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A full body picture of me

A full figure picture of me

I read a blog today by Leigh Patrick called “What a Straight White Man Knows About Strong Women”. In the blog Patrick talks about the strong women of his family. It is this interaction with a few emotionally and psychologically strong women that Patrick assumes he understands feminism. In a Twitter battle where he first accuses me of saying that all men are potential rapists and later calls me an idiot and a psycho, I get the full brunt of his “understanding”. But someone somewhere is missing the point.

I’ve heard the same refrain over and over from other people. It goes like this; person A has met or lived with a woman who is strong and intelligent. This leads person A into the false sense that this experience leads them to have an understanding of what women are like/go through in their lives. The idea being that because the woman or women in their lives were strong that means that all women are strong or have a well of strength to draw upon. After all, this one or few women did it, why can’t they all be like that?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if women and girls around the world were able to draw upon such a well of strength on command? Shouldn’t we all be able to share in this strength? It’s been proven that it can be done. Why not?

Let’s start with circumstances. I’m privileged to live in Canada, a country that embraces diversity and supports those who cannot support themselves. As a Metis woman, I draw upon a culture that has a rich heritage from my Metis side and embody that stubborn Scots blood that runs so thickly through my veins. Yet I realize my privilege and I still struggle with anxiety daily. I see the problems women around me have that are not of their own doing.

I can honestly say I don’t know what it’s like to be a young girl who gets shot for posting a video on YouTube explaining why she wants to go to school. Yet, Malala Yousafzai is one of my heroes. I don’t know what it’s like to be a young girl in Nigeria, ripped away from her home and family simply because she had the audacity to go to school. My heart bleeds for them. I have never been a five year old girl enduring a genital mutilation without anesthetic where my labia is ripped away all in the belief that it will ensure my virginity will remain intact. I have never miscarried five times as a result of beatings administered by a man who kidnapped me and held me as a slave in his basement. Nor have I been a woman who has survived giving birth to a child in that basement amid terror and pain. I am lucky.

The person who has known the strong woman doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a curvy woman and to feel the fear she feels just going outside. He doesn’t hear the whispers or see the stares as she walks down the street. They don’t know what it is to be a young woman dressed in a short skirt on a spring day to get leered at and have guys assume she’s a slut simply because of what she wears. Those strong women don’t look in a mirror and hate what they see because the media says they aren’t perfect. They don’t spent three to four hours on makeup trying to hide the flaws that only they see. Flaws that are beautiful like the brush strokes on a painting.

I’ve heard people rip apart female celebrities because of what they were wearing to an event. Call into question their very existence because of a few snips of fabric. I’m tempted to tell the celebrities to start going naked and see how that fixes the critics’ little red wagon. If a woman like Angelina Jolie is torn down because of a dress, how much better can I fare when wearing shorts from Walmart?

I see women endure abuse, abuse themselves, hurt themselves, hate themselves, injure and kill themselves all because of the pain they hold inside. A woman who is a saint, a mother, a nanny, a caregiver, a grandmother is held in esteem and may be forgiven those mistakes and flaws they have made of themselves. A slut, a whore, a cunt, a bitch, a vixen, a succubus can never be forgiven. She must be ridiculed and beaten down for the error of believing her sexuality, her being is her own. She must be transformed into the Virgin Mary so society can feel safe around her. She must have a husband, although a wife is allowable in some circumstances, to keep her from straying away from her path and becoming a danger to all around her. She must never alter her gender, her genetic code defines her. We do not talk about those unfortunate few who have an XY gene but pretend they are female.

So many women have lost their voices and do not wish to or cannot speak out. They hide in terror at being less than perfect and mutilate their every flaw or imperfection. If I could say one thing to those women it would be this; please show those flaws. They are beautiful. Those scars, those pains, those small things that make you who you are. Please paint them so I can see them. Please be proud of them. They are your flowers. They are your voice. They are you and they are beautiful.

I understand, Mr. Patrick, that you’ve had a few strong women in your life and I applaud them. Most of us, though, aren’t that strong. We’re scared and afraid of the ridicule and scorn we face daily. So we’d appreciate it if, until you’ve experienced some of that, if you’d kindly keep your opinions to yourself. We’ve had enough opinions of who we should be in our lives. We really don’t need another.

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Do crazy people know they’re crazy?

The answer is; yes. We do.

I’ve been asked this questions many times and the answer is always the same. Those of us who have been diagnosed or, in my case, misdiagnosed with a mental illness know that the things we say or do are not the kinds of things that normal people say or do. People Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) know that flicking the light on and off a dozen times is unique to them. However, there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop the crazy. It’s an itch that absolutely has to be scratched or the world will come to a screeching halt and everything will go flying into space and explode.

I recently explained it to a friend this way; there are two halves to my brain. One half is a mature, well-developed, intelligent, logical, thinking person. This half makes good decisions and interacts with people well. This half is well-liked and is a good conversationalist. The other half is a temperamental three-year old. This half throws temper tantrums, holds its breath, kicks, screams, shows up at my bedside at 3am with a butcher knife and laughs demoniacally. This half demands attention, is extremely insecure and highly unbalanced. Usually I’m able to beat this half into submission and lock it in a closet. However, the little brat has a key and gets out when I’m least expecting it. It’s then I find boiled bunnies and such. This half scares the hell out of me sometimes, but so long as I can toss it in the closet and ignore it, I’m fine.

My friends all understand this part of me and help me get the little bastard back in its place. It’s a little like living with Damien sometimes. This is my life and I’m learning to live it. I know this part will make its appearance during times of stress so I try to keep my stress to a minimum.

It’s because I understand my own brain so well and how it works that crazy people don’t really bother me. They’re content to play in that section of their head that best interacts with the world. Sometimes you can get some really interesting ideas from crazy people like sitting on a park bench and singing, off-key, at the top of your lungs. It’s a lot of fun and if you do it in the summer, people will give you money.

No. Crazy people don’t really bother me. Normal people, on the other hand, freak me out.

Technically, my sister is a normal people. She scares me. She lives in one of those architecturally controlled neighbourhoods where every third house is the same one. It’s a boxy little neighbourhood with boxy little houses and boxy little people driving boxy little cars leading boxy little lives. How on earth do people live there and not get the urge to spray paint graffiti on the neighbour’s cat? The only saving grace to this place is a small pond where ducks and other birds make their nests in spring and winter. Of course, mosquitoes love the place, too, but the ducks are really cute. Needless to say, the three or four hours a week I’m forced to spend in this area on the pretense of family dinner are enough to scare the crap out of me.

Another thing that bothers me that normal people do is displaying pregnant bellies. Apparently there are men out there who are sexually attracted to pregnant women. Why? Leave them alone. That’s how they got like that in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that other women are willing to have babies. If it were dependant on people like me, the human race would die out. Quickly. I’m one of the few women (I know a couple of others) who look at pregnant women and think “Alien”. Sorry, but the thought of something alive inside me just gives me the heebie jeebies. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask that you cover that thing up. I’m not asking for burqas, here but please don’t don the string bikinis. Okay, if you’re pregnant and want to wear a burqa, I’m good with that.

Oh and let’s talk about normal women and their ideas on relationships. If you remember the book “The Rules” and the messed up advice it gave you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I figure I have to be crazy because I just don’t have the time or energy to invest in the games that many normal women play.

I went with my friend to see the movie “Ted” and had a great time but it made me angry. The lead female character, Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) decides that John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) needs to grow up and get rid of Ted. Wait a minute. In the movie she’s been in this relationship with this man for four years!! She knew about Ted the minute she met him. She’s been around the bear for four freaking years!! Now, all of a sudden, she wants him to get rid of that part of his life that helps define who he is? I was angry.

According to my friend, it’s normal for their women to want them to “grow up”. Okay. I get that. Adults take responsibility and move forward in their lives. That’s fine. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a fundamental relationship in this man’s life that has helped to define him as a person. My friend says that women do this all the time. They fall in love with a guy, the bad boy for example, and then try to change him. Why? Then, when they change the guy to what they want, they get bored and dump them or, worse yet, marry them. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m not in a committed relationship now.

Normal people engage in all kinds of dramas and bullshit that really doesn’t need to happen. Office politics is a wonderful example of this. People butting their noses into other people’s business where it doesn’t belong. How about those play groups where parents bring their kids to socialize them to other humans (I think that’s the purpose of them)? I’ve heard of this parent or that parent talking crap about others in the group and creating drama. It goes on all the time. Here’s some advice from the Krazy Korner; STOP IT. If it doesn’t concern you, if it isn’t harmful or detrimental, then just shut up.

I’ve come to the conclusion that normal people are weird. Crazy I get. The elves have invited you to their tea party and that’s why you’re dancing down the main street downtown. Heck, I’ll even join in and dance with you for a bit. We can ignore all the normal people who laugh at us and drink elven tea and dance.

It’s time the truth came out.

I have decided I’ve lived with this long enough and it’s time someone told the truth.

I got shafted.

Let’s start at the beginning. I spent 10 years of my life caring for my parents until the death of my father. At that time I tried to revive my writing career but was failing phenomenally. I’m not the most disciplined writer sometimes and no one’s interested in hiring a writer whose glories are all in the past. So, I screwed up my courage and went back to school. I had two choices; return to the University of Alberta and get a Master’s degree or even obtain a degree in business communications or go to Grant MacEwan’s Professional Writing course. I’d been hearing about the PROW program for years and believed it would do what it said, get me contacts within the writing industry.

As the knight in the Indiana Jones movie said, “she chose poorly.” (Well, he actually says “he”, but then I’m not a he so I’ve happily changed it.)

I have very fond memories of my time at U of A. I made friends there I’m still friends today. I use every single thing I learned there, both in and out of the classroom, in my writing. I was an English Literature major and a Religious Studies minor. I even recommend writers, new and established, read religious texts to help improve their writing. I could have gone here.

Instead I chose the PROW program. What I didn’t know at the time I enrolled was the program was in the process of being shut down. Many of the classes I wanted were phased out by the time I arrived. I didn’t find out about the program shutting down until a full semester into my program. By that time it was far too late to leave the program. Nice.

There are still the contacts, though, right? Wrong. Many of the instructors I had (with an exception or two) had severe ego problems. These were not people I wanted to keep as contacts, professional or otherwise. One instructor had a habit of telling us, in detail, about the problems in their life. This included details about their marriage, family and even hopes and dreams. This may sound cold, but I don’t care if you and your partner (husband, wife, pet toy) aren’t talking. Teach me. Another instructor constantly told the students they weren’t ready for “real” writing experience yet. In the writing world, this means publishing. When asked when we would be ready, the instructor said “we would know.” How’s that for a vague answer. So, this instructor kept a constant barrage of pushing us down so they could feel better about themselves. I received a warning from the school for doing an assessment for class on the magazine, “Playboy” because of the nudity. Oh, just to let you know, there were pictures of naked women all over the halls. That was art, I was told. “Playboy” was smut. Really? Depicting beautiful, naked women in exquisite poses is smut? In depth, forward-thinking articles about current events is smut? Right.

These were the contacts I was supposed to rely on in order to move my career forward.

These people could barely keep their own egos out of the way of their teaching. Instead of encouraging, I heard a lot of double-talk. “Yes, go ahead and send in your article/story/whatever but I don’t think they’ll take it. You’re not ready yet.” Then get me ready! Even when I graduated I was hearing this nonsense. However, that, while annoying, I can ignore. What happened in my second year sent me straight to counselling.

The first incident I’ll talk about is about person X. X had some psychological issues, but having come from that track already in my life I tried to be understanding. This person was very animated, which made me nervous, but I tried to be patient. We were grouped together for a project and things seemed to be going well enough.

I don’t know if X was having a bad day or if X just needed the attention. When we met for a weekly meeting to see the progression of our various parts, I asked to present my stuff first as I had to go and pick up my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) for her weekly night out. There are few things that come before my writing and my mother is one of them. I started to present my stuff and suddenly X was standing up, hitting the projection screen with her hand and screaming at me about Russian dolls. This was a website project on revenants (undead). I had no clue what was going on. Humiliated, I left my stuff on the table and quietly walked out. Once outside, I burst into tears and went into the office. I’d had enough. I was quitting the class. After the program head’s assistant calmed me down a bit, I went to get my mother and talked to my best friend about what happened. Then I truly calmed down.

The instructor of the class allowed me to do my project on my own instead of grouping me with someone else. That was acceptable. Here’s what wasn’t. Every single other person in that group saw what happened. When the instructor asked them about it, not one person stood up for me and said, “yes, it was over the top.” No one. See, X was such a manic personality, that she was doing all the organizing and would spend up to 16 hours a day doing the project. The others just had to sit back and watch the A-grade roll in. They hung me out to dry for a grade.

The next incident involved the same instructor who was teaching a different class. Again, I was grouped with some people and thought things would be fine. They really weren’t. In order to hand in a copy that was coherent and clean, I needed at least a week for editing purposes. My group members had no problem handing things in a half an hour before they were due. One half hour to edit a 100 page document. Not happening. I lost marks because of them. When I told the instructor what was going on, she simply said that I needed to work around it. No help given at all. I was ready to quit school over that one.

The last incident involved an instructor I once had great respect for. Other people complained, but I thought they were wonderful. Until I asked a question. Now, I’ve lectured at the University of Alberta for 10 years as a guest lecturer. People will ask all kinds of questions. There’s no malice, just curiosity. Let me give you some history on this instructor. This married instructor, the prior year, had intimate relations with a student who was in his class at the time. That’s not a problem. Goes on at the U of A all the time. However, this instructor and student then published a paper online justifying their affair.

You can hear the brakes screeching on this one, can’t you.

I won’t link the paper because I have no desire to name this instructor publically. I’m sure my fellow students from Grant MacEwan will know who I mean, but that doesn’t matter. It was a very public event. The paper was poorly written and was so self-serving as to work against the authors. It was a case of “methinks she doth protest too much”. In other words, they knew what they were doing was wrong but they did it anyways. They’re adults. They can take responsiblity for their own actions, thank you very much.

I had no idea about any of this. I had an assignment in which the instructions were poorly given (I was not the only person who suffered a low grade because they misunderstood the assignment). I protested my grade, as was my right, and said I hated the assignment. I did. I’m allowed to say that. Over the next 10 or so emails, I was berated and left to believe I was a horrible person and student. This instructor made it very clear in the first class that if they didn’t like you, you would fail. I wasn’t sure what I’d done to warrant this instructor’s wrath, but I wasn’t going to fail on account of their ego. Back to the office where their solution was to put me in the online course. Fantastic. I felt like I was punished for what my instructor did. It still makes me cry to think about it.

If it hadn’t been for the school counsellor I would have slipped some pills long before. I was that much on edge constantly. My fellow students noticed and avoided me. I don’t blame them. You can’t hang around with someone who’s liable to burst into tears at any moment. At this point in my writing I have to point out I’m crying so much it’s hard to see the screen. Yes, it still hurts that much.

My plan upon graduation was to find a position doing technical writing for a software firm (I really enjoy that stuff). Or maybe work doing tech writing for an oilfield or engineering firm. Instead, I was broken and battered from my time at Grant MacEwan and the firms saw it. I readjusted my vision for myself and am now working temporary in various positions while I sell my writing.

What has been the effect of all of this? Sadly, I want very little to do with my fellow writers. The only thing Grant MacEwan taught me is that writers are people whose own lack of belief in themselves makes them hurt those they should be helping. I know, logically, this is actually the exception, but it is a lesson I learned very well from Grant MacEwan.

I wish I’d gone to the University of Alberta.

 

Donny Osmond

Donny Osmond

When I was about six or seven, I had such a crush on Donny Osmond. Every Sunday night I’d sit in front of the television and watch the “Donny and Marie Show” and swoon over my favorite star in purple socks. Oh how desperately I wanted purple socks. I never got them, though. Every time he crooned “Puppy Love” I knew I’d marry him. Not even my father, an avid sports fan, could turn the channel during this time. Donny Osmand took precedence over everything. Even hockey.

Then he got married and that ended my love affair. My true love would never do that to me.

When I was about 10 or so, Shaun Cassidy made an appearance. THIS was my true love. Every Sunday night I watched “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries”. I even joined the “Shaun Cassidy Fan Club”. To this day I still have stock photos that club sent me of Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson. I treasure them as a vital part of growing up. Shaun Cassidy is still a very handsome man to this day.

Shaun Cassidy

Shaun Cassidy

As a young girl, those crushes taught me something very important about myself. They taught me that it’s okay to have these feelings and what I wanted in a partner. I looked to these two idols as opposed to Leif Garrett or Scott Baio because of how they were portrayed in the media. Donny Osmond and Shaun Cassidy were the good boys. They were seen as having good morals and ideals. That was very attractive to me. I also thought they were the most talented singers around, but that’s another story.

The point is, we’ve all had our Shaun Cassidys and Donny Osmands. New Kids on the Block, David Cassidy, Backstreet Boys, and so many more have played the role in our childhoods as heartthrobs. Justin Bieber is just the latest and I don’t deny him that. Like other heartthrobs, he’ll eventually fade into a beloved memory of someone’s first crush.

So I don’t play the “bash Bieber” game. It’s pointless to try to destroy a precious part of someone’s childhood and it’s unfair. I see it all across the Internet, Bieber bashing. Honestly, sometimes I think those who dislike him follow his career more closely than those who like him. It makes no sense to me.

However, when I came across a headline about Bieber proclaiming he was “Inuit or Indian or something,” I became outraged.

I am Metis. My heritage can be traced back to a time when a Cree woman married one of my ancestors. Since that time, my ancestors have happily married Metis women (all my Metis heritage comes from the men in my family line marrying Metis women) and passed down a very rich heritage to me. Being Metis means more than an interview opportunity to promote myself as vaguely belonging to a particular culture.

The blatant racist undertones of his remarks disgusted me. He is 18 years old. He knows better.

I’d love to take the time to explain to Mr. Bieber that the Inuit people are a completely different culture than the First Nations people. They have their own languages and traditions separate from the First Nations. The Metis people are a culture in their own right with their own traditions and heritage. Take the time to understand that, Mr. Bieber, before you go spouting off nonsense that just makes you look like an idiot.

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

Whether we like it or not, Bieber represents Canada. When he spouts off this nonsense, it makes it seem like Canadian youth are uneducated, racist idiots. I am surprised more people weren’t outraged by this off the cuff comment. I’m not even going to address the fact that he is dismissive towards three distinct cultures within Canadian society.

He then states that the only reason this is important to him is because he gets free gas has got to be the most telling remark of all. He cares nothing for the culture he’s not even sure he’s a part of. He gets free gas. Really? Apparently Bieber isn’t making enough money where he can afford his own gas. He has to tap into a culture that he cares nothing about to get gas.

Grow up, Mr. Bieber. You are representing Canada here and doing a very poor job. You owe an apology to Canadians.

A woman is dead.

Everyone should cry out in horror and shame and mourn her death. Who was she? Was she a world leader like Margaret Thatcher? No. A religious figure like Mother Theresa, then? Not at all. A celebrity like Bette Davis? No. Who was she, then?

I don’t know, but I cry for her.

She was just a mother and wife. Maybe she had brothers and sisters. How many children? I don’t know. But her death is immortalized on this video. You can see her crouching in the background. Just a grey spot on the ground while men mill around her. The guns fire and she drops. The men show no more emotion than if they’d just killed a hyena. Less, probably. They’re probably late for lunch.

So what did she do? She must have killed her children. No. She poisoned her husband. Not at all. She must have stolen another woman’s child. Not even close.

She is accused of committing adultery. Accused. She wasn’t even found guilty of adultery. Only accused.

This is what happens when ANYONE feels the need to control another being’s sexuality so much that the mere accusation of wrongdoing merits death. This wasn’t about her. This was about the MEN of the Taliban. This was about their lack of manhood. Their lack of understanding, appreciation and respect for what their own god, Allah, created.

I am not Muslim. I am Wiccan, but I can have respect and understanding for another’s faith. Islam is a wonderful religion and full of rich traditions and stories. As a writer, I have found my writings have been enriched by reading the religious texts of various faiths. I highly recommend it.

The Taliban are not true Muslims. They are a small extremist group much in the same way that Jim Jones’s People’s Church was an extremist version of Christianity. What the Taliban do disgusts me.

Three women in burkas standing on a streetcorner

Three women in burkas standing on a street corner

Publically, the Taliban has stated that they instituted changes for women in the attempt to protect their dignity. Women are banned from working except in health care, going outside their home unless they are covered from head to toe in a burka. As well, girls were not allowed an education until the Taliban finally relented and allowed girls under 12 to get an education.

It’s fairly common for women to be beaten, raped and tortured for something as simple as being  uncovered. Ladies, imagine having to wear your bedsheet all day long while shopping or taking the kids to the park. This is one very psychotic, very fringe element preserving women’s dignity. Thank whoever you pray to that these nutballs didn’t get ahold of the idea of female circumcision (which I will talk about another time).

Men, can you imagine your wife going to the store. A man on the street sees her and lusts after her. The man goes to the local “authority” and tells them she committed adultery. The Taliban come and get her and shoot her. You come home from work and your wife is dead.

Reports say that things are improving in Afghanistan for people all around. However, there are still problems in the small towns and outlying areas. Let me state this again VERY CLEARLY; the Taliban are not Muslim. They are an extremist group and should not been seen as the standard for Muslim practice.

Let me tell you what I’ve seen of the Islamic tradition. If you walk into a shop owned by Muslims and say, “Salaam,” they will smile broadly and greet you back warmly. They cannot welcome you enough. I don’t recommend drinking the coffee, though. That stuff is enough to keep you awake for a week. My Muslim friends answer all my questions happily even though some of them are pretty silly (for example, “what is the Islamic stance on life on other planets?” A debate that lasted several hours). Most Muslims, men and women, are educated, well-spoken, polite people. They have a great deal of respect for others and even welcome an old witch like me to their mosques (so long as I don’t cast any spells which I’m good with). The food is good, if spicy (I’m allergic to peppers) and the company is wonderful. I even knew a Muslim family that took in their friend’s child for a period when the friend was unable to look after her due to health reasons. The child was loved and cherished by all and regards that family as her second family.

Muslims are good people.

The Taliban are just power-hungry psychopaths who feel the need to control everyone.

Our troops went to Afghanistan to help make things better. It couldn’t have been easy and I, for one, thank them for their work. They faced conditions most of us will only see in the movies and, even then, have difficulty imagining. If you know of someone who went to the Middle East. Thank them and give them a hug.

Some day our children’s children will look back in horror in the same way we now look at Auschwitz and say, “how could you do that?” It is my dream that they will never hear about a nameless, faceless woman crouching in the grey dirt being shot to death for something she’s only accused of doing. Some day these horrors will be a thing of the past.

Until then,

a woman is dead.

Let’s talk about sex. It’s a subject everyone has an opinion on from the 15-year-old virgin to the 82-year-old grandmother.

I’ve been noticing a trend in Hollywood lately; every time there’s a bad guy, he’s got some sexual deviance that has turned him into a serial killer. That’s not good PR for those of us who have sexual deviances and enjoy them. By Hollywood standards, I should have half a dozen bodies in the yard by now.

So let’s list off my kinks, shall we? I’m a libertine which means pretty much anything goes anyways. I really have a thing for breasts (female breasts. I still can’t wrap my head around moobs). I’m a switch which, in bdsm terms, means I can either be dominant or submissive (depending on my mood). I have a desire to have a threesome with two men and have already had a threesome involving one man and two women (actually, a few times). I have toys such as vibrators, a glass dildo, scarves (for bondage and blindfolds) and a riding crop. Whee!

All too often I see people giggling behind their hands when the topic of sex comes up like adolescents and it confuses me. Why? Sex is a natural part of being alive and it’s time we stopped treating it like it’s something dirty or taboo. Let me tell you, sometimes the best sex is very dirty. Let’s get one thing out in the open. Sex is rarely about procreation. We are human and, as such, we are social creatures and everything we do is to re-emphasize that social contact. From work to hobbies to having sex is all about reinforcing our position within a social network. Now, stop giggling behind your hand and get a few myths out of the way.

  • Men are only interested in sex with other men if they’re bi or gay. WRONG!!! This may seem at odds with what you understand, but sometimes straight men are curious about sex with other men. I know of men who have sex with other men as an indulgence. One guy told me that men give the best blowjobs. He loved blowjobs so when he found a guy who liked doing them he didn’t feel any need to turn that down. Men have a penis and know very well how their’s works but it is normal and natural to see if another guy’s works the same way. Read the rest of this entry »

So when do you determine a relationship is toxic and you need out?

Any relationship; lover, friend, family, work, whatever. When does it go from slightly abusive to toxic? What’s the line? What do you do when you get there?

A few years back I suffered from medication induced anxiety. I was misdiagnosed with anxiety, put on medication designed to help it and, in a grand feat of irony, began to worsen. The correct diagnosis was REM Behavior Disorder. During this time something amazing happened. Most of my friends exited my life. Two stuck around, but all the others who claimed to love and support me took off. Suddenly they couldn’t deal with me barfing every time I went to the store for groceries and it wasn’t fun when I sat in a corner quietly crying when they took me off to a party. There were times when I made an honest effort to overcome the anxiety and tried to talk to people, but I came off as loud and weird. All those people who swore that my friendship meant a lot to them suddenly left.

At the time it was devastating. I felt alone and abandoned and wondered how I would cope. In that time, the two friends who remained quietly stood by my side during some of the darkest days I have ever known. It’s a horrifying thing to be trapped inside your mind and these two men supported me while I ranted, raved, cried, ran in terror and eventually broke out of my prison. That is a type of friendship that goes beyond words and simple thank yous. To this day I still mist up when I think of these amazing men. When it came time to bury my father, one friend stood and held an umbrella over my head in the pouring rain. He got soaked to the skin so I could stay dry and say good-bye to my dear father.

Now that part of my life is over and I’m able to give back to these wonderful men who should, in my eyes, be given medals for what they’ve done for me. They don’t even have to ask now, if I can help them in any way to make their lives easier or better, I do it. I don’t even think about it. They’ve earned that much and more.

I look back on that time and realize now there were blessings in having endured that. I learned a valuable lesson as to what a friend is and what a good, healthy relationship is. Not everyone can stand to see the person they love or care for go through that kind of thing and I still suffer from residual effects of that time. However, you do what you can for those who mean something to you.

A good relationship is a symbiotic relationship. Each gives according to their abilities and each takes according to their needs (see? Communism isn’t a complete loss). During that period, I needed a great deal and the two men who stuck around gave what they could. I didn’t ask for any more than that. Okay. I did ask that they put up with 10 to 15 calls a day, but that’s just the insanity.

At no time during this period was I toxic to the people around me. I was a problem to myself, but not to others around me. It sounds odd now to say it, but I felt that would be rude. It’s one thing to destroy your own life with your insanity, it’s another to destroy the lives of others. So that was just something I tried very hard not to do.

A lot of dead weight left my life when those other friends left for bluer skies and saner people. One friend was a coke addict and unable to function in a healthy way. Another was so self-centred, he had an affair on his wife and saw his mistress during her chemotherapy treatments. Looking back, I’m glad those people aren’t in my life.

I now have good people around me, including one friend who goes along with whatever zany idea I come up with and plays along happily. I can talk to her in a deep, meaningful way and she can depend on me to listen when she has a problem she needs to air. When I tell her I’ve decided to cultivate a superpower and she gets to pick one, too, she doesn’t even miss a beat. It’s a way we can play and have fun. We watch b-grade horror movies and eat nachos and laugh at each other’s lives and antics. It’s good. It’s healthy.

What do you do, though, when a relationship becomes toxic? For me, it’s my sister. I’m not sure I can describe the situation but I’ll try.

My sister is obsessed with appearances. She has a boxy little house in a boxy little neighbourhood with boxy little people driving boxy little cars and leading boxy little lives. She has an apple tree in the backyard and a trellis in the front. Her grass is always green and her sidewalk always shovelled. She has her friends that are appropriate and they go out for supper or play bridge. They watch movies like “The Notebook” and cry in all the appropriate points. They loved “The Hunger Games”.

I’m an embarrassment to her.

I am outspoken, not concerned with convention and would probably go on a killing spree if I had to live in that neighbourhood. Or, at the least, leave burning bags of dog poop everywhere. I talk about religion and sex and politics. I have several lovers and even (GASP!) have no love of monogamy. I hated “The Hunger Games” and wanted to gouge out my eyes during “The Notebook”. I don’t understand social subtlety (I’m a little like Dr. Sheldon Cooper on “Big Bang Theory”. My friends will actually point out to me when someone’s being sarcastic) and my apartment is usually a disaster.

I could live with all that if that’s all it were. It isn’t.

My sister displays signs of being extremely manipulative and controlling. I have suspicions about this, but as I’m not a professional, I won’t offer any kind of diagnosis. Her need to have everything appear a certain way in her life leads to destructive behaviour. She appears not to notice it or see what she’s doing. Often, in the past, she will blame the reaction to her behaviour on the recipient of her actions. For example, she will make some comment about how writing isn’t a “real” job. When I then become angry and defensive, she tells me I’m “being oversensitive”. I no longer wear certain clothes or talk about certain subjects with her. They become too volatile. She does not know I’m pansexual. She has made it clear that is unacceptable to her and she doesn’t want to know.

My relationship with my sister is toxic. I have reached the point in my life where I have determined that once my mother passes away, she will no longer be in my life (I don’t want to distress my mother as she has Alzheimer’s and wouldn’t be able to understand). From the time I was in my teens to the time I came out of my medication-induced insanity, she has convinced me there is something wrong with me. That I’m somehow defective. In an effort to please her, I have gone from one psychiatrist to another looking for this mysterious problem. Instead of concentrating on my life, my happiness and my career, I have chased after her phantoms. I know this doesn’t sound awful, but when you are bombarded with endless psychological and emotional abuse, it gets to be enough.

She is my sister and people tell me I’m supposed to love her no matter what. What if I can’t? What if loving and supporting her devastates my life as it has already?

I have decided there are times in your life when you need to cut certain people from your life. Even if that’s family. I asked myself the question, does this person make my life toxic? If the answer is yes, they’re gone. My sister creates a toxic waste in my very being that I cannot ignore any longer. Family is important, that’s true. However, my well-being is more important.

Gay Pride Couple With Bare Asses

A gay pride couple with their asses bared to the world

I’m proud to be who I am. I may not stand on tabletops, but I also don’t hide it. Let’s get the labels out there. I am a pansexual, polyamourist, switch libertine. Okay. That’s out of the way. When I saw the above photo, I got angry. I recognize the need to go out and be public. That I have no problem with. Seriously, though, is there a reason for hanging your ass out for the world to see? Every single other person in that photo is covered up and dressed normally. I don’t care how great your ass is, does it add to letting the world accept GLBPT people? Or are you just another exhibitionist who needs to be in a different type of parade? All too often I hear people saying gays are “fine” but that their behaviour is weird. These are generally open-minded people saying this. I’m often told that the objection is not about who the person wants to love or is attracted to or how they define their sexuality. Rather, people tell me they object to the behaviour. Oh, I know I’m going to get a lot of hassle about this, but come on, people. We’ve all met the butch lesbian and the flaming gay. I’m not talking a woman who is a tomboy. I am more tomboy than feminine most days. I’m talking the woman who goes out of her way to display her masculine qualities. Not a trans woman, just a lesbian who acts like she just walked off a pirate ship. Or how about the gay man who is so effeminate he has flames shooting out his ass? These are people who act in extreme ways to get attention. No one; straight, gay or other; likes to have behaviour thrown in their face. We condemn the Goths and Emos for doing it, why is it okay for the GLBPT group? When you’re marching in that parade, ask yourself why you’re there. Are you there to offer support to the community and show the world you don’t want or need to hide? Or are you there to get a cheap thrill? Does having your ass hang out further the GLBPT community’s agenda in any way? Or does it give the world another bit of weird behaviour to stare at? I, in no way, suggest that people be quiet about their sexual orientation but there is a time and place for everything. Come on, people. Our community needs to help the world understand and accept us. We don’t need to push the public further away through idiotic behaviour. Sgt. Brandon Morgan with boyfriend Dalan Wells kissing

This photo was posted on Facebook and showed a very happy Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells reuniting after Morgan had returned home. It’s a touching, wonderful photo and no one’s ass is hanging out.

If our community is to be truly understood and accepted, we have to help people to understand. Understanding stops, communication stops, everything stops when your behaviour alienates people. A man I truly respect and admire is George Takei. Here is a man who lived in the internment camps of World War II (a pretty name for something so ugly done to a culture) and then came out as being gay at a time when “that sort of thing just wasn’t talked about”. He’s intelligent, witty and fights for what he believes in. If we have anyone to thank for forward movement in the GLBPT cause, he is certainly one. Yet, he doesn’t engage in outrageous behaviour. When it’s appropriate, he flames and has fun with it. When the situation calls for it, he’s all business.

Let’s be smart, people. If your behaviour is alienating others, then stop doing it. You have the right to love whom you choose but you don’t have the right to scare people. We are all human and humans are a social creature. We need each other to survive. That means making allowances for each other. If you’re straight and are curious about the GLBPT community, come ask. We like questions and we’re generally friendly. If you’re GLBPT, please don’t be a stereotype. You’re our spokesperson. How people see me depends on how you behave. Please represent me well and I’ll do the same for you.

And please cover up your ass.

Condom

Condom

I have a high sex drive.

A phenomenally high sex drive.

I always have. It’s something I’ve learned to live with and work around. I’m fairly certain that if I were a guy I’d have a hard on at least once every couple of hours. As a woman, it’s easier to hide sexual arousal.

My first sexual experimentation began when I was six with a female friend who was eight. We had an idea that if touching ourselves felt good, then touching someone else must feel good, too. Our experimentation continued and grew for about a year and a half when I moved away. After losing my friend, I continued to experiment on myself.

For a long time I was ashamed of this. The first horror to strike people is the idea that a six year old would even consider such a thing. After all, little girls wear pigtails and play with dolls, not each other. Understand that while there was arousal, it wasn’t the same as adult arousal. This was simply a physical response to stimulation. Neither of us knew, understood or cared about the psychological or emotional arousal happening. It was merely a matter of “let’s see what happens when I do this.” To this day people are horrified when they find this fact out about me. Personally, I don’t see it as bad or good, it just is. What amuses me, though, is little boys will masturbate as early as being in the womb and it’s seen as natural. Boys will be boys. However, a girl who does the same thing is seen as being unnatural. Boys will “play doctor” and that’s a source of amused pride. Girls experiment and it’s horrifying.

The second source of my shame was the fact that I was playing with another girl. I learned early and I learned fast that girls belong to boys. That’s it. In my early 20s I went to a psychologist because I thought I was somehow broken (I wasn’t, took me until my 40s to learn that). I told him of the incident and he let me know that unless I was willing to “purge” myself of the event, he couldn’t help me. When I refused, he stated that I was addicted to being sick. I never saw him again.

So, all through my life I’ve had an unbelieveably high sex drive. I would date men and wear them out. I had one guy break up with me because he complained he couldn’t keep up. I tried desperately to remain monogamous, but I hated that I had to curb my appetites. Of course, as I said earlier, I get aroused throughout the day so I’ve learned to ignore the feeling and go on. However, in an intimate relationship, it seemed like I should be able to go all night like I want to. By my 30s, I hit on something of a solution.

While going to the University of Alberta, I met a young engineering student. A hot little 20-something who was willing to play. For the first time, I met someone whose appetites matched my own. Since then I have actively sought out engineers. I have yet to be with an engineer who is a bad lover. I don’t know what it is, but I highly recommend engineers.

Younger men, it seemed, could keep up with my needs. I like young men. They have nice, hot, tight bodies and are generally willing to try most things. However, a relationship was not in the works.

I had grown tired of relationships. Always masturbating someone’s ego for the price of dinner. I never felt cared for, just like property. Younger men generally don’t want relationships with older women (though there are exceptions) and I’m good with that. Once I rid myself of the idea that I had to be in a relationship to be a whole woman, monogamy quickly followed out the window.

In the ensuing years I also found that I liked to play with some women, depending on their personalities. I’ve had a few alarming encounters but, for the most part, I’ve found that women are willing to play for longer periods. I like variety so, my new awareness of my sexuality enabled me to have various partners without guilt.

However, I am very aware of sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Let me state this bluntly; if you are a sexually active adult and you do not get tested for STDs regularly, you’re an asshole. This may mean yearly or every couple of years. I try to do this every year or every couple of years.

Now let me make a confession. I’m kind of an asshole. It’s been more than two years since my last testing (which was clean at the time). I could give lots of excuses for this; I always use condoms, I haven’t had the time, I’ve been too stressed, whatever. They’re excuses and I admit it. As a sexually active adult I understand and am prepared for the outcomes of my actions. However, others shouldn’t have to pay for my actions. Tomorrow I go for testing like a responsible adult.

It’s at this point I have to make a plug. I always, ALWAYS use condoms. My preferred brand is Lifestyles “Skyn”, but I also like some Trojans as well. I prefer the thins, but I never have sex without a condom. I currently have a playmate (a friend I have sex with) and have been playing with him for a year and a half. We still use condoms.

I think of all the lives that have been lost because of STDs like AIDS. My hero, Freddy Mercury, succumbed to AIDS and died tragically. He still had so much more to do. I have more to do. Tomorrow I go for testing not because I think I have an STD, but to be sure that I don’t.

I often think about what is fair and what isn’t. I’m a libertine which means I don’t feel bound by the moral constraints of society although I do have my own strong moral code. In living this lifestyle I recognize that I do have one set of rules for myself and another for everyone else. I’m okay with that. I don’t push my morality on anyone else and happily ignore what everyone else feels I should do. A kind word for this is independent. Let’s call a duck a duck, shall we? I’m unfair to most of the world. It’s good for me, but not for you. This is not a code everyone can or should live by and I get that. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. In truth, most people are the same way but most pretend to some sham of equality so they can look good to their neighbours. Personally, what others think of me isn’t a big problem for me.

One of life’s early lessons for me was life isn’t fair. The bad guy doesn’t get it in the end nor does the hero always win. That’s okay. Life would be very boring if everything was fair. If the bad guy always got it in the end, we wouldn’t need heroes to try to serve justice. We wouldn’t need to strive to become better people or to live better lives. Let’s face it, if life was fair, you could live your life, be happy and that’s it. Sometimes the unfairness hurts or tragedy stikes and we cry bitter tears. Sometimes the pain that the unfair situation brings can cause us to raise a wall of fear around ourselves. That is life. That wall gives us something to overcome. Those tears cleanse us. Whoever said “don’t cry” is a fool.

There is a difference, though, between unfair and unjust. Unfair is the circumstances of life. When the cancer strikes or when the car goes over a cliff. There’s no malice in the act. Cancer doesn’t strike because it’s evil and wants to hurt people. The accident doesn’t happen because some demon has decided to plague mankind. Unjust is what we do to each other. Terri-Lynn McLintic abducts a young, beautiful Victoria Stafford. Trayvon Martin is shot to death by George Zimmerman. This is unjust.

Racism is unjust. I agree with that statement. I cannot fathom how a human being can look at another and deem them unworthy simply based on beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or colour. Somehow I’m not seeing what these people see and it confuses me. What confuses me more is reverse racism. The idea that all of those of us in the majority (usually whites) are racist. Or that being in the majority is bad. I was once told that I was a racist because I’m white. I’m not. I’m Metis. I was also fired from Indian and Northern Affairs because I “didn’t look native enough.” When I tried to take that one to the union I was told it was okay to fire me for that reason since First Nations were a minority and they could hire whomever they wanted. That one is still bitter to me.

Last year I worked for the Government of Alberta in Education. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will remember what a horrific time that was. So much so that, while I’m currently desperate for a job, I’d rather be homeless than work for the Government of Alberta again. I digress.

During the time I worked for Education we had National Aboriginal Day. Being Metis, I was the token Indian and had to go to a speech given by a First Nations Elder. I sat through an hour to an hour and a half listening to this man and his wife tell me the problems the First Nations people were having because of whites. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

First, let’s look at the treatment of the First Nations people toward the Metis. The First Nations people have refused to acknowledge the bridge between themselves and us. At best we are ignored by the First Nations. At worst, the First Nations accuse us of being wanna-bes. I cannot count the number of times an Elder has told me that only people who can’t get their treaty status get Metis status. For myself, my family has been Metis since the Europeans first came here. Our family heritage is just as rich and varied as any First Nations.

Second, let’s look at the accusations the First Nations level against whites. How is it that the First Nations get to call a Canadian of European descent “white” but I can’t call them “Indian”? The First Nations cite examples of children being taken from homes to go off to boarding schools to be educated. They also cite beatings that occurred and other abuses. Let’s examine this.

While I don’t condone taking children away from a perfectly happy, loving household; the Europeans of the time believed they were doing what was best for the child. European education, the type of education that we know and love today that takes place in the classroom, was believed to be the only kind of learning. In other words, if you didn’t read or write, if you hadn’t gone to school, then you were an ignorant savage. Narrow minded, but it was the belief at the time. We now understand that learning occurs in many different environments and ways and I hope we’re smart enough to embrace them all. How is it I’m being blamed for something that was done a hundred years ago? Does this mean I get to blame Italians for what the Romans did to the early Christians? How about blaming the Spanish for what they did to anyone who lived in South America? Blame is a tricky dish. There’s always enough to go around.

As for beatings, well, that was the standard of the day as well. Again, I don’t condone beatings, but I do remember the strap being still used in school when I was a kid. It was scary and awful, but I don’t blame the principals of my schools for nightmares I have today. It was a part of my life. Shall we shake hands and move on?

Another part of this talk was how the First Nations people were somehow privy to a more ecological way of living. That somehow they had secrets that the white man didn’t know. Really? Okay, then why is it that there are First Nations people using dynamite to fish? BOOM!! Yep. Very ecological. As well, according to the 2009 Fall Report of the Auditor General of Canada, landfill sites, sewage treatment and disposal on First Nations Reserves were not operating according to regulations laid out in the Indian Act. Let’s lay this out; First Nations reserves are dumping their shit wherever they please and, as of the report, were not called to task on it. Yet, there have been health issues on First Nations reserves. However, instead of blaming their own waste disposal system, people (the vast majority who listen to big media) have chosen to blame the Oil Sands.

Yet, the Government of Alberta has an active land reclamation project underway as do many of the oil companies that operate there. For example, Syncrude Canada has an extensive reclamation project that is a major undertaking by this company. Cheryl Robb, Media Relations Advisor for Syncrude Canada, explained that Syncrude has an active relationship with the First Nations people regarding reclamation and suggestions for moving forward with sustainability projects. This relationship is one of the six pillars of the Syncrude corporation. Syncrude will soon be able to boast they’ve planted over 7 million trees. Yet, it’s okay for the First Nations reserves to literally dump their shit wherever they please.

The First Nations also claim they have the right to self-govern. I’m Scots. I’ve decided that the Brits were shitheads for taking us over and I’m going gather other Scots and govern the way we did before the Brits came. Now all I need is a druid. I’m a witch. I don’t qualify.

Let’s take a look at what the First Nation’s self-government has gotten. There are stories of addiction, sub-standard living environments, crime and rampant poverty. In Hobbema, a reserve in Alberta, the chief’s 5 year old grandson was killed in a gang shooting spree. His was not the first death and I’m sure it’s not the last. So if the First Nations can govern themselves so well, shouldn’t they have fewer problems than us whites? Yet do not criticize them. What about the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario where living conditions were so deplorable that the government was forced to step in and take over the governing of the reserve? By that winter, 2000 people had to be evacuated from the reserve because the housing was so bad the government feared that people would not survive the winter. How on earth did the situation get to that point if the First Nations people are able to govern themselves so well?

Life is unfair and I accept that. I don’t want everything to be fair because it gives me something to work towards. However, it’s unjust when a minority group like the First Nations are able to point the finger of blame towards everyone else and not once do they address the issues on their own doorstep. Jesus said it best in Matthew 7:4, “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?”. Worry about your own backyard before you begin laying accusations elsewhere.

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