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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 four in ephemera.

If you’ve known me for at least a little while, you know I love libraries. I love the concept of literature, art, and community, as well as internet access, being available for free. In rural areas libraries can offer an escape plan, a way to learn more about one’s environs, and a way to gather with others. In urban areas, they provide all of the above as well as a place for adults who may be retired, unemployed, or without an office, to spend some of their time, clean bathrooms, the internet, comfy chairs for naps, sometimes access to video games, etc. I’m missing a lot here, but this is what comes to mind quickly.

I worked in a small town public library for six years and it’s still the best job I’ve ever had, even though I was a sulky, alienated teenager who couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge for my entire tenure. The steady mentoring, community-building, and unlimited access to books, VHS tapes, and CDs without fines were the empowering and enlightening ticket to a kind of freedom that high school was not. Good lord, what a love song! If you’re indifferent to libraries, keep reading – I’ll be talking about other stuff.

A lifelong fantasy of mine, unsurprisingly, has been to live in the library. Public libraries used to have caretakers and their families living behind the stacks. The US Senate has approved the appointment of Carla Hayden, country’s first woman and first African-American Librarian of Congress. Apparently it’s been rare to have an actual Librarian in that position as well.

More awesome library stuff: #BlackLivesMatter reading lists for youth from a librarian for Hennepin County (MN) Library, and everybody from the Oakland, CA public libraries.

Vancouver Public Library has a Residential School reading list, a mix of memoir, anthology, novels, and at least one graphic novel. So much for everyone to learn about North American (a colonial place name) history and why reconciliation is a deep, deep, multi-generational project.

Jenna Wortham complicating queer positivity and acceptance during Pride month.

A good deal of discussion of the changing face of ‘the Left’ has been happening for ages (when hasn’t it, really?). Lately, very real resistance to identity politics by writers, activists, and organizers positioning themselves on the left, while Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and other significant movements led by POC and Indigenous people are naming the structural and personal marginalization of their communities, has been erupting. ‘Social Justice Warrior’ has become a slur against folks advancing certain arguments with certain methodologies online. We Are the Left has issued a rebuttal to these continual attempts to erase identity politics from what could be a vibrant, complex, and sustainable collective of leftist communities.

Technology is never neutral. Algorithms originate from white dudes who build the internet. Of course, I’m being simplistic because I’m not a tech writer, but this is, essentially, what happens.

I used to watch so much TV. And you know what I didn’t see, growing up? Deaf folks who weren’t old or fully embedded in Deaf culture. Sure, I saw different aspects of myself reflected: white, middle class, dorky (cringeworthy, really), English-speaking, and that is a distinct privilege. However, let’s see some different (aka realistic) portrayals of folks with disabilities.

It’s been a tremendous end of term for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) this spring, in part because the more liberal justices were fighting back on abortion, after the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death. So it’s time to demand reproductive justice; it’s time for an abortion renaissance!

The Trudeau government is apparently pro-science and pro-evidence and there’s more hope among harm reduction activists across Canada despite the grossly sluggish response of the BC government to an alarming number of overdose deaths in the past year. This week, the City of Toronto has approved three supervised injection sites and their next step is applying to the federal government. In the US, opioid dependency has skyrocketed over the last decade, due to over-prescription of OxyContin. Big Pharma and the close relationship between between drug companies and medical practitioners have created a dangerous cocktail. Racism, too, has played a part in this epidemic; the idea that opioid dependency in such high rates couldn’t happen in predominantly white communities. It seems that the collective white imagination still thinks of such drug issues as being a “black” thing.