Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The fact that it's nearly September is seriously mind-bending. Each passing year the calendar seems to have fewer days to experience. It all blends into a blur of activity and meals. In a couple of days the Dude and I will be with his family on the lake. And later in the month, I'll go to Vancouver to see my godmother and her family. I miss them incredibly.

That's the thing with missing people. I can compartmentalize. I can shelve the feelings for later. But whenever I'm on the verge of seeing my Vancouver kin, I get antsy and anxious for time to speed up. I can go long stretches, but it's the last couple hours that always get me.

I've done my best this summer to have fun and make the most of the season. I saw plays, movies, went out to the lake, swam, brunch with friends, barbecues... and fall is my favourite time of year. And even so, I always get a little wistful when fall approaches. It's the beginning of the end of another year. I've enjoyed getting older. I've learned things, become more content in my own skin, and I've really made peace with myself as an adult. But all the same. There's a nostalgia there.

Time is funny. There are so many things in the future I'm hugely anticipating. And yet, the passing of years bums me out. I wouldn't mind if, just briefly, time could stand still, just a little bit. It feels too fast.

Frankly, I can't believe I started this thing before my 27th birthday. I'm a little over three months from 30. Despite chronological evidence on this very blog, I still don't know when that happened.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Womanhood 2012

It's a scary time to be a woman in the United States these days. It's been scary for women for an agonizingly long time in the Congo, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt and India... many places equal rights are a dream, sexual assault is often justified and almost expected in many instances, and where you're reduced to/exploited for your ability to procreate, and otherwise ordered to close your legs.

But American women, who won their freedom to choose their own reproductive path decades ago have been watching their rights erode over the past few years. How far can Republicans go to restrict women and take them back to a time where their fetuses and embryos had more rights than their mothers? Well, read here. And thankfully this link is the President's reaction, which should offer some semblance of sanity in an insane situation.

In Canada, there are nuts out there who are seeking to re-criminalize abortion by asserting the personhood of fetuses. Now, I do think it's a shame when a pregnancy occurs to an unwilling party. It's sad because no one goes through life hoping that will happen. I mean, "unwanted pregnancy" pretty well outlines this is undesired. And it's undesired because all the options available suck.

Abortion? Well, I know of no woman who dreams of having one of those. But the other options require you to endure a pregnancy, which is no small matter, plus a delivery (Also a massively huge deal) and a recovery process, which can take a long time. And if you're unprepared for parenting, you have to consider whether you'd be capable of going through all of this and then giving your baby away, a baby every hormone in your body is urging you to love and keep. Adoption is not so cut and dry as many would like you to think. All you have to do is empathize and you can see how impossible it would be for most women. Those who can do it, kudos. But most cannot and should not be put down for that.

So, in light of these sensible understandings of human nature, why does anyone wish to mess with a woman's right to choose? Who else but her can understand her mind and body better?

I've been getting deeply upset with the anti-choice commercials I've seen on TV lately, the ones with the missing children on milk cartons, that talk about all the lost children due to abortion in Canada. I see red every single time. I mean, there are women who have had abortions seeing this. Why do they deserve to be shamed for making a decision about their bodies and future that they thought was right? It is a legal entitlement to defer or prevent motherhood if you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant.

Luckily, as ass-backwards as our current political party is, our Prime Minister recognizes that the climate in Canada is in favour of leaving people to make their own medical decisions. As many people who are morally opposed to abortion, they don't want to send doctors or women to jail for private choices. Trudeau said the government had no place in the bedrooms of the nation, and that's become a cultural belief.

But still. I don't feel entirely protected. There's a massive push against abortion right now and I don't know what conclusion will eventually be drawn. I will never understand why this is happening.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crazy Parents

Forgive me if I find this sort of development in parenting to be ludicrous.

Allow me to summarize. Parents out there no longer want teenagers watching their children. They want  pediatric nurses and early childhood education teachers. They want to pay $18 per hour for this.

Back in the dark days known as the '90s, I babysat starting from the age of 13 in 1996. I took a babysitting course and my mom promoted me to others, starting with my next-door neighbours. She set my wage at $3 per hour, which was really low, but I guess a green 13-year-old sitter shouldn't command that much income. By the time I was 16, I had three regular families and charged $5 an hour.

I read that teenagers get $8 to $10 per hour now, which I guess keeps up with the cost of living, especially in Toronto. $10 seems sensible for an experience teen babysitter. But a nurse? A teacher? Seriously? Are the lives of these coddled children become so overly scheduled and precious that when parents get the night off to go to the movies, the kids can't just park in front of the TV and chill out too?

Does every moment have to be educational? Are kids so fragile they need nurses to care for them? I mean, wouldn't parents themselves be rather inadequate caregivers if an actual nurse is needed? I mean, most parents have zero medical background. Are they good enough then if another fellow layperson is not? Let's get real here. A few hours of fooling around is not harmful, along with a number of other things about childhood that seem to have gone out of favour for some reason.

I remember seeing a news report about kids in the park playing alone and the reporter was actually saying no 10-year-old child should be left in the park alone unsupervised. Um, what? I was 8 when I was allowed to bike to the park alone. Kids are entering high school as young as 13 and 10 is too young to be allowed to go solo to the park? Where in that meagre three-year gap is independence supposed to develop?

I've complained about pampered kids and hovering parents before, but every now and then I see more and more evidence that parents have lost their collective minds. Employing nurses as babysitters. You've got to be kidding me. I just don't get it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gen Y - No Future

I think about the future a lot, especially lately. Article after article is out about my generation, Gen Y. And although 1980 - 1982 is a hazy grey area, which is where the Dude and I fall under, I identify with Y. My teen years had the internet, which frankly I think set the tone for Gen Y's understanding of the world. Gen X grew up without it, for the most part, and didn't get cell phones till well after college. I think in many ways the technology we have as kids and teens is what really changes our cultural experiences.

But being at the very front of this generation has meant not having been inundated from a young age with everything we've come to take for granted. It's also meant getting into the job market before the larger wave of us hit the scene right in time for the Great Recession. And in my case, not getting the university degree, opting for three years college, I really got in the door at the right time. My job would be impossible to get at my pay grade now, and it's union protected.

So I'm lucky. I'm not in my dream job and there's no room for advancement, but I make okay money, I have benefits and a defined benefit pension plan and therefore I'm better off than a lot of graduates with masters degrees looking for work right now. By virtue of being older, basically, because I was at the front of the new cohort of young adults and didn't take much time in post-secondary. That's it. That wound up being the magic key.

Something I didn't get in the door for: a house. A house! That just plain ain't happening. We can't afford it in this city. Toronto is insane. Something drastic would have to happen to the housing market, decimating prices, which would of course rock the economy and ruin us all, so nothing really can be done and there's nothing to hope for except stagnated prices, perhaps a small drop that won't ruin anyone's lives, and then give frugal living a chance to build some savings. Sigh.

And yet I still worry. With all the stability I've just mentioned, I still have concerns about my future, I guess because it's not as bright as I'd hoped it would be. Letting go of the dream of home ownership has been a small blow. I mean, I love renting because I don't have to pay for any repairs and my water bill is included. I don't get hit with property taxes. I like that. But psychologically, it's hard to feel like a proper middle class adult when you can't buy your own house at nearly 30 years of age.

I wonder what the next 10 years will be like. For the first time in this country's history, the parents have not left the country in better shape for their kids. Honestly, I think Gen Y is lost, with the youngest of us in the worst shape of all. Over educated, under-employed and without opportunity. Crappy interest rates making saving a nightmare, housing prices through the roof (which only benefits the boomers who are downsizing and getting a massive return on investment), and food and transportation is more expensive than ever. Throw in the income gap between rich and poor, which hasn't been this pronounced since what? The Great Depression? To put it plainly, I'm not terribly optimistic.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Newsroom

I want to wax poetic about The Newsroom. It's one of the better new shows out right now.

For a time I wanted to be a journalist, and while I didn't actively pursue it after college, my interest remains intact and my belief in the need for quality news is stronger than ever.

And where is this quality news? Where are the reporters and news outlets that value the truth and delivering the facts to the people? I'm frequently disappointed. I feel like our government is not being held to full account. I feel like important stories go cold in favour of fluff.

The CBC, which I think is generally good quality news, fails its audience with their political panel, which only wants to discuss political strategies instead of the real impact of our politicians' decisions. What do I care what Harper should do to secure voter confidence? I want to know more about the ramifications of shutting down the experimental lake and closing Kingston Penitentiary.

Do I give a flying fiddler's fart what McGuinty ought to be thinking about during elections? No. I want in-depth coverage focusing on his past career decisions and policies, all laid out and juxtaposed against his opponents' policies and political histories so that viewers/voters can get quality insight about their choices and make an informed decision. Tell me, who are these people? Not what can they do to get votes.

People get informed through the news and I don't really feel like the news is doing much to inform. All I see are speculations about people playing the game of thrones, basically. That is all.

And where is the coverage on climate change? Dude, it's hot, it's dry and food prices are going to soar. How will people eat? What are our leaders going to do about that? They favour the economy over the environment, even though the economy is dependant entirely on the environment, and in about 15 years we're not going to recognize this planet because the ice caps will have melted even more (If not entirely?), and a couple of countries will have disappeared. Where's that story? Newsflash: people need to eat. People need a habitable planet to live on.

The world as we know it, according to all reliable science, is changing for the worse and if you're younger than 50, you're fucked because you're going to be stuck with a fucking mess. And no news organization is talking about it. I mean, why bother? The Olympics are on.

I suppose what I like about the Newsroom is the fantasy it allows me to live in, that there are news organizations that give a damn about the world we live in and getting the facts to the people. I don't think that's the world we live in. But for an hour a week I can dream.