If You Didn’t Put Up, Shut Up

For the past four months, Canadians have either been anticipating or been actively engaged in a federal election.

Unlike our America Cousins, we don’t draw these things out. We like to campaign quick, vote in October and get back to important things like hockey.

This election was frustrating. Unlike your Grade 7 Social Studies class on government, there were few defined and costed platforms that really landed with voters. No need to talk about hearing what Canadians want and certainly no creative ideas coming from “leaders”. However, there were plentiful jabs, slanderous comments and stomach churning commercials “endorsed” by full grown adults even though the content was beyond immature.

One good thing about the day after the election is you get to see how many people showed up to vote.

This year it was only 66% of us.

This makes me think of people around the world who walk for days if not weeks just for the opportunity to vote in their election. People die to fight for the right to vote. Women in this country protested and died for the right to vote IN THIS COUNTRY.

And almost half of us didn’t. Even. Bother.

Shame on you if you didn’t. Kudos if you did.

It’s tiring listening to people rant about politics and not taking action when the opportunity presents itself. It’s even more frustrating because we are so critical of the U.S. political reality; the non stop election cycle; the immature name calling and lies.

I think Canadians can do better. Until we demand better, we can expect no better from our “leaders”. With a minority government we have roughly 18 to 24 months until we get back on this merry-go-round.

So let’s do better. All of us.

Shame On Us

The adult outrage against Greta Thunberg prompts this column. I dedicate it to her.

Her recent “How Dare You” speech at the UN National Assembly didn’t just get applause, but ridicule. How DARE this 16-year-old GIRL speak in such a manner? Within days social media was poisoned with memes of her outraged visage overlaid with mocking words pointing out her age, gender, her Aspergers or her appearance.

Shame on us.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment where caring for flora and fauna was something to be proud of. When I had a home of my own, I wanted pets and to care for plants. We recycled, composted and had a barn pail for food scraps that went to our family farm for barn cats. We had less garbage with two small children than families on our street with only two people in them. I still have a laundry line. On days when it’s not conducive to hang wash outside, I have drying racks I my laundry room. I have switched to environmentally responsive dish soap and laundry soap. I have reduced my single use plastics to the point that I have carried numerous purchases from the grocery store to my vehicle because I left my reusable bag in the back seat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I’ve made choices that didn’t put the environment first. I’m trying more and more every day. I think that’s what we all need to do – try harder.

Instead, grown adults are hurling insults at a child. Pointing the finger at Millennials. THEY are the ones who want new cell phones. THEY are the ones who are mass consumers. THEY should not be lecturing their elders about environmentalism because the older generation consumed milk out of glass bottles and diapered their babies in flannel nappies. Ok, I’ll concede that point…. But the kind of change needed isn’t limited to how we consume dairy products. It’s decades of abuse and neglect of resources that could only tolerate so much. Decades of cars with little if any emissions regulations. Decades of big businesses not being regulated for physical and air borne pollutants. Bucks before polar bears, right?

The semantics of “global warming” vs “climate change” makes me want to stab myself in the face. ToMAEto TomAto. Talk about fiddling while Rome is burning.

I did share a meme that listed a number of suggestions that people could try that would make a difference. Everything from laundry and shopping to reducing how much garbage we generate. Within hours I had a reply to this post.

“Some of these suggestions aren’t practical. JS (just saying)”

Really?!?

Fortunately I took a sober second thought and instead of ripping this “friend” a new one, I replied the common sense that was implied by the post.

“These are suggestions that we can draw from – even one or two can make a difference.”

DID I REALLY HAVE TO SAY THAT?

Yes. Yes I did.

Shame on US.

I get it. If you live in an apartment, you likely don’t have access to a laundry line. But you could pop up a drying rack. Just work with me here, ok?

Just try.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Overnight a day changes. A month changes. A year changes.

I’ve encountered two kinds of people – those who reject change or find it difficult, and those who embrace it. For some, even changing a new hairstyle is too much. For others, they thrive on the difference that change brings to their lives. There is some easy change, like a new purse, and then there’s more difficult change, like losing a job.

This past year has brought some of the more challenging types of change. I do enjoy change, and like to have goals I’m working toward because I like the feeling of moving forward, progress, evolution. I haven’t liked all the changes this past year has brought. I lost sight of the evolution that happens to all of us and it’s not always timed the way we want it to be. Some people leave our lives and we struggle to see things the same way without them. Some people come into our lives and because they are new, it can be difficult to fit them into our world. Status quo is comfortable. It doesn’t challenge us. We are lulled by our comfort.

Christmas is a time that brings changes to the fore. Changes that don’t matter in July are overwhelming in December. We need our traditions to give us a sense of continuity over time, starting when we are children. Change at this time can be especially difficult. It’s been remarkable how many times change has come up during this recent holiday season. Anything different is painful and hard to accept. If we don’t  have Grandma’s china on the table, is it still Christmas? If we don’t gather on the 25th of December, can we still celebrate?

Change, even the hard change, is good. You can’t flip through any family photo album and not see the changes. Children grow, new family members join the photos, older members leave seats around the table, which are then filled with new children. Do we not want things to change? No, we want the good stuff, but it’s the uncomfortable change that we’d rather do without. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick our change a la carte. It’s ordered for us, delivered to our door and there is no returning it to the kitchen.

So what’s the answer to adapting to the shitty change? Flexibility and perspective. I look back at my own life and can see the times that the times that I was part of change may have been difficult to people around me. Some of them were gracious and accepting. Some of there were not. Some of them were downright cruel. I am not going to be one of those people.

I am going to look at all change as a challenge in flexibility; witnessing my family and friends evolve and grow. Someone new coming for dinner? BRING IT! Changing a tradition we’ve had for 40 years? Guess it’s time for something new.

I’m looking at 2018 as a year of growth and success. The past several years have had their fair share of challenges. Last year felt like pushing Jell-O over sandpaper. It’s time for change, either brought to me or created by me.

I’m looking forward to that change, very much.  Happy New Year to all of you!

If You Don’t Laugh, You Cry

So apparently that last post got some people worked up!

Good.

To be fair, within half an hour, I heard from two male friends who expressed, a) horror that this had happened to me, b) support. Within a week I had much more support from both male and female readers. I completely understand why commenting on the post itself was not something they were comfortable with. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and for some, it was triggering. I feel for anyone who has gone through this as well. It’s not a fun club to be part of.

However, anyone who knows me knows I don’t do “victim” well. Never have. That doesn’t mean that I was born as a jaded little scrapper, it means that when faced with adversity/negativity, I tend to look for solutions or positivity. I have coworkers who are annoyed with my “glass half full” outlook. It means when life tees up my order of lemons, I’m looking how to deal with all that lemonade. Didn’t get the job? Wasn’t meant for me. Don’t have an overflowing bank account? I’ve got a great marriage, family and solid health. Think that’s schmaltzy? Ask someone who is sick how awesome being healthy is. “Getting through” is a powerful life skill.

I have also been reassured by some readers that there are still “good guys” out there. Yup. There are. Now those good guys need to get their back up when they see this happening. Don’t just be embarrassed for the woman. Don’t feel ashamed because a member of your gender has made it tough for the rest of you by looking like an asshole. Stand up and speak up. You have mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, granddaughters – again, I would suggest at some point in their lives, they too have had to deal with this. They just don’t post it on a blog. Ask them. Support them. Don’t question their actions, reactions or even their desire not to talk about it. That’s their Right. It doesn’t make them less brave for not sharing. They are brave for enduring it and continuing to live their lives as broken, glued together women. Sometimes it makes you stronger. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I have two mottos for my life: The Best Revenge Is To Live Well; and If You Don’t Laugh You’ll Cry. I’m still the same person I was two weeks ago. I don’t live this in my day to day existence. I will continue to have a bent sense of humor, and say things that might be painful in their truth, but I’m not going to a victim and I’m not to look the other way.

If my last post bothered you, then I hope you’ll do the same.

…and I promise the next post will be a little lighter…

The Best Kept Worst Secret

It’s been radio silence lately because the only thing that has motivated me to write is the 10th rate frat movie/soap opera that is the United States of America. But really, we all have the same opinion, so I can’t offer anything to this discussion.

It wasn’t until the shit-show that is Harvey Weinstein came to the fore that felt the need to formulate more than thoughts, and write. You might think I’m a little late to this “party” but the fact of the matter is, the only good to come out of this scandal is that the biggest Club in the world has finally lifted it collective head and said, “We’re not gonna take it any more.”

I’ve had more conversations with women about our shared experience of assault, abuse and embarrassment in the past two weeks than you can imagine. Social media is flooded with #metoo, which, when I posted it, felt empowering, and yet each time I saw a friend posting it, somehow it made me feel worse. There are too many of us.

Here’s heads up – I’m going to use language that may make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry if that’s the case. But I ask you to question why it makes you uncomfortable. If it’s because these types of things shouldn’t be discussed, I would suggest that thinking is part of the problem.

***

The first time I was exposed to this type of conduct was when I was a child. I can’t bring myself to write about that experience, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t dealt with properly and to this day, the emphasis has been on the “poor” offender.

***

Uglyness of Men reared it’s head when I was in Grade 9, and a Grade 12 student took a shine to me. He made it his mission to stalk me in hallways. For some reason my friends only thought it was creepy because he wasn’t ‘cute’. Apparently stalking is more palatable when you are attractive. He elevated his game to calling my home and not talking when I answered the phone. It wasn’t until I flat out told him he was a freak show  for his inappropriate conduct that he stopped his unsettling behaviour.

***

It continued when I was in Grade 12,  when a male guidance counsellor suggested, with a rather inappropriate look on his face, that I was “selling (myself) short by not going to university. (I’m) far too pretty to go to college.” I left his office immediately after.

<PAUSE> Please know that I am well aware of my outward appearance. I don’t take myself for a raging beauty, nor do I think I’ve been hit with an “ugly stick”. I float somewhere around the middle – acceptable. Which is likely why I felt so uncomfortable that he commented on my appearance. I was never evaluated in such a way before. It’s also likely why I’m not comfortable with comments on my appearance in general. <PLAY>

***

Ironically, my issues where always with males who were older than me. Boys my age; I didn’t exist to them. Perhaps that was a blessing.

Now I’m dating someone a bit older than me, and we are going out for New Year’s Eve. His friend, a mutual acquaintance, corners me during Auld Lang Syne and kisses me after inappropriately asking if my date has kissed me yet during the course of our relationship. I try to defer the conversation in an attempt to seek out the guy I came with, and would like to be embracing. Just before he plants it on me, I see my date across the floor, looking for me. I’m treated to an alcohol flavored slobber. He thinks it’s funny.

***

Next, I’m a married woman around 23 years old, who is attending a Stag and Doe for a family member. I’m dressed for the summer evening wearing an A-line dress with a V neckline. Another relative slides up beside me and has a rather uncomfortable grip on my midsection. He then angles his head so it is directly beside mine and looks down.

“I can’t believe you just looked down my dress,” I exclaim loudly. This is enough for his head to snap back and the arm to retract. I continue, “I saw you do that! Who looks down his (family relation’s) dress?!” He now adopts a stance where it appears as thought I’m bat-shit crazy and he’s protecting himself from an unwarranted barrage from a hormonal female.

Three other people saw him do it, and heard me call him out, and said nothing, but shot daggers at him. While one individual thought the exchange was “embarrassing”, it was worth it given that the offender stayed as far away from me as the room would allow.

***

Now I work for an organization where part of my role is to mingle and develop relationships with patrons. There is a free bar and I have comfortable relationships with a number of the individual at this reception. One individual, who is obviously putting on a show for his friends, puts his arm around my waist as he introduces me to his group. While I’m not a fan of such physical contact at work, this is common practice by both male and female patrons and is largely interpreted by employees as gesture of friendship. This individual completes his praise of the evening, then pulls me in and gives me an open mouth kiss, which – in and of itself was disgusting, and was further traumatizing because of the food that was not completely masticated in his mouth. I pull away, make a gracious exit (because remember, I don’t want to embarrass HIM!) and advised my supervisor. He brushes it off and suggests I don’t go back to that party’s table for the rest of the evening.

As we drive home, my supervisor in the front passenger seat, and his supervisor driving the mini van. I attempt to block the evening’s events from my mind by reclining in the middle row of the van. Suddenly I’m drawn to the conversation in the front seat.

“Sarah had a problem tonight with (name has been removed to protect the guilty).” said Supervisor 1.

“What was it?” asked Supervisor 2, not at all concerned in his tone or word choice.

“(Name has been removed to protect the guilty) kissed her. On the mouth.” said S1.

S2 laughs. I am @#%*ING awake now!

“I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as she’s letting on,” he replies.

“Actually, it was worse because he had a mouth full of food,” I stated. The van jerks on the roadway as S2 didn’t think I was listen to him make a grade A chauvinistic asshole of himself. He then tried to downplay what he said, and generally smooth over the incident, saying sometimes people just drink too much and these things just “happen.”

“I didn’t think prostitution was part of the job description.” I finished. Apparently I was hormonal again, because the two of them stopped talking. Although two supervisors are aware of this incident, it is never brought up again, and the perpetrator is never spoken to.

Don’t worry – I left this position shortly thereafter, as I had applied for a promotion that was all but assured. Honestly, I had co-workers and patrons telling me I was going to get the promotion, how hard I’d worked for it, and how amazing I’d be in the new role. I did not, in fact, get the promotion. Apparently I had commitments at home that would prevent me from doing the job. He was referring to my kids. I should note that I had put in as many hours or more during my eight years with that organization as any other employee. When I left, they replaced me with two men. One, who is now in the role that I applied for, has children…..sorry, I forgot we were talking about straight sexual harassment, not gender prejudice in the workplace – that’s another post.

***

As recently as this year, my 46th on this planet, I’ve had inappropriate comments made to me. One of my favorites, “I know which window is for your bedroom”. Another, “I listen to you on the radio and loooove hearing your voice.” – please imagine a very creepy facial expression to that last one. Oh, and these are from the same person. I point out to him that these comments are rather uncalled for, and he’s going to get in trouble for saying them. He responds, “Oh you know what I mean.”

Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s the point.

I don’t hold back now. I haven’t for a while – as this post attests. I own these incidents, not because – as the offenders would think – because it makes me look desirable and is flattering, but because this is how I learned how to draw my line in the sand. Now, after these many conversations, I’m going to be even more vocal about improper conduct. I am the mother of two sons. I have taught them that a woman will give it back to you if you try to mess with her. I have taught them that it is not a compliment to a woman or to a man to treat a woman like an object. Woman are not objects to be owned or mauled. We are not stupid. We’ve been putting up with bullshit for decades. If prostitution is the second oldest profession for women, then sexual predator is the oldest crime for men.

Saying nothing hasn’t helped. Silence is the key the offender uses to open the door to this crime, and it’s what he uses to lock it behind him when he’s done. She won’t say anything. She never has. If she does, she will be portrayed as emotional, hormonal, crazy, a slut, disgruntled, manipulating. There’s less of a chance she will say anything because history has proven that society won’t believe her, or worse, re-victimize her over and over again.

No more. If you think you are going to “grab ’em by the pussy” be prepared to get kicked in the balls.

 

 

 

Helicopter Vs Public Transit Parents

Were you as shocked as I was to learn a BC father had to be told his four children could not take public transit without him until the eldest child was 12?

Were you as shocked as I was to learn they have been doing this for a year? That math means that he was preparing a 9 year old to ride a city bus while supervising siblings. What. The. Hell.

The father’s position is that he rode the bus with his children for two years to prepare them for this transition to independence. He feels the government, who made this decision, is “infantizing citizens” and reinforcing Helicopter Parents.

<PAUSE> Helicopter Parents – parents who create an environment of fear or anxiety based on real or perceived dangers to their child. Can also be a parent who cannot respect boundaries within the parent/child relationship and insists on being present for all aspects of the child’s physical, emotional and psychological development. As a result the child often feels incapable of functioning with the presence of said parent. <PLAY>

Apparently he has enough support that a GoFundMe page has been started to help him with his legal costs. No. I’m not linking it here.

In an age when people are bemoaning the fact that kids are growing up too quickly, why would anyone support a parent who is putting such a load of responsibility on their child? I’m sure I’ll be inundated with tales of readers who had a great deal of responsibility at young ages. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of accountably and responsibility. I’m just not sure making an elementary school child responsible for younger siblings on a public mode of transportation in the 8th largest city in Canada is the way to go about it.

The other side of this story would be that if something happened to these children, voices would be raised in outrage that NOONE did ANYTHING about these vulnerable children who were in an inappropriate situation. Let’s hope at some point this father realizes that at best, he’s been saved from an embarrassing situation, and at worst, a dangerous one.

 

 

Can’t Keep Up With The Stupid

So how ’bout those Americans, eh?

Honestly, I’ve written this entry dozens of times in my mind. I come up with witty observations while I’m making dinner. It’s something I think of before I fall asleep. Yet, I’ve waited two weeks before saying anything about the political End of Days that has taken place south of us.

I guess I didn’t want the posting to be stale, and since the shit-show has been evolving daily, it’s truly hard to keep up. After all, I work full time. And require food. And sleep; unlike the latest “Leader of the Free World” who manages to offend, alienate and terrorize all while maintaining a robust Twitter presence. I’ve felt frustration, anxiety, annoyance, anger and confusion – and that was just the first day of the new administration. Did I mention I don’t even LIVE in the United States of America? However, the saying from my high school History class has stuck with me; Canada is the Mouse and the U.S. is the Elephant. If the Elephant has a cold, the Mouse sneezes. This circus most definitely impacts us.

Never before have I explained the concept of the Electoral College vs the Popular Vote as many times as I have in the past three weeks. I’m sure it’s the result of outright disbelief by some people to comprehend how a Democratic society in this day and age could find itself HERE. HERE is the intersection of Pissing Off The Lefties Street and Pissing Off The Rest of the World Boulevard.

<PAUSE> Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not Pro Hillary for the sake of a vagina. She, too, had issues as a person and as a candidate. However, the overlooking of issues for the male candidate versus the magnification of the issues of the female candidate was fairly self evident. For as long as I live, I will never forget the grace and poise that woman had as she attend the Inauguration for her opponent. While many feel she should have declined the event, as the former First Lady, she would attend with her husband, who, sadly, was a much of a hindrance as anything else. So before you go nuts in the comments, know that “Team Girl” is not my motive. <PLAY>

You might wonder how this happened, too. How do we go from being shocked about a Republican candidate mocking a physically challenged reporter to Executive Orders like ticker-tape confetti? Simple. Because we thought he hit rock bottom when he did THAT. Then the videotape came out where he referenced his unabashed ability to access women’s private parts – or so he thought – and we thought THAT was rock bottom. Then there was the failure to provide taxation documents – THAT was rock bottom, right? Nope? Ok. How about the Mexican wall? Nope. Immigration? Nope. Environment? NOPE! Sweet Baby Jesus, even when the dust settled from the election, people kept on saying,  “You have to give him time. Campaigning is different from leading.” Then we heard the Inaugural Address which was, effectively, setting everyone up for more of the same spew.

I’m sure the logic in the voting booth was that he couldn’t be THAT bad. Or perhaps the logic was that if you gave him enough rope, he’d hang himself. But then he decides to make his key appointments from the very slime covered remnants of the swamp he vowed to drain. A majority of white, older, males, who individually are in a tax bracket equivalent to some of the entire “inner cities” he purports to champion.

But you know, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He didn’t let any grass grow. Minutes after lunching with the very people he threw under the bus in his Inauguration Address, he trotted up to the Oval Office and started signing Executive Orders like a boss! He also had numerous pages removed from the White House website. You know, deadweight content like Environment, LGBTQ, Women’s Issues.

The yuge “crowds” of his inauguration were eclipsed by the massive protests the next day when the Women’s March took place. Not only were the haters out in full force on social media, but the new president also took a pause from his smoking pen to express how much LARGER his crowds were the day before.

Really?

This is what gets your attention? A bunch of women (and notably men) wearing pink knitted cat hats? Interesting….

It has been revealing to see how some people have reacted to this historic and peaceful demonstration. The anger, negativity and entitlement knows no bounds. We had people hating on Madonna and other celebs who DARED to share their political views. (I guess they forgot their leader used his celebrity as a launch pad for his current career foray.) Ironically, no matter how you feel about Madge or her music, the broad has a Right to speak her mind since, guess what, SHE’S AMERICAN – and Freedom of Speech is still a thing – at least at the time of this posting. One particularly insightful meme pointed out that Madonna is the last person a woman should listen to regarding women’s rights, because, after all, she has used her body and her sexualized persona to advance her career. Um…hate to tell you, but that’s the point – it’s HER choice to do that. She wasn’t pimped out by a man, or, for that matter, another woman. How she used her body is HER Right! Don’t want to watch her bump and grind? No problem, but don’t try to convince me you are ok with a serial molester who sexualizes his own daughter as President, but find The Material Girl’s gyrating upsetting and offensive. #PotmeetKettle

However, the most disturbing aspect of this new reality is the relationship with the Media. I was trained in the lost Art of Journalism (I’m sorry but I can’t tolerate the fascination with celebrity as “real” news – it’s part of what got us where we are today.) The minute you see someone discrediting numerous media outlets in favor of those with open biases, you have a problem. Journalists are being arrested in America! Remember when we were horrified when that happened in countries ruled by dictators? Sorry – I didn’t say “Spoiler Alert”.

From day one the objective of this office has been to start the process of gas lighting the public and conditioning them to accept only one outlet, one source of information – the Oval Office. It has already started. “What do you mean the crowds weren’t yuge? They WERE yuge! THAT photo was taken when people were still filling in hours before.” Terms like “Alternative Facts” are coined. That’s not a thing people! Let’s not allow “Alternative Facts” to become a thing!!

You end up with the long time supporters who continue drinking the Kool Aid, and then the confused (those who voted for him looking for jobs, but blithely ignoring the nasty stuff) will fall into the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario – no one will speak the truth for fear of reprisal. And THIS is how we got to this messed up intersection. No one wanted to call him out on his bullshit when they had the chance because they didn’t think anyone would take him seriously. His particular brand of negativity has given permission to a certain level of individual who is easily threatened, likely due the remarkable low level of self-esteem he/she possession. Yet another trait he/she share with their leader.

You think I’m crazy? Anyone who feels the need to defend the size of his hands during a Presidential Campaign has a mammoth inferiority complex that he is constantly battling with his ongoing barrage of b.s. Same thing goes for his bullying tactics. Why does he do this? Because he’s truly uneducated. Yes, he has a degree from Penn State, but it he wouldn’t be the first graduate to have a less than authentic diploma and educational experience.

Let’s talk about being educated – life long learning, adapting to changing times, learning from others, accepting new concepts. You know, qualities you would want in a national leader who is going to represent your population on an international stage. The minute he said Mexico was paying for the wall, I turned to The Big Guy and stated, “He’s going to tariff them.” Should have put money on that. You know, if you go around slapping countries in the face, you should fully expect to get payback – and you’ve only been hitting the international community one at a time. You better layer up on the bronzer, ‘cuz this could be a knock out when the rest of the world returns your favor. Except for Russia, because, you know, Putin will be selling tickets to that show.

When it comes to strengths, he has two, if you can call them that. He knows how to incite fear, and then flame the fearful mentality; and he knows a great deal about ego. This is why he has opted not to surround himself with experienced and knowledgable experts on topics such as national security, but his own posse of Yes-Men and Women who are there to stroke his ego and assure him his hair looks GREAT…really GREAT!

He is ignorant. He’s a dinosaur from another era that managed to say the right combination of lies to make the public believe one version of himself, while he presents another version behind closed doors. And sadly, he doesn’t even care that we know he’s lying to us.

What he has been exceptionally good at is pissing people off. Figures released today indicate he has set a record for hitting a disapproval rate in eight days. Obama was over 900 days and George W. Bush was 1,200+ days. Hey, I say when you find your strong suite, stick with it! These are interesting times. Buckle up Buttercup!

P.S. You will notice I have not indicated the subject by name. That is deliberate. I’m far from afraid of fallout (because I’m sure The Bowery Girl is on his browser Favorites) I just refuse to feed his vanity – and feel that a deliberate omission of his name is just what will itch him where he can’t scratch. Yup – I’m a cow that way.