Bucket List – Canadian edition

Been married: No.
Fallen in love: Yes.
Gone on a blind date: Yes.
Skipped school: Yes.
Watched someone die: No.
Been to France : No.
Ridden in an ambulance: No.
Been to United States: Yes.
Been to Europe : Yes.
Been to Toronto : Yes.
Been to Vancouver : Yes.
Been to Montreal : Yes
Visited Disney Land or World: Yes.
Visited Niagara Falls: Yes.
Seen the Grand Canyon: No.
Flown in a helicopter: No.
Been on a cruise: No.
Served on a jury: No.
Danced in the rain: Yes.
Been to New Brunswick : Driven through it.
Played in a band: No
Sung karaoke: Yes.
Made prank phone calls: Yes.
Laughed so much you cried: Yes.
️Caught a snowflake on your tongue: Yes.
‍Had children: No.
Had a pet: Yes.
Been sledding on a big hill: Yes.
Been downhill skiing: Yes.
Been jet skiing: No.
Ridden on a motorbike: No
Travelled on a bus, train & coach: Yes, yes and no.
Jumped out of a plane: No.
Been to an outside Movie: Yes.
Ridden a camel: Yes
Ridden a donkey: No.
Been on TV: No
Been in the newspaper: Yes.
Stayed in hospital: Yes
Donated blood: No.
Had a piercing: Yep.
Had a tattoo: Yes.
Driven over 100 mph: No. I don’t drive.
Been scuba diving: No.
Ridden in the back of a police car: Yes
Had a speeding ticket: No.
Broken a bone: Yes.
Had stitches: Yes.
Traveled Alone: Yes.

Where I Am Now

So I’ve got to get a tooth replaced by an implant, which is really going to suck.  Not just because any dental work genuinely sucks (and boy does it), but this stupid implant is going to run me about $4000 in the end, and I am not pleased about that.  I’ll have to save up for most of it over a few months, and that’s fine because it’s a series of appointments.  But it’s $4000!! That’s a really nice trip to Europe guys! I’m so not impressed with myself for getting into this situation in the first place.

In other news, I’ve set myself a lifestyle plan that I think I can actually stick to.  I need to lose a pound a week.  This is a fact.  I am overweight and something needs to be done about it.  I’ve said this multiple times, but I feel different this time.  Something inside me is actually motivated to do this.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve set a reasonable goal, or because I set it long term.  You see I want to lose 50 pounds.  That’s right, that many pounds to lose. I’ve given myself a goal date of labour day 2017.  So basically a pound a week for a year.  That is totally do-able if I can just stick to watching what I eat, and moderately exercising.  The key diet change will be via weight watchers and their points tracking system.  The exercise will be via Beachbody and the YMCA. I can do this.  I have to do this. Besides, with the $4K tooth coming, I won’t be able to eat out anyway.

Can-Con is coming up soon, which I am very excited about.  I hope it gets the ideas and words flowing.  But I also signed up for a 10-week creative writing workshop via OttawaU’s continuing education courses.  I’m incredibly excited and totally nervous about this.  For all that I have been writing my entire life, I have never workshopped or talked about my work with anyone other than close friends and family.  This will definitely be a change and a challenge for me. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

I’ve been having ups and downs lately.  Most days are ok, and mostly things in my life are fine.  But then there come those days where I am inexplicably down.  I miss my mom.  She has left a huge hole in my life.  I live alone, so if I wanted to talk to someone about my day I always called my mom.  Now there’s not really anyone to fill that role for me and I have to accept that things are different now, that my life has changed. It’s becoming easier to accept, though it does still make me sad.

Soon we’ll be September.  Damn summer went by fast.

And Now For Something Deeply Personal (A Companion Piece)

This will be disjointed.

So yesterday my brother posted a blog post about his thoughts on the bible and homosexuality.  It’s a good post (although I admit I skipped over some of the actual bible verses!).  In it he talks about being 28 and having someone very close to him come out to him.

That would be me. I was 19. I had just come out to *myself* a few months before.

He’s not wrong, he was the first person I told (besides my soon to be girlfriend) and I was terrified. But see, telling him first was strategic on multiple levels.  1) I knew I could trust him. 2) I knew he had multiple gay friends, therefore he was a safe bet.  He would not have a problem with it, and would have my back when/if my mother ever found out.  Not that I ever planned to tell her.  At the time I was convinced she would die never knowing (ask me how long that lasted).

You see, my mother had made it clear to me on multiple occasions that being gay was not ok. I didn’t get why, but I certainly got the message.  It was the only thing I could think of when I discovered I was gay.I didn’t know what to do, once I figured it out.  I was in love and there was literally no one I could talk to about it. It ate at me for months.

I am not by any means a religious person.  I’d consider myself agnostic at best, vaguely spiritual.  I believe in something greater than humanity, something better to strive for, but I wouldn’t say I worshipped it.

Despite this, I would bargain with god at night as I lay in my residence room, crying myself to sleep.  “If my being gay is ok with you, let her [the girl I had a thing for] love me back.  Then I’ll know.” Weeks of this happened. I know that’s not how prayer or god works, but I didn’t care at the time.  I needed something, someone to talk to, so I talked to god.

And it turns out she did love me back. I had never felt so blessed in my life.

It wasn’t easy.  I came out to my mom and sisters a few months later at Christmas (that was fun) and I was right, my brother totally had my back.

But then things changed.  My brother turned to the religious life.  It was seemingly overnight for me, though I’m sure it wasn’t for him.  But suddenly he didn’t have my back anymore.  Suddenly being gay was a sin. I did not like that particular opinion, not from him.  Anyone else, ok, but not from my brother. It hurt more than I can describe, but it also angered me with a righteous anger I think only a 20-something can truly feel.

How could loving someone be a sin? How was that even *possible*. Of course then there was the whole “don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin” crap.  It wasn’t me that was wrong, it was the act of gay sex or something. That did not make me feel any better.  I honestly felt betrayed by my brother and we soon settled into a comfortable Let’s Not Talk About This With Each Other.  Life went on.

He never judged me or treated me any differently.  Well, not for the most part. At one point I asked him if I ever got married would he come to the ceremony?  He said he would, but, he was a minister at this point, he could not officiate. I was actually pleasantly surprised that he even said he would attend, at that point.  His officiating had never occurred to me.

It’s been almost 20 years since I came out and certainly many years since that conversation.  As I said, we didn’t talk about it much, except on the rare occasion (Me: “Have you watched Brokeback Mountain yet?”  Him: “Have you watched The Passion of the Christ yet?”  Touché. ).  So I was surprised when I got a facebook message from him a few months ago apologizing for any time his faith may have hurt me, and saying he would gladly officiate my wedding if I ever got married.

I don’t know what his journey to this point has been like.  I can imagine it’s been an intensely personal, ever-shifting, often confusing one like my own was. But I’m glad we are where we are, even if we took the scenic route to get here.

Living Alone as a Woman

So recently this article on loneliness and living alone as a woman showed up on Metafilter and created quite the ongoing argument between those who really like and appreciated it, and those who really, really didn’t.

You’re about to find out which side I fall on, really damn fast.  The first two lines of the article are

I am terrible at sharing the bed. When my boyfriend travels out of town, my first thought is how much space I will take up in the bed while he’s gone.

Well then.  This is where my sense of disappointment pops in.  I went into this article expecting to find a woman who shares my lived experience of living alone, being lonely, and being single.  And to be fair, nowhere in the title of the article does it mention relationships.  It was purely my assumption.  But the fact that the author mentions her boyfriend in the second damn line pisses me off.  It reads as if she needs to validate the fact that she isn’t *really* alone, someone desires her, she has a boyfriend after all.  She’s not like those spinster women.

But I try to power through the article, because as others on metafilter pointed out, you can write about the loss of being alone, and maybe that will speak to me somehow.

In popular culture we have “the bachelor pad,” and “the bachelor lifestyle,” but no such phrases for women. Women who live alone are objects of fear or pity, witches in the forest or Cathy comics.

And this is very true and it is my own fault for projecting but I wanted to hear from someone currently in that situation.  I wanted something to relate to and I don’t have that with this piece.  And let’s be honest.  I’m not alone by choice.  I would like a partner and it just doesn’t seem like it’s meant to happen for me.  I could be all tough and say it doesn’t matter, that I’m perfectly content, but that would be a lie. “Women who live alone are objects of fear or pity” Helena Fitzgerald says, from the comfort of the sidelines.

Living alone as a woman is not just a luxury but a refusal to bend into the shape of patriarchal assumption and expectation.

Why thank you. My loneliness as a bastion of feminism – I like it.  I’d like to say that’s why I enjoy my lifestyle, that I leave the dishes in the sink too long and never put my shoes away as a fuck you  to Patriarchy, but the fact is, and “refusal to bend” on my part is purely unintentional. There is a difference between those of us who live alone because life forces them to, and those who actively make that choice.  Although in the end I suppose I do make that choice though.  If I really wanted a roommate I could find one.

Loneliness felt like a project to which I had to commit all of myself.

Either Fitzgerald is mistaking loneliness for aloneness, or she is romanticising loneliness, because loneliness fucking sucks, let me tell you.  It does not feel romantic in the moment.  It does not spawn creativity for me, it does not feel, as the author states, “luxurious and comforting”.  Being alone gives me those feelings, absolutely.  Loneliness does not.

No matter how committed I am to the life I’m building with the person I love, some part of me reaches back to the fierce triumph of loneliness.

Again, I feel she conflates being alone with being lonely.  I get that she misses being alone in life.  I feel like if I ever did find a partner I would feel the exact same way.  But to write an article romanticising it when you’re no longer in it is like writing about war from the safe sidelines and not the trenches. Yes, her viewpoint is valid, but it is skewed by the fact that she is now outside looking in.

In the Margins

So I recently (as in half an hour ago) discovered the website The Establishment. And now my mind is blown.  How did I not know this site existed? I may never leave it and lurk there forever.

What’s so great about this website, you ask?

The Establishment is “a multimedia company run and funded by women that’s predicated on a simple, yet radical notion: the world is a better, more interesting place when everyone has a voice.”

This shouldn’t seem so radical, but it is.  The Establishment has on their front page right now articles about

And that’s just the short list.  There’s even a specific section for arts and creators.  I am fully blissed out. The Establishment focuses on the margins of society and I love it to bits.

It’s funny because I often walk the line of marginality (is that a word?) and the cultural “norm”. I am white appearing, upper-middle class, employed and those are all privileged positions.

But I am also a woman, a person with a disability, queer, and mixed race.  I am the very definition of a marginalized voice.

But I often struggle to find that voice.  Even though I am all these things I am certainly not unique.  I often allow other writers to be my voice about these things, which is a shame really.  As a writer, I feel I should be mining the feelings evoked by being all these things.

And let me tell you, there are some serious feelings.

I feel like I could write a book just about being me, but I struggle with where to start.  Is this blog representative of who I am? My marginalized voice? Probably not.  Do I want it to be? Most certainly.

So maybe it’s not about finding my voice but more about having something to say. It scares me to think that maybe I don’t have anything to add to the current discourse.  It worries about my fictional work, too.  How can I be a writer without something to say?

Maybe I just haven’t found the right topic yet. Lord knows I’m certainly full of opinions.