Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Massacre

I was at work when I first heard about the massacre at Sandy Hook on Friday; I had seen stories pop up on my Facebook friend feed, but by the time everyone else at work was talking about it, the horror and revulsion had really set in.  Barack Obama’s emotional reaction to the senselessness of it all made it all the more real for me.

At this point, I have absolutely no tolerance for the pro-gun lobby in the United States.  I don’t know if it’s just because I can see it from a distance (being Canadian), but the way guns are woven into the history and culture of the nation  is absolutely absurd.  One of the first things I thought when processing the whole event was that there have been too many gun-powered massacres in such a short while, and that violence and guns are just so woven into the American history and culture.

It’s an understatement to say that America has a love affair with guns.  It’s become an outright detrimental fetish, as if to talk reasonable gun control was analogous to castration.  I’ve seen how some people talk about their right to own guns, as if anyone who doesn’t agree is an unholy, anti-American eunuch.  I’ve read fiction about armed citizens getting revenge on the criminal element that read with such eroticism infused in the act of pulling the trigger and ending a life that the author deemed to have forfeited its value.  It’s positively sickening.

Lack of access to proper mental health care is also an important factor in the tragedy that needs to be addressed, but I feel so strongly that this time the gun issue has to be dealt with now.  The pro-gun rights side cannot possibly say anything to really defend not increasing restrictions and regulations on gun ownership.  It’s not going to completely eliminate the problem, but there is no way that the blood of innocent children and other people can ever justify this particular freedom.  To continue to argue to do so just seems so fucking immoral.

Jane Devin has a piece on the whole issue that’s well worth reading.  One quote stood out:

I also know people who are hunters and responsible gun owners, although to my knowledge none of them own a semi-automatic assault rifle or have a stockpile of ammunition.

One citizen should not have enough firepower to kill that many people.

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Experience

I’m at a point where I’ve settled into a fairly comfortable routine, but now that I’m here, I’m starting to wonder what direction I need to go in.  The temporary nature of a term position reminds me that I need to figure out what direction to go in fairly soon, but at the same time I’m just grateful for the slight difference in work experience that the low pay doesn’t really faze me.  If anything, it reminds me how much I wasted on shit when I was living in Riverview.  I’m aware, though, that people younger than me are deeper into their professional lives than I am.  I don’t really see myself ever becoming a doctor or lawyer, though.  I’m aware I’m now in my 30s and and only getting older, but I don’t feel like certain parts of me have caught up to my physical age.

I haven’t found myself on too many explorations or excursions lately, but I did go to Retro At The CoHo last month and am considering going again.  One of my friends suggested trying a bar I haven’t been to before; there are way too many to choose from in Halifax.  I’m also looking to try new restaurants in the city (when the budget allows).

I’ve been blocked a fair bit mentally lately; maybe this is the result of the routine.  Mental blocks are familiar to any writers, but I wonder if the way I need to get around them is to force myself out of the routine and do a little more exploration.  It’s one thing when the mental block prevents me from writing stories and blog posts, but it’s another thing when I can’t bring myself to leave a comment, make a Facebook post or tweet.  It’s the most frustrating feeling…maybe it’s just that I’m holding things back.

I should be using this time to finally let me be my true self.

Thoughts on the US election

I had been following the American election closely this year.  This is not really out of the ordinary for me: I normally follow American politics even I still pay attention to the landscape here in Canada (the next federal riding over from where I live has a really awesome MP, but that’s another post).  America is so close to us, and has such a big impact on what happens to Canada, that I couldn’t help but watch closely.

Despite the Huffington Post and Nate Silver both showing fairly optimistic projections, I was worried.  Mitt Romney had benefited greatly from Barack Obama blowing the first debate and giving him a pass while he donned the moderate costume for this leg of the journey.  I knew the hope and promise of four years ago gave way to gridlock as the country still tries to dig its way out of .  I knew there would people who would rather vote for Charles Manson than for Obama.

The night was tense.  A lot of the states that closed early in the nights were ones that would have gone red anyway, and some of the states that eventually flipped to blue were still showing Republican leads from the early returns.  I kept reassuring myself that these were the rural counties, that the real Democratic strongholds hadn’t been counted yet.  I kept hitting refresh, waiting for a change in the standings.  I kept trying to distract myself with dishes, anything to keep me from watching the pot that wasn’t boiling.

Even when the more Dem-heavy states came alive on the boards, there were still enough question marks in the swing states.  Sure, things were starting to look good for Obama, but I kept expecting Romney to close the gap.  There was always a chance there would be a replay of 2000 or 2004, where nothing would be decided by the time I had to get to bed.

When the election was finally called for Obama, I felt relieved.  Then giddy.

The last few years were hell.  There was a sense that people were out for revenge.  A lot of reports of downright racist displays involving Obama.  Even the right’s support for a chicken sandwich chain’s religious stance felt tinged with a greater sense of “let’s stick it to the gays” than “first amendment”.  After years of bitter vitriol and obstructionism, it was such a comfort to know that the bad behavior wasn’t getting rewarded.  It wasn’t just the financial advantage that seemed to worry me; the fact that Mitt Romney seemed to shed and grow different skins to suit whoever he was pandering to was a big issue.  For all the talk about how he was a values candidate, a business candidate, he really didn’t seem to stand for anything other than his own entitlement to the presidency.  There was also a cold cruelty about him (and his wife) that really got to me.  Mitt Romney scared me in a way I hadn’t been scared by a presidential candidate in years.  Bush stood for things I didn’t like, but he didn’t seem to have the thinly-veiled nastiness and aggression that seemed to come out every time Romney was challenged.

One reason I’m glad about an Obama victory is that his winning a second term made his first term seem more real to me.  Had Romney walked away with the election, the Obama administration might have been a brief four-year abberation in between two periods where power in America had lurched decisively to the right, with whatever Obama had achieved in his first term being swiftly undone by a Republican administration, and the gains of the past 50 (or more years) erased by Supreme Court Justices along the lines of Scalia and Thomas (who for all intents and purposes might as well be the same person).

Obama has not been a perfect president, and there are things that still concern me about a second term, so I wasn’t expecting for it to be as emotional as November 4, 2008, with that history-making decision.  But I still felt emotional anyway: especially when I was checking out the House and Senate races and the ballot measures.  The amazing and strong Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown in Massachussetts.  Voters decided that candidates who made insensitive comments about rape did not speak for them.  George “Macaca” Allen tried to get his Senate seat back and failed.  It looks like Allen West is going to lose too.

Most emotional for me was that it was a decisive sea change for LGBT people at the polls.  Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay U.S. senator.  Following year after year where voters were putting the kibosh on gay marriage in their states, four states broke the trend: Maine, Maryland and Washington approved of same sex marriage, while Minnesota rejected a constitutional ban.  But the real change seems to be on its way: America has the first pro-gay marriage administration, one that has already done so much for LGBT people already.  It really is getting better.  Maybe soon, America will catch up to Canada.

Scraps from yesterday

I decided to go downtown to get a little writing done yesterday.  When I go to a coffee-shop to write, though, things come out in spurts: not really a coherent narrative but just whatever farts out of my head.  Thoughts, character sketches, playing around with words and phrases that pop into mind.

Some of the better ones (with minor tweaking for clarity):

Bloody blades of a story.  I can see the nakedness of your thought before I moved into your sphere. Young collegiate women with their schoolwork, giggles barely rising through the music; an electric throwback.  With what should I keep myself entertained?

The fog of my own thoughts and insecurities.  It takes a special person to able to cut through this.  If you can manage this, and make me a little more human when I interact with you, you’re in.  (The sky turned grey).  I’ve grown to realize these aren’t flukes, but not something to take for granted.

The cars pass by, red tail lights streaking past the stationary glow of each sign across the street.  Several stories above, a crane teeters limp – at rest.

Grace was always looking at people with a lack of patience and an interrogative stare – as if she demanded that your returning her gaze clarified what the fuck it was you wanted.

Cha cha Charlie –  Waiting for the groove to end.

I decided that I’m actually going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year; I really want to get my writing discipline back, even if it is just to vomit words onto a page for me to pick coherent nuggets out of later.

Daylight adjustment

I’ve been keeping busy for the last few weeks; I went to Nocturne (I knew one of the presenting artists) and attended a week-long job search workshop at Job Junction.  I also ended up getting work; I’m not going to say where and what it is on this public space, but it’s a little different than what I had been doing for the last few years.  Money will probably be a little tight for me for a while, but I’m glad to get something so soon after I moved here.   It’s still a bit of an adjustment waking up so early, though: to catch the bus, I have to make sure I’m down at the corner by 7:20 (also want to make sure I don’t get held up in traffic): it’s quite an change from my days of staying up and sleeping in, which I admit I still do on the weekend.

I live in the outer edges of Fairview (depending on who you ask: Google Maps puts me in Clayton Park West and the HRM Neighborhood Map puts me in Mount Royal).  It’s not that close to downtown but at the same time it doesn’t feel cut off from it; that was the big problem I had when I lived in Riverview.  The bus system isn’t perfect but it’s by and far better than anything else in the region.  I think I’ll post pictures of the apartment once I have it all cleaned up a little bit more.  I still haven’t unpacked/sorted all my stuff, owing partially to exhaustion and owing partially to procrastination.  Still, a good chunk of it is in its proper place.  I’m fastidious like that.

There’s a lot to do here: different food to keep my palate from getting bored, cultural events and artistic exhibits, a decent music scene and a greater openness.  One thing that really helps is that I know some people in the area, either from school or online.  I know I need to be putting myself out there a bit more and meeting new people, but I’ve met up with a couple of friends already.   Now that I know I have money coming in, I’m more willing to meet people up for coffee or a beer.  The important thing is to network, though, and meet new people: not something that comes easy to me.  I don’t meet people sitting in my apartment, though…I need to summon my boldness.

I’m convinced that moving to Halifax was the best decision I made in a while.

Return to blogging

Sorry for the month-long break in blogging, but I’ve actually gone ahead and made a huge change in my life: I’ve finally moved to Halifax, NS.

I’m mostly settled in: I still need to find a day job (fast) but I’ve been doing what I can to get something here, even just for the short term.  I’m also looking into different areas where I could volunteer and trying to think of other ways I could network and meet people here.  Despite the number of friends I have in the area I haven’t really been too social this last week.  Better fix that soon.

Any other bloggers in the area, feel free to get in contact with me.

Blogging hiatus

I’m going to take a month-long break from updating this or any of my other blogs; I have way too much going on in the real world that’s a bigger priority for me than venting on this site.

If anyone wishes to keep in contact with me for the time being, please send an e-mail to bjdwsm [at] gmail [dot] com.

Frames of mind

I’m still under the weather; I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday where I was prescribed more antibiotics and sent to the hospital to be tested for whooping cough: nasal swabs are not fun.  I got a few calls back about potential employment, with a phone interview scheduled for the coming week so I would be less likely to fall into another coughing/vomiting fit (there, I’ve made you all sick).

I sometimes get a little panicky about my perfect storm of illness, unemployment and my EI benefits due to end sometime very soon, and wonder if I’d have to spend another year at my parents’ house, in a pseudo-city that offers little in terms of employment, and is about to become even more isolated thanks to cuts in public transportation.  I sometimes feel like I’m always waiting for the “start” of my life.  What’s worse is that I feel mentally blocked a lot more these days, finding myself in the same feedback loops and experiencing this repetitious story that I don’t feel any power to get out of.  Whether that’s actually true or not is irrelevant; it’s all a matter of frame of mind.  This frame of mind makes me only put minimal effort into cultivating and nurturing relationships with friends and acquaintances; blogging, Facebook posts and tweets directed at nobody are my half-assed efforts to say hi.

I think I’ve got way too much clutter in my life.  Too many piles of unnecessary stuff to sort through, compartmentalize, and decide what to get rid of.  I don’t know; I just feel weighed down by material possessions, old clothes, and bad habits.

Republican National Convention thoughts

I’m watching the American elections with interest this year, largely because the Republican Party seems to have embraced the whole Frank Burns rhetoric, thanks to the Tea Party.  They chose the man who scared the least number of people during the primaries for their President, with a bone to the far right with his VP pick, but there really wasn’t a lot of excitement about Mitt Romney, the lead on the ticket.  There was a lot of “see, Mitt’s not a bad guy” speeches, a lot of heckling toward Barack Obama, money being spent out of everyone’s butt and a bit of damage control to quell the cries of sexism directed at the party.  A lot of people seemed to make a dry run for 2016, almost as if they themselves weren’t too confident about Romney’s chances in November.  Paul Ryan gave a speech with so many untruths that if he were Pinocchio, his nose would have shot out and impaled a 100 people.  Clint Eastwood rambled semi-coherently to an invisible and foul-mouthed Obama.   Mitt Romney said a lot of stuff about how Obama failed despite everyone wanting him to succeed (another lie) and that if he were President, he would fix the economy with a plan (that he doesn’t have specifics on), stand up to America’s enemies, and make all of our wildest dreams come true.  Oh, there were also a few dog-whistles for good measure, as well as an unfortunate incident involving peanuts being thrown at a black camerawomen.   The convention at least brought a little more enthusiasm from the party toward their nominee, in the sense that they’ve gone from “*resigned sigh*, Mitt Romney for President” to “Mitt Romney for President…I guess”.

I know that Obama’s not going to change the mind of many Republicans, especially the ones that have been stoked into a frenzy of resentment and paranoia.  If the economy completely recovered, there’s still enough voters that buy the lie that he’s a socialist anti-Christian who hates white people, apologizes for America, and is going to steal their guns.  Obama better make his case to the people who left the choir, the ones on the fence, the ones who don’t use the phrase “lamestream media” as if they were some great wit.  Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s small victory this week has only given the Democratic Party an opportunity.  My hope for the DNC is that Obama and his party seize the opportunity to be specific about their goals for the next four years.  They’ll have to also discuss the effects of the Ryan budget in a way that doesn’t sink to the doomsaying hyperbole that the Republicans have been drumming up about Obama for the past few years.  There are still a lot of people that do like Obama, though.   They need to make sure they restoke the fires that brought people to the polls, especially in the face of the organizational and financial powerhouse of the right wing, as well as laws drafted under the guise of rooting out voter fraud (using a crane to crush a fly) but have been challenged for their disproportionate effects on the poor and elderly.  Frankly, if Obama and the Dems wiff the easy pitches that Romney and the Republicans lobbed this week, I’ll be much more pessimistic about November than I am right now.

I really feel bad for a lot of people in the Republican Party.  They’re caught between a candidate that they disagree with on principle, and a guy who pandered so hard to the loudest, most vengeful wing of the party that he’s willing to repudiate his main success in public office.  A man who points to his success at Bain Capital as proof he’s the man for the job, despite the fact that a lot of Bain Capital’s financial success came from leveraged buyouts (borrow money to buy firm, get profits, firm gets debt and pays fee for Bain’s help with trying to skim the fat) and actually involved being bailed out by the US Government valve he is trying to shut off.  (Everyone following the US Election should read the damning Rolling Stone cover story on Romney’s past at Bain).   His private sector success is irrelevant; it only serves to obfuscate that his job creation record as governor was mediocre.   Some say that Obama can’t run on his record, but I think there’s more for him to celebrate than Romney, which is telling.  There are too many disconnects and deficits with Romney to really think he would be a strong president.

A conservative Twitter buddy of mine pointed out that he’s lacking in idealism, seemingly in the race more for himself than America.   I think that’s accurate.  I think the party could have done much, much better than Mitt Romney.  He was the best of a bad lot of candidates (aside from maybe Huntsman), but his success in the primaries feels more like the result of his financial reserves, the other candidates’ liabilities, and being able to feed off of anti-incumbent sentiment than anything that resembled strong policy or forward thinking.  While I disagree with the Republican Party on a lot of issues, I want to see them actually have a candidate with a vision that does justice to the party’s history, and that they finally stop exploiting the fear of the “other” in lieu of serious debate on the issues.

I may not be American, but what happens down there has an impact on what happens up here.

Wardrobe

I really think I should be cultivating a new look for myself.   I find myself dissatisfied with the clothes in my closet.  What kind of image am I trying to present for myself?  I often feel like I’m hanging onto a version of myself from 10 years ago with all these T-shirts.  My “work clothes” from Riverview didn’t even feel like a step up.  My fashion sense is not great, but I got the feeling I looked like I was trying too hard to mute myself with those clothes.  I also don’t really have a lot that would be suitable for a night on the town.

What kind of clothes should I go for that would actually flatter me?

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