Saturday April 30 , 2016

Speaking of Topsy Turvy

It’s so noisy in cyber space right now. I thought I’d come to my little corner of it and just put this out here.

That was quite a lecture on lawyering we got from Marie Heinen on CBC the other night.

Some of my Feminist friends thought she was brilliant, but one much younger Feminist, not a friend, just a smart brash cookie I’ve come across online, suggested it was an intimidation tactic.

A shot across the bow from our national broadcaster at the next complainant, whose trial is in June.

I phrased it that way on purpose. Ghomeshi’s already been tried in the court of public opinion, where Marie Heinen told us she doesn’t try her cases because court is where it’s at for the accused in sexual assault cases.

Someone asked me, “Why did the police charge him and then not collect any evidence, like, say, his computer?”

She also thought Peter Mansbridge lobbed softballs but I didn’t think so. I thought he was quite tough.

I also thought it was a bit much when Marie Heinen made a sad face on behalf of her (not) guilty client because, hey, his life was turned upside down by “all this”.

Well, you cost him probably upwards of $1M. Maybe do the next one pro bono.

But speaking of victims of our awesome legal system that works so well, especially if you have lots of money, I have a question for all my Feminist friends defending it:

What if the man accused of sexual assault (via sucker punching women, but whatever, let’s ignore that for the sake of argument here) had been white like, oh, say, Stephen Harper? And his $1K lawyer white like, oh, say, Peter Mackay?

And his accusers brown and, oh, say, Syrian refugees? TFWs from the Philippines? Cafeteria workers at CBC?

Would you still be defending it?

 

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookie Recipe

So everything is really going quite well and yet it isn’t because I have this idea that I should have written “My Book! My Book!”… etc by now.

It’s an attention span problem, exacerbated by spending too much time on Twitter.

In any case, the project has evolved (devolved?) into something else, stories, one about the store. I have to work with what I’ve got and what I’ve got is an attention span problem.

I’m enjoying reading, though. It’s as if I’ve rediscovered it, that anticipation I used to have when I was a kid, of losing myself in a good book.

Social media, not blogging like I’m doing now, but the steady stream of news that is Twitter should be reserved for working journalists, I think. Or maybe I just say that because they ignore my attempts to get their attention.

It’s terrible, how stingy they are with their acknowledgements. I see them sometimes, here in Ottawa, downtown, and I want to say, “Hey there, I’m Sooey? Sooey from the Internet? Retweet me, ffs!”

Just kidding. I saw Tony Clement the other day and didn’t even ask him where he buried our treasure. I was just like, hm, shorter than he looks on tv.

Conservatives are okay when they’re not in power, though. Just being schmucks like the rest of us.

Twitter puts me in mind of a warning my mother used to give us about talking on the phone for too  long. She’d say “you’ll end up having words”. That’s what would happen to her and my Aunt M, who lived in Saskatchewan in a small town along the TransCanada, and voted Conservative to keep out the NDP.

She was also a widow with four young children.

Why the hell would she have wanted to keep out the NDP?

Anyway, she’d call or my mother would call her and it would be fine for a while but then all of a sudden it wouldn’t be and they’d be having a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out fight.

They were very expensive fights, too.

But Twitter is free and it’s not only sucking time out of the universe, it’s leading to knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out fights because people are over-communicating.

It’s impossible to be politically correct in liberal social media circles now, too, because mores change so quickly that by the time you tweet 140 characters on a subject you’re so hopelessly out of date you may as well be wearing a wig and banging a gavel and sentencing everyone to death for wasting the court’s time.

Ah, that’s why the bitchy verdict! The trial was a waste of the court’s time!

So I have to leave Twitter, I know that, because I just add to the noise and it’s so loud up there already with egos crashing into other egos and oh my Gord what was I thinking?

Seriously, if it wasn’t for social media I’d be living a perfectly crommulent life right now.

Don’t think ill of me if I show up here one day to tell you I’ve quit my job, okay? It will only be because I made a time/money calculation and time won, but also because I’ve decided to take a leap of faith and be a full-time writer.

Although, as I may or may not have told you, I’ve written more working full-time than I did working part-time or even not at all, but I just really don’t like working; however, I like making money.

My job is fine but it’s boring. And I have an attention span problem.

Okay. Thanks for reading. I feel better now. Make these cookies and you will too.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookies

3/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cups rolled oats, 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips

I bake them on the top rack of the oven at 325 until they start to brown around the edges. About ten minutes. I think they might actually be the best cookies ever invented.

 

 

 

But Before I Go (On and On)

The good news to come out of this Ghomeshi shit show is that if you’re a man who gets off on sucker punching women now you know how easy it is to convince a judge that you thought you were having consensual sex.

 

Just Folks – edited to prevent hoisting on own petard

The only other point I would like to make about the Ghomeshi trial is this, that as much justice as could possibly be expected had more or less been done until the good judge decided to blame the complainants for the shit show of a trial that took place in HIS courtroom via a super bitchy verdict and undo it.

Interesting all the men’s rights nutters who have seized the opportunity on the internet to go extra crazy over supposed false accusations of sexual assault, which would probably have a better conviction rate if we dispensed with the sexual and just called it assault, but whatever.

I didn’t follow the case very closely but it seemed to me the sucker punching started it.

On a separate but related note, I finally recognized the stupidity of arguing with other commenters on the internet. All argument is trolling, really, where we bring our same hobby horses to bear (oh dear, mixed animal phrasing) over and over, ever hoping for a different result.

I just did it myself at Dr. Dawg’s, where I wasn’t going to comment anymore, and yet despite my long absence no one said, “I bow to your mensa genius, Sooey, and agree that your opinions are righter’n my own stupid ones.”

Although I did have an opposite thinker agree with me that young women can be quite stupid.

The terrible thing about life is that we grow old and instead of being honest about how it was we lie. And one of the reasons we lie is because our society, all societies, frown on the truth, which is that men are not men and women are not women.

We’re people. Like horses are horses and bears are bears. People are people.

I really do want to make the point, too, that this trial, this Ghomeshi-a-thon was very cathartic.

(Imagine how his former colleagues are enjoying this, too, while CBC management squirms with embarrassment for their failure to do anything about him until he forced their hand by showing up with a video of his idea of fun in the bedroom – oh to be at a peephole while they watched, stunned out of their pointy gourds, mouths agape, hands wrung dry.)

I dumped a shitload of shame that was never mine to carry, a shitload that was added to over the years by other people who have been misled to believe that people aren’t people, we’re genders.

No, my Conservative friend, life is not men vs women, not for me, not anymore, but to each his own stupid opinions.

 

No Country for Bad Girls

Somehow I don’t think the “outrage” at the verdict in the “Great Canadian Trial of Jian Ghomeshi” has much to do with what everyone assumed was a foregone conclusion, that he would be acquitted of all charges.

I mean, c’mon. Most of us were surprised charges were even laid. And who really cared if he paid a fine or went to jail. Not me. In fact, I thought it would be unfair to other offenders. Imagine having no choice but to put up with his smarmy bullshit day after day.

Not that I ever listened to Q or had much of an idea of who he was except that The National aired his interview with Joni Mitchell one summer night and I felt kind of sorry for him.

My Gord she’s one crabby old lady.

Now, of course, I hope she slapped him after the interview.

So I’m surprised to be reading a lot of punditry pretending that this is the why of the outrage, his expected acquittal, and not that the good judge’s verdict seems to exploit the opened wounds of Ghomeshi’s ballsy accusers by rubbing salt in them.

So call me a judicial outlier (oh my but it can’t be said often or obviously enough that the accused has a right to a fair trial, best defence he can afford, yadda yadda blah blah) but I’m thankful for the spectacularly flawed courtroom performances of Ghomeshi’s accusers.

I came undone, released from bondage, as it were, and recognized my own behaviour in theirs.

The rest of you will come around in time, too, I expect.

Meanwhile the message from our glorious judicial system to the victim of violence who doesn’t conform to the patriarchal stereotype of what s/he should look like and how s/he should behave is the same as it ever was – fuhgeddabboudit.

 

In Memoriam

Sad about Rob Ford.

So entirely off topic but Jaclyn Dawe still seems to be missing, last seen February 9, 2013, her car abandoned near 51 Benway in Etobicoke.

Anybody got any updates about here whereabouts? And no, not the fake Facebook page that was created after reporters started sniffing around police reports about her disappearance.

Coincidentally, I’m sure, but that was around the time rumours of a video of Rob Ford smoking crack with gangsters first surfaced.

I doubt she’s living it up in Bangkok but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

 

Superlady

So here’s what just happened. I was thinking about how I’ve been seeing a lot of very intoxicated people lately, and no, I don’t mean St. Patrick’s Day. I mean people right out of it, riding buses, lying down in doorways and on sidewalks. And when I came out of the grocery store there was a reddish blond haired fellow in scruffy clothes lying on the walkway outside one of the little retail establishments adjacent to it.

“Hey! Are you alright?” I stood there with all my bags.

There were muffled mutterings, then an attempt to look up.

Glassy eyes.

“Do you have a light?”

“No I don’t have a light. You need to sit up against the building here. C’mon. You’re too drunk. Get it together. Where did you even get this drunk out here?”

“I dunno. Here?”

“Well you can’t stay here. You’re in the middle of nowhere. You need to get to The Mission.”

Really, I have no idea about these things, although I know where The Mission is, and that I once talked to a guy in a hospital waiting room who worked there. He had some sort of life threatening condition that he was exceptionally calm about, while in my head I slapped people senseless who were cluttering up the emergency room with their colds and flus.

I myself was made to sit there (until I decided to leave) because I’d had a panic attack in the stroke doctor’s office and (I guess) they were trying to decided whether to apply leeches or not.

Seriously, sometimes Canadians make me feel like socialism just leads to devolution.

Just then an older woman came along, trim and proper looking, a no nonsense sort. I could see her hesitating about getting involved, whether it was with him or me I’m not sure. (I’m like Pippi Longstocking and can carry double my weight home in groceries. It’s crazy how strong I am. But it can be offputting to people of sounder mind, for sure.)

“You know I saw him earlier”, she said to me, and I immediately felt that relief I always do when someone who looks like s/he knows a thing or two takes over.

To him she said, “Would you like me to get you a coffee? Maybe a sandwich? Would that help do you think? You’re not doing too well lying there.”

And I kind of couldn’t believe my luck because as much as I want to help, or like the idea of being helpful, I really don’t have any idea what to do and I’m often not helpful at all.

What I’m good at is getting other people to help. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just me standing there helpless that inspires them to get involved. Or maybe they would anyway and I’m just there at the ready to take orders if necessary.

Anyway, I wanted to do something so while she went off for provisions I kept him company by standing there with 100 pounds of groceries and badgering him into sobriety.

“Wait”, he said, urgently. “I have to pee really bad.”

“Well go in the bush here. I’ll stand cover for you.”

“I can’t, I have to-”

“Just do it before you pee your pants! Hurry up!”

And he was all apologies and excuse me, ma’am and peed near the bush but not in it so that there was a stream of pee running out into the parking lot.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

So then he was standing, at least, and asking passersby for change, all of whom said no, and he was saying he still cared about them and hoped they had a good day, no hard feelings, he understood, money is hard to come by.

Then, thank Gord, our lady of good deeds showed up with coffee and a great big sandwich.

And then she did something I wasn’t expecting at all. She took his hand and said, “Now you have to get to the Mission.” And he said, “Will you give me a ride?”

Ah, I thought. Finally, something I can do to help.

“No she can’t give you a ride. She got you a coffee and a sandwich. Now get it together. Here are some bus tickets. See over there? That’s where you catch the bus. So drink your coffee and eat your sandwich and then get the bus downtown.”

Shit, I just realized I forgot to tell her where his hands just were before she took one of them in hers.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you because she’s out there in Ottawa somewhere not looking at all like Superlady but there you go, you can’t judge a book by its cover, or Superlady by her Tender Tootsies and handbag.

 

Kick an Ass(hole) Day

Last week I spoke up at a meeting on behalf of other people, like me, who are in the know as to how it really is on the outside looking in at our employed economy.

It was uncomfortable, for everybody, but I don’t care. The job is only temporary and I’ve decided to do what I can where and when I can to break down the makeshift barrier between employed and unemployed.

If you listen to the supporters of reality (as opposed to real) world demagogues like Donald Trump, they use joblessness as a smear against other citizens, the ones who don’t agree that blamers and scapegoaters will make America great.

“Get a job!” they shriek at their co-citizens who aren’t falling for it while Dear Leader advises violence is the solution.

Hm… Okay…

It puts the lie to poor old David Brooks of the New York Times in his latest column, wherein he claims we shouldn’t support Trump but we should respect his supporters.

Well, no.

I have a job right now, it’s decent, but it’s also the same job someone who hasn’t been laid off continues to enjoy – except – it pays less and by the hour and comes with no benefits.

So like, when I get sent home on a snow day, I don’t get paid. If I don’t come in when I’m sick, I don’t get paid. If I take a vacation, I don’t get paid. And that’s okay because this job pays more and it’s full-time and it’s less physically and socially demanding than the job I was able to get after I was laid off and my employment insurance ran out.

It also benefits the people who work at the agency that finally, after more than three years of fizzled prospects, landed me a contract. And I actually know a couple of people who work for the various and sundry agencies that are an integral part of our local economy here in Ottawa, so yeah, jobs all ’round.

In the end, though, it wasn’t through any effort on my part that I got this job. In fact, the job came to me, just as I had blogged a dog’s age ago as to how I think it should be, that employers come knocking on the doors of the unemployed to offer us opportunities to make money.

I literally got a call asking if I wanted a job that started right away, I said yes, and by the next week I had fresh new money deposited into my bank account.

Not being able to get a job when we need a way to make money is like living in a parallel 3D universe, one that’s discouraging, demoralizing, debilitating. If you’ve never had the experience, or if the experience is so far back that you’ve forgotten it, then I’m here to say, “How nice for you”.

But people who shriek “Get a job!” at other people don’t deserve respect, they deserve to have their asses kicked.

 

 

 

Pleas and Thank You

So I have another writing project on the side that came about after reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Platt. I recommend it if you’re someone older trying to understand someone younger.

It’s… stunning. For me it was, anyway. Until I read it I thought of that soap opera hook of people never being straight up about what’s going on as annoying and addictive and silly, and it is – as a viewer. But this book puts you in the running shoes of the character who isn’t/can’t be straight up about what’s going on.

It was a new perspective for me even though I’ve been that character, am him, still.

Honesty is hard. But loneliness is harder, I guess, isn’t it.

Usually after I read a book like that I’m completely discouraged about writing anything myself, but I’ve experienced a growth spurt over the past little while (that manifested itself as a bit of a meltdown, perhaps you heard my teeth gnashing, my jaw ache is hinting at a return) and went immediately to the library (even though I’ve got a gazillion unread books at home) and took out “Garbo Laughs” by Elizabeth Hay.

She’s from Ottawa and my book club has done a coupe of her books already, including “Garbo Laughs” but I went through a period where I wasn’t reading. It’s acting as an antidote, almost, making life seem possible again, that there’s a point to it all, bear with it.

No seriously, I’m not depressed, I’m actually quite optimistic. I just have trouble living life through to its conclusion.

What I like about having a job again is the commute because that’s when I do all my reading. I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate reading at home, which for some Scottish Presbyterian reason I am unable to do.

Suggestions?

(You can start with the information that I deliberately take the longer route home so I can spend more time on the bus reading. What can I say about my scrambled brain except that just by writing this about my scrambled brain helps me better understand and appreciate the person I’m having difficulty re-launching from the nest.)

If we had a guaranteed annual income in this province/country I would quit my job – which is a fine job as far as jobs go and it would be a sin to complain about it and I can’t/won’t – so that somebody else could do it, make a little more money, be a part of the marketplace, and so on and so forth and more of the same etc etc.

Interesting – a part of/apart from.

I work in the very near vicinity of an unpaid student a couple of times a week and she’s one of those young people we expect to take over the world except that she can’t find paid employment nowhere nohow.

She even had a job at Target for the several months that it was here back in the day. Her realistic outlook is at odds with my mommy ways but after reading “The Goldfinch” I can at least hear the bumph coming out of my mouth.

Okay, I’m just going to put this out here because I see the other kind of hopelessness downtown and around me here where I live, too, that is poverty and no way to get out of it. You know what I mean, that sadness we see around us that reminds us of the sadness within, other people trying to survive in one way while we pop out for a muffin, surviving in another.

I saw a girl sitting on the sidewalk. I’d just bought a muffin.

“Would you like some food?”

“What kind is it?”

“An organic pumpkin muffin. It’s really good. I’ve had one before.”

“Sure, thanks.”

I know, but I understand where she’s coming from because food is political.

And I had change.

When I went back to the office I was telling my coworker, and he’s from the school of hard knocks, like how the fuck did you get from birth to here school of hard knocks, and he was scoffing in that way that people who’ve pulled themselves up by the bootstraps do sometimes, and I asked “Why? Why should it have to be hard for some people but not for others?”

He scoffed again but I’m sincere in that question because I’ve never not had economic security, friends, even family back-up. People would run into me on Yonge or Bloor back in the day, “Hey, there’s an opening. Come apply. You’ll get it.” When I came back from Venezuela and my ex had a new girlfriend and I had nowhere to live my friend, who owned a condo at Dufferin and Bloor said, “Come live with me.”

I paid heat and hydro and saved bags of $$$ working at the NDP and protected by OPSEU Local 593.

My coworker is in the same boat at home as I am, though, and is at sea just like I am, so I don’t think it matters how we get to where we are anymore, if it ever did. The rags to riches stories meant to inspire us are just offensive, really, and at odds with any religious affiliation claimed by celebrities, political and/or otherwise.

I have a hard time appreciating what I recognize as good luck when I can so plainly see it on my coffee breaks.

I don’t know about you but I was embarrassed for us, and almost shocked, by CBC’s coverage of Trudeau in Washington. No, not by its coverage – it loves The Royals, after all – but by the excess that was so shamelessly on display. It brought to mind, for me, anyway, Ronald Reagan and his theory of trickle down economics, but I’ve worked behind the scenes, experienced first hand the obscene waste of partisan politics. It’s unspeakably stupid.

Pleasantly ironic that Nancy should die during a Washington state dinner, though, I have to admit.

She was really a Democrat, you know, but whatever. On to her funeral, also covered by CBC, and a mention of familiar faces, while our own Brian Mulroney’s baritone read long dead Ronnie’s love letter to her. Except the faces were only eerily familiar, so plasticized did they all look with surgery. Young, old, they just looked familiarly rich, untouched by economic reality.

Is that what we’re supposed to aspire to? The look of having more cents than sense? Of being mentally ill with materialism?

Capitalism as disease.

It’s telling that over-the-top Donald Trump could make Mitt Romney seem human, eh? It struck me, though, as much as it will backfire, that it was sincere, that Mitt Romney really does think Donald Trump is a problem. And for sure he is but what about his millions of supporters? Do they just stop being angry hateful shitheads who think they’re hard done by and that people with less have more because the Republican Party nominates Ted Cruz?

I keep CBC’s website handy at work because my job is data entry, essentially, and so tedious, and the other week I broke my rubber rule and read the comments to a business article. Then I started reading the comments to other articles. And after a couple of weeks I stopped because they’re always the same, it doesn’t matter the article or column, the comments are the same back and forth ping pong game that’s all about the commenters and winning the argument they’re always having, with each other.

So I blog and invite comments, again with the caveat that I’m not interested in having the argument here, thanks but no thanks.

 

 

 

The Big Tipper

There was an odd question on CBC’s website for the past couple of days.

“Should women have to dress sexy to keep their jobs?”

No, it wasn’t referring to journalists, it was referring to female servers being given a choice between dressing in a manner that restaurant owners/managers deem sexy (think CBC stock footage of sex workers) or losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, male servers are given no such choice, left instead to serve customers in standard issue casual chic shirts and pants, no matter penis size, as if many of their customers aren’t Conservative voters who need to know – what size is your penis?! – in order to gauge whether or not the service was any good.

But seriously, CBC, one night a couple of weeks ago Peter Mansbridge served up the news in a suit jacket that looked too big and I had a hard time concentrating on what he was saying because I was worried about his health.

“Why does Peter Mansbridge’s suit jacket look too big on him?” I asked my Beau.

But my Beau wasn’t there because he’d taken the dog out for a late night walk on account of he’s been getting short-changed lately what with the weather in Ottawa the past couple of weeks, both of us working, fill in the blank here.

So last night after we came back from dinner downtown, which we had with our down-to-earth high-flying friends, cashing in a gift certificate my sister had re-gifted me before Christmas, we skipped The National altogether and took the dog out for a walk instead. At one point I even stopped to locate the Big Dipper (haha, the stars, not Tom Mulcair) which I do now and again to remind myself that time passing is just a matter of perspective.

When we resumed walking I noticed my Beau was carrying a bag full of poop.

“Hey did McGern (Bernie’s nickname) do his business?” I asked.

“Yup. While you were looking up at the stars.” he answered.

Missing the opportunity to say:

“No, I did.”

Anyway, McGern’s business reminded me of the dinner we’d just had, which was good – I had a glass of their made on the premises ginger beer, perch appetizer, southern fried chicken, and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.

I didn’t eat much of the pinto bean side or purple cabbage slaw because neither were up to my admittedly reasonable standards, but the chicken was really good and the dessert quite inspired, so fair enough.

And we were lucky to eat at all because when we first got there at 6:00, and the server, a young woman dressed like a young man in casual chic shirt and pants, although with a hint of pirate to the ensemble (it was hard to tell her breast size and whether or not she shaved her pubic area) checked for our reservation, I had to admit to her by now scowling visage that we didn’t actually have one.

We’d been warned, too, at a previous visit to use the gift certificate that Fridays and Saturdays were busy. The night we were there was the night of the big storm and the place was closed for the evening so that the staff could go skating or somesuch instead. And when I said we’d come back but not on a Friday or Saturday (I felt guilty for using up a table with a gift certificate on a busy night) the fellow on site said, “No no. Come whenever. Just know that Fridays and Saturdays are busy.”

Also the whole randomly closed thing but whatever. My Beau thought it was kind of cool that management just let everybody go skating instead of working during the storm of the century.

I’m sort of on the fence on that one but I haven’t come down from my time in retail (no work/no pay) because I’m still writing “My Book! My Book!” etc.

The server was one of those no nonsense servers, too, the kind that make you feel like you’d better not waste her time or “No soup for you! Next!”

But then she said, irked but also with a feint hope clause, “We have a table reserved for 8:00. That gives you two hours. Do you think that will be enough time for you?”

Cripes, now that I don’t drink it’s more than enough time for me, thanks. Screw everybody else. Two hours? Perfect!

“Oh yeah. For sure.”

And so we were seated by the supply cabinet at the back of the restaurant right next to the action in the kitchen, which was just fine, and she right away demanded to know what we wanted to drink. And even though it was really dark and the menu kind of tricky to navigate, we managed to figure it out in time so that she didn’t get too annoyed with us.

A male server took the drink orders for our dining companions. I don’t know if it had to do with wine expertise or not, but she was back to do our dinner orders so maybe.

Even with the $75 gift certificate we owed another $25, which worked out to a perfect tip if we each put in $20, which we did. Oh, that was for the two of us. Our dining companions paid their own way.

Our server helped us a bit with the math, even though I had only that very morning come in second for our Friday riddle at work, because I’ve resumed being subtly competitive in the workplace, and we left feeling like prosperous paupers indeed.

And really, we are, so pay no serious attention to my bleating here. Seriously, stop it. I’m embarrassed now about how I’ve gone on and on as if I’m not living a perfectly crommulent life.

Then we went on to a place in the market where our friends are treated like family and not required to pay for special made-to-order drinks by the bartender.

Seriously, I’m embarrassed.

I had tea because I’m not a mocktail person but I realize just now that I should probably challenge the bartender to make me something not sweet but fizzy next time.

Hey, you’re on, bartender.

I didn’t really notice what the servers were wearing. Black, I believe.