Love is about more than romance

Yes, I was delayed in posting the next of harmful myths we tell about relationships because of [insert some really convincing reason that wasn’t “I couldn’t find the right words and TV is so good”].

Instead of Mars and Venus, I’d like to talk about the hierarchy of love. As I sit alone in a subletted apartment in a new city, unsurprisingly my thoughts turn to my comfort zone. How many times did people ask me why I would leave my husband for 12 weeks to take a job in a strange new place? Pretty much everyone I knew. A couple of my single friends also took on roles outside our home turf too, but while there were, for some, expressions of concern for very distant jobs, there didn’t seem to be the same questioning of motives, the same exhaling of their bravery to face the unknown. Continue reading “Love is about more than romance”

Pet Causes

Five years ago, I got a dog for the first time. He was rescued from a puppy mill up up in King City. He was shaved down from his first ever trip to the vet. Friends described his gaze as a thousand mile stare. Among his many medals was an odd gait from a broken leg in puppyhood that didn’t heal properly. Another was a series of scars on his chest. His tail had been cut off.

Over the first three days, he subsisted exclusively on treats and garbage that he stole when we weren’t looking while a bowl full of kibble sat untouched in our kitchen. The first time we turned on the sink in the tub, he created what we lovingly dubbed a poop circle in the living room.

In no particular order, things he’s found frightening are plastic bags, parking meters, a mattress unexpectedly perched on a table, white haired white people,  men, smokers, buses, subways, my Mac, brooms, a tree he wasn’t expecting, a five pound puppy, a swing, feet, a loud fart, a squirrel that decided that it wasn’t going to run when given chase.

It’s been a few years. He is a much braver boy now. He doesn’t skitter when we try to step over him when we’re cooking. He loves my mom, who’s a smoker, and my father-in-law, a white man with white hair. He LOVES kibble, even if he prefers shrimp. He loves everything that moves for him, including subways and buses.

But he still can’t walk up on the metal stairs in a playground. He still freaks out at sudden noises and tall white men and has a cautious distrust of the broom. And this trauma didn’t have to happen. It didn’t. But it did, and it continues to happen to animals the planet over. And Ralph, while adorable, is the tip of a much larger problem.

When bill C-246 was being debated, people I spoke to, even those deeply committed to social justice, couldn’t understand why anyone would care about “some animal stuff” when there are “bigger issues” at stake. Some campaigned against it because Parliament shouldn’t debate this until other things were settled. The bill was handily defeated.

This is emblematic of a bigger trend I’ve noticed where there are “correct” things to worry about and the small potatoes that everyone else worries about #firstworldproblems. That sort of ideology is problematic on a number of levels, including the inference that one is only capable of worrying about one thing at a time. I don’t know about you, but I usually worry about 5-10 things minimum at any given time.

The biggest problem with this type of thinking though, is that it divides us. Those in power are united in their goals of retaining their power, increasingly at the cost of our rights and freedoms, at the cost of our already fragile democracies.

Meanwhile, we squabble amongst ourselves because for one person, standing up for animal welfare resonates most strongly, while for another it might be the eradication of a certain disease, upholding civil rights, defeating white supremacy, demanding a more equatable political system, undoing colonialism, protecting the environment, education reform, providing access to sexual health services, demanding gender equality, supporting the sciences, promoting your faith and the good works it requires, and on and on.

The fact is that for the most part, when decent people are exposed to an injustice, any injustice, they’ll probably say – “hey, that’s bullshit. Don’t do that.” There’s just only so much time in the day, and you’re generally most effective when you take on a small corner and keeps nipping at it till the needle moves. I think perhaps this need to create a hierarchy of suffering is a response to this desperate need to make sense of our beautiful, messed up world.

So there are a LOT of things that you might care about that you, for completely legitimate reasons, just don’t have the bandwidth to add to, and that’s okay. There are so many things that need fixing, and we can’t all do everything.

BUT.

We can hold each other up. We can support each other. We can say, “this isn’t my baby, but it is an important thing nonetheless, and I am happy someone is working on it. When one injustice is addressed, it makes everyone else’s battle that much easier.”

The next few years are going to be difficult, frustrating, and scary. The list of things that need doing is enormous and grows daily, but we can get through it if we help each other out when we can, and get out of the way when we can’t. The sooner we realize that our goals are not in competition but in harmony, the stronger we will be.

Love is about more than grand gestures

The media narrative on what constitutes a successful relationship has been so warped by society that I think real relationships are actively being harmed by it. People are choosing to stay in unhappy relationships or opting out of relationships altogether because they don’t know what a lasting commitment ought to look like.

Today, we begin to debunk them using my favorite medium, pop culture.

Originally, I intended to make this a single post, but I found SO MANY examples that infuriate me that I decided to split it up by theme.

Today? The concept of your significant other being your “other half”. Spoiler alert, they shouldn’t be.

Continue reading “Love is about more than grand gestures”

The democracy of modern narcisism

It seems like every week we now see a new article, or an old one making the rounds again, telling us that the end is near, because millennials are doing [insert your preferred activity]. The most common one that comes up is that Kids These Days are so obsessed with their smellfies and their instergramers that they are literally destroying the world with their obsession to capture and shares their lives online.

Full disclosure – while a millennial, I almost never take selfies of any kind. When I do, I post maybe 1% of them, usually because my dog is involved and not to share him with the world is basically a crime.

King Ralph.JPG
Bonus points if I’m not there at all.

I do not have a flickr account, instagram, snapchat, and whatever else Kids These Days are using.

The argument seems to go that our generation is somehow more vain that previous generations, more coddled, more needy, and every other pedantic way of saying that this generation, by virtue of nothing but its birth into a world created by the previous generation, makes it the Worst Generation.

But is narcissism something new? Definitively, no. While many of my compatriots would take this opportunity to take a jab at our favorite villain, this was absolutely also not invented by Baby Boomers.

Humans are just narcissists. How else would we have grown as we have, from a few hundred thousand smart monkeys to the most powerful species on the planet? We did it because we figured we were better, straight from the caves. What is art if not an attempt to rationalize our minds, to express ourselves, to leave something of who we are behind – assuming that this would of course be of value to someone down the line.

Before there were cell phone selfies, people took selfies on their desktops, like savages. Before that, people took them with their film cameras. We’ve been taking selfies since the invention of the camera, and before that we commissioned artists to paint our portraits, stared at mirrors, our reflection in glass or lakes, or drew stick figures with coal inside a cave of us catching that deer like a badass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
So self indulgent.

Then what has actually changed? Simple. Cameras cost money. Computers, back in the day, were quite expensive. Commissioned paintings were only available to the wealthy. We used to only see the remains of the upper classes because only they got to make anything that lasted. At most, we would see the bones of the poor. Even their homes, made of poop and hey (true story), didn’t last long enough for us to know them.

Now, everyone has a voice. Everyone gets to commission a painting of themselves and hang it in their digital castle to be admired by… Probably the same number of people, really.

If this is end of humanity, then it is an end millennia in the making. But maybe this is just the next stage for us, one where people learn that they don’t have to have money or come from money to matter. I’ll happily take the blame for that.

How we mourn divisive figures

 

There’s an old saying: You don’t speak ill of the dead.

Of course, people use this phrase as an absolute, but it never is. There were no think pieces about Bin Laden painting him as a man devoted to his cause – even if we disagreed with that cause. There were no think pieces about the men responsible for Brussels and Paris. When a criminal gang shoots up another criminal gang, there is no outcry asking to be civil and speak well of them.

It’s interesting how we judge others so harshly for their personal feelings about the loss of a life based exclusively on our own personal feelings. The worst of it tends to fall on those that don’t abide by the niceties of speaking well of the dead.

We’ve seen this become especially relevant as divisive figures pass on in a time when more and more people have the freedom and ability to share their feelings, whatever they may be. The deaths of people like Rob Ford and Antonin Scalia, who lived their lives zealously supporting a way of life that does not benefit everyone equally, especially trigger enthusiastic and often uncivilized discourse between people saddened by his passing and those that are relieved.

People are not two dimensional, though. They have different facets and they show those facets when and where they choose. There is no one in the world that we know completely, maybe not even ourselves. We see what people want us to see and depending on who we are to that person, we will see a vastly different side of them than someone else.

 

So invariably we all mourn differently and for different things. We may well be mourning different people entirely without knowing it. Some see no reason to mourn the deaths of people like Ford and Scalia, citing the harmful political and legal decisions as well as rhetoric that has made their lives more difficult. Some know a kinder side, funnier side, or whatever else to the same person and mourn the loss of that. In an equal society, both of these feelings absolutely must be okay. A free society depends on our ability to differentiate between our personal feelings and a matter of public policy.

The thing that connects us more than anything else in this world is the love we feel for the people closest to us, so though I can’t bring myself to mourn the men themselves, I can empathize with those around them that saw a person they loved suffer, who will carry fond memories and what ifs for as long as they live. That is a difficult thing to do, no matter who you’re mourning.

But a free society must allow people to feel what they feel, and share those feelings in however way they see fit (so long as it is legal, of course). You can’t force someone to be sad for your loved ones just as they can’t force you to be sad for theirs. Personal memories of someone do not make the whole of that person. To mandate that people only speak well of the dead is to do a disservice to the complexity of that person, to the people left behind to deal with and understand that person’s legacy, and to history, which must remember things as they truly happened, rather than the sanitized way it is often recorded.

Our future relies on our ability to walk that fine line because our freedoms only matter if they’re present across the board, not just when we like it.

 

Raging Against Trump Makes him Stronger

There has been a lot of hate aimed at the republican party lately, even from within. A bulk of this anger has been directed at Donald Drumpf, self-made bankruptaire. Of course, he makes it easy, but that is sort of his plan, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing – Drumpf’s success, as has been pointed out ad nauseum all over the internetz, is based on his ability to appeal to emotion rather than logic. So why are we all trying to reason with people who clearly feel that normal logic has betrayed them. These are folks that have been lied to by politicians for years, and screwed in the process. These are folks that are, in many cases, worse off than their parents – likely in part because their privilege isn’t the black Amex it used to be.

The thing is though, that until we try to see the world from their perspective, until we recognize that the reason Drumpf, Cruz, and Rubio – all nutjobs in their own right, are so popular is because of a fundamental problem with the way we perform democracy, we will continue to polarize.

I often think about Daryl Davis, a African-American man who went out of his way to befriend Klansmen. His wisdom, his courage, his bottomless heart in the face of hate. I think the best way to take away the power of people like Drumpf just to be a bit more like Daryl. So let’s stop mocking Drumpf fans and try to understand them, because hate only breeds hate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite

With the drama around the Oscars controversy and the pretty terrible things some have said about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post to help people who do not see the effects of racial inequality understand why it matters, even to you.

So, if you’d like to know why, dear white reader with zero personal stake in racial equality, you should still really really care about it nonetheless, read on!

Continue reading “Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite”

Where are the interracial relationships on TV?

As a devoted TV lover, I consume immensely unhealthy amounts of TV. In the past couple of years, I’ve been thrilled to see interracial couples appear on TV, especially when not even ten years ago Will Smith couldn’t bang a white woman on the silver screen because apparently audiences weren’t ready for it.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the awakening I’ve been hoping for. With a precious few exceptions, the majority of interracial couplings on TV are a stepping stone, temps, or ways of showing off how totally not racist a character is by introducing an ex that isn’t white.

Is that progress? Well, at least they’re showing up at all now, so that’s something. There are now couples like Captain Holt and Kevin on Brooklyn 99, Jane and Brad from Happy Endings, Jasmine and Crosby from Parenthood, even Ricky and Lucy from I Love Lucy.

Meanwhile, the majority still fall into the former category. People are fawning over Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (who make an awesome duo), but with Cage getting his own show, we know there is nothing long term in store for those 2. Then there are shows like Scandal and Community that will just rotate love interests as often as a pair of socks, so any pairing is temporary. Unsurprisingly, shows featuring people of colour prominently seem better able to manage the mind blowing possibility of people of different heritages finding common ground.

I guess my issue with this is the implicit insinuation that interracial relationships are a phase. The white girl brings home a black man to scare her parents type thing. As if it can never be the end game, just a stepping stone to the real deal when she grows up and marries an accountant of the same faith and skin colour.

I think this is what people mean about not seeing themselves on the screen. It’s a bit like being told by a close family member (and who doesn’t feel that way about TV?) that your choices are invalid, that who they are is invalid.

And that sucks, because love is colour blind.

Well, time for some re-watching.

Soulmates don’t exist, and other good news

I have great news. Virtually every relationship portrayed in the media is terrible. Why is this great news? Easy – that takes away all the pressure of trying to make yours look like them.

Here are some common myths about relationships we see in movies, TV, video games, comics, etc and why it’s awesome that they’re not true.

Continue reading “Soulmates don’t exist, and other good news”