1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, RIP, SoCS

Driveways and Sideroads, #SoCs

“Shhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”

T6RoU9F.jpg

“I’m trying to sleep,” is what my cat Lumos is probably saying, as he curls up in the place between my legs and the couch, but I type furiously for a little bit of stream of consciousness writing anyway, as he cuddles up to me and keeps my feet warm.

Now, I don’t usually write from any cat’s POV, not even his, but I was thinking up ways to start this post with an “sh” as the prompt stated, and that was all that came to me on this early Saturday morning in December.

I thought I’d begin with a little humour, as the rest of this post is of a more serious nature.

I did want to speak about a few
shows
I’ve seen this week, here.

It was both an odd contrast and, at the same time, alinement between a Canadian news program about one young husband and father who would walk down his driveway, attempting to sell his truck, and would never come home.

And then the American news program 20/20 and the young wife and mother who went out for a jog and was missing, abducted, but then finally released on Thanksgiving.

“It was just a truck!” That was the quote from the first program, from the widow left behind by tragedy, all a horrible, nasty, disgusting crime of a thing.

The Cali woman who would survive, has made it back to her loved ones, is now hopefully free to live the rest of her days with her two children and her husband, who never gave up and fought so hard to find her.

The Ontario woman will never get that sort of a happy ending with her love.

I was ill to watch the first program, to hear even more of the gruesome details, of which I managed to miss back in 2013 when the crime came to all our attentions, happening less than an hour away from me. She has her faith and family and little girl to bring her joy again, but a part of her will forever be missing.

Who knows what happened while that California woman was gone, as she is only now starting to help the police piece things together. Her trauma at this time likely intense.

One has, seemingly had a happy conclusion, though the case is still ongoing. Hopefully, whoever these women are, the ones who lured the victim into their vehicle, hopefully they don’t hurt anyone else.

The two men charged and now spending life in prison are paying for their deeds, one charged with two other murders before the truck owning husband and father was senselessly taken. Entitled. Rich and spoiled. Thinking themselves invincible. Murder never should have been the result.

The similarities and differences, matching an fitting in an odd way as the two programs followed each other, it all felt strange to take in.

I was just struck by the contrasting outcomes to these two evening news programs, as the holiday season approaches and so much good is highlighted. The presence of evil in this world hit me with an extra, additional, forcible blow because we all look to stories of good will around this time of year, but there are those bad ones still going on, somewhere.

Not all is well, though both stories felt like they were read as transcripts, more like Hollywood movie scripts, but are true crime, real life in motion.

I put myself and my family in their places. Then, I immediately wanted to push that thought out of my mind.

Sometimes the world feels like such a scary place and I am afraid to leave my house at the thought of it. What are the chances, really, right?

The young Ontario woman who is now raising her daughter as a single mother said, “If it could happen to us, it could happen anywhere.”

You could meet danger or genuine decency in your own driveway or on a deserted side road. You could meet it, no matter where you might be, all depending on the sort of outstanding or rotten humans who come across your path.

I watch these shows, as the Ontario case touched me deeply and this Thanksgiving miracle was a happy story, still in progress.

I also know I can’t be afraid.

These shows weren’t fiction , not this time. They happened. It looks like I’ll get to spend another holiday with my family, whereas some people will not. I don’t take that lightly. I also don’t want to feel paralyzed with fear to go out into the world, to live my life, and I hope I never have to hear stories like these again, but I know, realistically, it can’t be completely avoided.

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Train Wreckss, #SoCS #Halloween #GilmoreGirls

Ho, ho, ho!

  1. Okay, so wrong holiday there. I am looking past a lot of things happening right now. I’m fast forwarding two whole months.

Just over a week left until Halloween and lots to be
HORRIFIED
about I figure.

This afternoon, on my way to a pumpkin patch, but the day looks to be cold and windy, not quite as pleasant as last year’s adventure. Should have some fun with family anyway.

It’s not really the horror of all things Halloween that’s got me so on edge and taking it out on stream of consciousness writing as an art form, more like a form of therapy.

I tried to get into the spirit of the season, by watching
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
last night, but couldn’t get into it.

This clown thing that’s been making the news for a while is scary enough. I’ve never been a fan of clowns.

Nothing against the ones who live to dress up and make children laugh. Not my style.

I think our options for entertainment have grown in the past several years, technology a big part of that, resulting in less need for clown entertainment, but not all will agree with me. Some still prefer just such classics.

When I was in kindergarten, I had a little friend and his mother was a clown. She did kid parties and had a candy floss machine. How cool was it to have a friend with a mother who had constant access to that sweet treat?

Well, something happened after I lost touch with that boy and I grew up. I started to fear clowns.

I was in hospital a lot when I was twelve. The Shriners even have a hospital. Clowns were an easy way to cheer up seriously ill children. This meant one could often find a clown wandering around any children’s hospital I happened to be at, going from room to room on a paediatric ward, trying to help the boys and girls forget about how sick they were and the needles and surgeries, just for a little while, with magic tricks and songs and friendly, lighthearted chatter.

I confess, my trick was to pretend to be asleep in my hospital bed when I got word that a clown was on the way. This only worked when someone could tell me, as one thing I disliked was how clowns were often silent until they were right up on you.

Sounds like a predatory action and it wasn’t. Any clowns I met during my months of hospital visits were nothing but well intentioned. It was I who was growing more and more uncomfortable.

I have never liked makeup and so Halloween only held excitement for me because of the candy. I didn’t want thick makeup on my face and I didn’t like to think of it as a part of a clown’s costume either. The only clown I liked, by this time, was the Jewish clown on The Simpsons.

As I’ve lost more sight, makeup never held any real interest, as a woman. I know it isn’t the case, but now that I can’t really make out faces, whenever I imagine makeup on a woman, I think of thick, dark, clown makeup.

As I learned of terrifying clowns in the horror genre, like Stephen King for instance, I liked clowns all thee less.

This whole thing is ruling social media at the moment. I try my best not to imagine a creepy clown in the woods. Better left for fiction, but when I heard it had started in certain US states, I said, “thank God that isn’t happening here in Canada.”

Well, it has spread, as many things on social media will do. It’s here in Canada, in my town even. I say if I were harassed by one of those guys I would use my white cane to jab jab. Maybe a kick to the crotch. I don’t advocate real violence, but getting up in anyone’s personal space is not cool.

I think people can be a little odd or possibly more than that. I also think once certain folk realized this silly thing would get them some attention, just such a behaviour was far too tempting to pass up. People are on edge now. Someone could get hurt. Will this whole bit of nonsense stop once October 31st has passed us by?

I try not to bring a whole lot of attention to it. Besides, there is a horror a lot more worrisome anyway, but that one we must wait for Halloween to be over before we face it.

I spent a lot of energy talking about the horrors of the US election in my post last week. So, I will not go too far down that rabbit hole this week. Already, much too much of my week/month/year has been spent thinking/talking about the horrible predicament they are in, but of which we in the rest of the world are not immune to.

I focus on the candy of this season and I look forward to the remainder of 2016 because it’s been a life changing one for me, in several ways, more of which I will write about as the end of the year approaches.

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.

I am tired of feeling this anxious. I want to focus on the things I’ve got to look forward to.

Though, I have wondered lately about hope.

After a few more challenging times practicing my violin lately, I’ve started to fear that I have no hope of getting better.

I hope I will persevere through the trying times, because I never believed learning to play an instrument like this would be easy at age thirty-two. I don’t sound like a horror when I play, but I do struggle to remember everything and not get discouraged beyond repair. This is still something I love and am determined to get good at, or at least better than I am right now.

All you usually hear are those reactions when people hear I even wanted to start, at my age, to learn one of the more advanced musical instruments. They don’t see things as I go along, as I keep practicing and fight my doubt in my abilities. Most people aren’t around for the tough times. I may sound more horrible than a tormented cat or a screechy something or other, but I know what it sounds like when the correct strings are played and the exact notes are found. I still have hope.

And so, all threat of clowns aside.

(Halloween or November 8th included)

😉

I just want to get past Halloween without meeting up with one of those guys. Always have my white cane on hand though, and I will make my intentions perfectly clear before acting in my own defence.

🙂

Then, November 8th will come and go. Can’t wait for that fun day.

After that comes American Thanksgiving and the event I am really looking forward to, something to help me relax after these months of stress.

The new Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

After that Christmas and the start of a new and exciting year.

BRING IT ON!

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Seeing From All Sides, #HowISee #HowISeeIt #SoCS

October 1st is the start of Blindness Awareness Month.

Okay, so SoCS usually means Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but well Saturday, Sunday, either way.

Many visually impaired people, writers and bloggers specifically, are blogging every day and many are speaking about one particularly controversial hash tag and campaign making its way around Twitter and social media lately.

I re-blogged about this just a few days ago, and though I don’t mean to rehash or restate, I figured I would offer my own thoughts on the whole thing.

When I tried to think of what is AWKWARD,

I thought about these very topics. Blindness means I face many awkward situations, all the time in fact. I try to improve my social skills and interacting with a mostly sighted world, but I often struggle to fit in and feel like I am seen and yet that I don’t stick out, stand out, and get in the way.

I often feel as if I am in someone’s way, but I recognize this is often more in my own head. The thing about the world is I skip past a lot of the more awkward situations, simply because I don’t see that they are even taking place at all.

🙂

As for the idea of a sighted person putting on blindfold for a few minutes and attempting to walk or cook or whatever, I thought on it awhile, as I pondered the thoughts of others.

There is a lot of awkward nonsense going on in the world these days. Why should anyone with a visual impairment feel like they must always be cast as the awkward ones in this nonsensical world?

The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada (FFB)

They state that their mission is “leading the fight against blindness” and they are doing that through social media campaigns like this one to raise money:

#HowISeeIt on Twitter

People who are blind share stories and videos of how they do certain, every day tasks, and then their friends or relatives who are sighted will put on a blindfold and try those same tasks.

I know people are curious. I’ve often been asked how I pick out my clothes or how I use the stove. I get that. Most of us don’t mind answering a genuine question when asked. It’s just a fine line when it crosses over to patronizing.

I know foundations who raise money and do research to fight blindness are needed and necessary. I get that also.

I am often told I over think things or am too sensitive, and perhaps I can be, but perhaps that’s an easy, bandaid response for a bigger issue. I often can’t tell the difference anymore, and not sure I ever could or ever will.

😦

On one hand I hate the statement put out there of fighting blindness, like it’s some enemy that needs to be destroyed. I should understand language and its uses better than anyone, but I feel icky when I hear that. I am fighting a constant battle with myself, never mind some war against blindness in a wider context.

However, I would take a cure, sure I would. If it were real and lasting, but blindness isn’t quite so simple. I want attention put on finding ways to stop progression of or slowing down of retinal eye disease. That’s what I have and I often wonder what my life would be like if a cure were suddenly found. Would it be the answer to all my prayers of life? Would it automatically make things easier?

Yes and no, I think the correct answer is, which isn’t really any answer at all to my satisfaction.

So I could rant on and on about this, such a giant thing that I cannot contain, to hope that someone somewhere will understand me, after all I don’t think some lousy blindfold is the answer.

Apologies if this post is long and rambling, with a few links thrown in for good measure. I feel like I am always apologizing for something, to someone. Stop it Kerry, stop it.

But going back to some of my “In The News and On My Mind” posts I’ve shared on this blog in the past, I’ve usually opened those with a line from a woman I know on Facebook who is also blind and living life well. So Here’s her take today, to start:

“The Foundation Fighting Blindness is doing a screwball campaign in which they have sighted people wear a blindfold for a few minutes and try to complete some everyday household task. Naturally, they’re lousy at it, because they don’t have any training. The FFB then has them share their horrifying experiences under the hashtag “how eye see it”, the idea being that blindness is terrible and scary and must be stopped. Well, obviously, we can’t have that rumor going around! For the next week, I’ll be stealing this hashtag to share cool stories about blind people’s actual everyday experiences. If you have a story I should share, send it to me in a message. Today, I’ll share my story. I’m 27 years old and live independently in a gorgeous little apartment in Austin. I’m happily married, work in the field of higher education, and have a wonderful close-knit family and group of friends. I love yoga, hiking, music, poetry, and have recently taken up martial arts. My life is abundantly rich, and has not been diminished by labels or other people’s preconceived notions. This is #howIseeit.”

I do feel it’s simplification for someone who does not live with blindness to put a blindfold across their eyes for a matter of minutes and try to tackle something they won’t feel they could handle without their sight. If they had it all their lives, a few bloody minutes trying without will only muddy things up even more, further blurring the lines between reality and something else entirely.

It feels pitying to me. It feels dumbed down. It feels wretched really.

You panic when suddenly all your world goes dark. Of course. Nothing is how it is compared to if you’ve had time to process and work out solutions we have worked hard to find for ourselves and our independence.

Debates began popping up on people’s social media and on FFB’s Facebook page, in the comments, from both sides. People have accused Foundation Fighting Blindness of blocking or deleting comments that oppose what they’re trying to do with #HowISeeIt and FFB replied that it must have been a misunderstanding, but they usually put the blame onto Facebook and their rules for commenting. Things are getting ugly. People don’t feel heard. It’s impossible for something like this to speak for all. I just want to share opposing views and keep the conversation going.

The point was made that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have had similar responses. I don’t know how many ALS patients felt about it truthfully. Not sure you heard much about that amongst all the screams of shivering cold horror and shock captured in all those videos that went viral. Money was raised. A good thing. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I suppose.

But that challenge did not have people living in wheelchairs, unable to move. See the difference?

I see all sorts of lives lived by those who are also blind. Some are doing life more successfully and happily than others. But that’s no different than the rest of the population.

I first heard about a Twitter campaign going around known as How I See, which I wrote my own post for here several weeks back:

Black Or White #HowISee

Life is neither, sometimes one, sometimes the other. No different for me.

When I heard #HowISee vs #HowISeeIt, I admit I was originally confused and wrote on FFB’s Facebook page, asking for clarification. I did not jump to participate or to get anyone sighted in my own life participating either once theirs was explained to me.

Some more well known visually impaired advocates are taking part in #HowISeeIt, by helping spread that message of FFB, such as a UK poet with RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa):

Stand By Me RP awareness page on Facebook

Of course, different people are going to have different opinions on which hash tag campaigns, websites, and organizations are doing good work and which are furthering myths, stereotypes, and negative views about what blindness is and what it’s like to live with.

Here one visually impaired young Canadian has her story told through FFB.

I have watched many of her awareness videos on her YouTube channel and she has been working with The Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada since she was young.

This may not seem like stream of consciousness writing exactly, with all these links inserted, but I knew it would be close enough, as I feared before I began that if I started to write about my own thoughts on this topic, I may never stop.

Here are a few places where I think we’re on the right track:

Blind New World, #BlindNewWorld

&

Bold Blind Beauty

Of course I mention all sides because I don’t necessarily think there is a total right or wrong here. People with all sorts of experiences deserve to feel how they feel about these things.

I just make it work with where I’m at today and keep as much positivity and hope alive inside as I know how.

Thanks for listening.

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Physical Place and Emotional Space, #SoCS #1000Speak

Whilst I complain sometimes that this new Facebook feature, going live, seems to slow down the voice program on my phone. On a day like today however, I see its benefits.

I am currently listening to a Facebook Live session from a nearby museum. Or is it at the theatre? in a town, not too far from me, but which I am not at this time.

I’d gone to this museum several times, the last few summers, for

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

I’ve gone for exhibits and talks about the world wars,

World War I,

and World War II as well.

But now I am listening to a panel of refugees. They are speaking about the countries they come from, how those places influenced them, and how being in Canada has allowed them to speak from a position of peace and yet with the right amount of noise and outrage for some of the human rights violations that go on every day, back in history into today.

Note: I mostly place *** ahead of any or all things said by the members on the panel, in place of actual quotes for things they said, things I heard, and the mashup in between. I hope I can make clear what are my thoughts and what are those experiences of the three experts I just listened to.

This post happened in the moment, but I realize it could serve as a post for any of the following:

Stream of Consciousness Saturday,

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion,

or even the Ten Things of Thankful post I write every weekend.

This was very much a stream of consciousness sort of post, as I was technically taking notes as I listened, but I wanted to go ahead and share them, plus my impressions and thoughts as I listened.

I didn’t realize this panel was taking place today, but I have access to Facebook and can listen in still. I feel deeply for anyone who has had to live through wars and governmental, religious, cultural upheaval.

This topic of refugees, “topic” sounds like a strange word for it, but I just don’t know, though words come easily in most cases. Not always, not here and now though.

This speaker came with his parents, exiled from Iran, at the age of nine. He lost loved ones, family and friends, back in Iran, to executions. Stuff I hear about in the news all the time, can’t fathom, and brush past the headlines to preserve my sanity. This is tough tough stuff. I feel helpless. I write so I have my own voice. I know I am lucky to have that.

My heart hurts. Those forced to leave their homes to survive and to save their families from further danger. He says we in North America are somewhat uncomfortable with pain and suffering. Struggling, he says.

***an empty shell, suffering. To have that fire, you reach a point where you have no choice.”

He speaks of what is beautiful and inspiring. He’s seen crimes against humanity. He felt such a sense of helplessness as a child. Lost his uncle to torture. He saw horrifying images. He learned his instinct for wanting to end injustice.

***It’s not abstract. It cuts you open like a knife.

He went, fresh out of law school.

After World War II, Cold War, the forming of the UN.

Criminal tribunal. I know little about these things. He teaches me and all who listen.

That line, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That’s life for the world. Always.

I wish everyone could hear this man speak, all these speakers.

Humbling. He comes across that way. Futility, enormity. No [punishment is ever enough.

He refers to Nazi punishment at Nuremberg. I saw the movie., My father watched. The lawyers being there. I can’t imagine actually being there, attempting, given that responsibility to give punishment for unthinkable acts. Evil is the word that comes immediately to my mind, but they were all humans too. All of them.

I have the best life here in Canada. Circumstance. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t get to choose where and when we are born into this world. Personal past and the wrongs that are done. I see roadblocks. I see them clear. I see people knocking down roadblocks of all kinds. I have knocked down my share, but there are always more, more more.

Others do it. Grace. Genuine humility. Selflessness amongst the selfish world.

Life isn’t always the greatest for all humanity.

This FacebookLive thing isn’t bad at all.

***Living inside the fray vs living outside of it.

This woman has a platform to speak about what happens, good and bad, in her country of Kenya. Violations of treaties. Abuse of women and children. Discriminations. She speaks in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Her words are powerful in their truth. She wants her country to be equal in its society, eliminating fear, from her position here in Canada. These countries need to learn from each other.

Easy to be full of ideals. Getting into life and reality can shock. True meaning and purpose. This man teaches younger generations, from his experiences. Education.

***Emotion as a form of cognition. Privilege over intimacy. Intellectual rigour. If you don’t understand the reality. you will never have passion to use your ability to go and make a difference.

***Exploit. Own moral virtue. General empathy. Fruits of sorrow. Some do work others arrive for harvest. glamorization of human rights. Profound human experience. Account of suffering. Platitudes. Feel good activism. Idealism is about struggle and being wounded and continuing. Emptied ourselves of that understanding. To separate theory from practice.

Nelson Mandela comes up. Imprisoned for years:

“Sometimes I miss it. I got a lot of reading done.”

Spirit. Upside of suffering. Inspiring each other. Draw on that courage.

Kosovo. Bombings. Refugee crisis happened there too.

Orphanages and institutions all around the world with kids in need of a home and someone to love them. Earlier I watched videos about J.K. Rowling’s foundation,

LUMOS,

a spell to produce light from Harry Potter,

from which I named my cat.

I hope Canada can do our part. We are not innocent. We’ve caused suffering. I don’t know the half of it even.

How to help those who must flee is not a new question. I have no real answers. I write. Stream of consciousness, I use stream of consciousness to relieve some of the pressure.

***Silver lining inside dark clouds. Circumstances, didn’t kill them, made them stronger.

World at large scares me. Gives me hope yet still too. Flip flop. Flip flop.

Prominent human rights lawyers. Doing what they can. All my stereotypes of what a lawyer does and I can’t deny their knowledge and wisdom and influence.

Speaking on certain world leaders. Not an easy job, but so often filled with self interest. Naive and idealistic. It always comes back to that for many of us.

***Cynical short sided policies.

He’s bemused. Good word.

Corruption. Complicity. The west. Middle East. ISIS. His idealism is tempered by realism. The global village is a mess reality but is a reality.

He wanted simple corporate life, just before September 11th, in New York.

He speaks of it so soon after last week’s anniversary.

Policy makers. Theories. Clash of civilization.

***Complex diverse fabric. Took preparation to tear that apart.

Middle East politics. I know nothing about this.

Human rights. Rule of law.

***Refugees are the symptom. Not the cause.

HE says. I just I just…

***Ceasefire. Multi laterally.

Talk over my head. I feel like a child who does not comprehend such things. Of course, I comprehend, I do, I think, even if I do not understand.

I hope Justin Trudeau can do something. Is that possible? The EU. So much to keep up with and my head hurts. Meditation. My best option?

Governments need to work together, like we demand from children, siblings, at school. Leadership and resolve.

Compassion post? Where do we learn empathy and compassion from? How do some not learn it, or unlearn it later?

I believe I’ve learned that from my family and from my disability. You see things differently, or else blindness should force you to do so.

Africa feels so far away to me. The world, so large, west, east, north, south.

She’s proud to say she is Canadian now. We are proud to have her here. Her home is always on her mind. You can hear it in her earnest words and tone.

***Political will.

Hmm.

***Willing but their hands were tired. problems. Take care of their own, rather than others that come.

Hmm.

Camps. Refugee camps. Camps are the word I, here in Canada, feel most uncomfortable about. They are all there is for so many though.

I’ve heard from those in literature. From these activists and civil servants.

Those last ones look forward to the day when they are unemployed. Will that day ever come?

They can not be everywhere all the time. Nobody has that power.

Mass migration and mass movements. Here in Canada we can’t nor should we avoid thinking about it, facing its undeniablility.

We are apart of this world. How do we treat indigenous people here, mirrors how we do for others around the world.

He visits prisons in Iraq. Unsuccessful suicide bombers. Young young men. HE speaks to them. Eighteen and Syrian. Must kill enemies. Then he speaks of the violence he has seen and misses his mommy, his village, wanted to go to medical school. Understanding from an intimate position. How recruitment occurs. Highly corrupt. Religious extremism. We are, all of us, susceptible. We can’t run from this. We are all interdependent.

***Hold our leaders accountable. Resume responsibility. Assume it. Do our share. Impossible for a few to clean up any mess.

A lot of blaming of journalists. Media looks at one problem. Pay attention. Feel powerless. Then what?

How to get beyond colour, I am colour blind. This does not solve it entirely of course.

Robert Kennedy. Fifty years ago. Before my time.

Female genital mutilation. Gender based violence. We feel like we need to pick an issue. These are real, live human beings, silence no more.

Teachers teach and then those students go on to teach children.

I am here in the virtual audience. Big big biggest questions, heavy with importance.

Silly thought, but like my still growing in-box, I fall behind. We have fallen behind.

Justice isn’t always so easy. I watch a documentary on Netflix about the idea of Hitler escaping, and I wonder. What if he had? Conspiracy theories linger, nonsensically.

Ethnic. Ethic. How to obtain sustainable peace? Long term?

***Spectacle of ISIS.

Regimes. Atrocities. Don’t make it to social media. Refugees flee from government. ISIS is the word most people see and hear. Undoubtedly it is all causing such strife.

***Dabbling in feminism. Iran calls it. Complex transition. Authoritarian. Fundamentalist. Leaderships. Repress. Youth want democracy. What kind of a coward is afraid of a feminist?

No kidding. Time isn’t often on their side.

Our leaders, those in positions of power, they do abuse that. How do we fix it? My idealism and naiveté showing again.

Korea.

History straight from this speaker, this man, from those things I was not yet born to see.

***Rule of law and rule of force. How to be civilized.

North Korea. People starving. I have no clue.

Nothing makes you feel better. Well, listening to these people helps a little.

Darkness to light, from Korea, north to south.

Those images trouble me no doubt.

Genocide. Rwanda. Hatred. Dehumanizing. Calling human beings cockroaches. How could anyone, no matter who it is? Fifty years after the holocaust.

***In the moments of most tension people fail, their best intentions lost to history.

When we hear the window to prevent escalation of violence is mostly gone by.

This Iranian/Canadian human rights lawyer states any ordinary citizen should never feel we can’t make a difference, do something. Is this true? Can I help somehow?

Then, in Winnipeg, apologies for residential schools. Prime Minister gives this now. Elderly immigrant couple delivering cupcakes. Neighbours. Could barely speak English but they brought “transcendent humanity” to their indigenous neighbours.

“all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

I must check this Facebook page more often.

Stratford Festival

There is good being done everywhere. I need only seek it out.

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The Elsewhere Region, #SoCS

The group ranged from ages twenty to seventy years. Mention of a CBC radio program about a battle of the generations, baby boomers vs the millennials. This is a place to feel safe, a non-judgment zone, but one

view

won’t necessarily be the same as any other in this room. Age and generation gap, these are just two reasons why.

As with life, in all areas, no matter which generation we’re in, out in the wider world there is plenty of judgment. This world is full of it, which is why this room serves such a useful purpose. It’s not easy putting oneself out there. Reading back to the group helps immeasurably.

Social awkwardness threatens to pull down into the depths of an abyss of social anxiety. It taunts and teases, trying to usher its person away and keep up streams of negative talk. You may have guessed it’s me, that person.

These views and voices echo around inside an otherwise sensible brain.

One viewpoint, in this room, is just as valid as any other. The people gathered around this conference table, in a library, in a town many have heard of, only by its famous shared name, one which any baby boomer should know well enough.

It’s important to listen to the poems of the baby boomer, as well as the somewhat hastily recited stories of the opposite generation, seated across the table. Stories are read, yes, but before, during, and after the stories, there are viewpoints to absorb. There are multiple lives lived and experiences of hardship or hard work or hardly anyone to listen at all. It all comes back to the writing here though. The listening and the writing.

Writing is where view takes shape, in this scenario, as story. It is disguised by made-up characters and varied storytelling styles, but the views are there, if you take the time to look for them. When is a story just a story anyway?

I listen to so many viewpoints in the media and I then repeat to myself how vital it has been for me to take a break this week. On the world stage, there are just too many views to ever possibly take any of them seriously, when often they feel utterly ridiculous. So hard to believe you’re hearing what your ears and your brain find they have to work with.

But then there’s that elsewhere region, where the ridiculous is encouraged, if not in made-up rhetoric than in fiction, but these days it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference either way, any way at all.

Stories need to continue to be told, in such safe places, places where I choose to return time and time again.

I can not say just how much I am learning about the actual act of writing, though each time I receive a comment from one of them I learn to look at a situation in a different way, but I am sharing a laugh and my view with the laughter and views of the other writers/readers.

I grab hold of all that tension in the form of my own social awkwardness and I turn it into the knowledge that my views are just as valid as the next person’s. I sit back while they share something of themselves, okay with the idea that I can share something of myself too.

I’m in yet one more place where my own viewpoint is likely to be miles from that of the person sitting at the other end of the table. I listen then, to that viewpoint from opposite myself, and I let it all just sink in. What brought them to the conclusions they’ve arrived at? How can I possibly hope to understand? Are we more similar than we are different?

The night before and it’s ONLY millennials here. No baby boomers to be found.

Oh, what exactly do I know of the musician I heard perform live the night before? What’s revealed through their music? Do lyrics tell the real story of that lived experience, by any stretch of the imagination? Mine stretches to find common ground, as this night I am the oldest person here, at thirty-two, most likely.

The view from this room, from this plush chair I’ve staked out for myself, as a way to avoid the unknowns of leaving its safety, will this mean the night was a lost cause? Do secret locations, first times experiencing musical shows like this, do the many bodies moving about in this tight space of a bachelor apartment, does it all help my placement in or out of the elsewhere region?

I want to open up. I start and stop and start again. Some things aren’t to be missed and the lack of regret for missing them is enough of a victory for the night, for the week. Yet, going forward I must require even more of myself.

The view from here is one of low vision, hardly any at all, which makes that social awkwardness seem, at some moments, to be insurmountable. It’s not, and there’s a way of putting it in its proper perspective, but it makes me tired. Very tired. Oh so mentally and emotionally spent.

Sometimes it makes me want to speak my truth, in one long and meandering sentence, which becomes stream of consciousness writing gone wild, with no end in sight.

If I feel that heavy social awkwardness threatening to pull me under once more, I repeat to myself all the comforting things I can, which today I’m choosing to explain by my unique position in a place I now lovingly like to call “the elsewhere region,” and I tell myself I can come back from that place or I can find peace in it, if need be.

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Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails #SoCS

I have been trying, unsuccessfully of late, to write an essay about home. This has given me plenty of time to think about what that means, which must include thoughts of all the things I’ve accumulated in my current home, coming up on ten years living here, this September.

What all can one person

accumulate

in ten years anyway?

I started with donations from several sources. By that I mean odd pieces of furniture from family and friends. There were groceries to fill my new and empty refrigerator, given by my Oma, who loved to shop and always wanted to make sure I had something to eat.

I guess I am struggling to write this essay, one which I feel is highly important for me to write at this time, because I am struggling with the idea of material things vs memories accumulated in this house.

When I saw that the word for this Stream of Consciousness Saturday was “accumulate” I knew I could find something to say for this stream of consciousness writing exercise of which I’ve found so helpful for more than a year now.

I thought maybe I could look deeper into this accumulating things vs memories and experiences. This home I’ve lived in for ten years, of which I’ve loved, which has brought me a place of comfort to come back to, even when so much of the world and life is so uncertain.

I’ve put all this pressure on myself to write this essay before the end of the year. In my head it must be written in the year of my tenth anniversary of moving in. Silly me and my little things which my brain tells me are important.

Secondly, I know I’ve accumulated emails. This is a sore spot for me lately and for my poor family who have seen how many messages flood my in-box on a daily basis, with seemingly no end in sight. They have tried to help me to get a handle on the problem, but I feel kind of like it’s a run away train kind of a thing.

I started out in blogging, wanting to show support for other blogs like I was getting. I wanted to give back and thank people, to show support to a new blogger, after I had been given so much of that support myself. This landed me in a perfect storm of sorts.

Then I had a few computer blow-ups and switches. The emails kept on coming. Unsubscribe you might say, to lessen the load. I feel so overwhelmed by the whole thing, the technology world one I hardly can get a hold on on the best of days.

I don’t read them all, not by a long shot. I simply can’t. Not possible, or as Ralph likes to say: “That’s unpossible”.

I feel trapped underneath the weight of it all. I know I know, how silly of me to let something like this get to me like I have.

Thinking about all the memories made in this house, for the writing of my essay-in-progress, I think back on someone who lived here for a short time, and I curse him for leaving.

🙂

The deeper parts, the fact that we were in a relationship and when it ended the recovery process for me was huge, I now look at my emails and I blame him.

Oh, not that I didn’t miss him when he left, but getting past the harshness of the statement, I now miss his knowledge of all things computer related. When I struggle with a problem such as this one with my emails, I wish he hadn’t left, taking his expertise with him.

Writing about the other effects involving him and a lot more in my essay of living in this house coming soon, I hope, but will I ever get my email problem under control? Only time will tell.

I hate that I’ve let the problem get this far out of control, as I accumulate even more emails as each day goes by. I feel like a hoarder, but my house is not full. It’s my in-box that’s overflowing.

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What A Life! #FTSF #SoCS

“What a life!” my oma would always say with a sigh.

She was right. I say it now, that line, in exasperation, and in my memory of her, to honour her unique brand of wisdom and her straightforward ability to speak the truth.

I just had a checkup with a nurse practitioner. She was very thorough and we talked for what felt like a very long time. No rush to see me briefly and get me out the door. No neglect of what I needed. I told her my entire history, as fast as I possibly could, but she did not want me to hurry through the details. She was wonderful.

It takes me a little while to get through my somewhat complex medical history. I had her curious and eager to look up my eye condition

and the rare syndrome I share with my brother.

This took me back, which it can most often do, and required that I look back over the years.

Mostly I spoke of how sick I was before my then gp finally diagnosed my end-stage kidney failure at age twelve. That sure took me back, into the bad and the worse in terms of memories and recollections. I told her how hard it becomes to remember to include all necessary details, with every retelling I give a doctor or nurse. She was very understanding.

I see how far I’ve come when I look back, using my medical story as the example. I reflect on the girl I was and the struggles in the following years. I want to think I am doing alright considering. I think of my oma and I leave my medical checkup and I sigh.

When it comes to the years, I do so much looking back that it is sometimes a heavy weight on my shoulders.

I like the romantic notion of the days of yore. I read such fairy tales, but life is never like those stories in literature in reality. People reminisce about how it used to be, but perhaps, just perhaps they are remembering a time that never actually existed.

That may come across, to you, if you’re only just hearing me for the first time, as a highly pessimistic slant to life. Perhaps. Your take on, say the last twenty years of your own life, it could very well be all rosy coloured and tinted through different glasses. I haven’t worn glasses since 1996 I’m afraid.

No self pity here, but my life isn’t now or never has been a fairy tale anyway. Just the sort of telling it like it is/was, just like my oma used to like to do. That’s about as stream of consciousness as I can get today.

There is thankfulness to be had here, (which will for sure include that wonderful nurse), of course, but that is still to come in my next post.

🙂

I’m doing a double linkup this weekend, starting with

Finding Ninee’s Finish The Sentence Friday,

followed by

Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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Reviewing “Kindred” #SoCS #BookReview

If I used to doubt I could like a book about time travel, I sure have been proven wrong this week.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

If framed in a way that reminds me of how time travel books are just stories about history, I am likely more willing to take a chance and read on.

My writing mentor has helped me see that I could travel to another country to have new experiences and go for my goals, so why not be the one to prove me and my dislike for time travel novels wrong too?

Travel. Time travel. These two share a few similarities.

With both (one fictional and the other super easy with the invention of aviation especially), we learn a lot about another place and people we’d never met otherwise.

I often wonder how I would react to find myself in the situation the characters found themselves in here.

I like to think I could cope. We all make do. I would adapt. I am good at that.

I don’t have practice living without luxuries like plumbing and running water and indoor toilet facilities. I guess I would do poorly in a time travel situations, not that anyone swept up by it in this particular book had much of a choice.

I do love history a lot, especially the history of the last few centuries.

My writing mentor shares books and I likely wouldn’t have found this one:

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler,

if it hadn’t been for her recommending it.

It was an audio book. I like to do the reading sometimes, but other times, I like to be able to just sit back and let someone else bring the story to life through their own storytelling ability. It’s like its own little piece of performance art. I’m not sure I would have the skill to make any story I might read come alive to the listeners in this way myself.

This story was a lot more than time travel, but really that has its place. I should have learned from the whole Lord of the Rings and fantasy genre experience.

Kindred is about an interracial couple in California in 1976. One day, while moving into their first home together, Dana is putting books away on a shelf when she starts feeling strange. Before she knows what has happened, the room, her husband, and the year she is living in all vanish and she finds herself on a riverbank.

After she suddenly hears cries and ends up saving a young child from nearly drowning, she finds herself in another time and about to embark on a strange back-and-forth adventure, from 1976 to the early 1800s. She and this child will become linked, through time and space, for reasons beyond either one of their comprehensions, until that link is finally severed for good.

I would recommend reading this book, as it is written so much better than I could ever sum up here, but instead I can speak to what this particular story ended up meaning to me.

Whether it’s 1819 or 1976 or 2016, some things are radically different and yet others aren’t really so different at all.

The biggest difference is, of course, that in the early 19th century, slavery was in full force in the United States of America. But, even if it was abolished one hundred years or more prior to the year 1976, a lot of the deeply ingrained cultural beliefs were still evident. Even though the 1960s was known as the decade of Civil Rights, things hadn’t evolved all that much by the 70s.

A lot of things take years and years to know in reality. A country hardly changes enough for all of its citizens in the years of any one person’s lifetime, or multiple generations.

All the racial tensions that seem to be building once more in the US of today have always been there. Rights have been fought hard for and laws eventually changed, but changing hearts and minds of a country’s people can’t be legislated.

Far from me to lecture, but denial that the problem was as bad or still is, this is more common than most people would like to think or are capable of even hearing.

So many of the scenes in the pre-Civil War era of Kindred involved life on a plantation and vivid descriptions of the mistreatment of slaves, the deep seeded ranking of white people and slave owners being above the dark skinned people they had control over, this was all stuff I’d heard about. How anyone could ever truly believe another human being who looked different was less human is beyond me. But that is the point I suppose. That time was beyond me. I like to take the holier-than-thou stance that I never would or could’ve stood for treating a dog let alone a person like people were treated then, but I know I can’t say that for sure.

My mind struggles to try and understand it. I can’t.

Even while I read and learn, even fictionally about that time in history, I can’t comprehend fully. Of course I can’t.

It was the repeated descriptions of whippings that were hardest to take. Many times I reflexively began to reach over to turn off the book or to get up, to distract myself from the words and the meaning behind them, but I couldn’t. Something held me there.

I felt as baffled when the black and white couple (Dana and Kevin) told their families about their plans to marry in 1976 and were met with nothing but disdain, as much as by many of the things I heard when time travel had taken them, (in a way me), back in time to 1819.

I think a lot of us would much rather live in a bit of a denial state, than to almost force ourselves to hear things we don’t want to hear and learn the facts that we can never unlearn. I know I would, but then my mouth would always be so full of sand from my head being stuck in it.

Linda Hill’s prompt for this week can be found here.

Not sure a so-called book review can be written through stream of consciousness writing. Most times, we think of book reviews as the book reports we were told to do in school. I don’t think this necessarily has to be so.

These are just a few of my thoughts while reading. I just wanted to take a moment here, on record, to make note of one book I am very glad I listened to. I think books like this are more important than ever.

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Denial Vs Self Preservation, #SoCS

I am writing, for a little stream of consciousness therapy today, but what to write about?

I could speak about the recent passing of Nobel Peace Prize writer, teacher, and Holocaust educator Elie Wiesel.

He wrote about the loss of his family and horrifying imprisonment in a concentration camp in the memoir

“Night”.

I saw an old interview with him on Charlie Rose.

I could, but I can’t. I won’t.

I read news about his death. I reflected back on the reading of his memorable memoir, which I read over ten years ago most likely. I thought about his story and I vowed to carry on being a witness, (indirectly) of the horrors, which humans are capable of, but I just can’t dwell on all that too hard.

I would again have to hear things I don’t want to hear, things about concentration camps during World War II. I know about all that, more than I’d like to, being obsessed on this period in history, many times in my own life.

But now, with all that’s happening in the current climate of killings, anger, ignorance, and inability or unwillingness to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, I just can’t.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

I am having issues with concentration lately.

I can’t seem to focus on one thing. My writing. My blog. My violin. My thoughts.

I feel all over the place. I want to do so many things, but don’t last long on any one of them.

I’ve lost it, whatever “it” is.

I want to know what is going on in the world around me, but every time I listen in, I hear something worse than the time before.

It’s on my Facebook and on the news on TV. I take breaks from both, but this just leaves me feeling disconnected. Is what I’m doing, in my own life, is that worth drowning the rest of the world out entirely?

Don’t I need to be aware, as a grown woman in today’s society, of what’s going on?

But it’s all race debates, class debates, political debates in the US.

It’s government disarray in the UK.

It’s a growing migrant crisis in Europe.

It’s ISIS central in the Middle East.

I want to get out there, to experience more of the world, instead of just reading about it, though I love reading in its place. I can’t not read, yet my Safari App on my phone keeps bursting with the many articles I open up and vow to read. I don’t make it back, yet I keep on adding to the cue.

That is how I feel about my life, yet I know the chaos going on in my brain is only a sample of what’s happening everywhere.

I have a problem with concentration, but I expect I’m not the only one.

Today, to speak about

CONCENTRATION

has been no problem for me.

I can’t stop myself for very long, but during those breaks from the outside world, I am not in denial. I am practicing self preservation in the midst of so much I cannot control.

So, I write. I blog. I make “music” (of sorts) on my violin. I work on creative projects with my brother, (both song lyrics and our new podcast).

I create because I must. I spread a little genuine kindness and compassion through all these things. I hope I can make the world a better place. Lets all try a little more of that.

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Discovering My Style, #SoCS #Violin

Oh boy! I couldn’t sleep, so I started searching violinists on YouTube. Oh, what have I gotten myself into?

How many people start at age thirty-two?

I am hearing so much about childhood prodigies. That can’t be all. Some, as one Polish violinist said, are simply just young and mediocre players.

Well, I may not have the ear for the violin at this point, and can’t say I ever really will, but I know what I like, what makes me feel something. The question is, why?

I never liked classical music much. When I’d arrive at a classical channel on the radio dial, I’d generally flip right by, and onto pop or classic rock.

But then where did this interest in suddenly learning the violin come from?

It started out as a sad instrument, conjuring up scenes of cruelty and grief in such things as the movie Schindler’s List. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Violin equaled Jews and the Holocaust.

Well, I suppose that sort of classical music was so popular, for so many hundreds of years, because not even jazz had come along.

So, the element of sorrow lingers, in my head. No matter what speed or tempo of violin in a piece of classical music, and I feel sad.

So, well maybe its that I remember the classical music on the radio in my oma and opa’s car, on our Saturday drives to McDonald’s and shopping at the mall. Okay, so not a lot of people’s idea of a classy day out, but I loved it.

Would these memories of good times override my sensation of being caught in a horror like World War II? Hmm.

Violin equaled wartime, which equaled my European grandparents. In my effort, even as a small girl, to relate to them and the world they once knew.

I felt the urge to learn bubble up in the last five to ten years, but maybe even before.

So here I am. I think my particular preference would have to be a mixture of classical and modern sound. This is violin entering the 21st century I suppose.

Oh, I’m certain pure classical violin isn’t going away anytime soon. On the contrary, for those who pick up their first instrument at the early age of four or five. They have time to develop their style of playing.

Playing catch-up now, but I’m only really in a race with myself, entered into some imaginary race in my own mind. I don’t know where I fit into all of this. I can’t shoulder both the expectations of becoming a famous writer and violinist.

😉

So help me God if I must choose, because I feel the violin taking hold, somewhere on my person, but of which was maybe always deeper. I was always playing violin, in my soul somewhere. May sound phony, but whatever.

What we have right here, this is thanks to lack of sleep and all that violin music playing in my head. It’s stream of consciousness at its worst I fear.

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and this lady’s got class. 😉

I want to play. I hold my violin, my bow. Shoulder down, fingers outstretched, arm on a hinge and as far as it will go, and the feeling of righteousness (just me and my violin) grows. My head and my hand feel what it should feel like.

Four months into this crazy notion of mine and I am more lost than ever, but lost with a purpose seems right enough to me.

Oh boy, could I ever use a little sleep!

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