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Dog people

I am still a fairly new dog owner, and this has been my first summer with my two little hairy darlings. Since I acquired my new little friends, I have been walking with my head held higher, a spring in my step, and my eyes are shining with pride. I have been admitted into a secret fraternity of dog-owners: no longer are we strangers passing on the street, but fellow lovers of our canine companions. These summer sidewalk escapades brim with possibilities: sniffing the butt of the dopey basset hound, romping through the fields with the aged yorkie, even jumping headfirst into the crowd of summer revelers (both furry and skin-covered) at the dog park. It has been a growing experience, not only for my fluff-butts, but for myself as well. Never before have I been loved so unabashedly, unquestioningly, whole-heartedly. 

 

In a city not particularly renowned for its friendliness, romping the streets with my two canine companions has proven to bring out the best in neighborly relations. When you walk down the street with two adorable dogs, people aren’t afraid to stop and make conversation. As I proudly guide Zoey and Mary-Jane down Sherbrooke Street, smiles beam in our direction, and strangers become neighbors. Becoming a dog owner means joining a subset of people: a specific type of quirky people. Dog owners, more than any other pet, live a lifestyle that truly revolves around their animal. We are passionate and somewhat crazy. My maltese truly are woman’s best friend.

 

As we plunge into another long, cold Montreal winter, I will miss these moments shared with my two favorite companions. The biting cold of another Canadian winter will keep my girls inside, but the promise of next summer and the memories it will bring propel us through until we see the snow melt and May starts once again to warm our hearts.

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Hipsters of the world unite! Communist couture makes a comeback.

When I was attending a primarily residential university, my favorite part of living on campus was the fact that I could wake up 10 minutes before the bus, jump into a pair of stained sweatpants and a ratty sweater, and be in class before I was even fully awake. All this and I would still be one of the more fashion conscious students in the class. By this, I mean that I had showered in the past week. But, being in classes full of Math nerds and Comp Sci geeks, what does it really matter what you look like? Indeed, universities drawn in a cornucopia of different styles and fashion statements (or lack thereof). There is one ‘look’ in particular that fascinates me and somewhat frightens me at the same time: I call it ‘communist chic’. 

Don’t get me wrong. I support theoretical communism. I am an ardent socialist (thankfully, since I am going to graduate with a BSW), and generally more trusting of the government than sinister multinational corporations. I’m not really sure why, because if I delve into these views, they don’t really make too much sense. But, I am all for communal goods and services. However, the truth is that communism has not shown itself to be that idyllic “pure communist” paradise that Karl Marx predicted back sometime in the mid-19th Century. Surely by now we have proven that communism doesn’t work?

This is why this whole ‘communist chic’ concept fascinates me. It seems as though every couple of years, communism makes a comeback, and it becomes the mantra of a new generation of cutting-edge liberal Arts majors. But just how cutting edge is the concept of communism? Well, let’s put it this way, it was already old news when my father was attending Concordia 40 years ago. Yes, neo-communists existed then. Why then do we continue to see communism being exhalted as some type of salvation that will deliverusfromtheevilsofhumancapitalismandleadtoanewmoreacceptingand lovingsocietyofhappygoluckysocietymembers wherethereisenoughmarijuanatogoaroundthankyouverymuch? Have these people never read Animal Farm

animalfarm

In theory, communism is a fascinating and compelling concept. However, haven’t we proven by now that a state of Marx-approved pure communism is simply not possible? Let’s just take a look at demographics for a second: Generation Y has been touted as the most superficial, materialistic generation to ever exist (Generation Me). There is something tragically ironic about the fact that the guy in line next to me in the bookstore had a Che Guevera sticker on his Blackberry. Then there was the young woman I spoke with in my Philosophy class, who claimed that she was doing her part for ‘social justice’ by riding her bicycle to school every day. The bicycle? Bought nowhere other than Wal-Mart, a corporation known for their use of sweat shops in third-world countries. Their bike manufacturing plant is not an exception (Wal-Mart bike factory). So, does peace of mind come too easily these days, and does the sky rain down cheap grace on our self-congratulating, perfectly-coiffed heads? Perhaps it is easier to wear a hammer and sickle t-shirt (in a color that coordinates with your $150 Birkenstocks) than to donate $5 to the homeless man on the corner?

Is communism really something that we should be pushing? Let’s look at the results of real, imposed communism: In China, Chairman Mao was responsible for more deaths than Hitler. And our modern-day hero, Che Guevera? He was responsible for the deaths of more than 180 people. Communism definitely has a bloody history, and it is questionable whether we should be holding up these values as our promised Utopia. Surely, in the annals of history, we can find more deserving heroes and causes? 

And for God’s sake, you look like an idiot in that t-shirt. 

che

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Autumn, baby!

Long time no write.

I am going to try to start writing in here regularly again.

Summer came and went. I am back at school, and the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees.

It’s strange getting used to being back at school. But still, it feels good, having things to do and places to go. I’m still not sure I want to be a social worker. I feel burned out already and I haven’t even graduated yet. I guess I need to sort that out in my head.

But still, this is my favourite time of year. The dogs like it too, playing in the leaves. The sun is starting to come out, and I am thinking about taking them to the dog park today.

School is still lonely. It feels so big and cold sometimes. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and I just sit there by myself. Sometimes people seem hostile, but part of me says that this is just my social anxiety. Still though, you would think a bunch of future social workers would be a bit more warm. I am trying to reach out more this year. I will try to go to things and meet more people. It’s hard, and my first instinct is to hide because it makes me a bit nervous. I haven’t found out where I’m doing my practicum yet this year. I am supposed to find out in October. Hopefully this year I won’t get last choice like last year.

Today is Sunday, and I feel stagnant. There is a bunch of homework I should be doing, but I don’t have all the books that I need. I meant to go to church this morning, but I slept at my mother’s last night, and I didn’t want to leave her with the dogs while I went out. I should probably take a shower and get dressed, since it’s already 11:30 (how did that happen?).

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Grandpa – a poem

GRANDPA

It terrifies me to reach out
And not feel your life alongside mine.
By day, I am numb and distant
But at night I wake myself with my cries,
Wet-eyed and calling out for you.
You were there always,
Creased, weathered hand in my smooth one.
The old time chivalry of men with remnants of fluffy white hair,
A quiet dignity from a time long gone.
Sometimes in the quiet,
A solitude more peaceful than oppressive,
I can hear you.
A quiet voice, whispering words of love,
An ever-present but seldom audible encouragement
And reflections of forevers
Stretching out into a horizon of unknowns,
Frightening yet strangely alluring.
I can make it if you hold my hand.
Do you float in a pool of love,
Surrounded by ripples of ever-present grace?
Do you sing once again,
With the voice of an English schoolboy
In a country church choir,
Jubilant songs of sweet homecomings?
I pray that you stay with me,
And hold me close,
Because without you the night is too dark.
I need you here,
Cradling my aching, grieving head in loving arms
Of eternal unity
And the hope of unwavering togetherness.
I will never stop straining to
Hear you sing soft lullabies,
Lightening the darkness of the night.

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Christmas

Ever since I started working retail, I have had a really hard time with Christmas. There’s something about being told to ‘fuck off’ on Christmas Eve that makes it hard to enjoy the season. Walking through a mall at this time of year still makes me anxious, and invokes some deeply buried rage. I’m not really sure where it comes from, but it is definitely there. Walking through the Eaton Centre last week, the Christmas songs were playing and I just kept thinking that the only reason why they were playing Christmas songs was to encourage people to spend money. It’s not like they decorate and play Christmas music to spread the love. Okay, so I’m bitter and jaded, but lately I just feel this incredible need to distance myself from outrageous displays of capitalistic frenzy. It’s not like large corporations give a damn about their employees (here and elsewhere).

I’m trying desperately to feel some kind of Christmas spirit, but it just isn’t happening. I keep trying to think of a meaningful way to spend Christmas, but I can’t come up with a single thing. I feel like cocooning. I remember how magical Christmas used to seem when I was a child. I remember lying awake on Christmas Eve, watching for the light of Rudolph’s red nose on the snow outside my window. In my memory, those Christmases were warm and bathed in deep, rich color: The dark green of the Christmas tree, red velvet decorations in my grandparents’ living room, shining silver cutlery that was only used for Christmas, silly paper hats in a rainbow of color that came from Christmas crackers that never really worked. I remember the heat and the orange glow from the fireplace, the itch of hand-knit sweaters, falling asleep against my mother on Christmas eve at church. Safety, warmth, the feeling of being loved and protected. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop time. The world seems colder now.

One of my favorite memories from Christmas was when my little cousin Kelly staged a nativity play in the living room, using the family members. My cousin Caitlin who was about three was very angry at being cast in the role of Baby Jesus, because what three-year-old wants to pretend to be a baby? All I remember from her theatrical endeavors was my uncle’s line, playing one of the wise men, “This is gold, it costs very much.” Poignant words, haha.

How to recapture some of those feelings of love and magic when I have seen some of the darkness in the world?

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Morning

I love the early morning. This has changed as I have grown older. Throughout my teens and my early 20s, I was a night owl. I remember on weekends leaving the house at 11:00 pm and not getting home until the mid-morning. Even on nights when I would stay home, I loved the thrill and the mystery of the nighttime. Later, when I started to work, I would work the night shift to avoid sleeping at night. Those days, I lived in an alternate universe where I never saw the sun, and where I lived in a perpetual state of upside-down confusion. These days, I love the solitude and the quiet of the early morning. I like sitting by myself, sipping my coffee, listening to the radio and watching the first light of dawn seep through my window. This is peace, before the world comes alive, the shining promise of a new day. On good days, I celebrate the dawn and revel in those first rays of light.

 

On bad days, I find it hard to climb out of bed. Sometimes it takes all of the strength that I can muster to arise and face another day of being me. On these days, my day looms ahead of me like Mount Everest, and even little things like getting dressed seem impossible.

 

But sometimes, on mornings such as this, I realize why I’m alive. After a long week of anxiety and grief, I woke this morning to feel a sense of tranquility. Unexpected, but surely welcome. Where does it come from? A mystery, but perhaps I should just accept it and rest in this feeling. The dawn is beginning to break, and for a rare moment, I feel alive.

Prayers and peace to Canada’s veterans. ‘Lest we forget’.

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Just a quickie!

Sorry I have been absent. (Does anyone read this anyway?) I seem to have developed somewhat of an actual life in the past couple of weeks. Plus, I managed to catch a flu that just wouldn’t let go pretty much as soon as I got home. I have also been spending a rather shocking amount of time on the bus. Um, yeah, down with public transit!

 

            The first week at school was a bit overwhelming. When I first made my schedule, all of my classes were in the same two buildings (which are right next to eachother), which made me feel relieved. However, they decided to change two of them so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the hell I was supposed to go.

 

            The social work classes are a lot less friendly than I thought they would be. You’d think that people who are going to be social workers would be slightly more, uh… social?

 

I will write something more substantial soon! Xoxo

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