Damnedest if you Sort-Of Do

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I was unemployed for 10 of the past 20 months, and in school without work for 9 months before that. For six of my unemployed months, although not consecutive, I was paying my own way and only got slightly in debt. I managed during that time by living a relatively thrifty lifestyle. I’m not a bargain hunter. I steer away from coupons because I don’t believe “couponing” to be a real word. I just lived simply, and used many of the resources available.

When I did work in the short-term jobs between periods of unemployment, I saved. I didn’t get paid enough to save very much. The lifestyle was still relatively thrifty. Now that I’m permanently employed, the pressure to conserve financial energy has been alleviated…slightly.

I was able to get through that period of time because I’ve been saving for a while. I was very fortunate to get abundant support throughout my first degree from multiple generations of my family. My simple lifestyle and aversion to consumer debt kept my income higher than my expenses even when working part time. (Who has a life when in university full time anyway?) I worked two jobs for over a year without “rewarding” myself with binge spending. So when I decided to travel for two months then go back to school on my own dime, I was okay.

I’m back to working and back to saving. But I find it’s a more difficult lifestyle now. Things are more expensive, probably at the same rate as my higher income. I’m no longer living the anti-glamourous lifestyle I prided myself upon in my mid-20s – I’m trying to reflect my age and maturity a little bit more. I am building my savings at an ambitious rate. However, rather than seeing that as a virtue and each lump-sum funds transfer as an accomplishment, I perceive it as money slipping away from me. And the hoarded dough in that account never seems high enough to calm my worries.

So after periods of time when I celebrated having under two dollars left in my monthly budget as an accomplishment in being poor (or rather, “poor” given how advantageous my life has been compared to the rest of the world), I now stress out if my bank account balances under two hundred. It’s entirely self-inflicted, I know. But there’s just no pride in the middle. It’s a boring place. Not much recreational spending, but not much of a challenge day-to-day…except the challenge of changing the outlook to feel proud of that two hundred bucks.

Ideas Lost in Thin Air

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I’m curious, sometimes, of all the ideas that exist in people’s heads for however long, that never get put into action.

I’ll never know any of them spare a few from people with whom I’m acquainted, provided that they’re brave enough to share these ideas in casual conversation. That is, I’ll never know any of them aside from my own. I have had dozens of them over the past, say, 25 years, since I’ve been able to express things that come from my imagination. And what an imagination it’s been.

If nothing else, all of the stories and creative ideas that I’ve come up with entertain me. When I have the courage to open up and tell other people about them they seem at best merely polite in smiling and nodding to mask their lack of shit to give. I could take the leap into putting ideas to action but I’m secretly very timid and vulnerable to rejection.

I respect those who do shove themselves into the unknown territory of putting creative works “out there” in ways that do reach the public beyond the extent of their existing network. As much as I think I have something to contribute, a creative mind isn’t really the key to getting there. It’s the gall to jump in and sell yourself. No one really becomes known for what they create by accident.

Working Nine to Five…Thirty. 9 to 5:30. 17:30. Whatever.

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Days can be slow in my job because I primarily wait on someone else to provide me with necessary information.

They also feel especially slow because I wish I were still in bed.

ImageSo this was my day. This is usually my day. First off, not quite thrilled to be there. (I’m no longer tired when I arrive at work because the exercise and cold swift wind of my walking commute remind me I’m alive.) Secondly, when the morning meets its end, getting tired again in spite of coffee consumed. (Also in spite of the coffee consumed – a nagging appetite.) Thirdly, by the middle of the afternoon, I’m frustrated for usually two reasons – things that need to be done and issues that need to be addressed because people don’t make any fucking sense most of the time, and there’s still over two hours left in my working day in spite of all the mental effort expended in the afternoon. (I would probably get less bothered by people thinking differently if happy hour were coming sooner.)

The walk home, weather permitting, again reenergizes me (not putting a hyphen in there; I want to slowly change its common pronunciation into “REE-ner-jy-zez”) and I’m enthusiastically looking forward to the evening hours that remain when I can either get or not get things done at my own will. This is probably the most boring, typical style of day. I don’t know what makes it worth writing about, except for this Post-It note doodle.

(Turning Post-It note doodles into cartoons has already been done, and very well, by Christiann MacAuley at www.stickycomics.com.)

A Hooded Manifesto

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Trayvon Martin. I hope that name is forever synonymous with the continued existence of racial injustice as Rodney King has been for the past twenty years. These tragic and completely reprehensible events should remind everybody who lives a peaceful day-to-day life that the ills of hate and prejudice are far from over.

How this hatred could be so pronounced in the mind of George Zimmerman, a man of my generation – of my age – still baffles me on some level even though it’s always been apparent that racism is alive and well. I’m not familiar with how this continues to get indoctrinated in children and young adults as they shape into the world around them because in my development the message has always been clear. A string of tweets I made this afternoon explains:

“Recently one of my sibs commented that, retrospectively, our elementary school was pretty hippy-ish and progressive.”

“This is probably one reason why socially backwards events and rhetoric (blatant sexism/racism/classism) break my heart to this magnitude.”

“I guess I assumed my whole generation was educated this way, and would be more accepting of diversity and actively fighting prejudices.”

“Basically: I thought everyone wanted to fight inequalities, but a surprising number of people want to deny and/or outright perpetuate them.”

I’ve written about the prevalence of overt racism before. I work around it and I live around it. I benefit from both the clear and hidden manifestations of inequality and prejudice simply by being white. I can wear hoodies without being profiled. People don’t veer away from me on the sidewalks. When I drink, or even just appear to be having a good time in public, people don’t scorn me through common stereotypes and deem me a menace.

Life has been a far smoother ride for me than for most from the means provided to me through an educated middle class upbringing. The access I had to an enlightening primary education isn’t guaranteed for anybody. I’m comfortable in the gender corresponding to my sex and attracted to the opposite. I speak the dominant language of my area. I have functioning limbs and senses and a healthy immune system and intellect.

But I still have limitations in ability that alienate me from the majority’s lifestyle that has laid foundations the structure of society in ways that inhibit me from its amenities. I’m expected to be sensitive and want children and maintain a good home. If I go by the high-heels-and-mini-skirt standard of dress I owe a man access to my body, and if there are any unplanned consequences of such access (consensual or not) I owe the public access to my body, according to the latest politics of social conservatism. None of these battles against prejudice are even close to being over. Vigilance remains, and will always remain, a necessity to ensure basic gains aren’t lost again.  We need to keep demanding equal rights – the right of everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, class, sexuality, ability or age, to walk with their hood up in public.

A Choose-Your-Own-Answer Riddle

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Help me on this one. Which of the multiple-choice answers fits this best?

Q: If you call someone driving a car a motorist, someone on a motorcycle a biker, and someone riding a bike a cyclist, what do you call someone traveling on a unicycle?

A:    a) Crazy
b) A clown
c) A sidewalk hazard
d) Nothing. They are a marginalized segment of society that we pretend doesn’t exist, just like the homeless

Or, if you want to be a killjoy, you can just go with “unicyclist”. But nobody would want to unicycle with you.

Selfish Improvement

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There are a few items of self-improvement I need to work on. Actually there are many – many, many many. The first sentence, though, was intended to lead into an abbreviated list of the following:

  1. stop talking (when unnecessary)
  2. don’t feel the need to justify choices to other people
  3. address shit head-on directly with the people it concerns
  4. don’t try to fix other people’s problems

These are all related, although I can’t quite put into words how except as “habits learned from my mother”. I could claim I don’t exhibit these as strongly but that would be a clear violation of the first and especially the second goals.

Because I know these habits are bad, and things like these are easier to see in other people than oneself, I have an urge to jump in and violate #4. In tandem with that is developing the skill to tone down that urge – to choose not to be bothered. Choices can be made to change the long-term reaction and the more practised that choice is the easier it should be to control the knee-jerk reflex and emotions manifested from it.

And being bothered by others when they exhibit this behaviour distracts from being bothered by my own. Self-awareness is pretty selfish in that regard, especially when done for the benefit of others. How egotistical of me to work on becoming less annoying.

Urban Inconvenience

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Nobody wants to park downtown.

First of all, nobody wants to PAY to park downtown. Surface parking lots abound, and in most major buildings there are basement parking levels. Multi-level parkades are also growing in popularity as a more practical alternative the drab and plain pavement that only emphasizes the terribly dull flat land the Canadian Prairies already have. So people do park downtown, usually because their jobs pay them enough to afford monthly parking and they have phobias or allergies of things related to riding the bus. Or they’re just uncomfortable around poor people.

People who don’t work downtown still drive to the area for appointments or evenings out, hockey games or concerts, theatre or school. Many try to come early to steal a spot on the street that they don’t have to pay for past 5:30. Others find it worth the convenience to pay for parking close to wherever they go.

But if they can get around it, nobody wants to park downtown. It’s mostly an unspoken aversion, but I can see through the reluctance for people to accept invitations to my home. It may not be the price they assume they’ll have to pay for entitlement to park, as at certain hours or on certain days that’s not an issue. There are commonly held prejudices against downtown outside of business hours when there isn’t the same size crowd to deter theft and vandalism. It’s not entirely without base. Recently a friend of mine did have her window smashed and laptop stolen within the few minutes she spent in somebody’s apartment. But my defensive response wants to argue that this event didn’t happen in MY part of downtown.

For those who want the comfort and convenience of their cars to extend to the comfort and convenience of where they park them, I can’t force them out of that mindset. All I can say is: I don’t park downtown either. Because I don’t have a car. I’m not suggesting that as a solution to whatever problems they may have with leaving their vehicle unattended in my part of the city, but oh man, am I ever glad I’m never preoccupied with worrying about parking downtown.