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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.

 

 

Ephemera in the New Year: Some Top Reads So Far

It’s a new year, whether you take that as a matter of course and turn over new leaves or whatever, or you view time as the “same as it ever was”, and there’s so much ephemeral stuff floating about.

I finished Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and loved it even more than I expected to. It’s an uncomfy read, in a good way, as a white middle class reader. I got so sucked in and felt myself identifying with the two main characters and then getting smacked awake at my arrogance. Recommend, recommend, recommend.

Something I *really* identified with, to an uncanny degree, is Anne Helen Peterson’s tribute (would that be apt?) to being in college in the late 90s, early 00s, before the internet became what it is now. My world was icq, napster (metallica broke my 12 yr-old heart when they sued napster, but here we are), hotmail, and and the university email system, and little else. There was a rich chump (to be fair my school was full of rich chumps) in my dorm who had a cell phone in 1998 and at one point I had the misfortune of being stuck with him in the elevator while he harangued the folks delivering his brand new toyota to our dorm. Nice mom car, by the way. We literally did wander around dorms and cafeterias looking for each other. It was romantic. The best was meeting up at the library or the fancy, exotic starbucks coffee cart just outside one of the classroom buildings. When I dropped out and had to walk across the city each morning to get to my job because the buses hadn’t started running for the day, I had an arrangement with my coworkers to be at a specific corner at 6:30am for a ride, and if I wasn’t there by 6:32, I’d be walking the rest of the way. No phone. Though, being deaf, I don’t really romanticize the days before texting. I do miss getting together with my people face-to-face for conversations and not half-assed conversations that sometimes happen via text or instant messaging (partly because these conversations are happening with hearing people).

Another thing I *really* identified with is Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates in Idaho. I first got into my mum’s worn college copy of Black Like Me (which is a super problematic piece of non-fiction, to put it mildly) in the middle school years, in a small town in eastern Ontario. Our part of the Ottawa Valley could have been described quite like Idaho is described. My mum was from a working class suburb in New England and came of age during the Civil Rights Era. The book meant different things to us, but it definitely made me feel confused about my whiteness and privilege – it unsettled me. Anyway, back to RTCI: read it! It’s a very thoughtful and genuine engagement with race, bigotry, white supremacy, and Idaho.

Becoming Ugly really got to me:

It was a game that everyone but me seemed to love. I was a girl who mostly hung around boys because I hadn’t yet learned that female friendships, though infinitely more confusing, were also infinitely more rewarding. I was the self-professed type who loudly preferred spending time with men over spending time with women because they were less dramatic and complicated. And so I surrounded myself with boys who found it funny to grab my body when I least expected it, and were spurred by my discomfort to push me further and more painfully.

The game ended the night that Tom*, the one who always grabbed me, did it to me again while we were walking up a flight of stairs. Familiarly, everyone laughed and I tried to join them, desperate to appear easygoing and in on the joke despite being the literal and figurative butt of it. But suddenly, the effort of it all—the smiling, nervous chuckling, and eye rolls that I had allowed myself over the past several months—sickened me. It felt like I was choking on my own vomit of anger and humiliation. To save myself, I’d have to spew my own bile. And so I turned and punched Tom directly in the groin.

Can’t really add much to that, but “story of my life” as a kid and a teenager. Ugh. Shame and dissociation and rage and futility, all in an easy-to-open can of spork.