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Today I’m going to be productive.

First, up at 8:00 am. Then a good healthy breakfast.

Okay… up at the crack of 10:00 am or so… let’s see… are chocolate chip cookies healthy? No? Okay, well milk is so that’s healthy.

Now, time to sit at the computer and write. Oh damn. Those cookies are sitting on the counter. They look absolutely delicious. Well, it’s not like I actually had breakfast. A couple more won’t hurt. Besides, I’m drinking milk with them. That’s good, right? Just three. No more than three.

Okay. The computer. Being productive here. Oops. Bathroom break. Look in the mirror. Damn. I need a shower. Well, no time like the present.

It’s noon? How did that happen? Okay. I got some good old mac ‘n cheese here. That’s quick and easy. Gosh I love mac ‘n cheese. Always makes me feel like I’m five years old again.

Back to the computer to open the latest story I’m working on. Wait. I have email I have to check. Oh look, my friend posted this funny thing on Facebook. I have to share that. Now, say something witty about it. Witty… witty… Got it! Ha! What’s this story on Yahoo? Oh my! I have to comment on that. So many people notice me when I make comments on these stories.

The story. Where the hell was I going with this story? Damn. Five pages in and I’ll have to rewrite the last two. Maybe I can salvage them. No… My brain must have been gnawed on by ferrets when I wrote this. Go back and rewrite. Wait. Text coming in. My friends all love me. They know how hard I work. Ha! My friend is having a rough day at work. I’ll text her something funny to make her smile. She needs that.

Television. I need some noise in the background. I’ll turn on one of those daytime talk shows. They always make me feel better about my life. Damn, girl! You’re 14 years old! Why are you having sex with a 26 year old? Stop that.

Story. Right.

How did it get to be 4:00pm? I need to start thinking about supper. Damn. I promised my friend I’d go to that movie tonight. Maybe I can convince them to buy supper. I hate cooking. I still have a couple of hours before they get here.

Spend the next 2 hours furiously writing.

10:00pm and back from movie and the dinner. Gosh my friends treat me well. I should try to pound out a couple of pages before bed. Oh look! More emails! I have to catch up with what’s happening on Lolcats. Oh and look at what’s on Ugliest Tattoos. Jesus. That guy looks like he wound up on the bad side of an argument with a stapler. Oh, more Facebook updates. Yes, I support that, so I’ll give it a like. Story. Right.

Okay, let’s open the story and see where I’m at. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that? Can I claim aliens abducted me and forced me to write that? No. I’d like the probing too much. Okay. Let’s just go from where we left off. Who’s we? Do I have someone inside my head? No. Just a cast of thousands. I call them characters. Hee hee.

Write until 3:00am.

Damn that felt good. I need food. I’ll grab a quick snack. I’ve really got to get rid of these cookies. Just two… or three…. four sounds good. Milk. Milk is good for me. Helps you sleep, too. Not warm milk, though. Cold. Ice cold milk. Warm milk is just gross unless it’s chocolate milk.

Okay. Off to bed. Oh wait. I want to check that FML app I’ve got. Some of those are hilarious. Oh, and I’ve got to play my game. Got to make sure my vampire kicks some ass. Okay. Now to sleep.

I’ll get up at 8:00am and have a nice healthy breakfast….

Danielle Smith Boob Bus

Danielle Smith Boob Bus

I suffer from night terrors. Night terrors differ from nightmares in that when you wake up, you don’t fully come out of the dream. So, you wake up and the monster you’ve been running from is now there in your bedroom. Not fun. In these dreams things start out innocuous enough; things look normal until the family you’ve been having dinner with decides you’re very tasty. This whole Danielle Smith campaign has been a little like that for me.

Smith is charismatic. She can sure talk and she looks pretty on the side of a bus (by the way, how on earth did that slip by her office?). Let’s face it, she talks better than Ralph Klein ever did and looks better than Stelmach. So much so she slipped this whole “conscience rights” things past me. I didn’t pay attention to it at all. I was so busy listening to the promises of payouts and improved health care that I missed this one. Like David Copperfield, Smith has an amazing ability to get her audience to watch what is happening in the right hand while her left is doing the pickpocketing.

Let’s look at this whole “conscience rights” thing for a moment. I first heard of it when Warren Kinsella of the Toronto Sun wrote about it in his article, “Smith Changes Her Tune and Is Completely Off-Key”. Wait a minute. I don’t usually watch the news and such, but come election time I do keep up with the politics. I love the Internet for giving me that ability. So how did a journalist in Toronto click into this and make noise about it before Alberta journalists did? To be fair, perhaps there was an article or two that I missed. Still, he’s in Toronto writing about Alberta politics and drawing attention to where it needs to be focused. You’re being ripped off, people and Kinsella is showing you.

Conscience rights, as I understand it, means that if an official does not agree with a particular issue and it conflicts with his job, he does not have to perform that function. So, let’s explain that. Let’s suppose there is a judge that does not agree with gay marriage. That judge does not have to perform the marriage. What? If there is a doctor who does not agree with abortion, he does not have to perform the abortion. Now, if you’re a judge who does not agree with gay marriage, you tend to stay away from marrying people. A doctor who does not agree with abortions would probably go into another field. No problem there. Right? Let’s take this one step further; let’s suppose you’re a prison official who does not agree with gay rights. Does that mean that official no longer has to care for them? Let’s say you’re an apartment manager who does not agree with the swinger lifestyle. Guess what? You don’t have to rent to “them” any more. Restaurant manager who doesn’t agree with First Nations’ rights? Don’t serve them. Welcome to the slippery slope, people.

Yes, some of the examples I’m showing are extreme, however, do you really believe there aren’t those who won’t go there? I’m a Wiccan and once lost a job because of it. No, that wasn’t the official reason, but was something that was said from my manager to me on my way out. She later denied saying it. Who is easier to believe? I have met racists, skinheads, gaybashers, and religious nuts; all of whom believe that “those” people should be grateful for what they got. I actually met a man who once said, “Rosa Parks should have stayed at the back of the bus. Then we wouldn’t have all these problems.” They’re out there and this policy gives them a blank cheque.

Okay. Those people do exist. What about the woman who really believes that shielding her children from swingers and Wiccans is best for her kids? I have to ask, what do these people think will happen if they meet a swinger couple? That the couple will start indoctrinating a five year old? “Yes, Billy. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to hell because they only sleep with each other.” Do these people believe that Wiccans will steal their 10 year old to perform a “Drawing Down of the Moon”? Do they think gays will infect their children? Come on. Let’s get real here. I’m all for raising kids right, but not when that means they get the idea that stomping all over the rights of those who are different is okay.

I did try to contact Danielle Smith’s office. I was a good girl and sent an email via their website. That’s a nice way of doing it. I can be polite when I try. That was a week ago. They never responded. So, when I called Smith’s office today the alarm bells really rang. I first called her campaign office and was told that the website email goes to her “other” office (they never really explained what the other office was). So, I called there and tried to get someone in the media office. No answer. I hate leaving messages. Besides, they’ve had a week to respond. So I got ahold of the receptionist who stated that the office “wasn’t sure where that email is routed to.” WHAT?? Let me get this right; you have an email for constituents (and nuts like me) to get ahold of you but you don’t know where it’s going? There’s a unique solution. Don’t want to have to answer questions? Create an email link and dump the email into the ether. Then you can honestly say, “nope. Didn’t get your email.” Does anyone else find that hilarious?

All I can do is write this blog, send a letter to the editor of local papers and cross my fingers. I won’t be voting for Smith, I can tell you that much and I urge others to do the same. Yes, the flash and dazzle is pretty, but all that gets annoying after a while. Then, when reality sets in, we’re left with “conscience rights”. I’m awake, but the night terror goes on and the monster is in my room.

All my life I’ve been the kid on the edges. You know the one; the one sitting on the side of the playground, reading. She’s the one pretending it doesn’t hurt to be left out or made fun of. The one standing along the bleachers at the high school dance, bouncing along to the music that no one asks to dance. She’s the one that’s learned to do things on her own. No one’s going to ask her to join them. It hasn’t been easy, and sometimes it has been very hard, but there’s an advantage to knowing how to do things on your own.

That life I have integrated into myself and embrace it. I am who I am and make no apologies for that. I’m a libertine, a polyamorist, pansexual, lover of life who makes her own way mainly by brute force and sheer determination. Would I like to have a clique? Sure. Then when things go horribly wrong I have someone to blame. I only have a small group of very good friends who remind me that when things blow up in my face, it’s my responsibility. They also come to the front and help me celebrate life’s victories. Those are many and they are sweet because I got there on my own.

I have battles I choose to fight. One of which is bullying. Of course, bullying comes in many forms including; abuse, rudeness and racism. To me, all of these are just bullying. They don’t always take priority; I simply don’t have that much energy. Which form I’m battling depends on what’s happening in my life. This time it’s racism.

By now, everyone’s heard of Trayvon Martin and how he was gunned down by a bully. Yes, George Zimmerman was nothing more than a bully with a gun and a stupid Florida law behind him. There are so many issues here that I want to address that it’s hard to keep them from crowding each other out. However, recent events in my personal life pushed me towards making a statement.

Let me say I never intended to say nothing. This is such a huge issue I felt it was vital, as a writer, to take my time and really mull over what I felt and wanted to say about this. This is not a simple situation and, as a Canadian and a writer, I felt it would be irresponsible to pound out words said in the heat of the moment. Now I’ve had a chance to think about it and I have something to say.

I am no stranger to racism. Growing up, my father was a closet racist. He held to the idea that “those” people were inferior, but tried to keep that to himself. I loved my father, don’t think I didn’t. I was very close to him but I heard the “jokes” and the snide comments. They were very subtle and I only heard it as I stood at the periphery of the adults speaking. When I got a bit older I questioned this attitude and the rest of my family defended him. It was harmless, I was told. Or, I was told that he was simply pointing out a truth about a certain culture. Indians drink, for example. Blacks like hot weather (please don’t ask me how this one came to be. I’m not sure myself).

As an adult I protested this subtle racism and was pushed to the edges of my family. I was being over-sensitive. I should learn to live and let live. I was tilting at windmills. Yet, my mother contended that Chinese were the best accountants and my father insisted that blacks were best at blue collar jobs. Finally I told my family that it had to stop or I would never talk to them again. Luckily, it never came to that.

I have friends from all walks of life; asian, white, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, pagan, black, you name it. I try to respect everyone’s beliefs and am very curious about their lives (which generally leads me to asking questions other people don’t ask). It was a shock, then, to be the victim of this subtle racism I’ve fought against all my life.

One of my friends is Polish and is very proud of his heritage. I ask questions and try, in vain, to pronounce his name as it’s meant to be said. Usually I give up and revert back the Anglicized version of his name. Recently, he posted a picture on Facebook with a caption in Polish. I assumed it said something positive so I posted, “I agree”. The picture was pretty.

He sent a message back to me saying how rude I was to post in English on a Polish posting. That I shouldn’t have said anything and stayed in my place. I wondered why my place suddenly became the back of the bus. When I replied, I pointed out that ostracising someone based on their culture or language was racism. He didn’t like that. I cried.

So let’s go back to Trayvon Martin. I would like to make a comment about Florida’s “stand your ground” law. From what I understand, this allows a person to shoot first and ask questions later. Okay. I’m Canadian and maybe I’m being a bit dense on this, but it seems that this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

Let’s do a comparison. A police officer, in most places around the world, has to train for months, learn the laws of the land, take counselling and generally prove he is worthy of both the badge and the gun. If a shooting does occur, an inquiry is called. He is questioned by his superiors and by the local internal affairs department, has to fill out paperwork and takes more counselling. In all of this he MUST have “just cause”. This means he has to be able to prove, beyond a doubt, that he believed his life or the life of someone else was in imminent danger.

In Florida, if I understand right, if you’re a private citizen all you need to have is a gun. This law says that the owner of said gun only needs to PRESUME the threat of imminent danger. The danger doesn’t actually need to be there. No one sees a problem here? What about a gun-happy idiot like Zimmerman who was told by the 911 operator to take no action? No. Zimmerman creates some imaginary threat in his head and kills a boy with skittles in his pocket. I imagine there are unicorns and werewolves in Zimmerman’s world, too.

Now, why was Martin killed? He was a black kid wearing a hoodie. That was the threat. I’m not sure which Zimmerman found more threatening; the hoodie, the fact he was black or the skittles. Skittles can be scary, you know. That whole “taste the rainbow” sure sounds ominous to me.

Racism is such an odd creature. I’m not sure I understand the idea of ostracising or hurting someone because they’re different. To tell me I can’t comment because I don’t know the language is patently silly. To shoot a boy because he’s a black kid wearing a hoodie is criminal. All of it is just sad.

My heart goes out to the family of Trayvon Martin. I would like to show my support but, as there are so many ribbons out there, I’m choosing a different method. I’m going to wear a hoodie for Trayvon. Maybe if more people wore them, people like Zimmerman wouldn’t find them so frightening.

I’m baffled by writers. They are this mysterious lot that has more rituals and superstitions than a hockey player coming to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every writing class I’ve ever been in agrees there’s some magical formula to being a “real” writer. Usually it involves keeping journals and writing notes on sticky notes. Another part of this ritual involves sticking those notes all over the computer and token whiteboard or corkboard. Every writer carries a notebook and pen for sudden spurts of inspiration. I always feel like such a fraud when I realize I do none of this.

I have a mind-mapping software that lets me spin out my notes in a way that works for me and the way my brain works. I’ve tried to tell other writers about this, but the look I’m given is the same one you give a brain damaged puppy. I don’t carry a pen or a notebook. Writing is a chore for me sometimes since my hands shake. Besides, if an idea is really juicy, I like to chew on it for a while and let it percolate for a bit. I don’t like sticky notes, but I will admit it is fun to stick them to the cat. I am allergic to journals.

There is very little of the writer’s rituals that I do. I feel like a guilty Catholic and wonder if I’m a real writer. I don’t know. I’ve spent the last two years in a writing program that is supposed to teach me how to be a real writer and all I’ve learned is that I’m not a writer.

I’m a storyteller. Writers, I find, are fascinated by words; how they sound, how they feel, how they work together. They know a dangling modifier when they see it and can shoot a participle at 10 paces. I have a nodding acquaintance with grammar at best. Writers feel a burning desire to be published and jump through amazing hoops to placate the editor. I only want to have my stories heard.

In my Metis blood is where this comes from. Scots and Cree are the majority of my heritage, though some French is there; I cheerfully ignore that. Growing up, my mother would tell me stories about her own childhood. She got the gift of weaving a good story from her own father, whom I’ve met once. So, telling a story is a part of my very core.

Writing is involved, but I see it different than writers. I hear the story of how Hemmingway once changed a story ending 300 times or so and it stuns me. Why didn’t he let the story tell itself? Sounds like trying to fit a fat woman into a corset. The story will tell itself. Not always the way you expect or the way you want, but it will lead you the way it wants to go.

I am fascinated by stories and love to watch them take shape then trim and primp them to sparkling beauty. Then I strut them up and down the street and pimp them out to anyone willing to give them attention. My stories are not lofty things, nor are they delicate. My stories have callouses and muscles from working the docks. Their hair is dishevelled and unwashed. They are not ones to mingle with such literature as Margaret Atwood might write. No. They’re often down at the neighbourhood pub with Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis singing pub songs with a mug of beer.

It’s taken me years to realize this is who and what my stories are. I’m good with that. I’m a storyteller.

I am a lazy writer. Okay, so you got that from my blogs. I’ll write every day for weeks and then a there is a span of four or five days where there’s nothing. Well, World of Warcraft isn’t going to play itself, you know.

Actually, the truth is that I’m not  a lazy writer. I work very hard on my writing and try to work diligently every day. However, I’m a sporadic writer and need my down time. Thus the need for World of Warcraft.

I hear writers talking about how they work ten hours a day every day and ignore their friends and family all for the sake of the printed word. I get that. I get how involved a good story can make a writer. It also confuses me. There are days when all I do is write but for the most part I write for about four to six hours a day. Not all of it is typing, either. Some days I sit and stare at the screen and wish I had anything open but Word.

I’ve always considered myself an experiential writer. I write about what I experience. If all I experience is writing, then all I can write about is writing. Oh dear god. I just got a headache putting that sentence down. Talk about a logic loop. I see it all the time, too. Stephen King is notorious for creating characters that are writers of one degree or another. Misery, Secret Window are just two that jump out off the top of my head. Others feature writers prominently like It. Other writers fall into this trap as well. It’s easy for a writer to create a main character who is a writer. It’s a character that’s ready made for us, all we have to do is paint by numbers writing. I think it’s cheap.

Writers are the smoke and mirrors on the stage. Everyone sees them, but no one pays attention. The magician focuses their attention on the disappearing elephant yet it’s the smoke and mirrors that makes it happen. The reader wants to watch the elephant disappear and see the magician make it happen. They don’t want or need to hear about how the smoke and mirrors do their job.

If, as a writer, all you do is write, the only character and experience you will have is writing. Push away from your desk. Go see the elephants, talk to the magicians. Experience life. Don’t subject your readers to a lubeless ass-pounding of reading about writers.

Do  you have one of those family members that does things that the rest of the family feels is bizarre or a waste of time or a dreamer’s quest? You know the type, they’re single-minded in chasing after rainbows and the rest of the family holds their breath as another venture doesn’t pan out. They’re forever picking up the pieces of shattered holy grails that they were sure that *this* time was the real deal. Their social life is quaintly described as “quirky” as they plunge into one adventure after another. Socially they’ll try most anything at least once just to say they did while the rest of the family waits for the hormones to calm down so they’ll settle down and have kids and a “real” career. Usually they have a few tattoos and piercings thrown in for good measure.

In my family, that’s me. Minus the tattoos and piercings, of course. Haven’t gotten around to that yet.

Okay, so a run-down of my life. I took care of my parents for 10 years, battled with medication-induced anxiety, am overweight (rubenesque), polyamourous, pansexual and a writer. Of all these things the fact that I’m a writer bothers my family the most. Writers are those weird people who live in dingy apartments, lead solitary lives, drink too much (or do too many drugs, right Mr. King?) and have odd sexual practices. In the eyes of my family, writing is some freakish cult I’ve joined and they’re looking for a way to detox my brain. Until they find one, they do a lot of smiling and nodding at me when I describe the career I’ve chosen. You know, the kind of smiling and nodding you do to someone you’re not sure is dangerous or not so you’re agreeing to keep them happy.

They think I don’t know.

Most of the time I ignore it. Really, I live a peaceful (if poor) life and am happy with where I’m at. I have friends who love and support me even if they don’t always understand me. I suppose writing is a bit like a cult sometimes. I wake up in the morning and wonder how I can appease the Goddess of Writing today. I sacrifice sleep sometimes and the occassional cat and when She’s happy, I do good work. When She’s not, it’s time to flog the old keyboard some more until She is. I’m currently in the Grant MacEwan Applied Communications in Professional Writing Program (which is switching to the Bachelor of Communication Studies). I work at temporary or menial jobs just to get enough money to write and that’s it. My goal is to write full-time either for a company or for myself. However, I’m not focused on working at what I see as a temporary solution to my real life. That’s the rainbow I chase.

My family sees it much differently. They see me bouncing from job to job (after all, writing isn’t a career, remember?) and want me to settle down. I’ve never had children by my choice (I’m 43) and never been married (by my choice) and they see that as a failure in my life. After all, when I meet Mr. Right, I’ll settle down and have kids (nope. Had my tubes tied). I’ll get myself a nice little job in retail somewhere (probably in a dollar store or such) and retire quietly when I can devote myself to my “hobby”.

They can have their delusions. I don’t care.

I’d like to say this to all the families who have to deal with the stranger in their midst; please butt out. You may not understand us, you may not like our decisions, you may worry about us. However, unless we ask your opinion (which is rare) or need you to bail us out (rarer still), please keep your tongue behind your teeth. We have rainbows to catch.

July 2018
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