Friday, October 31, 2014

My Neglected Hobby

I've actually decided to stop scrapbooking. Like, forever. I will show you a photograph that sums up all my reasons quite well I think. But later. First, some scrapbooking layouts.

Every night Dude & I snuggle in my big bed, and we read and chat and giggle. Recently he told me that he didn't really like his own bed. I asked if it was his mattress, or his comforter or pillow that was bugging him. He said he liked my duvet cover, so I found a similar one and tucked his comforter into it. Cause I'm sneaky like that. He was excited about his mini room makeover, and for the first time in a long time, climbed in to his bed to read before bed. But he couldn't fall asleep. He bluntly told me that the reason he likes my bed better is because I am in it, and he wanted me to lay beside him. Heart melting stuff guys...

I was SO EXCITED this night, because Dude actually asked to go for a bike ride. And we made it a really long way. And then he said he was tired, and I bought him a Popsicle and I had to walk his bike most of the way home.

Gosh this was a fun night! I loved swinging from this thing. And what was it that Dude said? Something about not realizing I was so energetic...HA!

I totally "stole" that second place ribbon. I didn't push a kid over and steal the ribbon from their prone body or anything! Geeze! What kind of a person do you think I am?1 I did, however, find it on the ground, put it in my pocket, and pointedly not ask the other people around if they had lost a ribbon. I am a terrible wonderful mother.

More to come...

P.S. Happy Halloween or whatever. I suck at this holiday this year. I have all the excuses.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I LOVE STEAMPUNK! (apparently...)

I can't believe I didn't realize this many wasted hours. HA! That's silly...reading any book is never a waste.

Anyhoo, this first one showed up on a Goodreads list I believe, and it looked interesting enough for me to add it to my library holds list. I think it's young adult (based on the ages of the main characters), but it was actually quite rich and interesting. Essentially it is a re-telling of WWI with steampunk elements. The Germans have developed advanced Mech & Tech and the British and Allied Forces have manipulated Darwin's knowledge of DNA and created bio-engineered beasts.

The young son of the assassinated Duke is in hiding from his enemies, and falls in with a young man working on a dirigible, that is actually a helium filled whale. But this young man is actually a young lady. Girls aren't allowed to join up so she's got a bit of a secret identity. The two groups are forced together to outrun their common enemies and get some secret bio-tech to a potential ally.

For a YA novel, it's actually not super lame. And I'm really enjoying the alternate reality that it presents.

I've got the next book in the series ready to go, and I'm excited to see what happens!

Next we have Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. I really enjoyed this book, as indirectly recommended to me (via Instagram) by a feminist who likes books. About feminism. This one has the added benefit of being about feminism from a POC perspective. I never really got used to the dialect (it drove me a little batty actually), but Zora's prose in amongst the talking was so poetic and so beautiful.

It is truly a masterpiece. The lead Janie is a woman who has always been told what to expect out of life and what she should want for a husband (and a family), as a coloured woman of her time, but she wants more. And she keeps trying to find it, listening to and following her heart.

And she carves her own path, and she finds her way, and it ultimately ends in tragedy, but she keeps on keeping on. It was very inspiring to read such a tale about a lady who keeps trying to find what she wants, and find herself. I'm not doing a good job of explaining's a book for the heart, that's for sure. But not sappy and mushy. I really enjoyed it.

And last but not least, Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Once again, Neil wins the list, just as I knew he would. This book made me uncomfortable, and it's kind of hard to explain why. You know when you're watching a show or movie and somebody does something "embarrassing" or not-well-thought-out, and you are embarrassed for them? That. That feeling.

Say your father is a god and you don't know it. And you have a brother, and you didn't know that either. And then your father dies, and your brother comes into your life and he's driving you crazy and stealing your fiance - and she doesn't even realize it - and your boss is a thieving bastard and you just want things to be the way they were so you ask the Bird Goddess to "take care of things" for you, and things get even messier. All that and more...this book is amazing! If you liked American Gods, you will like this book (and vice versa!)

I'm falling behind on my list! There were three books that I started in September and never finished. Not because they weren't great...because they were! They were just really long and I renewed them to their max. Silly library rules ;-)

On deck (aka "my bed") for the next month:
Soulless by Gail Carriger (steampunk + vampires & werewolves...)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
And a couple more titles from Neil Gaiman...because of course.

Friday, October 10, 2014

On Being A White Feminist With A Son

My son is the only white boy in his class.

He is the minority in this one instance. And I think it hurts him, but I know that his status as a white man will never hurt him anywhere else in society. And it probably doesn't even hurt him now, But I'm his Mom, so I'm biased. But I get that.

But you know what I also see when I look at his group of male peers? I see such a beautiful diverse group of boys. Brown boys, black boys, native boys, asian boys, other kind of brown boys. I'm not going to comment on perceived nationalities or ethnicity here. The neighbourhood my son & his dad live in is full of immigrants from every part of the world, as well as some Canadians who are POC so I don't want to assume anything in terms of who came from where, and how they might identify.

And ultimately I know that every single boy in his class will probably experience some kind of racism, or discrimination based on his skin colour as he grows up. Some probably even experience it now, as no child lives in a vacuum and a 9 year is pretty observant to the things his parents and relatives experience. At least My Dude is.

And this breaks my heart. Why should these smart, creative, clever, artistic rascals be set back for something as superficial as their skin colour? I see each of them as I see My Dude. Learning about the world, about themselves, about their peers, about their place. And it is so stupid to think that they are automatically worse off than my socially awkward son because he is white and they are not. Ugh.

I see the colours because that is the world that I grew up in. I try not to, but I do. But I also see the personalities behind the colours. I have know some of these boys for their entire school life. I chat with them when I drop Dude off at school. They call me Mrs. Kercher or "Lucas' Mom" and I compliment them on their shoes, or ask them about school. I joke and I laugh, because ultimately they are just a pack of unruly 9-year old boys, and I've got a line on that! I smile at their Moms with the smile that says "I may not know your name, but I know you" and "sigh...boys" at the same time. We commiserate with our eyes, but we never chat. I'm just not good with people...a detriment to me and Dude I think in times like this.

I hope he always has this diverse cast of people around him. I hope he continues with these boys into junior high and high school. I hope he makes friends with them (heck, with anyone!). I hope he remembers these years, and takes this experience with him. I hope that it guides his choices, and his personality, and his outlook on the world.

Being a feminist, I recognize his privilege. Being a white feminist, I have to check my own. And I also have to recognize that I am going to FIGHT his privilege and educate him on it for his whole life. That's my job as his feminist mom.

But it also my job to listen to him. Answer his questions. Or just shuttup and listen. And from what I hear so far, these boys in his class are just other boys to him. They are not brown boys, or asian boys, or Arabic boys. They are just boys. I have high hopes for his generation, and so far so good.

Please note: I have been reading a lot of feminist literature online lately from writers of all backgrounds. I want to learn more and try my hand at contributing to their presence. Amateurishly for now, but we'll see right? Constructive criticism and comments always welcome!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

But What Would I Rather Have?

In this modern (first world) culture, we are inundated with MARKETING messages. Hell, I work in marketing..I get it! Buy more! BUY MORE! BUY BUY BUY!!!

I don't watch proper TV anymore, there are no commercials on Netflix, but I still see the billboards lining the streets, the ads on Facebook. I still get the emails and the sales flyers and all that jazz.

And I have to fight the feelings that those things stir up within me: "What you have is not enough. It is old, and dated, and no longer shiny. You don't need another pair of pants, but you should buy a pair or two anyway."

And it exhausts me.

So I have decided to be prepared for when I see these messages and start to get overwhelmed. A plan to head them off, so to speak. It's called, "But What Would I Rather Have?"

Essentially I have made a list of things I would rather spend my money on. Some of these are relatively inexpensive and simple to get. And some not so much. Some of these aren't even about the money, and are more the moment, the experience, the living life part of living life.

Backpacking through Iceland.
A new bra.
Fancy long-underwear for running.
A "tech" shirt. Also for running.
A trip somewhere fun, for just me and Dude.
Disney World 2015.
Pickling supplies.
Alpacas. (Three boys, named Tuco, Ferris & Hobart Bosworth. In case you were wondering)
A trampoline!
Plants for my garden.
Painting supplies.
A new bike.

Instead of some knee-jerk reaction to a marketing campaign designed just for that, I have these well thought out items ready to pull out of my back pocket when the need arises.

This is a living list, where items will be deleted, or added, or deleted and then added back. And that's cool. And these things are far more important to me than impulse pants.

This also helps when I need to make a decision, because I am honest to goodness no good at that! It's no secret. I'm still having visions of that terrifying wall of toothbrushes.


Monday, September 29, 2014

No Room For Hateful Rhetoric

I woke up this morning and jumped on Facebook to end my two-day self-enforced social media ban. And I see this hateful bullshit on my wall. I don't know Jennifer Harris - the original poster - but the identity of the woman who posted it surprised me. I thought she was more open minded than this.

To me, this is hate speech.

And there are so many things WRONG with her "argument" I just want to scream. It really gets my blood boiling.

I almost just walked away from it, because it made me so mad. But I really feel the need to address it this morning, because it is viewpoints like this that poison our humanity. And aren't we all in this together?!

A few points I would like to make:
The labour movement is fighting for EVERYONE'S wages to go up! Better conditions for all, that's the point of the labour movement! No fast food worker is saying "more for me at the expense of everyone else." No fast food worker is saying "I don't think the military deserves to earn more." If you told a fast food worker how little a Private or a Sergeant makes, you know what they would probably say? "THAT SUCKS! You should be striking with us! In fact, why aren't you...?"

Yes, fast food workers deserve to make more money. If you are living below the poverty line and cannot support yourself or your family on your income, you deserve to make more money.

Her comment about "working in a job designed for a kid in high school who is...earning enough for gas"... What is this, 1972?

You want to know who works in fast food places? Single moms and dads. People who have only known poverty all their's a cycle that is practically impossible to escape from. Immigrants who come looking for a better life for their family, perhaps escaping persecution or terror in the land of their birth. They were architects, or engineers and now they sling burgers in the hopes that they'll make enough so their kids won't have to. They are very skilled, but not according to your immigration laws. And yes, teenagers work there as well. But I bet most of them are doing it to earn more than just gas money. They are paying for school, or they are helping to support their families.

This line really stings. "If you have chosen this as your life long profession, you have failed." (emphasis mine) This makes my heart so sad. No one chooses to live below the poverty line. Poverty makes your choices for you. A lot of those military boys that she is "honoring" with her post her, entered service because they were poor and they didn't think they had any better choice to support their family. They are dying overseas because they didn't want to work in a fast food joint. And they're still poor, and their families still on food stamps. Is that a fair choice to you?

Did you hear about the woman who died in her car from carbon monoxide poisoning because she was taking a nap in between shifts at one of her FOUR JOBS because she didn't have time to go home and sleep? And she needed the four jobs because she couldn't support her family on just the one (or two, or three). One guess what industry she worked in. She died for her shitty fast food job!

You know how much money the government would save by increasing the minimum wage? Loads! And you know why? Because all those services they pay for - you pay for - would disappear. Medicaid, welfare, food stamps could be a thing of the past because all of a sudden people could actually afford to buy stuff on their own! And not only that, they might have some left over money to spend on "luxuries" or saving for the future and that my friend helps the economy, yessirree!

And don't even get me started on the billionaires who lobby the government and convince them that raising the minimum wage would be a bad idea for everyone...that's BULLSHIT and they know it! What they really mean is that it would hurt their profits. Maybe they would only make 2 billion dollars next year instead of 10. Boo fricken hoo. And even though most of them complain about big government, and welfare programs, they benefit from all those government programs too, because that's their excuse for keeping their workers below the poverty line.

And if you want to educate someone, you don't call them names. "Baconator"...oh gosh. Wait, you aren't trying to educate anyone?! You're just ranting and spewing your hateful rhetoric all over the Facebooks where you can really get some back slapping from your buddies?! Right...thought so.

Before I removed it from my wall, my "friend's" post had received one like and one comment. I agreed with the commenter in saying that everyone including the military deserves a better wage. My "friend's" response to that: just eliminate the fast food positions....sigh....

I could go on and on. It is SHIT like this that made me take a break from Facebook. It makes me so fricken angry that there are still attitudes like this in our world.

I'll just stop here and see what kind of comments I get, if any. I would love to hear your opinion on this! Unless it's full of hate, because I get enough of that out there on the rest of the Internet. I don't have to tolerate it on my blog.