One week to go…

by , on
November 4, 2008

I am back to work next Tuesday and I have developed a great desire to start fresh and get back on track.

Before the wedding I was getting my exercise, I was paying attention to what I put in my body, I even got somewhat of a handle on my debt. Then my world changed rapidly – I lost my job, I moved to Saskatchewan, I got a new job with hours I had never worked before. Suddenly it felt like I had no time to do anything but work and sleep and be depressed an moody because I wasn’t sleeping properly. I had panic attacks at work when I was asked to do new things that required more skills and more care.

Then the election happened and I learned what it’s really like to not have time for anything but work and sleep. For almost three months I was exhausted – mind, body and soul.

Now I’ve had the chance to rest. I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to during my vacation: Catching up on my sleep, catching up on my TV shows, getting my exercise, knitting, cooking, reading, taking care of my husband and my puppy and spending time with friends. I even got the chance to do a few extra things: We went to a Senators game and to see the Cirque du Soleil, I bought a puzzle and completed it (2000 pieces), something I haven’t done in years, I got started on my Christmas knitting and my Christmas shopping and I had time to sit back, have some fun and evaluate what I want, how I want to get there, what I need to make me a whole person.

I need exercise and, it turns out, I love to sweat. I pull up something on the PVR and get on the bike and I really feel as though I’m working hard. When I decide that it’s hard and I’m only going to go for 15 minutes and end up completing my 30 I allow myself to be proud.

I need fresh air. One of my absolute favourite things is taking Henry to the off-leash park. He runs and I walk and me thoughts are as free to roam as he is.

I need to be taught. I yearn to take classes. My brain needs guidance sometimes. I want to take writing classes and dance classes and knitting classes and anything else that strikes my fancy. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that desire. I blame my parents.

I need family. With my mother, grandfather and sister all across the country – the people that formed my universe when I was growing up – I have had to adjust a lot in the past year. Joe and I got married and went away for a week and when we got back my Mom was retired and gone and suddenly I was completely responsible for everything in my life – and not just my life. Now Joe and I are family and we have to work together to make sure we can sustain ourselves. It terrifies me to rely on him that much – it terrifies me more to rely on myself that much.

I remember when I was a kid and I was out of school sick for a couple of days or a week and the dread I used to feel having to go back. It felt like everything must have changed and I would be even further behind than before. The last time I took a week off work I went back pretty much just to clean out my desk. Now I’ve been off for three weeks from a job that was never really mine in the first place and I have absolutely no idea what to expect when I go back.

I just don't understand…

by , on
October 23, 2008

Alright, I’m angry. I just read this.

I don’t understand why allowing other people who are in love to get married would somehow undermine the meaning of my marriage.

I don’t understand how people can argue that gay marriage would undermine the sanctity of marriage in a country with a 50 per cent divorce rate.

I once heard a man on the radio argued against allowing gay couples to adopt because “children need to be raised in a loving home.”

The stupidity of it all overwhelms me.


I'm sooo tired, my mind is on the blink…

by , on
October 17, 2008

(That’s a Beatles reference)

I used to write passionately about things. When I was in journalism school I had the ability to take information and turn it into something that flowed. I loved learning things that I never would have thought of and I would strive to create a story that people would read so they could learn things too.

Before that, when I was in high school, I wrote fiction. I loved creating stories and characters and details of lives I could never live. I dreamed of writing novels and being able toexplore things around the world through with pen and paper.

Right now it feels like I’ve lost that ability. It’s something I’m fairly desperate to regain. Whenever I sit down to write now, it always seems as though I’m writing in stream of consciousness about me, my life, my stresses, my feelings, and while I love journaliing, that’s no escape.

I think the problem is that I just don’t know where to start. It feels as though I’ve lost my imagination and my ability to have ideas. Somewhere along the way I went from having these fairy tale fantasies, to the complete dark, emo writing of my teenage years, to the non-fiction pieces in journalism school, to the unimaginative sports writing of my attempted and aborted journalism career, to university essays that garnered okay marks and now nothing.

I feel empty, as though I had my chance and used up all my creativity. I soared in my creative writing classes in high school and was showered in praise during in college and I miss it. I don’t have any audience anymore. I have no one to impress, no one to assign, and I’m lost.

I’m hoping that the right pen and notebook and the three weeks off I face at the end of this work day will bring that part of my back to life, but I just don’t know.

Tired in more than one way

by , on
October 13, 2008

So I’ve been working almost constantly for three months now. I went from living in Montreal working 12 hour days to living at home but working 14 hour days. Now I’m coming to the end of that time and I’ll have a month off, but I’m putting myself out on a limb for that too.

I’m tired. My body is tired, my brain is tired and I’m tired of things being hard. I just want something to go smoothly for me.

Smooth would be getting my earned time without a fight, spending that time regaining some strength, getting back into exercise, knitting, reading, writing, working on the things that I just haven’t had time for.

But I still don’t technically have a job. I’ve been on contract extension after contract extension but no permanent offer and no real indication of any permanent offer. So I start looking for job postings and I start questioning my qualifications again and I start thinking about starting all over again because I don’t really believe that I’m any good at anything that I really want to do.

I want to learn a trade.

They told me I would have stories… Man, do I have stories

by , on
August 14, 2008

First there was the old guy who said he didn’t like people who take “soft sciences,” then there was the American who decided, while touring around Montreal, the he wanted to learn all about Canadian politics, but that’s not what this is about…

For the month I am living in Montreal, working on a campaign – a brand new experience for me. While in Montreal I am living in Outremont, in an area that is populated by more Orthodox Jews than I’ve ever seen before. Every morning I walk before the Jewish community centre and watch the little boys playing outside.

I’ve always been intrigued by people who dedicated themselves to their religion. As someone who never really went to church and never really delved into any kind of religious practice I am fascinated. I watch the men in their dark suits, the hats, the beards and the hair, I watch the women in their proper skirts and buttoned shirts and plain hair, I watch the little boys at play in the morning, all wearing striped shirts, dark pants and yarmulkes, I watch them fascinated because they are surrounded by modernity. These people are living in what is probably the most un-censored city in Canada. I watch them and all I want to do is talk to them, ask them what they believe, who they are, what it all means. I want to apologize to them for disrupting their lives with my presence. I want to ask them how they stay so strong.

An ode to Silvercity

by , on
July 19, 2008

Because I have reached a point in my life when I’m just not going to take it anymore:
Last night I lined up with a bunch of friends to see The Dark Knight on Imax at Silvercity. We got there three hours early and were told that the line for the 10:20 show was outside – though it took talking to three different employees to find out where exactly outside. We were naive enough to assume that the line was going to start outside and they would eventually move us inside.

As it turns out, they had probably over 400 people, waiting for two different showings, lined up for hours in the on and off pouring rain.

I understand that these people all made the decision to stay in that line (though plenty of people left) but my main problem here is with management. Lots of those very wet people were complaining, asking to be moved inside (which was basically empty once all the other movies had started) and were simply told that wouldn’t be happening. My friends and I happened to be first in line for the Imax showing, and when we walked into the theatre and saw a group of people already sitting there I went to complain. I was told that they had been sent to the wrong line and were compensated for that by being allowed into the theatre first, taking the best seats – the seats my friends and I had shown up at 7 o’clock to take. When I told the manager that one of my friends had heard one of her employees tell that very same group of guys that he could get them into the theatre early – an employee that I could name – she shrugged me off.

None of us were expecting anything from the theatre. We knew that we had all made the choice to stay in line because we wanted to see the movie and there was nowhere else to see it, my problem here is management style.

Everyone who complained and asked to be brought inside or given some inkling that they might plan better next time was turned away as though they knew that we had already paid and we weren’t going anywhere so they didn’t need to try to please us. As a result  of the way I was treated and the way I saw them treating other people in that line, I am going to make a point of never going to that theatre again and telling everyone I can about my experience so that they might think twice about it too.


My home and native land

by , on
June 30, 2008

This is my favourite time of year, a time when I am usually (26 out of 27 years) in that national capital region for the greatest celebration this city ever sees.

I am Canadian, a fact that makes me very proud (most of the time), and there is nothing I love more than seeing 30,000 other proud Canadians gather together in my city to celebrate the mere notion that we get the chance to live in this great country.

I love showing off the maple leaves tattooed on my left shoulder blade – I took great joy in the fact that my wedding dress did not cover them – especially on July 1. I love having others know that I am Canadian. It is a huge part of my identity.

This year, more than most, I find myself analyzing my Canadianess. I find that I am thinking more about what needs to change here that what is great. I hope that others are doing the same. It seems that we are failing at many things, at least according to some. There are things we’re clearly getting wrong, things we’re not acting on, and things we’re not acting on quickly enough.

Things I want to see Canada improve:

  • Our treatment of Aboriginal peoples.  I have lived in several areas near reserves and seen vastly different treatment of these people. Many Canadians seem to hold grudges against the so-called preferential treatment of our First Nations (yeah, they get tax-exemptions, they also had their identity stripped from them over hundreds of years of mistreatment). I have witnessed stereotyping and I have witnessed the stereotypes. When it all comes down to it, what options have we really given them?
  • Climate change/Global warming. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m sick of people thinking they can’t do anything when it’s been proven that little changes can change a lot. Too many people think their convenience is more important that the future of the planet.
  • International Human Rights. This is something that I wish Canada was a world leader on. We have so many great people here who speak out about the problems faced by the world’s least fortunate – Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis to name just two. When I was in university I could see the passion that Canada’s young people show for these issues, but our political leaders are missing out. Sure, they condemn China’s treatment of Tibetans and place sanctions on Zimbabwe, but what does that really accomplish? – This being said, we also have a lot of things to deal with on our own soil and I don’t deny that. Canada has too much poverty and the split between rich and poor is too large.

There’s more, I’m sure there’s a lot more, but in my celebratory mood I can focus on those three or four things and assume that there are Canadians out there who see those problems and are even taking steps to fix them, taking steps to help people and support change.

The great thing about being Canadian, and the thing that makes me feel so lucky, is that we have the opportunity to create change here. All the problems we face are fixable and we live in a country that is lucky enough to be a potential part of the solution. There are so many things we don’t have to worry about that we can think about wider issues. And that is why I celebrate every year, every day, that I was born here.

Pave paradise and put up a parking lot

by , on
June 26, 2008

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?

Friggin' journalists

by , on
June 25, 2008

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.

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