Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Kicking Gandhi off the front page

I am ashamed to see that Gandhi is (was) still my front page item, months after writing. It makes me feel cheap, like I’m using him for fame, fortune, blog hits, or cool points among young people who travel to India. Then I worry that even by including his name in the title of this post, and in the post itself, I’m perpetuating this emotional weakness. Small steps, right?

Goodness knows the real issue is that life is busy and I have consciously put my blog aside in a bid to survive this current stage of life with some sanity in tact. I can almost see a light, a place where I can switch my neurotic attention to some other things, and where the guilt of take out containers doesn’t work its way into my dreams.

In the meantime, it gives me great comfort to know that all ye faithful bloggers are out there pounding the virtual pavement – kicking ass and taking names. Thank you!

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July 16, 2012 Posted by | Irritated, Law, Writing | , , | 4 Comments

Stewing Without the Beef

While painfully trying to complete my schoolwork without getting too sidetracked by tangential thoughts about everything that wasn’t what I was doing, I created a number of lists of things that would be fun to do when no longer trapped. Among them was a list of blog post ideas – the sort of thing that in days gone by (i.e. September to November, my only uber consistent blogging in history) would have resulted in an immediate, pithy draft about the matter at hand. I look at the list now and wonder, how on earth did I intend to come up with an interesting post about “What I love about the Christmas tree”? I’m sure it was brilliant, but I know not.

Interruption: I should stop here to acknowledge that I am in fact done that school-like thing that I was doing for the last few years. My post-exam elation was followed by a tremendous kick in painful places that brought me crashing down to Realityville. Nothing tragic, just a closer look at the paper I had yet to finish and the many useful, intelligent, utterly overwhelming comments on a draft. That was 40 agonizing pages of my life that I will never get back. I do not regret it, but it was tough. And anti-climactic. I finished just in time to recover it (with help) from the nether-regions of MS Word evil, email it, praise the universe and get to the shower for a real live theatre production (so much fun) that only extended my feeling of floating in between window panes, seeing everything but unable to escape. The point is, I am happy, but I am many other things too. And I’m giving myself time to feel those other things and not be upset with myself about it. Let the morbid me be for now. [It strikes me that I’ve made it sound as though there was a real live theatre performance in my shower. Sadly, it was just me cleaning my greasy self. The real life theatre performance was a splendid staging of Jitters, a three act Canadian play about egos, reviews, stage fright, “making it” in Canada, playing it up for producers and getting along.] Digression is a magical thing…

I’m still stewing on a number of the topics, including a new one presented to me today thanks to Dana. But one topic I need to deal with now for ritualistic purposes: at the top of my blog to be list, or almost at the top, is “Goodby Studenthood” (either I didn’t have the time to correct my spelling or I was being too brilliant about something else to notice at the time). It’s time dear friends, for me to go post-student.

Step #1: The dreaded sweatband featured here is a relic of my undergrad days. I bought it in first year for a Richard Simmons Halloween costume (so sad that I don’t have a scanner). It somehow morphed into my study band, only to be worn once things got desperate, always upside down (damn the man and all that). The sweatband is being ritually burned this week. I would post pictures but my camera is still languishing sadly in Calgary. Documented or not, the burning will happen.

Step #2: I have to change my about page to reflect this new post-student life. It will take skill and determination, but I will do my best. I should also change my avatar since it too features the sweatband [I suppose once this is published these matters will no longer be in evidence].

Step #3: I have to organize all of my binders, course packs and other student paraphernalia into two categories: the limited number of things I am keeping and everything else. The everything else then gets given away, sold, or calendarized (seriously, it’s happening) to be sold at some relevant time when people might actually want to buy Remedies: the Law of Damages.

Step #4: I must post a damning eff you to studenthood, despite the fact that I am still for many purposes considered a student for the next year. Me oh my. Can you feel the anticipation?

December 20, 2011 Posted by | Brackets, Law, Self-reflection | , , , , | 9 Comments

Not quite speechless

I wanted to capture this. This moment. This confusion. The pounding, shaking, reverberating pulse of my body. The sense of impending tears. The excitement,  anxiety and fatigue all culminating in this mass of jello on this god-forsaken doctor’s office chair. My outward battle has not been particularly violent, but the inward battle has been protracted, painful, bloody and probably, in all seriousness, taken years off my ticker.

I’m wide-eyed. Trying to make lists and pretend that life is normal. Then making fun of myself inwardly for thinking even for a moment that life might be less than normal. People end things every day.

Today I point heartily at the mean one, the self-critic that has her place but is a little too comfortable at centre stage. Let others take the role for a change. I point at her, I call her out and I tell her to shut up. It feels good.

I will damn well celebrate because I feel like it. The day is mine, the week really, as I’m actually not done. I have not sorted out that whole war, poverty, hunger thing; cured cancer or developed the newest

I happily think of my dad today. I know that he never would have guessed. I know he would cry. I don’t find my accomplishments amazing. But I know my biased father would have. I know that I come by my crying honestly. Today I’ll let that ride.

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Law, Self-reflection | , , | 11 Comments

200 Episodes is a Drop in the Productivity Bucket

I cannot tell a lie. The past 3 months have been … unpleasant. And it’s not over yet. [She says as tax snarls at her back, teeth gnashing and saliva swinging (tax can be a nasty beast)]. Aside from the usual difficulties of a scholarly semester, which aren’t quite as bad, at least for me, as for some of my compatriots – I do actually like it, I’ve had some additional set backs. Health, career, extracurricular, and overall mood have not been at their best. I’ve eaten way too much that came into my house the same way it went into my mouth (takeout can be the devil) and been virtually unable to exercise (not because of time). But the point is not the sob story of the last few months that will of course get better.

What I’ve learned is that I have developed very limited means of seeking solace. Being unable to exercise, and finding social interactions unpleasant when I’ve got nothing nice to say, I turn to my partner, good soup, and nostalgic television. I am not so much astonished as surprised at my own ridiculousness to say that when I was sick, when I was winding down before bed or when I was otherwise seeking comfort I turned to one of America’s favourite families.

Seriously. Why I am comforted by syndicated shows I watched as a kid is beyond me. I find present-day sitcoms annoying for all of their canned laughter and forced obviousness. The old ones have all the same failings (except Roseanne, which had no issue being atypical and awkward on a regular basis). I could probably blame it on my TV childhood, but I don’t know if that’s exactly it either.

The Point? I have watched the entire 8 seasons of The Cosby Show in 3 months. All of it! Well, everything available; there are portions of about 6 episodes that are not available online in Canada. To be fair, half of this happened while I was sick and couldn’t really do anything else but I don’t think I have ever engaged in such a horrendous use of downtime. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I love about the Cosby Show, it could be elitest and ridiculous sometimes but there are many great moments and fun to be had. And how many prime-time TV shows talk in depth about young women getting their first periods, the March on Washington, or Shakespeare? But I am no less inclined to get depressed after a bout of TV then I used to be. There’s no winning.

This is the part of the post where I insert a clip but since I just wasted another 20 minutes not finding what I’m looking for and I can smell the odious breath of tax, I’ll leave it at that.

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Bad TV References, Brackets, Irritated, Law, Self-reflection | 5 Comments

Today, I’m spouting the F-word

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m giving a quick shout out to feminism in all its stripes. A great deal, too much maybe, has been said about feminism. I can’t pretend that I will add anything of use to the commentary, but I’ll write all the same. It’s too important and I silence myself too often (cause ladies do that sort of thing). Consider this the pablum/coles notes version of my perspective on feminism. Maybe if I use the word feminism enough, people will stop going into shock when they  hear/read it – ambitious, I guess.

Feminists are accused of being man-haters, or impliedly worse, lesbians at one extreme (when all else fails, throw in a little homophobia) or passé people stuck in the 60s on the other. Here comes my radical thesis: men and women have not reached a place of substantive equality in Canada or elsewhere. Until they do, anyone who cares about the gap can call themselves a feminist in my opinion (p.s. This includes men!). While the social and economic gap between men and women is starker in other countries around the world, it is still very alive here in Canada.

1) First I’d like to touch on the 3 part myth  of women, oft perpetuated in literature, TV, and our own peanut-sized brains. Women are often portrayed as either

  • the mother: wholesome and nutritious, good for feeding and cuddling
    • undertone: boring at parties, unattractive
  • the virgin: virtuous and innocent, good for marrying and bearing offspring
    • undertone: stupid, easily led astray, frigid
  • the whore: dirty and knowing, comes out at night, good for sex and seedy pleasures
    • undertone: can’t take her to business functions, diseased and depraved

No person is this one-dimensional yet these myths continue to shape our thinking. The law still often relies on these myths. Which takes me to my next point:

2) Sexual assault. It sucks and nobody likes to talk about it, but it happens. And sexual assault (which in Canadian law includes rape but means in essence any unwanted sexual touching) is very  much a gendered thing. Overwhelmingly, it is women that experience sexual assault. For me, this is the most obvious reason why feminism has a ton of work left to do. Only because women are more socially vulnerable and seen as less worthy of respect do they experience the brunt of sexual violence. Feminist women and men have to do a much better job talking about why all sexual violence is unacceptable. I should leave this topic to people who are much more convincing, but I can’t without also mentioning that sexual crime is horrifically unreported arguably in large part due to the legal system’s willingness, accompanied by the general public, to blame the victims of sexual violence (the “she was asking for it” defence):

3) Many people have heard about the gender wage gap. In Canada, despite more women becoming executives, filling other high-paying positions, and attending post-secondary institutions in record numbers, there remains a gap between the average woman’s wage and the average man’s. Some would say that this is because more women stay home to raise children and do lower paying work. Both of these things are true. Though there are many problems with those arguments, I will only raise a couple here. Maybe part of the reason women are more likely to stay home with children is that they don’t make as much money. If a two-parent family is going to make a choice, it is often on that basis. Secondly, work that is traditionally done by women is undervalued (child care is a fine example). And,  unlike in some jurisdictions, families in Canada receive no incentive to equalize child care responsibilities between women and men. Some have said that access to child care for low to middle-income families is one of the biggest barriers to equality (note: I am not suggesting that anyone who chooses to stay home with their children is doing anything wrong, but I can’t ignore that among the poorest Canadians, this choice becomes very difficult).

This British video does a fantastic job of touching on some of the ways that women experience the world differently than men:

It almost softens me to the fact that the Bond franchise uses women like a sexual circus side-show. There I said it. It’s good to get that one off my chest.

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Brackets, Childhood Complaints, Doing it the hard way, Irritated, Law, News | , | 3 Comments

I don’t get out much

I wrote the following four sentences six months ago as a draft.

“As I believe I’ve said before, my life is not a run away train of Huck Finn adventures (clearly, if Huck Finn is my reference). There’s mainly a lot of computer sitting, interspersed with some domestic activities, bike rides, movies and yoga. I don’t mind at all, but I think many would perish at the mere thought of such an existence. The bonus, obviously, is the excitement over little things.”

Sadly things have slid to a lower level of excitement in the last couple of months.Unfortunately, right now, the list of little things to celebrate has been downgraded from bike rides and yoga to items such as

  • making a complete and tasty meal, which still happens but not as often as I would like
  • cleaning the kitchen
  • having the bus arrive just as I do but without the stress of the half-block jog
  • scavenging enough food for my lunch (PB&J, chunk of halveh, banana, chunk of cheese – yay, can’t find anything green in there? you got it!)
  • the days I don’t need long-johns
  • movies
  • watching my plants grow
  • grapefruit
  • daydreaming about going to physio again
  • phone calls
  • and, ever so rarely, writing something, anything.

Of course, this is a snapshot of a particularly busy time that is equal to much less than a whole life (hopefully). But I am still keenly aware that I am allowing life to pass me by. I can’t even say I’m watching it, because I am a bit of a prisoner in my own head. Moments of lucidity are rare. (The other day I noticed a tree was budding and I nearly fell over from surprise, at the budding and the noticing.) I am still enjoying life, or parts of it, on a daily basis, for which I am eternally grateful. But I am acutely conscious that if I die tomorrow it will not be atop a mountain peak either real or metaphoric but in a relatively dark canyon or crevasse, with it’s own beauty and wonder, but lacking the glory of the skies.

It’s a good thing I’ve crammed in some planned fun for this summer!

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Brackets, Cycling, Doing it the hard way, Law, Self-reflection, Waste | 4 Comments

The Orca Playground: To Watch or not to Watch

Personal work on a project has made the issue of better regulation of marine tour operations (and all marine boaters) an issue dearer to my heart:

Whale watching is a pretty big deal along the southern coast of BC, including Victoria and Vancouver (and into Washington). Outfits garner a lot of attention from tourists, bring considerable revenue to the area, and educate people about marine wildlife. However, orcas, and particularly the southern residents prevalent in local waters, are endangered. Food stocks and contaminated marine waters are the two biggest threats to orcas, one of BC’s favourite icons. Noise disturbance is also a very significant threat. Our waters and the animals that occupy them are exposed to constant boat traffic. The long-term effects of these disturbances on whales are unknown. A recent court decision found that Canada has failed under its own law to designate critical habitat for killer whales. In the meantime the critical habitat is consistently invaded by creatures it is not so critical to (like us); some of these creatures do not know how to minimize their impact.

These facts justify a precautionary approach to the protection of orcas. The precautionary principle requires that people and governments take action to prevent reaching a point of no return. Scientists have already identified these threats to orcas; strong measures must be taken to prevent further damage while we continue to learn. These precautionary measures can and should include substantial changes to the Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations…

-Report: Recommendations to Reform the Laws Protecting Orca from Boat Traffic, p. 5.

Please see this recent article in the Vancouver Sun. (If it makes it any more enticing, yours truly had a hand in this story.) If you’re really keen you can see the full report on which the article is based. To hear two perspectives on this  issue, listen to the podcast of a recent debate.

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Law, News, Wild Animals | , | 2 Comments