Letters to Grandpa, Part One

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My grandfather did the same thing as every year: wrote me a cheque for my birthday. It’s always appreciated, even though I’ve told him that it’s not necessary given that we’re grown people. He wants to help us enjoy more things while he’s still alive. I suspect he also wants to see other things while he’s still alive, but he ain’t getting a lot of that from me.

I kind of made a point of that in the thank you letter I wrote back to him. I haven’t sent it yet because I’d like to absorb it just a bit more, for its brilliance and to make sure that I’m not being an utter dick to my elder.

It could be read as rude and defensive, or it could be read as the nuanced commentary it’s intended to be. Those two things are fundamentally who I am though, about 20/80 per cent respectively.

I start with this:

Thank you for the birthday money. Time does not seem to be linear anymore, so I’ve been more likely to forget that a) it’s my birthday, b) my birthday should be important to me, and c) I should be important to myself.

I’m sure a lot of people who know me, and who could very well read this, think I’m obliviously self-centered and out of tune with how pretentiously I come across. They will scoff at the notion that I didn’t really have a sense of it being my birthday this year and not even get what it means for time not seeming to be linear. But I think my grandfather will understand that.

The bulk of the letter goes on describing what’s happening and what’s to come. It talks a bit about what I’ve been doing and makes satire of itself. It’s just a few paragraphs; it looks like more than it is because I increased the font size for legibility. In the closer, though, it gets quite deep. I wasn’t high while writing this.

Your very generous and much appreciated gift helps keep me in perspective on how important self-reward and self-care are. I’m navigating through an unfamiliar adult world of stability and self-reliance that I thought I would never see, given the past few years of runoff from the global financial collapse that was right on cue for derailing my opportunities. My life improvements over the past several months and the incessant phone calls from my bank to discuss investment options have been gradually drilling it in that I might have a future and perhaps I should put some thought into it. Then again, when I get a clearer vision of where I actually want to go in the future I also see impending failure and consider walking straight into the river instead.

The river is still very cold, though. I’ll put that idea to the side.

There needs to be more to a letter like this than “Work is going well. I’m excited for [thing] to happen. I think I might be out there to visit you within a period of time that appears real but is not yet within reach.” If your letter to your grandpa doesn’t say “I’m very much aware of my shortcomings, and there are contributing circumstances that I’m working around because apparently adulthood is, in concept, a sham” then how does he really know you connect anymore? This is a slight nod and a tap on the nose, in 16pt font so he can read it himself…and hopefully won’t get any other relatives to read it out to him.

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.