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.

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Recently I wrote a blog about a woman who was murdered in Afghanistan called, “One Death Too Many“. I was angry and upset that I had so few people actually reading it. I went back and reread it, thinking perhaps the writing was bad or the content was somehow lacking. It wasn’t. It was a good story. I commented on this situation to a writer friend who told me that if my sex stories drew such attention, perhaps I should only write on that, give the audience what they want. I came away from that conversation sad and disillusioned.

I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to writing. I don’t do “target writing” which is setting a goal for yourself and reaching it every day such as a certain word or page count. I don’t really have set times when I write so sometimes I will be writing for 10 or 12 hours a day and other days I can barely get myself to concentrate for two. I’m undisciplined and don’t even own a dictionary (there are far too many online for me to justify spending money or wasting the paper so I can own a book). I actually <GASP!> use the spell and grammar checker on word. Grammar’s my weak point so I use it to see if I’m overusing passive sentences again. Yes, I’m in love with the passive. Damn thing is like a stalker and I keep feeding into the obsession. It’s a cycle we’re both trying to break.

The one thing I have refused to compromise on is the story. Early in my career I had the opportunity to work with an editor who was old old school. He was crotchety, as editors often are, but he knew his stuff and he taught me some very valuable things including my current “three-time” style. I will write a raw piece, edit it once, rewrite, edit twice, rewrite and it goes off. This man told me that if you can’t fix the story in that time you had to cross it off as a loss or give it to someone else. I’ve handed many pieces to fellow writers because I had trouble getting a handle on the story. I don’t mind. They’ve done the same for me.

Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice I ever got from this man was never compromise the story. He let me know there’s a lot of play you can do within a story to keep an editor happy, but never, never, never compromise the heart of a story. A good editor will understand that and I’ve worked with some great editors in the past. Those words of wisdom have been my signpost ever since I heard them.

It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. Whether it’s a greeting card, an instructional manual, War and Peace or a journalism piece. You find that heart of the story and help it grow. That’s the writer’s job. That’s it. The writer does not bow to magazine editors, corporate managers, government bodies or even the audience. The writer is the story’s slave. That’s it. The only obligation a writer has is to the story. Sorry, readers, but you come further down on my list of importance.

That’s not to say my audience isn’t taken into consideration. However, that comes during the editing process and even then I won’t sacrifice something in the story in order to placate my audience. If I think the story is better served by a graphic description of something then it goes in. If you’re too delicate a reader to read it, well, there’s a lot on the Internet to read.

Too many times I see magazines and newspapers bowing to the advertiser’s dollar. I have only written one piece I’m ashamed of and it was a piece to sell some shoes that I clearly saw had some very fundamental design flaws. Years later, it came out that others saw those same flaws and those shoes don’t sell so well now but I did write an article singing their praises when I didn’t believe in them. That’s something I’ll never do again. Here’s some advice I will give readers that I didn’t find out until much later in my career; you can walk away from any story you like. The editor may not be happy with you, but you have a choice; write something you’re ashamed of  or don’t.

I’ve been told I shouldn’t write certain articles as they might make someone look bad. For example, I’ve worked for the Government of Alberta and I remain highly critical of them. It’s bad form, old chap, to criticize your former employer. Too bad. Suck it up, princess. The Government of Alberta is a big enough of a grinding machine to be able to field a bit of criticism.

The advice I was given by my fellow writer, to write what the audience wants, seems sound at first. However, I’m doing a disservice to my readers if all I do is placate them. I believe people come and read me not because they agree or disagree but because they want to hear what I have to say. To water that down in order to increase my readership is an insult to my readers and myself.

Being a writer is the most important thing in my life. I know that means I’m a slave to the story and I need to do what’s necessary to help it grow. It’s tempting to write what’s popular. That pays. A writer is often poor and if a magazine says “just tweak this” or “just take this out” it seems a small thing to do. There are times when changing something or taking out things don’t compromise to the story. Then there are times when you need to stand your ground. If you have a reputation for bringing the best story possible, an editor will trust your instincts on it. That’s an editor you want to work with.

It’s said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I say the road to mediocrity is paved with writers trying to be popular. wherever that editor who taught me so much is, I hope he’s looking on and knows how valuable his knowledge was to me.

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 »

I hate job interviews.

Let me be very clear about this; I LOATHE JOB INTERVIEWS.

As some of my readers will remember, I’m looking for a job. I prefer to work contract for reasons that will become clear in a minute, but would work full-time with the right company. I know I’m capable of doing a wide-variety of writing jobs including webwriting, technical writing, business communications, public relations and more. However, the people hiring don’t know it.

I have a sound resume. I get interviews. I also have a CV which also brings interest to my work. My problem is with the damn interview.

A couple of days ago I had what I thought was a wonderful interview. The job was everything I wanted; working with someone well-established in their field that I could learn from and get along with, a company whose values and work principles matched mine and a challenge. I wanted this job and after talking with the person hiring for an hour and half, I didn’t get the job. Why? The interviewer was unaware that I had documentation experience (this was an editing job so I’m unsure why I’d need experience in writing documentation anyways). Okay, so why was he unaware? He didn’t ask. Instead, we talked about art and prior contract experiences we’d both had (good and bad). The interview was comfortable. Like going for coffee with an old friend. I was completely unaware he was even looking for documentation experience. When I found out I didn’t get the job my first instinct was to write an email to the interviewer explaining my confusion. My second was to send a snide email. My third, which I went with, was to do neither and burst into tears. I’d blown it again. I really needed this contract, too. I had to apply for Social Assistance to pay my rent. I’m quickly running out of money to buy food. I need clothes. When this fell through and I began crying, all my fears and anger over the situation came rushing out. Why do I keep blowing the interview?

First, I admit the problem is partially on my side. I have a learning disorder called Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD). Until recently, I was undiagnosed and lived in social confusion. The problem is this; while I am an amazing writer and can present material in an engaging manner (both written and spoken), I have problems understanding social cues. NLD people like myself have a host of difficulties. NLD people are great at rote memorization (for me this is phone numbers. I can recite a list of them by memory) and have problems with abstract thinking. Unlike other NLD people, I am great at seeing the big picture and then breaking it down to its components. However, I am unable to think a problem through logically. That is, going to step one first, then step two, etc. I jump around a lot. When I first learned about mind-mapping software I was thrilled that someone finally made a program to do what I already do in my head. NLD people lack coordination so may appear clumsy or oafish. Sports are a nightmare for me, the only one I’m really comfortable with is swimming but water is it’s own element. I have been known to break my toes by stubbing them. My doctor once saw me three times in two months for broken toes. I have diabetes so this is a concern for me.

Let me see if I can paint a picture for you of what all this means. If you’ve ever seen the show “Big Bang Theory”, I’m Dr. Sheldon Cooper. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t understand what the humour of Sheldon was supposed to be for the longest time until someone finally explained it to me. My friends will, indeed, tell me when someone’s being sarcastic (I love that they do that for me) and when someone asks “how are you,” I really think they want to know my state of being. I prefer being solitary as being in a crowd is confusion and sometimes frightening me. Imagine yourself in a pack of wolves. The wolves may not wish you harm and may not even be interested in you, but you don’t know what they’re thinking or trying to communicate to you. The result is you being nervous and making the wolves nervous which leads to all sorts of misunderstandings.

I”ve learned a certain camouflage that gets me by most situations. I have a gift for talking and storytelling. I can keep the listener engaged and focused on the story rather than me and most people are happy with that. It makes me look smooth and eases the listener so they can be comfortable. However, if I have to have any kind of in-depth involvement with the listener, such as in an interview, my camouflage fails me and I look like a babbling buffoon. Worse, I get nervous and clumsy. You can imagine what kind of interview that makes.

What would be wonderful for me is to have the interviewer give me a test. Give me a 500 word piece I can write for them or some editing to be done. Let me show you what I can do. Oh, man, I’d outshine everyone there. That’s not the way things are done, though. For some reason these people want me to talk to them. Talking isn’t doing. I can talk about flying a plane, but I can’t do it. So, I go to the interview and think I’m answering their questions or responding to what they want but then I find out that there was someone better. Big surprise.

I’d like to say that I can learn the social cues and get past this, but not at age 44. You can imagine what working is like for me. Especially in “team” environments where you have to go to the barbecue or participate in the Secret Santa or do the golf tournament. It’s not fun. Three or four months down the road, I’m let go because I’m not “fitting in” or “it’s just not working out.” My work is extraordinary, but there’s something else going on and I leave frustrated and unemployed again.

I’m willing to bet that most offices have someone like me. The person who just seems socially inept or awkward, oafish and clumsy, the person people don’t hang out with or invite for coffee. At best people ignore them. At worst they become the object of office bullying. We’re the ones that don’t understand the office politics or can’t keep a secret or even blurt the wrong thing to the wrong person. Yes, that person is me.

So now you understand the reason I hate interviews. I chose to become a contract writer because of NLD. I know I’m not going to fit in but if I’m the contractor, I’m not expected to. However, there are still interviews. Yes, we could do without them, but it’s the established way things are done so that’s how we do them.

I’d like to give interviewers a few tips, though, to make both our lives easier.

  1. If you can give me a test to establish my abilities, please do. I prefer that. I’ll let you have all rights to whatever I produce and will keep all information confidential. Let me show you what I can do.
  2. Please say exactly what you mean. I cannot read your mind and I am likely to interpret your question in a way you never imagined. If you’d like to know about my skills in an area state clearly you want to know about those skills. Some interviewers even want to know something very specific. For example, if you’d like to know if I’ve ever compiled a media kit for a non-profit organization, ask that. If, further, you want to know if I include a company’s history in a media kit, ask. Don’t ask me about my theatre company and hope I mention media kits.
  3. Write down your questions beforehand. If you don’t know what information you’re looking for, how will I know? It’s unfair to ask me to read your mind and know what you want when you aren’t clear.
  4. If you have a meeting afterwards, please let me know at the start of the interview.  I will happily chat with you about your company, the job and life in general in my attempts to figure out what you want. I literally do not see you looking at your watch and tapping your foot.
  5. Be clear. I cannot stress this enough. If you haven’t defined a task or activity yet, explain that. I may have some ideas based on what you’ve told me already. I like new things. I like it when a company recognizes that they have a need but haven’t quite figured out what it is yet. It’s like a puzzle that I get to help build in order to make the company and the position more effective. There’s a certain amount of pride at looking at a job and saying, “I created that.” It’s what I do. Create things.
  6. Do not chew, drink or gnaw at the interview. I don’t chew gum or gnaw on my fingernails or pick my nose during an interview. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t, either. Yes, I did have one interviewer pick his nose. How on earth do you ignore that? If you have any kind of accent, it’s hard to understand you when you’ve got something in your mouth. Besides, it’s rude. Don’t do it. You can get your coffee fix after. Have lunch when you’re scheduled to. Don’t do lunch interviews, either. You may think it’s fun and relaxing, but for me it’s a nightmare. I’m nervous enough as it is without adding table manners into the mix. Oh, and if you have a nip of scotch in your coffee, offer me some (yes, I’ve had drunk interviewers).

For my part I will try to be clear and friendly. I guarantee you’ll like my work and if you don’t I’ll keep at it until you do. I work very hard and am very diligent. I’m not looking for a buddy or a place where “everybody knows your name.” I want to do the job I’m hired for as best as I’m able. I won’t ever get the chance to do that, though so long as I have to endure the interview.

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.

Guess what? Banks are in business to make money!!

Okay. I can hear you laughing at me from here. Stop that.

When I was a kid my family had a change jar. Lots of families have them. You take whatever change from your pockets at the end of the day and put it in the jar. Change adds up and when you need some, you take it. For most of us, this was our first taste of banking. We learned that when we put money away it’s there for us when we need it. That’s simple.

I’ve been in bankruptcy twice. Obviously there’s something about this system I don’t understand. I put my money in the bank and… wait… what do you mean it isn’t there? Where’d it go? Fees? Fees for what? Banking fees. Oh. I see. Now, a bank has to pay its staff to do their jobs and help you understand their system and get the most for your money. I get that. I’m willing to pay what’s fair, for the services I use. Except I don’t use them.

Other than today, the last time I was physically in a bank was about a month ago. The bank had switched me from my student status to their regular status without telling me. Instead of putting my account in a low fee account (which would make sense since I just graduated school), they put it in their regular fee account. The result was that my habit of paying by debit cost me nearly $70. Yes, you heard me, $70. I’m not kidding.

I discovered they had a flat rate account that would accommodate my debit use and would only cost me $13 a month. When I asked why they didn’t revert me to this account they said it wasn’t their policy. When I asked why I was told simply that changing it to the regular fee account was their policy. Huh? Redundant is redundant.

Now, as I said, I do think that I should pay a fair rate for the services I use. Except, I don’t use them. I have mentioned before that I’ve gone paperless in my life and that means doing banking by phone or computer. Rarely, very rarely, do I ever go into the bank itself. Yet, I just realized today that I’m being charged to have a bank there.

Today I went into the President’s Choice Financial Bank. I’m sure you’ve seen them, they’re tucked away in the corner of your local Real Canadian Superstore. They’re tiny, little corners, usually a desk, a cabinet, a bank machine and a computer. Not much more than that. They’re kind of cute, actually. However, this small little office made me feel more welcome than the bank I’ve been dealing with for more than 20 years.

Let’s do a comparison, shall we? My regular bank is a nation-wide financial institution. If you enter into the bank you will see a main reception desk where a lovely lady sits. Unfortunately, due to the placement of her chair and me standing above her, I can usually see directly down her shirt. I’m not opposed, but I don’t think I need to pay for that. Keep moving in the bank and you will see rows of offices where the bank managers sit. Move a little further and you see rows of tellers. Men and women positioned behind a large shelf-like counter. It’s all professional and clean and cold. This is what a bank is, isn’t it?

I went into the President’s Choice Financial Bank and there was a lovely young lady using a rug sweeper to make sure her area was clean. Just her. No rows of managers and tellers. One computer. Not banks of them. Wait a minute. Where were the managers advising me on how to give them my money? Where were the tellers taking my money? Hmm…

This woman was wonderful. She was one-stop shopping. She advised me on saving my money, different account types and what would suit my needs best. She talked about interest rates and how to save for the future. She even advised me on GICs and RRSPs. I don’t get that when I go to my regular bank. I have to make an appointment and wait. Sometimes for days. This woman joked with me and talked about the events of the day. I discovered she has an 11-year-old son and is a single mother. As a writer, I love these details. She’s a real person with real cares. In turn, I felt as though she cared about me.

That’s when I discovered that President’s Choice Financial doesn’t have any fees. Like the change jar, I put my money in, I take my money out. My money. I’m not paying to have a teller I never see or managers who never do anything for me. As I said, I do everything myself with an occassional phone call to straighten out a glitch or error. I like doing it that way. Gives me a greater sense of control over my money. I do believe it’s a lack of control that led to my two bankruptcies.

There was one last problem with my regular bank. I’ve been banking with them for almost 20 years and have let them have their own way for that time. I was told something was policy and left it at that. Recently I’ve been trying to recoup my credit rating and get back on steady footing financially. That’s where a bank comes in, right? Not in the case of my regular bank. Many times I’ve tried to find a solution for myself that the bank will help me with. Turns out, bankruptcy twice means “we don’t have to do crap for you.” When I tried to apply for a line of credit, my regular bank drew a line in the sand. I couldn’t even get the five-day hold on my incoming cheques released. My regular bank will do nothing.

At President’s Choice Financial, I still have the five-day hold for now. However, that depends on me. If I deposit money on a regular basis, don’t bounce checks and keep a positive balance, that hold should be released in about six months. Not only that, but President’s Choice Financial also helped me to apply for a line of credit. I wasn’t simply turned away and told there was no sense in applying. The woman at this bank offered me solutions that the bank can help me with. Real solutions. I may not get the line of credit, but I’m closer than I was before.

Bankruptcy has taught me a lot about myself and my finances. I’m far more careful now than I was before and I’m much more savvy than I was. This isn’t to say I’m a financial genius. Numbers still confuse me. However, I now realize that paying for services I’m not using is stupid. I don’t mean this blog to be an advertisement for any one financial institution. Banks do need to know, though, that their ways aren’t going to cut it for much longer. People aren’t going to keep paying for them to line their pockets.

It’s my jar. It’s my money.

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.

The Goddess holding a moon

Goddess Moon

I am a Wiccan High Priestess. Few realize it, but there are responsibilities that go along with that whether I have an active circle or am just a solitary practitioner. I take these responsibilities very seriously and try to carry them out to the best of my ability. 

It may seem self-evident, but one of those responsibilities is to listen and actually hear what the Goddess and God are telling me. This doesn’t mean watching for a bunch of omens and portents, but simply being open to what the world around you is showing you. The Goddess and God aren’t always obvious; most of the time they’re rather subtle and it’s hard to hear. Then there are times like this when it’s a blatant slap across the face.

For the past month it’s been raining off and on in Edmonton, Alberta. Not something that overly concerns me, I know the sun will come out sometime. If it doesn’t, I know how to swim and the Bible has great instructions on boat building. So it’s not something I’ve worried a lot about, especially since we had an incredibly dry winter.

However, over the past weekend, I’ve become more aware of the environment and the world around me than usual. I live in one of the most ecologically friendly buildings in Edmonton; built from recycled materials, it has geo-thermal heating/cooling and solar panelling. This building is what housing will feature in the future and I am proud to live here. I am also one of these people who take the bus or walk everywhere I need to go. I don’t own a car but I will use one occasionally whenever someone’s silly enough to hand me their keys. Most of the time, though, walking is enjoyable and good for the heart. I recognize, though, that this green-friendly activity isn’t mine by choice, but is one of the wallet. So, to take a more active role in saving the earth, I have gone paperless in my life. I don’t take receipts and use my debit card so I always know what transactions I’ve done, I have yet to refill the ink in my printer, all my edits and I do all my writing on the computer. I now use about 10% of the paper I once did. I’ve challenged other writers to go paperless, but so far none have accepted the challenge (see “Suckling at the Paper Teat“, January 7, 2012).

Things finally came to a head when I watched a neighbour watering the pavement on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Rain was imminent and I sat, stunned as this man took a hose with a high pressure water attachment and watered newly paved parking lot. Maybe this is an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder thing. I don’t know. Whatever it was, it made me angry.

When I told my sister about this pavement-watering moron, she stared at me like I’d suddenly started speaking a foreign language. She honestly didn’t understand why it bothered me so much. I then looked around her house and realized she is one of Canada’s resource gluttons. I was ashamed. When I went home that night I was disillusioned and depressed. My sister is a big advocate of the environment. So I thought. She’s always going on about recycling and environmental issues. She sounded like one of the eco-weenies I have so much problem with. Turns out, like so many others, she’s a hypocrite. Somewhere along the line she’s learned to mouth all the environmental platitudes but takes little or no action.

That night I found an earring I’d lost. It was my favourite, in the shape of a dragonfly. I feel very fond of the dragonfly, he’s seen as the messenger of the gods. I don’t look for omens, but sometimes the Goddess and God are rather blunt when they’re speaking to me. Okay. I got the hint. Time for action.

Canada has about 7% of the world’s renewable fresh water supply according to Environment Canada but we are also the biggest consumers of water in the world. It may not seem like much at first glance, that little 7% but let me assure you, that’s a vast quantity. This water supply has made Canadians water gluttons. I’ve seen people run the dishwasher (which is not an ecologically friendly dishwasher, usually) to wash two or three pots because they don’t feel like scrubbing. I know of people who take two or three showers a day because they feel like it or it makes them feel good. I’ve seen people watering their lawns a half hour before it’s about to rain. If these things don’t make you angry, they should. If it still doesn’t make you angry, then stop reading. You won’t give a damn about the rest of what I’m about to say.

I predict that in 20 years the country that it will be water that is the world’s commodity, not oil or gold. When that happens, the country with vast renewable fresh water resources will become a world power and Canada, which is one of those countries, is not ready for that responsibility. We have been idiots in regards to conserving our resources. I do share certain sentiments with David Suzuki in that Canada must act now to take care of its country or we will quickly become impoverished in ways we scarcely imagine.

I’m a science fiction writer. Let me paint a picture of the future if we do not take care of our environment now.

Disease will be rampant. Without access to clean water supply, our bodies will not be able to adequately fight off infection and diseases. Not to mention the increase of insects like mosquitos which often carry such diseases and are quite adaptable to adverse environmental situations. Certain species, like birds who eat insects, will decline drastically without water to supply. Our vast forests which we rely on for wood and paper products will quickly dry up. Vast quantities of prairie farmland will become as useless as a screen door on a submarine. The beloved Oil Sands will also come to a screeching halt. People will begin to work for food and water instead of money as both become scarcer and scarcer. Scared yet?

Unlike many environmentalists (I, by the way, am not an environmentalist. I am merely practical), I don’t just shout out dire warnings and then leave you shaking under the covers. There are some very real things you can do.

  1. A shower once a day is fine. If you happen to work a job that is very dirty by its nature then have that second shower just to clean up. A bath should be reserved for those particularly stressful days. Have a baby? I know of two mothers who would shower with their infants. It was a bonding time for them and the infants loved it. Of course, I don’t have children, so I don’t know how practical that is.
  2. STOP WATERING THE PAVEMENT!! If you’re like my neighbour and wants a clean sidewalk, get a broom. The exercise will do you good. Also, maybe if you feel silly doing it a few times you’ll come to the realization that IT’S PAVEMENT, not your kitchen and doesn’t need to sparkle. Maybe then you’ll stop.
  3. Green appliances are your friend. I don’t know of any company that doesn’t offer low-energy or low-water appliances. Buy them. You don’t need the water-guzzling or energy-sucking appliances of old. Along with that, invest in low-water spigots and shower heads. My building has them and I really don’t notice the difference.
  4. Green isn’t always good. There are unscrupulous companies out there who use the green name for marketing and don’t actually have anything environmentally friendly about it. Bamboo is not a good thing. Leave it to the pandas and stop clear-cutting bamboo forests. Be aware of what you’re buying. Like fish? Stop buying it. Fishermen often catch things other than that wonderful tuna or salmon you like so much. Dolphins in nets are one small part of the problem. Rare crabs, oysters, even coral reefs get caught up in them. Stop buying fish. Besides, our oceans are another problem area we need to work on.
  5. Recycling is everyone’s responsibility.It takes an extra 10 seconds to put something in the recycle. If you don’t do it, you’re an idiot and should stop reading. I don’t waste my time on idiots.
  6. Go paperless. With computers today, there is very little reason to print anything out. You can do almost everything paperless now. Pay bills, buy groceries, even do editing.

There’s a lot more that can be done, these are just the ones I’ve thought of. Oh. One more thing; tell your neighbours. Tell your friends. We’ve come to the point where watering the pavement is no longer an option. Canada is on the brink of something. We can either be a world leader or we can be gluttons.

As a High Priestess, I have a duty to listen when my Goddess and God talk. They spoke and I took action and wrote this blog. I hope everyone who reads it will pass it along or Facebook it or Twitter it. It’s time to stop watering the pavement.

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