This, all true. I was shocked by what I saw when I pushed myself to watch The Handmaid’s Tale and, yet, I wasn’t. We need to drain off the water we’ve watered horrors of history and even the present down with for so long, even if it feels highly uncomfortable and unsettling. We must. We can’t afford to keep on repeating history.
“I was asleep before… that’s how we let it happen. They suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary.”
This is Offred’s stark warning.
A narration of regret.
Her name’s not really Offred. It’s Jane. Or June. Or something that I can’t remember because her name no longer matters. She is no longer a human with an identity, she is the property of Fred. And she is the main character in Hulu’s series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1985 Margaret Atwood novel.
Offred is a Handmaid in Gilead, the religious fundamentalist reincarnation of the United States. After a terrorist attack and environmental disasters left the republic weakened, a strong-arm theocracy took hold. Patriarchal control was the new order. Women, no longer allowed to work, read, vote or hold property. Children, taken at will from parents who refuse to conform. Traitors, hung along the river, government spies around…
The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.
I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.
Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.
I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.
We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.
I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.
I hope there are many more still to come.
I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.
My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.
My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.
Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.
I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.
He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.
I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.
Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.
I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.
I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.
I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.
She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.
She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.
I’m thankful for a family day.
We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.
It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.
My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.
We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.
It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.
We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.
The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.
I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.
whole front porch
We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.
As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.
—The Daily Show
Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.
I am currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale and in the latest episode the poor handmaid is locked in her room as a punishment for not reproducing. She spends time on the floor of her closet, as she slowly loses her grip on reality, and finds a line written in Latin, carved in the wall: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”
For a yard in town, it is a nice size. When we bought the house, there was no place to sit and enjoy it, until we had a deck built and a door out onto it. This was a few years into living in the house.
Now I can sit out there and enjoy the weather, if I don’t feel like the noise I get from sitting out on my front porch. I kept a BBQ from a past relationship and we are having a family gathering out there soon, to celebrate My sister’s birthday, among other things.
It’s perfect, with lots of space for the kids to run around back there.
I’m thankful I could help my sister out.
She was invited to a Mother’s Day tea at my nephew’s school. She could have brought my baby niece along, but it was nice I could stay home with her, so my sister and nephew could have a nice morning together with the rest of his class, without any of the distractions a three-month-old might cause, as cute as she is.
I got my niece to nap as soon as my sister left, but it was a close call to keep her sleeping, with my dog who likes to bark right there and the cardinal who likes to bang against the glass of my sister’s patio door because he sees his reflection and doesn’t understand what that means.
Luckily, my niece was just that tired.
I’m thankful to know that my brother has a friend who is looking out for him.
He messaged me one night, asking if I’d heard from my brother that day. I had and knew he had gone out for the night.
None of us knows when another seizure could strike, so it’s just nice to know he’s being thought of.
It makes me feel better and I thought it was just a nice thing for a friend to do.
I’m thankful to have been interviewed for my friend’s podcast.
I am not a mother and I don’t know if there is a day for us aunts.
I was on my way to see my nephew and his parents for dinner, when I received a phone call as I was getting dressed and ready to go.
At first I heard no voice speaking, but I did hear a background I guessed right away. Then, a little voice spoke to me.
My nephew was calling. His father told me after that he just said he wanted to call me. I don’t receive a call on Mother’s Day usually, but I like to think my nephew could sense that and was calling to lift my spirits.
Sure, he mostly asked about my dog, whom he usually loves, but I prefer to think of it that other way.
I am thankful for my mother and all the warm and wonderful mothers out there.
I’m thankful for my mother’s help when my television goes silent on me.
These days, it’s not just a television. Then you have the cable box and the surround system speakers and DVD and I can’t possibly use all of these with only one remote.
A lot is visual about it and when one wrong button is pressed or if you don’t aim straight at the cable box when you turn it on, all hell breaks loose. I guess it’s too much for a blind girl to be able to figure it all out, use it without running to her mother every week.
Luckily, she helps, no matter how often I request it.
I’m thankful for a delicious Mother’s Day meal.
It’s BBQ season and everything tastes better cooked that way. One of my favourite parts of warmer weather.
My mom also made a taco salad for the occasion, because she wants to bring something. It was a meal in itself.
My brother-in-law and nephew made the cupcakes for dessert.
I’m thankful we don’t live in The Handmaid’s Tale.
I am completely creeped out by this series, but this week I just had to mention that Latin bit.
Everyone keeps comparing the story to today’s times, or where we could be heading, even though we like to think of women’s rights as improving a lot in the past one hundred years.
I do hope we never do go as far as they have gone in Atwood’s story, but you never know. I do feel better to watch, with curiosity and horror, and then go back to my real life and feel how lucky I have it, to be as free as I am.
This story should be a lesson for us all, but it is scary when I think that there are a number of people who might want some of these Handmaid story elements to be true.
There is some mention, by some of the repressors, of the UN and Toronto Star. Is Canada still free, but the US is the one so messed up? It’s strange, as Atwood is a Canadian writer. I wonder why she set it like that.
I’m thankful my violin teacher is back.
It has been almost a whole month, since she went on her trip to South America, teaching violin. I am happy for her, that she got such an opportunity, but my violin playing has stalled as I’ve been on my own with it.
We will see what we get out of that. Though, after I was in Mexico, upon returning my skills weren’t as badly effected as I’d feared they would be. (Update next week.)
Not letting the bastards grind me down…a work-in-progress.
They call me Kerr or Kerry now. Once upon a time my childhood bedroom had a heart with my name written in it and a Care Bear painted on the wall next to it. I became Kerr-Bear. Cute, no?
Nicknames are fun and sometimes irritating. We don’t get to choose our names, but nicknames can follow us around forever.
I used to be annoyed by being called a cartoon bear, but now I kind of miss it. A boyfriend did it to get under my skin. Not so cute when you’re fifteen-years-old.
The story of how I got my actual name, which I may have previously told here. Ah, but who’s counting?
My big sister, born two years before me, they named Kim. Another K name was what my parents were going for. Then, in the bed next to my mom was a woman named Kerry. Interesting spelling, not all that common, so that is the one they went with. The perfect K name. It was meant to be.
I like that story, for some reason. I wasn’t named after family. I could have been Kelly or Karen or Katie, if it weren’t for that woman in the next hospital bed that day.
Middle names are odd to me. Mine was Lynne. Sometimes Lynn. I would forget actual spelling for a chunk of time. Mine was/is the same as my cousin. Now I share Lynne with my new niece. I am beyond thrilled and honoured that my sister and brother-in-law would grant me this gift.
Mine is a name that must be annunciated clearly, or else people hear Karen or Kaylee. They never spell it right. I like being me, being her, being Kerr.
I am currently watching the new adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale and all women are forced to change their names. It helps strip them of any prior identity and it made me wonder what I would feel, if suddenly, I was forbidden to be me, forbidden to be Kerry?
So, let’s just get to it, because I need some relief from the news of the day.
I am thankful for writers and thinkers such as Margaret Atwood.
I have not read The Handmaid’s Tale, as Atwood’s genre is one that covers uncomfortable truths and possibilities, through fiction and inside fictional realities. I don’t feel comfortable reading that stuff, but I do believe I am missing out.
She has had a long and esteemed writing career in Canada and we are lucky to have her intelligence and her talents.
I am thankful for those I know who travel and are out there living life, reporting back to me somehow on their journeys.
The world scares me and that is why I must see more of it, as much as I possibly can.
But, when and where I cannot, I value my friends, better than all the travel blogs I have followed on Facebook. My friends and those I’ve met, somewhere, somehow are out there and inspiring me to not feel so scared all the time.
And, if I am unable to push away my fear completely, they prove to me that it is possible to go ahead anyway. You miss less by going and doing, fear be damned.
I am thankful for Canada and my extremely privileged citizenship here.
We have our problems and we must acknowledge those. I see protests and silencing in Russia, famine and governmental corruption in Africa, and the unrest and polarization in the U.S. and I hope Canada can face our sins and remain as united and reasonable as possible.
I plan to write more about this as Canada Day, 2017 draws closer.
I am thankful for audio progress reports.
The sound of the App notification on my phone is enough to make me smile and forget my other racing thoughts for a few moments.
My friend may be over in Ireland, but I still get to hear her daughter’s growth, through trying to fill her baby’s bottle and spilling an entire jug of milk all over the floor or not understanding why she can’t fit into her doll’s clothes.
The photos my friend captions for me and then I listen to the short video clips with great interest. I look forward to them in my week.
I am thankful for more time holding my baby niece.
Speaking of growth…she is now one month old and my sister feels she is already growing too fast.
She loves to eat. I like to hold her the other times, when she is not nursing, and then my sister can do some other things.
My niece has a real angry cry, as babies do, but I hold her when she sleeps and she is so peaceful then. Hard to believe it’s the same child. You gotta love it.
I am thankful for all those who help me understand things better, things I often miss out on, those like my extremely generous friend.
My writing mentor is teaching travel writing across some of Africa and she posted a tree. I knew she wouldn’t post it for no reason. She must have seen something special in that tree. I wanted to try and see something in that photo too, in my mind.
“When a bulb burns out, I see. Even in the dark, it feels sunny to me. Skipping in the shadows, every corner holds beauty. There is always light if you look closely.” —Angela Saini
I don’t expect the world to always modify for my needs. Photos are visual things. I get that. Sometimes I just want to imagine what one looks like.
My friend, a writer and a scientist, she heard about this and offered to describe the tree. I learned a lot.
“Splashing through the puddles. Knowing that’s how green grass grows.” —Angela Saini
I am thankful for the first real spring weather.
The other day was so mild. The sunshine was warm on my face. No more shivering.
“I don’t own a poncho. Whenever it rains I only see a rainbow.” —Angela Saini
Spring means rain. I like a good rainstorm. Bring it on.
A rainbow is one of those things, like any photo, that I long to see and never likely will. I appreciate any person’s interpretation of what a rainbow looks like.
Anyone want to give it a go? Leave your description in the comments to this post.
I am thankful for a lesson I thought was certain to be bad.
We had to miss a week. My teacher is in university and this time of year is particularly chaotic.
Any time we have this happen, like when I was in Mexico, I assume the next lesson will not go well at all because of the extra time in between.
I’ve learned this isn’t always the case. I had an extremely productive and energetic practice just before and we had a great talk about the strain and endurance of playing the violin.
Oh, I also did work on the actual practicing techniques too, trying to make it more of a constant flow of sound, rather than always so start and stopish.
Like this. Maybe…one day. Maybe.
I am thankful the U.S. dodged an extremely wrong and risky bullet.
At first I was negative about it, as it strikes a nerve because I have needed lots of medical care, so I immediately thought this was winning a battle but not the war.
Why does this need to be a fight anyway?
Then I was reminded, if I were living in the U.S and relied on the healthcare system there in a big way, I’d want just a short period of time to relax and feel relieved for this moment in time.
I am still worried, anxious for all who would be affected, but I feel helpless to do anything.
Many of us feel like people see us as such a drain on the system, but we’ve faced death or serious illness. It’s no game to us.
“My train home is three hours late. Must be time for another piece of cake – I like chocolate.” —Angela Saini
I am thankful for the positive reception and Canadian support of the newly told.
The Canadian people watched the new Anne of Green Gables series and they have spoken that they approve.
The CBC was going to air the second episode two weeks after last week’s premier, but the reception was so positive that they went ahead and aired it last night.
I am keeping an open mind, as the story makes Canada proud from what I see, so I am going to keep an episode diary on my Facebook page every time it airs.
I will call it Ahead By A Century, like the theme song for the show, by The Tragically Hip.