The (Almost) Daily

Here’s what’s happening in my life today:

February 20th, 2017

Ever since last year, I’ve realized how hard it is for me to make political convictions. The more I learn, the more my opinion changes. The more complex the problem gets.

So yeah, it’s ultra-hard to talk about this organism that is the politicos of my generation. I’m paralyzed by what I might not know. And I don’t like learning through someone yelling information at me. I like looking at all perspectives. I like deliberating. I like coming to my own conclusions, and then I like testing those conclusions over and over again, rehashing them a thousand more times until they’re a sharp blade– but again: not one of conviction.

So how do I bring it into my sphere? How can I conceptualize this “problem” that is basically indescribable, and which has only arisen in the form of sweat, and guilty tears, and maybe the worst, this great awful fatigue, and turn it into something I can process, healthily, instead of angrily? I mean, that’s how the conversations I am listening to ALL THE TIME go on around me: in circles as one person miscommunicates, and then the next, and then the next, until no one is talking about what they started talking about. There’s hardly time to even have an opinion, publicly.

Silver Lining?

I think I just figured out how to tie it all together under a kind of coherent, observational interest. The theme?

Censorship.

Okay, I can’t lie, that word sends thrills through my bones. It all started in a dusty old classroom in early spring, back when I wasn’t paying attention to much anything except myself. Assignment? Read Milton’s Areopagitica.

My half-remembered summation at 10:22PM, sitting in the dark? That in Areo, Milton was talking about Censorship in relation to morality. His argument, if it can be extracted from it’s religious context, oscillates two ideas: the idea of the good, and its marked opposite, evil. Surrounding his main points seems to lie the assumption that it is not an idea which can be “right” or “wrong,” but a human being. It is they who can create their own morality by allowing themselves to be open and exposed to all sides before choosing which action or ideology they think to be either “right” or “wrong”.

Now, it should be said that a lot of my ideas about this dichotomy of “right” and “wrong” have been tempered by research into the origins of the meaning of Karma, whereby, (according to my interpretation of the Bhagavad Ghita) a being cannot for themselves determine the ethics or morality of their actions (because they do not and cannot and must not know the future), and because of this, the only thing they may do is move forward, without being paralyzed by fear at doing wrongly. They must try to live dutifully and honourably in their life, and only later, when all is said and done, will they know whether that action should be considered “good” or “bad.”

So, what does all of this rambling have to do with politics right now? To be honest, it’s still a jumble. I’m actually using this writing to get out some of the knots.

Suffice it say, the thing that had me opening up my computer to type all of this was this phenomenon of “Fake News” that everyone is quite riled up about. And I think it’s connection to censorship, at least in the most obvious sense, lies in this notion that many are clinging to: that attacking the free press is plain unlawful dictatorial censorship.

Ouch. I just felt you flinch a little.

Let me explain. I think that the way Donald Trump and his administration have been handling PR and media issues surrounding the issue of “Fake News” without finesse. Think about it. Just like I talked about above, there are times when I’ll bring up a political issue and get drowned out by aggression and anger. In no time, the situation can escalate to an all-out yelling match. Both “sides” are on the defence. Neither “side” is listening. And because neither side is listening, neither side will get any closer to “truth.”

So I bring this situation back, and project it on two “sides” or “players” — Donald Trump, and America’s Media Body (though I know it is dangerous to lump all media players under one heading, just bear with me). Both are so riled up past recognition right now, that they are attacking each other with the kind of vengeance that doesn’t require logic, and which only feasts on the emotions of the “People.” And like never before, there exists a cycle of information that relays from the news, to the White House, and back to the news again… it’s no wonder things seem to be getting confusing.

But through all of this bullshit, I felt something.

It’s the revelation that the arguments surrounding Fake News and Censorship need to acknowledge something that they might not be. And yes, I think it has something (of course, since I’m so obsessed with it) to do with miscommunication.

See, Donny’s strife is with his ego, broken by the constant barrage of harassment he has been facing. He’s pissed that news outlets are framing his every word negatively. So, he’s looking at how great he’s felt about one of his actions, and then when he sees it thrown to the wind, under the greatest scrutiny, criticized within an inch of its life, he gets angry. Rightly so, I would say (though I would also like to say, he’s a douche, he just is).

But the key word here is Framing.

Now, if we look to my knowledge of journalism, when one “frames” an occurrence – say, something a President says – within a specific context, it is possible to give that occurrence new meaning. For instance, a dog is let loose in an off-leash park, and ends up causing a traffic accident. Journalists are taught to try and “frame” that occurrence in a way that can speak to larger issues governing our social reality, say, the benefits of keeping your dog on a leash, or whether off-leash dog parks should have better fencing. It’s a technique which keeps readers interested, even when the same thing is happening over and over.

But I’m thinking: if I took a poll, most people would agree that there are definitely Liberal and Conservative leaning news outlets. In my opinion, what has been happening, is that more and more media outlets are “framing” Donald Trump’s presidency through their political leanings–either attacking aggressively, or praising wholeheartedly (YES, I ACKNOWLEDGE THERE ARE GREY AREAS AND MINORITY MEDIA OUTLETS KEEPING AWAY FROM BIAS AS MUCH AS THEY CAN). Donald, because he doesn’t like being “attacked” (in his view, being asked the tough questions), automatically dismisses those who frame his words in a negative sense as Fake News because they are framing his words in a way that, to him, he doesn’t think applies (since he sees himself as the greatest ever). But he hasn’t communicated the intricacies of his problem with anyone. He just says “no.”

On the other hand, these news outlets which are committing themselves so wholeheartedly to a political bias… I think it’s time someone call that out, even if it’s the Trump. It’s just that Donny isn’t doing it very nicely. And now, those media outlets which are being singled out as perpetuating “Fake News” – when really Donald is just pissed about Framing Techniques and Bias – are coming back just as hard, just as tough, and just as stubborn.

It’s upsetting, seeing it all this way: watching as Liberal outlets lambast EVERYTHING Donald says, while Conservative ones propagate the idea that Liberals are the country’s greatest enemy (which, vice versa, everyone hates someone).

And I mean, I get it, people need to be criticizing what they’re criticizing right now. But there are some news stories I’ve seen (on social media, and elsewhere) that are literally taking quotes out of context to prove a point. I’ll watch one clip of a speech, and it will cut off mid-sentence, right before (as is seen in another clip) something contradictory is said. (Again, both “sides” are doing this).

And that, to some extent, could be why people are really jumping on board with hating on media outlets since this long-standing journalistic practice has evolved, and has begun causing some journalists and broadcasters to lose sight of objective fact; Objective Fact here meaning a fact that is neither liberal or conservative.

I say leave it up to us to decide what we love and what we hate. And don’t judge based on a frame. The only way to really see an issue and cut through the bullshit, is to watch every perspective on an event in order to reveal the frame, so that you might be free to see the “real” facts within.

September 22nd/ 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I put my trust and hope into something that the BBC now says was futile from the beginning. But at the time, when I saw the first headline that a truce was in the works for Aleppo, I was lifted up so high I felt like I would never come down.

But today– there is certainty that hope has been deflated to nothing. This morning, BBC News reports the worst bombings to Aleppo in months.

I feel crushed under the weight of empathy– for though I know not the life of bombs and famine, I do understand displacement. I understand not having a home to return to.

And now I understand what it feels like to have an expanding bubble of hope burst by forces that don’t know faces or names, only intent and desire.

Did these civilians even let themselves have the hope that I did? I couldn’t answer that.

All I know is that I am sharing in this well of pain, with the hope that I can alleviate some of the burden for someone else, somewhere.

July 29th/ 2016

That’s the beauty of empathy you see, there are no boundaries that can stop it.

Over the past two weeks, I had the pleasure of reading Teva Harrison’s graphic novel titled, In-Between Days. And even though I knew that the author was far away in South Africa at the time, and even though I don’t have an irreparable disease, I felt closer to Teva while reading than I’ve felt talking to friends in person.

Through her narrative, Harrison touches on her life before and after being diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer, a hereditary disease which has touched many other women in her family. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the dreams she had and lost, or about the thoughts and hopes that have been revealed since. She explains how she felt inside the cage of an MRI. She reminisces about the strength of her family.

And there’s something about this vulnerability and openness that reaches into the heart and touches us. With short chapters and poetic sentences, through hand-drawn pictures and emotion-laden imagery, Teva exposes herself to the world, willfully serving us her deepest darkest fears on a platter.

If that’s not strength, I don’t know what is.

And although her life has been turned around, Teva’s true art comes when she shows readers all of the things that stay the same through hardship. Everything she exposes about herself is relatable on such a human level that it’s impossible not to stand with her and wave at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, or to snuggle up close to her under the stars in Oregon.

The novel made me laugh out loud, it made me hurt. It touched the part of my heart that I have sometimes feared was asleep. It was refreshing to hear some of my own thoughts repeated on a page from a stranger I’ve never met. To find similarities within myself. To be comforted by someone who couldn’t know my past, but who captures it anyway.

How can I close this review but by saying thank you? My eyes have been opened. There is suffering everywhere, but there is joy in connection. And I’ve found that joy In Between the pages of Harrison’s beautiful, thought-provoking, emotion-stirring account of her life with Metastatic Breast Cancer.

July 23rd/ 2016

I’m in fear of the way hate escalates. So quick, I’m already running to hide. 

What am I supposed to do when everything heats up?

July 15th/ 2016

Something that upsets me.

The other day, I was chatting with a past colleague/ peer, and (to be very blunt) I am not the kind of person who gives all of myself away to just everyone. If I love you closely, I’m probably going to take the time to tell you “the whole story”. But if I don’t know you well, I’m going to blurt some non-committal response– especially if I know the person I’m talking to doesn’t really want to hear about me anyway.

So the other day, I’m talking to this old “friend”, and when he asked what I’d been up to, I didn’t have the energy to tell him that I’ve been writing like mad; researching like a dork for a bunch of essay contests; revamping and editing other people’s resumes; working on the LitFest Anniversary Board; running my own online book club; working on an art show (which was this past week and was A HUGE SUCCESS); singing; taking creative photos; and writing for magazines (childhood dream accomplished!) in my spare time.

Instead I went for the usual, “Ah, being a bit lazy…”

Mistake?

Yeah.

I was shocked at what I got in return from someone who’s only access to my personal life is social media.

He said:

“Yeah, that’s pretty apparent.”

Excuse my language, but like, fuck off?

Don’t assume you know everything about a person’s life. And definitely don’t insult someone you might want to work with in the future. Soon after that comment, he asked if I would like to take part in his project, and I thought– hell, more publicity wouldn’t be too bad.

But when I said “sure”?

He said, “Yeah I figured you didn’t have anything else going on.”

I suppose I can’t blame him too much, I certainly didn’t go to any effort to correct him about what was going on. But at that point I was so baffled that someone could underestimate someone else so thoroughly… I didn’t know what to say. There’s also the chance that – had I corrected him – it would have become a kind of “well I’ve done this” ego battle. And I don’t value people who engage so freely in those types of self-confidence killers.

So, don’t judge a person by their social media feeds, and remember that everyone’s got a whole and full soul inside of them just like you do. Don’t ignore them, or brush their talents aside: I know everyone has something to offer.

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July 5th/ 2016

What if people remembered you better?

You know those stories you’ve told someone close to you, those ones you know you haven’t told anyone else? Why does it seem that we (yes, me included) forget those stories when we feel someone has wronged us?

There’s a sort of clusterfuck around this idea of “accepting other people without judgement”. That sentence alone embarks upon a gargantuan myriad of phrases and sayings and opinions and SO ON, which is excellent. I mean, of course only a good philosophical statement can engender such debate.

Around my own cluster treads things like:
“Why does our closest friend become an alien when we’re mad?”

Is it because we forget them? All of their stories? Everything they’ve given us so far to help us “realize” them as a human being?

Must be. I’ve found people so angry with me when they know how my line of thinking works, and more, know how my mouth doesn’t always meet meaning halfway. I’m the kind of person who’s words often require clarification. I often wish most of my speech came with footnotes. Or perhaps if someone would give me a moment to write down my thoughts, then I could explain myself better.

Add that to the recipe and get a marvel of forgetting the qualities of well-meaningness in another person. Aren’t they there just the same as you? Trying their best?

Call me naive, but only in the most socially manipulative cases is the above statement untrue.

So perhaps we must remember before we speak.

Ah, but I know the next time I’m angry I’ll forget.

May 20, 2016

It’s all right angles and rain.

How do I describe the change? Thumbelina coming out of her flower I suppose. Or gem after it’s been mined from barriers of stone.

There isn’t a direction, but there was a shift that was felt deeper than my core, affecting even my memories of the past. A resurfacing of strength that was for a while gone. An understanding where there hadn’t been.

Who am I?

I’ve come a long way now.
How far my travels have taken me.
How much further I’ve got to go.
All brought together by a new self-awareness, a broadening self-image, a more understanding Self.

And every time I try to picture the change, every time I contemplate the image that can stand in for my mood, my life, my perspective:

I am brought to a beach with no one on it. It’s a rainy day, but I’m dressed just right. My cheeks are pink with wind. My ears ache a little from standing out there so long, but still there is welcome the melody and endless love of the uncertainty of the waters before me, frothy and mysterious and… somehow…
Calm.

It’s the feeling of looking out on the water and realizing how small you are, not with sadness or mourning, but with laughter and joy, thrown into the wind and greeting you again until it’s all lost behind you, blown into that thin scraggly path that got you here in the first place.

That’s where I’m vacationing while I listen to the world as it talks to me in so many languages. Used to think it was important for me to say something, to make a change, but now I’m content to allow the universe to grow inside me (now that I finally know what that means).

Thank-you peace.
Thank-you teardrops, thank-you pain,

Thank-you experience,
Thank-you rain.

February 18, 2016

Sense8.

I’ve been feeling, since I watched the entirety of this series’ first season (yet again), that there are no words to describe how this show makes me feel. But, the feeling, it’s so stuck – so embedded in my heart – that there is no way I can let the feeling sit there and tremble within me without saying anything about it.

I can feel my soul. It doesn’t have a heartbeat, there are no nerves which can tie it physically to pleasure, but still it pulses, and grows, and envelopes me with warm hands– a rosy blush or single tear the kind of impact it leaves, just delicate enough it could break if I’m not careful.
It’s how I felt when I realized I wanted to LIVE.
Or how you felt when that baby was crying but somehow those cries brought the peace of humanity into your mind.

This feeling. It’s completely got a hold of me. It’s as if I have been lucky enough to feel the sublime and capture hold of a tiny flake of it. And yes, there is the guilt of holding it in, of making it my own, this thing that everyone deserves to share.

But I cannot let it go from me either. It’s such a ballooning feeling of this kind of joy that sits on my shoulder, looks through my lenses, and helps me identify all the good things in the world. It’s like waking up and feeling alive for the first time in so long. Like those times when we’re lucky enough to know that what we are seeing is real and that there is nothing – not a THING – that anyone could say that could erase that reality. Not even the greatest, most persuasive philosopher.

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Even the most heinous acts have, since watching the show, not had the same effect on me they usual have, which is a depression; no, now they simply scream HUMAN, and I can’t help but think that our destruction is somehow beautiful. Because we’re finite. Not everlasting. And that’s how things should be, lest we lose the wonder of life in itself.

It’s as if…
As if I can feel all the threads connecting us. Can see the connections in this tapestry where I had felt them before but couldn’t believe in them for all the hatred pouring in from all sides. And now they’re there: bright and glowing and REAL. Like the way music can send your heart into the clouds.

A curtain’s been drawn; it’s as if I’ve come up over a tall hill to see the first of the days’ sun. Like watching a bird while laying on your back on a bed of grass. Watching a tiny ant as it loses itself in a tumblage of underbrush. All these smalls things, welling up into new and bigger and better things, all because of a tiny shift, a tiny message, unintentionally gifted to me by those goddamn Wachowski’s.

January 7th, 2016

It’s happened again, this friend-passing. I’m coming to believe it’s commonplace from all the quotes I’ve seen about moving on from people who don’t “fit” you anymore.

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum; have been “friend-dumped” and have done some serious “friend-dumping”. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though. I don’t view the action negatively like I used to.
It feels natural, to be honest. That’s one of my biggest joys in life, the overwhelming tide of people I’ve met, come to know, and either forgotten or cherished, whether purposefully or for reasons out of my hands.

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This most recent one, it’s come at the cost of miscommunication, and my often troubling inability to be sensitive. Oh, how my friend Emily could tell you stories of my inability to be sensitive (haha)…

But it wasn’t her that this happened with.

This time, it was with a girl I’ve known for quite some time, who I met under strange circumstances that you’d never expect to bloom to friendship. But that was the beauty of it I think. We didn’t have to hang out often, or everyday, but every time she put a new perspective on troubles I was having, perspectives that clarified everything. It was refreshing. I could learn from her. She taught me a lot.

But as time passed, so did we. I watched her become more social, watched her hang with a different crowd. Watched her succeed and fail. All that time I was barely swimming outside of myself, so wrapped up in the nihlistic fight (which I happily, finally resolved) that I stopped paying attention to a lot of things because I was too busy trying to delete things from my life that were bringing me down.

It was around then that I learned the philosophy of cutting ties with things that bring anxiety. I won’t say the philosophy doesn’t have flaws. I think that’s what’s gotten me into trouble this time, to be honest. But suddenly, I felt the power to create goodness in my life by surrounding myself with goodness and peace instead of stress (this stress, stemming from my also detrimental inability to always speak up when someone says or does something that bothers me. I prefer instead to just forget about it and move on, until enough of those circumstances pile up to force the decision to just go away from them for a while).

I remembered that Lauren had always done me well. She cooked for me, offered parts of herself to me that I know she doesn’t give to other people. She took the care and effort to bring colour into my life. There really isn’t another person like her: strong, wise, and the best story-teller I know.

But there were parts of her I was beginning to see, parts I didn’t really like. (Please. Just because I didn’t like them, just because I saw them, that doesn’t mean that the following is true. It was just my impression.) She’d begun to see herself as my teacher. She’d taught me a lot, changed me a lot. Seen me cry probably more than anyone because she shifted corners of my life that I couldn’t shift alone. But, suddenly, I realized she wasn’t letting me teach her anything in return.

We would have conversations, where I learned a lot about her history I won’t soon forget. But, my comments, they had become null. Anything I said was returned with a “no, I think it’s this way” sort of comment. I remember a couple of times being told “Oh Jessica, your 24 is showing.”

As a person who has devoted her life to learning and exploring the human realms of knowledge, I don’t consider myself dumb. Yes, I am not an expert in many things. But my cast of knowledge is a work in progress, just like everyone’s. When I see myself becoming… “teachery” to people because I feel above them, I feel ashamed, and try my hardest to correct my behaviour because I know it doesn’t feel good being treated that way. But she was treating me that way. It ate at me.

Which isn’t to say she was all bad. She isn’t at all bad, actually. Like I said, bright, passionate, and a great writer with a big heart. I can’t even say she was feeling “teachery” in the way I’ve described. Again, this could be all on my end, my perceptions. But it was on my mind. I could point out right away when I felt this was happening, and the stress became more latent. I wanted her to think I was smart too!

(It’s all in the ego.)

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What happened then, I can’t really explain. I tried to fit too many things into one afternoon, and couldn’t make the plans she and I had made the day prior fit into the other ones I already had. My… voicing, when I told her I had to cancel, was insensitive. My excuses – because that’s all they are – were that I was exhausted from a long day at work and socializing, and didn’t have the energy to put niceness into my messages.

In the end, maybe it would have saved a lot of face if I had of just been nicer, or kept the plans (grocery shopping together) and cancelled my other ones (hanging with the BF), but her response was so aggressive… I didn’t know what to do except keep being insensitive. Which resulted in a blowout she made clear could never be rectified.

I was surprised, and excited then, when I found a sweet little gift for me outside my door from her. I thought it meant friendship, and texted her to see if she wanted to hang out and have a quick chat for old-times sake. But I got no response.

Day after day, the gift sat in my room, in a place of prominence. Every time it reminded me of how she hadn’t texted back. My crazy brain started believing it was some kind of… mean gesture. As if she had just placed it there to remind me that she’s the nice person and I’m not. She was on facebook everytime I logged on, saying funny things that I missed, but the idea that she was still acting like she was better than me poisoned my mind–I unfriended her. She texted me on Christmas to say hi, but I couldn’t respond. I was done by that point. Confused past reckoning.

Writing this now I see I acted like a child. But in the moment, with the gift staring at me and reminding me of it all, I thought someone else should benefit from the beautiful – but now in my mind tainted – gift, I gave it away to another friend of mine who loved the pattern.

Literally two days later, I saw Lauren. She looked all cool and happy, with a new haircut, talking to a friend I didn’t know. We shared a tentative wave. When she texted me later I answered, thinking this was going to be the time we would come back to being friends.

But, when I didn’t respond for a few minutes (to be honest, I was looking at fucking memes on Pinterest), she showed signs of uncertainty, and assumed I didn’t want to mend things. She mentioned I had unfriended her, and I told her the truth, that it had been giving me bad vibes… but that was it. I didn’t get a chance to explain… she didn’t even ask why. It was suddenly a bunch of assumations on her part (as I had my own all along, I can’t blame her) about forgiveness, love, and friendship. She asked me to break the gift I had gotten her, but I didn’t want to break it… plus I couldn’t: I had already given it away.

But it was insensitive to be open and honest about it. But I still was.

That was the last straw kind of deal. We aren’t friends any longer. But I’m already leaving the anger at the result behind and reminding myself that maybe it was for the best, and maybe we can go on to learn different lessons from other people.

Good luck.

November 23rd, 2015

Here’s an in the moment post; no agenda.

There’s a blizzard outside, I’m listening to the deeply invigorating drum of Western Indian music that’s always calling me somehow, from my past. I guess you’d have to be me to understand why that is (fully), but I can say it’s because I grew up in a town that taught me a lot about Native American history and culture, and I found some parts of it so overwhelmingly meaningful, that I honestly believe that being exposed to their culture at such a young age is what led me to be as passionate as I am about my interest in differing cultures in general, whether it be in the form of myths, language, music, story, history, philosophy; or differing ideas when it comes to religion, spirituality, science, or politics.

For me, there is something a part of every culture, of every viewpoint, that has good in it. Even the most evil are fighting for something. And that something is so boundlessly connected with every other something in the universe that, it makes me wonder whether humanity will be remembered as Douglas Adams thought we would.

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I watched a documentary called Winter on Fire that, in the midst of what’s happening on the other side of the world – currently, always – showed me strength, and gave me a glimpse of what human resolve is capable of. And it was that amid all the confusion which gave me a little bit of peace.

But it also gave me a little bit of torment, those war shots.

They actually gave me this picture in my head, during the opening sequence:

I felt large. Like I could make a difference.

But then it came to me that I was only human-sized, and shouting hopelessly from one of the concrete rooftops into the ash falling around the armored figures on the ground, fighting for their lives. I had blue hair, white skin, wore a long blue dress with an endless lace shawl draped all around me, hair whipping in the wind, eyes shining like razors, lips torn apart in the shouting of one pleading word above the din of gunshots, a word that in the moment felt triumphant, but is found to be useless and small, lost among the agonized cries of the dying on the ground, mercilessly taken by bullets that have fought through flesh, muscle, and bone, and have emerged triumphant.

The word was Stop.

I’ll take that as a sign.

November 16, 2015

Anyone looking up at me, through the window where bright turquoise curtains flow, would see the serene blank face of a First-World citizen, gazing out with eyes full of possibility and wonder at the bare, swaying trees underneath a glowing painter’s sky.

But the me that’s inside my head, the little me that has taken refuge behind the abstract files and boxes near the back of my brain, is afraid, and feels very, very alone.

This is no hysterical fear. There are no tears shed, no words or screams or hatred uttered; there is no blame to be sent. The fear is calm, spread throughout the whole of the little imaginary body, in a resting state. It is unfounded, has no base, but remains nonetheless.

Eyes glazed on the setting sun, I try to prod little me out from the boxes with empty, hopeless phrases I don’t really believe will help.

“We are lucky. There are no bombs here,” I say wearily.

Little me turns her expansive, void-like stare to my mind’s eye and says,

“No. Not yet.”

September 28th/ 2015

I’m upset. Incensed. I think I just roared aloud actually. (Poor Neighbors).

Because of this article, and many others, which deem the work of Emma Sulkowicz as “making an exhibitionist fool of herself” because of her reaction to the unfair circumstances of what some articles refer to as her “alleged rape”.

Aha. The word “alleged”. Fuckers.

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I mean, look at the documentary released in 2012 titled The Invisible War, which speaks about the unimaginable number of cases where women in the military – IN THE MILITARY – have had their rapist exonerated because there was no evidence, just like in Emma’s case. Will no one listen?

All of the google articles related to Miss Sulkowicz are negative, inflammatory, and all of them act as a metaphoric stone being thrown at her for actually speaking up. Are we back in the 1100’s here?

Listen. I don’t think anyone who was only “allegedly” raped would commit to spending eight months of her academic year carrying around a mattress. For me, the timeline confirms her resolve toward showing the world that she has to carry the burden of her rape, like so many other men and women, but that she will not be silent like so many others have been forced to be. And it shows that even with all of the criticism, even with all the people telling her to put the mattress down and shut up, she isn’t going to go away.

But the hatred’s breaking my heart this morning. It really is.

So here’s to all of us silent ladies (and gentlemen), who have had it happen but continue to push forward to forget the unforgettable. And here’s my PLEDGE that I will continue to support diligent men and women like Emma on their fight to freedom.

LATER:

I want to speak more toward Rex Murphy’s Article, and not only on what has angered me so greatly:

Giving this some more thought, I believe Rex’s whole argument is centered on his frustration that our Education System is flawed, and is often hindered by the drawback of not “successfully” educating every single child in every single area of knowledge that we (as a culture) possess. He does not execute well in providing base for his argument though, and instead rests on attacking examples of academic work he does not subjectively support. It is unfortunate that he imbues his disagreement regarding this current set of affairs with a kind of smug anger that collapses the diversity of the mentioned individuals and projects into a heading of “made-by-those-who-know-nothing”. On that, I disagree. Although I have had some questionable teachers and teaching experiences – the kind that would make Mr. Murphy write another terrifying article on education – ALL of my education has (regardless of content, regardless of whether the date of The Battle of Ypres stayed with me) been successful in harboring within me a critical and broad mind. I was, in fact, introduced to Milton, and although arguments have been made toward his misogyny, I still found his criticism of censorship to be integral to my own (still-being-cultivated) perspective on the matter. And I’ve learned BECAUSE OF MY “LOW” HUMANITIES EDUCATION how to point out a fallacy in an argument.

And yours has one Mister Rex.

Accept Exploration, not Defamation of Inspiration.

September 25th/ 2015

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I needed to know MORE about how our political parties were functioning; wanted to know what kinds of future action each faction supported. So I referred myself to this article which nicely lays out each party’s stance on a variety of topics. I’ve decided to include, for those of you who are interested, a running commentary on said article, as well as subsequent links that force me to question the validity of some stances. Obviously, I am open to criticism, but as a disclaimer this is all in the vein of opinion based on my current base of knowledge. Feel free to argue in a message or comment!

Here we go:

ECONOMY, TAXES, AND POCKETBOOK ISSUES: 

> The Conservatives introduced some things this past term which lead me to think they are really only focusing on those families and individuals who already maintain a middle-class income, rather than those who may desperately need social help. Although there are many tax breaks available now that weren’t before, I worry that this sort of monetary distribution is counter-productive to those aims of balancing the fiscal budget by 2016. And I’m certainly not a fan of increasing the age for which individuals receive Old Age Security; not only do we already ignore the well-being of many of our seniors, it shows that our country is perhaps too optimistic that most of our seniors will be able to work, or function, without that extra added income, well into their sixties. I suppose the silver lining is that he is opening the conversation to revamp and expand the current CPP system, but I don’t see these discussions forming into real change anytime soon.

> Our NDP party seems to be forming their stance as a reaction to the very conservative changes I’ve just discussed, though the silver lining is this fifteen dollar a day plan for national child care which, I believe, will alleviate a lot of stress with regard to child care (prices are CRAZY), and will actually allow a lot of single mothers or fathers to use their Universal Child Care Benefit for something other than daycare. I agree with cancelling the conservative government’s income-splitting policy, though the reasoning listed in the article says it helps only the wealthiest fifteen percent, when according to this article in Maclean Magazine, it’s the middle-class who benefit the most. Whatever the statistic, the plan still does nothing in terms of adequately helping low-income families, so I’m already over it.

> I’m all for taxing the upper-class! But does that make me an asshole? I can’t be sure. I think though, it is a nice way to funnel excess funds back into the economy. Sorry dude, I guess you won’t be able to afford your third car.

> I really approve of the Green Party’s incremental stance, they actually put forward a time-line under which it might be possible to actually accomplish their set aims. I think each of these points would and could be extremely effective in altering our current state of affairs, and they fall outside the bounds of what the other parties are arguing. I think though, the person who penned this article got a little lazy… he didn’t even bold this party’s heading!

SECURITY AND TERRORISM

> At first, I was shocked to see that the Conservatives managed to get themselves a “parliamentary police”, but after reading this article, I think it makes more sense why those measures were taken. I obviously support the increased contributions to the RCMP, but I cannot say much for the over-all changes. It just seems as if Canada is so afraid of terrorism that it’s forgetting all our other problems. Maybe I just don’t really understand war tactics. Huh.

> WOO! I think I fully support the NDP with their war measures. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be a part of the killings in Iraq and Syria. It hurts my heart.

> I’m pretty into the Liberal refugee centered approach, that is, IF they actually want their military staying there to help and not to participate in bullshit like “friendly fire”. Seems like they’re concerned with centralizing and streamlining what may currently be a bit of a messy system, though I would have to bone up on my knowledge of National Security protocols.

> Again, the Green Party has a really simple campaign that sits on the fringes of what needs to be accomplished. I’m getting the feeling they aren’t concerned with making any big promises they might be liable to keep.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

> Choked on my coffee a little bit reading this segment for The Conservatives. “Oh, yeah, I’m thinking we’ll use a whole bunch of carbon emissions to build these pipelines, which will help distribute more carbon to the environment (as shown in this article)! That’s how we’ll reduce Canada’s CO2 levels!” Hopelessly ridiculous.

> The NDP party’s consideration of a Cap and Trade System seems to me an actual answer (if maybe not the full solution, but it’s at least partial) for the possible reduction of our current CO2 emissions, and the idea includes possible funding for green energy sources. In fact, the NDP’s focus on finally opening the floor for changes in our dependence on oil is really spectacular, especially since the health of our planet is a HUGE concern for me.

> Something in me feels like the Liberal idea of “put[ting] a price on carbon pollution that allows provinces to design their own carbon pricing policies” is somewhat akin to our justice system’s habit of posting bail for a rich delinquent. It’s not going to be a big deal for some of those bigger companies to pay to produce emissions. In fact, this whole section seems sadly vague to me – like the phrase “invest millions” or the colloquial “introduce an environmental review process with more ‘teeth'”. The last three points, though, save their stance a little, as no other party has talked about actual conservation of our land, nor has there been mention of the current subsidies available for the fossil fuel industry, which (according to this website) amount to about $548 billion a year!

> The Greens: I’ve actually wondered whether it’s possible – as a band-aid solution – to revert to coal energy as we continue to develop and source renewable energy resources. I know it might be a step backward in terms of labour (I’m recalling that scene in Titanic when Jack and Rose run through the boiler room filled with sweaty, hard-working men), I do know there is research coming down the pike regarding ways to make mining a thing of the past. However, I don’t think these methods are really an answer. My science fiction brain was really just hoping there was a way to create coal through pressurizing organic material (or chemicals!) in a lab or something. Guess not. . .

INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT:

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> This is maybe the first time in this article I’m on board a little with the Conservatives. I don’t mind a Pubic Transit Fund! Public Transit for all! And it (unlike their other propositions) actually might cut some of our emissions here in Canada.

> Here, again, this Liberal sort of vaguery… Though I do like the idea of having an annual meeting for city mayors. Though it might not really accomplish anything (sometimes meetings can be wasteful), and though it could get expensive to transport every city mayor to Ottawa, it would be nice to have a platform where every mayor can have a chance to speak their mind about infrastructure in their region.

> Oh! High-speed rail is something I could definitely get on board with, as long as it doesn’t involve the death-toll and racism inherent in the rail’s first iteration!

FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE:

> GO NDP WITH YOUR VETERAN ATTENTION. Veterans have had to deal with things I could not even imagine, and maybe more. I would love if they were well taken care of.

> Oooh, Liberals, trying to make nice with the US. Probably a good idea considering their (perceived by me) volatility.

> I really love where the Green’s heads are at in terms of trying to really streamline our fiscal resources. I understand how DND (Department of National Defense) consultants are useful and important, but I think there should probably only be one or two analyzing other countries’ defense systems so we may glean new ideas toward our own defense. I think the Greens really want to make Canada the peaceful, helpful nation we already believe ourselves to be.

SOCIAL ISSUES:

> Here, it seems the Conservatives are concerned with the rise of unemployment, though I cannot say I truly support their proposed methods of depletion. I mean, I understand re-orienting training protocols to better meet employer needs, though I don’t understand why doing something like that would cost so much money. Then again, I am not a politician. Otherwise, trying to help post-secondary schools match their curricula with the needs of employers seems risky, and again, too expensive. These sort of changes might be better accomplished by creating dialogue with teachers and professors to showcase to them how students might be better prepared for the work-force. Then again, I suppose it does require funding in the sense that you need to pay people to do the leg-work for this kind of dialogue. Also, does the government have the end say on education? How much freedom do they have in terms of controlling curricula?

> Yes, I don’t mind the re-instating of the mandatory census as the NDP claim they would do. Numbers are important for a government to function. I used to have a man come to my door and ask me some questions, and it was all over and done with just like that. No problems at all!

> Whoa. The Greens’ desire for a Youth Community and Environment Service Corp sounds really ground-breaking. But then again, I am a sucker for socialist moves.

DEMOCRATIC REFORM AND GOVERNANCE:

> Although I am mostly in favour of trying out this Proportional Representation thing, I don’t oppose the Conservative suggestion of having a national referendum regarding the possible switch from our current structure. But, considering how they are, something seems slithery about this seemingly democratic suggestion.

> I am incredibly supportive of the Liberal suggestion that we strengthen our Access to Information system. I think it would even be beneficial to advertise for the system itself, and make it easily accessible for all audiences, in order to support a more effective democracy. I’m liking the Liberal “openness” they’ve imbued with a lot of their policy.

JUSTICE: (Sadly, I think my laziness keeps me from commenting at all on these issues)

ABORIGINAL ISSUES:

> I’m not a fan of how the Conservative government has decided to deal with surfaced Aboriginal Issues; that is, I don’t support just throwing money at problems in order to make them temporarily “go away”. Although the money budgeted could be put to good use in terms of these issues, there is nothing said specifically about rehabilitation of those people harmed or affected by residential school system, and nothing at all toward creating communication and education spaces for non-reserve residents (indigenous, white, or other-wise) so that we may educate and thus eradicate much of the present hatred and racism currently rampant in our society.

> Okay, though the NDP stance on this issue seems a little flimsy when compared to their other stances, I do like what the last point assumes about their desired relationship between our government and the (hopefully?) increasingly independent government of the aboriginal peoples; it would show that their opinions and lands MATTER to (and are a part of) Canada!

> All right! Go Liberals in terms of wanting to save and rekindle relationships that have sadly been broken for so long.

> Okay Greens! The last bit about amending laws to recognize indigenous approval of natural resource projects makes me incredibly happy. Besides the fact that the culture was once, and is still trying to maintain, their close connection with nature, I think their involvement could greatly affect the kinds of pipeline development some of the other parties and their associate supporters have been suggesting.

Well, I hope that was at least marginally helpful! It was at least a learning experience for me with regard to my own knowledge about our politics, and toward my own opinions surrounding them!

Cheers! 

September 3rd/ 2015

Smart girl.

You know how empathetic you are, how easily you get into the minds of anyone feeling pain. And yet, you still felt the need to watch Tricked last night?

Dumb girl.

Sat there covering your ears and scrunching up those eyelashes dripping with tears, so maliciously angry were you, so FUCKING frustrated at this pimp who keeps referring to pussy as a “product”, who keeps snakily fooling himself into thinking that he’s an all-that business man when really, he is lower than a maggot eating the rotting carcass of a diseased pig buried six feet under.

Almost kicked my TV in, hoping his smug face would crack in half, wishing with all my heart I could break him in half . . . but I know he’s still out there, telling his little ladies that “they the best pussy in town” while treating them worse than shit and sending them out to endanger their lives and bruise their souls for nothing.
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Finished the documentary at 8:46pm; am paralyzed by anger and hatred.

Sent myself to bed with the hope that my dreams might spin me far from this world where atrocity keeps raising its head and breaking me down. But it didn’t work. All night I was sent only pictures of piles of meat that used to be women, and today…

I don’t want to smile at anyone.

September 2nd/ 2015

My night engaged a dreary kind of joy, a wizened sort of happiness.

Everything around us was miserable and frightening; rain poured down, the storm thrashed its windy throws and gave trees whiplash. Coyotes were excited in the distance, crooning to each other, sad they couldn’t see the moon and probably starving.

But at the center of it all, in the eye of the storm, we’re two women braving it just for the rush of the wild outside of the city, curled up in dripping blankets in the box of a truck, fear flashing with every strike of lightning, or every pass of the coyotes. And there’s warmth, somehow, in the damp between us, like we’re spinning the threads of the atmosphere into a cozy sweater big enough for the both of us.

So even though the sky was purple and grey, even though we couldn’t see a drip before our noses, and even though everyone else might have given up and gone inside, we stayed and let the rain slip over our cheeks; let our worries go with the wind and enjoyed a genuine moment before being chased away by the all-too-close panting of pacing dogs thinking they’ve found their next meal.

September 1st/ 2015

On my last two days of summer, two girls I’ve got to thank. Took me on a rollercoaster, emotions ran amok. We flew high up, sent our souls down, and then we truly shone: my sweet ladies Court and Em, without them I’d be gone.

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See, I’m in transition, and was looking around for anyone who’d like to listen, but listening doesn’t always happen with ears; more often with the soul. And these two girls took my heart away, to patch the holes up tight, and in return, they let me see, the kinds of things for which they fight.

So heart repaired, and visions high, I’ll soar through the next days knowing they,

are here for me when I need.

And I need a lot.

I really do.

August 26th/ 2015

Nervous for my upcoming interview tomorrow (AT THE UofA!!!), I didn’t manage to get a lot of sleep last night, so I really didn’t expect much from this morning; before I opened the window I just wanted to forget myself in the warm body next to mine, call in sick, and start my day later. But the pull for cash managed to get me up, the stream of steamy water woke me the rest, and after I stepped out of my shower, wrapped the towel around me, and opened the window, what do you know?

The day was nice.

I made breakfast, ate it on my balcony. Drank fresh coffee and was greeted with good morning’s from passer-bys. The sky was pink, and a sweet old man stopped to chat: seventy-one years old and still rocking strong, a bit of a jokey old story-teller, sober for nine years, and named Ken.

Day’s looking bright, despite what I thought.

August 21st/ 2015

Guess whaaaaaaaaat?

WOMEN IN SAUDI ARABIA ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE!

Isn’t that fucking radical? There were definitely little tear-drops in my eyes, especially since I’ve been following the news with all of the awful things that have been going down in the Middle East… Bombs, killings. Fighting, slaughter. Politics and hate-crimes. But the fight isn’t over. Women are technically still not allowed to be driven to the voting station, and I don’t imagine very many women have a source of transportation like that outside of their husbands.

BUT STIIIIIILLLLLLLLL!!!!! 🙂

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It’s like news sources want us to be happy for the weekend, because there was a story in the Metro this morning about a man around Edmonton who is volunteering his time for a cause I greatly support. Not only does he provide resources for community citizens who are hard on their luck, or have been given a nasty lot, but he talks to them like they’re human. Knows them by name. And I think it’s that more than anything else which sets him apart from many of the social resources available for the city. I mean, right now I work with an organization that tries to provide subsidy or low-income housing for families in need, and I hear so many stories from people down on their luck, who have had to learn the hard way that it takes a long time to receive help from the government.

So to see someone getting out there on the front lines, and ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING makes my heart feel a little lighter.

Mmmmm, you smell that fragrant HOPE in the air?

August 20th/ 2015

I don’t know if YOU know, but I have a word-related obsessive compulsion. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to display the odd grammatical error from time to time, but for the most part, I adhere to grammatical rules and regulations like they’re biblical.

So when I was innocently reading a review of a good friend’s fringe production, and found the review butchered by grammatical error, I freaked out! Who wouldn’t, I mean, the article comes from a (somewhat) reputable news source which I believed would at least try to avoid grammar and sentence-structure mishaps (especially considering their main priority is spreading news via THE WRITTEN WORD).

So I did a sassy thing that one of my friends thinks might come back to bite me in the butt (since I’m a writer and could potentially be reviewed by the same critic/ paper): I wrote … *gasp* … A COMMENT.

Here it is, sassy grammar friends:

http://disq.us/8ocqw5

What do you think? Was it important for me to stand up for what’s grammatically correct?

August 19th/ 2015

Why I love Duolingo:

I substantially appreciate Duolingo not only because it has an immersive, vocabulary-driven method of teaching – where other lessons prefer a rule- and structure-focused curriculum – but also because the people who created the app are clearly so dedicated to genuine learning that they released the App for free! Helloooo… can you say refreshing?

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It also feels to me that Duolingo has, in a way, released a dam that’s been holding back certain globalization possibilities. Learning the languages that I am (though I am FAR from a pro at either French or Swedish), the world seems smaller, more accessible, every day. As such, Duolingo provides anyone with a smartphone the opportunity to broaden their communication skills in under two minutes a day!

I also read an article recently which talked about how the app has been put to use in schools, and how kids are really taking to Duolingo’s game-based structure. And it is totally fun! I’ll even find myself playing long after my daily goal of two lessons. And the little owl-man who happens to be my coach is really watching out for me.

I’ve seriously recommended this app to about everyone I know, and will keep doing so, in more and more languages as time goes on.

Och varsagӧd!

À demain!

August 14th/ 2015

I put on makeup this morning, but at the end of the day it was smudged black down my cheeks, small khol rivers marking pain felt. But what is that worth? My sympathy for a girl I will never meet, let alone help?

It was her face.

Her face when a naïve reporter asked her if she ever wanted to run away. It was her smile; the very fact she still had the faculty to do so. She’d been kept hostage, been forced to marry, been stripped of her virginity by one man, by many men, all corrupted so thoroughly by ideas twisted by violence. All before the age of sixteen.

Did she ever want to run away?

“Yes. Yes. Everyday,” she grinned.

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But they abused her more for that hope, the only dignity she had left before she (thankfully) managed to get away from all that, to the sanctuary of a hospital – still not home but close enough – where stripped hope can be rekindled.

And yet nothing can heal the many deep scars on her back, cleft by the whips keeping any thoughts of freedom in check. Nothing will erase those unsightly memories from the crevasses of her mind. Certainly not the tears of a white stranger who is by comparison the richest woman on earth.

When I was sixteen, you can see between the pages of my journal only anger, and hatred. There are no kind words for the world found there, not even for the ones that I loved.

And yet, she smiles.

So for her, I light a candle, and shed the kind of tears I’m sure she’s tired of shedding, and hope with all my heart that she can feel the love that’s glad to be alive, too.

(About One Girl Who Escaped From The Mass Kidnapping of Boko Haram)

August 12/ 2015

It’s something on the periphery. The sidelines. I can’t quite capture it, visually, spatially, mentally, whatever.

But my heart knows it’s there today, laying on the outskirts filling everything in between with this kind of shiny effervescence, as if everything has a golden halo, a silver lining.

It’s times like these that I throw up my arms and hug the world for what it’s given, because I know I wouldn’t be anything all alone.

July 31st, 2015

Well, I’m getting my moral ass handed to me.

You see, I recently was placed in a non-profit, government related position. And if you know me at all, you’ll know that I can’t help but believe that there’s a way to save the world, and that I can help! This position, I thought, will give me a kicking start.

What I’m actually learning here? That it’s impossible. That you can’t help everyone, and can barely make anyone happy when you do offer assistance. So basically I am left to watch as the little shining diamonds in the optimist meter (given to me at birth, full) scatter all over the floor.

Think I’ll survive?

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I don’t want to become bitter. I don’t want to shrivel up and feel so small. I want to feel big and powerful and like I can help… I don’t know. Someone.

June 23rd, 2015

Well, I feel that most of the sightings I’ve experienced while seated on my newly acquired BALCONY SPACE (congrats me) have been satisfying enough. It’s prime real estate for a people-watcher like me. I won’t deny it, I’m watching you.

Yeah, that was probably too creepy for most of you. For those of you who didn’t turn away, here is a list of some of the things I’ve seen:

1.The first, and the most epic, some guy and this chick he works with, sharing their good-bye in the form of a complex secret handshake. Because it’s midnight, and it’s quiet, and because they’re completely bathed in streetlight (so they can’t see me), the scene is completely external to me, like I’m watching a film in real-time. But also like I’m privy to a very private moment (privy? private?) between two people which was expressly illuminated for a creep like me.

2. The worst U-turn I’ve ever seen. Like holy shit. Hit all three curbs coming around.

3. Well, me and Courtney weren’t too sure whether this man had his arm ripped off, or if someone gave him one too many hits, but this guy was having some kind of bad trip and was yelling and screaming fuck you to anyone who would listen, laying down in the middle of the busier road by my house and wailing like he was injured, hoping someone would hit him with their car… a bit of a gong-show if you ask me. At 1AM. Called the police. Turns out others had already called. So we just watched him silently as he tried to pick a fight with a tree. Then a man starts walking toward him. An innocent, thin, hipster-man with a backpack. Courtney and I panic. Should we warn him? I do, but half-heartedly, and not very loud either. I still feel a little guilty for sending him into that trap, but the yelling, yellow-shirted man only poked at him before moving on to the middle of the road again, crying for help.

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4. A skinny scrawny, yet somehow adult, girl walking up to the bushes by my house, looking around, making sure no one was staring (except, she didn’t seem to see me), and (quickly, stealthily) picking up her drugs underneath a particularly leafy set of branches. She did have nice pajama pants, but I will say they barely fit her. I wonder what kind of drugs? Weed? No. Meth? More likely.

5. It’s rather late again (maybe don’t walk by my house at night if you’re trying to be secret), and I’m sitting enjoying the last of my Woodford Reserve, when a white van, the kind everyone’s afraid of, whips around the corner, then around the block, then screeches to a halt just down the block from me, yet still in my vision. It idles as seven or eight hefty men of all different colors exit the vehicle and silently go their own ways. Weird.

6. I hear a screechy sort of growl that could be a kid crying desperately for his mother to let him back into the house, or it’s literally a cat getting totally sex-attacked. Eerie. Everything else is completely silent. A couple in the park are listening as well.

7. First there are two gun-shots, as I’m sitting out on my balcony just drunk as a skunk because there is a party going on inside. The door’s open, so the noise is spilling out into the night, but no one seems to notice the shots. Then Seanna comes to keep me some tipsy company when suddenly, out of no where, this grand firework display begins right in the park outside my place: it’s actually a better show than what some of my small home-towns had to offer, and kind of private: just me, Seanna, Chris for a second, and the two who set those works off outside, that is, a shadowy girl and guy, perhaps on a date. Someone is getting laid tonight.

There will be more, I’m sure of it!

June 15th, 2015

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

I think Kennedy is rolling in his already mournful grave with the knowledge that Canada, usually considered a brother to the United States of America, has allowed it’s government to grant the allowance of SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS. Haven’t any of those politicians, who may have been alive in 1963, or who were at least affected by the sheer moral feeling of Kennedy’s civil rights speech on June 11, 1963, thought for a second what that means?

Granting the right for a country to deem any of it’s citizens “second-class” is a great step backward, in fact, a reversal of what we have worked so hard for in the past seventy odd years; that is, FREEDOM and EQUALITY. Haven’t we been trying to eradicate those ideas that made slavery and segregation a norm?

Idiots! I’m very incensed. Very angry. How can I look at my beautiful brothers and sisters, who have worked hard and endured much to become a citizen here, only to find that in the government’s eyes, they are somehow less than me? For those of you who know me, you know I’ve got this neighbor woman (a Vietnamese lady) who takes care of me and makes sure I’m safe, who has got this life behind her of hardship, but who still smiles through it all. And now she, who has worked in this country for twenty years, who earned a pension on her own, and who managed to teach herself English even though she worked three jobs while raising her young son, is facing the very real threat – though it seems only a vaguery (when actually it’s not. She’s already been banned from Facebook for trying to warn the world about China’s hold on Vietnam, whose to say those incursions won’t count against her in a more official way?) – of having to forfeit everything she has worked for to return to a country that was once in her time (and is again currently) faced with warfare and fear?

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She’s afraid. I’m afraid.

But most of all, I am just so disappointed.

April 28th, 2015

It’s a year almost to the day that I graduated, a year since my own Honors Project was put out into the world. I went and saw five others do the same yesterday, and was given a lot to think about actually. I thank each of them for this! In turn, I would like to put down some of those thoughts:

Kristina Vyskocil – Woody Guthrie/ Nature and American Capitalist Justice

How interesting to use Nature and Music to underscore and further define the flaws of American Capitalist Justice. My mind kept exploding with reminders that Nature can mean so many things: is it nature in a botanical sense? in a characteristic sense? Either way, I think the word has universally been associated with the idea of chaotic perfection, with something that may not make any sense at all, yet does, either immediately or long-term, and which cannot be forced down or controlled except in extremely dictatorial cases. Music has (in most scenarios) been placed alongside N(n)ature especially in discussions of the Sublime. Although it is controlled in the sense that a musician has created it, in creation sometimes the creator is simply a filter for experience felt, and further, once released, Music will affect each individual listener differently, and thus provides a sort of influence for an infinite number of actions, either conscious or unconscious. As such, Music can be considered a subject either equal-to or a part-of N(n)ature.

Placed alongside a discussion of Woody Guthrie’s ballads about the trials of Sacco and Vanzetti, Kristina subtly encourages the audience to ask whether the American Justice System in post-war eras has been too preoccupied with extinguishing ideological dissenters in it’s hurry to control chaos.

Justin Monahan – Time Travel Literature, Cause and Effect, and Uncertainty

By intersecting three films (Wayne’s World, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys) in a discussion of how time travel literature is in a sense a way to expand on philosophies of the  free will and determinism, Justin exposes a connection I had previously touched at it my own mind, but couldn’t exactly articulate.

In time, Over time, or however you think of Time, it’s a long thing that’s been running forward, or backward, or just standing still, for so long that it’s impossible to predict it’s trajectory, even since we’ve begun recording history; it’s impossible to conceive of an accurate timeline outside of our lives, which is why, as humans, we often struggle in determining whether our choices are meaningful.

But again, as in Kristina’s presentation, there is an issue of control: we want to feel that we have control over our future, and we want to know at this moment that our choices are in line with that evasive “Good.” Justin proposes that what must occur, in order for us to escape ideas of mutual exclusivity between determinism and free will, is an embrasure of uncertainty.

Although Justin uses a variety of literary theorists to supplement his views, and although I am mostly in line with his regard of thinking, I think there may have been room in his presentation to consider ideas of Faith, since Faith is just that: An Embrasure of Uncertainty. Many have turned to Faith (which is not necessarily connected to a Catholic God, or any God for that sense, but is more of a personal or spiritual thing) in order to accept that their choices are meaningful, and to alleviate the pressure that comes from not knowing the future. It is in this sense, then, that Justin’s argument could have been more whole by adding Faith to his equation, which implicitly underscores the fact that free will and determinism need not be mutually exclusive, but might be necessarily balanced in order for us to keep striving toward moral and good action. Time, as the boundary we cannot cross, the only thing we cannot see beyond, thus becomes a necessary tool in what seems to be a chaotic and unknowable justice system.

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(If anyone has read The Bhagavad Gita, they’ll be familiar with how Faith can interrupt and alleviate this existential stress).

Amanda Venner: The Not-Male/ Non-Male Gaze and Female Graphic Novelists

The whole presentation, insightful, interesting, and regarding something I’m quite passionate about, talked about a reaction to dominant, silencing forces that have been persistent in perpetuating a particular, linear view of the world via an analyses of two graphic novelists whose perspectives differ in scope from those dominated by an objectified, singular view, usually absent of empathy. What interested me the most, however, was that her project sparked controversy over the term “male-” or “non-male/ not-male-” gaze.

In the discussion afterward, there seemed to be some contention from certain (gender) male members of the audience about these terms. Some even seemed to become defensive. It put me on the fence. Of course men are going to get defensive about a term that is inherently gender-associated. Women do the exact same thing. But it’s hard, because we’ve binaried everything in our language this way, we’ve attributed gender to many things without meaning to, or perhaps even realizing it. We would call a ship a “she” and a hurricane too. Or a flaming fire, or a sword, a “he”.

So is it necessary, then, to come up with different, non-gendered words?

I think both men and women (well, most anyway) are looking forward to becoming more open and equal, and perpetualizing these gendered terms has the potential to create jagged edges and more fighting than good. I think we can understand how to approach and embrace multiple voices (over a singular perspective) without involving gender, in order to further our discussions on this subject without getting stuck on that specific (albeit very important) issue. That way, conversations that have to do with the equality aspects of feminism, and conversations that desire to avoid gender in order to speak about the issue of perspective and a multiplicity of perspectives would both be able to function successfully, and more appropriately, without getting side-tracked by defensive arguments which arise from emotional attachment to one’s own gender.

Elisia Snyder: Tenderhead

I thought this presentation to be very brave, and felt that Elisia was able to accomplish an academic study of rhetorical self-analysis without forfeiting the personal and creative aspects of her work which made it so unique.

It was as if, by contrasting her own story with a study of it, she was able to capture the writing process through a demonstration of her own in conjunction with another author’s struggle, thereby excavating controversies surrounding practices of editorship, creation, and influence. One specific issue brought to light, which  spoke to me most personally, was this thought that has affected a lot of the work I’ve come to write: that self-analysis is a two-edged sword, one possessing the ability to extinguish creative spirit in the same way that science has been said to dampen the awe-some power of unexplained natural occurrences.

I’ve found throughout my academic career, that too close a scrutiny of a subject, that too much schooling in the art of criticism, can actually have devastating effects on one’s own sensibility, and often ends up creating an inescapable feeling of fear, to say something, to think something, or to be brave with a conviction. So, while it is important to be critical, it is even more important to accept the freedom we sometimes take for granted, and say what’s on our minds regardless and outside of criticism. It is actually in this way, as well, that we will learn more, and be better and more fair critics, because we have given ourselves the opportunity to be wrong, and have accepted the wisdom that comes from those mistakes. It is not, then, by criticizing, but by learning wisdom that we able to actually give ourselves fair feedback and not block ourselves with the dark fear that has the ability to squash our talents.

Also, Sploosh!

Lizzie Derksen: Emily Dickinson and Capitals

Liz talked about how a simple capitalization has the ability, like tone or inflection or context, to change the meaning and possible interpretation of a word compound and its subsequent phrase. This can then be applied to problems of miscommunication, translation and all that postmodern failure of language jazz, but instead (and to my relief after spending months buried in Postmodernism for my own thesis), Liz chose to apply it in a gentler sense, by examining the poems of Emily Dickinson, and therefore, allowing us the freedom to consider how large an effect even a simple gesture of capitalization can manufacture. Because of her gentle approach too, the argument being made almost felt poetic in itself, and thus subtly underscores her own point: she makes a small gesture that allows the audience’s minds to run rampant with the great number of possibilities surrounding her simple idea. (Not that the idea is simple, just that she did not have to push to prove her point, but (I felt) let it unfold on its own). I mean, the bit about how Dickinson’s capitalization frustrates, though not overtly, the structural iambic, made me want to fist pump and be like, “Yay! Fuck Structure! Go Breaking the Rules! Go Emily!”

Thanks, All of You. And Congratulations!

April 23rd, 2015

I think I’m at the beginning of the beginning of a series of changes which will span the outline of my life. I’m glad to finally be here. Not happy exactly, but shifted, oriented better.

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I’ve just been trying really hard to be less afraid.

March 30th, 2015

I’ve been trying to fix myself, but I think I’ve been doing it all wrong; that is, Alone.

So I picked up a book from my shelf I haven’t had the courage to read yet and was surprised to find that trusting the opinion of someone else, even an absent psychologist, has its merits when it comes to self-healing. One of these, is actually a series of questions (only four) that I am challenging myself to write down. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I’m hoping to learn at least something today.

Question #1: Who do you become when you’re backed into that shame corner?

I become whatever I need to be in that moment to survive.

I’ve been a cold piece of machinery, who knows how to throw violent words with the type of precision that cuts deep, and have felt nothing afterward. I have been a demon, quiet and arrogant, rejecting everyone around me without even realizing it. I have been a radioactive bomb, exploding with frustration and anger, but didn’t even notice the signs were there, where everyone could see. I’ve hurt many people when backed into that shame corner, hoping that they won’t notice that I’m spiralling downward on the inside, and that every word coming out of my mouth is just there to cover up the fact that I am screaming to myself, over and over, “You’re a bad person. You’re an idiot. You’re wrong and always will be. This person doesn’t like you, these people don’t like you. Run away. Just Run Away.”

Question #2: How do you protect yourself?

I’ve never had to be accountable to people, really. I think that’s because I’ve moved so many times. And now, that I’ve been living in Edmonton for six years, I’m finding that it’s become harder and harder to just up and leave. To run away and become a new person (something that sounds so blissfully easy I’m even tempted to do it now) and forget that anyone ever thought of me badly. And there are quite a few who I know for a fact don’t hold me very high in their hearts because I hurt them.

So I’ve learned to reject people when they see me fail. I distance myself from them mentally, and watch as they fade into the distance, hopefully away, and unaware of the side of me that was wrong, is wrong; a failure. And it’s hard to disassociate failure from who I am.

Question #3: Who do you call to work through the mean-nasties or the cry-and-hides or the people pleasing?

I don’t usually call anyone, really. Which isn’t to say that none of my friends know what’s happening to me right now, or that others don’t become involved, because they do: they see and bear the brunt of my moods and attitudes. I only found out lately that these attitudes have just been getting worse and worse, and the weirdest bit is that I genuinely didn’t notice. I thought I was being happy. I thought I was okay.

I know calling people would help, but it’s the last thing on my mind.

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Question #4: What’s the most courageous thing you could do for yourself when you’re feeling small and hurt?

Admit it.

I think this is the most important question for me, because the way it’s phrased just brought to light something I’ve noticed about myself before, but didn’t know how much of an effect it had on the way people treat me: I never tell people when I’m angry, especially if it means I could be hurting their feelings. I’ve known myself to just hold this tense feeling in my heart right when I’m looking someone in the eye and yet can’t seem to tell them that I’m mad, or bothered, or annoyed. And everytime I do it, something in me breaks, a little fissure in the social mask that shows the aggression under the smile and reveals the poison in my words.

I’ve got to fix it. I just have to say out loud when I’m frustrated, but learn how to be careful with people too. There has to be a balance.

Any Ideas?

March 26th, 2015

I’ve changed, and I’m not sure it’s for the better, my tone keeps getting sweeter but my brain keeps getting heavier, bearing down on my forehead creating the furrows and fissures that give me away.

And I’m not the only one who’s noticed.

January 20th, 2015,

First of all, Happy (Belated) New Year.

And now, on with it:

It was recently pointed out to me, by a kind Texan stranger named Milton (“Hello” if you’re reading!), that I haven’t posted in a while, which made me realize: Since I’ve began this “public” sort of posting, about my life, entries which would regularly be privatized in a journal meant for my eyes only, I’ve found less of a desire, or “need” rather, to expel my feelings to a page, and that makes me wonder if it’s something about this public kind of format?

But wait, I’m usually an open book, and don’t hold much back. Nor do I have a filter of any kind (those of you who know me can probably attest to this), so it can’t be about baring my soul to the public eye: I do that in real life, to the people I surround myself with. So then, it must be something about the technology, the lingering “permanence” of a post that gives you a reference for yourself, and maybe you don’t like what you see. Or, maybe, it’s this technologized form of communication that both opens us up and closes us off. Is this the thing that denies me the ability to care or bother about social media upkeep?

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If that’s so, why is it I have such an aversion to posting public statuses? Is it because I am afraid? I’ve been lead to think so. I read an article recently about a doctor who believes not involving yourself in social media circles is a precursor for those who are mentally unhealthy. I agree in the sense that being social is incredibly important, but for some reason I manage to get a lot of social time as it is without logging on to catch up. There are a lot of people out there, and when I run across them in my day to day, it’s fun to talk to them about what’s going on in that moment without already knowing every detail of how they feel about their new job promotion.

I probably am afraid, to be honest.

The thing is, this little square of information that represents the me outside of me, that relays information without really filling the words with my personality and presence somehow, I hate to admit, is something I’ve come to despise. I don’t like that a part of my life which used to be expressly private, usually swept between the comforting blank pages of a notebook, has become a fear, has become something I don’t want to do on the daily.

Ultimately, I want to try to write more, for myself. That’s how this whole thing, this entire blog, started. With my love for the joy of writing, and for the way passion can be captured between words splattered safely in a small moment of anger or sadness, without reserve, without fear.

Wish me luck!

December 16th, 2014

So I found this little blurb, some kind of intellectual thought I must have had during a procrastination period during finals – back when I was still in school that is – and thought I would share it here since I don’t think it’s worthwhile to publish under it’s own title, and have a million more thoughts that aren’t entirely relayed in this piece relating to the subject, and therefore feel it best left to my readers to think and discuss for themselves, instead of trying to portray it as some kind of concrete way of thinking.

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In short, I’ve got no conviction! (Haha)

Here it is anyway:

“That which is made at the hands of (wo)Man amounts to little without the help of Nature and Her accessories. So why are we intent on destruction for our own betterment?

Naturally, a park may be regarded as the perfect equilibrium between (wo)Man and Nature, whereby neither has a desire to completely obliterate the other. Where Nature allows (wo)Man to harness and impose boundaries, (wo)Man is allowed to build, cultivate, structure, and plainly, exist. Then again, where does (wo)Man stop and Nature begin?

Thought must then also be given to this idea: without the help of Nature, (wo)Man would be nothing at all. It is in saying this that we see clearly an irony: we destroy what we depend on, and once it is gone, so too will we be.

So why do we destroy?”

Jessica Barratt, 2010

October 10th, 2014:

I have this feeling that somehow I’ve learned to fit into my own skin a bit better, learned who I really am lately. For instance, this evening I went out to a bar, totally out of the blue, and really only because a very good friend asked me, and there was just no turning her down. The thing is, I have been feeling as if going out would be terrible, like something awful would happen, like I wouldn’t be able to have fun. But, tonight I was having fun, largely because I was out of my element, a single lady in a party of girls and guys I had met at varying capacities, or not at all.

So I go, and have a blast. Down at this really unusual (for me anyway) bar off whyte. The music, first off, is amazing. Everything about the place feels like being on a ship, but a sunken one: nets all dusty, barnacles growing on the walls. Yet there’s not a glass of water in sight. There’s a live band playing this sultry celtic stomp and I can’t help but dance, and something comes over me – maybe the irish in me, maybe my east coast family influence – and I end up dancing better than I think I have ever danced in my life. And let’s be honest, there was a ton of hopping and kicking, I’m sure I stepped on a few people here and there. Sorry.

So here I am: dancing like a wild child, not giving a hell because I am with the kind of people who don’t care in a place full of people I don’t really care about. Feeling super independent, you know those moods? Where you’re just feeling really confident, and on top of the world, and totally in tune with everything around you? I don’t care if you’ve had one lately, I know you’ve probably had at least one moment like that in your life, and if you can’t think of one, I would advise you to stop and think for a second because those kinds of things are good for you to remember.

Pardon me,

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There is a lot of dancing, as I’ve said. Then this one guy comes up to me, and proposes that we dance. And like I said, I am in some sort of ridiculous celtic zone or something, completely turned on by this woman’s voice – smokey, growly, that kind of thing – and we, that is, my new dance partner and I,  have this weird Irish connection, not to mention he’s wearing a Johnny Cash shirt and how can you hate a guy like that, especially one that seems to be challenging you to some sort of river-dance, stomp-off?

Long story short – I whup this guys ass. I don’t care if there was actually a circle of people around us, watching our dance moves, but I definitely had some sort of movie-montage inspired images in my head that made it seem the truth. At one point he asks me my name, but instead of letting him know it, I ask him what he thinks my name is; it’s a conversation starter I have favored as of late. Of course he’s wrong, I mean, I’ve not really met anyone that’s gotten it right, but I always enjoy the answer; for instance, the name this gent came up with was “Irene.”

Not long after, another friend asked which person on the dance floor I was in love with. I almost immediately found this girl, but only noticed her because she had that “how do I get out of talking to this creep” look on her face, but also big lovely sea-green eyes. Now, I am all for giving everyone a chance, but we had met this particular specimen at the door earlier in the evening, where he clapped his hands in our face and spread them like a magician and growled at us to tell him our names. And this is after he had already tried to sneak in with three other groups of people. And now he’s groping this little dove like a bloodhound, like some sort of rapist, I can’t help but react: I point to her, and run over to grab her out of this guy’s arms. Immediate thanks was given, which was lovely. She even introduced me to her boyfriend. All I could think was: it wasn’t me, it was my friend’s special dance-floor question.

To cap off my evening, at least at that particular location, I went up to the bar where the other girls were, and (as usually happens at bars when I wear a shirt that shows off my back tattoo) some guy starts tracing it with his fingers. Now, I’m ready to turn around and give someone a piece of my mind, but when I turn around, its this kind-eyed heavy-set guy with tattoos all over his arms. Nate: the sweet-heart with a head like an eight-ball. Seemed to have some kind of connection at the bar, as I found out during the course of our interaction, but was – i felt – genuinely not trying to be intrusive or offensive in any way, so we bantered a bit, and apparently I got on his good side because he motions to the bartender to come over – though this is after our conversation has died down a bit, so I see him order and point his finger in my direction, where I’m standing with a girlfriend of mine at the bar waiting to be served. As usual in a situation like this, shots are poured and paid for, but then my gorgeous porcelain friend orders a drink, only to find that Nate had already paid for it. Nate, meanwhile is dealing with some trouble that erupted over by the pool tables, which also made me wonder other things about the kind of authority he held in a bar like that.

So when he comes back, shots are taken, and it’s my turn to order a beer. I had the bartender my cash, but then Nate grabs his arm:

“Whoa, what are you paying for? That drink is paid for.”

I noticed the bartender looked a little panicked, eyes flickering from the other girl to me and back, before he attempts to give me my money back. I say attempts because – and I don’t know everyone’s opinion on guys buying girls drinks, but I work hard, I can buy my own drinks – I refuse, the bartender gets me my change. End of interaction.  I just loved that the bartender didn’t go for me, I cannot explain how much I actually really did. You see, Nate was kind to me, not forceful at all, and believe me, I’ve had many rats to compare him to. It was reassuring to me that there was a misjudgment between one man and another on their standards of beauty. Then again, maybe Nate sucks at pointing.

We leave the bar. Me and two others decide to walk home, as I have done plenty of times. And it was a marvelous blast. Those lovebirds are crazy beautiful together and I wouldn’t have them any other way. Almost home, we run into another gentleman who – on the evening of his 30th birthday, is completely lost. The place he wants to go isn’t far from where we are headed, so I ask that he join us for the ride. And boy, was he drunk, but (Graham, as I found out) seemed genuine, and sometimes I get bored. Sometimes I am in the mood to blindly join a stranger in a building I was only slightly familiar with (I have a good friend who lives in it, so I had a good feeling). So that’s what we do, chatting all the way. It’s not so hard for a guy to think you’re the greatest when he’s drunk as a skunk on his 30th birthday. So the guy thinks I’m awesome, and when we get into the building, and into the apartment, I am surrounded by sophistication unmatched. Let me tell you, this place was pristine. Totally a beautiful modern piece of art, with all of the fixings of someone with taste. I may or may not say that with a biased opinion, but needless to say, these people impressed me. I liked being in there, I liked having a little peak into someone else’s home: I sometimes forget that there are places outside of my own little hovel. I hung out with them for a little bit – it was already quite late after all, and I was extremely tired – before saying my goodbye and walking home a midst leaves falling like rain on the lamp-lit street, everything as yellow as day.

Oh dear.

I’m not quite sure whether reading any of this made your day any fuller, but I do liked that you’ve bothered to go this far with me in my description of a night when I truly let go and had a little fun, which I rarely let myself do.

Enjoy your many nights to come!

August 22, 2014

I don’t know what I’m doing.

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Well, no one does. But does that change anything? Right now, I’m battling between so many choices that my only response is anxiety, the kind that keeps building in my heart, giving me dreams of escape with no return.

The Return.

It’s always been the hardest thing for me, going back. It’s like revisiting the past, a happy thing, right? Wrong. For me, the past is a tremendous monster always threatening to eat me alive, to consume me whole. It sits on the periphery of every action, of every thought. When in the present, I am always aware of everything that’s lead to that moment and so it gets heavier with every passing breath. Heavy with the weight of a past I wish to put to rest, but which I am afraid to forget.

Ah, to breathe freely would be a gift.

August 14th2014

Today, I re-arranged my furniture.

Have you ever done such a thing? I recommend it. And you know, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I can’t help but feel that the air tastes different.

Yes, something’s changed. Might be because I started looking up more, back to the skies where I used to find solace. Lost them long ago to tormented fragments of broken sidewalks and gravel. Now, it feels as if it’s not so hard to lift my head. As if the constant pressure of spiraling out of control has been sifted from my bloodstream.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not quite through the fog, but my head feels different. Kind of like the moment when you feel alright again after spinning around in circles too long. Might find myself spinning again, as would any child, but for now I’ll enjoy the reprieve.

All because I put my desk by a window.

August 6, 2014

I am the deceiver, deceiving only what I may call my own, despondent, detached. Almost dead, but not quite as silent. Still, I have a voice, yet use it to dig my own grave, deeper than six feet under, so my sins stay in place when I lay down for the last time. Keep doing these things that get in the way of my dreams, keep succumbing to the pleasure of what promises gratification, but turns sour while the hands on the clock turn counter. I’m always taking a few more steps backward than the rest. Thought I had escaped the shroud, with darkness clouding the most promising of light. Got nothing to hold onto, no buoyancy to keep me floating when all I seem to do is drown. The kind of numbness that somehow pierces. Joyful one moment, at bottom next, my entire heart is jealousy, for those who can still feel a connection with that Other, that something-else.

Managed to facilitate a delusion that “I’m doing just fine,” but all I do is run, all I do is hide. Always trying to find something yet unidentified.

June 17th, 2014

Last night was a first for me. Well, I shouldn’t really say that. I mean, I’ve obviously had weird and frightening dreams before (see below), but I’ve never reached out for help in one of those dark moments until last night. Or, at least, I’ve never had anyone to call in that moment of pure fear and so, never reached out in any capacity.

It might be helpful if I start from the beginning:

About a week ago, I went to my first counselling session. I had always wanted to go and was really very curious about the whole thing, especially since I technically completed a psychology minor, and have at least an intermediate level of knowledge regarding the practice. On the whole, I had a good time. The woman I spoke with did a good job within her 45 minute time-limit, she asked a variety of open, patient-response-based questions and her tone of voice exuded patience. I felt at ease with her, and was able to really tell her some of the truths I had been trying to hide from everyone, even from myself. She gave me some good tips at the end of the session, as well as a card for Edmonton’s 24-hour Distress Line.

“Call if you’re having any of these thoughts you’ve been telling me about, especially if you feel like you can’t handle them on your own, okay?”

I didn’t really intend on using the card, I just blindly placed it on my nightstand and went about my life, always seeing the card sitting there, but never needing to call.

Then . . . then last night happened.

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It started off like a normal, frightening dream, like all of those dreams I post about, with a sense of uneasiness, or of peripheral fear… maybe the best way to put it is to say it was like a distinct sense of the absence of fear. As if there were a hole where the fear should be, and I was just waiting, like a dead man in his coffin, for the hole to be filled.

Then the scenes begin, one after another, all blending seamlessly into another without my questioning how I could be witnessing all of these terrifying images  in sequence. Throughout the dream, I am me, Jessica, in an objective position, watching everything happen, but I’m also every character, I feel each of their experiences simultaneously. Like I’m watching a horror film that I’m also a part of.

First, there’s a little girl and a little boy running around their neighborhood, which slightly resembles a combination of all the backyards I’ve ever had. The houses are like playgrounds, with rafters and places to run, and corners to hide in, but as we’re running, we begin to see scary faces in every window, like flashes of ghosts as we run by and I can feel the fear as it begins to trickle in. We’re all panicked, no longer playing but running for our lives, fearful of the faces, as if they are all on our trail, waiting for us to stop running to pick us off, one by one. Then, we come to a yard with pine trees and the girl and boy turn into a young brunette woman with a bob-cut and blue-jeans. It’s dark and she’s walking home from somewhere, not thinking a thing. Then the two children fall from the pines on top of me, of her, of both of us, dead, dripping blood all over our faces.

Then there’s a small gap in the dream, I don’t quite remember what’s happened here, though I know I remembered it all so vividly last night. The next thing I remember, I’m on a construction site. I am, and am watching, a big, thug-type work some of the machines while he’s smoking a cigarette. Next to the site is a parkade with at least three stories. The children re-appear, alive, and somehow bother the construction worker, who apparently has just had his wife die in child-birth – a scene to which I remember since I am him as well as his wife and his unborn child – who begins to chase after them. I am all of them, running, running, running, with fear and hate and anger and panic quickening my heart and boiling my blood as it races through my veins. We’re all in the parkade and the man is yelling, hammer in hand. He catches the little girl and grinds her face into the pavement with his boot before moving toward the little boy who, in fear, backs into a shaft that falls down to the construction site.  As he falls, I am the boy, weightless, and the man, violently joyful: the boy has fallen onto the soft dirt under the site’s industrial drill, which towers at least twenty feet into the air. Me and the man run toward the site, toward the operating tower that controls the drill. I am the boy slowly becoming conscious to a rumbling from above us, from below us, from all around us. I am the man as he pulls the lever and watches the drill fall, crushing the boy to bits. Have you ever heard an industrial drill? Imagine the clanking of 100 tonnes of  metal on metal at a hundred miles an hour. Clank. Clank. Clank. Grinding dead bones.

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I want to wake up, so I do wake up, but the fear is so real I can’t be sure if I am really awake. I’m paralyzed, can’t move and even though I left my bathroom light on, even though I can see my whole apartment, I’m afraid of it because I don’t believe it’s real. I make myself get up, I check the bathroom, behind the curtain, the fear just as present. There’s nothing there, no one there, of course there’s no one there, but something feels wrong. I begin to panic, I need help. I think of the card, and go to my nightstand, but it’s not there. (Just so you know, I had moved it the day before, but forgotten). That’s when the panic really begins to settle into my bones, into my heart. I try to rub off my tattoos (they fade in my dreams), I bite my hands, dig my fingernails into my knee, but nothing convinces me I’m real, that this is real, that I’m not still dreaming. I turn on my computer, which I’m almost too afraid to do, afraid that it won’t work, that there’ll be something strange about it, but there’s not, and I google the number for the distress line. It takes me twelve minutes to press the “call” button.

It would be hard for me to say what me and the woman on the other end (who, from the sounds of her voice, is the same woman I talked to from the counselling clinic) talked about. I will say that she made me feel better, assured me I was really talking to her, that she is really real. She reminded me of my strengths, and made me talk about my hopes for the future. She made me tell her the things I would do when I got off the phone with her in order to make it through until morning, or until I could fall back asleep, which I did. She also gave me some other resources I could use in order to undergo a more permanent counselling process.

So, to her I am thankful, for saving me in my time of need. I’m going to remember the things she said to me every day – that I’m important, and motivated, and courageous – and try not to forget them, like I usually do.

I feel weird ending this post, this is one of my most personal entries yet, I think.

Thanks for listening?

June 9th, 2014

Another night, another strange dream.

I’m at a party, quite like one I’d been to recently during what I like to refer to as my “real” life. There are people everywhere, some of them I know, some of them I don’t. Everything is vividly orange or yellow or red, some are sitting on sofas, everyone might be drinking, but I don’t really see anyone doing it. I’m drawn to a window, where suddenly the world outside becomes dark. I get some kind of premonition, though I couldn’t tell you where it came from, or whether it was fully developed.

I turn back toward the room, and suddenly everything feels revolutionary, like something big is about to take place. I spot a rather handsome, bald, sturdy-looking fellow sitting on a couch, talking to a girl with short red hair. Without saying a thing, he looks at me, stands, and motions for me to follow him out the back door, into a gated yard facing an alley. Instead of running, we sit on a garden swing surrounded by raspberry bushes not too far from the house. I have full view of everyone inside, some are looking at us, some are not. Most are continuing on as if nothing had really happened.

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Me and this stranger get a bit closer on the swing, if you know what I mean, but not for too long. Before things can get really good, he stops and looks at the house, something like terror on his face. I look at the house too, waiting. Just as I’m about to ask what he’s looking at, the house blows sky high, into a hundred-million pieces of human and building and the like. But when it falls back to the earth, its only rain.

The stranger is gone. I am alone.

May 25th, 2014

It’s raining and I’m trying to write a letter to someone I don’t even know who also happens to be dying.

May 16th, 2014

I’ve just found a poem I wrote the summer I graduated from high school:

All she wants

is love.

All she wrote

was a letter.

All it said

was ‘thanks for trying.’

All she did

was pull the trigger.

March 14th, 2014

I’ve just had an interesting thought:

You know those rare moments in your life, when you finally feel as if the world is giving you a break to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine? When you’re feeling in control, blissful, whether you’re in someone’s arms, or alone in a field reveling in your revelry? That feeling: that portrait of who you are, right then, is filled with so much beauty that you forget your insecurities, you forget all of your fears: you know how wonderful you are, and in that moment are so thankful for everything you’ve witnessed thus far.

Then, in the same moment, someone snaps a photo of you.

Now, maybe the photo captures it, maybe the photo matches your expectations and you treasure it forever, knowing that the moment was real, and that you can share at least some of it with anyone you like.

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But maybe, maybe the photo doesn’t match what you’re feeling. Maybe it catches something else, some “imperfection” only you notice, but which breeds the kind of disillusionment that sends you into a state of introversion. You expected something better, you expected something different, maybe someone different. It’s so strange, that our own perception of ourselves without a reflection can so greatly differ from the one in the mirror; that those reflections are sometimes so discordant with how we feel that we can’t help but be sad to know that what we feel doesn’t translate properly, in the way we wanted it to.

But then, what does that mean? That we might be unhappy with a physical representation, naturally devoid of the beauty of our spiritual presence? Does that make us shallow? Weak? Insecure? Shouldn’t we just want to be ourselves?

Is this just another case of expectations ruining a good thing?

Februaary 27th, 2014

I love you:

A feeling passed by, hidden in lies, preventing the truth, from our lover’s eyes. But it withstands, demands, understands, even when we’re blind in our youth, always wondering who, will say those special words. But until we’re ready, the feeling’s heavy in our hearts, and the words, remain unheard, until we’re standing steady. So, let’s pray for the day, we can finally stand, connected with the strand, the humanity thread, and watch the confusion in our heads as it clears. Thus, my dear, keep the cynicism at bay, elect to send hate away and just go ahead and say:

I love you.

February 3rd, 2014

Have you ever felt as if the world is pressing down on you? With so much pressure that, as the minutes pass, it gets harder and harder to breathe?

January 30th, 2014

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I never know where to begin. With anything really. I’m always lost, the wanderer, the wonderer: wandering a midst the wonders. So I just begin, and hope that something good comes of it. That’s the thing with learning to trust yourself: if you just let go, if you just let your brain do the walking and your heart do the talking, sometimes there is something good to be found.

Today was filled with disconnection, and then connection and back. Life is weird, you can’t control it. Sit back and relax. Listen. Hum along. Hope. Trifles: these too shall pass.

I am the blackbird, singing in the dead of night. I want to soar, but so caged inside. The flight, the fight, these impulses, easy to hide behind.

It’s a mask. But is it? Is it a mask if there’s nothing underneath? Nothing to find, no matter how far you dig? No matter how far I fall? It’s the only thing left to hold on to. It’s the only thing left at all.

Drown to the comfortable depths, swoon to the current, fill your lungs with water and watch the world turn black. There’s no turning back. Silent, alone. Caged, broken bones.

But isn’t there light at the end of the tunnel? That’s what they’re always saying. And the hope returns, and the heart fills, and my eyes open, but nothing’s changed. It’s still black. Shadow. Endless nothingness, as far as the eye can see.

My eye? Or mind’s eye? Isn’t that the question? A question that’s been forsaken? Always but never taken? We assume, we presume, we subsume to our rooms and all we can do is hope to be found. Hope for that sound, that light at the end of the tunnel.

Lies. Liars. But what sense is the lie if there is no truth?

Breath mists among the trees, feet softly crunching through the leaves, its a fall day, but I’ll fall away, drop through the stone floors toward that hellish ocean. The one waiting, so far down, I’ve been waiting, not making a sound.

“Add an element of grace. Your work is too dark.” I’ll spit in your face, everything leaves a mark. How can I bring joy to the story, when there’s none to be found? How can I look up, when it’s as dark as when I look down?

Lost, on the highway. Lost in the trees. Floating through winter, using memories; reprieve.

The strange thing, about darkness, is that I can see how crowded it is. I am not alone here. We’ve all been here, all stay here, all lay here and wonder: Can you hear me? Can you see me?

But we’re all wandering, blind: wondering, fine. We need each other, to remember, to forget, to hold onto.

I can hear your footsteps, feel your darkness near me. You’re my shadow, I’m your shadow, but there’s no sun to shade us. We are nothing, ephemeral. Diamonds underwater. Daisies in a dumpster.

Wanderer. Wonderer.

Blissful corrupter.

January 28th, 2014

My death will never be unfair, because, look at the life I’ve been given.

January 14th, 2014

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You’re having an excellent day. You’ve gotten plenty done, including the chores, and you have the rest of the night to relax. So here you are, sitting on the edge of your bed wondering what you’re going to do with yourself, when a particularly good memory comes to mind. It’s a really good one, when you were the happiest, and surrounded by those you love. Reveling in the memory, you can’t help but smile.

But then, out of nowhere, a singular thought cuts through your mind like lightning, ripping the memory to shreds:

“All of these people?” it says, “They’re not going to be around forever.”

January 11th, 2014

These nightmares. They’re getting worse. Anything that brings me comfort is perverse. Every mistake, intensified.

I’m walking through a place that feels like my university, but doesn’t look like it. I’m walking fast, determined to get somewhere. I have a very important task to complete. Then I am distracted by the flashing of red lights. There are ambulances everywhere. I consider moving on, but the curiosity overwhelms me.

I walk outside. There are many people standing completely still, hands shielding their eyes as they stare into the sun. Everything is completely silent. I look up. Above me, dangling from a two-hundred foot building crane, is a woman dressed in black. I can’t see her face. I have just enough time to register the two firefighters already trying to help her down before she falls to the ground in front of me, her body disintegrating all over the pavement.

Isn’t it strange that we have to face the day when, in a way, we’ve just experienced something traumatic?

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January 5th, 2014

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was sure that everyone liked her.

Then she found out that they didn’t.

December 17th, 2013

I always find it interesting to find a piece of writing from my younger years. Although the grammar’s terrible, it’s wild to find out where my head was, so long ago (well, when I was fourteen). I mean, what if you looked back and found this? (I will not edit a thing, for authenticity’s sake).

My mind’s thoughts explained in words

Inside is like the dark side of the moon /no one ever sees / All the problems that lay inside my head / Outside is the shadow of what we all see / What we really are. / All I have to get by is the music that all those people sing. / So now I am. Too. / We all have our problems but that is / nothing compared to me. / I know it sounds selfish but I think it / isn’t we all have our problems but the / love is always there even though we don’t / really feel it it’s there always watching from / the shadows waiting to pounce and when it does / it only brings heart break and sorrow in the / end . . . leaving your town and moving away / only brings heartbreak and all those things / accompanying it. So don’t follow the shadows / look to the light you will always find it. I need / you I feel you I want to walk with you in your / sleep these are just the thoughts in my head / spilling like milk spills from a cup. We all / do this please stay out of my head, you are / always there whether I am singing songs about / you or just sitting in the dark thinking of you. / The darkness knows all the secrets that people / tell when they are alone. They are always there / these words these fantasies that come out in the / night that is what we are really scared of not the / boogey man but our worst fear is ourselves. / Think about it all the time you are you and / I am me never the twain shall meet. / It’s not fair I want to see you everyday, feel you every / day want to talk and touch and laugh with you. / Jealousy swirling all those feelings are coming / more and more every day.

/ the only monsters are my thoughts and me . . . / . . .  My thoughts have / gone and I am done. My mind is now at an end.

December 11, 2013

I have a serious love/ hate relationship with those people in my life who try to be “real” with me. Who constantly question my choices, my motives, whatever. I know they’re doing it because they don’t want to see me fail, but aren’t mistakes the reason we learn anything at all?

Okay, so I am young, I don’t have that much life experience, and I am about to graduate from University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. So what? Big Whoop. I am already aware that my degree will only get my foot in the door (if that) and that I am going to have to do the rest myself. That I am going to have to “sell myself” in order to achieve anything. So where do I go from here? Some say I’m going to have to confront some reality that has heretofore been invisible because I am a student. Because I have been cradled and coddled by my professors. Maybe that’s true. But I think I’ve developed a good enough work ethic to get something out of life, don’t you?

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I guess my real problem is: What the hell does all this matter? I have NO idea what my life holds for me, I have NO idea where I am going to be in twenty or thirty years, so WHY does everyone insist on making sure that I “know” what I am doing “out there?” Especially when they still aren’t sure what it is that they are “doing” “out there.”

I am going to work hard to be a good person, and I think that’s what’s really important. I mean, I have so many problems with this “cutthroat” business society that people feel the need to become a part of in order to really succeed. Maybe I am being “naive,” or blindly optimistic (which, let’s face it, I am), but I really do think that there are good people out there who are doing good things in the hope that the world will be a little bit better because of it. That’s all I want to do. And I don’t really care what kind of job I am doing while I do it.

Instead, I’ll keep worrying about the homeless man with faraway eyes, sitting on the corner outside of the Tim Horton’s by Grant MacEwan on 111th street, who was shivering, surrounded by empty cups, with an ironically joyful pink-and-blue daisy blanket on his lap. How can we help people like him?

Surely, not by worrying about what people like me are doing with their lives.

December 7th, 2013

You know those warm moments? When you’re sitting in your room, the light is just right, and the perfect song comes on? That warm feeling enters your heart, lifts you up, transports you. All of your happy memories come together in one moment and it is pure, though momentary, bliss.

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Yeah.

I don’t have those moments anymore.

November 27th, 2013

Lately, I find myself wondering about equality. It’s a lovely idea, isn’t it? But, there is one question that keeps running back and forth through my head:

How can we have equality, ever, if the structures we take for granted are inherently hierarchical? I’m talking language, education, business, finance, trade. How can we have equality if the drive to climb the food chain/ grapevine is so great that we are willing to put others under the bus for that position?

I was out at dinner the other night with some very lovely people, one of them a very distinguished member of an institution I will not name. He was wonderful, really, he was. But, there was a divide. It wasn’t intended by any party, but it was there, like a white elephant in the room. We were all secretly afraid of embarrassing ourselves, all secretly dreaming of being singled out by such a powerful figure for praise. Or at least, I was.

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Then he began telling a story about the time he made an etiquette blunder in the presence of the Queen. That really got me wondering: When does it end? Aren’t we all prone to making mistakes, embarrassing ourselves because we’re unaware of some social nuance that everyone else takes for granted? All because there is someone “above” us, dictating what we should and shouldn’t do in the presence of others?

I think the reason I am so frustrated is because, at this table, I didn’t see a president, a professor, a writer, an advisor and a student. I saw people. Other people who have had weird things happen to them, other people who swear, and curse, and get themselves in trouble only to laugh about it later with their friends. So why the distinction?

Does the Queen think she is better than everyone else? She’s just another person, isn’t she?

Is equality a dream? An ideal? It seems impossible.

November 20th, 2013

A few excerpts from past musings:

“I watched as they beat her. Bludgeoned her. Stole her money and left her to die. And I just watched.” – Inspired by Kitty Genovese.

“We are all containers. I am ziploc. You are gladware.”

“I wish I could capture this singular solitude, this bright ocean beauty.”

“We over-look so many things in our pursuit to find a pre-conceived end.”

“Sculpture is Rhythm in Space.”

“Language is always both an experience and a personal reaction.”

November 17th, 2013

I’m reading. Outside of the book, I am conflicted and so, the written word becomes an escape. That is, until it doesn’t.

There are times when the imagination speaks a very real truth, thereby illuminating a very real decision that had to be made. Now, I don’t know whether regret seems appropriate. I want to believe I’ve made the right choice, but the nagging feeling, the one tugging at my heartstrings, has been agitated by literature, by the imaginary but very real conclusion of one, C.S. Lewis:

“[Stop] using pity, other people’s pity, in the wrong way. We have all done it a bit on earth . . . Pity was meant to be a spur that drives joy to help misery. But it can be used the wrong way round. It can be used for a kind of blackmailing. Those who choose misery can hold joy up to ransom, by pity.”

AND

“[There is] the demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power . . .”

– C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce

My pity is a poison.

November 16th, 2013

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I am always guilty. I can think of little else. The guilt, the guilt, the guilt, weighing down, bearing down, breaking my heart. It is my company, part of me, something that no one can see, but its there: midst smiles and laughter, rain or shine.

Guilt takes many forms. For me, there is the guilt of not doing enough, of not being enough. There is the guilt of not believing enough, not feeling enough. Constantly questioning my thoughts, my dreams, my direction. Constantly tainting my love, my words, my affection. And doesn’t guilt come from a desire for perfection?

So what is it then, which leaves me this way? What is it then, that leads me astray? Answer my question, answer me this:

Am I alone, in this guilt-ridden trip?

November 14th, 2013

I’ve just snapped awake from the strangest dream:

I am walking. It is dark. At first, I have no idea where I am. Then I recognize the photos on the wall: they are the same ones hanging in my mother’s hallway. Those photos are of my sister, brother and I, but here, they are blurry, and fuzzy, and mostly black. The doors to my right and left seem to go on forever, down, down, down the hallway that is both familiar and unfamiliar.

There are noises coming from each of the doors. Every time I open one, there are people I know inside. Everyone seems to be having a party, but as soon as I open the door, they all turn to stare at me. No one invites me in. So I move on to the next door. The same thing happens, again and again, and soon I am running, running, running, from each door to the next, trying to find someone who loves me, someone who wants to share their life with mine. Finally, at the end of the hall,  one door lies ajar, and there are no sounds coming from within. I open it.

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The door leads outside. Think of a graveyard under the moonlight, but there is no moon, there are no graves. Yet. I have been walking forever. I am tired. I am alone. In the dream, thousands of years pass, but I do not move forward. I do not grow. The graveyard, as time passes, fills with headstones. As they appear, I go to them. Each stone is brutally carved with the name of someone I know. Connie. Amy. Keighlagh. The list goes on. I cannot cry, but the welling feeling inside me is unbearable. Alesha, Cynthia, Brittany.

I begin kicking the gravestones, and a heavy wind starts to blow, chilling me to the bone. I wake up shivering, tears streaming down my face.

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