finding Something to be Grateful for on Thanksgiving for survivors of childhood abuse.

Some fabulous advice from rumpydog’s mom about What to Give a Child in Need. (Also, if you’re giving to shelters and food banks and the like? Tampons! Pads! Deodorant! Toothpaste and toothbrushes! New underwear and new or very gently used bras!)

And basically every single gorgeous post by textilessudouest.

I refuse to invent things to be thankful or grateful for out of some sense of holiday obligation or pressure to “think positive.” But these bloggers are some of the voices I greatly appreciate.

Now I’m off to plug in the car for the first time this year…

 

Adverse Road Conditions & Confused Drivers

I stepped out with the dogs this morning into this season’s first blanket of snow. The dogs were wild with joy, and instantly made it their Prime Objective to find all of their digging holes and excavate them from under the layer of snow. Within minutes, the pristine white quilt was defaced with the spray patterns of mud and dead leaves kicked out from a handful of Very Important Holes.

Since I have tenants, I have to make sure I keep the sidewalks clean. So I cleared all the sidewalks and both decks, then went in to shower and get ready for work. The snow was still falling, Continue reading

Don’t Project Your Weight Loss B.S. Onto Me!

Last week I ran into someone I haven’t seen for quite a while. She tugged on my shirt “well, look at you, all svelte!” she exclaimed. “Good for you!”

I snapped back: “It’s NOT good for me. I’ve been sick!”

She was taken aback by my tone: “Are you okay now?”

“No, but I will be.”

“Still,” she said cheerfully. “At least you lost the weight!”

I turned my back and walked away.

This kind of thing pisses me off. Why do women always assume that other women are trying to lose weight? Why do they think it’s okay to comment on each other’s weight? Why do they assume all weight loss is welcome and a matter for congratulations? Her “Good for you!” felt so condescending.

Other people’s weight is none of your business. Seriously. Never. Continue reading

That’s Crazy Talk

It makes me crazy when people say things make them crazy. It’s just nuts how people think everything is insane. I mean, I know it’s a schizo world and all, but how retarded do you think I am? It makes me so depressed I could just shoot myself. I wanna go postal. You must think I’m insane.

The worst is how people use “crazy talk” to describe difference. Difference is not crazy, not scary, not bad, and not wrong. Continue reading

Reblog: What If We Are The “Bad Guys?”

I just read this very moving post and it expresses a lot of how I feel about Remembrance Day and the military. I believe we in the West are the bad guys. I believe we are doing a lot of really shitty things in the rest of the world, and we pretend it’s in the name of freedom but really it’s in the name of money and power and oil and corporate greed. We brainwash people into doing our killing, and then when they come home injured both physically and mentally, we abandon them.

Here’s the blog post: What If We Are The “Bad Guys?”

On the one hand, I feel it’s important to share this. On the other hand, I don’t really feel like arguing today, so I’m going to close comments. Here’s hoping we smarten up soon and stop inciting more hatred by going out and killing people and then profiting from their pain by “helping them rebuild.”

This Remembrance Day, let’s remember not just “our” dead soldiers, but also the ones on the “other” side. And let’s also remember all of the civilian victims.

Use Your F*$king Turning Signal (or, Driving is a Team Sport)

I love driving. I really do. And most of the time I try to be a very chill driver. I listen to music and drive just slightly above the speed limit (or, you know, maybe a bit more than that, depending). I use my signals to indicate what I plan to do. I come to a full stop at stop signs, and I try to give others space—no tailgating or cutting people off. Ideally, I want people to see me but not have to think about me or worry about what I’m going to do next. Driving is a team sport; if we all behave predictably and politely, we’re all going to get where we’re going with as little stress or mess as possible.

But at the same time, I have a really low frustration tolerance when it comes to other people being selfish jerks. And there’s an awful lot of selfish jerkiness on the road. Those super important and busy people weaving in and out of traffic with no turning signals, racing to get ahead by just a couple of car-lengths. The ones who race up the empty right-hand lane and then bull their way into traffic. The ones who ignore construction signs and speed past workers. The ones who don’t pay attention to traffic flow and are always riding the gas and brake at the same time, speeding up too much and then braking, speeding up and braking. The ones who have no patience for cyclists or pedestrians, and who therefore take huge risks in driving too close to them, because they can’t bear to slow down for ten seconds and keep everyone safe.

And then the slow ones. The ones who brake for green lights and slow down for clear intersections, or for smooth, dry curves. The ones who even under the best driving conditions can’t bring themselves to drive the speed limit. The ones who drift slowly in and out of their lane. The ones looking for a particular street or house who don’t just pull over when they see the long line of traffic backed up behind them.

And then the pure ignorant narcissistic assholes. The ones talking on their cell phones. The ones who are high (yes, pothead, marijuana affects your driving). The ones who’ve been drinking. The ones on coke (yeah, you, who thinks you’re invulnerable and no one else is really real). The ones who can’t pull over for a minute but have to retrieve that dropped item, or hand their kid that thing, or find the thing in their purse, or find the right radio station, or use the rearview to fix their hair, all while still driving the car. The ones who claim they’re good drivers because they’ve never been in an accident and yet leave a trail of rage and smoking brakes and near-strokes and terrified cyclists behind them every time they’re on the road.

So most of the time I try to be chill, yes. But if you’re the guy tailgating me in the morning on the way to work, you can bet I’m going to take great pleasure in slowing right down to exactly the speed limit and preventing you from passing me all the long, curvy way down Wellington Crescent. And if you’re that entitled jerk racing and weaving through rush-hour traffic to get ahead of everyone, you can bet I’m going to nose right up to the car in front of me and not let you into my lane. And if you’re the guy in the big soil-hauling truck who suddenly dropped into my lane on a curve the other day and nearly hit me, I just want to inform you that what I was screaming as I slammed on both the brakes and the horn was “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUUUUUUUUUUCK?????” which is a step up from my usual “Wow, you suck!” or “For real?”

But if you are obviously anticipating the traffic around you and making an effort to drive well and safely, I am going to see your turning signal and give you space to get into the lane in front of me. And when you lift your hand to acknowledge me, I’m going to nod back at you and feel pleased that we treated each other as teammates and actual real people.

I was in Montreal a few years ago and an acquaintance picked me up from the train station. That was a scary ride. It seemed like most drivers kept their car straddling lanes (reserving a spot to move over?) and seemed to rely a lot on the quick reflexes of others to prevent accidents. My driver was yelling at other drivers on the road, at one point shouting “You fucking asshole bitch!” Then she turned around (still driving!) to grin at me: “That’s what I say when I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman!” At that point, I decided to just lean back and pretend I was on a carnival ride.

Many years ago, when my mom was teaching me how to drive, she berated me for only using the turning signal after I had started braking for the turn. She explained: “Your turning signal is a signal of intent, not of action.” In other words, people and bots, let others know what you plan to do, don’t just show us what you’re already doing.

It’s not rocket science. Mind your manners and show a bit of empathy. That person who doesn’t spring into action the minute the light turns green? Give them a sec before you honk. That’s a real person in there who just found out their mom has cancer, or whose dog just died, or who has terrible insomnia, or who simply happened to be looking in a different direction when the light changed.  During the end of my marriage and my divorce, the car was the only place I could cry, so I cried myself to and from work for nearly two years. I’m sure I wasn’t the best driver on the road during that time! I try to remember that when I get impatient. And I try to remember that the old guy in the hat drifting around his lane who irritates the daylights out of me is probably going to have his license—and thus his independence—removed soon, and that really sucks for him.

I love a nice smooth ride. I go home at lunchtime during the week to let the dogs out, so I’m on the road multiple times a day. It’s just lovely when everyone is driving smoothly at or just above the speed limit, using their signals, moving into the lane they need with plenty of time to spare, and allowing others to move around as well. When backed-up traffic remembers to leave intersections clear for others to turn, when people wave each other in and wave thanks, when drivers show some planning and consideration—that’s good drive.

 

 

 

 

 

Saw this movie: Ex Machina (not recommended)

CAUTION: There are so many spoilers in here I can’t even. But don’t worry, it’s not worth watching anyway.

So not only have I not been sleeping well for weeks, I am now in Week Two of some hybrid flu / cold that started as fever and shakes and chills and has now evolved into a runny nose and phlegmy cough. I’ve barely walked the dogs for ages and they are getting tired of the confines of the back yard. My house is a mess and I am choosing to pretend this is because I am sick and tired (just work with me on this one). Mostly what I do in the evenings after a long day of functioning at work  is pop cold meds like candy and watch Netflix while wrapped in a quilt and pinned into place by various dogs and cats. Continue reading

Canadians: Go vote right this instant!!!!

Dear Canadians: Have you voted yet? If not, get your butt out the door.

Stop Harper.

Vote for anyone but the Conservatives. Vote to take back our country. Vote to show you care about protecting our environment, supporting scientific research, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, educating the children, employing the willing, sheltering the homeless, supporting the arts, taxing big business and giving the “little people” a break, already. Vote for transparency and empathy and compassion and community. Vote for survival, clean water, clean air, employment, health care, education, beauty, art, research, and all the other good things that create a societal fabric.

Vote strategically for whatever candidate in your riding has the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. And don’t give me any “I’m-too-ethical-to-vote-strategically” bullshit, either. We compromise every day, people. Every day you go to work and sell your time / labour / energy for money to pay your rent, you are compromising. Every time you engage in social intercourse and the normal give-and-take of everyday life, you are compromising. It’s a way to sacrifice short-term desires for a greater long-term goal. Let’s get the boot of the “Harper Government” off our necks, vote in a new Canadian Government, and start holding it accountable for its actions.

I’ve barely slept for nearly six weeks. Today, I finally went in to see the doctor about it. I stopped to vote on the way. There was a group of people at the wrong entrance of the building, holding their Voter Information Cards and looking confused. I called over to them “Vous venez voter? Are you here to vote?” They all nodded yes. “It’s over here, par ici. Stop Harper!”

So then I went to my clinic. (Free health care. On demand. No fees or premiums. Using the sick time I have through my workplace thanks to labour activists and unions.) My nurse practitioner had called in sick today, so I had a doctor I hadn’t met before. We shook hands and I asked if he’d voted yet. He was taken aback. “Nooo, I was going to do it on my way home.” I asked him if he knew where his voting station is. “You can look it up at elections.ca, you know. We have to stop Harper!”

Since I was there anyway for the insomnia, and it’s time for my annual checkup, I stripped down and hopped onto the table for my pap test. As I was on my back with my knees spread, wincing at the cold speculum, I was holding my phone up, reminding my social network peeps to vote. Vote! Stop Harper! The chaperone was aghast: “Are you taking a selfie????” “No,” I told her. “I am reminding people to vote. Have you voted yet? We have to stop Harper.”

Go vote. It’s not much power, a single vote. But it’s a power that you have in your own hands. Exercise it. Vote for change. Vote for someone new. Maybe the new boss will be the same as the old boss. But we know the old boss far too well. Stop Harper, and stop letting any boss get the boot on us. Let the new boss make mistakes, and hold them accountable, and expect them to do better. That’s the real power. Get rid of Harper and then get vocal. We are stronger together.

Dining with Omnivores

Recipe for bean and avocado salad. Go light on the onions, heavy on the avocado and cilantro and hot peppers, and don't fuss too much about the types of beans.

Recipe for bean and avocado salad. Go light on the onions, heavy on the avocado and cilantro and hot peppers, and don’t fuss too much about the types of beans.

It’s amazing how quickly some people lose their shit when I tell them I don’t eat meat. I make a real effort not to get into that conversation unless it’s absolutely necessary. But this past weekend, I went with a friend to her sister’s cabin for a girls’ weekend with my friend, her sister (whom I’d only met once for under a minute), and two of her sister’s friends (total strangers to me).

In situations like this, I try to be self-sufficient, food-wise. I don’t feel comfortable saying “Hey, stranger, thanks for inviting me to stay at your lovely cabin. And by the way, here’s how you have to rearrange your food plans to accommodate me!” Continue reading

Children: To Hit or Not to Hit? (spoiler: NOT!)

The text in this image can be found at the bottom of the post.

Children Learn What They Live poem by Dorothy Law Nolte from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/158159649/Children-Learn-What-They-Live

Another facebook friend is advocating hitting children. In the wake of another local bullying incident, my news feed is once again spattered with variations on the meme of “If there was more of THIS {image of a child being spanked}, there’d be less of THIS {image of young criminals*}.” Continue reading

Dog Meat for Dinner?

A picture of a black dog and her nursing puppies.

The Brindle Dog with her mom and siblings. Not snacks despite how plump and juicy they all seem.

“But think of the sweet PUPPIEEEES!!”

Of course I don’t want dog meat for dinner. But it makes me spitting mad when people who eagerly devour pigs and cows get all sentimental about others eating dogs. Because: Continue reading