36-40, 2016

   I was about to type, "round two! fight!" but we are so far beyond round two at this point. If you've been following along with this journey for awhile there may be a movie here which you will look at and say, "how many times are you going to watch that?" The answer is: so many times.

   Time to GUESS.


an incomplete list

   Events I have been remembering over the past few days:

   A man in my life told me that body hair on women was gross and ugly, and immediately the memory of tip-toeing quickly across the bathroom floor with blood steadily flowing from the backs of my ankles popped into my head. Those were my worst shaving related injuries, but there was also the time I cut the back of my knee, or the time I cut an inch long gash on the front of my shin, or the innumerable times I nicked my knees, or the time, or the time, or the time.

   I was on the train going home from work and a drunk man leaned over me, asking what my name was, where I was coming from, where I was going, if he could come home with me. I was deeply and earnestly thankful for my bike acting as a physical barrier between me and him. At one point he walked away from me and I made the mistake of relaxing before he turned around and leaned in close to my face. I wanted to escape, but what would I do at a train station far from my house in the middle of the night? There were at least three other men in my line of sight on the train car, and they did nothing.

   At my job at a theatre I was leered at and propositioned by a drunk man, who leaned over the counter and stared at my chest. He was already inebriated, but I served him so that he would leave. He was in a group of men, one of whom apologized and tipped me as they left. I wondered why he didn't say anything while it was happening, and why he thought his twenty dollars would make up for his silence.

   Again at the theatre I was yelled at by a man who told me I was a waste of space. I was shaking and shaking as I called my supervisor on the radio. The group of patrons around me stood by quietly. One woman told me I handled the situation well after the man left.

   Walking down a street downtown at night with a friend, we both stiffened when a group of men approached us. The men didn't move to one side of the sidewalk as we passed, but rather made it so we walked between them. They made comments as we walked by.

   A male friend said that cat-calling was fine because it's just men paying compliments, and I recalled the times I have been yelled at out of cars while walking, while biking, while driving, and how it made me fear for my safety, and made me feel exposed.

   Several times, despite my "train gear" of headphones, sunglasses, a book, and a scowl, men have approached me, taking up my time and space and energy. They sit too close or interrupt my reading and I think of the time a stranger at a train station asked my younger sister for her phone number by shoving his phone in her face.

   As I compiled this list all I could think of was the stories and experiences of the women in my life, and what their stories involve (violence, weapons, violation, injury, fear, coercion, trauma) and how mild my own experience has been in comparison.



   I don't really know what to say today. I'm not American. I'm white, straight, Christian, and able-bodied. I have access to higher education and medical care. I am okay financially. I have a lot of privilege. While I have so much sorrow over the results of yesterday's election, I don't think I can begin to understand the implications for people in already marginalized communities in the States.

   I saw this tweet this morning

and it encouraged me to get up and look for what I can do to be a helper. How can I use my position and privilege to help others? So I've been making a list for myself, and I thought I would share it. 

   I can educate myself. I can read, listen to, and watch people who experience the kinds of oppression that I do not. This can mean reading books that have been written by someone with a very different background from me (Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea, The Rabbits by Shaun Tan) or books that are explicitly written to educate and expose (Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit). I can seek out podcasts and TEDtalks by and featuring people who I can learn from (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's talk about feminism). 

   As a Canadian, I can educate myself (and encourage others to do the same) about the racism and sexism built into my society. I can learn about residential schools. I can learn about immigration policies. I can also learn about the diverse communities around me, and I can do it respectfully. I can learn about other cultures and I can learn what words/actions cause harm to people with less privilege than me, and then I can eliminate those words and actions from my life. 

   I can use my whiteness as a shield between others and harm. 

click to enlarge

   I can support the work of marginalized people and choose not to support the work of people who actively harm others. I can buy music, watch movies, read books, and generally support art made by/centrally featuring people of colour/women/people with disabilities/other marginalized people. I can avoid things like movies that unapologetically cast token "Others" in a cast full of white men. I can also avoid movies/music/etc made by/centrally featuring people who have used their position and power to cover up or enable things like domestic abuse. 

   I can be willing to enter uncomfortable situations with my friends to challenge word choices, action choices, ignorance, etc. I can humbly accept and repent when I am challenged in this way. 

   When I buy luxuries like chocolate and coffee I can use my money to buy fair trade goods. 

   When I speak to my nieces (and other children in my life) I can emphasize their hard work, their kindness, their intellectual life, the ways they are learning and growing, their bravery. I can speak kindly about others in front of them. I can speak kindly about my body in front of them. I can, in some small way, encourage them to see their futures as full of possibility and promise. 

   And lastly. To my sisters and brothers in Christ (and to myself): the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Our job is to work justice for the oppressed. We have been shown what is good and what the Lord requires of us, which is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.  We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind. We are to follow and imitate Christ, who treated people with love and respect when they were marginalized (racial minorities, the poor, the chronically ill, people with disabilities, sex workers, women, the list goes on), and challenged and rebuked those who had molded religion into something that benefited them and held others down (the Pharisees as a brood of vipers). We are also charged to test everything and hold on to the good. 

   Are you loving your neighbour? How? Are you working justice? How? Are you doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly? Are you turning away from a spirit of fear? Are you reaching out with love to the marginalized? Are you repenting the times that you have hidden behind Christianity or turned a blind eye to how you or your religious leaders have used the Gospel for your/their own gain? Are you testing what you hear coming from Christians in positions of authority and power? 

   I love you all. Let's be helpers. 


reading in August-October

   I should start splitting my reading recaps into quarters. It's happening naturally anyways.

   OKAY SO, my reading-for-fun has taken a backseat to my reading-and-writing-for-school, and so I thought that I would be barely reading at all AND YET I remembered that audiobooks exist and I have a bus ride to and from school every day and even with listening to podcasts and music I still have time to enjoy a good audiobook, praise the Lord. I'm still not going to make it to 52 books this year, but I have come to terms with my destiny.

   The books:

  • Petty Theft / Pascal Girard - a short-ish comic book about a comic artist living in Montreal who sees a woman stealing books from a bookstore. I read it in an afternoon at the library, and I feel a bit conflicted about it. It was good and enjoyable but also he kinda stalks her? 
  • Girls of Riyadh / Rajaa Alsanea - this book was described on the Get Booked podcast as Gossip Girl but in the Middle East and it was VERY GOOD. I am so glad there are places like Book Riot that make recommending diverse reading a priority, otherwise I never would have found this. Highly recommend. 
  • If You Feel Too Much / Jamie Tworkowski - a collection of Tworkowski's earlier writing, put into a book from various blog posts etc. Tworkowski founded To Write Love on Her Arms and he really cares about people. 
  • The Peach Keeper / Sarah Addison Allen - spooky happenings and interpersonal relationships in a small town in the southern States. Good, but not great. The further I get from having read it the more I say "meh" 
  • Witch Child / Celia Rees - MORE WITCHES? Why not?!!?!?
  • Why Not Me? / Mindy Kaling - this book starts out with Kaling spilling celebrity beauty secrets and I was like "HEYO" and was on board for the rest of the book. It's very good! 
  • Seraphina / Rachel Hartman - dragons and humans and half-dragon-half-humans, oh my! I think everyone I know who has read this has enjoyed it and I am no exception. 
  • Stiletto / Daniel O'Malley - I waited so long for this book and you know what? It was Worth The Wait and I loved it. I want to go back and read The Rook again. I want Daniel O'Malley to immediately write and publish another entry in this series. I want him to update his website because he hasn't since 2015?!?! Please, give me more of The Chequy Files, I beg of you. And is The Rook ever actually going to me made into a TV show? 

   That's a lot of books! I'm pleased with the number even if it is spread over three months. If you've never read The Rook you need to do that asap, please, it's for your own good. 

   I shall end this blog post with a recommendation for a computer game. I was at a library conference last week where we were talking about literacy and reading and story and how these things are changing and evolving, and a panelist mentioned the game A Dark Room. It's a text-based quest game, which come with some moral ambiguity and a mystery to figure out. I've played through the app version, and it was amazing. I'm currently partway through the online version, and it is also amazing. If you're looking for a game that is engaging and challenging in a variety of ways and also doesn't require a huge amount of active participation, A Dark Room is the game for you. The online version is free, the app is 99 cents.