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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 two in ephemera.

The world is going to pot on the daily (hasn’t it always already been?). So, some stuff of inspiration: the women kicking ass as Guardian Angels fighting harassment and violence on NYC’s subways; the Perv Busters!

Less inspiring: how the rich controls the media by silencing journalists. Terrifying.

The Reluctant Memoirist has appeared on a few lists and made the rounds, but it’s a compelling example of how journalist Suki Kim’s gender and race impacted the way her work has been perceived and critiqued in media and publishing circles. From the article:

“As an Asian female, I find that people rarely assume I’m an investigative journalist; even after I tell them, they often forget. Having spent my formative years in America not speaking English, I know how to be mute; my accent sometimes makes people assume I am naïve. I am good at disappearing. I am aware that such apparent weaknesses can in fact be advantages.”

Speaking of a journalist going undercover to get the story: I haven’t been paying close attention, but so far I’ve not seen critiques or categorizing of Shane Bauer that the reluctant memoirist in question above faced. Something to chew over? And, the impact of the prison industrial complex in the United States is one that has been horrifying to watch (and prisons are already horrifying).

I was a front line social worker for eight years and harm reduction was always part of the services I provided, regardless of the position of organizational leadership. If, for a minute, you think it’s alright to write people who use drugs off because you’ve never had that issue, I hope you read this. People are people. The people I worked with and that our community lost are still with me today; memories knocking any self-serving piety out of me on the daily.

Since it’s July 1st, or where I live, Canada Day, I have to add some “CanCon.” Last year, the Truth and Reconciliation Report (TRC) was released to the federal government and general public. This spring, a TRC Reading Challenge was started, and people have been pledging to read or listen to a reading of the Report in its entirety. I signed as a means of intentionally pursuing reconciliation in the present and future. For more information about Canadian history as it relates to ongoing colonial structures, read Lynn Gehl / Gii-Zhigaate-Mnidoo-Kwe’s Algonquin-Anishinaabekwe love letter.

Thank you for reading!