Friday, July 31, 2009

bookmarking

Currently looking for these ceremony programs I saw the other day and can't find them. Why oh why don't I bookmark these things to make my life easier????

aha! found it here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

the abortion taboo: family guy and the people you know...

REPOST (excerpt)from PANDAGON:

"I guess no one is seeing the real humor in that unless you are avidly pro-life and anti-women’s right to chose, abortion is not really a fringe topic that is so edgy it must be banned from TV. Again not shocking, but maybe they should try something easier like period jokes, until they can get with the really big scary stuff. "

If you want a textbook example of how systemic sexism works, the taboo about portraying abortion on TV will suffice. It’s the most common outpatient procedure in the country, and yet we write it off as fringe. There’s only 694,000 open heart surgeries a year on average, 600,000 hysterectomies, and 193,000 hip replacements a year---but there’s 1.2 million abortions performed every year. But I’ll bet you could find more people who claim they don’t know anyone personally who’s had an abortion than make the same claim about hysterectomies, heart surgery, or hip replacement. Of course, they do know someone who’s had an abortion, most likely, but she’s mum about it, because of this taboo against speaking about it. And that troubling taboo creates ridiculous situations where shows like “Family Guy” that get away with pretty much anything can’t do a show about abortion.


Sustainable lifestyle: links to ponder

I haven't been sleeping well lately which is leading to feeling drained and lacking inspiration. However, I recently read 2 blog entries on the top 10 things you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle that I think merit a repost:

6-10 top actions you can do to change your lifestyle to make it more sustainable.
The final 5-1 list.

Some of the items listed seem simple enough and worth consideration, not only because they're sustainable, but also because they would lead to improved quality of life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

strange dream, beautiful scenery, and sangria

From 2009-07-28 summer 2009

Photo from our recent hiking adventure in Mont Bruno. I loved the greenery, it reminded me of home.

I feel groggy this morning and I'm not sure if it's from the heat last night, the bad dream I had, or the sangria. My vote goes for the heat and the dream because the sangria was just too yummy to be the cause!

I had this psychotic dream about this house that was being fixed up/moved out of. While waiting for someone to finish backing I went exploring and heard this young boy calling out help me, help me. So I go to where I hear the voice and open the door. This young kid stares up at me in fear and I pick him up and call to the other person in the dream, who comes and joins us. As I'm trying to leave the room with the boy in my arm, my ankles keep getting bitten (small sharp teeth bites - maybe mayla (my cat) was biting me in my sleep???). I yelled at the boy and my partner to stop but they both claimed it wasn't them and the boy starts looking really scared. The problem with the biting is that it keeps causing me to trip over my feet and makes it hard to get out of the room. Eventually I push through the bites, make a joke about the house having evil fairies and pull the door shut. But the door won't shut properly because the latch won't catch.

We (my partner and I) try to pull the door shut but it continues to pop open. I don't know why but we both know it's important for the door to be shut (perhaps because the boy was so scared of the room). Right next to the door is another door which is also loose. The boy seems even more terrified of that door. So my partner goes to get some boards to nail the doors shut. He comes back and we successfully close the first one and then start on the 2nd. But something about the shape of the door makes it impossible and then finally a small long haired blonde woman comes out of the room.

I start talking to her and she tells me that I have to put the boy back into the first room. I reply that I won't because he's obviously terrified. We argue. Then I notice that her mouth is covered in blood. And as I notice this, she lunges for me and the boy is suddenly at my feet. That's when I woke up, feeling very uneasy I might add.

Yeah... freaky! I haven't had a dream like that in a long time and I have no idea where it came from. Maybe I've been reading too many vampire stories!!!

But then I think that Katie, Mark and I were joking about creating a horror movie set in Bled, Slovenia and wonder if this couldn't work itself into that plotline. Hmmmm.... I'm working on ways to make my millions, even in my dreams!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Comments on Twilight

I’m a book geek. It goes without saying. And I’m a binge reader, have always been, will always be and not interested in changing it. That said, yours truly just read the entire Twilight series in less than a week. Yes. Less. Than. A. Week.

There are benefits and drawbacks to reading an entire 4 book series in one go. Pro: that everything is fresh in your mind and you’re able to link ideas together. Con: that you become hyper critical of all that you’ve read because of this.

There are things that I really enjoyed about the series and there are things that I loathed. If I had to pick between the DaVinci Code and Twilight, I’d pick Twilight. Why? Because the writing is stronger and the narrative is crafted with more skill. Harry Potter vs Twilight? Harry Potter because the ideas are fresher and more entertaining, the world is more engaging. Anne Rice vs Twilight: believe it or not, it’s a toss-up (unless we’re talking about Queen of the Damned, which is my favourite book in the Anne Rice canon).

Here’s what I loathed:

Bella is weak and pathetic. For a girl who supposedly was capable of taking care of her mother before coming to Forks, she’s pretty damn pathetic once she gets there. She’s a total klutz (which is fine in and of itself), which is paired with her lack of sense of preservation and her martyr complex, in order to become downright infuriating. The girl can’t bloody walk or tie her own shoelaces without Edward holding her hand. She can feed her dad, take advanced biology but can’t manage to walk anywhere without tripping over everything in sight. Trust me, I’m a klutz and I don’t trip as much as Bella does.

Bella is co-dependent and doesn’t know how to be happy without men loving her. Whether it’s Mike, Jacob, or Edward, Bella’s entire sense of self worth is attached to men being attentive to her once she enters Forks. Mike makes the transition easier, Edward holds her hands, and Jacob picks her up when she’s down. I know that teenage girls are melodramatic, but Bella’s level of love or die is pushing it. Sure I get that her world felt like it was falling apart when Edward left, but the novel essentially teaches girls can only get over a boy by falling into a relationship with someone else (Jacob).

The way love is depicted is dangerous. First we have the stereotypical he hates me, he loves me transition. Edward is initially (seemingly) repulsed by Bella, he snubs her and insults her (a la Mark Darcy) and then goes out of his way to avoid her. When he deems that he can deal with her, he initiates a friendship and she forgives him without any explanation as to why he was so rude before. If hate turns to love then ladies get out there and find yourselves the biggest bastard and never give up hope because your pathetic adoration will eventually wear him down. Why? Not because of your personality, but because of attraction. No wonder women like the bad boys… we’re trained from infancy to go after them.

Then there’s the fact that Edward never really tells her anything. He’s the all knowing wise one; the elder with more experience (though it does appear as though he too is a virgin, so there is some level playing ground). However, being that she’s human and that she’s never going to be as perfect as him until he transforms her, their relationship is never one of equals until after her transformation. Aside from the fact that she remains a mystery to him (he can’t read her thoughts) and his attraction to her (blood lust), there doesn’t really ever seem to be much of a reason for Edward’s obsession with Bella, particularly given her nagging and incessant insecurities. On top of which, the fact that Bella opens her mind to Edward in the end, giving him everything and arguably more than he’s given her (in spite of her immortality), perpetuates the uneven playing ground. He can hear her, but he remains a mystery to her.

Plus, love is an addiction. Bella cannot be without Edward and feel complete. She is obsessed with him and describes her love for Edward like a drug. Despite the fact that Jacob actually allows Bella to be bolder and daring, she longs for a man who constantly makes her feel inferior and needy of protection. He doesn’t trust her to have the wherewithal to take care of herself, and who can blame him when the books is teaching girls that they should sacrificing everything at the altar of love (whether it is to protect her mother, father, Jacob, the tribe, the Cullens, her daughter etc, etc). Bella is willing to put her life on the line for everyone and anyone she loves. Her self-sacrifice is so inclusive and pervasive that not only is she a lamb being led to the slaughter, this lamb loves being slaughtered.

Bella is supposedly a strong heroine and yet she embodies all of the conventional female roles assigned to her. She is a caretaker for her mother, a cook for her father, a chaste wife, and a dedicated mother. Despite never wanting marriage and being willing to sacrifice the idea of motherhood for eternity (she has no qualms about never being a mother until she’s actually pregnant and her life is at risk), she willingly submits to all of Edward’s old fashioned morals on marriage and abstinence (regardless of her displeasure). She risks her life to become a mother at 18 (verging on 19) and all talk of going away to college is dismissed in the face of motherhood. In fact, beyond spending eternity with Edward, Bella seems to have no conception of what eternity will entail. For a girl who is supposedly so smart, you’d think she’d have some interest in higher learning or the endless possibility of adventure that eternity presents her with. But no, it’s all about having sex with Edward forever. And then when she gets knocked up, having sex and being mom. They have no discussions about what their plans are for the future other than being together. He pushes her to go to college as a human but seems to have no interest in encouraging her education once she’s transformed into uber wife and mom.

Here’s what I liked:

The myths and legends of the shape-shifters added a dimension to the story that was intriguing.

The descriptions of Bella’s first experiences as a vampire were fantastic. Her growing strength, her sense of wonder, the playfulness of the tone and exploration were all very well done. I enjoyed the humour, the details, and the way the scene itself was crafted. Her vampire awakening was arguably done better than Anne Rice.
The last battle of the final book redeems and valorizes feminine traits and leave readers with a strong heroine. In the end, it is Alice and Bella who save the day. Bella is finally equal, if not in many ways stronger than Edward by the series’ end.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed quite a bit about these books. I just wish she’d been a bit less polemical in her traditionalism in order to make Bella a more equal partner in the relationship and to offer young girls a healthier vision of “true love.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

drowning in chic culture

For the past week I've been on vacation which ironically meant that I take a break from everything that I do normally. Calling people, answering the phone, writing emails, blog posting, cooking dinner, etc. (Ok, I cooked a few meals, but I also went out to eat a lot...)

I keep feeling like I have all this time to blog, so I should, but I feel like I don't have much to say. It never ceases to amaze me that I have more to say, I feel more creative, and more focused when I actually have more to do. Life is funny, isn't it?

Here are a few of the things I've been up to in the past week:

Hiking in Mont Bruno
Visiting the Pointe a Calliere museum
Picking up our very first wedding gift (eeks, it's becoming more and more real every day!)
Swimming at the country place
Hanging out with an out of town friend
Delivery Mr Kitten to his new home
Crafts (learning how to overstitch...)
Reading, reading, reading: Harry Potter 7, Q & A, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. (hence the drowning in chic culture bit... I challenge anyone to read all 4 Twilight books and not feel overwhelmed by chic lit)!
Bottling wine from the SAQ depot
and...
having a stomach bug

So it's been a busy week...but alack, alas, that all comes to an end tomorrow. Back to work I go. More posting to follow!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

the ways that we are taught to recognize love

So I just finished reading the final installment of the Harry Potter series. I started them long ago with my little brother, who is now 19, and then finished them on my own. But I'm not really going to talk about Harry Potter per se, but rather, about the way that love is represented in the series and my issue with it.

Now, before I start, my disclaimer: not all of the love relationships are portrayed in this way, but for the 2 that are, I take issue!

Something about pop/romance culture seems bent on teaching girls that love follows antagonism. That true love starts off with tension and feuding. Both pairs of characters, Ron and Hermione and Lily and James both dislike each other in the beginning and then end up being each other's great love. Ron insults Hermione and James insults Lily's friend. Both women are deeply offended or hurt by this and thus the antagonism begins.

Eventually of course, these differences are reconciled and the characters after many years, finally come to realize that they love each other (this is more developed in the case of Ron and Hermione as James and Lily, being Harry's parents, are actually dead when the story begins). And so the stereotype continues. Harlequin romances, rom-coms, and hell, the entire chic-flic industry is based on this premise of eneminity turning into true love (hello "you've got mail" much?). The premise: the lovers are inherently at odds with one another, while secretly attracted to the other person and eventually recognizing, once they work past their conflict, that they are each other's soul mates.

Ok, now I don't know about the rest of you out there, but I have yet to fall in love with any boy that I originally hated. I've befriended people that I originally didn't feel much of a connection to, but madly in love. I think not.

I'm so sick of this set up. Seriously. Does this ever happen? Really? Cause I'd like to know about it if does.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

industrial beauty

I have to admit to having a weakness for images that combine violence, industry, and art.
For example: Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat

Her use of the Koran, women, and guns makes such an indeniably disturbing commentary on war's influence on women. She doesn't seem to have a website but google her work and you'll be amazed by the images she creates. (They're not all with guns). These images posted are from long ago and they were amongst some of the first images that really spoke to me as I became aware of photography.



Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan
Spent Bullet Casings


Chris Jordan
Used Cell Phones #2


A new discovery, these pictures make you want to think twice about throwing things out so quickly! I love how he builds on the body of images created by photographers like Edward Burtynsky:

Edward Burtynsky Nickel Tailings
Nickel Tailings

things not commonly known about me

1. I cry and laugh out loud when I read. I do this more often when I read than when I watch movies.

2. I talk to myself, regularly, everywhere (except when people can hear me), and even laugh at myself in public over a train of thought running through my mind that amuses me.

3. I secretly think that chickens are dumb and ugly and scary and kinda/sorta deserve to die, and if I went back to meat eating, they'd be the first thing I'd eat (but only if they're free range and organic... cause chickens are nasty!)

4. Even though I'm a feminist and lit geek, I have a secret delight/love for historical romances. Yes, the trashy ones. I can't help it, I dig the smut and the heaving busts!

5. I was once a princess in a gay pride parade as a child.

6. After "borrowing" my parents new car, I almost ran over a sign lady on a camping roadtrip with 2 friends to Tofino.

7. I've had 29 roomates in 12 years, in 6 different cities.

8. Despite being a pacifist, I was a sea cadet as a teenager, which means I can also sail and shoot a gun (scary!!!).

9. Even though I teach English and work individually with college students to improve their academic skills, I can't use a comma properly to save my life!

10. My first languages were: Polish, Dutch, and English, in that order. Now I can only speak English and French.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

altered states

From the BBC
'The myth of the chemical cure'
Dr Joanna Moncrieff Mental health expert

If you've seen a doctor about emotional problems some time over the past 20 years, you may have been told that you had a chemical imbalance, and that you needed tablets to correct it.
It's not just doctors that think this way, either.

Magazines, newspapers, patients' organisations and internet sites have all publicised the idea that conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be treated by drugs that help to rectify an underlying brain problem.

People with schizophrenia and other conditions are frequently told that they need to take psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives to stabilise their brain chemicals, just like a diabetic needs to take insulin.

The trouble is there is little justification for this view of psychiatric drugs. [...]

mother nature

Dear Mother Nature,

We need to talk. Seriously. Enough is enough.

I appreciate that you took it easy on us this past winter in Montreal. After last year's snowfall disaster/extravaganza, we needed a gentler winter and we all appreciate it. We really do. Not to sound demanding, but come on, give a girl a break already!

You know I don't do well with these long drawn out winters. Come March I'm losing my shit, we both know it. I NEED summer in order to cope. I just can't do it without a bit of warmth to tide me through the cold dark days of winter. And 14°C in the middle of July just isn't going to cut it.

So unless this is some devious plan on your part to delay the hot days so that I can have beautiful Fall weather for my wedding in October, this isn't going to be acceptable. Is that your plan? Cause if it is, give me a sign and I'll shut up and put up. But if it's not, well then I don't know. You and I might need to talk about negotiation tactics or a separation might be imminent. I can't promise you that I'll be on my best behaviour if you don't deliver at least a month of weather warm enough for swimming, skirts and tank tops, and wishing I had air conditioning. That's right. I want the heat. Bring it. You know you want to, so just stop playing coy already...

With (withheld) love,
m

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

dreams

Just another day in the life of...

In which the boy shares his most recent dream with me [the following must be read with heavy sarcasm in order to maintain accuracy]

P: So I had this crazy dream last night. I was with a group of 4 guys and we were ghost-hunters.
M: What, you went ghost-hunting without me?
P: Yeah, I guess I just don’t trust your skills.
M: Hmph.. Maybe it was because you feel threatened by my superior skills!
P: Yeah, that’s it…. Whatever. I had to kill this ghost so I pulled out my machine gun. Cause apparently in my dream a machine gun was good way to kill ghosts.
M: Right, yeah… definitely threatened by my superior skills!

Monday, July 13, 2009

three cups of tea

Photobucket
I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea the other day and I highly recommend it to others in search of a inspirational story. Maybe I was feeling particularly weepy the past few weeks as I read it, but the story often left me teary eyed. Not because of the man who creates these schools, but for the stories of the individuals who fight so hard for education.

It was very inspirational to read about what one man, with no contacts and no resources, can eventually do with time and dedication. For anyone who asks you: "what can I do, I am only one person" the answer is found in this book.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

countdown freakouts!

The other day we hit the 3 months until the wedding mark and with it yours truly tumbled headlong into major freak out mode. And I'm not talking of the bridezilla, must get everything down, pick my flowers, organize events, etc, etc, kind of freakout. I'm talking more of the what's the flipping point of getting married, really? And why does he want to marry me type of freakout. You know, the one that combines with the "we're so different, holy crap, I mean, can we travel together for the rest of our lives (I love India and culture, he digs the beaches/I want to travel everywhere, all of the time, he's more a week or 2 every few years) and not only that, can we live in the same house when he's a neat freak and I'm a mess with my books, crafts, clothes scattered everywhere?" type of freakout to make for a royal mind fuck. So yeah, the "am I sure?" variety of freak out.

Suffice to say, anyone who knows me knows that this type of freak out (related to any given subject) is a common occurence in my world and one in which I have to give the boy kudos for being able to weather and withstand, because they never turn out well for him! I mean really, how often can one handle hearing: I have a question for you? Particularly when he knows what type of question is inevitably going to follow.

The most recent version of this question found him at the wheel of the car while I drilled him with: what does marriage mean? what is the point of getting married? why do you want to get married? and why do you want to marry me? Suffice to say, some of his answers were better than others, but the one that I want to share with you all today was the answer to the final question: I want to marry you because you get me. You just get me.

And with that, for some reason, my anxiety just fell away and I relaxed again. I was and am calm. You see, there is something about this boy, that no other boy has been able to do, and which includes being able to put up with my roller coaster angst ride, to not make me feel neurotic (even though sometimes I very well might be), and most importantly, have this amazing knack to still the beasts within me.

So in answer to his return question: I want to marry him for many reasons. Because I love him, because he makes me laugh when I am on the verge of crying, because he supports me in everything I do, more than anyone I know in my life, and because, most importantly, he just gets me.

So although I'm not one for public displays of affection or squishiness, I writing it down and saying it out loud to remind myself and put it out there. Despite all of my wedding complaints and constant questioning, at the center of it, when I let go of the angst, I know.

Oh, and yeah, totally unrelated... our bonbonnieres are almost down and we booked our honeymoon! French Riviera here we come!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

centerpieces!

Mock up of our centerpieces, with me trying to get out of the picture!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

am I really old enough to buy a house? mom?

Recently we adventured out to look at a house that had caught our eye on a real estate site. Smaller than the house I grew up with, this particular house reminded me of the Victorian homes in the neighbourhood I grew up in. I'm a sucker for Victorian and Tudor style houses.

(see photo for a house I used to pass on a regular basis on my walk home ... I love this house... click on picture to go to a slideshow by the photographer of historical homes and locations in my home town).

Anyways...

I realized as we were looking at the location and outside of this house that even though I'm 32, about to get married, and have a career job, I still feel too young to look for a house to buy. I can't possibly call a realtor cause I have NO IDEA what I'm doing! I'm still playing at being grown up! Which is ironic because of course I'm an adult and I'm more than old enough to look at buying property. But I still feel it nonetheless. I feel like a realtor is going to take one look at me and think she can't possibly handle such a mature decision.

Which makes me wonder: Do we ever get to an age where we actually feel like we're adults? Will I be 60 before I feel like I might know what I'm doing in life?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ode to home

I loved Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels Persepolis (I & II), they touched me a in a profound way, educated me about the situation in Iran (which I admit to knowing very little about) and inspired a new found interest in the graphic novel genre.

In a recent Op-Ed piece for the New York Times she wrote:

Six years ago, I went to listen to a man, whom I will not name, in a café in Paris.
He said it had been 24 years since he had been back to Iran, that he had to leave right after the revolution of 1979 for political reasons.
He talked of many things, and he ended by saying: “Once you leave your homeland, you can live anywhere, but I refuse to die anywhere other than Iran — or else my life will have had no meaning.”
His statement touched me very deeply. I’ve thought about what he said, not just understanding him intellectually but feeling his meaning with all my heart. I, too, was convinced that I must die nowhere other than in my country, Iran, or else my life will also be meaningless.
At the time I heard this man speak, it had already been four years since I had been home.
Yes, I call Iran home because no matter how long I live in France, and despite the fact that I feel also French after all these years, to me the word “home” has only one meaning: Iran.
I suppose it’s that way for everyone: Home is the place where one is born and raised.
No matter how much I am in love with Paris and its indescribable beauty, Tehran with all its ugliness will in my eyes forever be the “bride” of all cities around the world.

Although the location of our "homes" are different, she couldn't have put it better. No matter how long I live in Montreal, the west coast will always be "home." And while we are expats for very different reasons, I still identify with the sentiments she expresses. Although it's still the same country, it's a different culture and the ocean, mountains, trees, even the rain, are all home to me. I can find a million beautiful things in this city, or in another, and yet home will always be, ironically, Nanaimo, BC. Loathe it though I may for many reasons, the river, the lagoon, the ocean, the BC Ferries, Arbutus trees are all things that I associate with home. Even in our debates about moving out of the city, I find that many of criteria I claim to need in terms of creating a space/location called home, echo back to these things. Montreal, with all of the things I love so much, will never offer me the fresh bodies of water that I crave swimming in, nor oceans that I can sail on, or mountains I can hike and climb. And I guess, even after 9 years, home remains the place I grew up in.

Of course the rest of her article goes on to talk about the current Iranian political situation and is well worth a read...

Death, torture and prison are part of daily life for the youth of Iran. They are not like us, my friends and I at their age; they are not scared. They are not what we were.

They hold hands and scream: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are together!”
They understand that no one will give them their rights; they must go get them.
They understand that unlike the generation before them — my generation, for whom the dream was to leave Iran — the real dream is not to leave Iran but to fight for it, to free it, to love it and to reconstruct it.

Given that I just wrote a couple of days ago about feeling ashamed of my country, for all of its little and big hypocrisies, her words "shame" me. They make me realize that we, who have so much, bitch about so little and never bother to fight for the things that matter most to us. The fact that 85% of the Iranian population came out to vote when less than 60% of the Canadian population could be bothered... particularly my generation. I know that our options weren't attractive and that many of the issues seem contrived to screw us over, but how do we expect politicians to ever listen to us if we don't stand up to make our voices heard? How do we expect to get detailed, accurate, and reliable media coverage of the issues that are pertinent to us if we don't even pay attention in the first place. Our apathy, in the face of all the things we have and take for granted, is disconcerting (and dare I say it: disgusting) when we look at the challenges that other nations and groups face.

adventures in craftiness

Some recent adventures in craft for your viewing pleasure:

Making mini take out boxes


From Craftiness


Felt flower bouquet (not being used in my wedding, but maybe for someone else one day...)


From Craftiness


Putting our friends/family to work on wedding crafts (they`re working so hard to learn the skill and prove their abilities but I just finished folding them on my own without them... that`s what happens when you leave to go on vacation)


From Craftiness


Samples of the finished paper folding project


From Craftiness

Monday, July 6, 2009

Re-post from Pandagon

Because this topic is near and dear to my heart, the article is well written, thought provoking, and worthy of consideration....

For the full article, go here

By Amanda Marcotte

Trend watching alert: Salon has not one, but two articles up right now about the resurgence of gardening, particularly urban gardening. One is about the urban gardening trend itself, and one is about the giant organic garden at the White House that Michelle Obama has spearheaded. The explosion of interest in gardening is obviously due to converging trends---the growing concerns about sustainability and our screwed-up agricultural system, plus an economic collapse that has people thinking long and hard about frugality.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

soil clock

From The Lotus Tree


If you're ever looking for a gift to give me, this amazingly cool enviro Soil Clock is it. I'm in love with it. It's genius, pure genius I say!

american vs canadian nationalism

If we put American nationalism and Canadian nationalism into a boxing ring to duke it out, American nationalism would win, hands down. Even online, in the blogging world, the sheer number of blog posts devoted to July 4th vs July 1st is (in my point of view) alarming. The need to publicly commemorate the day a bunch of old white guys got together and signed a piece of paper with a bunch of guiding principles for a group of people by posting about it on a blog never ceases to surprise me. Maybe this is because I am Canadian and we Canadians tend to be more humble about our national pride, which is mainly defined by our NOT being American (an irony that can be discusssed at another time) and by sewing red and white flags onto our backpacks to announce to the world as we travel that we are Canadian tourists (you know, the good kind). (Another irony for a later date...)



Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the celebrations, I just question the need to endorse a nationalist identity with such fervour. I live in a neighbourhood where Quebec flags hang in sovereign pride and I'm only blocks away from where Montrealers gather to celebrate June 24th, the Quebec national holiday (another irony: a national holiday within a nation, but that is an irony I won't explore at a later date!).



What unites Americans as a nation? What do Californians have in common with New Yorkers? Really? Other than a shared collection of stories that define the nation. Make no mistake, I am in awe of America's ability to create such an all embodying and consuming mythic identity. Driving through the Catskills a few years ago, I was struck by the the powerful force of the collective American identity. Canada has failed to create such an all consuming identity, which is both good and bad. There are no stories that tie us together as a nation, not really. I mean, Americans learn to wholeheartedly embrace their history, their stories, their legends, and their manifest destiny as children. Canadians don't. Oh sure, we learn about the exploitation of the Chinese worker to build the railroad and the French/English fight for the nation, but our history (as rich as it is) is rarely taught with fervour and excitement, and most students are completely indifferent to it. Friends who were forced to take Canadian history courses in university groaned over having to memorize the names of our Prime Ministers. And yet, I know that Obama is the 44th American President (or something like that) while having no clue how many Prime Ministers Canada has had. No one cares about our concentration camps (if they know about them) and the Oka crisis. Or the little known fact that Canadians burned down the White House while having a drunken Prime Minister at the helm. Even though we have a rich literary heritage don't have our own Rip Van Winkle folklore or mythic national authors like Steinbeck, Hawthorne, and Hemingway telling the tale of our nation's development and carving out a shared mythical, national identity. Don't get me wrong, we have great novelists, we just don't celebrate our own canon, nor does our canon celebrate us a nation the way the American canon does.

We are a nation who apologizes for ourselves and while it makes for some great literature, it doesn't make for a great sense of national pride.

At the core of my discomfort over the buoyant national pride that defines American life is my unease with the concept of nationalism in the first place (American, Canadian, Quebecois or other). Fireworks, free outdoor concerts, and picnics aside, what is nationalism really?

Benedict Anderson defined nationalism as: "an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign."

For me the key to what bothers me about nationalism is at the core othe above quote: imagined. To me nationalism is really a false concept of boundaries and shared identity that unite a nation. What does it mean to be Canadian, other than NOT being American? Social welfare and healthcare? Being seen as being peace keepers instead of soldiers? That the world sees us as being "nice" instead of a bully? A flag? Having a liberal and progressive government? Supporting gay marriage? Vast and diverse landscapes? If these are the things that unite us as a nation, then I think we have cause for concern. Our healthcare is under attack, we have a conservative leader that is trying to drag us into the military fray and is ruining our peace keeper identity (not that he is the only one who did so), we're not signing Kyoto or making any progressive movement towards environment care or sustainability, and while we've legalised gay marriage (yay) there is still a large faction of our population who is vehemently opposed to it.

At the end of the day, all of the things that I felt defined my Canadian identity were rudely removed and erased by the election of S. Harper. In so doing, the fact is, is that my fellow Canadians (the majority of those who went out and voted) spat in my face and essentially told me that the values I thought were part of a shared Canadian identity aren't as shared as I thought they were. (I imagine many Americans felt this way about Bush and conversely, Obama). So what does it mean to be a liberal, tolerant Canadian, who supports multiculturalism and social democracy when your country no longer endorses such an identity? At the end of the day it means nothing because what defines me as Canadian is not a shared political will, or common goals for the larger community, but a set of artificially drawn borders that divide one nation from another. And to me, that is not something that is worth having pride in.

Perhaps when I feel proud of my nation again, I will feel differently on the issue and will be like my friend who recently returned from years of living abroad and attend Canada day celebrations with pride. Who knows, maybe one day I will actually blog about the national holidays (June 24th and July 1st).

Friday, July 3, 2009

montreal


Photo Credit: Tourisme Montreal

As Paul and I talk more and more about the idea of buying a house (or rather, I talk about whether I want to move off the island or not, and he listens oh so patiently - I love my boy... he's so very zen-like in his patience for my indecisive angst)... anyways... as we/I talk about the merits of leaving the island in search for a house vs a condo, I find myself contemplating the wonder that is Montreal. Because for all that I complain about the weather or bad drivers and traffic or the metro commute or whatever else I find to complain about, I love this city.

I [heart] Montreal for oh so many reasons. For its ethnic and cultural diversity, its ability to constantly confound me, the beautiful architecture, the strange predominance of wartime bungaloes outside the downtown core, its amazingly intricate history, new neighbourhoods and surprise discoveries, la joie de vivre, the amazing myriad of restaurants, the fact that really I have no excuse to ever be bored in this city, and oh so many more countless reasons.

Every time I discover a new corner of the city, I am surprised and intrigued. Will my love affair with Montreal never end? As much as I miss the great outdoors, the ocean, home (the west coast), Montreal is the only other place in Canada that could ever be home to me. I love learning all of her secrets and a recent website discovery has been feeding my obsessive curiousity:

http://spacingmontreal.ca/

From this site I've learned that Chinatown used to be a Jewish quartier until 1920, that the Expo dome covering burnt down, that the old St Henri area that I lived in is called la village des tanneries (a past I had no knowledge of when I lived there), and various other interesting tidbits about the city. Yup, it is fodder for my curiousity. And after almost 9 years in this city (Oct 2009 = 9years), it's gratifying to learn more about the place I've chosen to live.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

wedding flowers


On Tuesday we went to meet with a florist about our wedding flowers. I know that many people actually take care of their flowers much earlier in the planning process, but since I'm not really that concerned about our flowers, we've sort of left it until the final 3 month mark. Wedding invites are out, it's time to start getting down to the nitty gritty details!
I think that we've agreed on something along the lines of the following style decorations. (Keep in mind that we're working with an Asian Fusion motif and that our Save the Dates had cherry blossoms on them)



Now I just need to figure out what I want to do in terms of my bouquet. Part of me wants orange calla lillies (but they are expensive and out of season), part of me thinks that gerbera daisies as bouquet would be fun (but maybe out of place for fall).


natural foods and goods

It may seem absurd to believe that a "primitive" culture in the Himalaya has anything to teach our industrialized society. But our search for a future that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have never abandoned. ~ Helena Norberg-Hodge

Lately I've been debating the merits of city vs country life as my partner and I weigh in on our future goal to buy a home. While I love being in the city, I long for trees, water, and the ability to look out a window and see nature. I want to grow my own garden, free of gmo seeds and pesticides. I want a room of my own to craft in and a body of water nearby to swim in. I may be asking for too much, but these are the things I currently long for. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that if I get these things, I'll miss my beloved city. And the reality of finding a location like this is slim, given that it would require us to move well beyond the commuting boundaries that are reasonable. But since I feel alienated from the land and nature, I continuously dream of a life more simple and connected to the earth. A life with a yurt and a yard in which to place it in. Suburbia with its perfected coiffed lawns be damned, I want forests and rivers.

I want to get back to the basics and in honour of some of the reasons why, I give you this:

Excerpted from the Organic Consumers Association:

Breaking the Organic Monopoly and the “Natural” Foods Myth
Whole Food Market and United Natural Foods, Inc.:


Undermining Our Organic FutureAfter four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $25 billion “certified organic” food and farming sector. This consumer-driven movement, under steady attack by the biotech and Big Food lobby, with little or no help from government, has managed to create a healthy and sustainable alternative to America’s disastrous, chemical and energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture.

However, the annual $50 billion natural food and products industry is threatening to undermine the organic movement by flooding the marketplace with conventional products greenwashed with “natural” labeling. "Natural," in the overwhelming majority of cases, translates to "conventional-with-a-green-veneer." Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. "Natural","all-natural," and "sustainable," products in most cases are neither backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. These are label claims that are neither policed nor monitored. For an evaluation of eco-labels see the Consumers Union
Eco-Label website.

gay rights in India

According to the BBC , India has taken a historical leap forward in terms of the gay rights movement. Although the battle is still long from being won, the abolition anti-gay law in the constitution is a major victory for gay rights activists in the country.

I'm sure that social resistance will continue and that even though homosexuality will still be viewed as a crime, the fact that it can no longer be punished by law is a great start. Change doesn't always come quickly, but it comes nonetheless.

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