Archive for July, 2011

RIP, Dear Departed Souls

July 23rd, 2011

Today, I’m sad. And it may not be for the same reasons that a lot of people are sad today. As I’ve been looking at the world today, through my weird eyes and processing it in my bizarre brain, I’ve been trying to figure out if I should write about what is troubling me or just stuff it inside of that place things go when I’m looking at the events of the world and human interactions which result in me becoming rather dismayed and disheartened.

In the last 24 hours, the world went to shit. People lost their lives at the hands of an act of terrorism. And if I hear one more person say it wasn’t terrorism… my reaction will not be pretty. Also, a single person lost her life as the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, due to having a tortured soul. Both of these situations have me in a state of grief. Each of these lives were unique and precious. Many people lost their children and family members.

For me, it isn’t so much they are dead. We all die. What has me grieving is looking at it from the eyes of a parent. One day, your child is alive. The next day, through very tragic circumstances, they are gone. Regardless of how you want to look at what brought on these situations, regardless if you want to attribute them to terrorism or a random act of violence or unhealthy lifestyle, many families are grieving for the sudden loss of a loved one. My heart goes out to them. If it were my child, I would go mental. That is if I survived the want to be dead myself.

Also, in some weird way, I feel a bit of survivor’s guilt. Just when you thought I couldn’t be more bent, I’m about to show another level of my particular brand of peculiarity.

These last week, I’ve been such an entitled fuck. I’ve been complaining and moaning about dying microphones; trolls coming into chat during my show; websites not functioning as they should; programs crashing while working on important, past due work, setting me back six hours in work; being way too busy and having no ‘me’ time; having a never-ending mountain of things that must be done; and my lupus still being a major pain in my arse. I’ve been waking up extremely irritable and cursing life and just wanting every thing and every one to go away because they are taking way too many of my resources and I have nothing left for myself. This is where the survivor’s guilt comes in.

In some ways, I am entitled to piss and moan about such things. Because part of the reality of my life is that if I do become to buried in stress and stuff to do, it could very well make my lupus worse, which could result with me being back in hospital… or worse. But there is another reality, I’M FUCKING ALIVE! Part of my life may be tortured. Part of it may not go the way I want it to. But I’m alive and doing some pretty awesome shit. And the awesome crap, the stuff with the biggest rewards, never comes easy. If it came easy, I’d probably not appreciate it.

So, this morning I woke up, grumpy and irritable, after working until 2 am in the morning because I had to fight with technology so that all my stuff would work. And then I read the terrible news about Olso and Amy Winehouse, and thought to myself, “Man, I thought I had problems. Thank bob, I’m still alive to piss and moan. My heart goes out to all the families who are currently grieving.”

No sooner did I begin making my mental checklist of all the things I should be thankful for, the whole finding the silver lining in the stupid little shit I am currently having to deal with, no sooner was I starting to feel better about my current circumstances and the survivor’s guilt was dissipating, that is when the things started which caused me to be sad.

I saw people on Twitter fighting over what is more important: The deaths in Olso or a the death of celebrity, one who some say deserved to die. Aside from some trying to make light of Amy’s death or worse, tying to completely negate how tragic it is, I saw people trying to spin the whole Oslo thing into something less tragic and trying to downplay it. People are bloody dead! Suddenly! Gone out of their families lives, forever! And there people are, living and breathing with the ability to continue doing and living and telling their loved ones, “I love you”, fighting with each other over which deaths should be talked about and are more important.

People suck. As I said on Twitter, you’re making me sad today. I don’t understand why people can’t grieve both the atrocities in Oslo and Amy Winehouse. The loss of a life, whether it is 1 tortured soul or 92 people, is a sad affair. Each life was equally precious. Just my two cents.

Now, I’m going to go grieve for those families who suddenly lost their loved one. Because I’m sad, you may find me making some very inappropriate comments and jokes, because that is how I deal. Finding humour in the most horrible of things keeps me somewhat sane. Others will be grieving through anger. Others will be grieving in silence. But I think it is safe to say, many people are grieving today. Who is anyone to judge what is more important to feel sadness over? Maybe, just maybe, you need to take your head out of your arse and ask yourself how you’d like to be treated if you were sad about something. Do you want people to shit on your grief or do you want them to make an attempt to be empathetic? Just something to think about.

While the world decides to be petty and fight over who’s death is more important, I’m going to be thankful that I woke up this morning and am still breathing. I’m going to be thankful that I still have the opportunity to piss and moan over stupid, inconsequential shit. I’m going to be thankful that I can still hug my boys and tell them that I love them.

I’m also going to be grieving for all the parents who no longer have that opportunity.


Such a beautiful place it is, to be with friends

July 14th, 2011

Tomorrow, Kid1 will be taking Kid2 and me to see Harry Potter 7 Part 2, his treat. This is such a bitter-sweet experience for me and I’m not sure I could ever truly articulate why. But I am going to try anyway.

10 years ago, on opening night, I took Kid1 to see the first Harry Potter movie. Kid2 was not yet old enough. And if my memory is serving me correctly, it was the first movie I had taken him to see in the theatre. We arrived at the theatre a couple hours before curtain, waiting in a huddled mass with loads of other people.

It wasn’t until Harry Potter mania had started to build around the first movie that I read the first two books. I had heard the name in the media and how it was supposedly the next best thing since sliced bread, but it wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my small town. I knew no-one who had read the books or even cared to. The third and fourth books were already published as well, but I wasn’t going to purchase any of them until I had read the first two books, which were given to me to read by my mother.

I had decided to read them first, alone, in order to decide if this was even something my children would enjoy and to help me decide if it would be appropriate to bring my then 6-year-old child to see. I was immediately hooked.

It wasn’t because it was a great work of fiction. The books are not exactly literary works of art. But they were magic nonetheless. When I would talk with other adults who had read them, they would complain about how childish and simply written they were. Without trying to show my anger and snobbishness, I would politely try to remind them that is because they are children books. They are suppose to be written that way. Heated debates would begin, which went something like, “When we were children, we read Lord of the Rings in grade school. Those are considered children’s books. Is this the best authors can come up with now for youth?” I would smile and say, “Ah, yes. But we also had The Secret World of Og and Charlotte’s Web. Those are considered great classics and cannot be compared to Lord of the Rings.” But I digress. I suppose the main thing my friends had an issue with is that I, someone who can be quite a snob at times, adored Harry Potter. But as I already said, there was magic in them.

I can’t even begin to go into every thing I ended up taking away from the story when I would sit down and read each book. That would require a novel in itself. But outside of the emotional and personal journey these books took me on, these journeys were shared with my boys.

After I finally finished the first two books, I sat down with Kid1 and read them to him in preparation for the movie. I will never forget how freaked out he got when I would do the voices for the basilisk in the walls. One time, I made him cry and he begged me to stop using that voice when I read and instead, to use my normal voice.

These moments were wonderful. We would be curled up on the couch, under the blankets, as I painted the story of Harry Potter within my child’s brain to see. There were many nights of, “Oh, mum. Just one more chapter. PLEEEEEASE!” I would give in, only for the next, “PLEEEEASE, one more chapter. I promise, I’ll go to bed when you are done.”

These stories also were the cause of many wonderful talks about how to treat others, about what is fair and isn’t, about never giving up no matter what you are facing and more. These stories caused us to cry together, laugh together, get angry together, cheer together and mourn together.

After the successful indoctrination into the Harry Potter world after the first two books and the first movie, Harry Potter and his friends became a regular fixture in our household. I immediately purchased the next two books. As Kid2 got older, I would later read the books with him and watch the movies with him. Soon, Kid2 was old enough where when a movie was released or a book was released, all three of us were waiting in line together, reading them together, watching them together, talking about them together, crying together, laughing together, getting angry together, cheering together and mourning together. The exception to this is Harry Potter 7 Part 1, which Kid1 took Kid2 to see, his treat, just the two of them, as some brother bonding thing.

(No, I’m not bitter about that. I think it is sweet that the older brother wanted to take the younger brother on a bro date… Well, maybe I’m a little bit bitter.)

Harry Potter was also the source of many games. We fashioned our own wands made out of bamboo and would have wand duels in the backyard or on hikes. For years, I’ve been accused of having the ability to apparate because I suddenly appear in the same room with them and they didn’t see or hear me coming. That is when I would have to remind them that if I could in fact apparate, there’d be a definite cracking noise every time I did.

For 10 years, Harry Potter has been a permanent fixture in our household. My boys and I have grown-up together, alongside Harry.

And now, Kid1 is old enough where he is taking both his brother and me to see the final installment tomorrow. We have come full circle. It is really bitter-sweet. Thinking about how much we have grown together and have bonded together in the last 10 years, all thanks to Harry Potter, and thinking about how it is about to come to its final end is causing me to weep.

10 years is a long time to share something with anyone, especially your children. Out of every one I know, most families still have young children. It has only been in the last couple of years that they’ve poured all things Harry Potter down their throats. Some of my friends’ children are still too young and it will be a few more years before they introduce them to Harry Potter. And when they do, it will probably be in one large dose, instead of a constant stream of sharing and learning more about Harry and his friends.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now that it is done. Both my boys are really excited about tomorrow but they are also both sad. The entire household is in some weird state of mourning at the moment. Yes, for the hardcore fans, there is Pottermore and talk of other things. But, for this house, Harry Potter isn’t about JK Rowling or witches and wizards or being geeky or a fan-culture things. If nobody else in the world loved Harry Potter, we wouldn’t care because that does not diminish the experiences we had, thanks to these stories, over the last 10 years.

We will still continue to talk about Harry Potter. We will probably still continue to re-read and re-watch the movies together. But I am going to miss the shared anticipation and the newness of it all, this sense of complete joy and excitement that we are about to embark on the next installment of the journey, together.

And there is so much more. But I’m just way too sad and happy right now to even begin to express it all. I think I’m beginning to write and talk in circles.

Anyway, thank you JK Rowling for writing these books and giving something constant that my boys and I could look forward to together. Thank you for giving something to share, something we could rely on and escape into together when other things in our lives were crazy and scary. Thank you for allowing us to create our own magic in our family. Thank you for this gift.

Dear Feminism: Please Stop Trying To Speak For Me And Let Me Speak For Myself

July 5th, 2011

This blog is long overdue. Before any one jumps to any conclusions or tries to yet again cram down my throat that I’m selling my fellow vagina down the river, please actually read and consider what it is that I, someone of the vaginal persuasion, has to say.

Today, once more, the Twitters and the blogs are going crazy over comments made by a man. This man is a very high-profile atheist and biologist. His name is Richard Dawkins. I only became aware of this situation because Phil Plait blogged about it. To try and make a long-story short, a female skeptic by the name of Rebecca Watson felts threatened by the actions of a male at some convention. She made a video about it. Richard Dawkins made some very disconcerting remarks. I’ve seen some real asshat comments from that man before, but this even floored me. There is a little bit more to this story. I am going to ask that you read Phil’s blog about it, because it is his blog and the comments left it in that has created the ranty storm within my brain.

I’ll let you read it now.

Oh? You’re done reading? Okay, then I’ll move on.

First, let me address what Phil had to say. I agree, the situation was creepy. I personally would have felt uncomfortable if some dude asked me back to his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning for coffee. Had he asked me to meet him for a coffee the next day at some public place, I would have happily said yes. It is the inviting back to the hotel room that would have caused me to be leery. That being said, I would have felt just as uncomfortable if it were a female asking me back to her hotel room. Because you see, this is where I disagree with Phil. Sorry, Phil. You know I adore you. In my mind, that alone is not a potential sexual assault waiting to happen. Well, it isn’t a potential sexual assault alone. There would have to other factors, such as body language, tone in his voice, if he kept pushing the subject after I said no, if he became agitated or forceful. Based on what little information I have, I personally would have seen it as someone who is lacking some social skills and not understanding why something he could well think is innocent can be interpreted as creepy.

Okay. So we have that. Take note both men and women: Don’t ask strangers back to your hotel room for coffee in the wee hours of the morning unless you are willing for them to interpret the invite to mean, “Wanna get nekkid and to the horizontal mambo?” This goes for men asking women, women asking men, women asking women and men asking men. At least in my brain it does because I don’t discriminate based on the genitals between your legs.

This leads me to the next point about large, sweeping comments such as, “Women in general feel this way [insert sweeping feeling here] about [insert situation here].” 9 times out of 10, when someone makes those statements, this person of the vaginal persuasion does not feel that way. This becomes increasingly true when it is said from the POV of feminism. I read a “feminist” statement, and I think, “How hypocritical! You are wanting your male priveledge and your female privelege too, without allowing men the same benefits and equality! Your feminism is just as bad as chauvinism.”

And before you start to make assumption about my experiences with a vagina, I will tell you, I’ve experienced some pretty terrible things at the hands of men. I was in a physically abusive marriage. I was sexually assaulted. When I was in foster care, I broke up with my boyfriend, only for him to break into my foster home while my foster parents were away and try to rape me, as some sick and twisted type of revenge. To make this worse, my foster dad allowed him back into the house (he was a family friend) because, “If he is man enough to admit he was going to rape my daughter, her is man enough to be allowed back into my house.” My foster dad was the type who believed women asked to be raped simply by the way they dressed.

However, you see, that was a single isolated event. Had those experiences been the norm, then maybe I would have turned into a man-hating feminist. Overall, my experiences with men have been nothing but positive and had I allowed myself to become crippled and a victim of the above events, instead of learning from them and seeing them as growing experiences, I can see how things may be different.

I understand that not every one can just say, “Oh, well. Today I was raped. Tomorrow, I will not live in fear.” Trust me, I had a bit of fear and mistrust. But I worked damn hard to not allow it to define me and how I treated others. I worked hard to be a survivor and not a victim of my events. And I think that is where I get bothered the most, is when people choose to stay victims instead of growing into survivors. Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to remain a victim than it is to do the work necessary to become a survivor.

Feminism has ruined this vagina’s life. I left the military because of it.

Thanks to what it started off to be, I was allowed equal opportunity to join the military. When I joined, I had to be able to do the exact same physical tasks as my male counterpart. What would have stopped me from being allowed to do the job would not have been the fact I was born with a vagina but if I were unable to perform the necessary push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, run just as far while carrying an equally proportioned load, etc.

Then something happened. Someone cried sexual misconduct because an off-coloured joke was told in mixed company. Someone cried sexual assault because someone fixed the collar of their uniform without permission. Here I was in a job where I had to physically do just as much as men, had to sleep co-ed with them both in the bunker and in the field, sharing a shelter, in our underwear nonetheless, but if they wanted to fix my collar so that I would go on report, they had to ask, “Do I have permission to pick a piece of lint off of your collar.” The guy has seen me naked but he can’t touch my uniform or tell a joke around me. How can that there be equal respect and trust if he has to pussyfoot around me and live in fear?

The final straw that ended up causing me to leave the military is when I was pregnant. I was cleared for full duty until my last trimester by my doctor. I had forgotten to tell my NCO that I was pregnant. We were doing our morning parade. I almost fainted on the parade square. It was 5 o’clock in the morning, I was in my first trimester and my body just didn’t want to me marching around at that time in the morning. I was asked what was wrong as I seemed off that morning. I informed that I was pregnant, I had just found out that week and I was just feeling a little bit off. Well, you would think I had killed someone and then contracted both AIDS and developed cancer.

Even so I received medical clearance, I was told I was no longer allowed to step foot on the parade square. Because if I miscarried, I could sue the DND. I was furious! I was pregnant, not dying. If was to miscarry, it would not have been the fault of the DND. A lot of women miscarry. Most of them don’t even realise they are pregnant. But this told me that some female has sued the DND because she miscarried and that is when I had enough. If you want to use your vagina as leverage to not do the job to the same standards and with the same qualifications as the person next to you, then pursue another job.

This goes for any job where someone else’s life depends on your ability to perform certain tasks. I don’t care if you have a penis or vagina. If the job says you have to do 100 push-ups, then that is what you have to do to get the job. The idea of having to hire a female just to fill a quota in jobs where my life depends on it, scares the living crap out of me. I don’t want to have to worry that the female police officer or ambulance attendant or fire fighter will be unable to haul my body out of a dangerous situation. And if I’m in combat, I don’t want to have to worry about my female fireteam partner either charging me for sexual assault for fixing her collar or worry that she cannot carry by body out of the line of fire if I’m injured.

Why the above rant? It is where my brain went after I read this comment on Phil’s blog:

Men are not allowed to speak to or even make eye contact with women without express written permission, signed in triplicate, notarized with at least two witnesses. Because all men are potential sexual predators and all women are delicate potential victims. Sexism, much?

Out of the 75 comments I could stomach reading, I found myself agreeing more with the men than the women. There were maybe 3 comments left by women who I could feel comfortable agreeing with.

Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to worry about taking their children to park in fear of being accused of being a pedophile. Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to walk on eggshells because they have no idea what is that women want anymore. Hell, I don’t even know what it is that women want. Feminism has had women screaming at me because I chose to put my family before a career. I cannot count how many times I have been told that I’m doing women a complete disservice by not being career orientated. And here I thought the point of feminism was so that I could have choices and decide for myself.

I am so sick and tired of women telling me what I should think, want and feel. I am so tired of feminist telling me that I’ve given into some patriarchal thinking by thinking family should come first and children shouldn’t be penciled in like a doctor’s appointment. And here I was under the misunderstanding that I was a smart, educated women who could make decisions for myself. Apparently, I’m not allowed to have men make choices for me, I’m suppose to leave that up to women. No.

It is because of the above that I say I’m for equality. Meaning that men and women get to do things equally. Not that women should be allowed in men’s clubs but also keep their women club’s exclusive. How is that equal? I believe both men and women should have equal access to jobs and be awarded them based on their qualifications and ability to do the job, not based on a quota that needs to be filled. I believe that in child custody cases, custody should not automatically go to the mother because that is not equal. The list can go on, but I think you get the idea.

I believe that I should have the opportunity to speak for myself and I believe in giving other people, regardless of sex, those same opportunities. Please do not speak for me. Because most of the time, you are not. Speak for yourself. Use “I” statements. If you feel that you’ve been oppressed, then speak up on your own behalf. Thankfully, we live in a country that allows that.

If you want to help women who are oppressed in other countries, well first, I don’t believe we have the right to push our “white is right” cultural views on another society. We can however give them the tools necessary to allow them to speak for themselves. We can let them know that they are not alone and where they can seek help if needed. But I don’t think we should be forcing it on them. In my opinion, that is exchanging one form of dictation for another. If the recent events in the Middle East are any indication, if they really want change, they will make it happen and we can be ready to help them if and when they ask.

I suppose all this boils down to, I’ve never felt afraid to voice my opinions or deep-felt feelings to men. I am terrified to voice them to women because heaven forbid I’m not their idea of feminism. Feminism has ruined my ability to trust women with the things I hold most important. Because of what feminism has morphed into, it takes a very long time for me to open up to a female.

Someone else left this comment:

It is simply false to say that all women feel that way – particularly in light of the related issue of Rebecca Watson’s abuse of power with respect to a woman who disagreed with her. Or, even, say, some actual women who’ve actually been raped who actually wrote in response to PZ’s actual post saying they actually don’t feel the way you’ve just said they do; congratulations on speaking for people who are publicly telling everyone they don’t feel that way. Like any good dogmatic cause, let’s make sure we do NOT take honest stock of trivialities like what people you’re saying must feel are saying they in reality do not feel.

THIS! While I may not have any first hand experience of Rebecca’s supposed abuse of power if women disagree with her, I have experienced that abuse of power at the hands of women. I’ve experiences it more times at their hands than at the hands of men.

So once again, I ask, one vagina to the next person who has any sort of sex organs, if you want to fight for equality, then do but make sure you are letting people know that these are your experiences. I am tired of being painted with the same brush and I am so tired of men being terrified to talk to me because the lines have become so confused, blurred and unclear.