Facing queerphobia…

my cute little face in kindergarten filteredI can’t remember exactly how old I was, probably around five or six, but it was summer and a handful of us girls were on “the circle”, an area of grass at the end of our court. We were trying to think of something to do when one of the girls piped up, “Let’s play wedding!”

I was meh on the whole idea. She only wanted to play wedding because she had a crush on Peter and she could pretend to marry him. Then all she needed was someone to marry them, a bridesmaid, and one or two people to hold down Peter so he couldn’t escape. The rest of us were the audience and simply stood there. This really didn’t seem like much fun to me and a hell of a lot less fun for Peter. Then I came up with a partial solution. Why didn’t she marry one her her friends? That at least took Peter off the hook.

There was a song I loved when I was that age by The Vogues called “Five O’clock World” and, in part, it read:

’cause it’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows
No-one owns a piece of my time
And there’s a long-haired girl who waits, I know
To ease my troubled mind, yeah!
In the shelter of her arms everything’s okay
She talks and the world goes slipping away
And I know the reason I can still go on
When every other reason is gone

In my kindergarten mind I knew I was going to grow up someday and need to work but that when I finished work she would be waiting for me and would hug me and ask me about my day. I never said anything about it to anyone but why would I? It was my normal. And then I made my suggestion to the other girls.

The girl with the crush was horrified. “That’s disgusting!” she exclaimed, staring at me in disbelief. “Why would you even say that?”

“Peter doesn’t want to play,” I protested. “And you’re all friends.”

“Girls don’t marry girls. Ever!” she announced firmly. “That’s gross!

I nodded my head. I don’t know if she was the oldest but she felt like the oldest to me and everyone knew the big kids knew more. And it wasn’t like anyone else in the world wanted to hug or marry someone of the same gender, at least not in my world and they’re the same thing at that age. So I packed up my feelings and buried them away. I’ve gotten very good at that over the years, packing thoughts away in places only my nightmares can find.

There were some cracks in my thoughts and feelings over the years but it wasn’t until I was in my 40’s and was friends with someone who was both openly queer and willing to listen that I started unpacking thoughts and memories I’d long forgotten I’d even had. I’m still unpacking. The 80’s were pretty bad. Like, hey, I’m trapped at a school event beside a teacher and fellow students who are laughing and joking about driving to the “Gay Village” of Toronto to throw rocks at the queers because it was so much fun. “And how many have you hit? Did anyone bleed?” My suicidal ideation started around that time.

Then there was yesterday. I woke up all excited and ready to start the day and even put on my ace t-shirt and rainbow socks for International Asexuality Day. Then after my exercise class I got my bundle buggy and headed out the door, determined to get some walking in plus some necessities, which I did. I also picked up a yummy looking chocolate bar, a fresh cinnamon bun for this morning (it was delicious), my favourite peanut butter cups, and four gourmet cupcakes. By the time I went to all 5 stores (two were only for one item) I was wiped and my buggy was heavier than me. I was soon on the little On Demand bus and heading home. The driver even dropped me off at the front door of my building and helped me with my buggy (bonus good mood). And then my neighbour came running out the door to show the driver her cat.

She came back inside while I was still in the lobby and then started to talk. Soon she asked me how I was doing.

“I’m fine,” I replied cheerfully. “It’s International Asexuality Day-

“What?” she replied loudly so I repeated myself, making sure to enunciate each word clearly.

“What?!?”

Okay, obviously it wasn’t a hearing issue. Maybe she’d never heard of asexuality. No big deal but I was feeling a bit grumbly. I’d brought it up as a segue into my yummy cupcakes and a definition plus a possible q&a were going to take up more time than I’d anticipated.

“Asexuality is when you don’t have sexual attraction toward-

“That’s disgusting!” she announced flatly and with finality.

Fury flushed my cheeks. I wasn’t just going to roll over and hide. Not anymore.

“I’m asexual,” I informed her.

“Disgusting!” she replied then she stormed down the hallway the opposite direction from her apartment. I silently wished whoever she was visiting the best of luck then pushed the button for my floor. One I got home I put everything away then logged into Facebook and recounted what had just happened, ending with:

“She better get coal in her stocking this year! Also, these cupcakes are going to be amazing!!!”

I figured I’d get some support (if Facebook didn’t wander off with my post and hide it somewhere) and for the most part I did. But there were a couple of dissenters and, as always, they were a complete surprise. Two women I’ve known online since around 1998-2000. The comments hit like blows.

  • Maybe she was just uncomfortable because I was “discussing my sexuality” by saying what day it was and maybe that made her scared so she reacted.
  • It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t know what asexuality is the whole idea of someone announcing their sexuality as a “holiday” can come across rather bluntly and confusing as it should be a personal topic.
  • The whole scenario, if it happened to me, I would be left feeling like a person had no boundaries and overshared details which would leave me feeling very uncomfortable and full of red flags about the person.
  • You are discussing your bedroom with someone who didn’t consent to knowing about your lifestyle.
The platform for awareness is what matters and this was not the time or place to announce you’re preferences for the bedroom.
Then I left the computer for dinner and a much needed break and came back after my lavender and chocolate cupcake (by Sweets from the Earth) and discovered that one of my friends had unfriended me while I was away from my keyboard. I guess I won’t be seeing her sunrise and lake photos this year.
And no, seriously no. Saying three words, International Asexuality Day, is not telling anyone what I prefer in the bedroom nor is it discussing my bedroom.
A “lifestyle” is country vs downtown condo or eclectic vs modern. No one says that being straight is a lifestyle. That’s because sexual orientation is not a lifestyle.
And where’s my consent? Where’s my consent when friends go into uber detail about their dates? Or when eye candy pictures get posted and people talk about dragging him into the bedroom and how hot he’s making them? Straight people discuss their “bedroom” all the time. Who their dating… who they’d like to date… that hot guy on the show… what’s going on with their husband… all of that is fine, normal, and has nothing to do with the bedroom. But I mention a holiday and I suddenly need to bring a clipboard and legal documents to make sure everyone knows exactly what three words they’re about to hear.
In short, there is nothing wrong with announcing that it’s any day, week, or month that belongs to the LGBTQIA community. It does not tell anyone anything about what someone’s doing in their bedroom any more than saying you’re straight tells them what you do.
As my friend Sylvia pointed out, there is a major holiday that celebrates sexuality every single year. I had the same two people deny it but really? They sell frigging red satin lingerie with lace for the occasion. Yes, there’s romance involved but, at the end of the day, the day’s supposed to end in the bedroom with those rose petals and itchy undies. And straight people are totally fine with that because it’s directly marketed to them. International Asexuality Day isn’t marketed toward sex or bedrooms so why is that the one that’s oversharing and overly personal?
Some days I think we’ve moved so far ahead as a society and that maybe, just maybe, it’s safe for me to peek my head out and just be myself.
Other times I realize we’re all just standing in the dust calling anything we don’t understand “gross” while throwing rocks at those we find weird.
And for the love of all you hold dear, can everyone just make enough room to stand and be myself without judgement?

You ought to be grateful…

I was on Facebook recently, just browsing and relaxing after dinner. One woman in my local community group posted that she was fed up with “such and such” location of major fast food chain. The lines are always overly long and her food is usually completely cold. Several people agreed and even more recommended different fast food locations with better service. And then a poster arrived with all her righteous judgement and proclaimed, “You should be grateful that your biggest complaint is cold food. You could be in Ukraine right now, running for your life!”

Cue the screeching brakes. What? How do these two even connect? Did she order her burger in Kyiv? Are the Ukrainians stopping for bags of cold fast food on their way to Poland? How did this even become a comparison? Besides, gratitude doesn’t work like that.

We all know what gratitude means, right? Probably? Anytime I’m predominantly using a word in a post (or in general) I look it up because most of the time we’re just mostly right. The definition starts out with what we’d likely expect, “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful” but then comes a bit of surprise because it also means, “appreciative of benefits received affording pleasure or contentment and/or pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated”. So gratitude is a two way street. You feel thankful but the other person (or people) has to provide something for you to be thankful for that’s above what you already had.

The woman in question had no reason to be grateful no matter what’s happening in Europe. She bought and paid for a fast food meal and got food that was worth less than the value of what she paid. Less than is not gratitude. However, let’s take an identical meal at an identical store and have it sitting to the side because the customer drove off. It’s been a while, they’re not coming back. But there’s someone digging through the trash outside, looking for food. You bring that bag of clean, nicely wrapped, untouched food to the person and ask if they want it. Maybe you even include a cup of water. Are they going to feel gratitude? Most definitely! Cold and clean is a huge step up from cold, half eaten, and dirty. It’s the same product but they’re in completely different situations.

Or another scenario. I live in a small subsidized apartment in a fairly small town. There’s pretty much no storage space and it’s been described, more than once, as a bachelor apartment with a bedroom. Flip side is I’ve got large windows, 10ft high ceilings, white walls, and blonde laminate floors so it looks a bit more spacious. Rent prices are horrific around here to the point where most rooms are priced too high for someone on disability and I’m on disability. The best Colin and I could find was a one bedroom for $999/m in a crappy section of town and the reviews are so bad they’d be in the negatives if that were an option. As far as I can tell the bedbugs and the cockroaches are having a turf war. But finding a hazmat suit wasn’t necessary since paying bills and rent left no food money and eating’s a bit important. So you can imagine how grateful I was to get a clean, safe apartment in a clean, safe neighbourhood that still allowed me money for groceries and bills plus some treats and a few trips to Dollarama.

However, picture someone who was doing well but their circumstances changed, be it job loss, health, divorce, addiction, or a combination of the above. They’re used to a house or a big condo. What do you mean there’s no bathtub? Where’s the heated floor? Why don’t I have a balcony? How come there’s no pool or gym or rooftop patio with barbecues? Where’s the night life? Wait… there is no night life? The apartment I’m grateful for could very well be their white cell, complete with bars on the window.

gratitude page

One of my gratitude journal pages

Our society is very big on gratitude journals these days. I get told in various groups that we should be writing down one… or two… or five things we should be grateful for every single day. And I tried, I really did. I managed to write 65 consecutive entries, each one with a different reason to be grateful but then I stalled. Do I start repeating my gratitudes? How many times can I say I’m grateful for my family? For my cats? For my friends? And some days I honestly don’t feel grateful at all. I just feel tired. I couldn’t imagine coming up with five things to be grateful for every day. That might sound ungrateful but, honestly, after the first week’s done and you’ve been grateful for your partner, your children and/or fur babies, your family members (the decent ones, you don’t have to be grateful for Aunt Gertrude who stole your candy and said you’d always be the ugly one of the family), whatever stability you have in your life, that beautiful sunrise/sunset, how lucky you are to have this food and/or water, and you can insert a few more here… then what? Five gratitude entries a day are going to have you sitting in bed at 9:45pm saying, “Crap, can I be grateful I don’t have hairy toes?” I mean there’s only so much stuff in our lives.

Do we have to be grateful all the time? Can we not save grateful for those times when our life actually has been improved and we’ve received pleasure in some way? We have so many other positive emotions to share and embrace, like happiness, joy, kindness, love, and friendship, we need to think about those too. Just not every single day, five times a day. They say everything in moderation for a reason and that I can be grateful for.

But alternative news said…

“Hi there long time”

The message came at 1:06am, startling me from my sleep. I didn’t bother reading it until the morning and was surprised to see it was from a very emotionally fragile friend I used to chat with on occasion years ago. The last message he’d sent me (and the second last message) was November 15, 2015. That was a month before my ex-fiancé asked me out. So very much has happened since then and he was interested in none of it. He certainly had tonnes to say about the “truckers”, covid-19, and vaccinations though. And I immediately noticed the same thing I’ve noticed for several decades.

There’s a group of people who simply don’t think, or at least they don’t think very much. Let me explain. Years ago I had a friend that I met while briefly running our community group. She was easy going and had a good sense of humour. Later I discovered she was a rabid antivaxxer and after that, on Facebook, I realized the depths of her hatred and distrust of all things science and medical. One day she tagged me in yet another post containing a link to an article. I read the article and was surprised to see the author had provided three sources, all of which were reputable papers. Sources weren’t exactly a common site on these pages. Then I clicked on the links and every single one of them went to an article that said the exact opposite of what the author had claimed. The author knew their audience and knew no one was going to check sources. Which is so patronizing and insulting when you think about it. The author was basically saying, “I know my article is wrong and here are three articles that prove me wrong but I know none of you will bother to look or think to question me so here it is.”

mercolaI find it ironic this crowd calls everyone who disagrees with them “sheep” for blindly following the mainstream media and “big pharma”. They scornfully claim that Reuters can’t be trusted but will totally believe everything written on a small page with no credentials or corresponding education. They claim that Big Pharma (as if every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, lab technician, and so on are a conglomerate) is only in it for the money unlike alternative medicine. Umm, yeah, about that. See the photo above? That’s Mercola’s mansion in Florida. Alternative medication’s not cheap and he’s reaping all the benefits – one hand shoveling in the money while the other hand forming a trumpet around his mouth as he yells, “Big Pharma only wants your money!” And they move on over, in herd formation, because what’s being sold is natural. Forgetting that nature kills quite regularly. Shelling out money for plain water because it has “memories” of poison. Water doesn’t have a brain, it has no memories. It has cells and if those changed it would cease being water. Besides, if water could remember everything it came in contact with, we’d be drowning in frigging memories every time we had a glass. But someone said it’s true and who needs evidence.

Then there’s the broken telephone news where bits of information are passed around and around (and around again) without anyone questioning whether it’s true. It must be true! So-and-so just told them! And so I cycle back to the friend I mentioned in the beginning who informed me that he’s seen “many times” that the pamphlets that come with the vaccines are blank. Of course I’m like “what pamphlet?” because I’ve never got one and I’m sure someone in my family would have said something if they’d been given a blank folded sheet of paper when they got vaccinated. Then he claimed it was in the package and I was still all ??? because I never got a package either. Finally he told me it was the insert that came with the vial and the pharmacist got it. So if the pharmacist got it how did he see many of them? Does he sit in the pharmacy only area with all the meds and watch? I didn’t even bother to ask. Instead I went onto Google and did a quick search. The information popped up right away. As usual, there was a slight grain of truth buried inside a ball of misinformation. Yes, Johnson & Johnson put in blank inserts… nearly blank inserts. They had a QR code at the bottom of the page. That way people could scan the code and get the most up to date information, which was the exact opposite as the rumour claimed. I’ve watched the Instagram video (the middle link in the article I shared) and the woman looks younger than me. I have no idea why she doesn’t know what a QR code is, let alone how it works. You’d think she’d be curious enough to scan it.

I was a precocious child, reading the paper and the Reader’s Digest when I was maybe a smidge into being a preteen. Most adults were impressed by my reading habits. My grandfather wasn’t one of them.

“Watch what you read,” he’d warn me. “Just because someone says something’s true doesn’t mean it is.”

“You’ve got to watch the Reader’s Digest,” he’d continue. “They publish that medical section and make everything sound like medicine that will be out tomorrow instead of research that might not be out for another decade or so. They set people up for a huge disappointment. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

“Don’t take anything at face value,” he’d say. “Check the sources and check their sources if you can. Anyone can make a mistake.”

I wish everyone had a grandfather like him.

Uniting Canada…

It was an event that united the country. Thousands of families thronged highway overpasses, cheering and waving signs of support. The media coverage was intense. The year was 1980 and Terry Fox was half jogging/half hopping through Ontario in an attempt to run across Canada and raise money for cancer research. He didn’t make it out of Ontario. The bone cancer (osteosarcoma) that took his leg in 1977, spread to his lungs by the time he reached Thunder Bay. But he still unites. There are statues of him all over the country and umpteen thousand Terry Fox Runs held each fall in his honour.

Forty-two years later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought into law a rule that states truck drivers must be triple vaccinated for covid-19 before they can cross the border. It should have been a non-issue considering that US President Joe Biden is making the exact same mandate. It wasn’t. A small minority of truck drivers, and supporters in their cars, took to the road in protest. The truck rally (aka the Freedom Convoy 2022) was organized, in part, by Patrick King who’s known for his ties to a racist Alberta party, now renamed. He also protests at anti-racism rallies and spreads blatant misinformation about covid-19 (like we don’t already have enough of that flying around). I’m going to share the link to Wikipedia just because there’s more information and there’s no point in me rephrasing it all when they did the research and deserve the credit.

So we’ve got the truckers, plus their friends in cars, all steadily driving toward Ottawa. We’ve got families thronging the overpasses, cheering them on and waving signs of support. We’ve got media coverage. The Toronto Sun was all, “They’ve got 50 thousand trucks and are going to win a world’s record”. The actual trucking organizations were all, “We don’t know these people. Please make this go away.” A group of people were cheering and saying, “This is going to unite our country” while wearing “f*ck Trudeau” hats. Because nothing unites the country more than wearing an accessory that is that blatantly FU to the country’s leader.

Dear TruckersAnd then they arrived in Ottawa. Anyone could have told them that was a mistake. I mean I love the city but it rolls up and goes to sleep at 5pm. Who are they going to protest to? The pigeons?

Several of my friends posted posted this widely shared post to much amusement but the reality was a lot less humorous. They couldn’t find a place to eat, not sure if they were unmasked or if the shops were closed. Either way they descended on a small soup kitchen called The Good Shepherd and demanded they get fed, and before their patrons too. For free. Because we all know soup kitchens have a large budget and a huge stock of available food. And they found a place to poop. That would be the snowbanks, in front of everyone.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was turned into a party place by these so-called Patriots. They drank and danced on top of it and several pissed on it too (I’ve seen the picture). They drew swastikas on the Canadian flag and someone with the IQ of a grilled cheese sandwich flew a Confederate flag. Buddy, not only did your side lose but you’re way off in the wrong country! And of course they had to let that racist side show up by appropriating First Nations drumming while drinking beer and chanting “yabadabadoo” and “f*ck Trudeau”. There were even some throwing rocks at an ambulance while yelling racist slurs at the paramedics. I wonder if this was while the paramedics were attending to their drunk buddies, of which there were quite a few.

And it’s still going on. These truckers claimed they were indispensable and that they grocery store shelves were going to be bare without them. Nada. The only thing I couldn’t buy was my favourite garlic infused olive oil and that routinely sells out. In fact, when I picked up my Silk creamy maple almond creamer (buy it, it’s so good) they were so stocked up the cartons were stacked on top of each other. I think the truckers forget that their rally isn’t very big. Big enough to be a pain in the arse but not big enough to kneecap the country. There are plenty of fully vaccinated truck drivers still working hard and doing the job. Speaking of which, how are these people managing? They must have homes and bills at home to pay for plus accommodations and food here, and I doubt anyone’s paying them to piss on the Statue of the Unknown Soldier and leave an upside down Canadian Flag in the arms of the Terry Fox statue. And there’s over 200 of them still hanging on.

The residents of Ottawa are fed up with the rabble and the mess and wish they’d all just leave. They insist they’re staying until they see Justin Trudeau (who’s wisely steering clear of them) or their demands are met. The Mayor of Ottawa is talking about suing. I think for the Go Fund Me funds. It couldn’t be the truckers because I doubt they have any money left and, if they do it’s more, “I have $20 left on my Visa” and not, “I’ve still got $150 in savings”. Hopefully they’ll have enough gas money to get home because I doubt a single person in Ottawa wants them to stay.

I am sure that someday, hopefully soon, there will be something else… someone else, beyond Terry Fox or Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity on the ISS, who unites this country. But this wasn’t it. You can’t try to unite while dividing the country by racism or by desecrating monuments. You can’t try to unite when your whole stance is “I don’t want to do something and I don’t care if it will help others – it’s me first!” We need to live in a society where we protect the most vulnerable. Terry Fox ran so that the people who came after him would have a better chance of survival even if the treatment wasn’t in time to help him. The truckers are protesting because they don’t want to have a vaccine or wear a mask, so what if it might help protect cancer patients and the elderly. And that makes all the difference.

What really matters…

It was an older apartment, old enough that the kitchen sink was shallow and rectangular with separate hot and cold taps. Old enough to have a clawfoot bathtub. For some unknown reason the landlord had built a wooden box around the tub, so the beautiful sides and legs were hidden. There was a little door near the end so he could reach the shut off valve and a good sized gap near the top.

The previous tenants were disgusting. The landlord was just finishing cleaning up the last of the mess when my ex and I viewed the unit. I was shocked. The garbage was expected considering his warning of messiness, the spray paint all over the spare bedroom’s walls a little less so, that someone had slept in that narrow, windowless, lightless crawlspace was a wow moment. But we moved in and I enjoyed the huge dark wooden baseboards and trim and all the windows (just not, you know, in the crawlspace). There was one fly in the ointment, that previously mentioned gap behind the tub.

Every time I sat on the toilet, I looked directly into that gap and it was gross. The previous tenants must have used that gap as target practice with their garbage, it was full of a variety of crap, and my skin crawled just thinking of it in my apartment. And I continued to think, “those previous tenants were disgusting!” Every single time.

Then one day I’d finished scrubbing the whole bathroom, except for that disgusting cesspool in the gap above the tub. I muttered my usual, “those previous tenants were disgusting!” then the thought struck me. Those tenants were gone. Completely gone. They no longer cared about the apartment (if they ever did) and they certainly weren’t coming back to pick up after themselves. They. Were. Gone. It was now my place and my mess. It didn’t matter who made the mess, all that mattered was who would clean it up. It was time for me to take a deep breath, put on some rubber gloves, and make myself a pretty view. It was awful, I hated it, but then it was done and I had an empty and basically clean area to look at.

I think that’s something we all forget on a personal, regional, and global scale. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who made the mess, we have to roll up our sleeves and get busy with the solution. It doesn’t matter if you were involved originally. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely blameless. Just try to make things better. You can’t go wrong with making things right.

So many times I’ve heard the phrases “It’s not my mess”, “It’s not my problem”, or “Why should I clean up after them?” and I’m going to lay it out to you. Life is not your Mom doling out candies, making sure everyone gets the same amount. It is not fair. That’s why there’s people like Jeff Bezos building himself a rocket just so he could enter space for a minute and say he did so. And why there’s babies in such poor households they are skin and bones, literally starving to death. Fair would be a hell of a lot more equal.

I’m not saying to do all your coworker’s duties or 100% of the housework (I mean unless you’re single, cat’s really suck at washing the dishes). You have to be fair to you too. But picking up garbage on a nature hike? Yes. Putting that shopping cart into the corral on the way into the store? Go for it. Not your job but who else is going to do it.

be the changeYou can even step it up a bit. I was in line at the grocery store with an elderly woman ahead of me. Her face fell when she saw the price and she slowly began handing items over to the cashier. A bag of cookies, a tin of tea, a packet of soft jelly candies… they were all nice, little treats for the evening or for if a grandchild arrived. When she was done she had nothing special left, she didn’t have enough gift cards to cover any of them. So I bought them and made sure she knew they were there and were hers (in case she tried to return them or walked away without them).

Volunteering is a wonderful option as well. My parents have been volunteering for Meals on Wheels for years and my Mom volunteers for the local senior centre when there isn’t a pandemic. I’m not currently volunteering but I do donate blood regularly, which is greatly needed. If you’re worried about medication just bring your list in. I’m on a fuckton of medication and they’re all approved. The worst thing that’ll happen is they’ll turn you down and they’re kind about that (I’ve been anaemic enough times to know that).

We’re all on this wild, spinning ride called the Earth together and if we keep working together we’ll make it through just fine (with time enough to throw our arms up in the air and shout woo-hoo). If we all keep saying “not my mess” then turning our backs on the problem(s), we’re going to end up chin deep in waste and sinking while still trying to point fingers. I’d prefer the less smelly one.

And onto a totally different subject, Lara and Smudge have their own Instagram account. If you search for lara_and_smudge you will find them!

Why I’m not yeeting my phone…

People are so anti-social, they say. They’re always on their phones, they say. There’s no social interaction, they say. The claims go on that children are never outside… never at the park. They’re glued to their tablets. And I just listen and laugh.

reading newspapers on the busFirst off, people have always been anti-social. This isn’t anything new. Before portable electronics, people read books and newspapers (as you can see from the picture) or simply looked out the window or pretended to sleep. All technology did was make it a lot easier. No more holding out pages of your newspaper and awkwardly trying to flip and fold them. No more trying to keep track of stops with your eyes closed.

Second off, I’m outside on a regular basis and I can tell you where the kids are. They’re riding bikes, going to the park, and hanging out in little groups trying to look cool (as it it’s ever been cool to stand on dead grass by a sewer grate at the edge of the park). And as covid restrictions relax, more and more of them are on sports teams, horseback riding, taking swimming lessons, and doing gymnastics. None of which require electronics of any sort. And third, electronics like phones and tablets are tools. My bank has no brick and mortar locations so I use my phone and computer for all my banking. Much of my life is organized through email, which I view, again, through my phone and computer. I listen to music with both of them as well and video chat with Colin on my phone and tablet. I was reading books on my phone but have switched over to my tablet because it’s annoying having the phone ring in the middle of a page. I use my tablet for multiple groups and classes throughout the week. And my favourite decorating game is on the phone and I use it to destress. I use the map function when I’m out with my parents, I use the camera on a daily basis. My phone gets used as an alarm clock, a calculator, a dictionary, and an encyclopedia and I could still go on with more functions. Why would I tuck all that away when I use many of those features regularly? Besides, it’s hard to take a cute bunny photo when my phone’s two floors up in a locked apartment.

Same goes with Facebook. I have close family on there plus extended family. I get to see garden shots and sunsets. Last week I got to see my uncle and aunt’s dog fetch them the morning paper and then deliver the paper to their neighbour. They live on the other side of the world in Australia. How on earth would I have seen that without Facebook? Email has size restrictions and it’s not like they can snail mail a video. I mentioned video chatting with Colin, that’s through Facebook video chat. I also use that to sing karaoke with friends. We used to sing in person but covid happened. I chat with friends in different countries via messenger and talk with people who have similar interests in groups. Where else could I find an LGBTQIA2S Doctor Who group? I’ve watched, through pictures, friends’ children grow from toddlers into teens getting their driver’s licenses. I’ve seen friends marry, divorce, and remarry. I’ve watched two friends raise their families only to start all over again with new little ones (I’m pretty sure my uterus just tried to jump out the window and run into oncoming traffic at that thought). It is a platform to connect with people around the globe.

They talk about people staring passive and mindlessly at the screen, as if both the screen and their minds were equally blank. Do these people not own devices? Trust me, I’m not staring mindlessly at my bank account. I might be a tad baffled but my mind’s not blank. Same as when I’m checking my phone bill or going through my email. And even if someone is passively watching a show on their phone or tablet, so what? I bet 99% of the complainers think nothing of settling down in front of the tv. That’s not exactly active entertainment. Those laugh tracks shudders.

I don’t mind if someone wants to step away from their phone, computer, tablet, or Facebook for a while. I just wish people would be honest. If you’re having problems texting all the time, even at social events, sticking the phone away is a good idea. Same as if you can’t stop online gambling. If you find yourself refreshing Facebook’s news feed just one more time… at 3am (again) or dinner’s been pushed from five to seven because you can’t stop commenting on posts then hibernating or closing your account is great. But don’t blame everyone else. What does it matter if “society’s addicted to social media” if you only go on it for 15 minutes a day? Does it matter if you think everyone’s “staring mindlessly at their phones” if you only use it for making phone calls and taking the occasional picture? Don’t claim to be an individual yet make your decisions based off what you think others are doing.

And I’m going to listen to YouTube on my phone until I finish my chores then play my favourite phone game. And on Tuesday I’m going to Bon Echo Provincial Park with my parents for a family day and you can be sure my camera (with it’s trusty camera) is going to be there too. Technology is here whether we like it or not. We need to find ways to fit it into our lives instead of hiding from it.

 

Love the sinner…

pride giftMy favourite phone game gave a Pride gift this week to everyone who played, all you needed to do was click on their pretty rainbow bedecked box to receive it. It was a lovely gift, full of money, gold, and a few star coins. One of the players thanked the game in the game’s Facebook group, stating that her daughter was a member of the LGBTQIA2S community, and that’s when a whole lot of nastiness welled over and oozed out. A bunch of people stated they’d refused the gift entirely. Some were disgusted because the game was getting political. “They’ve never celebrated anything else on here before” was a phrase I read several times. I’ve only been playing since March but so far I’ve seen gifts and promotions for Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, and Mother’s Day. Earth Day had an even bigger gift than Pride. And, of course, there was much talk of sin, how “good parents” don’t celebrate their child’s perversions, the rainbow is for God not pride, and comments about how same sex relationships had nothing to do with love, all of which got repeated again and again. Then, in the midst of it all, came someone, who probably felt she was the voice of reason, saying, “We don’t have anything against you, after all love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Love the sinner, hate the sin. It sounds like such an innocent phrase, especially to the one who’s saying it. So benign, it even starts out with the word “love”. How could anything that’s mean, cruel, or arrogant start with love? I’ve heard so many people use this phrase then follow it up with “everyone’s a sinner”, or “I’m a sinner too”, or “we all sin differently”. Sometimes they even use all three. And they’re completely and utterly missing the point. Like if the point’s right here they’re in another town, on the far side of that town, looking in the opposite direction. That far off the mark.

If you say to the average Christian, “love is patient”, most will know it’s from a Bible verse, many can recite it by heart, and almost as many had it, in one form or another, at their wedding. It’s pretty popular. Love is patient and kind and several other honest and good traits. That’s wonderful, I’m happy for you, but you can’t talk about how kind, honest, and endless your love is in one breath and call mine a sin with another. I fell in love with Lenny when he was non binary and had a short relationship with Lily a couple of years later. Neither relationship was sinful, nor were they comparable to stealing, or vandalizing, or any of the other so-called petty crimes people use as an example. The people who use this phrase always use a petty crime as an example, like they’re emphasizing they don’t think the LGBTQIA2S community is as bad as murder. We’re more like Bad Light™. Let me make myself more than clear. If I ever fall in love again… if I ever have a relationship again… it will not be comparable to you slipping a t-shirt into your oversized purse at Walmart and hoping the camera didn’t spot you. If your love is patient and kind then mine is too. Slip that into your world view.

I find there’s a certain mindset that runs along with this “love the sinner” view. It’s a very Jesus-centric mindset but it’s set around a certain white, golden haired Jesus who 100% never existed. This is no brown, bearded man denouncing wealth, chilling with the prostitutes, and washing the feet of the outcast. White Jesus™ is actively involved in their lives and constantly blessing them (hence the prominent “blessed” signs in their homes). Gavin wouldn’t have got that home run in Little League without him and it wasn’t those hours of studying that got Sarah her A in chemistry. Jesus took the wheel and snagged that one for her. I saw the handle of one of the other players (in the above mentioned game) this morning and it was Designing for Jesus. Really? Really??? I don’t know about you but I’m willing to bet that a 2000 year old middle-eastern man probably wouldn’t care that some woman from the US matched mossy suede upholstery with a $2190 joy pillow in a game. But I’m willing to bet that every little thing in her life is centred around him. The irony, when it comes to both White Jesus™ and the “love the sinner” phrase is that both have nothing to do with Jesus. In fact, “love the sinner” is a misquote of Gandhi. It doesn’t even have to do with Christianity.

Sometimes it’s so much more valuable to take a look from the other person’s perspective. Instead of brushing off someone’s hurt and irritation at your words with the platitude “everyone sins”, try thinking of how you’d feel if multiple someone’s judged your relationship as wrong, immoral, and sinful. Or they commiserated by saying they’d screwed up and done something wrong too, as if them cheating on their taxes was the same as your deep, strong love for your spouse. Instead of “love the sinner” how about just plain “love”.

Right now I’m watching a friend fall head over heels in love. It was a chance meeting and has been quite a romantic courtship; he’s giving enough info to keep the group of us feeling “in the know” without sharing any salacious details. They’ve been thoughtful, sweet, kind, conscientious, and genuine to each other. I’m looking forward to watching their relationship thrive. They’re also a male couple and the epitome of that “love is patient and kind” verse. Their love is not a sin. Love is love.

Love is love.

Planning a long distance covid birthday…

I have always planned the kids’ birthdays well in advance and this was still true for Colin’s upcoming 24th birthday. I found a handful of neat things I knew he’d like but was stuck for a main item to put in the gift bag. No biggie, I knew I’d find one soon. And then the lockdown hit, complete with it’s essentials ban. In previous lockdowns I could browse through stores like Walmart and Dollarama but, in this one, I couldn’t browse anywhere! I began to panic then reminded myself the ban lifted at the beginning of June so I’d still have time. Then the ban got extended until two days after Colin’s birthday. I have ordered him something online and it’s on it’s way. According to the website, it’s heading towards a “DHL ecommerce distribution centre” and has been since May 28th. Deep breath… deep breath… it’ll get here when it gets here. Everything else is tucked away in my room.

And whatever’s left is up in the air. Will we be able to go up and visit him once the lockdown’s been lifted? I know we won’t be able to go inside (thanks to covid I’ve only seen his apartment via zoom and photos) but could we stay in the front yard or sit on his patio? It would be nice to see his patio. If we can physically go there I can whip up a batch of cupcakes (so much easier to serve on a lawn than cake) but will they let someone deliver cupcakes from a local bakery if we’re stuck at home an hour away and can’t be with him? There’s no point in even asking until I get a bit more information. And so I wait. And think maybe I should start pinpointing out which bakeries are even near his country home and which bake cupcakes soon. I looked a little earlier, long enough to know not to bother asking about cakes as everyone is all about the theme cakes and I don’t have a theme cake budget. I have a plain, no sprinkles, chocolate cupcake budget. Luckily that’s Colin’s favourite.

present timeI wish so much that things were back to normal (whatever that is) and that in 1 1/2 weeks Colin would be showing up here all set to play with the cats and camp out in the living room. That I could take him in the backyard and show him where the rabbits live and take him on my neighbourhood walk by the creek and show him the duck pond (with a crane, swans, and geese), the tiny waterfall, and the farm. We’d take the bus to visit all the family and stuff ourselves with burgers and fries. And he’d sit at my kitchen table, pulling out item after item with excitement, eager to see what was next until all that was left was remnants of tissue paper and the bottom of the bag. Then we’d watch Doctor Who, or go visit my friend, or stuff ourselves silly with cupcakes, but we’d have fun at the very least.

Hopefully we can do some semblance of this next year for his 25th birthday but for now we’ll just have to piece the days together as best we can and make this his best covid birthday yet!

Just the essentials…

I understand why the lockdown occurred. Covid-19 rates skyrocketed in Ontario and hospitals were scrambling. Children’s wards were closing, with children being shunted sometimes hundreds of kilometres away to the nearest Sick Kids, while adults took their place so the adult wards could be turned into covid wards. Nurses who had worked with infants for several decades were suddenly caring for eighty year olds and space was running out. Something had to be done.

But this is what happens when a province elects someone solely because they’re collectively mad and the person in question is “not a politician”. They voted in Dumb from the “Dumb and Dumber” team of Ford brothers and got this result.

In the beginning Ford closed all the playgrounds across the province then, faced with the uproar of millions of parents, quickly opened them again within the first 24 hours. He also gave the police carte blanche to stop any car or pedestrian at will and ask them where they were from and where they were going. Police departments immediately posted notices saying they were not following this permission and that one fizzled as well. It was the non-essentials ban that stuck.

The theory is simple. If you’re only buying the basics then you’ll be in and out quicker and have less time to spread or catch covid. But what are essentials? Obviously food, baby supplies like diapers, toiletries, kitchen stuff (garbage bags, tin foil, saran wrap, and wipes), and pet supplies. Oh, and with summer approaching, gardening supplies. But what else? Nothing according to Ford.

Blackie started taking pain medication a few days after the lockdown started. She gets one pill divided in two for morning and afternoon, which means I need to put her afternoon food in a storage container in the fridge until 4pm. The only problem is my storage containers are narrow and deep. I could just go to Dollarama for a couple more but storage containers, which are designed to keep your food fresh and ready to use, aren’t essential. Neither are clothes, which means there’s going to be some naked kiddos in the next few weeks when they go to try on last summer’s clothes and absolutely nothing fits. You can buy a can of soup but you can’t buy the can opener to open it nor the pot to cook it in (I guess if you were born rich and have kitchen staff you wouldn’t even think of kitchen “essentials”). You can buy as many chocolate bars as your heart desires (and wallet allows) but you can’t buy a candle to soothe your soul. No sun hats, no sunglasses, no books. Mental health experts are extolling us to invest in ourselves to lift our moods. Try out different crafts… pamper with scented candles… decorate with pretty artificial flowers. All non-essential. All not available. Ford’s health experts said to make sure people had access to safe outdoor activities – so he closed the provincial parks. They suggested he reopened them. They’re still closed.

lockdown clothesThis is a ban that excessively impacts the poor. We talk about curbside pick up and online shopping as if that were available to everyone but it’s not. There are many people who don’t have a computer. Many who have a cell phone but have a cheap company with unreliable service. Or have a very small data plan that runs out before the middle of the month. Or have no data at all and they’re only online at McDonalds or Tim Hortons or any other place with free wifi. And there are still people who don’t even own a cell phone. I don’t have a car so curbside pick up isn’t an option (although I can manage to grab an item at Pet Valu) but I can order online. But what about the people who can’t do either? Someone commented recently on Facebook that The Children’s Place was excellent for buying children’s clothes online and I’m sure it is. But, honestly, someone who’s shopping the discount rack at Walmart is not going to be able to afford The Children’s Place. The rich go on Amazon or Wayfair or The Children’s Place or Bata or Indigo while the poor look at barricades and strips of plastic. There’s only one group truly being affected by the ban and none of Doug Ford’s friends are in it.

No, wait, there’s two groups. There are also the people working behind the counter and dealing with all the people who just want a pair of socks, or a spatula, or birthday candles for their four year old. I’m sure all those people really wanted those items and had really big feelings about them but the staff are not the ones who set up the ban, nor are the they ones enforcing the rules. Not even the manager, Karen. I’ve heard of people not just screaming at the staff but screaming at them, throwing money, and taking the damn spatula on their way out. What are the staff going to do with the money? They can’t even enter the spatula into the cash register. You’re mad at Doug Ford, remember? Not 21 year old Sarah who’s saving up for college. She doesn’t even know him.

The ban was supposed to be finished on the 28th and has been extended to June 2nd. I truly hope it’s over then and I can browse the kitchenware aisle and decor aisle in peace and pick up a 24th birthday card for Colin. Covid cases are dropping and people are lining up to get vaccinated. I got mine exactly four weeks ago and most of my family are done as well. Only two weeks and two days to go (not that I’m counting or anything). Hopefully we can get our clothes, books, spatulas, and birthday cards in peace. Hopefully the covid rates keep dropping. And hopefully we vote Ford out next June. Maybe, in the meantime, someone can make him a picture book detailing what things are essential to us ordinary folk just in case.

The conjoined twins of transphobia…

Feminism started with a rallying cry. We were not walking vaginas and breasts, we were not merely a womb for future children or a pretty face. We were people with intelligent minds, thoughts, opinions, dreams, and knowledge. Our value lay inside our heads and not in our physical attributes. Then TERFS came along and busily started trying to change all that with their insistence that we are vaginas and breasts, thank you very much, and what’s inside our brains isn’t nearly as important as that. TERF is an acronym that stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, although I’m more than a little dubious of the last two words. It’s also an acronym they chose for themselves although they’re trying to distance themselves from it now, probably because most people tend to treat the word about the same as they would stepping on a dead slug in bare feet (for those of you in British Columbia or someplace warm, think of a slug that’s a lot smaller than your first thought). TERF brings about that “eww I stepped in something” feeling.

TERF editedTERFS use all sorts of language to try and prove their point. Biological male (or female), natural woman, natal woman… anything to drive a wedge. They won’t say trans woman, they’ll say “biological male who’s pretending to be a woman” because that’s not wordy at all (on top of being inaccurate). They’ll mock trans people, making crude comments about tucking and asking how someone could pretend to be female with “male parts” like that. The picture I’ve shared (left) is because I responded to a comment on a Pink News article. The TERF in question went to my profile, messaged me, and immediately blocked me. That’s another thing about them, they’re rude and they can’t grasp the concept that cis women might actually be arguing on behalf of trans people (trans women in this case). Speaking of cis, those are three little letters that TERFS cannot handle. They say things like “we don’t have an adjective” and they’re “natural” women (like trans people are what? robots?). They act like it’s a slur, some claim it’s being forced by “the patriarchy”. The patriarchy looks suspiciously like the rest of feminism.

In a way I feel bad for TERFS. They’re like scared kids who have heard some boogeyman stories and now they’re heading for the bathroom with a flashlight and a fervent hope the the boogeyman doesn’t jump out of the shadows. But that’s where my sympathy ends because they’re grown women who know how to turn on the damn metaphorical light. They can read articles and posts by trans people detailing their experiences. They can even find speeches and stories on YouTube. They don’t have to sit in ignorance. Plus every thread I’ve read has had people explain, often in detail, what the TERF was wrong about and even things they could do to improve. Examples, statistics, the history of trans people, the fact they exist around the world, the list of information is extensive and ultimately ignored. They’d rather sit in the dark than accept a candle.

super straightThe second conjoined twin goes by the name “super straight”. Their claim is that everyone has a sexual orientation and that orientation is just a preference. So straight women are only attracted to men. Straight men are only attracted to women. Pansexuals are attracted to all genders. Asexuals are attracted to cake. But basically it’s innate and out of the person’s control. They go one step farther and claim they are only attracted to cis people. Hence the super, they’re not just straight they’re super straight. Well they’re not. It simply doesn’t hold water. I mean how do they know who’s trans? Okay, some trans people don’t pass as cis and the buffoons would know then but plenty do pass. And that goes even in the *cough* bedroom. I read somewhere that gynecologists have a hard time telling a trans woman’s nether region after bottom surgery from a cis woman. Granted I’m sure this wasn’t an extensive exam because the cervix is a thing but super straight dude isn’t going to be looking for the cervix either (pro tip: none of you go looking for the cervix either, because it would so not be comfortable). So basically, if he met a cis passing trans woman who’s had gender affirmation surgery, there’s no way in hell he’d know unless she told him and he’d be attracted right up until then. That’s not a preference, that’s prejudice (and bigotry to boot). It runs right along with the people claiming their attraction to their own race is only a preference, like racism isn’t a thing.

Maybe we should set the super straight guys up with the TERFS. They have all the same talking points about trans people so the conversations would flow. And we could move them all to that island the homophobes always want to maroon gay people on. And then we could ignore them. Wouldn’t that be grand?