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Week seventeen in ephemera

Water, We All Need It

When it’s slow at work, since I’ve made a promise to myself to stay off fb on my office computer I just rabbithole. The thing about this is that it reminds me of the late 90s and early 00s when the internet was just cool and full of random stuff that begat random stuff. And indymedia. Remember indymedia? And Nerve before all the paywalls. Colours of Resisistance. And Scarlateen (still around, yeah Scarlateen!). But mostly, random discoveries.

It’s an older post, but snarkmarket’s history of water crises in Flint, Michigan is a gooder. And the water situation for several First Nations communities across Canada is only getting worse. Total bullshit, you guys. Everybody knows it: water is life.

You Say Rayon, I Say Viscose

I love fashion and design and stuff and I love picking it apart politically. My approach is naive and undisciplined, c’est la vie. Peripherally, I’ve noticed different sources touting rayon/viscose as a more environmentally palatable (green, eh) alternative to polyester and other cheap, popular, accessible fabrics. Nuh-uh! It’s some nasty stuff. It has the potential to be less nasty but then it’d cost more to produce. The guy in the interview references the factory fires in Bangladesh which killed hundreds of workers so we can wear cheap fast fashion. He raises an interesting point, that we need to pursue stronger regulation of production and employment standards rather than leave it to the consumer to vote with their dollars. To this I say… DUH. I’m not shaming fast fashion. Clothes are expensive. We gotta wear them. But regulators can do so much more to ensure that it doesn’t cost lives, abilities, and the environment.

All That Manifest Destiny HooHaw and We’re Left With This

Granta online has decent free content sometimes. If you like meandering, sometimes wanky, sometimes excellent stuff, check it out! I veer to the wanky, of course, so I love it all. Carys Davis is researching his novel in what sounds like a pretty juicy archive at the New York Public Library. First-person accounts of early American expansionism to the West (including examples of resistance to this concerted, government-funded colonial process) which resonate with today’s political climate in the US.

I Pee A Lot At Work; To This I Say NOPE

You guys, when the Pew Centre surveys you, you gotta keep it together. Be real. What are these risks to safety you’re willing to compromise ownership of your time/movement for? Surveillance at work is not a winner-winner-chicken-dinner. #JustSayNope.

Guys, I pee a lot at work because I drink a lot of water and because it gives me exercise to walk down the hall to the washroom and makes me move out of my chair at least once an hour if nothing else will. On another note, I’m so used to my rolling chair that I forget the dining table chairs at home don’t roll and I spend a good deal of time making my chair screech at 7am while eating breakfast. Our poor neighbour downstairs must really hate us.

This isn’t Divorce, American Style

An ugly truth of American culture:

The worst, most terrible things that the United States has done have almost never happened through an assault on American institutions; they’ve always happened through American institutions and practices.

How the use of fear engineers social hysteria and drives all the bullshit stuff that’s been happening, is happening.

I’m Feeling Bookish – Are You?

Most of the time I’m confident that I’ve kicked my bibliomania to the curb, then a shit week happens and I drop into Munro’s or Russells because I can. And I leave cash poor with books I won’t get to for months at least because I’ve already got three or four going at home and in my bag, not including the library books racking up fines. Pretty sad story, huh? <sarcasm> When I dropped out of school and went to NYC with my roommates and ended up at the Strand bookstore, I think I spent $250 I didn’t have in 15 minutes. In my defense I bought some sweet, SWEET art books that I’ve since donated in binge tosses. There’s having no regrets and there’s stupidity. My real regret here is that I missed out on the Blue Stockings bookstore, but that’s a small complaint to have so I’m okay with that.

Have you read Slammerkin? I think you should. Emma Donoghue writes historical fiction like no one else (not that I’m an expert; I have to admit that I don’t read much historical fiction but you should still take my word for it – winky face emoji). Life Mask was good too.

So, I had one of those shit weeks recently and picked up Katherena Vermette’s The Break. I have not read a novel that opens with an explicit trigger warning about violence, trauma, and healing. I’m just a quarter in, but it’s a heavy and beautiful story centering multiple generations of women in a Metis family in Winnipeg. The blurb on the cover of my copy is from Eden Robinson, whose Monkey Beach blew my mind several years ago, and exposed me to slight elements of contemporary Haisla experiences. So, I grabbed it. I’m in it, and I’m moved.

About That Image

On Palentine’s Day I went to see Häxan with my friends S and S (yeah, it was pretty slithery, snakes and witches and all the things – sibilant!). It’s a Danish silent film, released in 1922, about witchcraft through the ages, mostly the medieval period when the Inquisition was on a rampage. A musician accompanied the film with electronica. Pretty pretty good, you should check it out if you get a chance. High drama, interesting set design, and a closing, contemporary chapter drawing parallels between treatment of poor people, particularly women in the early 20th century and during the middle ages.

 

 

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 five in ephemera.

I’m not done with public libraries yet, and I have no shame. This beauty is a slice of the of struggles to desegregate US “public” libraries. From a New Jersey public library treasurer, in 1945: “Wednesdays’ short hours were enough for the children, Trumaine said, because “we don’t believe in social equality for Negroes. We don’t want our white children associating with them on the same level. The Negroes are a different race. They should be proud of it but keep to themselves.””

Storytime Underground is a rad collective of youth librarians challenging the idea that libraries have ever been neutral, and the power and responsibilities of librarians, whether they recognize it or not.

I don’t have Pokemon Go on my phone, but I find the phenomenon fascinating; this brief piece captures the game’s positive potential. A friend gave me a brief orientation on her phone today and I’ll admit it was pretty adorable and has a strong draw.

A brief history of BC’s Great Coal Strike and how racism and racial exclusion hurt labour movements.

The trends in unionizing digital media workplaces:

We are, on some level, at ease with precarity. Not just the hoverboard-riding, “trim 20-somethings” we stereotypically associate with today’s newsrooms, but all of us. It’s critical to remember, however, that job security has a relative value. Older workers, people of color, women, and those from low-income backgrounds tend to need it more. For them, the traditional gains of collective bargaining—protection from firing and discrimination, pay increases, and health insurance—remain essential.

I’m so stoked about this, and I hope you are too: Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey are writing Marvel Comics’ World of Wakanda! You gotta check this out (later this year). And in the meantime, look for Monstress.

I really enjoy the transcripts of the NPR podcast, Planet Money. Which means, frankly, I just really enjoy NPR and Planet Money because it is good stuff which I know because they provide free transcripts of their programming right where they post the audio programming. This is kind of a “duh” in my book, but my experience and enjoyment of podcasts and radio programming is hella limited because the minds of hearing programmers and producers and media conglomerates can be hella limited. ANYWAY, Planet Money talked this week about when women stopped coding. Do not fret, my hearing friends, you can listen to the podcast at the very top of the transcript. Imagine!

I do go on, don’t I? No need to answer that. I have more to share, so please check back next week, pals! And thanks for reading this far, you’re some fuzzy in-season peaches.

Analytical unemployment.

When things get me down, I get overanalytical. A month into unemployment–granted, not that long–I’ve noticed a thing. It seems like anyone might take this as a “duh, goes without saying,” thing. But for the first time in my adult life, I stopped short and thought about it.

Why is it that when bureaucratic employers test applicants for positions in clerical roles, they seem to test only for proficiency with hard copy and electronic file management, Microsoft Office (or other software), legislation, policies, customer service, teamwork, conflict resolution, and more, but not the ability to talk on the phone? In short, they test for all the things but that one thing?

In the process of applying for clerical positions, the requirement of communicating by telephone has come up in some but not all job postings. Yet, testing for the ability to communicate via telephone is not done, nor is testing for appropriate communication over the telephone. It’s just assumed that all people who may have the experience and skills to provide customer service, problem solving, and legal/policy support will also be hearing and speaking, and a specific kind of hearing and speaking.

On a personal level, I’ll not be applying for these jobs anymore, though I passed at least two levels of screening for one position before the ability to communicate on the telephone came up. It was a waste of their time and my time. I hesitated to write about it here because I hate feeling like I’m whining about a very specific example of a very large societal issue. And it’s a vulnerability thing too, oh yes. But, ah, it needs to be said, and I’m learning to talk about it more, not just when my back is up against the wall and disclosure is the only option, but because it’s an aspect of being human, no less than or more than any other. (Just like unemployment).