30 for 30

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I have 30 hours left of being 30.

If you go by the calendar date, at least. If you go by the hour I was born I have until about 7am tomorrow – but tomorrow is a holiday so I am sleeping the fuck in. (I don’t turn my alarm off on weekends, though, so I’ll be semi-awake in a haze of shut-the-fuck-up.)

Two months ago I should’ve reflected on my age and realized I was the same age at which my mother had me, but she is not yet a grandmother. The average age at which a woman had her first child when we were being born was 25. It is now 28. This is all irrelevant to me because I’m not having children, but it is strongly instilled in me to always compare myself to others.

That’s why I have to make these last 30 hours count.

A Weapon on Four Wheels

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A young woman got struck by a vehicle very close to my home on Saturday. The street was closed off and police were directing traffic around their yellow tape that covered a block and a half. Initial reports said that the driver kept going after hitting her, but was stopped by others a couple blocks later. Maybe the driver would’ve gotten away if there weren’t stop lights at each of the following three streets before he would’ve turned into the oblivion of multi-lane thoroughfare.

Yesterday morning when the world was going to work, a man on a bike stopped on the median boulevard between each side of the street on which she was hit. He was laying flowers on the ground. There’s no reason for anyone to do that beyond a personal connection to the tragedy. She hadn’t passed away yet, but the prognosis might have been not if but when.

A block north of where I live, at an intersection I cross to and from work every day, there’s a plaque attached to a lamppost in memory of a young woman who was killed there by a drunk driver several years ago. There used to be flowers put there, for a long time afterwards. She was a tow truck driver, just out doing her job in the dark hours, and somebody got drunk and decided to be criminally responsible for somebody’s death.

These two deaths are not a sign of danger in my particular neighbourhood. This can happen anywhere in this toxic driving culture. There aren’t enough pedestrians on the street to put drivers in their place and impose a sense of humility and respect for others from within their comfortable exoskeletal shell. Driving is just the way most people do things and how they get places. If it weren’t so culturally dominant, there wouldn’t be as many drunk drivers because there wouldn’t be this assumption that everyone everywhere at all times is going to be getting from A to B with their own personal vehicle.

In middle school a student a year older than me was struck on her way to the bus stop – yes, in a school zone going to a bus stop where hundreds of students catch the bus at the same time every day – and because a paraplegic as a result. A family member got in a terrible crash in a flash thunderstorm on a country road and her unbuckled friend died from injuries from bouncing around throughout the interior of the car. There are so many lethal elements to driving, yet there’s a disease in our culture that it doesn’t change how fundamental cars our to our lives, and those who are still around and driving haven’t gotten in these severe accidents yet, so they don’t need to acknowledge the rules designed to mitigate the risks.

People can still drive in a healthy transportation culture, but more people need to walk and cycle to gain mass and force drivers to cooperate rather than intimidate and threaten just by the function of their vehicle. Keeping an eye out for other people – NOT just other cars or inanimate objects like stop signs or traffic lights – is what all people should be doing when moving in public. Individual responsibility should be assigned to the relative size of the method of choice, because drivers don’t get killed by the feet of pedestrians; pedestrians get killed by the cars of drivers.

Let’s take it to the streets, people.

Le Nation Blanche

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White countries are afraid of becoming not white countries.

White countries are experiencing increases in their non-white populations through immigration and higher birth rates.

White countries are vastly outnumbered by non-white countries. They are vastly out-populated. They are vastly out-sized.

White countries used to think the world was theirs to conquer.

White countries still think that but use different language.

This is backfiring, and that’s why Parti Quebecois was defeated in the provincial election yesterday. Well, one of the reasons.

White people: we need to take a serious look at ourselves and figure out how we can stop being such…white people.

Nineteen Ninety-Four

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On the weekend, when looking back to the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, someone who was 19 at the time cried thinking about that day. Nobody knew he was dead until the 8th, but hindsight blurs all kinds of technicalities of history, and watching the April 5th, 1994 Blind Mellon performance on David Letterman made it seem like Shannon Hoon already knew, since he was about as sad as a person who lost a dear friend would be. (But he was pretty much almost always that sad, which just makes us all sadder thinking about his own separate tragedy shortly to come.)

I wasn’t quite old enough to have been deeply touched by this genre of music to mourn deeply over the loss of Kurt Cobain. I was also facing my own personal struggles of near-death experiences that brought deeper medical problems to light. Nineteen ninety-four was a heavy year. April of 1994 was a loaded month.

On the weekend, a generation and then some mourned the day the music died (in a much bloodier fashion than Buddy, Richie, and Bopper) and now today the entire world mourns – or should be mourning – the day the Tutsi died, or at least the launch of the Rwandan genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people in an ethnically divided civil war with the Hutu leaders intent on eradicating the population not like them.

Retrospect and anniversaries are very uncomfortable when milestones are reached, whether it’s bad memories revisited, our own aging, the dwindling population of living survivors, or just the length of time that’s passed with such little progress since. It’s like there was a lot of hope before, which was lost when something tragic happened…and since, there’s been nothing but numb apathy as we carry on. No lessons have been learned but to blindly go forward, as the only escape from tragedy is to keep going and forget about it, until anniversaries come around and bring us back to how we can most accurately recreate our pain of that moment. And to dwell in our own pain, of how different we are from our rose-coloured reflection of younger years, yet how much the same the world at large continues to be.

Friday’s Failures

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I have to get over the past few days of just cumulative insignificant failures.

I spilled coffee throughout my purse. I washed said purse and broke my hair dryer trying to dry it out. Things in that purse got soaked, some irredeemably. A lot of it still smells like coffee.

I switched to a new purse today while wearing jeans, so the dye rubbed off on the side hitting my hips. I decided to walk a distance into the sun without sunglasses, with muddy puddles everywhere on a speeding street, and with sidewalk puddles gambling for an injury and further purse damage. Even choosing not to walk, a 2L bottle of coke exploded on the bus and sprayed in my direction.

Heads have butted, tables almost – and tempers certainly – flipped. My tolerance has been tested and my workload weighted.

It’s time for sleeping and drinking for me.

Orwellian as Shit

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I found out today that my brother-in-law’s former roommate babysat my boss’s kids many years ago. It doesn’t concern me so much that this thing happened – it’s how easily it conversation led to this discovery.

When I’m in an unfamiliar public environment, as this job was to me six or seven months ago, I numb down my sense of self for the purpose of building the relationships needed to survive. I need to mentally fight through the time in an unknown territory filled with new people. I need to dilute my confusion and lack of knowledge with chit chat and a display of character. Small talk. There isn’t a choice.

I would much rather keep my life in silos. My mouth slips too much out of habit and I just let the whole conversation fall as the path of least resistance. I’d really like it if I could undo a lot of the cross-contamination I’ve done in my life – for my family to know fewer friends; for groups of friends to not know other groups of friends unless through my own choosing; for coworkers to not know the coworkers of my friends and/or high school buddies of married-in family; for Dirk to not be independently associated with every human I’ve encountered. It won’t happen.

These things happen organically in this complex network of hundreds of thousands of consciousnesses bridged through human infrastructure. I can’t control it. What I CAN control is whether I import my contacts from Gmail into Twitter, or sync Facebook and Instagram accounts, or even go so close as to touch anything from a former classmate inviting me to LinkedIn. I can’t backpedal with the face-to-face damage already done. What I can do is stop and think before clicking on something that will expose to the world everything I’ve said to everyone I know, for every reason.

Stop this madness. It’s Orwellian as shit.

Homage to an Elevator

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It was literally shitty.

At least, so goes a sign I saw in it once. I didn’t see the pile of human feces. It was gone. A good samaritan had notified the live-in building caretakers who had no excuse not to clean it up¬†immediately, and that samaritan also made a sign reminding us of apartment building etiquette. It’s a brilliant sign. It’s a memory I hold dear.rs3454

I didn’t see that specific dump, but there’s a lot to remember about the different-context-of-the-word dump that the elevator was. The building was 100 years old when I moved in. The elevator was probably maintained or upgraded, but still its same core self. Common folklore, whether true or not, said it was the oldest original still-functioning elevator in the city. It had obviously been through a lot. The rubbery texture of the paint was a sure sign that coats had been coated over other coats ad nauseum. The carpeting must’ve been changed several times, say, every 10 cases of human waste taking place there. Nah, probably 20. Or 50. There were several instances of vomit stains in the two years I lived in this building, and when it smelled like piss it wasn’t clear whether somebody urinated there or if it was just recently occupied by someone who carried the scent themselves.

Yes, I lived in this place for two years. This should hint to you that I don’t live there anymore. I’ve grown quite above it, switching from a one bedroom apartment in a downtown character building to a…larger one bedroom apartment in a downtown character building but with a better view and no elevator. My current building doesn’t need one. It doesn’t meet the threshold of five storeys that the last one did. I lived on the fourth. I tried to promise to myself that I would walk up the stairwell circling the walls outside the elevator shaft unless I was carrying something very heavy. I failed on that promise many times. It was hard walking up that stairwell carrying anything heavier than my own fat ass, and it made me dizzy to circle so much. So I frequently saw this elevator’s various states of disrepair. Carpet was not only soiled but torn up. The metal bars on the walls were distorted. People vandalized the pus-coloured walls. I wonder not if, but how many times people fucked in that lift during my residency in that building.

It wasn’t just how it was treated. With it being as old as it was, it was how it was built. It wasn’t classic like you see in period movies that have the accordion doors, or whatever the fuck you call them, but you did have to ensure the prison cell type door was shut, manually, before the inner door would automatically close and take you to your destination. It could only stop one floor at a time, which was useful for avoiding the neighbours who would degrade the territory but not so useful for getting to know the good neighbours through this iconic place of small talk. Those are both pretty good things to have in an elevator, actually. At least there are those to offset all that was horrible.

I see elevators malfunction in my office building all the time, sometimes all three. I have seen elevator repair people standing in broken elevators that are stuck about a foot and a half above the floor they should be actually on jump up and down aggressively trying to get the damn thing to move. I never had to see that with the outhouse elevator. I guess they don’t build them like they used to. These early elevator models must’ve been hand-crafted works of art…but I think this one was more along the lines of Medieval paintings instead of Renaissance sculptures.

I live virtually across the street from this old haunt of mine, and I’m sure if I walked in behind somebody who had keys they would hold the door for me without any suspicion. Then I could see what state this elevator is in now. But I’m scared. I don’t want to go in there and see it replaced. I don’t want to see it redone in an attempt to make this building as classy as it was in its heyday. That’s not why they call old apartment blocks “character buildings” – at least not in this town. Dare I go to see her again? Elevators don’t have Facebook profiles you can stalk to see if they’ve gotten uglier since you left them.