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The Tyranny of Now, #SoCS

Ah, what can I say, really? *throws hands in the air*

Some things feel so futile. Ah, the futility of it all.

Sometimes, I tell you…
mankind –
the whole thing blows my mind.

***

Your Memories on Facebook

Kerry, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 2 years ago.

(Awww, thanks Facebook. Apparently, I was feeling perplexed.)

March 18th, 2015

Yesterday I visited a Holocaust exhibit, a series of black and white photos of men and women who lived through it.

It was at the Kitchener Museum.

Then I went home and came across the mad rantings of a KKK member on television.

Last night apparently St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated with wild colours of green from the Northern Lights at several spots around the world. Proof that the beautiful things still exist and can outshine all ugliness.

It’s still all so baffling to me.

—Then and now…

***

I resist speaking of it here, trying to hold in my frustration, but this felt like the worst day yet, in some ways, full of ridiculous words and attitudes, and I can’t believe the dismantling of the U.s. happening before our very eyes.

This week we see, is Holland smarter than those who came before them, when deciding possible fate of their country? Is it, indeed possible, for man or woman to learn a lesson in this day and age?

Maybe so. Maybe.

Germany, standing stoic and silent in the presence of such nonsense and self interest.

Destruction. Such a farce. That a fool of a man can gain such power in this world, boggles the mind. And so the whole world gawks, laughs, and cries at what now exists, feels unstoppable.

And all I think the world feels about it too, a growing shame, but I respect so many who are citizens and throwing up their hands, just like me, feeling somewhat secure (for the moment) here I am, in Canada.

When I heard the prompt “man” I immediately thought of one…one man I avoid saying anything about here, whenever possible.

This is not a political or current events blog. It’s just me.

I can’t predict, from day to day, but it’s such a feeling of disgust, and in time this post could be scrutinized too, with reports of phones and other devices being checked upon entry, or possible non entry as the case may now be.

Does crossing over one border in particular even seem like the wise option for the foreseeable future anyway? How much will cross border visits, tourism fault from the tensions that keep increasing?

Places like Canada may suffer for the border share, a part of America, just as much as the U.S.

How it feels that we now have human beings sneaking across from them. The issues this creates, as humanity sometimes feels scarce and then, there are those, some willing to fight for a compassionate solution. And Canada then makes the papers, glowing reviews of our virtues, bestowed by the New York Times.

We are a country and we fumble as we try.

And then…the best and the brightest, hesitating to attempt the land of the free, once full of such promise. Now, will Canada reap the benefits?

Meanwhile, the whole world suffers and seems to spiral into turmoil. Of course, this could just be my personal theatrics. Who can say really.

Man, oh man!

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Salty Sweet, Bittersweet #TGIF #FTSF #pieceOfCake

My father was never the beer drinking father, like most kids had. He was the Coke drinking father who was always available to be designated driver.

“Can me and Brian split a can of Coke?” I would shout from the top of the stairs, down to my parents in the basement. We always had Coke in the house, or practically always, but I still always felt like I must receive permission from my parents to have any. I like to think I had a healthy respect for them, most of the time, asking before taking. We had a good life, but our parents taught us a healthy gratitude for everything we got.

One of us would get the can and the other, they would get the half of the can poured into a glass. It was often the two of us, brother and sister against the world.

When I was 11 I was like any other kid my age, growing up in the mid nineties, and wanting what we call, in Canada, not soda, but pop. I loved sugar, but I also craved salt.

I began to sneak those fast food restaurant salt packets. I would eat the salt off of Pretzels and I even sprinkled salt on my potato chips because they weren’t salty enough.

How many eleven-year-old kids crave salt? It would have been a tough choice, at that age, between a can of sugary pop or a bag of extra salty snacks, but, at a certain point, around age eleven, the salty snacks would have won. By necessity. Something in my body needed, demanded it.

This is what would change my life forever. I had been born blind and lived that way, just another part of who I was. After my eleventh year, there was no denying that something was very wrong.

It’s been more than twenty years since that eleven-year-old craved sugar and so much salt. My kidney disease was growing worse. The nausea was increasing. The fatigue was putting me in bed right after dinner, almost nightly, feeling so weak and unable to run and play like I’d always done, like kids did.

This was the year after I celebrated my tenth birthday, with friends at McDonalds. (A paradise and a sugar/salt lover’s dream come true.)

After the year of the Beverly Hills 90210 poster and the Mariah Carey cassette given to me for my tenth birthday…I was not well as my next few birthdays came and went. I was not expecting to spend so much time in bed, on the couch, unable to eat anything other than that salty, processed, packaged chicken noodle soup made in a pot on the stove.

Bowls and bowls of the stuff were consumed by eleven-year-old Kerry.

I will never forget what it felt like to be eleven and drifting away from any semblance of a normal childhood. The next few years would be trying ones, but I am who I am today because of it all.

Both the salty and the sweet, bittersweet memories of a childhood, never boring.

This was more of the story I’ve been writing for twenty years, the one I want to continue writing, from the year I was eleven and unwell. It was brother and sister, always, and my brother would follow my footsteps, getting sick like me, three years later when he turned eleven.

This was the prompt for
Finish the Sentence Friday
this week.

Kristi, the orchestrator of all of this, she gave me the idea to start with the can of Coke. Read her post by clicking on the link above to see where I drew tonight’s inspiration for the prompt.

What were you doing when you were eleven?

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Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

It all began with a Facebook post:.

With all the news lately of asylum seekers coming across the border between the U.S. and Canada, in through Manitoba and other places, I can’t help wondering what has made them take such chances. I guess we in Canada aren’t quite as used to it, though we’ve heard all the stories about people from South America and Mexico crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. always.

Humans have always been on the move, but often spurred on by fear and desperation, feeling unsafe where they currently are.
It made me think of the two times I have crossed a border recently.
First it was the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. We crossed by car and I never even would have known we’d crossed into another province because I couldn’t see to read the signs. I soon got out and stood for a time on the border, on the river, with the wind-tunnel blowing my hair every which way. I remained there and thought about a loss I’d newly experienced and how that person had crossed the ocean to come to Canada many years earlier, for different reasons.
I then thought about what makes us draw lines between ourselves and other human beings. I understand why we’ve had to map out these markers between us and other countries and states and provinces. I even understand why some must be watched and even protected/defended, which leaves us frightened we are under a constant threat from other places and people.

The second time was when I crossed, by car, over the border between Canada and the U.S. but I felt so strange leaving my home country, though I wished I didn’t feel any such separation. I then crossed the border between the U.S. and  Mexico, but by plane I once more noticed nothing, until I landed and felt the thrill of being in a country I’d never been in before.

***

All week long, on our nightly National Canadian news, I have watched a series that attempted to answer my question: just who are these asylum seekers, those who feel so unsafe in the U.S. and are now coming so so very far?

I learned it has been somewhere around 140 of them since January 1st of this year, walking for hours in the freezing cold of winter. Some in Canada fear this number will only increase, from a trickle of people to a stream that’s unstoppable, as weather improves and spring arrives.

Well, I thought about the fear I had, not only of my recent writing workshop ending and having to return to my reality, but also I feared having to cross back over the U.S. to get back home to Canada.

I knew, as the end of the week drew nearer how silly it was for me to be afraid. I had no real problems. I still felt unwelcome, even with the kindness I was shown by so many who helped me travel safely through airports in both Dallas and Detroit.

Mexico and Canada and in between, now, is this dark spot, which I realize is totally unfair and uncalled for in many ways. Sometimes, in my mind, I see the continent of North America being carved up, split apart like cracks caused by shifting plates, deep underneath us.

I still can’t believe 45 ever ran on the promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. From the first time I ever heard that ridiculous idea, up to this moment as I write this, I can’t believe it. I know I am not alone. That thing many have said about how we should be building bridges that will connect us, not walls that will separate us even more than a border already does, this is what runs through my mind every single day.

Now, according to the series, there are those fleeing danger and worse in certain African countries and Asian countries, making it all the way to South America, often just as dangerous. This report I saw sent a reporter to investigate and speak to some, mostly from Somalia, who were crossing the border of Guatemala and Mexico’s most southern part. They have come so far, but because of what has taken place in the U.S. they are wanting to get to Canada, but remain trapped where they are, unable to get there without crossing through what lies between.

Canada is a long way away and suddenly, the distance I felt on that last day in Mexico, to make it back to my home, it doesn’t look nearly as wide a gap to go now that I’ve seen what those people are up against.

I hope Canada is kind with these asylum seekers. I hear our border guards and RCMP officers reporting seeing families, pushing strollers and coming across with infant seats, a heartbreaking thing to witness, as I imagine an infant I love having to travel like that.

Our country has those driven by fears, like the ignorance growing in the U.S., fueled by so much misinformation and a lack of ability to open their eyes.

In Canada, today a phone conversation apparently took place between our leader and the new leader of the U.S., after the face-to-face meeting that took place, last week in Washington, D.C.

It’s reported that border security issues were not discussed, but I find that so hard to believe. I don’t know what will happen. It worries me. When it comes to borders and boundaries, we may be two very different countries, but it’s like a horizon I can not see. It feels strong and weak, all at once.

I do know that Canada’s Immigration Minister was a refugee himself, from Somalia.

So, what would certain people say about the series I just spoke of? Would they call it fake news, created to tug at the human heartstrings, but disguising hidden dangers for all good, law-abiding citizens?

Some here in Canada argue we need to worry about real Canadians first, before helping everybody who just so happens to show up on our doorstep, no matter their reasons.

I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need. That’s because I feel I am one who benefits a lot, is carried on the backs of other Canadians, requiring services my country provides and this is painful to think about when I hear all the talk that’s been growing, as I’ve always been receiving help from so many hard-working Canadians. I am just as much a risk and a drain on the system, even if nobody ever bothered to know me and what my worth is as a fellow human being, just trying to live peacefully and share this planet. I guess that’s why I am so passionate about this sort of thing, though I admittedly know very little about all the ways humans cross borders. I want to learn more. I want to keep up and stay as educated as possible.

The whole thing makes me want to cry. I am really no less expendable, to so many who complain, as any refugee or immigrant ever was or will be.

We need to remain real and human to each other. Being unnamed, just a number or statistic, and cold distance is seen as sensible and becomes contagious.

***

February is, of course, Black History Month and I have been watching a documentary series on Thursday nights, all about the colonization Great Britain has been responsible for, for so long.

Where were borders when that was going on? What boundaries existed, what limits, when the Mighty Great Britain was subjugating so many?

Here in Ontario, I watch a lot of programs on the provincial station, which is affiliated with England and the BBC. A lot of documentaries from over there are aired here and I see a lot of a place I really know very little about, though Canada and they are forever connected too.

I am glad I am learning about the history of Britain’s colonization of anywhere and everywhere and the multi-cultural place it is, with its problems and all that has transpired there for all these years.

***

I ended my Facebook post by stating:

Notice, I say “border” instead of “borders” because I want to highlight the fact that two places share it, rather than being on one side or the other. Also, the term “alien” should never have been used to describe other human beings. Such terms allow us to think of ourselves as “us and them” and divide us even more than we already are.
You could cross an entire ocean or a border, guarded by someone with a gun or a deadly serious tone in their voice. Or, you could cross one in a car or airplane, and if you’re not looking, not even know you’re doing it.

***

When it comes to borders and boundaries, if we dare to look within ourselves, where do our hearts and our humanity begin and end when it comes to empathy and compassion? Where do we draw lines in the sand of our lives and those of other humans who are just trying to live life on their own terms, just like any of us feel we deserve to?

***

I realize this one was fairly lengthy, but I have had all this building up in my mind and heart and it all came out through my fingers, as I am a little wound up by recent events on all fronts. I do appreciate that Kristi read my Facebook post, included here, from earlier in the week and asked me to co-host with her this time.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=699286

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How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

Matthew Wright

I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world.

Academic values demand that the INTRUDER must be UTTERLY DESTROYED! Academic values demand that ANY WHO DISAGREE with what WE DEMAND must be UTTERLY DESTROYED!

In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively.

I was wrong. The mood on campus was one of affronted anger, driven by a small but noisy part of the student community. Their indignance was directed at the world in general; but in practise their rage was always vented on the people in front of them. They were relentlessly ‘against’, never ‘for’. Alas, the causes they chose to ‘fight back’ against were social trends, so they had about as much chance of succeeding as of holding back the tide with a toothpick…

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Good Luck, Bad Luck #JusJoJan

On this special Friday the 13th edition of
Just Jot It January
we must all pay extra attention, so we don’t end up in the hospital.

Okay, so is this day supposed to be lucky or is it supposed to bring bad luck?

I wrote about triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13 on my blog a few years ago. I am skeptical and sometimes pessimistic in life, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I am superstitious.

I have been in the hospital plenty, but not because of bad luck. It’s all scientific, something that is being railed against a lot lately, but it has saved my life.

I owe science and medicine. I owe my life and my brother’s life to it. I owe the existence of my nephew and “niece” to science.

Hospitals are avoided by most, clearly. I read about how we humans shape our own narratives in life. Mine was shaped by being in hospital more than the seventh grade. I choose to see the good in that, even if I felt lousy at the time. Hospitals are vital and, though sometimes we abuse their availability in North America, when we are in real need I am glad of them and all the stories on the Internet will never ever match up.

This year stands out for me, and it’s still within the first few weeks, because of the significance of a twenty year mark of sorts, one which hospitals played a big part. So, I may not be superstitious, not in the black cat crossing your path way, I do like to recognize times and dates that feel like they should be acknowledged, for both the good and the bad.

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One Dot at a Time {VisionAware post}

Braille is the best!

Adventures in Low Vision

 Photo shows braille lettering on a white page. Welcome, 2017.  Resolution makers, breakers and those who don’t bother, we all face the sparkling promise of the year to come.  It’s invigorating to imagine shedding the dry skin of previous failures or poor choices and to begin with a smooth touch on new goals.

For me 2017 will be another year full of adventures–intentional and otherwise–as I live each day well with low vision. One of the fun challenges I’m doing is learning the braille alphabet. In celebration of World Braille Day as well as Louis Braille’s birthday, VisionAware published my piece, One Dot at a Time, on learning braille as a person with low vision.  Braille will continue to be something I value in 2017 as living well is all about choices and options.

How do you mark the new year? What resolutions or goals have you made for 2017? What do you think about braille?  What choices and options are you grateful for…

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Heedless, #Travel #History #Canada150 #JusJoJan

So here we are.

Just Jot It January is back!

Though I am starting my #JusJoJan a little late this year, but really, what else is new?

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Today it’s brought to you by:

No Facilities

I rang in 2017 in the best way possible. I had a great 2016 personally. I have high hopes for the coming months…personally.

But, of course, the warnings are out there, as ever and as always.

There have been warnings to not get too far ahead of myself with the guy soon to be US leader.

In 2016 I wrote about my fears and the bad feeling I had several times and this hasn’t changed, even grown somewhat, but I can’t stop it all. If I had my way, things wouldn’t feel quite so grim, but my own deeds and heeding of people’s warnings is where I have some semblance of control. Perhaps they have a point. Who knows.

Who am I to say?

I have chosen not to say his name on my blog, this so-called “leader”, if I can help it. In the Harry Potter books, I do recall there being something about “a fear of the name only increasing fear of the thing itself”. –
*clears throat*
Or something like that.
Well, I can’t help it if I am worried about the state of our world at the moment, but if there is any small possibility the attention I’ve brought to it could ever be contributing, even so slightly to the situation we’re now in and the direction things could be headed, I choose to focus on what’s good and gentle and positive in this world going forward.

There are some warnings I will heed and other ones I can’t promise I always will.

We are warned about travel, with all the terrorist attacks across the world these days. People may be more afraid than ever to venture out, but I can’t let that stop me in my tracks or I might not get started back up again.

Whatever history may have wrought, the future does not need to reflect that. We here in Canada can choose acceptance and inclusiveness over rejection caused by fear and misinformation when a fellow human being needs a little help. I wish to believe all the warnings some continue to offer up about refugees are being blown out of proportion, that human decency is universal and does not belong to one religion or part of the world with any exclusive right of ownership.

I’ve received warnings all my life, but in other ways my unique situation has allowed me to take my own chances on things, often years later than many others, but still I eventually get there.

It’s vital that we do pay attention, now more than ever, to the warnings we receive. There are precautions we can take, but I am determined to take the leap, to not let fear rule me anymore, not until absolutely necessary.

Take a chance and explore a new place, speak to someone new. Who knows. You might not end up regretting it. You might even learn something new, something you’d never considered before.

I might … I’m telling this very thing to myself as I take a giant step into the unknown of this new year in progress.

I am not so lost as I was last year at this moment. My future is just as wide open and undefined, but I don’t nearly feel as frozen in one spot by it all.

I won’t be clinging on quite so tightly to my blog and this month-long blogging exercise this time around, rather dropping in on certain days throughout January, just to check in. It is still an excellent way to discover other writers and their blogs. That is why I will be back. My month is simply a lot more booked up than it was last year.

I wish for us all to be vigilant when necessary, to heed warnings when we must, but to be mindful that too many warnings will paralyze us all.

Do not be afraid to live a little. I don’t intend to be. Perhaps, for certain reasons this year might appear to bring with it a sense of recklessness in my life, but I choose to take a more positive view of my 2017 year.

One for the books.

Right Canada?

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