Freeze Peach and covid…

There are some things that really annoy me. That pull tab companies place on the jars’ protective covers. You know, the one that never actually helps open the jar and just gets in the way? People who sniffle on the bus… for the whole ride (especially when they refuse an offered kleenex). People who blast their music at 1am in an apartment building (my dresser decor should not be dancing to your music).

Then we get into the people who think it’s their god-given right to harass other people because it’s “free speech”. Seriously? How are you any more freer by telling queer people that you hate them than when you kept your mouth shut? What happened other than hurting people you don’t know (and often people you do)? The answer to both questions would be nothing. You’re not really looking for free speech, you’re looking for carte blanche to bully.

Free speech is about freeing yourself. It’s being allowed to speak your truth. It’s being allowed to say what’s wrong with the government without reprisal. It’s the ability to criticise the police without getting arrested. It’s the right to stand up for yourself and others and say “we are here and we deserve a place in society where we can be safe and equal”. If you’re wanting a space to stand and say “I am better than this group. I don’t think they should have the same rights as me. I want their rights removed”, that’s the exact opposite of free speech. But time after time there are assholes who declare they want to claim that Black people cause their own problems because [insert weak excuse here] or First Nations people are “stealing” government money or trans women are transitioning solely to sneak into women’s washrooms. Explaining to them that they’re wrong is, in their opinion, “going after their free speech”. Telling them they have to stop a) telling lies and b) discriminating against these people results in huge flailing tantrums because their rights are being challenged. Nevermind that they were the ones trampling on someone else’s rights, their right to incite anywhere from dislike to outright hatred of another group has been put into question and that’s not “fair”.

We as a society need to stop listening to false logic and start focusing on what hurts people and what doesn’t. Does a trans woman changing in the corner of the change room hurt anyone? No. Does a group of people harassing her outside the change room door while telling everyone in the vicinity (and online) that she’s a pervert who’s there only to prey on their little girls hurt anyone? Hell yes! These two sides are not equal, hatred or damage wise and I’m so tired of people acting like they’re the same.

And then there’s covid-19 and the dreaded masks. My first three masks were handmade by my Mom, two strawberry patterned and one plain cream. Then I got one with maple leaves while camping this summer… following up with three more pretty ones (plus a Christmas one I’ll hopefully never need again). The hook beside my door is full and there’s often a mask or two on my bathroom counter ready to be washed. They’re a bit of an annoyance. They can suck into my mouth and nose when I breath at times and they fog up my glasses, plus blowing my nose or getting a quick sip of water is a challenge. But they’re comfortable enough. They’re soft and don’t pull anywhere.  Meanwhile anti-maskers act like they’re the anti-Christ. I don’t get it, they’re a piece of fabric and a bit of elastic. They’re not dangerous, or painful, or difficult to wear. But anti-maskers talk about people breathing in a stew of their own wet germs as if they’ve never worn a scarf before. I have one friend who saw a man slip into the grocery store with a mask on then take it off so he could come up behind people and yell “baa” in their ear. Like a sheep, right? Because they were all “sheep” for wearing masks 🙄

I must admit that I didn’t do a tonne of research but what little I did showed a 70% reduction rate in transmitting covid-19 using social distancing and wearing a fabric mask. That’s a hell of a lot of a reduction. With odds like that, what’s the harm in putting on a piece of fabric? There’s a good chance you could be saving someone’s life, maybe even your own. And there’s no downside other than a bit more laundry and some foggy glasses. But on the anti-maskers side they get a tiny bit less laundry, clear glasses (at least until the scarves get pulled out), and an upswing on the chance of killing Granny. I know which side I stand (and it’s not the side yelling “baa” at unsuspecting strangers while they pick out cereal). I mean who sits there and thinks, “I don’t like being told what to do. I mean I follow road safety guidelines, wear my seatbelt, pay for my purchases, cross at crosswalks, put my garbage at the curb on the designated day, and keep my lawn neatly mown but I’m damned if I’m going to put a strip of fabric across my mouth to keep myself, my friends, and my loved ones alive. That’s government interference and I don’t do what the government tells me to do. I’m not a sheep!”

And while refusing to wear a mask while vulnerable people are dying irritates the hell out of me, there’s one thing that really bloody, fucking pisses me off. And that’s ignorant nazi analogies!

absolute fucking outrage

There is a black and white photo taken after one of Hitler’s speeches and, in it, there’s one solitary man standing in a sea of other men. He’s easily noticeable because he’s the only one who’s not saluting, in fact he’s crossing his arms. There is no record of who his is. Two families claim him. One paints him as a man with a Jewish fiance (who he could not marry due to German law) and two little girls. The other as a man who refused to salute in every situation due to religious reasons. For whatever reason, humanitarian or religious, he stood alone. He’s seen as a symbol of defiance. But this complete and utter walking lack of intelligence did a horrible photoshop on the picture as if to claim he was the sole person fighting against the tyranny of… wearing a mask to save your neighbour. Around eleven million people died during the Holocaust. Eleven million!!! That’s six million Jews and five million assorted people from neighbouring countries (like Poland and Serbia), people from the LGBTQIA community, people from the Roma community, autistic and developmentally delayed people, and prisoners of conscience (like Unitarian Universalists). So many people murdered, starved, tortured, and worked to death and this shit for brains person wants to compare standing up against all that, at the risk of death, to refusing to wear a mask while going in to pick up a Pepsi, at the risk of not being allowed in the store.

DO THEY NOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE???

How can they not see the difference between standing up against a totalitarian regime who’s taking your neighbours away and loading them into cattle cars and a bored 20 year old saying, “You have to wear a mask. There’s a box by the sanitizer.” How deep is their need to feel oppressed… to feel like the lead in their own exciting adventure story… that they’ll make up stories like this? They think the government, “big pharma”, and scientists are all working together to microchip them by covid-19 vaccine while they carry around a phone that has their entire Amazon shopping history, credit card information, and can pinpoint their location within a few metres. They’re worried the vaccine will make them sick while walking around maskless during a pandemic. Have they ever met common sense? Even waved at logic from a distance?

Dear anti-maskers (and anti-vaxxers for that matter). No matter what Barney and/or your mother told you, you are not special. You are not one of the chosen few who are smart enough or daring enough to peek behind the curtain and see the truth for what it is. You have not discovered the secrets that scientists, big pharma, the government, Monsanto, the illuminati, etc don’t want you to know and you certainly didn’t find it via YouTube, a personal blog, or a blog pretending to be a news site. The government is not one big political entity. It’s multiple governments over multiple countries and those countries have multiple governments as well. In Canada we have our federal, provincial, and municipal governments and they can all be from opposing parties. So, no, they are not all working together in one huge formation. Some are barely tolerating each other. Some aren’t even tolerating each other at all (written as bombs detonate somewhere in the Middle East). And big Pharma isn’t a thing (which is why we have umpteen dozen competing covid vaccines). Yes, there are big companies. Yes, they’re out to make money. But, no, they’re not working together. And there’s no way every single health care worker around the globe is keeping major secrets. Multiple someones would tell a spouse or family member or friend and the secret would soon be out. Same goes for scientists. They aren’t mysterious people who live in labs, they’re your neighbour with two kids and a pet bunny. I’m sure conspiracy theories makes you feel special and important and quite intelligent, like you’re playing spy except for real, but don’t you think it’s time to be special, important, and intelligent on your own merit and not because you’re believing someone else’s fantasy tale? It will feel even better, I promise. And, seriously, don’t you ever, ever compare yourself to a resistor in WWII Germany. You’re risking, at the worst, getting banned from Loblaws if you’re mouthy enough. That is nowhere near the same category as “starved and forced to dig your own grave”. Don’t be that person.

The cancel culture…

Cis white vegans are the worst!

Some might say I shouldn’t take it seriously but it’s hard not to when every. single. word. is aimed at a part of you. It’s even harder when it comes from a friend, someone who knows I fall under each of those categories. I responded with, “Umm gee thanks. Stereotype much?” then got back a series of rapid fire responses, sent so fast that I received them all at once, explaining it was exactly one person they were mad at and that one person was racist and I “obviously” agreed with her so must be racist too so they’d be happy to yeet me off their page (phew). I’d already been unfriended before I even read the last comment and they never even found out if I agreed with her or not.

The very next day, another friend wrote a post that said, in part, that white women are white first and then women. I took it literally, thought it meant we were born white first then female, and jokingly replied that I was pretty sure both happened at conception. I went on to agree that white women have far more privileges than black women. That was taken to be white supremacy (if it helps I think that having black skin and being a woman also both happen at conception). The friend proceeded to unfriend me and then message me to have me explain what I’d posted. I believe that’s called putting the cart before the horse. They haven’t replied since. They had been Facebook friends with me for years, followed my posts, and knew what the content of my post and my views were like, enough to know this was out of character for me (remember they did message me to ask why I said what I did), yet they still unfriended me because they didn’t like how I phrased one reply in five years.

internet and real youThe hard part is this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen into a situation like this. I’m finding an increasing and uncomfortable amount of inflexibility these days, especially in younger adults. For some reason people seem to feel as if their friends need to have all the same beliefs and opinions as them and, if you differ, you must be wrong and out you go; you’re yeeted to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. Often it’s incredibly fast, the person’s made up their mind and decided you need to go before finding out what you even meant. Heck, like I said above, both friends removed me before I even had a chance to speak. Why? Where is the friendship in that? Friendship involves mutual respect and understanding, it’s not hair trigger and walking on eggshells in case you say something wrong. You’re supposed to look for common ground and mutual interests, not nitpick over minor details and search for reasons to uncheck the friend box.

I know there are times you have to get rid of a friend. I had an online friend several years ago, then I posted a benign, “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” meme and she became frothing at the mouth mad and devolved into a series of incredibly racist comments. There was no misunderstanding, she made it extremely clear. She might as well have worn a t-shirt saying “I’m racist and I’m proud of it”. The friendship ended immediately with no regrets. Another was an IRL friend I knew from a couple of community groups. We got along fine until she realized who my ex was… and I realized she was a friend of his. Even that would have been fine except she suddenly decided that I a) had to realize what an incredibly great guy he is and b) needed to get back together with him immediately even though we haven’t been together in twenty years. I told her several times that he had been emotionally and financially abusive to me and had treated both myself and my two kids terribly for years and that I didn’t want to get back with him or even speak about him. She ignored my wishes and continued to badger me on reconciling with her “great guy”. By that time we weren’t living near each other so I simply blocked her. Again no regrets. But this is different.

These days it’s like there’s a socially acceptable checklist of words and phrases to use and say, a culturally acceptable clique of White people and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) who decide what’s correct.  I see it time and time again where someone’s trying their best and has the best of intentions but gets lambasted because it wasn’t done or said exactly how things are getting done right now. No room for recognizing good intentions (remembering these are good intentions that caused no harm), no honest constructive criticism, just how dare you!!! I’ve seen people post on multiple occasions, “Is it safe to ask this here? I really want to know but don’t want to get yelled at…” And, yes, I know that BIPOC people have been dealing with crap for years but it’s not right for anyone to feel like that no matter who they are.

Back around nine years ago I joined a forum called Regretsy and made friends with a poster who used neopronouns. I had never, ever known anyone who used anything other than him or her, it was completely new to me. I asked a bunch of questions, got answers, then settled down with a sheet of paper and a few practise sentences. I worked hard to make sure I got those pronouns right. If he (the pronouns have changed) got mad at my initial fumbling questions, well I wouldn’t be transphobic but I’d be a lot more cautious and wary. I definitely would have been hesitant to ask any similar questions to anyone and there’s a lot that I wouldn’t have learned, a lot which Colin needed me to learn.

We pride ourselves, or at least we used to pride ourselves, on our compassion and on our understanding that we’re all equal. Equal rights… equal love… equity… we were trying to make the world kinder and a whole lot more fair. But more and more I’m seeing a “throw the whole man out” attitude. That person has “problematic” views? Just don’t speak to them anymore. Doesn’t matter if they’re your grandmother or a close family friend, they’re garbage now. Yeet them out with the trash.

When Colin changed his pronouns back in, umm, I think sometime around 2014, my parents couldn’t grasp it at all and refused to use them. They refused again when he changed his name to Emma for a year-ish and switched to she/her. By today’s standards he shouldn’t be speaking to them, ignoring the fact that they still loved him dearly and spent time with him and that he wanted to keep them in his life. Life isn’t black and white. They weren’t simply “problematic”. They’re his much loved grandparents. Not everyone has to (or should be) tossed to the curb like yesterday’s paper.

Another issue with this black and white, that person doesn’t count because they’re problematic/racist/transphobic thinking is people forget the person is still, just that, a person. You can disagree 125% with someone’s views and opinions and still recognize their basic humanity. I read an article today from British Columbia where a Native Canadian reserve has a covid-19 outbreak and the surrounding area has had a racist outbreak. Okay, I get it, racism is horrible but racists are not literal trash (like the garbage you put at the curb). They are still people. Debate them if you want (I do), explain why they’re wrong (I do this too), but back off before it gets personal. One person that was interviewed was one of the racists, who now realizes he was wrong, which is great except people were wishing death on his children (like multiple people) and he’s ended up suicidal. We’re supposed to be the good guys here. We’re not supposed to be driving people to the point of killing themselves. And we’re certainly not supposed to be hoping that innocent children die of covid to teach a stranger a lesson.

The thing is, sometimes people won’t agree with you 95% of the time. Or even 80% or 75%. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them not you, and that’s okay. People are allowed to be different. And, as long as they’re causing no harm, it’s fine to live and let live. Not every opinion needs to be a battleground. Not every view has to be an “agree with me or you’re yeeted” perspective. Sometimes it’s fine to just discuss the things you have in common and back off on the other stuff. So your aunt thinks aliens built Stonehenge and that Elvis is still alive. Alrighty then, moving right along. You disagree over politics… okay, unless they’re raging asstwats and/or racist, maybe just take a deep breath and change the subject when T-Rumplestiltskin rears his ugly head. It doesn’t make them Satan’s cousin.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I want to leave this world a better place than when I arrived. Standing up for human rights is amazing but if we end up so narrow sighted that we ignore the simple fact that we’re all human, we’re not going to accomplish anything. Take the time to listen.

Doing acts of self-kindness…

I’d planned on going out earlier except I was exhausted after lunch, the kind of exhaustion that muddles words and drags down your eyelids, so I lay down for an hour. I needed to go to Walmart to pick up my printed scrapbooking pages and a 32 can carton of wet cat food; Walmart’s a half hour away by foot. I also needed to stop off at Dollarama which is on the way. I looked at the time and realized it was going to be dinnertime by the time I walked over, shopped, and walked home. Then I thought about “future me”. Would she rather I left right now, leaving her to tackle everything when she was cold, tired, and hungry or would she rather I did some prep work while I was fresh from a nap and ready to go? The answer seemed obvious. When I headed out, all that was left to do was chop the veggies and the actual cooking. I’d even put water in the pasta pot and premeasured the penne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “future me” lately. It’s the one resolution that’s really stuck. It’s one huge way to treat myself kindly and with respect and it’s making life run so much more smoothly as well. I can’t do anything for “past me” except think kindly of her and assure her that she did the best she could but I can do a lot for “future me”. It’s so easy to procrastinate and put everything imaginable off until later but, when you get right down to it, you’re still going to be the same person. It’s not like you’re going to wake up tomorrow and say, “Oh wow! I love day old crusty dishes!” So I stop and ask myself if “future me” is going to handle the situation any better than “present me”. The vast majority of the time the answer is no. Sometimes it’s yes and I leave “future me” to handle it while I take Tylenol and head off to bed.

Love yourself firstIt’s just plain nice to treat myself. To prep breakfast at night so all I have to do is put the oatmilk in the microwave and pop the already cut english muffin in the toaster. To look into the kitchen area as I turn off the lights and see clean counters and an empty sink. To realize that everything for my zoom class is all ready and waiting for me at the table. It not only feels good but it’s making life run a hell of a lot smoother too. Not much makes your day run smoother than always being a step or two ahead of yourself. And, like I said, a clean kitchen. Damn, that’s a good feeling!

I find that New Year’s resolutions tend to last about a week before I discard them and go back to normal but I definitely think I picked a winner this time around. I highly recommend giving it a try. Feel free to let me know how it goes!

Finding joy…

There is a country store both my Mom and I like to visit. It truly is a country store, surrounded by farms. They’re easily spotted by the white chicken pickup truck parked on a large mound, complete with a giant egg in the back. There’s an old tractor resting beside the gravel parking lot for the kids to play on and the porch always has decor for sale. Inside is utter chaos. The front contains shelves and bins of food topped by decor (and a cafe to the side) while the back contains so very much decor… and some bins of food and a clothing area. It is a veritable labyrinth filled with everything from cute magnets to wooden baskets. Amidst all this is always a lit birch tree. I am drawn to it every time we shop there then repelled by the seventy dollar price tag. Each time I tell myself “next visit” but that next visit with money and determination never occurs.

Then there’s Marshalls, a store both Colin and I love. They get so many beautiful items and, at Christmas, also have lit birch trees. I check the Boxing Day sales every year but haven’t had any luck. They sell out before I get there. I bought a small silver battery operated tree for my bedside table but that’s just not the same.

This year is different. Sadly Marshalls and Winners are closed due to lockdown; really sadly because I have gift cards for them. They don’t have an online store either. Amazon’s trees were okay but they didn’t qualify for free shipping (even over $35) and the shipping was $22. But Chapters… now that was a different story. Their tree was 33% off and the shipping was only $10. My finances could handle it, the bills were paid, so I clicked the order button and waited until today when it arrived.

my viewI can’t think of much else to get for this tiny apartment. My walls are decorated, I have my furniture, I have my tree ♥, and I’m good for decor. The tree was, as they put it, the icing on the cake. Now I get to focus on filling my life with the less tangible things. Writing in here, chatting with friends, reading, petting the cats, talking to family, cooking yummy food (really… I made the most delicious carrot orange ginger soup tonight and added fresh dill to it). That’s one of my, well I’d call it a resolution but it’s more of a suggestion to myself. It basically sums up to being patient with myself and treating myself with kindness and grace. I do that with everyone else so why don’t I do it with me?

The birch tree is one of those kindnesses. It’s been years coming and years postponed. It might just be a material thing but it’s something that brings me joy and leaves a smile on my face. And on a gloomy day in January, that’s worth a lot.