Pave paradise and put up a parking lot

June 26th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Pave paradise and put up a parking lot)

There are things that strike you in the oddest places.

Something that I’ve been trouble with for a while is the fact that we live in a world where very few people seem to think about anything but themselves. We don’t care about changing our habits, we don’t care about the way we treat people – it’s all about our convenience. We drive SUVs because it’s convenient for us and we don’t give them up until the price of gas starts to effect us. We don’t really worry about how much energy we’re using and what we’re doing for climate change because shouldn’t someone else be responsible for making those changes?

This has never been clearer than in the parking lot at Dairy Queen last night. People were parked everywhere. If there were no spaces it didn’t matter, they would just park somewhere. It didn’t matter that they were blocking someone else in or making it impossible to open the car door or move around the parking lot. All this for ice cream. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t occur to any of these people that they were causing a huge inconvenience – Unless it did occur to them, it just didn’t matter.

Parking seems to be the thing for me. I’ve seen people park illegally because they’re just going to be a few minutes, I saw a woman park in front of a fire hydrant during a time of day when parking on that street wasn’t permitted because she was only going to be a few minutes. Last winter, when there was four feet of snow on the ground and no place to put it I went to the doctor. The parking lot at my doctor’s office is not large and with all that snow trying to find a place to be it was even smaller. I drove around three or four times trying to find a space and finally ended up at the right place, right time when someone else was leaving. When I came out there was an SUV parked in a non-space right behind me, leaving me only one direction to be able to get out of my spot, when I finally maneuvered myself out of that spot, I found that two other cars had parked in the lane on the other side of the lot – one on the curb, next to a fire hydrant, in front of the disabled parking – leaving me barely enough room to get out without getting stuck or scratching my car and theirs.

At this point I started crying out of complete frustration.

Why does no one look at the situation before doing something like that?

I have always been the kind of person who tries to do no harm – Mostly because I try to stay in the background and not get noticed. I try to stay out of the way, stay invisible. I’m not always successful at this, but I don’t think I’ve ever caused anyone to cry in frustration.

Now to the main frustration in my life right now: The environment.

I don’t know what to do about climate change. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, reading about it, watching other people do things, but I don’t know what to do about me and my actions.

There are things I think I do well, there are things I know I have to change (and am trying to remind myself to change) and there are things I am unwilling to change. There are also things I know I can’t do, for instance: I am a renter (for the time being), I would love to be able to improve the insulation in my home and replace the windows, and even consider applying solar panels, but I don’t have that option. I don’t have the option of buying energy efficient appliances.

All these things, by the way, are things that frustrate me about the Liberal Green Shift. It’s all well and good to increase costs to force people to make smarter choices, but where are the solutions? It seems as though my costs will just go up and up with no options for me to change that, being a renter and someone who can’t afford to buy a hybrid at the moment, but still needs to go places.

I do what I can – I turn off the lights, we use compact fluorescent bulbs, we go to the farmer’s market to buy local produce, I take the bus to work, we’re moving into a smaller place (which is newly renovated, so should be much more energy efficient and should also have high efficiency appliances) that also happens to be within walking distance from the husband’s workplace so he won’t be driving anymore. I also want to start composting if we can, along with the recycling we do.

What I don’t do well is that I am a consumer. I fully admit and realize that I have bought in to the North American consumer culture and while I believe that I think about the problems of the world more than some other people, I also know that there are times when I’m not thinking about those problems at all (or my financial responsibilities) just that I want to go to the mall, and I feel as though I really need that new pair of pants.

I have been told that just by thinking about these things I am doing something that others might not be, but it’s the thinking about it that makes it so hard. I often think that being stupid would be so much easier. I think about the climate, and Zimbabwe, and Darfur, and Afghanistan, and Burma, and China, and parking lots and I wonder how I can really consider having children (something that on other days seems like an inevitability) in a world that’s in so much trouble – In a world that I often hate. Knowing that my children will be just as passionate about these things as my husband and I, how can I really consider having any?

I have a lot of complaints about the media – though I will defend them to the day I die, for whatever reason.

It is a very hard job to do and I respect most who devote their lives to information, but sometimes they report the story in a way that’s just not right and that hurts the profession more than it helps anyone.

I have seen it happen so many times since I started watching the news for a living – reporters go into a press conference. . .Sorry, media conference (I got yelled at by a broadcast journalist once for calling them press conferences, as that apparently shows a bias to the print media). . .Yeah, I know. . .They expect one story, they ask their questions and report on the story and get it wrong, reporting their expectations rather than the actual facts. The government’s announcement on BPA was the most painful example. For a week before the announcement the rumours were that the government would be banning BPA (potentially cancer-causing chemical used in hard plastics, food cans, etc.). After the announcement almost every outlet reported it differently – That the chemical had been banned, that it would be banned at the end of the year, etc.

The actual story was that the chemical would be banned in plastic baby bottles if no new evidence was found after 60 days of public consultation, but there was not sufficient evidence that it was really all that dangerous for adults – in fact, banning it in baby bottles was the government being “better safe than sorry.”

CP was the only outlet that told the story as the press conference presented it.

Today I watched the Cabinet shuffle (or re-alignment as CBC has dubbed it). There weren’t any real surprises and there was very little to talk about, especially since none of the three who attended the swearing in made any sort of real comment when they left Rideau Hall. The Prime Minister himself only made one comment as he got into his car: “We’re on the right track, we’re going to stay on the right track. I hope to see you at the garden party.”

That was what he said, that’s all he said. I was watching it live.

A few minutes later Mike Duffy reported on CTV that Harper had said (this is from the transcript): “Mike: As the Prime Minister left, Jaqueline, he said this is a minimalist cabinet shuffle that gets us back on track.”

Please note that this is not, in fact, what the Prime Minister said at all. Duffy went on to say that the statement he misquoted showed that the PM knows just how far off-track his cabinet went in the last session. Seeing as the actual quote indicated that he thinks they are on the right track and staying on the right track, I would argue that his statement does not indicate this at all.

My husband this that this occurs because veteran journalists decide what the story will be before anything even happens, and none of the facts can change it. Whatever the cause, it’s a pretty bad way to inform people.

I read the news today, oh boy…

March 20th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues - (Comments Off on I read the news today, oh boy…)

A few things that caught my attention today:

One of the pro-Tibet protesters on Parliament Hill this morning was being interviewed on CBC and was asked if they were calling for a boycott of the Olympics and he said that it’s not their place to call for a boycott – They’ll leave it up to the athletes and sponsors – It will be on their conscience if they want to “bloody their hands.”

Yeah, it’s not their place to judge.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day held a press conference about the RCMP but most of the questions from reporters were about this report of blueprints for an anti-terrorism unit building on CFB Trenton being found in the trash in an upscale Ottawa neighbourhood. Questions directed at the minister included “How did THAT happen?” and “How embarrassing is this?”

Minister Day is one of my favourite people to watch squirm.

Further to this story – The CBC anchor this morning referred to the story that “just came to light last hour” during the press conference – Apparently she doesn’t read her morning papers.


March 9th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Vocalize)

I need to do something good. I need for what I do with my life, what I do with myself during the day to mean something beyond paying my rent and my debts.

I want to help people. I want to make the world a better place for someone, and I’m not sure how to put my skills to action that way.

So now what? I make do helping the people who actually help people in need. But now I need to find those people and convince them that I’m driven and competent.

Part of me thinks I should just give up on myself and have babies who will save the world. Part of me thinks that in a world that needs so much saving I shouldn’t have babies at all.

The truth is I’m terrified of all of it. I’m scared to care so much and then fail. My last job broke my confidence so much that no matter how happy my current bosses tell me they are, the minute I screw something up I’m right back at zero.  When I really need to get something right I panic and miss the mistakes – things I used to catch in situations much more frenzied.

I guess the truth is I miss my voice. I used to have one. I learned to speak up and be heard and not be afraid that I might be wrong, because if I asked the question at least I would find out. I’ve lost the person that I became four years ago and I’m not quite sure where she went.

Feminism:the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

March 9th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Feminism:the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.)

For years I’ve read about the Bush government’s sneaky ways of cutting down women’s rights and wondered why no one was paying attention, other than the people at Marie Claire and Glamour.

Now it’s happening here.

Antonia says it best

This is a very dangerous little bill that they’re trying to pass off as nothing major and the majority are either accepting it or just don’t know what’s going on, because coverage has been sparse. This is one of those issues that has people terrified to take any kind of public stance in fear of offending the wrong people – Kind of like the women who don’t label themselves as feminists because they don’t want to be seen in the wrong light.

I am a feminist and I have added my name to the petition against C-484.

The canary

March 4th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on The canary)

It’s finally warming up a bit here in Ottawa (probably just until the weekend, but it was nice to leave the house without my long-johns anyway). I’m curious to see how long it takes all this winter to melt once it really starts – We’ll probably be soggy until June.

But I digress…

I enjoy being back in a place where I’m forced to pay attention and know what’s going on. When I was in journalism school it was drilled into us that we should always have read a paper, watched the news, kept up on the latest – and not just for news quizzes. Our first week of j-school was a frosh all our own – including a day spent at a nature reserve where one of my profs (Rob, I’ll never forget this) told us that if he ever saw us in the morning without a newspaper under our arm we would be in big trouble (I imagine a pop quiz on the morning’s top stories in the middle of the hallway would have been the result). It made sense – We were learning to write those stories, we should be reading them.

Sadly, once I went into journalism I didn’t have any time or energy to actually pay attention to anything that required me to think deeply (Hence my regretable dedication to the first season of Paradise Hotel, which required no thinking at all but made me feel dirty in a very bad way). When I went back to school I still had little to no time to pay attention – I was busy working and trying to figure out how the hell to write an essay. By third year I had some balance. My editor took on so much of the paper work herself that I had a lot of down time to check websites and cbc.ca was my go-to. It was how I found out about the shooting at Dawson College and we were able to cover it – And I renewed my love of being the first to know things, which was one of the reasons I went into journalism in the first place.

Yesterday morning I was doing my usual media monitoring and I thought I heard the CTV news anchor say something about a libel suit and the Prime Minister. I looked around and couldn’t find anyone – including ctv.ca – reporting the story. Then they repeated it, so I sent around an e-mail saying “CTV reports Harper has served Liberal party without notice of libel.” The big boss in the office (the one I’m afraid to talk to) came in and asked if there was any more information and I had to tell him I was looking but no one else had this story.

He referred to me as the canary in the mineshaft.

And I realized, for the first time in a long time, that acting as that canary – Being the one on alert and the person who has to find the information so everyone else can know – that is something I really, really enjoy.

Not to mention the fact that I am really excited by this whole libel suit. I’m intrigued to see where it goes from here. I am not a fan of the Prime Minister, but this is a ballsy move and I, for one, believe him. I believe that he is a smart enough man to not risk filing a lawsuit when there’s a chance that he’s wrong. And watching him stand up in question period yesterday – He looks tired, stressed and really, really angry.

Now, since I am back in the loop and I do know what’s going on – What the hell is up with the freaking Liberals?

The vote on their own amendment on the budget was held last night – Their own freaking amendment – and 7 of them show up? SEVEN? THEY WON’T EVEN SHOW UP TO VOTE FOR THEIR OWN FREAKING AMENDMENT?

They’re that much afraid of facing the Canadian public in an election?

The party higher-ups have said they won’t go to an election until they’re sure they can win. Well, let me tell you, they’re not going to see their poll numbers going anywhere if they keep going like this.


Oh life

February 20th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Oh life)

I am a huge fan of Frank Warren’s PostSecret project. Every Sunday I go to the website and I read other people thoughts and sometimes I cry and sometimes I laugh and always, always I think about the world we live in and how connected we are to other people while being completely disconnected at the same time. Every postcard and every secret Frank receives is completely anonymous, which is why people tell him everything – affairs, abuse, robbery – anything.

Because I love PostSecret I joined a LiveJournal post secret community – Just fellow LJers who love Frank for this wonderful project and have secrets of their own to share. Today I left that community after another of too many bitchy pissing matches. I should have left after the girl who told someone who didn’t like a comment she made to go cut herself (I believe she also suggested the commenter put a cigarette to her arm) – In a community full of people who are admitted self-injurers. When I called her on it (stupid me, getting involved at all) and suggested maybe she should leave the community she told me that she has the right to free speech.

I believe I suggested that her previous comments might not have been the best way to use said free speech (which I reminded her that I possess as well).

I should have realized then that maybe I didn’t belong as a member – Maybe, dare I say it? I was too old for that community and I should just go on my merry way.

Today another more petty but less abusive argument became the last straw. If not for some memories that I would like to keep (our engagement, our new puppy coming home), I would trash my LJ completely so none of those people could find me again. Lord knows I’ve been the victim of nasty anonymous comments in the past – The people who thought they could hurt me by calling me a fat bitch – The comments I deleted because if I really cared what they thought I would know who they were.

I’m done with LiveJournal, I will be in my own space now.

Though never on MySpace.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

February 10th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Sunday Bloody Sunday)

Today is one of those days that I’m angry and irrational and frustrated with everything.

I’m pissed off about the way things stand right now. We’re living in boxes but we could be in Ottawa for another year. I may or may not have a job at the end of my contract – only two weeks away now – and I won’t now until then. I have no desire or motivation to look or apply for new jobs. There are piles of crap everywhere.

I don’t want to be a nag. I don’t want to be this person, but when the house looks the way it does and feels the way it does, and smells the way it does I don’t know what else to do. And then I nag, and I do things that I know will piss him off because I’m angry and I don’t know how else to get my point across.

I feel like shit. I feel like I look like shit. I can’t dress the way I want to for work because my office is almost as cold as it is outside on any given day. I don’t feel like a very nice person. I’m tired when I wake up in the morning and tired when I get home. I’m in my twenties and I spend my evenings lying in bed watching crappy television. I’m not eating right when I’m eating at all and I’m not getting any exercise except for the walk from the bus to my office and back.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my life anymore. I thought I knew what I wanted and what I was good at, but now I have no idea. I can’t change my focus again. We can’t afford for one of us to go back to school again and I already feel terrible about that. I will never have a good enough job to support both of us and I hate the part of me that wants him to support me.

This would be so much easier if I could just pause for awhile and figure it all out.

Freaking Conservatives

February 8th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal - (Comments Off on Freaking Conservatives)

As I sit at work all day and watch MPs accuse each other of being partisan – ‘Duh,’ I believe would be the word – I notice all the nuance that goes on in dealings on the Hill.

The Conservatives terrify me, but mostly because they’re so freaking smart. These people know how to avoid answering questions, lay blame on everyone else and generally make all the other parties look pretty bad. It’s amazing to watch.

This morning I watched the House Leader answer questions from journalist who was completely unable to hide the fact that he was left-wing. Now, most people who work in the media are, most are aware that they are and try to balance it out. This guy did not have the balancing skills. He asked two questions that were essentially attacks. Two questions that made me wonder if he was, in fact, a Liberal Party plant.

Not that I’m accusing anyone of anything.

But seriously – When I was training as a journalist I was taught the high importance of never showing your cards. This training sank in to the point that on my first day at my new job with one of Canada’s political parties I had to pause before I even pushed the floor button in the elevator because I knew I could never turn back. This partisan thing will sit on my resume forever (unless I specifically remove it because of the job I’m applying for, and then I’ll sit through the intreview wondering if it would come up and whether I’m technically lying- yes I am paranoid, but only a little).

As we move swiftly towards an election, I look forward to the increasing frequency of my desire to throw the remote at the MPs on TV.

Blah, life.

February 6th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Blah, life.)

I have been looked for a job and interviewing for jobs almost constantly since March. Not to mention every summer since 2004 and for a whole year off and on before that.

Essentially I have been looking for work since March 2003. Almost 5 years of trying to find a job that makes me happy, has a decent salary, challenges me, etc.

Exhaustion is setting in.

Right now I am working in a job that should be almost exactly what I’ve been looking for. Great salary, good people, the ability to  be the first to know almost everything and share it with the people who need to know. I love being behind the scenes and being able to sit in a meeting and listen to really, legitimately intelligent conversations with people who don’t take things too seriously all the time. It feels like I’m almost in the right place, but it doesn’t feel right.

I’m exhausted and I’m tired. Getting up at 5:30 when I’ve never – at all, ever in my life – been a morning person doesn’t help I’m sure. My contract is up in about two and a half weeks. They might extend it – they’ve been happy with the work I’ve done – but I have no idea what any extension depends on. I know that if I could hold on to this job for a year, or even two that we would be in a much better place. Especially since it feels very much like I’ve tapped out my perky interview energy and I have no creative cover letters left.

If I felt like I had it in me I would be aggressive. I don’t feel like I have anything left to give.

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