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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.

 

 

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.

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.