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TToT: An Epoch In My Life – Equations and Conjugations #BlackSwan #OneWorld #TogetherAtHome #10Thankful

“’The matter with human beans,’ the BFG went on, ‘is that they is absolutely refusing to believe anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles. ‘” …

—The BFG by Roald Dahl

So much going on that writing here often now slips through my fingers and gets lost in the recesses of my brain, but I have plenty to be thankful for-so let’s go.

Ten Things of Thankful #10Thankful

With the novel coronavirus, covid-45 up to his bullshit, and now the worst mass shooting in Canadian history having taken place this past weekend. I am trying to find moments of joy, ways to distract myself and my racing thoughts, and ideas to harness the creativity I have inside.

I wish, oh how I wish the world could all be on the same page with this, to work together, which seems so very simple to me. Apparently not?

We can sit around and blame China or the US or anyone else, but where does that get us?

All the finger pointing and wide gaps in the seriousness of the way this virus is being taken and all those conspiracy theories floating around. Why can’t things just be what they are? Like the quote I started this week’s TToT with, humans refuse to admit until they see with their eyes, and during times like these, not even then.

I am thankful for this song.

The Book of Love – Gavin James

I am thankful for a new online writing class I’ve started and the community of writers who are willing to open up and share.

The instructor started a WhatsApp group for all of us and we’re all leaving audio messages there, for each other, and as a place for reflection and contemplation.

D9Ij6Al.jpg

She suggested we think up a name for the group and I thought of black swan because it’s a term being used to describe this pandemic and also, there are swans down at the park by my house now. I remember their white, graceful, loveliness as I watched them glide across water. Now I no longer see them, but I think a swan could be still beautiful, even a black one. Why not?

I know we’re often tempted to describe tough times like these as dark times, looking for the light, but I often get tired of these images we use to describe the bad and the good of life, but yet I know I can’t make every person stop describing life this way. It is what it is, as a writer, but I know the images that are created powerfully in words that bring to mind such metaphors.

I see it as a way to express how we are all going through an unprecedented period in history together, but also, along with all the negatives there can be beauty.

I am thankful for music to get me through hard times, like the live concert I got to see the other night.

Sarah Slean sold tickets, but for much much less than I’d pay to see a show in person, certainly less than I paid to see her live on a bitterly cold December night back in 2017.

Day One – Sarah Slean

I know Zoom has its issues, and I had to turn the voice off my iPhone while watching or else all the hundreds of people commenting would make Voiceover go berserk.

Sarah is so cheery, the kind of cheery you can hear in her voice, as her smile is audible when she speaks. Her singing voice is just brilliant and so is her piano playing.

She is excellent with a string section behind her, don’t get me wrong, but there was just something about the simplicity of a woman and her piano in her home in Toronto with 776 people listening to her performance.

I am thankful for the virtual camino walk I’m on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Ekot38tV8&feature=youtu.be

I have many places in Europe I’d like to get to, but Italy was never high on that list for some reason. I am not sure why, but now Spain is up there.

A writer who creates unique travel experiences put together something to occupy us and help us find our way through all this, starting a group on Facebook and every day she posts a file where she describes a chunk of a camino, Camino de Frances in this case. I would have trouble handling such walks in real life, with my blindness and my chronic pain issues, but this is totally doable. No blisters if I choose not to imagine them, though I know I get off easy in this case.

All these ancient routs that pilgrims went on, going back to the sixth century or the tenth. I simply can’t imagine. This music she shared told a story to perspective travellers. It puts me in that frame of mind.

I write a daily corona diary to my long since departed grandmother, but I also take her and all my ancestors along on the camino with me.

I am thankful for something called Annedemic.

Winter Green – The East Pointers

The band, The East Pointers, they’ve come up with something to help raise money for struggling musicians who have lost touring opportunities. Themselves or one of their friends or musicians they’ve played with read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables a night on Facebook live. It’s always entertaining and I forget how much I love that story. It’s just a lot of fun to distract from all that isn’t.

I am thankful I can travel even when grounded in place.

TVO Original TRIPPING the Rideau Canal

I love the Rideau Canal and especially when it freezes over in winter and becomes a long stretch of skating surface.

I experienced that back in 2015 and I wish to go back there, since skating again with family in these last five years and most recently, right before the coronavirus took centre stage.

I went to Ottawa last year, right around now, to a conference and I brought a friend with me. I stood out on our balcony and recorded a soundscape of the capital city of Canada and I still plan to write some poetry of some kind and record my voice reading it over that city backdrop.

I am thankful to be in Canada during covid.

In spite of everything, this country is handling the pandemic better than many other places. When I heard an interview with Andrew Cuomo I heard someone who knew what he was talking about and who works hard. That’s what leadership should look like, but other so-called leaders are impossible to follow.

Here we have kept the numbers of infections and dreaded dead down to a lower amount than elsewhere. We come together during hard times, like this virus and now the shooting Nova Scotia has suffered.

I am thankful I got to speak with my family members, even if we’re social distancing for now.

My niece and nephew told me all about what they got from the Easter Bunny and then my niece gave me a book report, of sorts, about the BFG.

Snozzcumbers Soph, really?

The main character’s name is Sophie – close but we call our Sophia Soph.

I really should get a copy of a book my niece is reading and read along too. We could have a little Roald Dahl book club of sorts, even from a distance. My teacher read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, I believe, and the Glass Elevator in fourth grade, but I hardly remember except for some truly awful alien creatures in the latter story. I could use a refresher.

I am thankful that the re-test of my blood, creatinine level, it was repeated and has gone down again.

From 70-80 for years and years, up to 110 at the end of 2019, down to 100 at my birthday, and now down to 93 – I’ll take it, for now.

And I am thankful for this poem and the journey it relays.

David Whyte: Santiago

My writing instructor recommended it. I had not heard of David Whyte before.

As Anne Shirly would say, this is sure to be an epoch in my life, this virus, for better or for worse and everything/everywhere in between.

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I Don’t Like Hockey, #AtoZChallenge

I am proud to be Canadian, but I do not like hockey.

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They’ll be showing me the door any day now, for that confession, but I just had to get that off my chest.

The A to Z Challenge – C is for Canada

This is a preview of any Canada Day post I may still write for July 1st, but it is a bit of a tricky subject, this year especially.

I am staying random, as this is my first A to Z year, but writing about the things I love is a good way for anyone who is new to this blog, for them to get to know me better.

Canada is celebrating our 150th birthday, but not everyone is so thrilled about that.

There were people living on this land before 1867 and they don’t like feeling like before that year of
Confederation
they didn’t exist. I don’t blame them.

My ancestors came here a long time ago, but it simply can’t compare.

I am glad my ancestors came here. I like living here. I need to see more of it.

Canada made the list for happiest countries in the world. We cracked the top 10 and I would have to agree.

World Happiness Report

Lots of people complain, and their lived experiences are probably a lot different than mine. I am one of the lucky ones.

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In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

It’s a funny thing, but the prime minister of my country of Canada was featured on the US news magazine program 60 Minutes, before being honoured with a state dinner at the White House last week. This week he’s in New York at the UN (trying to secure Canada a seat on the Security Counsel), speaking at an event about why he is proud to call himself a feminist, and he hasn’t once mentioned anything about the size of his genitals.

GO FIGURE!

***

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast.
–JEG

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Super Tuesday…Mega Tuesday…what?

Comparisons are being made between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump: Louis C.K. said it. Now I’m saying it.

But so many aren’t about to go there. Oh no! Perish the thought!

I am saying it and I am not going to back down from it. I am afraid.

America is full of beautiful places and kind and compassionate people. I know many citizens, writers and bloggers and friends, who don’t want the US to feed off of violence and divisiveness.

At the same time, North American culture thrives on celebrity. Media matters, has influence, seeks headlines and hype.

Is it any surprise then, (not to me), that a reality star, part of the reality TV craze, is so close to securing the GOP nomination?

With celebrities fighting over Twitter about naked Instagram shots, roses and marriage proposals that hardly ever last, and a show about a religious family with 19 kids…dismissed when sexual abuse comes to light and still a network brings such a mess back for ratings.

Is it any wonder? Yes, I wonder.

Donald Trump is a white, privileged male, who has likely had to fight for very little in life, mostly unaware of the struggles many minorities face. He has been a reality star for years, now the ultimate challenge, nomination of the highest office in the land, modern North American king, royalty, this is just much too much of a challenge to pass up, to see if he can take that title for himself.

Of course he can’t back down from this. He’s already practically hijacked the whole entire world into watching him/listening to him talk. It’s the ultimate reality show, on a world stage.

But what happens if he actually gets there?

Hitler. Trump. Of course I don’t think they are the same men, with the exact same plans or intentions. I don’t know what Trump has in mind for the kingdom he wants to rule. I do know that Trump is only the symptom of a larger problem in the world.

I’ve studied pre-World War II history, the great depression, and the uprising of anti-semitism somewhat. Now I watch the news and often I wonder if I am witnessing the sorts of things that those in the 20s and 30s witnessed. I have this yucky feeling inside that I might just be.

Demagog. Xenophobic. These are terms I didn’t even know five years ago.

People see things, with their own eyes, hear things with their own two years, but choose to dismiss them. They are in denial, don’t want to believe it, if it is not happening to them in that moment.

“That couldn’t possibly happen again, oh no. Not on my watch, on ours. Not with what we know, in the world today. That would never happen in 2016, in America.”

But they forget the past, or never fully acknowledged it, and are then on the way to repeating the mistakes of history, at break-neck speed.

Horrible things do happen again, are happening right now, and they are just as cruel and unfair as ever before. My father taught me, as difficult as it is and as negative, to love and appreciate history and the hard lessons it can teach us, if we pay attention.

I wish I could have all the positivity of my mother, but I sometimes think she is counting on the rest of the world being as logical, rational, and genuinely good as she is.

I wish I had all that faith in humanity that my prime minister who, amidst endless questions from reporters about his thoughts on Trump, repeatedly takes the high road over.

He says very little, only that he has faith in the better judgment of the American people to make the right choice when the time comes. He doesn’t resort to insults and petty name calling, like Trump is caught doing in so many sound bites, some I will never be able to un-hear.

Trudeau stays dignified, as us Canadians are famous for, but what does he truly think? Is he worried, like me? Perhaps I can’t figure out how to remain quite so tactful any longer.

Jokes are made all the time now, as a Trump win for the presidency starts to look more and more possible – Americans saying they want to move to Canada if Trump is elected:

Cape Breton: The Canadian island for Americans who want to escape Donald Trump

The fighting spirit going on during these tense times has those in favour of Trump, his own family included saying they will help them pack. I hate to hear all the ugliness, all a bunch of bickering children on the school’s playground.

Some Canadians would say no to this escape plan anyway, turning away our neighbours, immigrants (refugees is a stretch, but who knows). Some Canadians go on to say that Americans must clean up their own messes, but where do we draw that line? For those Americans who don’t vote for Trump, depending on what were to happen after he took office, wouldn’t they have a right, a reason to get away?

In the media, Canadian islands like Cape Breton talk of inviting Americans. If Trump becomes president, not even a US/Canadian border feels like enough space and separation to me. Our world may have borders and oceans between continents, but we can’t remain separate from our fellow countries. Our globe has become much too global in the nearly 100 years now since the World Wars.

I know Hitler used the dissatisfaction that a lot of Germans felt at that time. Then it was the Jews, Communists, us against them. There had to be someone to place the focus, to lay blame, to be afraid of, as fear has always evolved into a lot worse things.

Now Trump is using the dissatisfied state of America to win, something he loves to do, and he’s doing it at the expense of Muslims or Mexicans. I don’t know his true intentions, but he is egotistical and narcissistic.

He has slogans like, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”. Of course, politicians use slogans, but his sounds ominously like something Hitler shouted to crowds at his rallies in the thirties.

The world has always been ruled by white men. We know the history, but some places, the US and Canada, we don’t like to think about the bloody, greedy details so often white washed over in the history books.

Canada and the world at large aren’t perfect either. The North American continent was inhabited by Natives and it was the white Europeans who came over and took all that we have today. Most of us, since then, our ancestors were immigrants at one time or another, but we choose to forget that fact. We must not forget that part.

George and Amal Clooney on 5 years of conflict in Syria

People who know me know I tend to get easily upset, and so I am told not to read Facebook comments, but I sometimes do. I can’t always help myself and I sometimes think it helps me remain compassionate.

I hear from Canadians all the time that they don’t want refugees over here, taking our resources away from us. It can be a chilling reality to hear what some people are really thinking.

It’s the individual stories that frighten: One Florida woman spoke of her family being of a different kind of immigrant. They weren’t like the lazy, bottom feeder immigrants of today. This was her rationale for her feelings. This is a scary position to take, if she really does believe what she says. No empathy, no compassion, not even from most of us who’ve had our ancestors come from other countries in the past. This baffles me most of all.

Hitler believed his success couldn’t be attributed to anything other than divine providence.

Trump said his success, even after the riots and violence at rallies in recent weeks, not even he can explain that one.

All the conflict in Chicago for example only serves Trump’s purpose. No violence is acceptable, but things shouldn’t have gotten out of hand. I wish it hadn’t. Will this continue? Will it escalate?

I am not American and won’t be able to vote against Donald Trump for President. I am Canadian and glad of it, but I have a stake in what happens in the world. I may be in a separate country, but no “wall” (real or metaphorical) could ever possibly keep me secluded and unaware of the scary rhetoric that many are spouting.

Where does it end? I am not fleeing my home right now. I live in Canada, a peaceful place, but I can empathize. Where is the empathy? It’s clouded by fear, misinformation, and stereotypes.

It helps my own ability for empathy to listen to the personal stories: like the young Syrian refugee who now lives in Montreal and studies psychology, all the while keeping an eye on what’s going on back in her home country, all the while remembering the painful and cruel interrogations she underwent when she was arrested for protesting, five years ago back when the conflict in Syria began.

All of Europe are dealing with the fleeing people up close, on the front lines. This can’t be easy. Countries who were accepting at first now experiencing push-back from some citizens, bigotry increasing, stereotypes free flowing.

Hillary and Bernie both made their mistakes, said the wrong thing at the wrong moment and offended someone, but Hillary apologized. Trump has never done this. Anyone who has never apologized or recognized the mistakes they’ve made, because we’ve all made them, is nobody I want running anything. This equates him with someone as dangerous as Hitler was proven to be and I am saying it without hesitation.

More and more are beginning to call him out, but is he a joke (like so many late night comedians would like to think), a harmless nuisance, a guy who will do anything necessary to win, or something worse? I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I have never met him in person. How can we really judge another person if we’ve never met them? I don’t want to believe I am living in another 1930s, but we don’t tend to learn all that much from our past mistakes. I hate to say it.

I am scared. If refugees, immigrants, Muslims can be targeted, where does it stop? Women are still suffering in many places around the world. People with disabilities and LGBT face prejudice in both big and small ways. We can’t continue to support white supremacy. If you can’t bring yourself to mention Donald Trump in the same breath as Adolf Hitler, at least call his talk what it is. He may not be in the KKK, but his statements, the things he’s said to get where he’s gotten, they can only be said by someone living in his extremely privileged position. As chaotic as things are in his country these days, such a situation is something so much of the world would kill for. Terms like that are worded that way for a reason.

I know what’s happening around the world is awful – in the five years since the war in Syria began, when I hear word coming out of the atrocities happening in South Sudan for example, and the problems feel far too huge for any solutions to be found.

But there are those looking for compassionate solutions.

I feel optimism when I listen to this expert from Oxford or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I am uplifted when I realize there are still those using common sense, compassion, and intelligence to figure out this complicated world we live in.

I keep up on what’s happening in the US, not only from the news, but from one writer/blogger in particular who writes thoughtfully about politics and in a way I can begin to understand about a system that I often find highly confusing and complex:

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

We all have an opinion, but so much of it is backed by anger. A lot of what can be found underneath that anger is fear. What are we teaching our children? What is being modelled for them?

What Our Children Are Learning

It’s really hard to let kindness, understanding, and empathy show through all that, but we need to make the effort for the hope of the future generations.

Like I so often think: I wonder what the state of things in my country of Canada, in the US, in North America, and all around the world will look like, one year from now?

One year from now? Fifty? One hundred?

I wish I could turn off the news for good, as I can’t really stand to hear Trump’s smug, ranting voice much longer, but I may not have much of a choice by this time next year, no matter what anyone says, what my prime minister says or does not say out loud.

Does Trudeau have a duty, as the person running Canada, to speak up and stand up to Trump, especially if he’s saying such inflammatory things about all manner of types of people? Or is he showing tact by keeping quiet?

When is it important to speak up? I think none of us, even Trudeau, would hate to think Trump could be compared to Hitler in any way whatsoever.

Trust me, I don’t want to think it (don’t even like using these two men’s names if I can help it), but am following a gut feeling.

Or perhaps I am just using the comparison to prove something through my writing.

Who knows which one it truly is. Not even I’m certain at this point. Some of both I’d say.

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