When is the Canadian flag not the Canadian flag?

I haven’t been following the Olympics very closely this time around, but I have noticed something interesting. When Canada gets a gold medal, instead using the plain old boring official Canadian flag on the podium, our athletes hold a snazzy flag with a GOLD maple leaf. It looks like this:

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There really should be a silver and bronze one too.

I like the gold maple leaf flag, as I said it’s snazzy and a cool way to acknowledge the athlete’s win. But after seeing it a few times now I got to thinking about a discussion I witnessed last year about the altering of Canada’s flag for a different purpose. 

The Pride Canada Flag. It looks like this:

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Rainbows are pretty!

Many folks commented that this flag was “treasonous” because altering our beloved flag for ANY reason is super bad. When asked if they were upset because it had the rainbow Pride colours on it and maybe their bigotry was showing, they claimed oh no, they would be upset over ANY alteration of the Canada flag! Like, they totally don’t like the so-called ‘Oh Cannabis” flag either!

Here’s that one:

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Expect to see this flag everywhere when recreational weed is legalized this summer.

So it got me wondering where those flag folks are right now upon seeing the gold maple leaf flag. That’s an alteration, so shouldn’t they be out in droves?

Oh, but wait. THAT flag is about the Olympic dream and national pride and athleticism and whatnot…clearly there’s no reason to get their panties in a bunch!

I mean, it’s not like the Pride Canada flag stands for anything more than the acknowledgement of the basic human rights of a significant portion of the population or anything.

Certain people get “offended” by anything that doesn’t fit their personal narrative. However it’s 2018 and the world is changing so they feel they can’t just come right out and say they’re against LGBTQ+ people or their event, so they lose their shit over the goddamn flag. Granted there are those that do come right out and say it, but at least they aren’t hiding the fact that they’re garbage people.

So keep this all in mind when those keyboard warriors start their ranting after this year’s Pride Walk. If they didn’t protest the gold maple leaf flag, they have no recourse to protest the Pride Canada flag.

-A.

When the words won’t flow

In which I write about not being able to write.

Since embarking on a new career path I’ve been met with a copious amount of writing time.

At this moment, I’m sitting in a first aid shack somewhere in the backwoods of Northeastern BC, with all the hours of the day to come up with brilliant, wonderful, insightful and thought-provoking words.

You’d think they’d be pouring out. You’d be wrong.

See, I’ve been working on my short story writing in recent months. I’ve got several outlines for some weird-ass pieces and at least two that have first drafts. But trying to get anything else written has been a lesson in futility.

That’s part of the reason I started this blog. I wanted to be able to write a little each day so I didn’t fall off the wagon, as it were. When you go from writing thousands of words a day to maybe a few tweets if you’re lucky, it fucks you up. Ditto for going from using my camera every day to not using it for three months, but that’s a post for another day.

Even finding the words for a weekly rant like I used to do has been difficult. I think it’s mostly because the parameters have been lifted and I could literally write about what ever the hell I want that I can’t find the words beyond 280 characters. I’ve always wanted that freedom and now that I have it I’m at a loss as to what to do with it. Is that irony or just sad?

I’ve been crocheting like my life depended on it, blatantly ignoring the cramping in my hands. Clearly I’ve traded one creative outlet for another.

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I had a busy day yesterday.

However, words are my first love; they’ve helped keep my sanity reasonably in check for as long as I can remember. I can’t just not write, even though it’s felt like it recently.

Writers should be avid readers, and I’ve burned through so many books lately just because I have the time to sit down and read the shit out of them.

I’ve got a few short story collections with me at the moment—Neil Gaiman and Stephen King—to try and help with my own short story crafting. I’ve been a creative non-fiction writer for the last decade, so trying to write actual fiction has been daunting. I hate writing dialogue since it always sounds so stunted and fake when I do it, but reading the dialogue written by others always sounds natural.

I’m also terrified at the idea of someone reading these stories. Like I said, it’s not my usual style, so I’m worried I’m total garbage at it and should just stick to my opinion rants. But if I don’t try, I’ll never know if I can do it.

So yeah, that’s my spiel about not being able to write. All 500-some odd words of it.

Guess I can write when I want to.

-A.

Cant-stop-writing

Except when when there’s a ton of time to do so.

 

Let’s talk

Once again it’s the one day of the year that people post messages about the importance of mental health. It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day.

I take part in this mostly because I want to see as much money as possible go to mental health initiatives in Canada. But I also take part because I have mental illnesses.

I have long suffered from depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It took me many years to admit it to myself since I’d always viewed it as a weakness… going on meds was something “other” people did. I wasn’t like them, I was stronger than that.

But I wasn’t.

When the bad thoughts are running through your mind and people around you don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, it wears you down. It’s like being trapped in a maze and you can’t find your way out… you’re just going in circles and finding the same dead ends.

Thankfully, I found my way out. It didn’t happen overnight, and there were a few stumbles along the way, but it did happen.

My experience isn’t everyone else’s, some may have a harder time getting through, while others find the path with little trouble. Never think your own experience isn’t valid because others seem to be having a harder time.

If you need to take medication, take it. It you need a personal day, take it. If you need a walk, take it. Whatever keeps you going, do it.

Don’t be afraid to talk.

-A.

Until the violence stops

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s collection of frank and honest discussions with women about their vaginas.

There’s humour, tears, and a powerful message delivered by groups of amazing women—what more could you want?

Last year I finally took the step and signed up to be a Vagina Warrior when the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society decided to mix things up and do ‘A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer,’ the sister show to ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ It was a much more serious show—heavier content and triggers galore. Out of all the monologues that hadn’t been claimed, I chose the one I found to be slightly less traumatizing: ‘Blueberry Hill,’ a young woman’s recount of how she was nearly gang raped at a party and how she fought them off.

That was the LEAST traumatizing.

Being part of that show with all those woman that I’d known, but not known well, was an incredible experience. I even let people hug me by then end.

I first saw The Vagina Monologues when I was in university. My roommate and another friend invited me to join them for this play thing about vaginas. Being the open-minded, free speech-loving, modern woman that was still a little wary about the label “feminist,” but wanting to expand my horizons, I went.

Oh, how the horizons expanded.

Never before had I heard any woman talking so openly about their “down theres” and their experiences as women in this world. Some I couldn’t relate to, as I wasn’t a mother, nor a woman living in a war-torn country, but the monologues about hair and short skirts I could relate to. And it was amazing.

At that time I wasn’t much of a crier when it came to sad movies or shows or plays, but hearing about a women in a rape camp in Bosnia, female genital mutilation, and the assault women are faced with on a daily basis got to me. I think it was then that I began to embrace the label of ‘Feminist.’

But the one that stuck out the most for me, the one that had the greatest impact, was when this gal stomped out on stage in a leather skirt and knee high boots and said “My vagina is pissed off!”

Mind. Blown.

She continued her rant about tampons and thongs and gyno visits—It was like someone had collected my own thoughts about being a woman some days and performed it on stage in a small theatre in Kelowna, BC. I cheered when she was done.

And now, 13-odd years later, I get to do the same thing.

The ‘My Angry Vagina’ monologue will be performed by me in a 400-person theatre in Fort St. John, BC, next month. I always said if I ever got the guts to take part in the show, that would be my monologue. And this year it is.

Those that are in my area should come out to the North Peace Cultural Centre on Feb. 23. Those not in my area should seek out a production nearby and take it in. These shows are usually fundraisers for local non-profits, so it’s for a good cause.

Who knows? You might learn a thing or two.

-A.

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Oprah for president?

If you didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night, you may have missed the future president of the United States making a speech.

Here, give it a watch, I’ll wait.

After that glorious speech, many on social media were calling for Ms. Winfrey to run for the highest office in the land in 2020. And really, why the hell not? If America is all about having celebrities run their country, they could do a hell of a lot worse (and currently are).

Oprah comes from nothing, built herself up and created an empire that is actually successful! She didn’t get any handouts to get herself started and hasn’t gone bankrupt several times over—you want a businessperson running the country, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one!

Imagine having a woman this eloquent giving a press conference, or the State of the Union address, or hell, even an inauguration speech—feeling uplifted and inspired rather than ‘holy shit, what have we done?!’

Yes, she’s got little experience in political office, but Winfrey’s a damn smart woman, and damn smart people know that when they don’t know something, they turn to advisors and those with experience in such matters to help guide them to make the best decisions for the people.

Also, there wouldn’t be any tweets letting her followers and the world know that she’s “like, really smart”—smart people don’t have to say they’re smart, their actions tend to prove that point.

While I think America should veer away from this disastrous experiment in allowing non-politicians to run their country, if Ms. Winfrey did decide to throw her name in the race in two years, I wouldn’t be against it (especially sitting from the sidelines north of the 49th parallel).

However, there are currently plenty of women in office right now that have the right experience and could be potential candidates, with the proper support. So maybe look to them as well? Just a thought.

Side Note: I fucking LOVE Oprah’s glasses. Seriously, glasses aren’t seen as a hinderance to looking amazing anymore. You can go to a gala and rock your glasses rather than cram plastic bits into your eyes—LOVE IT!

-A.

 

Getting (more) crafty in 2018

It’s a brand new year. A new chapter in the book of life, a blank slate on which we can paint anything. Anything is possible at the start of a new calendar!

Or some bullshit like that.

Why we all feel the need to better ourselves in January I don’t even know. Perhaps it’s because we tend to feel like sloths after all that Christmas food and a total lack of exercise—the holidays are over, now we can get back on track!

You could make that argument after Thanksgiving as well, but no one ever seems to.

I don’t really believe in making resolutions about diets and exercise, since I feel that’s something that ought to be done year round. Rather, I’m going to set a goal for myself that I know I can actually achieve and won’t give up on in February.

I want to master the crochet Magic Ring. I’ve gotten the whole crocheting flat things down pretty well—washcloths, hand towels, scarfs, hats, etc. Now I’d like to try and make more 3D stuff, so I’m looking at amigurumi.

Wikipedia tells me amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. I like small creatures, so I think this will be fun.

However, it takes some practice. Crocheting in the round isn’t something I’ve done a lot of, so I need to get the starter magic ring down, as pretty much all amigurumi patterns start with that.

This was my first attempt, which isn’t too terrible.

DSgkRmkUMAABtlK

I had no stuffing to fill it with, so it’ll probably just wind up being a toy for the cats.

So that’s my crafty goal for 2018. I plan to have a whole horde of little yarn creatures by the end of the year.

Happy New Year, folks.

-A.

 

Do no harm, but take no shit

This has been a hell of a year for sexual violence.

That men (and the occasional woman) are finally being held accountable for their gross actions is a HUGE step in the right direction, but as always, we have so far yet to go.

Calling out those in power that have abused others gained so much momentum thanks to a resurgence of the #MeToo movement. Originally started by social activist Tarana Burke in 2006, it exploded on Twitter this year with thousands of women (and plenty of men) sharing their stories of being sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused. Every woman you talk to has a story, whether it’s being catcalled, having unsolicited dick pics sent to their phone, having their ass grabbed, or being violently raped, be it by a total stranger or someone they thought could be trusted.

We all have story.

The New Yorker exposé on Harvey Weinstein is a difficult, often nauseating read, but because of that story, it’s no longer a so-called “open secret” that he’s regularly committed sexual assault against numerous women. There had been allegations against other powerful men earlier in the year, but the Weinstein story set off a domino effect, with more and more women—powerful women, no less—coming forward. It showed the world that sexual harassment happens to all women, no matter how rich and famous.

Having the “Silence Breakers” as TIME’s Person of the Year was a monumental step for women finding the courage to speak out about sexual assault and harassment. This was the year that people finally started listening, or at the very least acknowledging, that women experience sexual violence and harassment on a regular basis. It’s everywhere right now—you can’t turn around without hearing about another politician or celebrity that did some very bad shit to multiple women and men.

This is a good thing. Breaking the silence about serial abusers will save others from becoming victims and hopefully help those that have been victims start to heal. Who would have thought at the start of this long, ridiculous year that we’d actually be having these discussions? Especially after the most powerful country on earth voted a known sexual assaulter into the Oval Office.

Then you get people like Matt Damon saying stupid shit like this and it makes you wonder if we’ll ever move out of the dark ages.

I’m sorry (not really), but any time someone mentions this man, all I can picture is this:

giphy

Not raping someone doesn’t make you a goddamn hero, it makes you the bare minimum of a decent human being. So no, we’re not going to start praising the menfolk that have somehow managed to not stick their dick where it’s not wanted. Try listening with your ears instead of your mouth, dude.

Yes, we’re talking a lot about those men, because we need to talk about those men. Get used to it, the tide is turning and we are not taking that shit anymore. This is a conversation that’s been needed for decades, so it’s going to go on for quite a while. The Matt Damons of the world need to take a seat, and people need to stop asking their opinion.

As this mindfuck of a year winds down (remember how batshit 2016 was and we all thought 2017 would be better? Oh, we were so naive) the momentum that started needs to continue into 2018 and beyond.

To those that have come forward, anonymously or not, you are heroes to so many of us and we are grateful for your courage. To those that haven’t come forward yet, know that you are not alone.

-A.