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Are People Shitty, Or Just Afraid? Does It Even Matter?

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I’ve been sitting here for several days, between trying to get work accomplished, continuing to educate my beautiful students, and being the parent that my children need.  Notice that I didn’t say “homeschool” my children, because I am not.  I do plenty of activities with them, play music and read and try to continue to enrich their lives as if we are just on an extended school break.  They are young, they will come out of this with fond memories of a time we slowed down enough to focus on each other, at least I hope so.

In between all of that, I have been purposefully changing my social media presence to simply include a brief account of what our lives are looking like during this piece of historical significance. I have also started purposefully avoiding getting into any more conversations about this pandemic, or the measures being taken, or the possible cures or anything politically related.

If there is one thing I enjoy under normal circumstances, it is a good debate or impassioned conversation with opposing viewpoints or opinions where two people can look at an issue from two very different sides and learn from one another and grow as humans.  I think that difficult conversations are important to be able to understand that there is not one thing in this world that is entirely black or white, and that almost always we all deserve a seat at the table.

These are not normal circumstances.  And I am no longer enjoying the debate.  In fact, at best some of these conversations are making me really sad, and at worst I am absolutely horrified and disappointed in some of the people that I know and love dearly and the things they are either saying or virtually applauding.

Look, I get it. This whole situation blows. Try being a fucking musician in times like these and see how worried you are about your employment prospects for the near future.  Other industries are on hold right now.  Everyone is anxious and exhausted and 100% not in control and that produces a fear response that a lot of times makes people do and say hurtful things.

For the record, COVID 19 is a super shit thing that the entire world is having to go through headfirst, blind, and pretty much with flailing arms.  We don’t have a radar screen to navigate by here, so most reasonable leaders are trying to use lessons from history to determine how best to sail through this storm.   It’s going to be messy, and imperfect, and expensive.  There will be much economic fall out from this and we are all going to have sacrifices to make.  

Ironically, people who have less are the ones who seem to be the most understanding of this.  The ones who have the most are so used to getting their own way and having access to all of their entitlements that they can’t fathom sacrificing one thing from their hoard of capitalistic treasures in order to create widespread benefit for the health and welfare of everyone else.  And really, this is what this pandemic is showing me.  That many of us are so selfish and tied to material things that we are willing to “sacrifice one old granny” rather than sit tight and ride out this storm with grace.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories and they are annoying, not fact based, and scientifically inaccurate.  People want to push through experimental treatments with total disregard for human safety.  They think it’s fine to just let hundreds of thousands of people die and allow millions suffer because it’s “less than 1% of the population” so far. They keep talking  about how the numbers are so low and we are all fools hell bent on their economic ruin.  Talking about how our children will have to pay the price for this.

I don’t know for sure, but I feel quite strongly that these are merely excuses because they are tired of being inconvenienced. They are worried about their current lifestyles being permanently affected. And in response to that fear,  some people have a put a price tag on the lives of the vulnerable and the elderly and poor. There is a line drawn in the sand about what has value and what does not, and there are so many people that I thought I knew who are on the wrong side of that line.

COVID 19 is not a socialist plot to fuck you over.  The financial aid being given out is not an irresponsible and frivolous act that will be the downfall of the country or world.  It is a much needed rainfall in an out of control blaze of fuckery and flame.

By the way, in 1918, communities that completely shut down in response to the pandemic social distancing recommendations had better economic outcomes and faster, steeper recoveries than the communities who ignored them.

I could go on and on in order to rebuke every ignorant and cruel comment I have seen lately but am I exhausted by the seemingly never ending dialogue of selfish, misinformed people who are slaves too busy worshiping their green paper gods to have any sense of what is right and good.  I am sure I will have to continue to bite my tongue and ignore this continued dickery once I post this article as I get bombarded with more hate messages and hurtful comments.

When this lockdown first started, I had a lot of hope.  Not hope that it would be quickly resolved, but hope that we would all be able to value this “Grand Pause” in our lives and see the meaningful things we are blessed with and for the first time in a long time, really appreciate them.  I thought that parents would see this as an opportunity to reconnect with their kids, and families to actually eat dinner together again and realize that the hamster wheel we’ve all been on for so long maybe was spinning beyond our control. I hoped that we would once again start to be able to distinguish the difference between want and need and realize that simpler lives may, well, simplify our existence.  Love, connection, health, peace….I thought those things might re-emerge.

And don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of beautiful people out there doing beautiful things,  among them the artists and young people and communities working together to support one another and brighten our days and reach out to help where needed.

But for many others…..there is an ugliness that is probably being inspired by fear and lack of control that is making them search for someone to be angry at, or an enemy to fight, or some other reason why none of this can be really happening. And I just don’t personally know what to do about that.  Probably nothing but just feel sad about it.

Anyway, Bitches, Stay well, stay safe.  Hold the fucking line.  See you all on the other side.

 

Still In Love……

I’ve been seeing this Valentine’s Day challenge all over Facebook this week. Everyone keeps telling us the “details” of their relationship- how they met, where they first kissed, who said I love you first. You know, all the important memories.

It’s fun to go down memory lane like that.

Husband and I met at the Olive Garden. The Fucking Olive Garden. We both worked there…it’s not like he fucking picked me up over some all you can eat pasta fagioli and salad or anything. I was fresh out of a really yucky relationship that ended two years too late, and he was absolutely not interested in dating whatsoever.

But “I” was irresistible, OBVIOUSLY, and he showed up one night when I was working late and he was off with a case of beer and an invitation to go to a party. The party consisted of a bunch of the guys who worked in the kitchen and a whole lot of pot and some of the funnest times I have ever had.

Our relationship was instantaneous, but oddly evolved slowly at the same time. We were the best of friends, reluctant to say boyfriend, but eager to say I love you. It was easy and we were opposite in every single fucking way but somehow always ended up in exactly the same place.

I remember our first kiss on the doorstep of my parent’s house, and our first apartment, his marriage proposal after me explaining that it was time to get married, and all of the important milestones that couples everywhere document in their stack of photos and memories.

Perhaps more importantly though, I remember being this crazy girl that refused to be controlled and how he never ever tried to control me. He let me pound bottles of gin and dance on tables and slam on the brakes in the middle of the highway to look at a bird or get out and pat some horses in a field.

He always picked me up and fed me bites of his dinner across the table and made me laugh and walked right into my house without ever knocking.

And along the way we had our troubles. We both struggled with mental health and career changes and heavy, repetitive loss. We fought. We cried. We yelled. We swore we were not meant to be.

We had our babies and things got harder. We were tired. We neglected each other in order to survive individually. We almost gave up so many times.

But we didn’t.

A true love story isn’t about who is stubborn or drives better or falls asleep first and hogs the covers. It includes all of those things, but our story is about the things that brought us together and almost tore us apart,and the life that we have built.

In my forties, I realize that true love is not about butterflies and first kisses. It is about patience, commitment, tolerance and gratitude. It is about sacrifice and compromise. It is about acceptance and loving all of the parts of someone even when you don’t like them.

It’s about taking turns lending strength and letting shit go. Love means taking good enough care of yourself so that you can give the best of you to your partner.

And so we’ll carry on. I’m sure that I’ll be an absolute ridiculous bitch about something and he’ll tell me to go fuck myself and we will not speak for an hour sometime again in the really near future. Because we’re human. And it’s really, really ok.

We’ll still be in love after.

That is what a love story is.

Still being in love after…..

Covid has made it super obvious that our leaders have it all backwards.

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If there are two things the pandemic has highlighted for me, it is that the lack of personal and professional accountability is literally a disease in itself, and that our system of political representation is fucking broken..

Humans are selfish by nature, but from the anti-mask protests to the inexcusable behaviour of elected officials and lack of transparency from them, it has been made really clear to me that we have entered into the Golden Age of ME ME ME and POWER POWER POWER.

Don’t get me wrong, I also think that this whole thing has brought out some beautiful philanthropy, spirit of community and willingness to adapt from many people, but like everything in this world lately, the way we have responded personally to this pandemic is as polarized as North and South.

I have been hugely disappointed in my elected representatives and their arrogance, personal conduct and lack of direct honesty. It got me thinking: Are they all just a bunch of total assholes who walk around with their dicks in their hand try to remind you how important they are? Are they reminding us that they hold all the cards and the rest of us are just minions, here to just eat shit while they do whatever they want? OR are they just trying to hide their own ineptitudes and shortcomings by putting up this brave front that includes verbally abusing media and constituents and trying to avoid answering questions by discrediting the questioner?

Honestly, I think it’s all of those things.

We have a problem here. The people in charge have it all backwards.

The spirit of democracy is that communities vote to have someone represent them, to be their voice, to listen. We are supposed to elect people to represent our unique needs and advocate for us. We are supposed to elect people that will hear us, and empathize, and try to be fair. We have a right to expect honesty, transparency, and the ability to account for mistakes openly. We expect mutual respect and an ability to compromise what they might personally believe because they were elected to represent the WHOLE community, not their own interests.

Unfortunately, it just isn’t working that way.

What appears to be happening, is that the political party’s are representing THEIR actions and policies to US. They make decisions that are based on their values and desires, and then spend their time justifying them to US. They break their own rules and won’t apologize, account or even acknowledge them. They block our ability to communicate with them. They try to discredit the people who ask tough questions because they either don’t have the answers and are to proud to admit it, or simply don’t have the integrity to deal in truths.

No wonder they are so pissed off all the time. Constantly trying to justify things that aren’t justifyable is bloody exhausting.

If we truly want to fix this, we need to get back to the spirit of what democracy is about. Level the playing field, so that anyone selected as a candidate gets funded equally to campaign. Give grassroots people and communities equal power and opportunity to best represent what their community actually needs.

Abolish the party system.

Have separate votes for specific cabinet portfolios such as Health, Education, Justice, Arts, that would create an opportunity for specialists in those fields to spearhead departments that are based on expertise and who have a hot fucking clue what they are in charge of. Create a Cabinet that isn’t rooted in maintaining party lines, but in well informed humans having to discuss and to compromise and learn from each other in an effort to actually solve a few things in our society.

WHAT IF, this all became less about power and money and actually became a group of leaders who were finally leading people and inspiring them as they were meant to be doing, rather than trying to manage things according to their priorities and “ruling” us?

WHAT IF we could make this better?

WHAT IF, indeed.

If not being a c%^t makes me a radical leftist, I’m okay with that.

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”I love that you’re a socialist now”-words uttered at my kitchen table by my bestie last night over our own little wine and cheese party for two.

She was teasing me of course, because in today’s world there seems to be no in between anymore on the political spectrum and I’m pretty sure that was a tongue in cheek comment on that very thing.

The political landscape these days is pretty fucking polarized, in case any of you have been living under a rock or getting by with your heads firmly implanted in the sand.

The conservative side of things is no longer the right side of decades past. What we are seeing is a political point of view that seems firmly rooted in bigotry, extreme religious views that leave no respect or room for other faiths, continued exploitation of the vulnerable, and the growth of a wealth gap so wide that soon everyone but the extremely wealthy will tumble in.

Contrary to that, believing in a true living wage, the protection of vulnerable people, supporting the well being of all and leveling the playing field for everyone regardless of the socio-economic status of their families is suddenly considered radical views that support government control over every aspect of our lives and the inability to achieve higher levels of wealth.

Well, if believing that our responsibilities as humans include taking care of the basic needs of all the people in our society makes me a ”radical leftist”, than I guess I just jumped onto that wagon.

Personally, I truly believe that if we continue to constantly throw tax deductable charity dollars at the symptoms of everything wrong with the structure of our society, instead of eliminating the reason we need to do so, things will never, ever change.

I’d be willing to bet that the majority of crimes are perpetuated by trauma and poverty, and the cycles that occur between generations of things like abuse, neglect, and addiction. People who don’t have to worry about shelter, food, safety and love don’t generally decide that they would like to grow up and be a professional asshole.

So sure, folks to the right of center believe the answer is to write a few checks a year for meal programs in schools and increasing the police presence in neighbourhoods with higher crime rates. After all, they are the ones who cough up more charity dollars than us radical leftists, right?

But what if the answer is really to guarantee that every single person who works a full time job is able to have a houses/apartment AND food AND heat? And if they aren’t capable of doing so for a multitude of reasons, like caring for medically fragile children or parents, having a disability, or mental health problems for example, they still get to have all of those necessities.

I firmly believe that we will never, ever EVER solve any of the problems with crime unless we eliminate poverty. If we eliminate the reasons for desperation, people generally feel less desperate. If you are constantly consumed by the worry of paying your rent and whether you can feed yourself, you generally have a lot less time to further your marketable skills or education or deal with your emotional bullshit. People in survival mode do just that- they survive and there is not generally room for much beyond that.

My capitalist/conservative friends would exclaim that what they want is for EVERYONE to have the opportunity to make a six figure salary and that countries with socialized medicine/education/systems rely on controlling heir citizens and preventing them from achieving things.

That argument just simply doesn’t make any sense to me. True capitalism relies on the exploitation of SOMEONE, usually a vulnerable community, in order to succeed, and a bag of believable lies that they want everyone to succeed when what they really mean is the ”right kind” of people”.

It just simply doesn’t work that way.

So yes.

I fucking believe that everyone should have a guarantee that they have the basics in life. A house. Food in their fridge. An education. Health care. Counselling.

If that means that the guy making ten bajillion dollars a year has to contribute nine of those ten bajillion dollars to make sure that every single human in this country has food to eat and a warm place to live, I am cool with that too.

And if being a decent human being makes me a radical fucking leftist, then I am cool with that too.

And if it makes you hate me that I will advocate forever for us to protect, love and heal the vulnerable people of this earth which means that you or someone else might have to be a little LESS rich, I am also cool with that.

Mark 10:25 ”It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

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Last Christmas was my first one without my mom. Not exactly a milestone me or anyone else wants to reach. The weeks leading up to the holiday season were mixed with sadness, grief, a desire to keep it as normal as possible and the hope that I could feel like she was remembered.

I try to make a conscious effort each year to do at least some of my shopping locally. Toy stores, artisan sales, and local shops are all on my list of places to visit. Part of that is to support the small businesses financially instead of making the rich richer, but a big part of it is personal connection.

That had never been as apparent to me as last year.

There is a wonderful little family owned shop here called Toad Hall Toys. It has been open since I was a kid. I remember going there when my brother was all about becoming a magician and needed new supplies and tricks. I’d tag along to browse and they always had the neatest things that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Fast forward to last December. I had just finished helping my Dad go through the house I grew up in. Packing, donating, deciding what memorable things to keep for myself as I went through a lifetime of memories and my entire childhood in the span of a few weeks. It was emotionally draining. When going through the dining room hutch, I came across a Christmas candle set that my mom would always light on Christmas Eve when we got home from church. It’s a simple little metal charm set, where you light the candles and the heat from the flames make the hanging angels spin and cast shadows on the ceiling. Every Christmas of my childhood is for some reason represented by that set.

When I found it in the hutch, it was missing pieces. I was so sad. Of all the things that had huge sentimental value to me, that dumb candle set was of the highest regard. Putting it in the trash just felt like the proverbial nail in the coffin.

And then I went to Toad Hall Toys.

As I browsed things for the kids and made my way to the lineup at the cash register, I passed a shelf that contained a box of the exact candle charms that I had mourned a week earlier. In the same original box design from fifty years go that my moms set was in. For TEN DOLLARS. There was only one set there. I stood there and felt a huge wave of emotion run over me. Whatever your belief system is, I do believe that those we have loved and lost find ways to reach out to us once they are gone, and this moment sent chills down my spine.

I picked up the box, and waited my turn to pay.

When I got to the counter, the older lady who owned the store started to ring up my items, and commented on the candle set. I told her about my mom, and the house, and the candles and started to cry. It was such a moment full of grief and sadness, but also a weird release.

And you know what she did? She took my hand, and cried with me. In the middle of her store. On a Saturday afternoon in the heat of the Christmas shopping season. She took the time to see me, and understand why it was such an impactful moment. Her reaction validated me and made a difference for me.

I will never forget it. I will forever support this business, because of that small moment and what she did for me that day.

And that, folks, is why small businesses are important. Yes, economics, yes community.

But in a world where human connection and empathy and understanding seems to be on the endangered species list, people like her help us feel connected to each other.

Now, more than ever, those connections are invaluable.

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