get off your butt.

Hello Canada, I think it’s time we tear our attention away from the burning south of the border that is America for just a minute.

Why? So we can focus on something equally unpleasant but less sensational. Us. And what the fuck is going on here, now, and what we can do to save ourselves from the same bullshit going on all over the world.

Because you know what? Our own hasn’t gone anywhere.

We are not better than America when it comes to racism, unemployment, homophobia, earnest communication between political parties, hunger, clean energy, etc.

We have a lot of our own problems and they won’t go anywhere if all we’re going to do is stick our cold red noses in the air and act like we’re superior to the United States.

People in our neighbourhoods need to be reassured they won’t wake up to hate-fuelled graffiti on their windows, or white-pride posters near their childresn’s schools.

Foodbanks need food to feed the huddled masses of people who don’t make a living wage because of unemployment or stagnant salaries.

The homeless and disenfranchised need to be protected from unfair harassment from law enforcement.

Hospitals are over-run with patients.

I know all these things seem like they’re impossible for an average citizen to defeat, but it’s not like any one of use has to do it alone.

Volunteer. Reach out to your local MP. Donate to a foodbank or give some of your used clothing. Be there for somebody who needs it whether you know them or not.

It’s time to stop patting ourselves on the back for what we aren’t and start to stand up for what we want to be.

Occam’s got it right

You know what? Forget what I wrote before.

A safety pin, while to me is an aesthetically pleasing off-brand of punk rebellion that is today intended to reach out and offer comfort to marginalized people, if the people you want to help tell you it’s not helping don’t make your accessories more important than them.

I think I had good intentions, but as the cliche goes, the road to hell is paved in those.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific principle which states”the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation is.” Basically, of the two options, the less complicated one is better.

And you know what? I’ve seen enough anger out there about these stupid pins, that maybe it’s time for me to take down my “fuck trump” facebook profile, take off the safety pin, and if I need a reminder to stay active in the fight against inequality I can forge one of my own. One that doesn’t offend the very people I’m trying to stand beside.

Another way of putting it may be that much like a good joke, if your social activism needs to be explained – maybe you’re not doing it right.

Still, I’m not sure what to believe. But this sounds good for now. Here’s some further reading for anyone who wants to know where my info is coming from.

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2016/11/love-doesnt-trump-hate/

http://www.gq.com/story/safety-pin-lapel-trump-brexit

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dear-white-people-your-safety-pins-are-embarassing_us_58278b9de4b02b1f5257a36a

http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/opinion/why-you-should-think-twice-before-wearing-a-safety-pin-today-4726

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/safety-pins-after-election?utm_term=.rd2zordO4#.og5VoKayx

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/fashion/safety-pin-ally-activism.html?_r=0

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/11/13/questioning-safety-pin-solidarity-revealed-why-i-cant-trust-white-people/

 

 

The great safety pin debate

Because society sucks and I don’t know what else to do.

I am a white, able bodied, mentally fit (mostly,) straight-passing (sorta,) Catholic (technically,) white woman in Canada. I pretty much won a genetic lottery based on both the historical racism North America was built upon and the recent #TBT to those awful times that America has just voted-in to run their country for the next four years.

I’m not perfect, and I’m no saint, but I do try to understand my privilege. On top of that, though, I want to make a difference while distancing myself visually from the people who look like me who are to blame for the win that misogyny and racism had five days ago. The only way I can think to do that is to wear a safety pin. And as a Canadian, it feels especially poignant to wear it in November. The month Canadians spend remembering and honouring fallen heroes who fought for the freedoms I and many others enjoy today.

Since I put the pin on my jacket, not much has happened. No one has challenged me for wearing it, no one has thanked me, no one has started any kind of conversation about it. And yet, maybe delusion-ally, I feel I’m doing the right thing not only for me but for people around me.

I’m not using this pin to say “not all white people” to people who are rightfully angry and sad about what a large number of white people have allowed to happen. I’m not wearing it to say I’m somehow better than anyone who isn’t wearing one. To be honest, I don’t think I’m even wearing it to make other people feel safer. I mean, it’s fantastic if they do, but honestly I am just skeptical that; a) anyone on the street is paying enough attention to me to notice to over-sized pin on my lapel, and b) that they’ll see it and do anything other than roll their eyes or c) they might just think I’m a fan of Sid Vicious.

I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about this small accessory, and I have come to the conclusion that I am wearing it selfishly. But I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I wear it to remind myself what I stand for and to hold myself accountable for what needs to be done to reduce the distance between white people and people of colour, men and women, the mentally fit and the mentally ill, the able bodied and the physically handicapped, gay and straight.

There are a lot of reasons to hate the safety pin movement and think of it as white people patting themselves on the back. There are a lot of reasons to think of it as a nice gesture, and there are a few reasons to think of it as something more than that.

I wear it for me. Because it’s insane to think I represent anyone else. But I want to project that I won’t sit quiet when I see racism. I won’t ignore the difficulties of others just because it’s depressing to think about, and I will do whatever is in my power to fight the progression of fear, anger and inequality that seems to be taking over the world right now.

 

TL:DR

I know that my safety pin is kind of stupid and on it’s own means nothing. But I also know wearing it is a reminder to myself to be a better person. For anyone who says I’m not doing enough, you might be right. You don’t know me or how I spend my time, but it’s true. I could always do more than I am. But I’m just a person. I give money to groups I support. I volunteer my time when I have it. I try to listen to opposing viewpoints to better educate myself, and if anyone has an argument for why my pin is hurting them more than it’s helping me I will remove it.

For anyone else who wants to “make the world a better place” and help America through the rough times ahead, please check out this awesome list of charities that the crew of Strong Female Protagonist has suggested,  donated to and researched;

The American Civil Liberties Union is a fierce watchdog for violations of the constitution

Planned Parenthood provides critical health care for women and others

The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocates for Muslims in the U.S. and fights Islamophobia 

The Human Rights Campaign fights for equality for all LGBTQ+ people

The Transgender Law Center focuses on helping trans people

The National Immigration Law Center defends the rights of low income immigrants

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is a resource for survivors of sexual assault

The Southern Poverty Law Center works to prevent and combat hate crimes

 

Oh, Canada…

Today was a remembrance day… well… to remember.

The lonely poet of rock’n’roll, Leonard Cohen, is dead.

A Hamilton Judge showed up for work with an accessory that showed an ironic lack of good judgement.

Vancouver gave Trump Tower the finger, or a few hundred fingers over night in solidarity with their American cousins.

A bunch of Windsor teens showed Canada is not immune to bigotry and hateful actions.

And, Quebec went under scrutiny for it’s own borderline Trump-ian bill, that aims to ‘encourage’ people on social assistance to enlist in programs to find a job or get more training, after being passed into law yesterday.

I know it’s hard to look away from our neighbours to the south right now. And I know it’s equally tempting to dance an ice-dance of happiness knowing we are not in their shoes.

Before we bust out your skates and start making maple-syrup cocktails to congratulate ourselves on our newly raised last-vestige-of-openly-multicultural pedestal on the world stage, however, let’s remember our work isn’t done.

In fact it’s more important now than ever to be the best possible people we can be. We have to give the world hope and show that an inclusive country is a happy, healthy and prosperous one.

And while that’s all well and good to say, we Canadians have our work cut out for us. We have a lot of immigrants and refugees to welcome, we have a lot of people in the LGBT community looking for support and understanding, and we have the people who are afraid of all the rapid change that is happening in our country and the rest of the world.

It isn’t always enough to tell people to shut up and get with the program when it comes to how they react to new things and people they don’t understand or haven’t encountered before.

The responsibility falls to the people who know that LGBT lives don’t threaten straight lives, that black, brown and Asian people of all faiths and/or lack thereof are not trying to take over a predominantly white country – they’re just looking for their place in one.

A lack of whiteness is not scary. A transgender person in your bathroom is not a problem. Gay people are not dangerous. An atheist won’t take your god from you. A woman who is comfortable with her self and in control of her body is not a threat to your manhood.

No one group can get through life without encountering another, and while it’s scary to get used to something or someone new, we can’t let fear drag us back to the dark ages of tribes divided by endless war and anger. We have to find a way to come together in love and respect.

We have to find a way, Canada to show the world that we can all live together with dignity.

Don’t get lazy, get to work.

A view from one of the few liberally governed countries left in the world right now

America is used to being the center of attention. It’s known for good things like freedom and power and Hollywood blockbuster movies; and for bad things like war and fast food, and now for reincarnation of Hitler that is “president” Trump.

I don’t know what has happened in the eight years since America historically, proudly and bravely elected their first black president, Barack Obama, but what I do know is that this election took the country back to the worst parts of its white, xenophobic, toxicly-masculine roots.

As the protesters fill the streets alongside the trump-supporters, and American parents and teachers have difficult conversations with their American children of all denominations ages and genders; all I can think is that I feel helpless and isolated.

Well, I’m thinking that – and that I should stock up on canned goods to get me through the winter in case Trump crashes the economy in the next few months. And farther down the line, that he and his climate change-denying ass makes the world so hot the crops fail and the price of food spikes to record highs (again.)

But seriously, this election is so weird. And it has so many layers, each seemingly more disgusting than the last, that writing any sort of cohesive analysis is fucking hard.

As a woman, as a member and proud supporter of the LGBT community I am fucking pissed.

As a white person from a different country I feel a mix of shame and relief that I can only think must mean I and people like me are in a unique position to step above the anger and emotion that the groups most affected by the out-dated attitudes that have burst forth from the skin of American society like a whitehead (or hood) from hell and work towards not only keeping the hate from our doors but also to take a stand to help the world see why decisions based on fear and hate and exclusion are wrong and need to stop.

We’ve had these leaders before. The ones who fear ‘the other.’ The ones who put down the disenfranchised, the weak, the uneducated and the poor instead of lifting them to their full potential. We have had these leaders before, and we have toppled them.

We have evolved past them.

Humanity has never been perfect, but our capacity to record and look back on history is what will save us from ourselves. As long as we can find the strength within ourselves to admit what makes us angry and afraid, when we can name the poison we can find the cure.

Most often that cure is found in information. It is found in welcoming new cultures and ideas, in seeing past the physical shells we all abide in and just getting over the superficial bullshit of who is sleeping with who, whose skin is darker or lighter than whose and what’s between someones legs so we can focus on the things that all people always need.

Sometimes life sucks. But giving power to people who say they’ll deal with the things that suck by excluding some people and taking away the rights of others just doesn’t make sense. To deport people you don’t like, to force people to love in secret and and to keep down half of the population because of their gender takes up so much energy and money and effort that could instead be spent making the lives of the people safer, healthier and better educated.

I suppose maybe I’m preaching to the choir. The only people who will agree with me are the same ones who simply could not believe that Hillary did not win last night. But to those of you who think I’m wrong, think about the last eight years. The years we spent looking at an America run by a black, feminist president obsessed with healthcare. He may not have been perfect. He may not have made everyone happy. But look at what he has paved the way for in the most contentious election of a lifetime.

History did take six steps in the right direction last night. Maybe not all at once. Maybe not for the position that matters most. But that’s not nothing, and America needs to cling to all the hope it can get its hands on right now.

Well that was weird

Thanks to everyone for reading my mope-fest of a last post. Extra thanks to everybody who sent their kind words and who gave me feedback on  my writing.

It turns out y’all don’t really like it when I write about news and world events. So I’m going to experiment with writing more personal stuff.

Kind of my nightmare. But it seems to be what people actually read. Weirdos.

With that disclaimer over, let’s talk about my feelings an’ shit.

As you may have gleaned from my last post, I’ve been a bit of a bummer lately. And no one has suffered my wrath more than my man, my fiancee, my live-in favourite human, Mark.

Eating and sleeping haven’t been high on my priority list this past week. My depression and anxiety have been battling it out in my brain and my body is showing the bruises.

Literally. My eyes look like I’ve had my nose broken the circles are so ugly and dark.

Mark deduced something was more wrong than one of my usual cycles when I woke him up the other morning by sleep-screaming “I AM CALLING THE POLICE!”

I had been dreaming that a clown was outside our apartment door and I was struggling to keep the lock in place. Sleep talking isn’t new for me, but it’s usually at a lower decibel. And he’s lucky the clown was outside the apartment because I am also a sleep-puncher.

Anyway, after a morning of being grumpy, tired, forgetful and just a walking storm-cloud I went to work and continued along that same vein.

Which is a pretty shitty and selfish way to be in an office of people probably more upset than you. But I didn’t care. And I continued not caring until I realized my morning grogginess was not done with me. I realized I’d forgotten my apartment keys.

HOW. DOES. ONE. FORGET. THEIR GODDAMN KEYS?!?

Mark, does not have a phone.

I finish work at 12:30am.

I had to buzz the landlords who were very much asleep to let me into the building where I could then knock on my own door and pray that my luck couldn’t possibly be bad enough for Mark to be asleep or worse, playing xbox with his headphones on.

Turns out, I didn’t need luck. Because I picked a solid dude.

Not only did he answer the door for his red-eyed, ghost-faced, sullen girlfriend, he’d cooked my favourite dinner (Black Bean Chicken with red and green peppers, y’all!), purchase me two bottles of my favourite wine, and queued up a youtube playlist of one of The Graham Norton Show.

The hangover this morning from drinking both bottles almost entirely by myself was so worth it. I had the best sleep. I had a night of laughing at Chris O’Dowd accidentally swallowing a fly on television. And I have the best friend anyone could ever ask for.

No matter what life throws at us, there’s nothing that a cheap bottle of red and a night of laughter can’t fix.

Thank you Mark.

 

PS. You said you wanted me to write more about myself. Well. Choke on that sappy-ass shit and let me know if you want more or if I should go back to the shadows and try to get back to the news. Seriously. I need feedback because I don’t know what you people want from me.

I’m back

2016, I think it’s safe to say, has been the world’s worst year. No one has been spared from this godless shit-show.

I am eternally grateful I’ve been spared from the forest fires, droughts, shootings, fentanyl overdoses, wars, bombings and America (just in general). I am, however, still going to complain about my life. Buckle up or GTFO now.

I’ve been accosted by homeless people. I’ve had my life threatened. People in masks and non-religious/threatening face coverings are becoming a near-daily sighting.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that with the housing market the way it is, it’s literally the same level of investment in renting a one-bedroom apartment as it is to start a mortgage on a fucking house (and not, ‘oh housing is so cheap’… no, one-bedroom apartments start at $950/mo with no fancy-shmancy things like electricity, internet or parking. Not to mention that food I love to selfishly fill myself with every day.)

The myth of a full-time job being enough to keep you in the lap of luxury with a great pad, good food, a car and nice clothes is bullshit.

Speaking of gainful full-time employment, my job is up the air for another month or so, so all my plans of moving, marrying and everything else have been put on indefinite hold.

Before I go hoard all the drugs I can get my hands on stock up on all my medications and get all my teeth filled before I lose my medical coverage, let’s get some of my other affairs in order.

I’ve spent most of this year running around trying to find a new apartment because of a lot of problems (including a forced invasion of privacy inspection because the drunken paranoid landlords thought we were harbouring bedbugs) and safety concerns about the building/part of town I’ve been living in the last four years, and all that time was a waste because it turns out landlords in this city are money-grubbing assholes who don’t care if your dinky apartment costs a third or more of your paycheck every month. Even the places smaller and grosser than where I am now were asking for more than the $1,000 rent than I already pay.

Because since when has your money ever really been YOUR money, anyway?

Well, I am definitely glad I didn’t blow any bucks on moving now, because I just found out that the company I work for is downsizing.

A lot.

And I won’t find out until approximately xmas whether or not I make the cut. So fuck you if you were expecting a gift.

Sure, my problems are first-world at best. But I’ve still been a mopey motherfucker who hasn’t found the drive to write anything (or get to the gym or do much of anything productive/therapeutic) in a long time.

And while Buzzfeed tells me my feelings are valid no matter how self-indulgent and unhelpful they are, I feel like maybe it’s time to get some perspective and try to push myself more.

Who knows, maybe this time I’ll finally end up in the right direction.

Until then, please bear with me while I go through the growing pains of trying to put everything together again and while I plan the next adventure that is my life.

I’ll be attempting to get back into my old posting schedule of every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as soon as possible.

I’m also in the works of getting a youtube channel set up for some time early 2017 and working on that novel I’ve been banging on about to everyone in my life for way too long now with not nearly enough to show for it (same for that stand-up comedy routine I’m over-due to perform.) Any constructive criticisms, questions, comments, rude remarks or organizational tips are more than welcome.

As always, thanks for putting up with me.

I hope to one day create and distribute something worthwhile.

-Steph