Thursday, March 29, 2012

FML

Okay, so thanks to friend and fellow blogger at roaminginthenight.blogspot.ca I'm totally into FMListings. If you're so over Toronto real estate prices, this blog is amazing. I mean, I saw crap post-war bungalows for sale in the neighbourhood of $600,000 and thought to myself, the hell? In my hometown, such a hole would be $120,000, pretty much for the land value if it's spacious enough.

Here though? Practically nothing is worth everything. Jesus Murphy. And this blogger is calling everyone on it. Preach it, sister.

And that brings me to an unexpected grievance. I knew off the bat this blog was written by a woman. It was smart and witty, which is not exclusively the feminine domain, but there was a somethin'-somethin' about it that made me certain the author was female. Her blog reminded me of other funny and clever blogs out there written by women. There was that chick flavour to it. And I was right.

But then I read this: A Toronto homebuyer takes his frustrations to the blogosphere. Call me overly sensitive, but the male default people have is something that bothers me. It's similar to the White Assumption that is also prevalent in our society. If you don't know the race, it must be white. Unknown sex? Must be male. STFU Conservatives actually dealt with this issue. It irritated her because she never mentioned her sex, but got tired of being called "he".

I've seen this play out on a small handful of well-written non-sex-related anonymous blogs. Writers are assumed male until revealed to be otherwise. Do we assume women don't write well? Aren't interested in real estate or politics or finance? Only write sex or mommy blogs (which have their place, but are not the full scope of what women do in this world)?

This is about a 3/10 on the sexism scale, on par with the common mistake of saying "he" when referring to a doctor or boss of an unknown sex. But it needs to be pointed out. High profile journalists and publications shouldn't be sexist-sloppy. If you don't know the sex of a writer, say, "him or her," "he or she," "s/he," or even the less grammatically correct but colloquial "they".

As sure as I was the writer was female I wouldn't have written so unless I knew for sure. Heh, for one thing, as soon as you label someone or something female you have to explain how you know this. Because male is the default. That is something that needs to change, if for no other reason than that it's annoying and frequently inaccurate.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stop Motion Wedding Movie

Song: Matt & Nat's by Natalie McMaster

I was flicking through my wedding photos quickly and realized some of them flowed really well. So I threw them onto iMovie, set it to music, did a little editing and voila! 

Colour me in love with my wedding day, but I'm feeling pretty awesome.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sweet Nothings

Yeah, it's 3:00 a.m. and I should be in bed. Not being able to sleep stinks. So I changed my blog around a bit. I was kind of over the old design. This is a bit cleaner, more contemporary. And adult.

So, after the show aired, suddenly it was like there was nothing going on. I had spent a solid year planning the wedding. Then there was the show to do, which took up emotional energy and time. Then after the wedding there was still the reveal, then planning our honeymoon, then waiting for the show to air.

It all came with either anxiety or excitement. Once the show aired, there was an abundance of nothing and I was overwhelmed by how ordinary things suddenly were. I had gotten used to feeling like things were immediately impending, with a certain level of worry. And then it was gone. And that made me feel weird and anxious. And then that went away.

And now? Now I'm enjoying the nothingness. I'm finally writing my book, I'm spending time with my friends, playing with the kitties, collecting dresses and seeing movies. It's remarkably pleasant to have such calmness and peacefulness again.

But that doesn't mean there is nothing on the horizon. Other than writing my book, I'm starting a savings plan for a 2013 trip. It'll be a final hurrah before we begin trying for a baby. I'll be 30 then and it'll be time. Emotionally it feels time now, but biologically it would be foolhardy not to get on that when I'm certain I want a family.

One thing we're not going to do is buy a house. We've talked about it extensively and looking at A. Our income, B. Our savings, C. Interest rates presumably going up, and D. Other more detailed extenuating circumstances, it's not in the cards. If we were living in our hometown, we could easily afford a house, something really nice for $200,000 or modest and charming for $175,000. But here in Toronto, where the average house costs $500,000? No.

So we're going to rent. We're going to rent indefinitely. We'll stay here for several more years and when we grow out of it we'll re-examine our finances and the housing market and go from there. We have a space downstairs that can convert into a nursery, we have a yard, and we can afford to save and travel. It's difficult to reconcile not buying a house with feeling financially secure, but times are changing. There's more than one way to achieve success, and a house is not for everyone.

And of course it'd suck to be house poor, which we would be, and not be able to add to my growing dress collection.


I have this dress on the way. w00t!

I heart this. How adorable is it?
No really, it's perfect.

I love this. It's by Knitted Dove, which I'm in love with right now.

No, we're not putting off buying a home so I can be pretty. Ha! But it is a lovely side effect to low housing costs to be able to have nice things.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Musings



Sometimes I think about the world we live in and I get scared. I mean, not scared in the way you get if you live in the wrong part of Los Angeles. I don't fear I'll die or be mugged at gunpoint.

I'm scared about where we're headed as a species and as a civilization.

We're overpopulated. There's only so much space for humans to live, for agriculture to feed us, and for all the other deserving species of animal and plant to grow and thrive. And we've hit that mark. I want a child and I feel significant guilt about it because I don't want to inflate the numbers even a little.

We're whipping through petroleum, which is responsible for, frankly, our entire way of life, which has been unevenly distributed for the past 100 years, and now we're running out and there seems to be no contingency plan. I mean, there's finite resources and we're burning through them. And economists are calling for growth! Growth! Growth! Why? What about maintenance? Maintenance! Maintenance!

We're overpopulated and powerful influences like the Catholic church are warring against contraception, despite the fact nearly all Catholics use it. American politicians are doing all they can to remove a woman's right to choose, to actually declare an embryo a person.

Which would make miscarriages a homicide investigation. You could arrest a pregnant woman for drinking. Plan B would be illegal, as well as in-vitro-fertilization. They're already forcing women to undergo ultrasounds, whether the doctor deems it necessary or not, and the doctors have to describe the fetus. There was a bill mandating a vaginal probe ultrasound prior to getting an abortion, never mind what the doctor thinks is needed, just to punish the woman, basically.

We have all these human beings in the world who can't eat, who have inadequate care, and they're trying to ensure all possible pregnancies result in babies, whether the mother in question wants to or not? One fucker wants to mandate women carry dead fetuses until their wombs expel the remains, because that's what livestock does. Because women are livestock.

I always knew these types didn't look at women as people, but it's less common that you get such flagrant evidence of it.

The world is totally different than it was when I was a kid. So in 20 more years, it should be totally different yet again. I'm not a doomsayer, but I can't help but feel a sense of impending calamity. Toronto was warm and snowless this winter. In the last 65 years it's never been so dry and warm. It's unnatural. Between what feels like a collapsing understanding of rights for women, overpopulation becoming a problem, growth depleting our resources and the climate altering into god knows what, I'm feeling nervous.

Maybe this is why The Walking Dead is popular right now. It's like everyone else is feeling a sense of the end of an era of time. When I was a kid, the United States was the world superpower, I grew up in the affluent '90s, and snow covered the ground. Things are changing. People are more aware of that, too, I think thanks to the internet.

I know I'm not alone here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ready for 30

Oh, I want to have a baby.

Okay, it's cliche. Ha, human reproduction is cliche... how cliche of me to say that.

But seriously, I've wanted a child for about two years now. It's not been the time, so the Dude and I have not been trying. We're still not trying. We won't be trying for the rest of the year. I need time to save monies. I want my full allotment of parental leave, which means 55% of my pay for 35 weeks and that means I need a nest egg to draw from.

I think we've mostly been holding off due to the Dude freelancing and not being married. I really didn't want to have a baby with someone unless that initial commitment was made first. Call me traditional. In fact, in many ways that's one of the only traditional things about me. So now we're hitched and the Dude has steady work and a reliable paycheque.

So I'm in the place where starting a family feels right.

And yet I want to travel more. But I don't want to squander the last of my most fertile years. The leading cause of infertility is being too damn old. And no one knows if their eggs are kaput till they try. I don't want to miss out on motherhood, and I already know it'll be unaffordable to get medical help. So it's unwise to wait too long. I'm 30 years old in nine months. Biologically, that is the beginning of a likely decline in babymaking ability.

I also want to write my novel. This, I'm doing. I've made decent headway. I'm on chapter 10 and 19,000 words. I feel like I'm actually doing it. My character is someone I like, my story is not exactly writing itself, but it is flowing, and I'm having a good time with it. It's a goal I set for myself this year, to finish a book, so I could focus on starting a family without regret that I didn't use my time more wisely before I had a baby.

I'm realizing that my desire to have a child of my own is and always will conflict with my other dreams in life: being an author and travel. I keep thinking about it, and while I enjoy the financial security of work, and the health benefits and pension (thus ensuring a comfortable old age), it's not a passion for me. My work is something I take pride in, but it's a small facet of who I am. What I do for a living is simply what I do to pay my way in life, not who I am.

I finally admitted to myself that all I care about is writing and raising a family. Creative fulfilment and a satisfying home life. Being me and enjoying love. Simple. And now I'm finally making steps towards living that life. No more floating. No more wondering about what I should be doing. Now I know.

I've spent my 20s doing a lot of thinking, some travelling, reading, learning and sorting out how I felt about everything I cared about. But the big questions of how you want to live and what you really want to do are huge things that sometimes you never really figure out. I had a moment of clarity recently and all the noise suddenly fell away. I was never going to feel fulfilled through a profession or job. I can continue doing my best, earning a cheque and feeling satisfied about a full day's work, and then focus on my real life when I'm done.

It was the separation in my mind of my job and what is at my heart that really made the difference for me. It was seriously liberating. I feel like I have a plan and a sense of purpose.

I feel like I'm ready for 30. Almost ready. I still have nine more months.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Downton Abbey



A good lesson in patience is holding off watching any remarkably awesome series of a television show until there are plenty of episodes to enjoy, otherwise you'll be stuck waiting nearly a year for more, like I currently am for Downton Abbey. I thought two seasons was very good, but I'm at the edge of my seat and have no recourse till season three is out, who knows when.

I adore TV. I unabashedly love it. Dexter, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Walking Dead, and now Downton Abbey are all favourites. I also love Game of Thrones, another one I got into far too early. The Dude introduced me to it when, unbeknownst to me, there were only two episodes. When I asked for a third and learned I'd have to wait, I cursed his name.

While watching Downton Abbey, you can't help but wonder what life would have been like. You see the older generation put off by innovations like indoor electricity, a motor vehicle, a telephone and gramophone. It seems quaint. But thinking on it, until all those things which took place roughly in this decade of time, people could only see by candle or sunlight, write letters or send telegrams to communicate long distance, ride long distances by horse and buggy or train, and listen to music when people were actually singing and playing instruments.

That's a significant improvement in modern day convenience, isn't it? I mean, I'd feel hard up without my laptop. I'd be bored without a TV. Modern transportation and portable phones and music, never mind electricity are kind of not be done without.

I read Jane Austen from time to time, and thoroughly enjoy the BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Best adaptation there is out there. And watching Downton Abbey against Pride and Prejudice is incredibly interesting because they're set 100 years apart and have so much in common with very notable differences.

Downton Abbey begins with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, whereas P&P is set roughly in the early 1800s. The households are both in England, both involve families of the gentry, though the Bennets in P&P aren't aristocracy like the Crawleys are in Downton Abbey, but rather landowners.

What's amazing is that other than some modern conveniences, life between these two eras of time seems very similar. Women try to marry well, first sons inherit, other sons make their way how they can and try to marry well. Help is hired to live in the house, and there is no moving between classes. Then suddenly along comes a war and whamo, social change comes afoot.

Women are needed to be more useful and rise to the challenge and don't feel like going back into the shadows. North America becomes a land of opportunity and escape from a class system, whereas before it was developed it was a harsh and brutal landscape to consider running off to. And the fashion gets amazing.

And comparing the two reminds me a lot of the movie Midnight In Paris, where the leading man goes back in time to the '30s and experiences the amazing creative forces of Dali and Hemingway. It's funny to be nostalgic for a time that you never belonged to, especially a culture you're not a part of, but I get it. I feel it when I watch Downton Abbey.

No doubt I come from a line of seamstresses or maids or something. The likes of me wouldn't have had a chance for the prettiness of the time. And the sanitation issues would have been problematic, not to mention inadequate maternity care and the lack of equal rights for all. But it's hard not to romanticize a time when people dressed well for dinner, enjoyed tea and took pride in at least trying to speak their piece politely.

People get nostalgic for other times, too, and I can appreciate the glamour of the '20s, the charming fashion of the '50s, the excitement of the '60s, the sexual revolution of the '70s... skip the '80s. Bleh. And I miss the music and pre-digital-age days of the '90s, which is something I have a right to because I lived it.

I look around and wonder if in 40 years anyone will reminisce for now. The fashion is okay here and there, but is vulgar or boring in far too many pockets of society. Equal rights for all has never been better, though there's an attack on women happening now and it's shocking and makes me sick. I can only imagine in the future things will have greatly improved, so I can't see why someone would look back fondly on what is clearly a work in progress.

The digital age has pushed hardcore porn into the mainstream consciousness, and frankly I think the abundance of it is warping young men. Back when it was harder to get, one could hardly immerse oneself with it without paying through the nose and getting embarrassed at the video store. Now one can view it all day if they want to. Softcore pornography has invaded our streets, to the point it's been normalized and people don't even think it's softcore anymore, and I think it's warping young women and contributing to eating disorders.

Cell phones, although convenient, have created new atrocious social habits. People will go out with others and rather than talk and interact, will get out their phone and text people who aren't even present. On Facebook or Twitter, people will call out others and have inappropriate conversations online in front of everyone they know. A technological explosion has made electronic devices common and mainstream, nearly indispensable. As exciting as that is, it feels unsustainable. Probably because in its current state, it is.

There's politics ongoing now that are serious problems. Starting with the ill-advised war on terror in Iraq of all places, economic downturns and increased poverty and unemployment, Europe sinking financially, a fanatical religious right trying to scare people into an everyone-for-themselves way of thinking, while religious zealots breed and expand in record numbers during a time of overpopulation when our Earth has reached 7 billion.

Income and wealth disparity is on the rise, celebrity news and infotainment has never been hotter and people care less and less about even so much as voting. And no wonder because the political system is broken and no one is repairing it.

Actually, is it any wonder I love TV so much? TV's frankly never been so good. It certainly is an escape. It's possibly the best thing going on these days.

My mom used to say, "If you remembered the '60s, you weren't really there." She was a teenager back then and I mostly think she was joking around. But it shows a fondness for an era. I wonder what I'll say about the '90s when I was a teenager. Will it be fond? And the--What? The Zeroes? The Naughts? The millenium? Whatever it is, those are my 20s. What will be said about them? Will I be fond retrospectively? Hard to say. These are hardly romantic years in the 21st century.

We might be stuck watching period pieces if romance is what we're after. That and a more sustainable population. But there I go, romanticizing again. Can't be helped.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The result

So, the show is over, and I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to really get into it on here. Legal documents and all that jazz. I will say it was something I'll tell my kids and grandkids about one day. And my hair looked good. And the Dude has a face made for TV. Seriously, he is so beautiful to me, and I think in general as a human being.

I learned some things about myself, which I can talk about, because my feelings belong to me. I'm emotionally sensitive, to others, and about myself. I don't think I'm meant for media. I enjoy who I am, I like being myself, but I think I enjoy sharing that side of myself with those who know me for a reason.

People tell me I'm quirky or weird, and they try to box who I am. That I can't be mellow or traditional or conservative in certain ways. Or they get to know a more reserved side of me and are shocked when the quirk comes out.

I'm hard to get to know. I'm aware of this. I can be funny, and sometimes rely on that first, which doesn't really let people in. Other times I'm quiet and very reserved, if I'm unsure or nervous. I'm rarely who I am imediately. But for the show, I was. I was because for once I wanted to be out and open and not just with people who really love me.

The outcome had disappointments, yes. And there were things said which were sad to witness. But I came out feeling proud of myself, and who I am. I gained something. As much as I enjoy being me, I sometimes struggle with self loathing. I was picked on a lot as a kid, and as a teenager. More often than not, people just don't get me. I think that's perhaps where it comes from.

More than anything, I want to like myself. And I watched myself and saw for the first time myself through other's eyes in a way I never had before. And I was able to be proud of what I saw.

After the show, the Dude said to me, "I'm so proud you're my wife." And I cried.

I'm too sensitive for this sort of thing, but I didn't come out of it empty handed. I like myself a little more. I'm grateful.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kony2012/VisibleChildren

I've recently seen the Kony2012 video. For those who haven't, you can view it at kony2012.com.

And to get the other perspective of this campaign, I've read VisibleChildren.

And to quickly summarize for those who haven't time or inclination for a 30-minute video, it's about a child abductor from Uganda who takes children and adds them to his army, forcing them to kill their parents.

The organization behind Kony2012 wants to get this man, Joseph Kony, famous so everyone knows who he is so that he can be stopped, getting the United States military involved. VisibleChildren posits that involving the Ugandan army, who are corrupt and violent themselves, is not the way to do it, and that children are inevitably caught in the crossfire because that's who protects Kony.

Basically, that doing something isn't better than doing nothing. Doing nothing thus is better than doing something because the something is harmful.

I can see both sides, to be honest, but there is something that really bothers me about this and I'll try to articule it now.

I didn't know about this problem before. And now I do. Now a lot of people do. I don't see this as being a negative thing. I just don't. Children are suffering in a uniquely terrible way and that's vile. I simply cannot, as a decent person, accept that had outsiders not been made aware of this issue, that these children would be better off. If Kony2012 is not the answer, then maybe someone else may have one.

I don't. I have no answers. I'm not connected with Africa. I've never been, have no plans to go and cannot physically do a thing. I sponsor a child in Burkina Faso. That's about it, though I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who would like to take issue with this, simply because they like to poke holes through any person's and organization's attempt to help anyone. We all know these people.

I cannot fault any organization for trying to bring a man down who is ruining many people's lives, before those lives have had a chance to even begin. I think the most disturbing thing about Kony2012 is the use of a violent and corrupt army to achieve their ends. And I really feel that VisibleChildren has commented very well on that score, so I'll rely on their words to carry that message. They've said it better than I could. Read their commentary for a run-down of using the Ugandan army.

I think the most disturbing thing about VisibleChildren is their white man's burden comments.

And White Man's Burden is something I'd like to touch on. The phrase, at its core, is to do with things like, say, Reservation Schools for the first nations children. "Oh, those poor injun kids with no proper homes, let's give them the white upbringing and educate the brown right out of them." That's white man's burden and it's awful.

It's about taking another culture, one of another race if you're white, and deciding that they way they do things is unacceptable and foolish and poor and should be corrected, under your superior white supervision because it's for their own good. That is what White Man's Burden is.

Wanting to help black children who are tangibly suffering at the hands of psychos, if you happen to be white, is not White Man's Burden. Calling it WMB are cynical-type assholes who aren't doing anything themselves, finding ways to hate on people who are doing something. Adopting black children from Africa, for example, is not WMB, though I've heard it called that. It's called becoming a parent and not giving a shit if you match your adopted kid, and taking pleasure in giving another human being a chance in life.

And wanting to stop children being abducted not WMB. I mean, come on. Being anti-child abductions should be an acceptable stance to take in life. If the filmmakers were black instead of white, but still American, what would it be then? Or Asian? What if the children were white? What if this was happening in Russia? Germany? Regardless of where you were born, a person is a person and can suffer immensely and deserves assistance.

People are responding to this because as human beings it sickens them. And whatever mistakes Kony2012 is making, and using the Ugandan army could easily be a huge mistake, no doubt about it, I will not dismiss their passion by calling it WMB.

This isn't about trying to fix African culture to fit white standards. This isn't like travelling to foreign lands and making the locals reject their god in favour of Jesus. This is trying to stop a psychopath who has a lot of power and is destroying whole families and warping children and creating misery.

I support criticisms of movements. It's how you keep things clean, it's how you promote discussion and it's how new ideas are generated. But for god's sake, be a human being about it. Accept that if a white person is helping someone of another race that that is allowed. This isn't about race and being black or white, it's bigger than that. It's about children being terrorized.

That's called being human. You see suffering, you want to end it. You don't like someone's methods, call them out and help develop something better. Make suggestions. What you don't do is race-shame them into feeling silly about it and rest on your intellectual high horse and go back home to a tea and cozy book by the fire.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TV/Writing, not related

I'm going to be on TV on Wednesday. I can't talk much about it, 'cause I signed a legal document and all the jazz, but hoo boy, it's all really happening. Mildly nervous if not completely nervous. I've never been on ye olde TV before for anything. Well, I once saw my face on the CBC during a weather report. That's about it. Not really the same thing.

My friends and I are having a viewing party, though I'll have PVRed the episode a couple hours earlier. My best friend and I will watch it together over the phone and freak out. Dude. Just dude.

Once this whole thing is done I will literally have no immediately plans or schemes or big projects on the go. It will truly be back to normal everyday life for me. And that's a charming notion. Just living life, saving monies, spending time with friends, writing my book, and work.

I guess the book writing is a project, though somehow it doesn't feel that way. Still only a quarter of the way into my first draft. I'm at a point where I have to dig seriously into my character's backstory and I think it's going to get a little dark. And I've been getting mentally prepared for that.

I recently read a book where the writer had all this build-up for her protagonist and it was totally anti-climactic because the plot didn't really go where it needed to go. It was almost like the author was too afraid to get gritty about a necessarily gritty topic. I want to be braver and bolder. I want to pack the sort of punch that's needed to make an impact in the story.

It's going to be hard. And occasionally I get concerned about anyone reading the story thinking that it's in any way autobiographical. I wonder how many other people feel that way when they're writing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Video Fun and Writing Joy

Just a little something I filmed today.
I love my cats.

I've been making progress on my novel. I've never gotten this far before. Usually I get stumped by the setting I've chosen, or I get lost in my plot because I've taken it somewhere I don't know how to resolve. This time things are working. It helps I like my character. I decided not to define her in any way, just let her say or think what comes naturally and let her personality unfold the way it wants to.

I've been trying these days to eke out creative fulfillment in my life. And now that I'm rapidly approaching 30, I really feel pressure to end my 20s with something in my hands, a completed manuscript. For once.

And maybe all my previous failures to write have simply been due to inexperience. I've been writing a lot these past few years. Maintaining a blog challenges me to put thoughts, ideas and feelings into words on a regular basis. It's like any muscle. You don't use it, you grow weak.

My drawing muscle, for instance, has softened. I can still do it. The ability doesn't go anywhere, but it's no longer something that is honed and nimble. I struggle a bit more. I used to be able to whip up drawings of any sort of character without a thought, like improv. Now? I have to think. And the finer techniques have grown shoddy. Working on my aunt's children's book has been useful, but it's taken a lot more effort than it would have years ago.

But writing is something I've been working on, and I have far more life experiences to draw on than in years past. I've gotten to a point where I feel so comfortable with the written word that breaking the rules is fun and enjoyable. Sentence fragment. See? Delightful. Heh.

Seriously, though, I suppose what I'm saying is I'm not wrapped up in my head as much as I used to be about the rules and the details and it's flowing a bit more organically. It's enjoyable. It's work, but it's satisfying.

I think about my character a lot, what's going to happen to her, what must've happened to her, how she'll react to the coming challenges, and I feel excited.

2012 is going to be the year I write a book.