Thursday, August 24, 2017

My Daughter's Hair is Always in her Face

The strands of hair around her face are not
kept but collective forward-
falling agents tasked to rebel against whatever pig
or pony that nasty coloured
straight-jacket conformist weapon is just let me merge with the long 
dark lashes they all comment upon
"beautiful beautiful beautiful" while this mass of whisp tangled
neither brown nor yellow endures comb
brush cloth endless fingers "get out
of the eyes away
from the face and curl or fluff or stay" 


and all the while the lashes admired but untouched pretend
to side with the humans but blush
with every interference

Sunday, July 2, 2017

We moved. Not to our permanent, life-long, forever home, but to a transitory space with some of our things in the town that we'll call "our town" up until the time our bodies are lowered down into the dirt to rest. So far, I've learned that "we don't go" to the one grocery store (out of two) in town because Auntie Betty was fired from there for no reason 15-20 years ago. My mom laughed; said that I'd better conjure up a disguise so I can go in there for whatever product I happen to want from there that isn't at the Co-Op without being discovered. Aside from getting violently ill for a night and a day with another day for recovery, I've been happy. Sure, the mom who invited me to meet at the pool showed up 45 minutes late just as we were leaving, but she apologized; I spent the entire time going up and down the water-slide anyway (not exactly visit-able) and I haven't had anyone suggest a play-date with me in Regina for probably a year--so I'll take it. I could do without the ticks, but Deep Woods OFF seems to work, so it's just a simple toss-up between cancer-causing agent and lyme disease. There's a cougar in the area, but no one seems to be too concerned about it. A tiny library exists just across the street from my mother-in-law's, the kind with the two steps down into the children's area and about five shelves of adult books available, but who cares about that when you can just order whatever book you want from any library in Saskatchewan anyway? I'm watching my driving. THUE is plastered on my back licence plate, a known and established name in these parts. Can't go making my reputation as the crazy passer, speeder, or one who doesn't stop at the four-ways. I almost chose the wrong MD, so I corrected that before the appointment. The sign that says "turn right" by the hospital is old, so you don't actually need to go the long way around; it's legal to turn left there. Co-Op's open till 6pm. Auntie Ruth works at the second-hand place on Wednesdays. Should sign up for swim lessons in mid-July. Cousin Melissa will be at the pool after 4pm most days with her son, Owen; that's Auntie Chris's daughter. I haven't been able to figure out what that one bird is by its call. Sounds owl-ish (Eden calls it an owl), but I think maybe it's some kind of dove.

It's bizarre I'll be here for the rest of my life, near this small town, kids at these schools, seeing those Moms for the next 18 years. I drove down the highway back from the farm and didn't meet one soul.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"The only thing you can depend on is yourself," he said to me after I had vented about how squeamish and flaky people are, threatening to sever all ties as we move physically and non-physically into phase two of our lives, and delete my Facebook account so that people who don't actually give a care about who I am can't spy on me and feel as though they've done something good that day, and neither can I to them.

So this thing happened where I tried to arrange a reunion among my college schoolmates, many of whom I hadn't seen or communicated with for ten years. I started by communicating with some of the people I had been close to during my time there, asking if they thought it was a good idea. They did. So I started a Facebook group page and added a bunch of people, and got interest there, too. So I did thing like put polls on to figure out the date and location of the event. People voted, things were decided. June came along, very close to the date, and the last-minute details needed to be arranged, but no one was willing to spend their time for input, so the venue wound up being a little less desirable (it was joined to a larger event for convenience, and because it was free, but we had hopes of getting a private room to ourselves, which didn't happen.)

As you can guess, very few showed. I left feeling happy to have caught up with the four that showed, but feeling sorry for making those that did come take time out of their day for such a disappointing event, and resentful at those who had taken the time to give interest and vote on time and location and then not bother to show or let others know they were not coming.

It spurred me to take things to the next level in a thought-process that has long been running, and delete my Facebook account. Not a huge, life-altering moment, I agree; I simply decided that the Facebook style of feeling like you're all caught up in everybody's lives by scrolling down a screen, intermittent with ads and useless who likes what business or game information, privy to private information in people's lives of which I have no relationship whatsoever, no matter how well I used to know them -- including family, by the way-- was not for me.

I mean, I'm easily a 2/10 when it comes to "social capability and prowess." I do not thrive. I have always had very few close friends (ie. 1-2), and any attempt, such as this blasted reunion, I have made at re-connecting or establishing any kind of connection with any kind of group in the past 2-4 years, has not been met with reciprocation or really much of anything. People are too busy. People live in places where they are surrounded by their families, where they feel supported by their church, where they are busy during the work-time hours and want to veg it out in their spare time with their immediate family. But most critically, people live in a social media world where they don't feel the need to catch up in the physical world, and who are content to flake out on whomever they like whenever they like because the relationship isn't there; their relationship is with Facebook, not people. I'm not saying I don't get it; I'm a flake, sure. I get nervous talking on the phone. I avoid rather than confront. But I'm moving on, or at least that's the general idea of what I intend to do by deleting my account. I mean, I'm barely in contact two out of three of my siblings. I'm sure part of it is age, this stage of life, our generation, maybe, but it's unforgivable to me, to live in such a world where I receive updates on the whereabouts and wellbeing of my family on a public site. And it's on me, by allowing personal relationships to be replaced by a screen.

So that's it. I'm done. Bye, bye, Facebook. Thank you for allowing me to communicate with my now-spouse when we were too shy to talk in person and I didn't own a cellphone or understand how T9 worked. You are handy for arranging group meets even when nobody shows, and for people trying to sell items, neither of which I'm particularly interested in. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Donald Trump's inauguration has happened, and social media has exploded with the angry liberal against the angry conservative, both coming up with offensive slogans for the other. Trump supporters claim they united and got on board under Obama, wondering why on earth the mad liberals won't do the same. Liberals can't understand how anyone could be a Trump supporter given what he has said, his character, and so forth. One side says, "Give the guy a chance," the other side says, "He's had his chance. We've listened carefully to what he says and we reject it." It's funny if you can stop being horrified for a few seconds. I mean, come on, alternative facts? I'm not sure if anyone can legitimize that, no matter whose side your own, although I'm sure there's a way. The pussy-grabbing statement had a decent rebuttal from some well-put-together video stating facts about how crass Americans are in terms of who watches pornography and likes cheap entertainment and dirty lyrics, so why should Trump be any different.

It's opening up grounds to argue just about anything. Feminism. White privilege. Racism. Morality.

Can you be a feminist and be pro-life? Can you be a Christian and support Donald Trump? Can you be a Christian and a liberal? Can you support Trump and value equality? Should the term feminism exist? Do dirt-poor whites still deserve the label "white privileged"? Should Trump be held morally accountable?

What I argue is at the very core of every debate is the question of truth-- and truth and morality are wed. Morality is changing; it's subjective; it's dependent on a source of authority (or Authority) and that source of authority is changing. We live in a world of information, where one (professional, educated, credible) person can make a valid position for why abortion is right and another for why it is wrong, or a (professional, educated, credible) person can make a debate for why Trump's promise to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth is a good claim and another that it is evil. It gets personal fast because it's an attack on how a person perceives goodness, righteousness, morality. Isn't that what makes us human? So we resort to child-like name-calling, just like the political campaigns themselves, until it gets violent, and even then that violence is either labelled just (punching Richard Spencer, for example), or unjust (damaging and ruining property in protest).

Does truth exist? Credible, educated individuals argue opposite perspectives on any topic you can dream of. Is it just that one side is corrupt, spouting lies as truth? Does doublethink really exist? Is the world really going to melt or isn't it? Is abortion right or wrong? Give us simple answers, we beg.

I do believe in truth, and I do believe in morality, but I also believe in complexity. In all of this, I advocate a devotion to seeking, asking, and knocking, a devotion to complexity, to revision. But in reality, my heart starts pounding and my hands start shaking and I start sweating when I dive in, and I just say idiot, idiot, idiot.


Friday, January 20, 2017

We just keep throwing the boomerang.

My neighbour won't get her big pile of tree-branches off her lawn, which also drapes a few feet on to my own lawn. It's been about two months since her water line broke and the city came to fix it and had to saw off a decent chunk of one of her trees. It bothers me, and it bothers me that it bothers me. It's just a pile of sticks. It's winter; everything is dead under the snow anyway. It's not killing my already almost-dead potentilla bush that's under all that somewhere. But still, I have to beat back passive-aggressive rage at least once a day when I look at it.

They don't keep a very clean yard. As a person who's planning on selling her home a few months down the line, it does effect the external aura of my home that buyers will sniff out, for sure. This is where my brain goes: People don't want to stare at a few broken-down vehicles next door for months on end. People don't want to stare at a pile of dead branches for months on end. But listen to me. I just said "people" when I should have said "people like me--white people, middle-class people, people who don't have better things to do than to think about a state of tidiness in the neighbour's yard and how that state of untidiness overlaps onto my property line."

Other people don't care about that stuff--my neighbours for one. I heard a radio program state that middle-class (white) folks see their yards as reflecting themselves. It's so petty, so see-through-obvious that it's just a consumer lie to keep us busy on things that have no value whatsoever. A scruffy-looking home doesn't at all reflect on whether or not someone is a good person, but that's what I've been taught to believe, and that's the vomit I have to swallow back down when I realize I am just living out some stupid fantasy some idiots dreamed up insisting that people who are valuable are people that are:

- on time
- tidy
- extroverted
- hygenic
- only have body hair in certain areas
- have certain facial features
- attain a certain body-shape
- wear trendy apparel
- dress their children and house and car and cellphone in trendy apparel

Do I really have to tell myself that it doesn't matter if my lawn is a universal shade of green? That an empty shelf doesn't have to be filled with knick-knacks? That I am harming a human being when I do not consider the ethics of where my food comes from? That my self-confidence cannot stem from my outfit or body weight?

There's this nifty bible passage where Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees of the day for being self-righteous teachers who viewed the Law as a list of dos and don'ts for getting into heaven, while they were terrible human beings. We humans are drawn to simplicity: cause and effect, black and white. Do this, and get that.

If you have a tidy house you are a ____ person.
If you have a large house, you are a ______ person.
If your children's faces are always dirty, you are a ______ person.

The world is not black and white. It's complex. We know this, but we ignore it. At the end of Jesus' sermon, he says when you hear his words (as in, from the Christian perspective, the truth) you need to put them into practice. Comprehension without action is meaningless. I think this is true of any time we become aware of a truth. Oh, people suffer on account of my having coffee every morning. Switch to fair trade. Oh, it's not good for my body to eat so much artificial sugar. Reduce and eliminate. Oh, when I buy a new outfit every few weeks, I'm just getting sucked into consumer culture. Stop. Oh, when I buy X from Y, the people who produce X are suffering. Stop supporting those companies.

Of course it's hard. But if we don't beat to death these lies preached to us from both visible and invisible parts of our culture, lies about entitlement and comfort and security and self-worth and the nothing-is-too-much crap -- if we are complacent, if we are aware that we are harming another human and yet feel no desire to stop that act, we are ceasing to be human. When I know that I am just another wolf in some kind of deer-feeding frenzy, I have to stop. The world does not have my best interests at heart. If we do not question the irrational way we think, such as feeling passive-aggressive or questioning the "goodness" of a neighbour for simply leaving a pile of dead tree on her lawn, we're the cogs. We know the truth but don't act, because we're lazy, because we like the simple formulas that give us purpose and meaning, things that keep us busy and comfortable. We are losing grip on humanity. We are objects traded and used for wealth, and we are actively participating in it, complying, we are saying yes, use me! Use them! Please! 

We just keep throwing the boomerang.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

She selected photographs of herself that made her look the most thin. She had to squint at herself in the mirror, blur the edges, to find beauty in herself, and beauty was seen in the skinniness of the thighs, the waist, the calves, the ankles. She didn't like her breasts to look too large because it seemed to her to highlight the width of her shoulders. "Are you kidding me?" her boyfriend would say, and she would laugh. "You don't understand," she'd reply. She always wanted herself to be photographed from top to bottom -- "Get my feet in, too," she'd say -- but was always disappointed in the results. She would practice poses in the mirror, knee out, knee in, shoulders forward, back, to see what could be highlighted and hidden. When someone told her about a woman whose face had been mauled by a pet chimpanzee, she had asked "Was she pretty?" before she could keep herself in check. When a new woman was introduced on her favourite TV show, she wondered aloud why the character wasn't more attractive. "But I guess he isn't attractive," she says of a male lead. "It's so unfair, how men can be this and that, unjudged, carrying an extra fifteen pounds. Old newscasters are coveted, revered. Taken seriously. Who cares if he has a gut? But her, she has to be pretty." She scrolls through Pinterest, searches best jeans to hide fat thighs and is disappointed with the lack of results. "Ugh, they're all so thin, so perfect," she says to her boyfriend, then diverges onto a topic of a nuimage billboard she saw the other day. "It used some kind of funny twist of words on Merry Christmas, -- oh yes, Merry Christmas and a Happy New you, it said-- how offensive! A Christmas advertisement on getting your fat sucked from your butt," she laughs. "How ridiculous. Whatever happened to charity. Christmas really is dead. Something that used to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus is now a means for indulgence of the most selfish nature. What has this world come to? I can't imagine supporting a business like that." She shakes her head, switching to Facebook now. "Ah, the real world," she continues, turning the laptop so that he can see."Check it out: skinny Sal ain't so skinny no more." She laughs.
These are things that bother me:

- how normal it is for the evildoer in any kid or adult show to have some kind of accent (for eg. a Sunday school Christmas movie has the couple with child -- a couple of turtles -- as outsiders not having an accent, and the local evildoers, I think it was a crab with a sidekick, with thick accents). Perpetuating fear of the other in our littles?

-  Eden likes to ask me to look up images on my phone from time to time. She says "nose," and I image search it. All the noses are white noses. I search "toes," same thing (also some gross images of weird fungal toes, as a warning). I search arm, or eyes, same thing. White white white white white white white. I search "babies," they're all light-skinned. Good grief even if you search "yellow" or "blue" there are varying shades.