Monday July 28 , 2014

Category: Sooey Says

Dear Mr. Prime Minister (Again)

Almost every other night now there’s a story on CBC’s The National about how Calgary is a real hotbed for wannabe Islamic terrorists and, well, you know how one thing leads to another.

So yeah, I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided that, like, maybe we should bomb Calgary in defense of Israel now instead of waiting until later when Israel has to do it.

I mean, it seems kind of unfair to make Israel do all the bombing, don’t you think?

Also, if we bomb Calgary now it might destroy all the wannabe Islamic terrorists and the whole world will have a brighter future, not just the Calgarians who survive, if any even do.

And, you know, the population is growing pretty fast out there and the infrastructure isn’t keeping up and it’s so polluted and yadda yadda blah blah, life can’t be that great for Calgarians anyway.

You know, omelet/eggs, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.


Getting the Big Things Right

My friend Antonia has a series of photos on her Facebook page commemorating the child victims of Israeli bombing of Gaza. One of the photos is of a little girl who brings to mind (for me) the photo of Anne Frank that graces the cover of her famous diary. She’s Palestinian, of course, the photo taken from a site called “Humanize Palestine”.

A couple of days ago I read an op/ed (online) from the Washington Post by Michael Oren. In it he essentially argues that a cull of the Palestinian population of Gaza will lead to a better future for survivors. I mean, it was insane what he was saying, and I was kind of shocked that I was reading it in a mainstream publication.

I don’t know. Maybe all the editors of the Washington Post are on holiday, it being July, but I wish someone would tip them off for next time that Michael Oren is insane and maybe don’t publish any more of his submissions.

Today I read a Globe article (online, although we also buy it most days, as we do the Ottawa Citizen) in which an Israeli army spokesperson (a man, though, I’m happy to specify) more or less says of the recent bombing of a UN shelter that an errant shell didn’t do it.

That’s right, it was an errant shell that didn’t do it.

Okay, then. Best check the errant shell warranty.

There was no spin because it was a straightforward (what a long word straightforward is) news article, not a column, and yet it was as if the copy editors had switched all the periods with eye-rolling emoticons.

That was the effect it had on me, anyway, but I’m sure there were plenty of other readers shaking their heads about the UN being in bed with Hamas and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc because, you know, if you’re not with one side you must be with the other.

Unless you’re Switzerland, I guess, because apparently nothing says neutral like safeguarding rich people’s money from taxes.

Then I read another article (online) from the Toronto Star that re-referenced Justin Trudeau’s decision to line up behind Stephen Harper and take a side in this violent conflict.

I mean, it’s not rocket science, it’s rockets, with men in power on both sides firing them at each other, one side managing to kill scores more of the other sides children, and that’s the side our politicians have freely decided to line up behind?

Well if Hamas is no good for anyone, and it isn’t, then neither are the men currently leading our big three political parties.

They can’t even get the big things right. Why trust them with the small.

There. A silver lining in this latest violent confrontation in the Middle East – I get to re-think everything again.





From More Right to More Write

Yes, I’ve been away. Thanks for noticing. I was off for a visit with very old people who are sitting ducks for our rapacious telecommunications giants.

If I can get the documentation sorted, I’ve got a good story for CBC’s Go Public. I’ve already emailed them with a head’s up, so fingers crossed that they give a rat’s ass about Canadian seniors being ripped off by their own blue chip stock companies.

I refer to contracts that have been “negotiated” on behalf of unwitting seniors by retirement residence corporations (rhymes with Chartwell) with their buddy CEOs in telecommunications, rhymes with “Hospitality Network” and “Shaw”.

I’d say it crosses the border from disgusting to criminal, but we’ll see.

Ironically, Rogers isn’t specifically involved in this one, although we’ll be leaving Rogers anyway due to a recent bill that was more than double what I was expecting. My follow-up communications (I kept my cool, being in the ladieswear retail sales racket, myself) left me decided – there is no justice, just the taking of one’s leave.

And so it will be that we shall take our business to a probably no more deserving telecommunications outfit but one that is at least smaller and more specialized, rhymes with “Bell” not exactly coming out smelling like a rose, either, after sorting through my mother’s bills.

I don’t care what it costs (and it’s cheaper with the two outfits my son has investigated for me so far) I just refuse to give Rogers any more business. Ever. No, don’t call or write, please. When I said my next communication with you will be to break up – forever – I meant it. Your bribes just follow extortion followed by more bribes, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.

While I was away I saw an interview Terry Milewski did on CBC Newsworld (we cancelled cable over a year ago and so don’t get CBC Newsworld, which is sort of criminal, really, if you stop and think about it, since CBC is supposed to be our public broadcaster) with a former ambassador to Russia (and Ukraine, I believe). He stressed how important it is for the government of Canada to not take a side in violent conflicts, but rather to broker peace. Always.

It sounds so simple and the phrase “peace broker” is something we’ve grown up with here in Canada and yet somehow we’ve managed to stick ourselves with more or less elected (don’t forget they cheated – never forget they cheated) men and women who believe the exact opposite.

We’re all warriors now, I guess.

It was the not taking a side part of his advice that really struck me. It may have been the context that I was in, as my dining companions last week ranged in age from 85-99, and one doesn’t want to waste words because for sure you’ll be repeating them, but something clicked in my head.

“That guy! Listen go him! He may look like John Hurt on a bender, but listen to him!”

And he was even referring to the downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine, not the bombing of a UN shelter in Gaza.

But my taxi driver on the way to the airport said much the same thing about his government’s taking of sides in the violent conflict raging in Israel and Gaza right now, his government being Canadian. He was Arab, I don’t know from where, and he was bewildered by his government, our government, the government of ALL Canadians, weighing in on a side in a violent conflict in the Middle East.

As he put it, “We shouldn’t be taking a side. It runs too deep there. We can’t take the Israeli or the Palestinian side. It just makes one side think it’s more right than the other side and that’s what started the bombing in the first place.”

“More right”. I love that phrase. Children being blown to bits playing on a beach and the government of Canada has seen fit to take the side of one of the two parties responsible for it.

But that’s not what this entry is about because this entry is about an article I read (yes, on Facebook) about impulsiveness being the flip side of procrastination. And, of course, whenever I read an article about procrastination, it’s really to do with writing and why so few of us ever write a book.

Coincidentally, having just visited my mother and her friends at a seniors’ residence, I received a lot of encouragement with regards to writing and so feel extra failure-ish in my neglect to do so.

Although, to be fair to me it’s only been a couple of decades of kicking around the idea (total lie – I started kicking around the idea when I was about ten years old).

In other words, they expect a book to come from all my stories about working in retail (or anything, really). And why wouldn’t they? I can write and I tell stories.

It’s terrible, really, my deliberateness in not writing a book.

So to make sure I spend the time writing a book, something I’ve wanted to do since I was ten years old (the article recommends a word count per day, say, “write 400 words a day”, as opposed to “write a book”) I also plan to check my impulsive behaviour, which for writers is doing all those things we do instead of writing a book.

No, I don’t want to stop blogging. I may not even stop tweeting (which I don’t do a lot of anyway since all I do is shout the odd one liner out into cyber space – so please stop trying to have a conversation with me on Twitter – I don’t know how and my expertise on social media has peaked along with all my other technological know-how). But I do plan to stop commenting here and there, so if you’re reading this, it’s not you, it’s me, and it’s not even me, it’s me trying to write a book.

Blame old people. Once they get an idea in their shrinking grey heads…

Also, I may blog the odd story here because what the hell. The instant gratification of blogging may even help offset the delayed gratification of writing a book, which I suspect is thing one with writers who have no trouble blogging but have a lot of trouble booking.

And really, with regards to political blogging, what is there to say about current affairs when grown men living here in Canada pretend not to know that taking a side in a violent conflict involving two or more parties elsewhere in the world just adds to the conviction of one side that it is “more right” than the other, a conviction that inevitably leads to the deaths of more children.

I mean, for me, it goes back to writer and nature lover Timothy Findley’s story about going to the hardware store to buy a contraption of some kind that would prevent bigger birds from getting at the seed he intended for smaller birds, and the salesman, confused, asking him, “So do you like birds or not?”

And Timothy Findley answers by way of correcting his behaviour because, of course, yes, he liked birds.

Maybe someone should put a similar question to Stephen Harper, “So do you like children or not?”

Because maybe he’ll get it, too, and correct his behaviour.

Who knows?


Let Myself Be

A Facebook friend posted some Sarah Palin commentary by way of a comedian claiming she’s not hot because she’s middle-aged and mocking the fact that she (actually her daughter, but never mind) had a baby with Down’s.

It’s not because I’m a woman that it’s insulting and not funny, it’s because I’m a person that it’s insulting and not funny – right?

I know, I know, most men would find it insulting and not funny, too, but I wonder at the need for some of us to push that envelope, make fun of everything and everybody because everything and everybody is fair game.

Is it? Are we?

Meanwhile, I’d also tweeted my lament for the fact that the lives of the world’s girls matter less than which country’s men can kick more balls into a net.

I know, I know, social media is no place to be serious, but two of my Facebook friends, men, decided to post comments to that effect, making har har with the lament by posting about lingerie tournaments and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.

I get it, or got it, and liked their comments (because I’m a woman and want men to like me) and one even messaged me to say he doesn’t mean to be taken seriously, just gets carried away, boys will be boys and all that.

I mean, we’re not talking unfriending or anything, and, of course, if you can’t stand the heat – right?

What form of aggression is that?

I know, I know, it’s not them, it’s me. I’m tired of the argument and have been for years now, I just don’t know how to stop participating in it, or even starting it.

So I just deleted three comments from Dr. Dawg’s blog because I have to learn my lesson and stop wasting everyone’s time while I try to be understood.

Silly me, I have my own blog. I can paraphrase my comment here, and you can read it or skip over it to the next bit, which is a slice of real life, so very sad and unfair and don’t look for any silver lining in it because there isn’t one.

No, not Israel’s attempt to annihilate the Palestinians of Gaza while Stephen Harper and John Baird and the rest of our Christian fundamentalist cabinet cheer on Benjamin Netanyahu, who at least seems to know that what he’s doing is inexcusable.

No one mentions it now, but before lap dancing was legalized, strippers campaigned against it because they knew that they wouldn’t get hired as dancers unless they were willing to take on sex work as well.

Lap dancing is sex work, after all. I mean, there’s a disingenuous distinction between lap dancing and other forms of prostitution, but like I say – disingenuous.

Legalizing lap dancing didn’t make strippers richer or safer. It just made dancing on stage in a g-string as hopelessly old-fashioned as dancing on stage in a g-string and pasties.

It didn’t do anything to prevent rape and murder.

But I’m arguing with the arguers and their arguments, really, because I do believe that study I referred to in another blog entry, the one that claims we’ve had it all backwards since forever, that women are actually NOT meant to be monogamous, that we tire sexually of one man and soon enough want another. It’s a biological imperative, says the study, that we move on.

It’s a social imperative that we can’t.

Not so long ago even here a married woman couldn’t have her own bank account.

It’s a fact that my mother, a widow, was freer than any other mother I knew growing up. My Gram lived with us, of course, so built in babysitter, and my mother was a high school teacher (librarian) so she had a good job. Being a widow was different from being divorced, but I wonder, as much as she loved my father, if she has any regrets.

There is no stigma I’ve experienced equal to leaving hearth and home to be with another man. Did I imagine it? No, I plowed through it. The arguers can argue about the stigma faced by sex workers, but it’s intrigue we have, not “won’t she think of the children?!” I lived it. I know. Women are not supposed to leave hearth and home.

But what about that study? What if… The arguers say that men need prostitutes to get what they may not be getting at home. But what if they’re not getting it because their wives are supposed to have moved on already to another man, it’s just that, well, we’re NOT supposed to move on to another man, we’re supposed to fulfill our marital contractual obligations.

Eventually, I think, we need to ask if libertarianism is a natural outcome of corporate power and weakened government and whether or not this is it, this race to the bottom for work and wages.

Are we free now, libertarians?

A friend of my partner died recently, killed by our healthcare system, really. It’s beyond sad, mistakes were made, and then they were made worse because systems can’t admit to making mistakes, and so they can’t rectify them – human beings have to do that and we don’t allow them to because money – and now this beautiful smart fun young mother is dead.

It’s awkward for me. (I know, I know, but enough about her, Sooey, she’s dead, what about poor living you.) My partner’s set is young, younger than me. This woman was almost 20 years younger. And now I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke pot, and I don’t really hang out the way I used to, or at all.

I’m Mrs. Grundy now.

Anyway, when I first met her I thought what a good looking person she was and she had that attitude a lot of younger women have these days of letting it all hang out, not being a string bean, wearing a kind of frilly white dress with not much to it. She had to introduce herself a couple of times because I met her at an anniversary party for a couple of my partner’s acquaintance and I was meeting too many people at once, all of a similar age, at least a decade (mostly more than) younger than me.

So, the same. They all seemed the same.

Oh dear, just typing this I’m realizing how unlikely it all was. Am I making up the difference age makes. Did they see me as a fallen woman? Do they still?

No one really knows until they’re in it themselves, although I might have imagined feeling judged. There may just have been some confusion as to why I was there.

So it was an anniversary party, but also New Year’s, and eventually we found ourselves outside by the dumpster passing around a joint. Blueberry was mentioned as an ingredient and I said to her, “You know this guy, right?” I was referring to the good time Charlie who was passing around the joint.

“No. I just met him.”

“Omigawd. Aren’t you a nurse?! Should we be smoking this?!”

“Of course not. I don’t think it’s even doing anything.”

And she laughed. She had that throaty laugh really awesome singers have, and she was an awesome singer, such a beautiful voice, really powerful and moving. Just then there was some commotion, a bunch of kids were partying one level down from us in the same building and someone had had too much of something. And she stepped into the breach, hailed a taxi, and sent him off to the hospital with friends.

The responsible medical assessment having been made (under the influence, too!) she slipped back into party mode, which never included much drinking, she wasn’t a drinker, but for that moment the age difference disappeared.

I also felt reassured about the anonymous pot that we agreed was doing something after all. She was a professional under the party dress.

The party continued elsewhere but my partner and I went home. He would have partied on if I hadn’t been there, of course, and I know that, but he’s a good partner who respects his elders and so he saw me home.

In the intervening years she had health problems that were the direct result of mistakes made by a healthcare system she knew better than to trust but what can you do other than do your damnedest to get better anyway.

I try to learn from other people how to live and let live, including myself, letting myself live. When someone dies they’re gone, and we only have each other left and that’s just because we’re alive. We’re all there is.

She was a believer, which surprised me, very rooted in an old-fashioned faith that seemed at odds with her behavour, except that it wasn’t because I left off religion when I was young and so I’m out-of-date, and I realize if she’d wasted any time trying to explain herself on the internet, she wouldn’t have had much luck.

Fortunately, she didn’t, because her life was short enough.

Meanwhile, here’s where I am now – the real reason AA , which is really quite out-of-date, still works, I think, is because there’s no crosstalk.

So I don’t have to explain myself, do I. I just have to let myself be.


Memories, I Have a Few … I Think…

You know, I look at Brazil and it’s hard not to be irritated that losing in the World Cup has devastated its population, with rumours that at least one member of the team will be dead in a month as a result.

All I see is the sexism. Teams of grown men vying to kick more balls into a net while other grown men troll the streets of Rio de Janeiro for girls to buy.

Hallelujah, we’ve come a long way, baby.

But I grow old.

Speaking of which, one of the benefits of my job is that I work alongside young women, the university girls (although they aren’t necessarily, I just call them that), and so I hear a lot of their conversation and it reminds me of the thrill of the hunt.

There was a time when boys were just for fun. I mean, the fun was actually being had with the girls while we hunted for the boys, but it really was everything and I love that I get to be around it again because, even though I have daughters, we don’t reveal that part of our lives to our mothers.

There’s a scene in Frasier (remember him?) when Roz is on the phone and Frasier is hanging about waiting to talk to her and he hears her going on about men and sex like she’s talking to a girlfriend and then she says, “Bye, mom. Love you.”

It’s funny because it’s not true.

That was the real relationship on the show, though, wasn’t it. Frasier and Roz.

But I recall telling my kids when they were pre-teens, “Please close your MSN chat when you leave the computer. I really don’t want to know.”

Terrible. I’ll never win Mother-of-the-Year now, I guess.

And we forget, don’t ask me how, that there was a time when all we cared about was stepping out. For me that time was reborn in my 40s when I went online. I was re-remembering just last night about traveling to Toronto from Ottawa to meet up with people at fests that would draw in even more strangers, strangers not just from the internet, including one David Miller, a mostly unknown candidate for mayor.

It was so much fun. Alas, I was a wife, and so the timing was terrible.

Shameful. I’ll never win Wife-of-the-Year, either. Of course, I don’t care about winning wife-of-the-year because that award goes to the husband anyway.

I’ve no one to blame but myself, of course, none of us do. One minute we’re all about fun, the next we’re working harder for less money and tying everybody down to a traditional grind.

No wait, the working harder for less money part came first, didn’t it.

The other day one of the university girls (actually a manager who didn’t graduate from high school) opined that she’d like to meet a guy with money so he could help her realize her professional ambitions.

The thing is, coming from her (she goes through men like water) it sounded like a solid business plan, not a back to the ’50s lament, and I heard myself saying, “Why don’t you focus on finding one?”

While I thought, “Good luck with all that”.

Because we forget but back in the day when I roped one off from the herd and tied him down I was financially independent with a fun job and a social life where my only rule was “no two nights in a row”.

In other words, I was one of the university girls I’m working alongside now except for the “no two nights in a row” rule and a union.

He was a lot like most other young men then and now. Not up to much, if you know what I mean, and you do, I’m sure.

Impoverished and alone with his Pong and bong and stereo. So yeah, having fun in his young man way that, for some reason I honestly don’t understand, a young woman will pretend to abide until she’s hopelessly trapped herself in a relationship with him, at which point she will try to make him over into someone… better.

Once in the relationship, though, it was like that Seinfeld episode when George is suddenly Elaine’s professional and social superior. No sooner were we hitched than he made more money. Then we had kids and I ended up a dependent, a stay-at-home mother while he traveled hither and yon (i.e. cities with regional offices) with the sorts of colleagues I had so much fun with back in another life.

I can’t see the university girls enduring as I did but maybe I’m wrong. I’m happy now, having a different kind of fun than the fun that made me happy back in the day, but I am definitely the exception among my contemporaries re the second fun spurt.

Anyway, I know I started it all going uphill/downhill with a denial of fun, a switch suddenly flipped, and I can’t help but hope the university girls do it  differently, as much as I know they probably won’t.

Except maybe for the working harder for less money part. Still, we’ve come a long way baby – not – since it’s only because young men aren’t working much at all, are they.