Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Speaker of Latin, Scratcher of Words #10Thankful

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.”

DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my back yard.

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.

You can check it out here.

I am thankful for a phone call on Mother’s Day.

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.

Mother, May I?

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.

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Stalemate, #1000Speak

The other night, on the news, a reporter did a story about how desperate of a situation it’s becoming in Syria.

She began to, not just lay out a few facts and statistics, but to compare the city of Aleppo to the city of Toronto, where her news broadcast was airing from. She went from one part of Toronto to another, explaining how it would look if what’s currently happening in Syria were to happen in a Canadian city

Okay, so maybe it’s a bad example or I’m just not describing it all that well. I have a cold and my right ear is plugged and I feel like I’m losing it a little, but I wondered why this reporter’s method was necessary in the first place.

She began her segment by saying something along the lines of:

?How does what’s happening in Syria relate to life here in Toronto anyway?”

I wondered if people really needed the story to be spoon fed to them like that, as if they couldn’t already put themselves in the shoes of a mother, losing hope for keeping her children healthy and alive. Hadn’t they all considered what it must be like to be stuck in a war zone? I guess, to a point, I use that distance between myself and such horrible events as a cushion too.

I may feel sad and disappointed in the Syrian government for being unable to keep its people safe. I may be frustrated that although my country of Canada has done more than many to help the Syrian people, our participation has dwindled. I may be sad and disappointed in myself for the fear that even the small gestures of compassion and gratitude I’ve made aren’t enough.

Lots of sadness and disappointment to go around. Excellent choice for the month. If I’m honest, to come right out and say it, I have been sad and disappointed that
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
and
Ten Things of Thankful
seem to be losing steam.

It’s obvious by the number of entries in the linkup. The terrible events around the world that inspired a handful of bloggers to act in the only way they knew how, nearly two years ago, is a small sample of what it was once.

That first month there were hundreds of entries. Now, with the linkup being open, not just one day, but a whole week. And yet, my entry is found to be one of the last, if not the last, at five or six along on the list. Where did everybody go? It’s frustrating to see how willing people were, when the excitement and energy were new and when a small discussion on holding on to compassion in times of hardship suddenly and unexpectedly grew into something a lot larger than anyone could have ever anticipated.

Five or six people, including me, took the time to write and keep the movement going this month. This makes me sad. I feel disappointed, but I have compassion for all those who haven’t kept up with it, though some come and go, taking it for granted that it should always be there.

You have to feel it to write. I can be honest about how I feel, but I have a lot of compassion for everyone who didn’t show up. I have been one of them. I can’t say I won’t be one in the future. All the praise goes to those keeping it going this long.

Nothing goes on forever. Everything starts and stops somewhere.

Life gets busy. People forget. Times are hard. They’ve moved on.

This is a time where sadness and disappointment are commonly felt emotions. I am sad and disappointed.

I am sad that we have arrived in this place, where compassion feels strangled by suspicion and self interest.

Taxes. Rising bills to be paid. Mortgages and kids and stressful jobs and relationships and social media.

I am disappointed in America for giving up and giving in. Donald Trump is where he is. I am sad and I am disappointed.

In these times, I believe honesty is best, if we’re ever going to face the ills of our society, like racism and class, job, and economic uncertainties. We’re all fighting for our own, equal slice of the pie.

Where, then, does compassion come in? I am trying desperately to fit the pieces together.

I am trying, underneath a steady undercurrent of sadness, to listen to people and to respect different beliefs. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. This situation is unique in that most times, after a time, I can see where someone may be coming from. In some of these situations, where prejudice is at the core of it, I can’t understand.

Then I lose all compassion for myself, as I feel like it’s something on me, like I’m just not trying hard enough to understand.

It’s mostly based on fear. That much I’ve surmised. I can have empathy for that, to a point, as I know what fear looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like.

I have compassion for everyone. It’s when some people’s true feelings come to light that I jump back in shock and the sadness and disappointment wash over me with no warning.

Is this the end? By which I mean, are we coming to the end of this experiment in writing for compassion here? Or will we keep going forward with the participants we still have? Couldn’t compassion sustain itself, even through blogging, just a little longer? Perhaps not.

Will I even be here next month, to write about compassion, or will I have moved on? I honestly can’t say for certain.

I don’t see any end to this stalemate, these feelings of intense sadness and disappointment at my fellow human beings.

I can’t look the other way when the progress with women’s rights or disability rights or any other rights are threatened. I wish I understood. I wish I could.

I just finished listening to
a podcast
about writing, about memoir, and about trying to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. This is my mission these days, but is it fruitless, when such serious issues are at stake?

I continue to see gestures and acts of compassion in many different places and that softens the blow. It isn’t all bad. This has been and continues to be a difficult time for a lot of people, but a lot are doing the best they know how in the moment.

I go ahead and focus on what makes me feel the opposite of sadness and disappointment. I hope things will continue, that very likely will not. I can’t blame anyone for that. I can only control my own actions and remain compassionate yet honest when the sadness or the disappointment threatens to drag me down next time, hoping what I’m left with is a little piece of compassion left over to spare and to share.

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The Good Old Days: “We’re Drowning In It!” #SoCS

I have a headache. I don’t know where to start.

It hurts, threatening to burst under the weight of it all.

It’s just another speech on the US 2016 election campaign. Still, underneath that, there were parts that were all, essentially about human decency.

Michelle Obama spoke and I listened and I felt the familiar stinging of tears starting to form in my eyes.

I put off listening, as Facebook’s newsfeed blew up with people sharing the speech and lamenting its sincerity and harsh reality. Finally, after a bad day of becoming choked up on New York Times Modern Love essays about children and adoption, I thought, “why not?”

Every day I can’t believe it. The days are constant: International Day of the Girl (which Michelle mentions), World Sight Day, Blindness Awareness, White Cane Awareness and people can never seem to settle on the correct word order for some of these. But I guess it doesn’t matter what you call it. We’re all just trying to get by and to be heard and valued.

I see less and less and yet it’s what I hear that I can’t believe.

I hear things on my television
screen
that I can’t believe I’m hearing.

I doubt my own hearing, one of my strongest remaining senses.

I feel vulnerable every time I walk out there, a visually impaired woman with her white cane. Am I standing out? Or am I invisible?

Michelle Obama Speaks Out

The line she spoke that most caught my attention and left a lump in my throat, my eyes burning, and a ringing in my ears was: “We’re drowning in it.” I believe she was referring specifically to sexism and misogyny. It’s no big deal to most people, most times, but it’s always there, somewhere. How much does it matter?

Women should feel it. Men should feel it. Over and over again, people talk of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. What are women, even myself, what are we supposed to think? What lessons have young men learned? What do those calling themselves politicians think they’re doing anyway?

I even doubt my ears here in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in charge for one whole year now, since the last time Canada’s baseball team made it to the play off’s. I had hope then, as someone finally starting to feel somewhat better about the state of my own country, hope for a future where women’s rights, all rights of people might continue to improve, that we here could be a living embodiment of what is possible. Nothing but a naive girl’s silly hope?

His reputation as a feminist has only grown here and around the world. But then I think about possible leaked tapes, recordings, information in the future.

We believe forward-thinking men in politics like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama are decent, would never treat women so disrespectfully. Then I imagine a time in the future where I will hear, with my own ears, something that could shake my confidence in these two men as concerned fathers and sons and husbands. Maybe they aren’t who they claim to be either. Power. Is it all one giant power trip?

A black man ran the country that supported slavery, segregation, and the targeting of black men as criminals. A woman may soon run a country where women who were black couldn’t even vote fifty years ago. This must represent change and growth, but not all want it, require it, hope and pray for it. Some attack and demonize it.

As for progress and decency, men in positions of power and capable of making sweeping and lasting change, I don’t want to be let down in that way, not ever.

But how sure can I be? When may the other shoe drop, the floor drop out on me?

I appreciate varied viewpoints and healthy discussions, but I too shy away from disrespect, inhumanity, bickering, anger, discrimination, the refusal to see beyond the nose on one’s own face.

I don’t call myself a believer in feminism lightly.

I try to find a balance. This isn’t easy.

I have not suffered at the hands of abuse by men in my own life, but I feel a wider societal pressure. I know only the most decent men in my own life. My father. My brothers. Those I have learned from about love. Those I have loved. We all make mistakes, say foolish things in a moment of weakness or ignorance, both male and female. Goodness can still thrive.

I’m just afraid to believe what I hear. Perceptions are realities.

13TH

I wasn’t around during slavery, but what slavery still occurs, and what can I do about it, if I happen to see it or if I hide from that which still exists?

How free am I personally? What am I a slave to in my own life? How dare I even ask, even think?

The 13Th Amendment. The 19Th Amendment. What can 100 years, 150, what can that passing time do? How slow is change really? How far have we really come with rights for all? What is truly being amended? What am I seeing, hearing, witnessing, neglecting to admit about this time I’m living in?

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-13th-doc-trump-20161014-snap-htmlstory.html

I recommend 13TH. It covers a long timeline of events and not just the small snapshot of time we’re currently living through. It’s not easy to see back into all the preceding time, into anything other than noticing the glasses on our own faces, even mine where no more literal glasses sit.

Trump. Hillary. Bill.

Reagan, like Trump, an actor/performer. Nixon, known, as Hilary Clinton, to be a liar. What really changes? What can we count on as the years pass us by?

I hear suffering. I feel it more and more as I age. the echoes of ghosts long gone. I recognized all their voices at different times.

I hear what I hear. I doubt what I hear. I know what I hear and wonder who may have isolated each clip, what it meant, as an overall statement of any intention. I believe it has all contributed and brought us all to where we currently are.

I did not need anyone to Tweet those selected Trump clips, used to illustrate a wider point, to know how awful I’ve felt at having heard them myself over the last months. I already felt ill upon hearing them.

I know much of the history. I know how humans have treated other humans. I felt my headache worsen as 13TH went on, but I watched the documentary all the way through.

So then why exactly did I put myself through that pain?

What else should I do? How else should I handle what I can’t un-know?

Politics. Pride in one’s home. Culture. Religion. Propaganda, all of it?

It is more than six months since I really last wrote about these things here.

In The News and On My Mind: Supermegafragilisticexpialidocious

I thought that the 2016 summer with unending stories in the news about the US election would never ever end. But it did and here we are. Less than a month to go, thank God! But I am so tired and I know I’m not alone. Speaking up is seen as “incendiary” and immediately turned into a political opinion, when really, all I’d like to make is a human one. I don’t write about it on Facebook, trying to be sensitive to my American friends. Here on my blog I feel somewhat safer, but I can’t agree with the sort of patriotism Americans often speak of, like Michelle in her speech most recently: that the US is the greatest country in the world.

I regret to say this Mrs. Obama, but go ahead and say whatever you need to say, to feel better about things.

I shake my head at such love of one place, run by capitalism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, from whichever country you reside in. Globalization. I am not a politician and never will be, but I care about not only myself and my family, but my country, and all others. I care about people, no matter where they live.

I love Canada fiercely, but I can’t just keep hearing people speak of their own country being the best, as pride gets us nowhere. I am lucky to live here and yet I fight to find my way. Canada has treated people just as poorly as any other country.

I stand on the border of my Canadian, English-speaking province and into the French-speaking province next door and I feel the wind on my face and in my hair. I smell the river. I hear the cars. I trust my senses in that moment, but rarely do I trust all else I’ve seen.

All politicians are caught saying things, things that have furthered their political purposes at one time or another, eventually revealing true intentions or previously held beliefs, hopefully altered. I don’t know how they really feel. Suddenly, thanks to an actual reality TV star coming this close to winning, it all feels like a huge reality show, like more and more politics and entertainment are melding, like we can’t tell them apart and there is no going back from that.

Human lives are at stake and 13TH makes that point extremely well. This isn’t a game. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

I can hardly believe what I’m seeing/hearing, but I suppose sensible people have always thought that way, and yet what was really done about it? What will the answer be now?

The thought that any one country is “the best country in the world” or that there ever existed “the good old days” is false to me, no matter the intended meaning behind either stated belief.

The “good old days” spoken of weren’t quite so good for us all. I just hope we can stay afloat going forward.

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Cracks in the Ceiling, #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016

What has happened in the world, in the last year and since

International Women’s Day 2015?

Well, around that time, Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for President of the United States and we still have months to wait, or how long I don’t know, as the whole process seems insane to me.

Will she win? Should she win, should anyone vote for her, simply because she is female? I suppose not, not if a better candidate exists.

I can’t vote, but I think it’s about time the US elected a woman to lead their country. I know all the scandals surrounding her, her power and influence, but I think she has the experience necessary and, dare I say, is highly capable to do the job.

I just finished watching a documentary with her as one of the main stars, along with Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

It’s been twenty years since Clinton spoke in China about women’s rights, a country that doesn’t have the best track record in valuing girls.

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights…once and for all!” Hillary pronounced with conviction.

Well, since then there has been rape as a war tactic (conflict in Bosnia and Yugoslavia), female oppression in Afghanistan, brutalization and attacks during uprisings in Egypt and Libya, struggle in Iraq and Syria.

A year ago I watched “India’s Daughter”, a documentary about a gang rape of a young woman on a bus in India. I watched it with help deciphering the subtitles. I had planned to write about my thoughts here, but I couldn’t quite put that into words.

More recently I watched “Suffragette”, a film about the fight for women’s rights in the UK, during the early twentieth century. I planned to write a review here, but the words did not come. This time it was fiction, based on true events in history, but all the emotions I felt were so strong they burrowed down deep in my subconscious.

And so even though I said I was cutting back on blogging here during the week, starting on the 1st of March, I couldn’t let this day pass without saying something.

An election was held here in Canada last fall for a new leader for this country, just as they are working toward in the US, and now we have Justin Trudeau as Canada’s Prime Minister.

He appointed his cabinet and made news:

“Because it’s 2015.”

Trudeau proudly calls himself a feminist:

Trudeau Declares Himself (Proud Feminist) in Open Letter to Mark International Women’s Day

The question is now more often to become one I think of as it relates to not only being a woman, but for those with disabilities as well: Should a woman be given a place in government or in a job role just to fill a quota?

No, not just. It’s a starting place. It makes a statement. All these things must become laws, policies must be created, legislations drawn, but then action must be taken, these things enforced. Women are just as smart and capable as men, but how do we change the minds of the truly ignorant and arrogant? Is that even possible?

I am proud that, living in Canada, I have a feminist prime minister. Somewhere in the world, however, there are countries with leaders who believe that only men deserve rights, a voice. Even as nothing’s perfect for women, certainly still not even here in Canada, I am proud of the role my own country plays in making things better.

Next comes the decision to put a female on our money. Justin just introduced a commemorative coin for International Women’s Day and it’s about time a woman’s face was shown proudly on our currency.

I have learned a lot about feminism this past year.

I’ve learned it from brilliant and articulate writers:

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve learned it from brave young activists:

Nobel Peace Prize Speech – Malala Yousafzai

I’ve learned it from fictional witches turned real life feminist spokeswomen:

He For She – Emma Watson – International Women’s Day 2016

Some would say that there is no problem, we make it bigger than it is, because just look how far we’ve come.

I know why I care about this. My poor keyboard keys, because I feel like pounding out my intense frustration through them, but then I halt because my brain is working furiously, far out of reach of my fingers.

I care because of what I’ve seen. I know that, for many women, there is no real problem in our day to day lives. I am lucky to say that. I can write what I want, despite the loss for words and the brain fog and overload I’m currently experiencing. I won’t be censored or threatened. I am only one tiny voice online.

That’s the thing though. I feel tiny and insignificant a lot, on a daily basis, and it’s not because I am ungrateful. I just feel like I still get lost, as a female with a disability. I am lucky to have a good life, essentially, but I feel the problem even more consciously.

Females, just like those living with disabilities around the world, we could all say we are treated better and things for us have improved, but many of us still experience feelings of marginalization and feelings of invisibility.

Women who have it good can’t really imagine what other women might be experiencing, right this very moment, somewhere around the world. It could be somewhere in Africa, the Middle East, India, or even North America. The degree is certainly important, but the experiences all still matter.

I am not officially oppressed, not dangerously so. I just feel it in society. Just because things have steadily improved for women, many places around the world in say the last one hundred years, doesn’t mean all of us have reached a place where we feel like we have taken our power back, not yet having discovered the impact through our own unique voices.

I can’t really always detect that ceiling, as see-through as it may be, and some days I feel like it is solid and darkened. I need to feel its clarity and its possibility. I need this, to feel hope for a brighter future.

I want to make an impact, a difference, to have a voice and to stand for something I feel so strongly in my heart.

Purple: My Interview with Garry Atkinson

I am sick of cultural and religious excuses, struggles over politics and money and power and greed, and the fear and the cowardice that is the root of all the battles we’re still fighting. I am sick of the violence and the silence.

And so there’s still a ceiling, made of glass and we can see through to a better tomorrow of blue skies and bright sunshine, but for now I guess we must be glad for the cracks that are forming. It proves we are making progress.

JK Rowling and Emma Watson had a touching International Women’s Day moment

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TToT: Happy Days Are Here Again, #10Thankful

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

maxanddadwaitingforcupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelt clan: Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor.

I had heard of them all, especially Franklin and Eleanor, but I enjoyed learning about the history. My mother mentioned she didn’t know what to do with me becoming all political all of a sudden, but I assured her that was never going to happen.

I simply wanted to learn about the people themselves, what times were like back then, and how we got here. All the political stuff wasn’t my main focus. I payed more attention to the polio that Franklin was stricken with. I wanted to know how disability was handled in those days and how he made it all the way to the White House.

Then there was his wife and all the social activism she took part in and the work she did for women’s rights. I was planning a post on feminism for mid week, so I was particularly interested.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

“Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on.”

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

This was a big song in the early thirties and when FDR ran for president, after the crash of the stock market in 1929 and the subsequent depression throughout the thirties and leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

The Happy Days song was a theme song, a slogan used for Roosevelt’s campaign. At one point, during the documentary, there is one of the first actual film and media clips on record, at least one of the first to appear in the documentary anyway. Franklin’s little granddaughter is the one to deliver that line, which was cute even all these years later, but although her grandfather would bring his country out of some extremely terrible times, the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again” wasn’t exactly the case and wouldn’t be for more than ten years.

World War II and the Cold War and so on. It all just got me thinking of when we’re ever really happy, as whole countries or as individual citizens, but that doesn’t mean that gratitude is not the place to start.

The psychological benefits of gratitude closely mirror those of meditation

American Thanksgiving, I wrote my

1000 Speak post (the link was open for a whole week),

and then there was yet another shooting outside a Planned Parenthood. What a week.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my country and my province.

Yeah, Canadians are known for their modesty, most of the time, but lately we have been in the news for many acts of good will and open minds and arms.

Most notably, since being top story in the news around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge of 25,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Canada.

The deadline is now at February, but at least we’re doing something and taking action to offer our doors wide open for anyone who wants to start fresh.

But also…Christmas in October.

terminally ill Ontario boy celebrates Christmas early in hometown

and

Ontario brothers capture incredible photo after bravely rescuing bald eagle

For the chance to share a valuable male perspective on feminism.

Purple: My Interview Wit Garry Atkinson

November 25th was International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I am very interested in feminism and write about it as much as I can here. It’s important to me and often somehow it gets twisted into something it is not. I want to change that.

The interview I did, is one man’s point-of-view on what feminism means and what it means to be one, to him personally.

After fifty years, Gloria Steinem is still at the forefront of the feminist causehttp://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/road-warrior-profiles-jane-kramer?mbid=social_twitter

For something to look forward to in 2016.

A little taste of what I might be getting.

I love a good concert and I chose the lawn “seats”, so I really hope for no rain that day in June.

I consider myself lucky every time I see another of my favourite bands live. It is the best feeling in the world, when the music I love surges through me, the performers so close.

For an invitation from a lovely group of fellow writers and bloggers.

I have been gradually building these blogging relationships with this particular group of bloggers from

the TToT.

Well, they hold a big Google Hangout vidchat, as they call it, and they asked if I wanted to join them.

I liked having a place and people to talk about writing with and I told them about my travel blog. Maybe they will be kind enough to offer some feedback at some point.

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

I am new to Google Hangouts, but they were patient with me, even when I hung up accidentally.

Oops.

🙂

It is nice for me, after so many months of reading and commenting and interacting, to get to put voices to the names. It will take me a few weeks to get a handle on exactly whose voice is whose, but I will get there soon enough. It’s just harder because I can’t keep track of who may have joined or left the chat because I can’t see the separate little windows on the screen.

For a very special 60th birthday celebration.

happybdaysign-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

All the family came together on the final Saturday afternoon of November, to celebrate the best husband, father, and grandfather (PA) we could possibly have.

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For some very special 60th birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? How could anyone not be thankful for cupcakes?

🙂

I have a cousin who makes cakes and she does all sorts of designs and flavours.

I can’t see them, but I can feel the fondant.

For my brothers.

brianonalaptop-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

I am just lucky to have them, all three of them. Whether it’s when one carries my bag out to the car for me and gives me a ride home, to all the times he and the other two make me laugh, to the amazing father’s two of them are to my niece and nephews.

My older brother and I had a nice conversation, which isn’t always so easy in the group with everyone there. He was telling me about how his job is going. He is a photographer and Studio Manager.

Think Global

He has been there for ten years and he is well known in his department for his talents, his hard work, and his integrity. I was happy to listen to him tell me about what his duties include and what an important and reliable part of the team he actually is at that place.

sophiaandmomlaughing-2015-11-29-02-00.jpg

For goodbye hugs.

I am always a little sad when my niece and nephew are leaving. I love our byes at the door. It’s only one month until they will come back, next time for a few days, just after Christmas. It’s like we have Christmas twice in our family. Who wouldn’t love that?

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My nephew holds onto me with his little gloved fingers and I say bye again.

For small businesses, locally run, such as my cousin’s hair salon.

I did an interview with her last March and November 28th was Small Business Saturday.

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

I think it is important to balance out the giant corporations and brans with the people who work so hard to offer quality options, products and services, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

For two of the most generous parents anyone could ask for.

That is all. They are just great to everyone they meet, especially their children.

I’m thinking this Christmas might not be so bad after all. I wasn’t quite myself last year around this time, but despite everything, it may turn out alright – happy days once more.

The only time i ever heard that old slogan, until I realized where it originated was when Brandon and Kelly got back together on Beverly Hills 90210.

Yeah, well for those of us who were huge fans of the young adult nighttime drama back in the nineties, it was a big moment. I remember how happy thirteen-year-old me was when my two favourite 90210 lovers were finally reunited, after two years of will-they/won’t-they.

🙂

What can I say? It got me through dialysis and that lousy year. Life gets more complicated as you grow older and it’s harder to find the sort of pure happiness you used to feel as a kid. This exercise in being thankful helps.

“I am angry every day of my life, but I have learned not to show it; and I still try to hope not to feel it though it may take me another forty years to do it.”

–Louisa May Alcott

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Fiction Friday, TGIF, Writing

What’s in a Pen Name?

If the rumours are, indeed, true:

Hillary Clinton to Announce 2016 Run for President on Sunday – New York Times Politics

It’s funny that I mention her in this post from just over one year ago,

(Women & Books),

as I spoke about women, on International Women’s Day, 2015 and as I thought about feminism, equality, writing, and the pen name.

I wrote about two specific women writers in that post last year: L.M. Montgomery and J.K. Rowling.

I have a lot to say on women’s rights, but today I wanted to focus on another issue that has been at the back of my mind lately. The two things come together in the end though, as is often the case for me these days.

For this week’s Fiction Friday I wanted to discuss pen names and both L.M. and J.K., other than the fact that these two follow the order of the alphabet,

🙂

they also represent actual ladies, with real, full names: Lucy Maud and Joanne Kathleen.

Why do authors use pen names?

I have heard several reasons for the act of writing by one name or another, or more, when publishing several books or series of books.

Funny how I wanted to write this post and then, suddenly, I come across a few blog posts on the subject.

I am including them here, but I want to mention that I have not yet read them, as I write this.

I know writing is repetitive. It’s hard to truly come up with anything original anymore, so I did not want to have read another blogger’s thoughts on this topic, before I could explain my own.

Pen Names-Necessary Evil or Ticket to Crazyville?

and

What to Do When You Absolutely, Positively NEED a Pen Name

Anne Rice is best known for her novel Interview with the Vampire.

She had written so many novels over her career, but I only recently heard about her romance/erotic series of novels: Beauty’s Kingdom.

With the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey books and movie, Anne has been discussing the place erotica takes up in literature.

I visit Ms. Rice’s Facebook page on a regular basis.

Anne Rice on Facebook

And so I heard about the release of her newest Beauty’s Kingdom novel, on April 21st, first one since they first came out in the 80s.

Back then Rice wrote these erotic fiction stories under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure.

Funny how her initials are AN, so close to her actual name. What a coincidence.

😉

She said on Facebook that she preferred a pen name back then because it distinguished her persona, from one genre to another.

I happen to think that vampires can be a highly suggestive and erotic creature. It isn’t such a stretch from one to the other. I can’t say I was totally surprised, when I first heard about her alter ego.

From mainstream author to the indie world:

On Facebook I became aware, recently, of a female writer named Joanna Penn.

The Creative Penn

Perfectly literary name and the perfect name for today’s topic.

🙂

Joanna writes thrillers, under the “penn name” of:

J.F. Penn.

She goes by Joanna when she does podcasts, interviews, and speaking engagements.

She writes non-fiction on writing and on being an entrepreneur.

Anne Rice was trying to separate her writing personas, but in the 80s erotica was mostly secretive.

Nowadays, with Fifty Shades, it is becoming mainstream.

There is no more need to hide. Or is there?

It’s still important to keep separate, even when the audience knows the truth.

Hiding in plain sight I suppose.

Today’s world is a lot different from the one where Anne Rice wrote Beauty’s Kingdom.

It’s not the 80s anymore and nobody can keep a secret in the technological age we now live in.

Why does Joanna Penn even bother with the distinction now? Why do any of them?

When Harry Potter came to an end and Rowling wanted to go in a different direction, she first wrote The Casual Vacancy.

After a mixed review, she moved even further away from wizards, with a good old fashioned who-did-it detective story.

Only Rowling did not write this.

A man named Robert Gailbraith did.

J.K. Rowling to Publish Another Book Under Pen Name

So she has already fiddled around with her name in the past, using initials to disguise the fact that she was a female writer.

Now she chose to go with a male’s name, surprise surprise, when writing in a genre that has historically been known as a male genre.

This makes me mad and it confuses me. I love her and Harry Potter, but I can’t say her choices since have impressed me.

I wish I could talk to her about why, as a writer who has been given the extreme honour of writing books, why she has done what she’s done.

So I see it, still, partly as a fear of being unable to sell as many books if people realize you are a female. If you use initials, at least it may fool readers or customers, in the moment.

Is this a male writer or a female writer?

Hmmm.

Oh well…

But the creation of a whole new male author, Gailbraith, this is baffling to me on many levels.

No room for ambiguity with initials here.

On the one hand I know all about the importance of branding.

I have branded myself as Her Headache, for my writing blog.

I don’t disguise the fact that I am female or hide my real name, but I do put myself out there in a certain light.

Even more recently I have rebranded myself, for my “alter ego” as The Insightful Wanderer, with the creation of my travel blog.

So I have two names now, plus my real name underneath.

I see the value in having separate titles, to distinguish oneself in separate areas of one’s life. I just wish there was no issue, from a feminist perspective, but I believe there is.

I guess I just wanted to explore this topic, here, and to hear your thoughts on branding and pen names.

Do you understand why these authors and others have chosen, in the past and in present, to go by different names?

Okay, now I will go and read those other blog posts on the existence of pen names.

🙂

What’s in a name anyway?

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