Tag Archives: politics

Fuck-up Nights


i-dont-always-fuck-up-but-when-i-do-its-big-timeJust read about this group of people who get together now and again and talk about their failures over a few drinks  – sharing where they’ve messed up, telling what they learned, if anything, sharing that’s okay to make a complete mess of things. 

Here’s the article.

I think this is a great idea. Ever since we told our first lie to our mothers about how well we did in school, or our school friends about how well we live, we’ve been told to emphasize the positive. We become great at rationalizing. “Yeah, I failed the exam but that’s because I was helping starving orphans – no really!” Or, more likely, “I didn’t get the marks I wanted, but it was the professor’s fault.”

We graduate to hyper promoting ourselves in job interviews because we cannot be seen to show weakness. We even get into the (gasp!) fradulent Christmas letter writing, the tremendously successful social media posts, the endlessly cheerful selfies, carefully staged. And don’t get me started on the dating site posts. Lying abounds. No one admits to failures in their broken marriages, no one admits they can’t maintain a relationship for more than fifteen seconds (or that that’s about the amount of time they take for sex).

Eventually, this can change into the toxic mess of really thinking that any failures really aren’t our fault and then we get the bizarreness that is running the USA at the moment.

But here’s the thing – failures are the BEST. That’s where the rubber hits the road, where you are forced to think about things, where you confront the actuality of your existence. Where you learn. Heaven knows I’ve learned a lot from my multiple failures …(#humblebrag)

Gosh, see how that slips in? I can’t even honestly wallow in my failures without having to come up with some fraudulent positive to hold forth like a shining light like I’m better than everyone else because I’ve THOUGHT about my failures…

And truth be told, there are lots of failures I just haven’t learned from. Like:

Weight management. (chocolate calls to me like a seagull, persistent and loud)forrest-gump-fat-people

The need for exercise. (Again, it feels good when done, but that chair and book are so cozy)

Humility. (Though thankfully I get slapped with that one on a regular basis, so it’s harder to forget)

Relationships. (Though I heard that men, apparently, don’t like it if you seem willing. Who knew?)
winter-witch-female-snowwhite-disneyscreencaps-com-186163.2Forgetting to put lipstick on my aging lips, so I look like the undead. (Though I can rationalize about the chemicals in lipstick, it still doesn’t prevent me from looking like a 
winter witch)

Dressing for success. (I dress for comfort and often get followed around by staff in stores)

Writing. (I can’t even discuss that one)

Oh, gee, there are so many.

I try and make a joke out of them. I tell myself they don’t matter. Most of the time they don’t. Truth is, what I may see as a galling gaping hole of embarrassment doesn’t even touch the outside world. No one is looking at me, or if they are, they take me for what I am or judge me and it means nothing. Either they are friends or they are not.

maxresdefaultThe problem with this not acknowledging failure thing is that we become perfectionists, hide what we attempt. Once I took a pottery class, throwing endless cylinders on the wheel. Every one I threw I sliced in half to see how thinly I was able to throw the walls, the bottom. I failed to make a pot every single time because I’d cut it in half. I left the 6-week class with nothing to take home. None of them were worth keeping, in my perfectionist mind. In a way that was freeing (I do so HATE to finish projects (see unlearned-from failures)), but I could have learned a lot more if I’d accepted the good enough and just pushed forward.

For awhile, I was published a lot. I’d write off a short piece, polish it, and send it in. Get paid for it, even! Lately, I have been holding onto my pieces, sure they are secretly horrible. They pile up, sliced in half like my clay cylinders. I’m holding back, refusing to throw myself into the world, “be seen”, as my friend Bonnie used to say.

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Fortunately, I make weird felted animals, and I have a wonderfully supportive group of female friends who told me they were good enough, so I dared to toss them into the caring hands of the people at Argyle Fine Art, and they have accepted them, welcomed them, given me street cred. I have been seen.

 

I still fail at them regularly, and a wise friend from my knitting circle told me yesterday, “But maybe that’s why people like them?” So…who knows?

Now, if only I can do that with my writing. I have many a project that needs a little fluffing and then releasing. They aren’t perfect, but maybe, like my animals, people will like them more for that? I dunno, but if nothing else, I’ll have more failures to add to my pile…and that’s a good thing.

Because failures mean that I tried.

Gnawing my fingertips


images-10My nails are long since gone…..

I’ve been dreading this election Tuesday for months. I live in Canada and thus can only watch, horrified, as a rude, lying, idiotic man bullies his way through towards President, making all of his policies (if any) sound like “I know I am and so are you” schoolyard yells. Or whenever he is told of his past behaviour, he just bully-cartoon-2015-1denies it, like we don’t have a film record. It’s bizarre.

But some people do think he’d make a good president, I hear. Migods. Surely the American people can’t think that someone who makes money off of ripping others off is a success story? Or an accused rapist and admitted assaulter is good to send out into the world as their spokesperson?

But then I remember the American dream. The one that was sung to me when I lived there. The off-key tune that: everyone makes their own success; losers deserve it; and if you win, God’s on your side. It is a horrible, selfish dream, the kind of one you suck on like a thumb when you are curled up in the da51uphka8al-_sx319_bo1204203200_rk, chewing over some hurt. It is a gray-green dream, the colour of jealousy and pride, two of those deadly sins we hear about now and then. And it’s a white person’s dream, a white man’s dream. Everyone else knows that, sometimes, no matter how hard you pull on those bootstraps, you may not “make it”. You may not be rich or famous, which appears to be the only goal worth having. Well, that and heaven.

If you choose to avoid wealth, you are obviously sick. Good people are those that make millions and then dole it out in dribs and drabs. They are applauded, while those that suffered at minimum wage and long hours and poverty gaze up in adoration, forgetting the whip…

58660647And what of those very religious? I have a family member who believes that if God loves you, He (it is a male God, of course) will make you rich. My family member isn’t rich. How horrifying that must be, to think that therefore God must not like you. How damning. How angry it must make you at those you see as less deserving who are wealthier than you. Surely they cheated somehow, or were given the job because of special interests. It can’t be that YOU are not competent or prepared or the right fit. No never, because God loves you and so you are perfect.

It breaks my heart.

I’m also watching the races for the Senate. I have an irrational desire for a Democratic sweep – irrational because of the millions spent to prevent such a thing. I hear the GOP saying they will block everything if they get in and Ms. C wins. Childish and horrible. A waste of the taxpayer’s money they seek to protect. Or so they say.

It amazes me that President Obama was able to accomplish what he did, despite the racist rants and rebellion of the right. It sorrows me that he wasn’t able to accomplish a lot more. It enrages me that the block is by conservative men who want to control women’s bodies by preventing liberal appointees to the Supreme Court. Suspend Roe v. Wade, they cry, because life is precious. Until, that is, it is born, and then we can starve it, shoot it, beat it into submission…

But pgodzilla_zpsag7wurjbrimarily, I’m gnawing my fingertips because of the violence validated by the media and one candidate in this race. I worry for friends and relatives and everyone else too, if the situation flares out of control. Everyone seems to be packing a gun south of the border, and tempers are frayed. I’m hoping that people won’t go rioting or marshall up the militias because, somehow, having an uncivilized monster run for President has made it even more okay to attack those weaker than you. Or different from you. Or those who “took your job.”

But if they do, the media will be there, licking its hungry lips, making media darlings out of the worst of the worst. They should be ashamed.

The US has been fighting the “war on terror” for years, yet hasn’t trimmed the roots of terrorism within its own borders. I pray that poisonous tree will not blossom tonight.

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Rob Ford, parenting, enabling, and bad guys who write their own characters.


Goshens I am sick of the Rob Ford debacle. I wish someone would have advised him that he should have stepped down the minute he mentioned drinking and driving (he’s just said he told other councillors caught for DUI that it was okay and helped them “move on”). Breaking the law as an elected official is a bit like abuse by priests. Yes, it’s terrible whoever does it, but it is more terrible when people in a position of trust do it.
It’s just f#%^king wrong, as Mr. Ford might say, in front of kids.
It’s particularly wrong when those people enable others in positions of trust to commit the same crimes.
It’s all completely disgusting and in the middle of it all, there’s Mr. Ford’s mum saying that Robbie’s only trouble is his weight problem. And his brother saying he should have done his drinking in the basement. The guy has an addiction problem. Someone should get him to get help. I can’t believe the complete denial of the problem – it speaks to the covering up of addiction problems generally. Why can’t we admit there is an alcohol problem, that abuse of alcohol causes innumerable evils in the world, and that people addicted to it need help?

When writing bad guys in fiction, it’s important to make them nuanced, with good parts and bad. But sometimes when I write these characters, they take over the narrative, and do more bad things, badder things, more heinous crimes than what I originally planned. It’s like the character takes control of my pen or keyboard and commands me to make them more evil. Occasionally, they get out of hand and I have to go back and rewrite them, give them a better balance, erase a few missteps.

If only Mr. Ford could do the same thing.

Ah, Jack, we hardly knew ye…


A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world.
John Updike

I am so sad to hear about the loss of Jack Layton, a man who DID take upon himself the woe of the people, who fought for those people, and who had a vision for Canada that included people who live with challenges of all sorts. Whether you agree with his politics or not (and, full disclosure here, I do!), you’ve got to admire Jack. He was a scrapper, but not a dirty fighter – he stayed true to his ideals, even when faced with opposition from without and even from within his party. He was honourable. As politicians go, he had heart, integrity, and courage.

We are going to miss him so.

I had the pleasure to meet Jack and Olivia when I was briefly intensely active with the NDP. He was charming, Olivia even more so, but you could not doubt his conviction. I like that in a person. He knew what he wanted to see, he worked tirelessly to get it. Along the way, he listened to people, took their advice, grew into a statesman, adapted.

Some people faulted him for that. I know those old-time socialists, who feel that even speaking to a non-member was sacrilege. I’ve met them. They are intransigent, as closed-minded as the right-wing that is in charge of the country at present. One of the things that impressed me most about Jack was that he was able to adapt, based on what people told him. He was able to clearly show a vision for the country, based on what he had learned.

We’ve had so few leaders of late. Pierre Trudeau, Ed Broadbent, maybe Frank McKenna. What we’ve been dealing with are managers. I was one of those once, and that’s not what is needed to lead a country. It involves endless miniature steps in the dark, with no idea of where you are going, justifying every inch forward with forms in triplicate while lying to those above you and below you in the chain to make yourself and your team look good. It almost killed me. It is killing Canada.

I had hope, soaring hope, when Jack was elected Leader of the Opposition. I thought, finally, someone with the ability to see the big picture, to push for it, with the strength to make it happen. Unfortunately, the battle to get there seemed to exhaust his strength, encourage the cancer to sneak in hidden pathways. I’m so glad he was able to see his triumph, but so destroyed we won’t have a chance to see him grow into it. And I am in fear of the tyranny of the Harper Conservatives, their false ways, their hatred for knowledge and science and progress and people, their love for money.

I know there are other leaders in the wings in the NDP. I’m hoping they have the courage to step forward to try to fill Jack’s place, though it will be difficult. We need a strong opposition now, more than ever.

It’s not enough to just be sad, to wish for things to be different.

The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
Ralph Nader

I take up Jack’s challenge, in honour of his sacrifice. It’s time to get back into the political ring, to fight for what we need for the least of us. Or even the middle of us. Or at least to CARE about where we in Canada go, with this great country of ours. What about you?

We’re sure gonna miss you, Jack.