Cinema Classics

by , on
April 27, 2016

This morning I came across a post from Entertainment Weekly listing 55 movies they call essential for kids to watch before they turn 13. I know I saw a lot of these as a kid and they were awesome. I also know that some of them I didn’t see until recently and felt as though they would have been more special to me if I had seen them earlier in life – The Goonies, Star Wars.

So I made a checklist. There are several we’ve already watched together. My favourite so far was Annie. I loved the movie as a kid, and as soon as the singing started the kid was hooked. I don’t think she turned away for the entire length of the movie. Her favourite movie so far has been The Peanuts Movie which she saw in theatres three times (once with Grandma, once with Daddy and once with me) and she has already watched the new DVD.

A few on the list that we haven’t watched yet were some of my favourites as a kid – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Sometimes I think to myself that she’s not ready for some of the themes in these movies and wonder when I will be comfortable showing her. And then I remember that I saw these films and loved them.

Going to movies has always been one of my favourite things. To this day I remember the brilliant lights walking into the theatre when my mom took us to see Follow That Bird. I remember snuggling in to watch a movie on our new VCR as a family. I remember heading out to movies with my friends and laughing all the way home remember bits. I remember in the months when I was unemployed, living at home and not sure what my next step was learning how freeing going to the movie by myself could be.

Just like I want my kid to love books, I want her to love stories. I want her to lose herself.

I should really add the Addams Family to the list...

I should really add the Addams Family to the list…


What are the movies you couldn’t wait to show your kids?

Politics and political people

by , on
April 25, 2016

Sometimes I meet people who tell me that they are not interested in politics. It’s fairly rare in Ottawa, giving how affected many of us are by government changes and decisions, but it still happens. And I find myself not believing these people. I am firm in my belief that anyone can be political, you just need the right issue.

Telling yourself that you’re not interested in politics is telling yourself that you’re not interested in your daily life. Seriously. Your daily life is affected by municipal, provincial and federal politics. Assuming you put out garbage, use the streets and sidewalks, send your kids to school and have deductions off your paycheque.

Politics is not just about the big, wide-ranging issues – though you probably deal with some of those every day too. You might have people in your life who are gay or trans and you happy to think they should have the same rights as everyone else – being human beings and all.

You might have a child with autism in your family and you think the delays in getting them programming they need is despicable.

Chances are at some point in your life you will find an issue – or have an issue thrust upon you – that you will be passionate about. (Take Amanda, for instance).

Dotting Is and crossing Ts

by , on
April 25, 2016

I’m working on a grant application today, putting into action all the things I learned from helping my father finalize many a SSHRC proposal.

Those who work examining such applications are looking for reasons to deny your application right off the bat. If they can deny your application, they they have a smaller 20160425_111237pool to work with. If you want to be one of the last ones in the pile you have to make sure you have crossed your ts and dotted your is.

Use their language, answer all their questions with no more and no less information than is required, put all the checkmarks in all the right boxes. Do all the math and then do it again to make sure you did it right, and then do it again just in case.

And this is why there are professionals who earn a living getting these proposals exactly right for clients.

This is not going to be quick work, but it can’t be if you want to get things right. And you won’t get your grant if you don’t get things right.

Right now I’m focussed on taking it step by step, reading the guide to the application as I go, and highlighting sections I have to come back to when I have more information.

Slow and steady.



by , on
April 19, 2016

I have always been the fat kid. At least it feels that way for me. There is photographic evidence to the contrary…

IMG_20160416_163816 IMG_20160416_163949

…but I have certainly always been fatter than my brother and sisters, and way fatter than the sister I grew up with. I am now the mother to a thin, healthy, strong and active child and I wonder what people think of the two of us together. I’m at my highest weight ever and here is this child who never stops moving, eats all the vegetables she can get her hands on, knows when to stop.

I have never been a good eater. I have trouble eating on waking and breakfast has always felt like something others are trying to force on me. I eat late because I stay up late. I have always been a night owl. But life doesn’t work that way.

When I was in Grade 9 I went to visit my Dad and he asked if I had lost weight. I didn’t know. When I went and weighed myself after his question it seemed I had managed to lose about 40 lbs.

This happened because I had given up on the bus and started walking home from school, and also because I wasn’t eating anything during the day.

I would have the occasional muffin or box of Smarties, sometimes I would partake in cafeteria meals, but mostly I was just not until until I got home around 4 pm.

And it didn’t occur to me until the past few years that the way I eat, and certainly the way I was eating back then, is disordered. I lost 40 lbs because my caloric intake took a nosedive into unhealthy levels and my activity levels shot up the other way.

And somehow since then I have been focused on that weight lost as some sort of success that I haven’t been able to repeat. And somehow food has become the focus of all my emotions. And to this day my eating is disordered and I lack the capacity to feed myself, even as I worry about the nutrients my daughter is getting to make sure she has energy.

The same way I worry about her sleep patterns even though my own are ridiculous.

So where do we go from here?

Three quarters

by , on
April 17, 2016

Dear Dad,

Today I went to Blog Out Loud Ottawa and read the post I wrote after I graduated with my B.A. (Hons) in June last year. The post was a letter to you, telling you about making it. At the time I had finished my exams, graduated and gotten accepted to the MPM program.

It’s hard to believe that you died almost a year ago. That life was thrown off course and steadied that long ago. Because here I am, having finished all the coursework for my Masters. I’m doing my internship now, a good one, one that will help kids, and then I will be able to officially have B.A., MPM on my CV.

I didn’t know if I could do it, and then I became pretty sure that I could. In fact, at times, it seemed almost easy. Because I’m smart and I work hard. I’m dedicated and I found something that I’m passionate about. I have that thing that you had your whole career.

I am passionate about the work I do and I’m still the mom that my kid needs.


Look at her Dad. I can’t fathom going on endless business trips and leaving her behind. I can’t imagine being away for weeks at a time. A few hours and I’m excited to see her again. I can’t imagine her not knowing what country I’m in, let alone when I’ll be home.

She cried for you tonight. She misses you, and I miss you for her. You were a better grandfather than you were a father to me, though some of that was undoubtedly my fault. But it almost feels like you’ve failed me again by dying before my daughter got to be your granddaughter. And by dying before I got to really be who I am now, instead of the me I was for so long.

I wish we hadn’t been so much alike, or at least both recognized it in each other. I wish we had been better people together.

In November I graduate. Probably the last time. And once again I will walk through the Field House and I will look for your face in the crowd like last time, and I’ll cry again when you’re not there to see me. We should have had more time, but I have things here that I need to make the most of.

A Master

by , on
April 8, 2016

I had a great conversation today and I volunteered myself for something that I think is going to be awesome, and it got me thinking.

I learned a lot of things doing my Masters degree. I re-learned some things too. I put together documents that I didn’t have experience with, I learned about things like the Lobbying Act, I put together an advocacy plan. The program taught me a lot of things, including what I already know and what I am capable of (including working a more-than-full time job in an election campaign while maintaining good grades in a Masters program).

I think the best thing that my Masters program gave me was the people. The people who were my classmates, the professors and all of those people that took the time to come in and talk to us about their lives and their careers.

Being connected to people who are passionate about that same things that you are passionate about is a great thing. Having lively debates, challenging yourself and your beliefs, it all makes you a stronger person. And if you listen it teaches you about yourself and what you really believe, what’s really important to you.

It has not been easy. In fact it has been quite difficult a lot of the time. But hey, I have three letters to add to my resume and a whole lot more self-awareness. Plus a network.




The final countdown

by , on
April 7, 2016

Two years ago I sat on the front porch with my Dad, trying to figure out what exactly I was doing with my career and where to go next and it was decided, somehow, all of a sudden, that I should really do the Masters in Political Management Program.

Two years ago I re-applied to university to start a two year journey that would end in a Masters degree.

Two years have passed. Many essays have been written, articles have been read, big thoughts have been had and tears have been shed. And today I finished all the last of my course work.

It feels like a long journey and also somehow like no time has passed at all.

I’ve met new people, re-introduced myself to people I already knew. I have been reinvigorated. Reminded of my love for politics. The important work that important people do here in my hometown.

I am more sure than ever of who I am and what my priorities are and also somehow less sure of what comes next. I could do anything. I feel like I could do anything. I can do good. And I know what good I can do.

I don’t know how to feel right now, except ready to keep moving.

What do you mean?

by , on
April 2, 2016

On the second day of panels at the Progress Summit I opted to spend my lunch hour with the people from Food Secure Canada.

I missed Food Secure’s session last year but it’s a topic I’m interested in, especially after I learned more about it in a course I took on the politics of food, and also because I’ve followed the problems with Nutrition North closely.

Each table had a theme and each table was trying to fit that theme into this idea of a federal food policy. There was success in making food security an issue, but now we want the government to do more. It was a very interesting discussion because my table had academics and non-academics, including an organic farmer.

As the conversation got started, my first question was pretty simple, I thought: What does a food policy mean, what does that looking like. If all you do was approach a minister and say “we want your government to do something about food security,” that response will likely be “okay, what?”

You cannot go to the government and say that you want them to create a policy about x issue. The government deals with concretes, ministers need specifics. You tell them we need a policy around X issue and this is what you need to do.

If you approach it like that it’s much more likely that you will get something, though possibly not what you had intended.


Socialist Serenade

by , on
April 2, 2016

I was at Progress Summit this weekend. It’s a nice time to get into the weeds a little bit on lefty politics and see people that I don’t get to see often. Also this year I got to see Gloria Steinem and Cindy Blackstock speak.

But then came one of the main events – the debate on proportional representation. The pro side was represented by pundit Andrew Coyne and Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council. The con side was represented by Michelle Rempel, Conservative MP and pundit Tasha Kheiriddin, who both happen to reside on the right.

One of my favourite panels at the 2015 summit was about lessons that the left could learn from the right with Kheiriddin and Tim Powers. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to learn about your movement is to listen to people outside of it.

I’m also not sure where I sit on proportional representation. There are all sorts of electoral systems and each one has its pros and cons. I don’t believe in the argument that votes don’t count under our current system and I also know that many Canadians are not engaged enough to care to learn a new, more complicated system. But the Trudeau government has said that there will be change, and so we need to debate that change.

The debate started off well, with digs all around and good-natured laughter and then they got into the thick of things.

And I grew more and more angry.

You see, socialists like to think highly of themselves. We’re good people, we’re for equity. we’re feminists who fight for gay rights, we look for fairness and offer access to everyone. We take care of each other.

Unless, apparently, you’re a Conservative who is a star of the caucus (and should run for leader).

I spent an hour growing more and more angry at the treatment of this woman who agreed to attend an event that presumably is outside her comfort zone. Though she does spend weeks in the House of Commons. I watched as people laughed at her, heckled her, scoffed at the words coming out of her mouth, all while she tried to take part in a legitimate, fair debate.

At one point, apparently, her body language portrayed that she might be upset or uncomfortable and the three people in front of me were absolutely delighted that the crowd had managed this.

There are problems with PR, and especially problems we need to talk about because we don’t know what form of PR we’re looking at yet. If we’re looking at a list system then we have to talk about party control, we may see a rise in ideological parties like UKIP and more regional parties like the Bloc Quebecois and that’s something people should be aware of. Changing the electoral system will change the political system. There will be gains and consequences. But this room didn’t want to hear it.

A room full of people who probably take such pride in being feminists and calling for more women in politics. As long as they are a particular type of woman.

I’ve talked before about respect I have for Michelle Rempel. I think she should run for the leadership. I think she’d part of the future of this country. Maybe if she wins the leadership these socialists will think she’s won their respect.

Of course, she doesn’t have to.

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