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what I hear.

Ephemeral, not Ethereal

What does the ethereal my title mean, eh?

I’ll tell ya what it means for me. I had a weird experience today, dripping with well-meaning ableism that left me feeling pretty ghostly (ethereal, yo), even erased. I’m not comfortable going into details as I’ve not brought it up with the people I had the interaction with, and this blog has my name on it, so. One thing I can say to my one or two readers, if ya meet people, in whatever context – work, play, yadayada – and they communicate differently than you, just think for a moment about how you can shift your behaviour to be inclusive. Make a freaking effort. It may seem like a big ask, but in the end it’s not. It’s being human and humane. Oh, the self-censorship is strong here.

Beyond that, though, what an incredible clusterfuck it’s been the past few weeks (and I know that there’s a lot to be said, that has been said, about this clusterfuck being new to a limited privileged group, and not to many others in North America or worldwide). Folks have compiled lists of what you can do if you’re feeling immobilized, angry, scared, overwhelmed, and maybe like big crowded masses of people are not your thing – here’s a place to start, for Canadians: contact your MP and insist that they act on the US’s travel ban. Read up on Canada’s Safe Third Country Agreement and why it’s dangerous. Remember that the US’s legislation is actually two articles: one related to Muslims and the other related to refugees in general. It’s FAR-REACHING and it’s CHILLING. Learn to recognize and disrupt Islamophobia, and think about how you can resist. Also, keep thinking about the water protectors at Standing Rock – their legal defense needs funding support. And learn more about how you can name colonial racism in your communities. It’s everywhere in Canada, and so, so, so normalized. Listen to, or read the transcript, from today’s forum in Vancouver on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). There’s a wealth of information out there, get informed and get active in your resistance and solidarity, eh?

I’ve written here before about the overdose crisis in BC, and the opioid crisis across North America. Some generous folks, in Vancouver, who use drugs, offered some advice on how all of us (drug users, neighbours, healthcare providers, legislators, bureaucrats) can respond to the overdose crisis. So much power, experience, and love there. Donald MacPherson summarizes the trajectory (non-trajectory?) of Canada and BCs response to drug use, overdoses, and criminalization.

Not to veer too jarringly, but did you hear about Beyonce?! Speaking of music-makers, Four Tet has made a playlist of artists from the human stain’s list of banned countries. That’s beautiful, my friends. I don’t care what the haters at factmag say, I love Missy’s new single and video.

Oh, I’m reading Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk. It’s been pretty effective at drawing me in, though I wouldn’t say it’s “hypnotic.” Swing Time was hypnotic. I’m a shameless Zadie Smith fan (except for Autograph Man but I’ve let that go). I loved Swing Time. I’m also reading Elena Ferrante’s Troubling Love. It is so intense and infuriating that I feel myself scowling like a beast when I read it. I’ll take it.

November 9th, 2016: Pussy Grabs Back

The cat came back the very next day: here, pussy, pussy

This is not a pussy reference, god no. But close. More an acknowledgement of trumpy’s not-so-surprising capacity to reappear, good as new, no matter what shit hits his stupid suit and hair (and that perma-tan face). Anyway, I’m not going to say too much about it because what’s there left to say that hasn’t been said both eloquently and asininely online and in the media? I’m supremely disappointed that white people like me (not going to play the “us good whiteys” and “those poor losers” because that’s shortsighted, self-aggrandizing, and absolutely not true) gotta let humanity (or just the totality of existence?) down again and again. So much respect for those who’ve been fighting white supremacy in its all-encompassing power for generations, and who continue to do so (#standwithstandingrock #blacklivesmatter and so many more).

So, that’s my day after US election dirge.

Also, last night I listened to this on repeat because goddam Nina Simone. Tonight, it’s going to be Hercules and Love Affair (okay, I’ll be honest. as my fb friendz know, I’m always listening to Hercules and Love Affair. like, leave me alone, okay).

Coffee and TV

Last week I binged through Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, yes I did. Then Monday night I watched the first season of Chewing Gum. Both so good. Both definitely getting that feminist-y talk about race and gender and sex and work out there to the front, in different ways. I recommend them both. I don’t know how to write about TV or books critically, except to say I like ’em or I don’t. Should have spent more time in English Lit in my undergrad, I guess? Last night I half-assedly watched The Crown while half-assedly following the election counts online. It’s alright so far: the casual, entitled ignorance Prince Philip displays when they visit sites of empire in Africa are gaggy and real. And the line Elizabeth uses about the country being savage just a generation ago before the Brits cleaned it up. Ugh. And the line from an advisor about how they need that country for the crown, because independence is eating up the rest of the continent. And of course empire is far more sinister and violent behind the polite facade of British Rule. Anyone seen Issa Rae’s Insecure? I can’t wait to watch that. The NYT wrote a profile of Rae a year or so ago and it was exciting!

What I’m reading now

Well, too much soundbite political coverage on social media, I’ll admit that. But also Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences. This is high-end trash. Sadly, there’s some lazy xenophobia sprinkled throughout the novel, and the class divide in Britain is real and relished (by the rich?). Putting that aside (I know, I know) I’m tearing through it. It’s so interesting go between contemporary literature and trashy reads, and I quite enjoy the bouncing back and forth. Plus George’s description of how Sergeant Havers eats is deeply satisfying – butties and pineapple upside down cake and chips, and anything crap, you name it, it’s going in. I know, sounds gross, but given how much I love food – cooking, eating, sharing, talking about it – it’s no real surprise.

Seriously, though, after reading Andrea Levy’s Never Far from Nowhere, it’s such *bloody* juxtaposition, the two (multitude of, let’s be honest) Englands blow my mind and are made all the realer, for me. Levy is amazing – Small Island is better known – but her early stuff is juicy.

 

 

 

 

beach in the city

week nine in ephemera

Maps and the city

There’s a new map of NYC in Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Nonstop Metropolis, laying out the city as one of women. Sylvia Rivera is there, so’s Kitty Genovese, and Lil’ Kim. Zora Neale Hurston and Adrienne Rich are one stop away from each other. Edwidge Danticat, Dr. Ruth, and Salt’n’Pepa. Check it out.

Oil

Everybody’s saying oil is driving/killing *the* economy/planet (I emphasize “the” because there’s more than one, but this is how it’s talked about, and of course, there’s the behemoth global economy of stuff and people and forces; can you tell I didn’t study economics in school?). I’ve talked about Planet Money before, because it’s awesome. But this week I’m thinking about this podcast from August about oil and the stuff that makes oil/is made from oil/etc.

Musics

For most of the summer I couldn’t really wear my hearing aid because it didn’t fit and kept cutting my ear. Thus, I missed a season of grooves. Yeah, it’s as poopy as it sounds (or doesn’t sound, lolz). So I’m making up for lost time. Solange released A Seat at the Table at the beginning of October and I’m stoked. Google or search Fb for some thoughtful discourse on the politics of the album. Here, I’m just grooving (which, in my case, means chair dancing, which really means that I’m nodding my head as I listen. My grooving is sad but I like it.)

For when you need to be chill but need some groove too. I’ve not yet had a chance to peruse this playlist but something’s gotta hit.

Oh, shit

This stopped me cold. I know I pulled some hateful shit when I was a misinformed little kid who wanted more than anything to belong. To be a parent continually downgrading their anger when deciding whether/how to explain to another parent that their kid is doing racist turd things (which they in all probability picked up from them). Respect and solidarity to the poc and indigenous parents of poc and indigenous kids. This feeds systemic racism and grows cops that shoot to kill black people, just as much/even more than (?) the blatant stuff of Trumpies, etc.

Anecdotal but heartening

My weight and shape have fluctuated quite a bit since I started messing with starving myself at 12 (which is, like, the most classic narrative for white middle class girls of the 80s and 90s, apparently, though there are studies indicating that eating disorders go far beyond these folks; it’s just that doctors and counselors ignored everybody else). I’m a hedonist when it comes to food. I’m never, barring threat of death, going to restrict major food groups ever again, nor am I going to spend a shit-ton of time at the gym “working it off.” Nothing works the same for everyone, but I appreciate this doctor connecting the dots between pressure to lose it all and growing medically-sanctioned reliance on weight-loss drugs.

That desk jockey life though

So, yeah, I’m not gonna kill myself getting fit and stuff. But I do need to exercise on the regular, and go hard more often than not. Still figuring out what my routine is, but going from working not at all for nearly six months to working five days a week is wreaking havoc on my bod (lolz … such as it is.) Gotta step up the weights. And I need to move. Funemployment meant that I was swimming in the Gorge 2-3 times a week plus going on long bike rides and walks nearly every day. My favourite book on running (not that I read a lot of books on running; the blurbs or back cover descriptions make me shudder most of the time) is by Haruki Murakami. It’s about struggle and boredom and repetition, not triumph (a key summary). And I love it. Maybe it’s a life of being told I need to be exceptional to be average that’s got me down on inspirational motivation, so be it. Not into it. What am into is running as a way to get to know a city. I like that.

 

Week eight in ephemera: Overwhelm, Vagenda and Nino Sarratore

What?! Hello again.

It’s been nearly two months (an intense two months) of overwhelm when thinking about when to post each week and realizing I had no energy to think about things, let alone write these thoughts. But, after a month at a new full-time job, I’m coming back to the quietude I prefer (and likely need). So, here’s a scattershot re-entry into ephemera!

On my mind:

Farrah Khan, Ann-Bernice Thomas, and Jeremy Loveday spoke/performed at the University of Victoria this week, as part of Sexualized Violence Awareness Week. It was a rich, heavy, and beautiful event. I was exhausted and feeling disconnected from any sense of participating in community. A thoughtful person affiliated with the event invited me to attend, and live captioning had already been arranged. On that note, that’s never happened before and it was incredible to be somewhere that I didn’t have to plan to be a month in advance, didn’t have to advocate for accessibility, and did not have to commit to going; it was an invitation with no strings attached. I can’t really gather the words for how this made me feel. The closest I can come would be that I felt a part of the room, because I didn’t have to spend the energy reading people’s faces and wondering if what I was getting was correct, etc. I could feel the feels in the moment (and given what was being talked about, the feels were there to be had). Usually, I experience this stuff at remove, disengaged, storing the stuff for later, if I get the stuff that is being said. So, so much gratitude for the work that went into making the event happen, and to the three presenters for getting most of their texts to the transcriber in time for projection. Always have gratitude for the folks who listen, comprehend, and type so fast to make that one kind of access happen.

The overwhelm:

Nino Sarratore, that selfish, sexist, and “sensitive” dude that Neapolitan Novels readers love to hate (I mean, I speak for myself here, but wait)! My friend got me onto the fuck nino sarratore tumblr that is all about dissing Nino. Yes, pure genius! Seriously, fuck that guy (sorry, parentals! Or maybe at 37 I’m too old to care about what my folks think of my cussing. Yeah, I’ll go with that. But the post-Catholic guilt is strong). If you haven’t read these books, please do. I’m imploring you.

I start my workday at 8am five days a week. I get out mid-afternoon each day, and that is awesome. But 8am? After years of starting my work days at 10, 10:30, or even afternoon, when working on contracts? BRUTAL. One of my great loves is being awake in time to watch the dawn sky change into day. The brutal thing about being up so early, though, is that things just don’t compute. I enjoy the early light but I don’t function well before 8:30am. I just don’t. I’m not ashamed to admit that my first year of university was dedicated to getting the requisite courses done, just never at 8:30am or Friday morning at all. I excelled at this. What I’m really talking about is that I woke up at 7am today, a full hour later than on workdays. And I managed to read in bed for another two hours. This is the life. The side effect of living the life is that I finished Americanah and experienced saudade (Portuguese and Gallician), that longing that I get when I’ve finished a book that’s absorbed me completely. The novel was published three years ago, and I resisted because of the hype. I’m so glad I finally read it.

Yesterday was Orange Shirt Day in Canada, an event honouring and remembering the forced removal of indigenous children to christian residential schools across the country. In these schools, the nuns, priests, ministers, and lay teachers enacted abuse of an incredible and sickening range, from forced erasure of the children’s language, spirituality, and rituals, sexual abuse, withholding of food, solitary confinement, and much more. Given that residential schools operated until 1996, this structural colonial violence was occurring as I went about living a “typically” Canadian middle class childhood and adolescence, completely unaware. Like many settler kids of my generation, I learned in the public school system that contact and assimilation was a thing that happened in the past, and for the benefit of indigenous peoples. Barf.

One small antidote to the overwhelm of how Canada has been built: Going Home Star.

Vagenda of Manocide” makes me laugh/shudder every time I see the phrase. Way to go, Maine, eh? But you gotta listen to Bitch’s vagenda playlist. It’s excellent. And then check out their story of feminist punk in 33 songs. Poly Styrene will always have my cold, angry heart.