Monday, 25 October 2010


The mornings are the worst. And then there are the evenings...

It's ok. I'll be fine. It's been years since I've had a suicidal thought, so I know it's not that serious. It's just an emotion. And I'm human. I have emotions. They aren't all positive.

And I'm still functioning. If anything, I'm functioning even more. I'm more focussed. I'm writing more. I need to express this emotion. I need to express my thoughts. I need to get it out.

It will pass. I know it will. It might last a week or two, but it will pass. I'll pretend to be happy. For the people watching, I'll pretend that everything is fine. 'Cause it's easier than talking about it. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to be reminded about it.

Distract me.

That's all I need.

Just distract me, please!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Back-Pedalling of a Nazi Feminist

The first people who met me in Edmonton will always think of me as a feminist first, and then a person. Fresh out of university, I was still an idealist who thought Alberta's backwards ways would change, if only I preached more about equality. Three and a half years later, and I would argue the other side of that coin...

Has the province won? Have I become a redneck?

Shock and horror, I know!

Don't worry, though, I'm a cheatin' vegan. I think the first qualifier for becoming a redneck is your ability to rip the meat from a bone while it's still bleeding. Not that I have anything against people who like their steaks rare...

How did it happen? How did I calm down so much on this whole feminist thing?

I don't blame Alberta...I blame England!

I remember being so mad about the girls wearing skirts and the boys wearing shorts. And the fact that the girls were excellent at their sports, but the parents only really cared to go watch the boys' sports. It reminded me so much of our softball team and the first time my little feminist voice cried out for justice. That voice was never really heard, though. And I think she stopped speaking after awhile.

In England, I learned a lot about the real differences between boys and girls too. Most of this occurred when I was observing play time. I learned so many things from observing those kids! Even about social relationships. At that age, they were mostly figuring out how to make friends, and deal with society in general. The most violent boy was the most soft-spoken when we worked one-on-one. I think this was his reaction to finding himself within the society. Many of their games were expressions of their ideas about family life! Especially the girls. Children are sponges! It's amazing how they manipulate what happens at home into what happens during playtime. I thought that I gained much more insight into British life because of this. Children have very little filters. Perhaps I was misinterpretting a lot of it, but it was still extremely interesting...

After ten months of this, I accepted that there were major differences between men and women. Even if it is a mere social construct. Like wearing shorts, violence became a similarity among the boys. Building and playing with the trucks also became a boy activity. The girls played tag, and house, song-singing, and tattle-telling. If two boys were at odds with one another, they would often end up hurting one another physically. It was never a pre-meditated attack, but it was a physical expression of their changing relationship. If two girls were at odds, they would fight for the attention of the group, usually through their story-telling. Some of the best imaginations were housed inside of the three or four girls who took turns being ring-leaders. And all of this was happening among three and four year olds! That's how young this social expression begins! There were social expectations for them to behave in a certain way, but most of that came from home and/or the dress code. Playtime was always a choice, and the boys chose different activities than the girls.

I remember discussing this with the teacher once or twice. Her observations were interesting as well. Having gone to school to learn how to analyze the children, and making this her life work, she understood much more than I did. She told me that both sexes went through this phase of finding a "best friend." Whether they were friends for life, or only through prep school didn't really matter. They were all learning how to partner up. This would later be used as adults as they found their mates. I thought that was pretty interesting.

Last spring, I started seeing a counsellor. She was amazingly helpful! The best conversation we had was about childhood situations like the ones I had been observing in England. Most things that we do as adults, she told me, have their beginning in childhood or adolescence. When I would bring up an emotion I had in a situation of the time, she would ask me when the first time I had felt that was. Often it had been in childhood. With only a question or two, she made me realize that continuing to think that way was ridiculous. Life is not the same as childhood. The people I wanted to be in elementary school did not turn out any better than I did. And they probably wanted to be me at some point too. Realizing this made me heal so much faster. Most of it, I think, was merely being able to let go of the past and just move on. But, some of the things I learned in elementary school, are still kind of important.

I never had a best friend. Or, well, I guess I've gone through several best friends. Right now, I can count ten fabulous women as my best friend. The friendship was never perfect, though. I always expected them to be better friends to me than they were. Possibly why I think so highly of those best friends right now, too! When I make a connection with somebody, I pour my heart into that connection. That's what all of my best friends have done at some point too. After the initial friendship is formed, we don't have to focus so much on pouring our hearts into the relationship. It just works. And, I know that when I need them for me, they'll be there for me; just like when they need me, I'll be there too. But, that's how girls are. Women are social creatures.

Men are not. Well, no, that's an overstatement. Men grow up being told to be independent. As far as feminism has gone, it has not stopped this from happening. Maybe it has something to do with smashing the trucks into one another on the playground. They don't use language to manipulate the social order, they use their strength. One of the best strengths is independence. It's great to know that your friend has your back if you need it, but it's even better realizing that even if your best friend isn't there, you have the situation under your control. And this is socially rewarding!

Of course, this is a very simple argument and I see several holes within it. But, alas, this is but one blog post. I'm sure there will be more on the subject. For now, I'll address the first hole in the basic difference I just described.

"Bros Before Hoes" has become quite a popular saying in today's society. (I blame that dude from the Hills.) And it's a good one, for both men and women. I'm not sure how wrong Harry (as he was meeting Sally...) is in his theory that "men and women can never be friends," but it does happen that they are. Regardless, both sexes create a support network of friends, their "bros," that will help them when their partners, or "hoes," are no longer there. That's why it's so important to have friends! And, that is why you must put enough energy into your friendships as you do your relationships. Boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, and they elate us as much as they deflate us, but having a good set of friends there to lift you up when you need it most will never find yourself lonely. Well, at least not for anything longer than a moment or two of vitamin-D-deficient crying :-( But, that's important too.

What was my point? Oh, yes, I used to be a feminist. Then I realized that there is truth in differences between the sex. Did I proof that here? Meh....I dunno. But this was an interesting rant about men and women, regardless...

Saturday, 23 October 2010

It All Began With a Grandmother...

My last grandparent died this summer: Janet Marie Carlson. It was her name from the day she was born... and, were it not for our middle names, we had the same initials. I didn't realize how much more we had in common until I sat down to write her eulogy...

She never meant to be a teacher, but she was. She never meant to fall in love with a farmer, but she did. She may have never had a plan for how her life would go, but it turned out well, as did her three children. Somewhere along the way, she did a lot of things right, even if she may have made the wrong decision once or twice. She was human, that's what we do.

She was more than a farmer's wife. She was a freelance journalist for the local papers. She sold her hen's eggs, plastic plants, and even tupperware. She was a huge member of the community, and rarely turned down an organization's request to help out. She even helped out her neighbours when they refused to ask for it. She was a farmer's wife - that is what a farmer does.

When my first Grandma died, I lost my religion. The two events were not consciously related. There were no questions of "How could this mortal man speak about miracles and salvation when an angel had left this world?" because I never thought about the two together. It was only later, when I learned more about all organized religions that I stopped hiding from some of what the mortal man was saying and began understanding why he was saying it. The reason for saying it was always more important to me than what was said. It wasn't much longer after that connection was made that I realized that my Grandma was my personal guardian angel. She's not always there, but when I really need her, she steps in. She guides me in the right direction more than anything else. And she reminds me that my family is important, above everything else...except perhaps myself.

The need to leave my job began the week my last Grandma died. Without a car, I needed to make it to Saskatoon with my sisters. Their bosses gave them immediate leave, if required, but both turned the opportunity down. "No," they said, "but thank you. Our little sister won't be able to get away until Friday afternoon, and we need to go together."

Two months earlier, my boss had told me that she would do anything for any of her employees in the branch. Their families too. Somehow, I wasn't included in that group. To be fair, I never asked for more than I needed - to leave early that afternoon. She agreed to 2pm. At 245, I was still helping a client that was beyond my capacity. There was not a word of assistance from the rest of the team - or the at least those that could help the client. Apparently, I cared more for the company and its clients than the company cared for me, and my family. If they really lived up to their talk of being a company that cared about their employees, I would have been told to go home when I came in that Thursday, as my two sisters had.

After listening to a twenty-minute rant from my sister about how I was too good for them, I knew that I would not be there longer than a year. When I returned, the only comments I received from the boss was that when she got back from her holiday, we would talk about the complaints she had received on that Friday.

On my 25th birthday, that date was bumped forward ten months. The universe was calling, and the corporate world was bidding me farewell. I thought back to my Grandma who had just passed, and I realized that she was helping in the guidance now. She was always an entrepreneur, without even realizing it. And she never had an employer that put the company's dollar before an employee's family life. She was a farmer. Her career included her family everyday, and it gave back to her family in every way.

Now, she watches over me, and shines the light on the right opportunities. Now, I have two guardian angels - both of them farmers! Now, I'm getting closer to the person I always wanted to be. Soon, I'll reap what I'm learning what best I sow!

It's splendid! :-D