Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another Miraculous Conversation with my father

Today marked another phone conversation with my father, a phenomena that I still find truly bizarre (mental flash back to two years ago, when the only time he called me/ talked to me for more than two seconds on the phone in 5 months was to tell me my sister was in the hospital).

That said, tonight's conversation included some particular gems of true father-daughter bonding:

Dad: "So I've got diabetes now too, just like Mum"
Me: "Oh..."
Dad: "And the doctor said I've gained 15 pounds since my last check-up, which really surprised me"
Me: "You do realize your shirts don't fit anymore, don't you?"

Dad: "The Dr. told us a lot of interesting things last night. Did you know that a sweet potato or yam is healthier for you than a jacket potato?"
Me: "I think I've know that for about 10 years now"
Dad: "Oh, and you should have an orange instead of orange juice, because of the sugar"
Me: "Glad to know whom the enabler for all unhealthy eating habits in this family has been"
Dad: "That's not true. Hey, and she said I don't have to give up drinking - I was really worried about that!"
Me: "You do realize if you did, you might actually lose those 15 pounds, right?"

Me: "Ok, Dad, I've got to go - I was going to talk to Mum to, but dinner's almost ready, so can you tell her I'll call again?"
Dad: "Oh, I'll get her for you. CHRIS! HEY CHRIS!"
Me: "Dad, no! I don't want to... Dad? Dad?"
Mum: "Hi Honey"
Me: "Hi Mum, I'm hanging up now, I'm making dinner"
Mum: "Let me guess, you told your Dad that, right?"

Maybe, one of these days, we'll actually get to a conversation where sarcasm or selective hearing isn't a major factor.

In related news, hell still hasn't frozen over: Both the Flames and Leafs lost their hockey games tonight.

RIP Grrl Genius Blog

Cathryn Michon's sensational blog, Grrl Genius, is shutting down.

Although I know that just about anyone reading this already knows that the blog is ending, I feel a need to write about it.

I feel bereft, as if I have just lost a family member, and in a way, this is true. The grrl genius blog (and Cathryn) was not just amusing, thought-provoking and witty. It did not just celebrate the wonders of being a Grrl Genius or an enlightened male.

It created, more than anything else I have ever seen on the web, a family. A wild, multi-cultural, multi-national, sometimes disjointed family that often saw impassioned differences of opinions (if not cyber yelling) but none the less, a family.

The blog was a secure place that we could all turn to, and as such, it became a safe, comforting locale, just like returning to the family home (and, for some that do not have that home, probably in some ways replaced it). It gave us all a chance to speak, to share our deepest feelings, and to gain love & support. Yes, most of us never met/ will never meet. That said, I don't think it will ever matter. The blog managed to transcend the fact that it was entirely virtual, and become a part of each of our lives. It was a place to laugh, to cry, to rail against injustice. What was best, it was a place wherein we were supported for doing so, encouraged not just to speak our minds, but to yell them from our keyboards into the ears of a receptive and loving cyber-family.

Thank you Cathryn for giving us this place, for not only your words and wisdom, but also for the family you encouraged us to create. Thank you all for the support and love you gave me during my struggles to start up my career, my learning pains through falling in love & moving in with Jeff (with whom I will be celebrating our first year of 'marriage' within the next two weeks), through the fire that left me homeless. Thank you for your ideas, wisdom, comments, jokes, support, encouragement, sympathy and love.

Thank you for all being part of the place I went for a 'pick-me-up', to feel empowered, and to see just what 'sisterhood' can create - a vibrant, living, supportive family!

I will miss the blog, and everyone on it, very deeply. It has been part of my life for the last 18 months, and although I was involved in more than one argument on it, I will honestly miss everyone whom contributed positively to it. I will miss getting to be a spectator & commentator in your lives, just as I will miss your support in mine.

I know, to some, this might sound weird - as if I am living on the web instead of in real life- but it's how I feel. Of course, this isn't like losing a member of my actual family, and I have many others that I can go to for physical as well as mental & emotional support. But it still means something to me to lose Cathryn's words, and the words of everyone else, losing the smile that seeing everyone's supportiveness & friendly personalities & achievements celebrated on the site always gave me. It was a forum to celebrate everything that makes us uniquely US, without fear of being swatted down by others, or ridiculed. It was a place not only to make a claim to everything that makes us wonderful women (from our stances on education and abortion rights to our concerns about how many margaritas we’d need to consume before we could all go on a bikini beach party together), but also to be mentored and applauded in doing so.

We have celebrated so many wonderful events on the blog - Joy's being accepted to grad school, M triumphantly returning to teaching, LawSchool Kirsten becoming just that, Maria joining the diplomatic corps, UKYankee's marriage, AKCop Girl's engagement, GG's "Cook Off!", and we have also provided support for each other during the hard & even terrible moments - Jenn's struggles with both her ex & all the care her family needs, NoIssue's marital troubles, me (NGG) loosing my home, and, most terribly, Sandi's husband being diagnosed with cancer.

We have shared it all; deep dark moments of anguish and fear, moments of tragedy, moments of triumph, moments of spellbinding joy and happiness. And through it all, we were there for each other.

As such, I can say that I am losing a family with the end of the Grrl Genius blog - my virtual family.

Best wishes to everyone reading this that was part of this family - my cyber sisters and brothers, our cyber 'big sister', GG, and our 'cyber mommy', the amazing MFD.

Please stay in touch, and hopefully, one day, we will all be able to have a 'cyber-family' reunion thanks to what GG started, and the continuing wisdom & power of the Grrl Genius Movement.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So it's now been almost two months since we lost the apartment, and six weeks since I lost my job. And since I'm typing this just after work hours on a week day, it should be pretty obvious to all and sundry that I am, still, unemployed.

Yes, I took the contract position. No, it didn't work out - in fact, it turned out badly. I couldn't get motivated, it didn't interest me, and I simply couldn't find the data that was needed for my employers. I crashed and burned, badly. If they hadn't asked to discontinue the contract when they did, I was planning to at the end of the assignment.

While I'm very greatful for the offer of that job, and the money will be handy (whenever I get paid), at the same time the job caused problems - it kept me from getting going properly on the job search (too much time spent on the contract vs looking for a proper job), and it was probably too soon for me to be working - I possibly actually needed some time to come to grips with all that had happened to me in the last two weeks. And, finally, loosing a job AGAIN, on top of everything else that had happened within the last month, was just the icing on the cake.

So I've been thinking, a lot, in the last two weeks. What is it that I really want to be doing in my life? What are my dreams, my ambitions, and where do I get the motivation for them? What are the next steps in my self-journey, to a satisfying career that will fullfill me?

I'm still applying for just every job out there, but grudingly. I've hit the spot where I'm thinking "even if they interview me, they'll never hire me, so why bother? It's all a waste of time". I've hit a low point, where I'm lazy and in fear of rejection. I'm finding jobs to apply for: Right now I even have a list of them saved on Word, but am I applying for them? No, I'm putting it off.

I'm scared to apply. I'm scared of rejection, of dead ends, of jobs that go nowhere or that I get fired from for being the 'wrong person'. I'm afraid that I might be the wrong person for every job, any job. I feel like a looser, that I'm doomed to turn into my aunt, the woman my whole family distains for her inability to accomplish anything in life, except being a drain on everyone else.

Yes, I've got some money due to come in, so I can pay my bills (hell, right now I have twice as much money as Jeff) for the time being. But I built up that money painstakingly, and loosing my financial independence is tough. I could go back to the temp agenices, but I'm afraid of getting sucked in, of loosing chances at other things, because of this.

What is it I really want to do? And where do I find the motivation for it? Do I want to do communications for a charitable organization? Media Relations for a theatre group? Internal communications for a corporation? Be a Freelance writer? Become a Journalist?

I honestly just don't know, and I don't feel like I have the drive and ability to set myself up as any of these at this point.

I feel like a failure, as only a 26 year old failure can. Worse, I know that I am becoming a failure through my inability to fight through and accomplish anything. I'm hiding in books, running from options and choices and doing anything.

I think I'm loosing myself, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I don't feel like I can do anything about it, because I don't know what to do, where to start, how to act.

I have an appointment up at the University on Thursday for a Mock Interview: perhaps that will give me the skills and confidence to win through at interviews, enough at least so that I want to interview, and therefore apply for jobs.

But even then, would it be to do what I dream of?

I think I need counseling, but I can't afford it. Career counseling through the University would cost $130 an hour, far more than I could possibly afford. Yet, I think it's time to find something to help me. It's not fair to dump this all of Jeff, and I'm not sure he could fully understand it: He's never been in this position before, he's never been unemployed. Nor have my girlfriends' ever had this happen.

I feel panicky, and alone and depressed. I need to fix this, and I need to fix it now.

I didn't even realize how bad it was until I started typing, until this all started pouring out of me.

I need help, and I need it fast.

Now all I have to do is find it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A little more...

Newest article on the disaster... don't know why I'm keeping them, but reading them... makes it kick in a little (self-inflicted reality check, I guess!).

Homeless, Day 2

Just a quick update for myself, I guess... things are much better today. We are getting more help from Social Services, the building owners, the community at large & the province.

We got more stuff out (and it's ok!), there is a disaster fund being set up... we're doing good, we're getting priority for rehousing from a lot of different property management companies...

it's all amazing.

There's a dark side too though... and that is realizing all we have lost. Right now, I am coping, because my brain is going 'oh, it's just moving, you've done that SO many times before already!' . And I fool myself that everything is alright (majorly helped in this by the fact that Kathleen has an AMAZING condo that she's lent us to stay in this weekend).

But then, I'm on site, packing, and I go to pick something up & realize that behind it, is a book that I can't even see the text of, it's so damaged. And that makes me wonder 'how much have we actually lost, and how are we going to deal'.

How can we pack EVERYTHING, a full two bedroom appartment with 3 storage closets, in one half-day. What about taking apart things like the table, so they can be moved out? Where are we going to store it? How can we afford to replace things? How much time off will work allow me to accomplish this all in? Where are we going to live, how long is that going to take? How am I going to do my job properly, if I have a two-hour commute everyday, and can't ever arrive early/stay late, because I can't get to my parents' place without Jeff? How long are we going to manage living in one room at my parents'?

When is this all going to hit me, and how am I going to react to it all then??


Fire at Lakeview Mews

On Friday, July 6th, 2007, I became homeless.

I was at work at the time, completely oblivious, until we heard it all on the radio... several hours after I had left my home, worrying that I would be late for work, I was standing outside my appartment, worrying about where I am going to live.

today we got to go in, see the damage, and find out our options.

I'm lucky: I have temporary shelter, an income, and minimal damage to my possessions.

Where I go from here (literally) I don't know, but I am greatful: Jeff and I are both ok, and together, we will make everything work out....

the following is:

Photos of the appartment building, our (only marginally damaged) appartment & a link to the story about what happened... or as far as they know... more later....

a story about the damage here... Please note that a) Jordan was hopping around in a suit today, he was able to borrow one and b) Maverick is just fine, the fire department got him out!

the north-east of the building, including our suite.

Where we (guess) it started...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy News

Ok, for anyone that reads this, here is my list of happy recent developments:

1) I got to (quickly) meet Bruce Cameron & hear him speak at an event - lucky me! It was very neat, and Bruce was hilarious (I've really got to get ahold of '8 Simple Rules' one of these days...)

2) I've finally learnt how to eat & exercise more healthily! I'm not all the way there, but I'm begining and for once I'm actually sticking to it. I haven't noticed any changes yet (boo, no fat-be-gone), but I am feeling better about MYSELF, and a lot of the junk food cravings are melting away! It's been only about 3 weeks but still.. GO ME!

3) I just booked a vacation to see Sara in August! I'll be spending four days with her in Vancouver, just us girls - premium sister bonding, hurray! I haven't asked for the time off yet (gotta pass 3 month review at the end of the FOURTH month - whaaa?), but that's ok, as all I'm doing is taking two days (I've already earned a week) of my vacation time.

4) My best friends are home from travelling -hurray, lots of girl time!

5) No matter how much I hate my job, I finally have some money! Which means that my 'down time' has lots of fun books & movies involved - sweet!

There's lots more, but that's all I can think & type about right now

hugs to all!

Update/ work grumble

It's been a long time since I 'blogged'.

So much has happened, and on the work front, unfortently, none of it has been good. Yes, I don't feel confused anymore. However, relationships between myself and my boss are not in a good place. Since confronting her about how my job did not meet the promises of what she'd offered me, I have been penalized constantly for it.

I have not written ANYTHING (except emails and 'resumes' of lawyers) in two months. I am constantly told I am not 'suitable' and don't have the proper skills for the position because it's expected that I can set-up complex filing systems in zero time. Last week I was introduced to the inc0mming boss as 'our admin assistant, who does the saddledome ticket distribution and all the office tasks'.

Not as a Marketing Assistant, no word about what I am, what I can do. The ADMIN assistant - for which, of course, I was promptly ignored by the new boss. I work overtime all the time (often when the boss tells me I have to two minutes before I leave). I don't take lunch breaks - I don't get to. Despite all this, I am told I am not putting in enough 'effort', that my 'long-term placement' in the position is in question.

Needless to say, I have long ago dropped the idea of working there for a year. Now, I'm looking as hard as I can for anything else!

I hope something happens, because this is driving me nuts, daily. I'm miserable, and it's breaking down my self-esteem, and is also causing stress in my relationship with Jeff. Me being frustrated & coming home crying does not make for a happy home life.

I don't want to bitch, but it just comes pouring out of me - each and everyday, there is an effort (concious or not, I don't know), to errode my self-esteem, my assurance in my skills and experience.

But I'll keep smiling, and I'll keep looking & applying. And one day... well, the job I want really is out there!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Work Whine

Getting used to a new job can be a very difficult thing. Not only is there all the hoopla of learning new programs, and new ins & outs, then there's all the thousands of questions you have on what wasn't covered, and all the questions YOU get asked, to which you can only answer

"I dunno".

It's difficult getting used to this new job, and that is for sure. Any new job is difficult, but this one… how do learn when there's really no one to learn from? How do you bond with your department, when you're over a dozen years younger than anyone else? How do you get to learn, when the rest of the team has a closed-door meeting, and you're outside the door.

Since joining MD, these are the things I'm experiencing. Yes, the people I'm working with are nice. But am I learning anything from them? Am I getting exposure to the world of marketing/communications, to even the world of MD?

No. I still feel like a temp, because I'm still on the outside. I don't know about so many things, and half the time, when I am asked to do something, it's fully administrative. Why WOULD I know where a file someone else worked on, years ago, is? Ask me, however, how to plan an event, and I'm going to be getting right on that, and enjoying it.

Instead, I feel like I'm shuffling my feet, that I really haven't taken any step forward, although I know I have. Having a full-time, permanent job, is a good thing. It will mean I can finally start moving up the ladder, once I've put in the appropriate time. The problem is, putting in that time is going to probably drive me nuts. I'm getting stimulation, yes, and sometimes I really adore my job. But am I learning? Am I making the experience what it needs to be? No, and that's because of the changes in the department itself, because of how I'm seen here.

I've already learnt that this department has massive turn-over, and no-where so much as with the Marketing Assistant. Quite frankly, I don't think they expect me to be here more than 6 months, because I've got a sneaking supscion that most MA's here don't last much longer than that. But I need to be here a year to learn all that's necessary to move up the ladder with the next positon - and, moreover, to look impressive on the resume.

Temp jobs, or contracts, or even other jobs that only last a few months, don't look impressive.

That's why it's so important for this job to work, but I'm afraid it won't. I'm afraid I won't get to do what I want to, despite how much I ask to be given the things that I'm good at, that showcase my skills.

I'm also afraid of the impending regime change. At this job, both C. and S. are on contract - they’ve both worked for MD before, but probably won't choose to stick around again once the desperate need for them starts to wane. P, who is the director/my boss, is actually C's sister. She's taking early retirement in a few months (I'm not sure about this, all I know from eavesdropping is that she's leaving & has handed in her notice, but no one's told me anymore than that). We've also got someone joining us for PR, who's name is apparently Pam - you know, apparently, because no one actually bothered to tell me someone's joining us, again, I managed to overhear.

So, I feel like I'm really out of the loop. And with the best friend's consortium that seems to be the rest of my department, I think I'm going to stay that way. But when the new boss comes…what then? Do I stand a chance of trying to move myself up the ladder, secure more responsibilities? Or do I become disposible because of being (kinda) part of the old regime, of not possibly adapting fast enough to the new boss' way of doing things?

I have no idea, but I'm a bit nerveous. I need to be here a year, just one year. And in that time, I need to grow & learn. Hopefully that will be possible, but I'm nerveous it may not.

And in the meantime, I'll keep working my ass off, and planning for the next job.

The next job, which I'm already determined, is going to be in a PROPER coms department, will NOT involve 'assistant' in my title, and will actually, hopefully, have people closer to my own age in it.

I've just gotta make the best of the year between then and now, before then.

PS: yes, I know I should stick around for far more than a year, but I'm not sure if that's going to be an option, who knows. Maybe the other C won't come back from maternity leave, and I'll be able to get that job. However, I don't think that'll be possible in this regime, only because I probably won't know they've even decided to get a new coordinator until they're advertising!

Also, there doesn't seem to be any real 'junior' position here - only me (which, let's be honest, this is entry level again), and then 5 years or more.

GRR, GRR, GRR. I guess this is what comes of taking jobs out of desperation though :D

Friday, March 2, 2007

You Call THIS Winter*?

Canadians love to talk about the weather. Absolutely adore it. Up here in the frozen north, discoursing about the weather has been referred to as “Canada’s National Sport”**.

Whole conversations revolve around the weather. “Cold enough for ya?” or “It’s cold, eh?” are both frequently used to greet friends, lovers, business acquaintances, and can even serve as an introduction to a stranger on the street. They are the beginning of conversations so vast that they can cover politics, the economy, and the only thing important to Canadians other than the weather – Hockey Night in Canada.

This is especially true of winter – Canadians will silently & heroically solider through the summer, despite monsoon rains, temperatures in the upper 30s, and swarms of mosquitoes so large they frequently devour small pets. But the coming of winter releases the raconteur that dwells in each Canadian heart.

EVERY Canadian has at least one war story about the time they battled Mother Nature/ Jack Frost/ F***ing Winter. Even I have succumbed to the lure of telling about ‘the time I nearly got frostbite on my thighs’ or ‘how I used to walk home from school in -30 celcius weather’ or ‘how I dared to use transit & then actually walk to the university library in -40 weather’. And I am nothing to pure-bred Canadians, who fondly recall snowdrifts higher than their houses, how winter lasted 10 months in their area of the country (versus the average 9 every Canadian will tell you about), how they used to send their young to school in a sleigh harnessed to the dog’s back. They tell stories of menacing polar bears, frozen roads, blizzards that last weeks, and power failures that last for months.

In Canada, you prove your toughness by standing up to the weather, by proudly defying it. For men, this means going out & about in shorts when it’s ‘nippy’, and when it is truly ‘chilly’ (-20 or below), with an un-zipped parka, sans gloves or hat. For women, it means avoiding hats so that your hair still looks good, wearing stiletto boots or high-heels despite the 6 feet of snow piled up at street corners & going shopping at the mall in defiance of the severe- weather warning placed on their city. When inside, this toughness is continued by running around in bare feet at home, refusing to turn up the heat or add extra blankets to the bed, no matter how cold it gets, and, while at work, to go around in short-sleeved shirts while the air-conditioning runs at full-force.

This is, simply, “The Canadian Way”. To defy it or protest against is futile- you will be seen as weak, as unpatriotic, and, if you continue to defy & complain that it really IS COLD, you will be assimilated by force until you too, can proudly stand up and declare:

“You Call this Cold?! You should have been here for Winter ’97, when the mercury froze in the thermometers, they closed all the schools down for a week & the snowdrifts were 12 feet high. Ahh, but you just don’t see winters like that anymore these days.”

*Please note: This is not a work of fiction. With the exception of the polar bears & the mosquitoes devouring small pets, Jo has either experienced all of the above, or knows/ is related to someone who has. At this moment in time, she is sitting on the 9th floor of a building where the air-conditioning is so strong it can be heard, while half the men on the floor are wearing golf shirts and outside, snow swirls around causing white-out conditions for the fifth day in a row. When she gets home, Jeff will have just come in from having a smoke on the balcony in bare feet.

**For more information about Canadian social habits & phenomenons, please check out the amazing Will Ferguson books "Why I hate Canadians" and "How to be a Canadian", which have inspired many of Jo's verbal & written rants about her bizzare fellow Canadians. Jo actually learnt how to act like a Canadian with the help of these important pieces of literature.

The view from my sister's apartment. Vancouver is considered one of Canada's warmest cities.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Eliminating the N-Word

After yesterday's post on Burma, I'm thinking about writing about more serious topics occasionally (Jo's monthly advocacy post?) I doubted I'd be touching on controversial subjects again so soon.

Then I found an article on the BBC website about how New York City is trying to ban the use of the N-word because its historic meaning/context, despite which the word has recently become so prevalent and 'cool' in pop culture (as I'm sure you all know). This prevalence is, according to some, because the meaning has "changed", and the argument, that, through using a negative word in a different connotation, it is reclaimed. It's also suggested in the article that some people theorize that the 'youth generation' doesn't know what the historical meaning/context is.

Personally, I knew what the word meant by age 10 (Mum had to explain after my first exposure to Gone With the Wind, even though just how it was used it the movie was enough for me to realize it was a 'bad word') and I knew just how bad it was that, when it started becoming 'cool', I can remember yelling at a couple of my sister's classmates for using it. I've always felt that there is absolutely no reason why I should be using the N-word - it was never applied to 'my' (please note, I am using 'my' loosely, hence the quote marks) people, and therefore, there's no reclamation involved for me - my use of it, knowing the connotations, would be unacceptable
to me/ of me.

And, as for the youth, if I'm not mistaken, I'm JUST the wrong side of 'youth' now, at age 25.

I'm not qualified to speak on reclaiming a word from its previous meaning, because I can't think of many that apply to me that have been reclaimed (I'd wonder if 'bitch' counts, but any reclamation of that seems to have been at a pretty frivolous level). However, I'm still curious about how this will work, whether or not it's a good idea/enforceable, and many other things. So, while I'm not qualified to discuss it, I'm throwing this open for comment:

Do you think this is possible, and is it a good idea? Can the/has the N-Word be reclaimed? Do you think such an idea would work in your own city? And, for those of you in the NYC area - what's your feelings on this as a 'correspondent in the field'?

I know this is a topic that is flammable, and that it could stir up a lot of things, so I'm laying down some ground rules:

I'm interested to hear other people's opinions, but with one caveat: If the N-word gets printed, or comment is derogatory/ flammable, then the comment gets deleted. If someone gets offended by something that I don't catch before they do - please, PLEASE let me know, and I'll delete it immediately.

The idea of this is to get other people's views on a particular idea (the regulation of words), not to start fights, or heavy-duty discussions of race relations. It's not that I mind having that type of conversation, but someone may get hurt or offended, especially as some might take advantage of the anonymity provided by the internet - and I don't want to see that happen.

For those who'd like to know more about the
article in question, please click on the link, or click on this link to read an opinion piece posted on the topic on BBC.

Thank You!

Before I write anything else, I just want to thank everyone for the really terrific feedback I recieved yesterday.

In the act of writing about somewhere I would like to be able to aid, I managed to do a tiny bit by letting others know about the situation that prevents me from doing all I'd like. Being made aware of what I'd (to some extents, unconciously) done, made me feel really great.

You turned me from a blogger to an unintentional activist.

Thank you all for making me feel like the amount of money I'd like to give to aid & freedom campaigns in Burma- approximately a million bucks.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Burmese Dreams

I want to visit Burma*. Despite the fact that it would (probably) be incredibly dangerous and (definitely) difficult to do so (not to mention I have moral issues with the idea), I would love to see its beauties, its history, and to experience its culture.

I’m not sure when or how my fascination with Burma began. I’ve always been interested in South-East Asia (I watched “The King and I” far too many times as a small child), and its fascinating, graceful cultures, which seem so much at variance with North America. I think, though, that the fascination with Burma was started when Mum first told me about
Aung San Suu Kyi, known as ‘The Lady’ to the Burmese people. I was fascinated by her couregous bravery & strength in the face of all she has, and continues, to endure, and how she has managed to remain the focal point & guide for her people despite 17 years of house arrest. This, of course, lead me to discover more about the political situation in Burma, and then, its culture & peoples, including the plight of minority ethnic groups, especially the Karen/Kayin.

My heart bleeds for these people, who live in one of the most repressive states in the world, where any comment may get you arrested by the illegally-ruling military government, or help you to ‘disapear’, where forced labour is common, educational and medical standards are non-existent, STIs, drug & people trafficking is rampant, and a large amount of the population live in refugee camps or as illegal migrants in Thailand. I can’t read an article on the situation there without feeling either horrified or sick to my stomach.

This is a country where, to encourage tourism (the profits of which directly line the military juanta’s pockets), people are forcibly evicted from their land (without recompensation), and then forced to transform that same land into an exotic travel destination where rich people can sit in a five-star hotel literally built with tears & blood. Of course, most of these resorts are financed by drug traffickers who are hand in hand with the juanta and therefore both profit from the visitors & also cause even more suffering for the people of Burma through drug wars & addictions. And this isn’t even to mention the fact that both sex tourism & and drugs are popular reasons why visitors come to ‘boost’ Burma’s economy. How noble of these people to ‘help’.

Aung San Suu Kyi was once asked in an interview whether or not tourism might not help Burma become more democratic. She shot down the reporter, saying that tourism directly helped the juanta to retain its power & seem legitimate, and further, if he was suggesting that the Burmese people, whom won independence from Britain & then established a successful democracy, could learn something about democracy from visiting Westerners, he was both being patronizing and racist. As far as I can tell, most people don’t disagree with her on this view, even though the Burmese themselves are extremely desperate for tourism dollars. Even the guide books are torn on this- half of them refuse to publish, on moral grounds, guides to Burma, while others publish on the basis that, since people will go there no matter what, they should at least have SOME advice to help prevent them getting arrested, raped or ‘disappearing’.

Travellers that visit, too, face ridiculous difficulties in moving about the country, where bribing officals is a frequent necessity and past visitors have tales of up to nine different government departments being required to sign their papers before they were allowed to stay at a certain guest house or visit a region. These same visitors also are treated to having government spies trailing throughout their trip (just one of the many non-cheerful reasons the Burmese government requires you to get a travel Visa before coming), and if they discover you’re a journalist upon arrival or during your stay, you’re probably going to get treated to a first-hand exclusive on the appalling state of Burmese jails (chances on getting to publish it are slimmer).

By now, I’m sure that everyone reading this is horrified by my stated wish to go to Burma. At best, I’d pick up dysentery (and with the healthcare there, I’d better ensure first that my travel insurance included letting me be med-evaced to Bangkok), at worse no one would ever hear of me again. It’s morally wrong, the leader of the country, whom I have great respect for, has condemend travel there, my own governments have sanctions against Burma, and they would have a hard time getting me out of there if I even GOT the right to contact the nearest Canadian or British embassy (which, I am sure, is not IN Burma to begin with). You’re relatively safe if you go with a tour group, but you can be damn sure that, with said tour group, you won’t be contributing to the average Burmese OR getting to talk to them.

Which is why I would want to go to Burma with a humanitarian aid organization. I want to HELP, first hand. Let’s be honest, there’s not much that I can accomplish by writing this blog, even though, by the time people are done reading this, I might have convinced a few others never to go to Burma, or to find out more about giving aid to various organizations working in Burma/ Burmese Democracy groups, or corporations to boycott because they work in Burma despite their own home nations’ embargoes on trade. I’d go to Burma with an aid organization, both to help and so that I could experience the nation & its culture. And they need volunteers as teachers in charity schools & as carers in orphanages desperately. I couldn’t do the refugee camps, that I know- I don’t have the guts, and I’d be afraid to put myself in that much immediate danger- the camps are frequently victimized by government raids. And even then, it would be difficult to get around, to even get in or OUT of the country, and I’d have no way of communicating with the outside world- cell phones don’t work, international calling rates are exhorbitant (even if you can find a phone with the capabilities), hotmail & yahoo are banned & to get a letter sent you have to pay an ‘agent’ to ensure it isn’t just thrown out (and I’ll bet anyone good money that they’re read first).

That said, do I really have the guts to go to Burma? The sorry answer is no. Although I would love to see it, love to help, I’m terrified of what the Burmese are brave enough to put up with everyday. Now, some people might say this is because I’m not inconspicuous- that I’d stick out like a sore thumb (true), while the Burmese manage because they don’t. This isn’t true- in Burma, EVERYONE has to watch what they do & say, because of the spies everwhere. It’s a Orwellian police state. Not to mention that it only gets worse if you’re part of a group that the military are trying to ‘resettle’ (as in, resettle them through genocide).

So in truth, I’m weak. Faced with as many blessings & the security that I have, I don’t have the strength of character, the guts, to go there & risk my life. It’s one of the negatives of living in an established democracy – the possible inability to actually fight for what is right & necessary, instead of just having them handed to you. But that’s another blog entry. And it is why I revere Aung San Suui Kyi, not emulate her.

*Note: Burma is now ‘offically’ named Myanmar, but I refuse to call it that. The government that named it that (SLORC) seized & holds power illegally and thereforth has no right to rename the state. Further, as someone who believes in Burmese freedom of governence, and the rightful governence of Burma by the ELECTED National Democracy Part (NDP) under Aung San Suu Kyi, I follow her lead in what the country should be called. It may be ineffective in the grand scheme of things, but I refuse to give legitimacy to an illegal regime by calling Burma Myanmar.

image from

Friday, February 23, 2007

Inspiration only strikes at night

So, while Jeff didn't smack me for dissing his wardrobe (I even got a laugh out of him over my promising a future kitten steak dinner if he or she shredded it), he was mostly in shock from exactly how much spare time I have on my hands. Ok, Alright, to be honest he was terrified by it.

"But Honey, you know I write really fast when I get an idea"

"yah, but you had time to think about it and everything, how do you have THAT much time!"

"Well, I happen to be incredibly talented when I'm actually thinking! I have terrific output when I'm interested in something, that's why I hate work - they don't utilitze me enough!"

Because they don't. Ever. And even when I have things to do, I'd rather put them off & go play around on the 'net (or type up another blog), because, really, how many times can you listen to the scanner or the printer without wanting to go AWOL?

That said, I could wish good ideas come at better times occasionally. Like, I got another idea for a blogpost last night when I was trying to go to sleep. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm greatful to the muse whenever she wants to visit, but does it really have to be at bloody 12:30am in the morning when I've got to be up at 6?

Apparently, yes, since it took me a good 20 minutes until my brain would shut up enough that I could relax enough to enjoy the sleeping male cuddling me & fall asleep. I dread to think how much longer I would have been up if I hadn't taken cramp medication before hitting the sack.

So, what was this inspirational thought? Why, inspiration of course- literally. Yup, at 12:30am, my brain became interested in what counts as inspiration- how does it work, and what is 'inspired by' and what is 'plagarized from'. Now, I think I can blame such an idea on Joy & on GG's latest post, but I really got thinking about it. I am inspired by just about every writer I read, and I'm sure my writing is an almalgination of their styles (case in point, after reading "Bridget Jones' Diary" I went around writing 'bridget style' in my own diary for about 2 weeks- not v. good, although in my defence I was only 19).

Where do you draw the line, or is everything really just a continuance of someone else's thoughts? How does this actually work- and no, not in terms of law, but in terms of your own though processes... is like some type of collective conciousness thing? One idea merging into another into another into another, to either create something entirely new, but yet a sum of other people's ideas, or to wind up with a finished product that follows very closely to the original?

How many of my own thoughts are mine, and how many of them are other people's? If an expert in different authors looked at my writing, would they be able to go 'oh, she picked up this idea from here, and wasn't that notion introduced in this book, and in style she's very close to X, but she employs the same sort of language that Y did, and obviously she drew inspiration from W, Z, E and F because they all wrote this type of literature and she must of read their works".

What's mine and what's someone else's? If I think something, but someone else told me it/thought it first, is it also my though, or is it the original propergators? What, exactly, is a shared belief- could it be considered something that is plagarized from the original expounder of the belief?

I don't have a clue, but it's an interesting area for thought... if you want to drive yourself completely batty (like I said, thank god for the pills or I would have gone nuts & been up all night). Hey, am I plagarizing to use the terms 'gone nuts' or even 'thank god'?!

I'm curious, because, hey, one day I want to be a writer that's not just published, but PAID for it (a girl can dream). So where does inspiration begin and end? What can I write, in what style can I write without breaching someone else's intellectual property?

Or are we all agreed that there are somethings that are so much a part of our general society/culture that they are part of a 'collective unconcious' and therefore, part of the public realm/ usable at will?

I guess I'll find this all out the first time I publish... and get sued for nicking someone else's idea :D

Until then, roll on the weekend & me not driving myself insane by having these type of thoughts!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

K-I-T-T-E-N, Part II ('The Kitten Rules')

Ok, so I want to talk more about my potential Kitten.

What I will name it, what it will look like, act like…. I want to talk about all of this!

Except, of course, I don’t know any of the above. I know I want a mogg* though- and I’m kinda leaning towards a grey one.

I’ve had an orange/marmalade-swirl moggy and a black & white one before, so this time I want a grey striped tabby- I think. Grey kittens are very cute looking.

Quiet frankly though, all I care about is whether or not it has the right attitude. I like my cats with some sass! If they want to get delusional on ivy plants or try to eat my cacti, or take a nap on the fresh laundry, that’s fine by me (peeing in the fresh laundry, however, is NOT ok). All I care about is that it’s got some personality & is cuddly. I can remember a couple of occasions where I was feeling miserable & wanting a cuddle with my old cat, and he didn’t want to know.

Teenage angst can definitely be defined as standing in your bedroom doorway, tears streaming down your face yelling “fuck you!” at a cat that’s fleeing because you tried to hug it & got its fur wet, after which you throw yourself down on the bed and cry hysterically because you now think the cat hates you :)
God, I loved being a teenager SO much.

But, without further ado, and in part inspired by just reading the original column ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter’ by
W. Bruce Cameron (gotta give inspirational credit where it's due), I present:


*** this is an official legal document that will be notorized by both Joanna and ‘The Kitten’ upon its homecoming to the ‘JoJeff’ residence****

1) You should not have that much of a problem with children or with having your tail or ears pulled, since I’ll probably have kids before you die. That said, if you to move out when a baby moves in, can you save room for me in the suitcase?

2) DO NOT scream blue murder (or try to commit murder) each & every time you are stuffed in a box to go & visit either granny & granddad or the vet. Mummy will get worried that you are in pain & twist around so many times in the car that eventually Daddy will drive off the road because he can't drive straight because Mummy's contorsions are blocking access to the stick shift. We will then both get mad at you, and the car repair bills will come out of your toy allowance for the next 20 years.

3) Furthermore, you should not turn up your nose every day at dinner. There are starving kittens in Africa. If you don't want to eat what I brought you, you can become one. Don't try then sneaking some of MY dinner because you're 'hungry'. This also holds for my favorite plants or any flowers Jeff buys me. And If the cacti bites back, you deserved it.

4) Attempted escapes out of the front door when I come home every night will be punished with ‘room arrest’ until I get home. If you try to get revenge by shredding my clothes, I will get out the spray/squirt bottle. That said, if you decide to shred Jeff’s sweaters that are falling apart to the point where even HE thinks they should be trashed, I will make you a steak dinner as a reward.

5) Trying to sleep on the bed with us is ok (although we’ll remove you occasionally so you don’t get nightmares). Thinking my boobs are re-moldable cushions is not ok. Killing & eating bugs that get into the house is ok. Leaving them half-dead in my slippers or bed is not ok. If you MUST save it as a midnight snack, please keep it in the bathtub & let your father know if it is escaping.

6) You should know that, if you are going to be sick, you should do it in your daddy’s lap (he doesn’t care about his clothes). If you want a cuddle, mummy’s lap will be available once she has changed out of her work clothes. If you ever EVER sleep on Mummy’s dress clothes & she winds up going to work with a furry butt, you will spend the next week sleeping in the bathroom.

7) Please realize that you are your Mummy & Daddy’s first baby. As such, Mummy is going to take lots of photos of you. If you keep turning away from the camera, she will get pissed off and refer to you as ‘stupid cat’. You are not to take the fact that your Daddy is laughing as encouragement to continue acting up. In return for behaving in front of the camera, Mummy will never ever dress you up for Halloween. She may, however, stick Santa hats on you at Christmas, at which point you can look as satanic as you please. It just makes the photos funnier.

8) Please realize that, although I am referring to myself & my partner as your ‘parents’, we will expect you to call us Joanna & Jeff, as Jeff especially will feel slightly horrified at the idea of a furry baby that eats spiders. We will treat you as a beloved pet, not a baby (ie: you don’t have to go to school or ‘dress up’ for photographs). In return, we expect that you also treat us with at least the image of respect. We are your OWNERS, not your slaves. That said, we will accept the title ‘servant’ if you don’t push it too far.

9) Claws are to be used against intruders to the house. If you use them on any sensitive parts of either of your owners/parents/servants’ anatomies, expect the velocity with which you whip through the air when we jump up in pain to be extremely fast. It is your own damn fault if you don’t get your paws spread out in time to avoid hitting the wall.

10) Playing ‘chase’ with yourself in the middle of the night is acceptable. If, however, you ever do this over the bed or on nights when Mummy has something important on at work/ has to get up extra-early, you will find yourself playing ‘chase’ outside with cars.

11) All violations of rules will be punished by a squirt bottle. I know you don’t like water, but you know what? Mummy doesn’t like stepping in the remains of a hair-ball, either.

12) The above mentioned squirt-bottle is a training tool, not an instrument of torture. Your male owner will tell you to ‘take it like a man’. All I can say is that if you try to elicit sympathy out of your grandparents/ my parents/ Jeff's parents by playing ‘poor kitty’ and it actually works, the squirt bottle WILL become an instrument of torture.

13) All these rules are subject to amendments, removals or additions. I brought you, deal with it. I’m putting up with you, aren’t I?

*note: for those non-initiated in English slang, a “Mogg” (or, for formal usage, Moggy) is the term for a feline of dubious and most definitely mixed heritage. A feline ‘mutt’ if you will*


It’s official: I’m getting a KITTEN!

A little, cute ball of fur, with four tiny paws and a curious disposition & a penance for mischief. An adorable little animal with an inquisitive face, massive eyes & purrs and meows.

That also, of course, breaks things, hacks up hair balls & will try to get high by eating all my plants.

But still! A Kitten- just as soon as the roommate moves out.

This is Jeff’s only caveat – the same one that I have: NOT YET!

Not until we get rid of K & have that additional space, and also not until K moves out because moving a kitten in, would totally piss him off, and probably escalate the situation from Cold War to World War III.

Quite frankly, though, I’m not really worried about WWIII – I could probably beat K up, not to mention what Jeff (my superior in strength by about 5 times) could do.

No, I’m more concerned that, K being of the type that serial killers are born from, I’d come home from work one day to find out that kitty had ‘eaten something’, and was then in so much pain it’d managed to open the sliding glass doors & hurl itself off the balcony ledge.

After which, of course, it would be fine, since we live all of 6 feet off the ground, and it would land in a snow bank.

That said, I’ve already asked if I can’t bring home a kitten & tell K he has to move out, because we’ve “got a new roommate!”

Jeff said no :(

That said, I might yet bring home a kitten while K’s already moving out (the lease is up in only 4 months, HURRAY!), and go ‘meet our new roomie that we’re replacing you with’.
It would totally piss him off, but he totally wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, because he’d already be leaving.

So yah, this post is really supposed to be about my future kitty, but since my roommate’s what prevents me from having one now, it can also be a grumble against him.

Jeff probably won’t be too impressed when he reads this (I’m in his ‘favorites’ list on his half of the computer…awww, ain’t that sweet?), but hey, my excuse is a) I need to grumble every now and then and b) well honey, you came on here, so you read it, but I WAS trying to prevent you having to listen to another one of my bitch sessions about K. So deal with it :)

Not that Jeff doesn’t bitch about him too. But you know, in a masculine, non-bitchy way (my boy doesn’t like having feminine/young words applied to him- he’s a grown up, masculine man’s man. *snort* *snicker*)

But anyways, I’ve bitched enough……

Friday, February 16, 2007


Not much to post about today, as it's a kinda slow day (my supervisor's got the day off & I've got all the travel arrangements up-to-date, so I have like, two things to accomplish today)

And since one of them's sorting out gross, dirty laundry for sending out, I really want to delay as long as possible.

That said, gotta tart myself up at some point, since I want to go over to the place I interviewed at on Weds and drop off some thank you cards. I'd mail them, but since they're making their decision, like, today, I don't think they'd get there in time!

So, there we go- a nice little walk for me at lunch. Or, what would be a nice walk, if the roads weren't flooded by all the snow melting & I wasn't wearing heeled boots as the only way to keep my feet dry.

I might love heels, but I only ever find flats comfy to walk in!

Oh well, whatever- it's the weekend, hurray, and a LONG WEEKEND at that! I even think I get paid for Monday, since I've been working for the agency again just long enough to qualify (I hope, I hope, I hope).

Even if I don't though- yay, three whole days to have FUN! And since I reminded Jeff last night of the toy car race track he wanted, he's now all gung-ho for us to go get it this weekend & then play with it.

Like if I didn't already buy him multiple toys for V-day. Ehh, don't mind though, as long as Mr "no, I have the money!" also has enough money to a) pay for all the laundry this weekend b) pay for all the groceries this weekend and c) is going to buy a second car for me to play with.

There's no way he's setting up a toy race car track in the living room unless I can play with it too! And there's no way that Ms "Oh shit, I'm about to go into overdraft again!" is going to pay for the groceries just so that her sweetie can buy a new toy.

Which, damn it, reminds I have to call the bank, as we're supposed to have an appointment with them tomorrow.

yes, we are taking the (slightly scary) step of getting a bank account together. It's for us to pay the bills out of - me giving Jeff checks for the rent every month (the lease is in his name) doesn't amuse either of us, so I suggested a while back we got a joint account, in addition to our own ones. this way, we can each stick a set amount of money in there each month, and pay for the rent, utilities & eventually the groceries out of it.

Right now though, we'll just go for putting the rent amount (plus the roomie's check) in there, and then paying out both the rent & utilities out of it (the utils amount I guess will go to Jeff's credit card, as that's how he pays the utilities- also in his name).

One of these days, we'll get a place that we find together, and then I'll get to be responsible for utilities too! I can hardly wait, especially since I already find it bloody near impossible to remember to pay for my cell phone on time each month!

Anyways, it'll be nice not to have him yelping "Jo, I need a check, now!". It would also be nice, of course, if we each were enough out of debt that it didn't become a case of whipping money around between accounts & everything, so that there's always the money to pay for bills. But that should start happening soon enough, this month (hopefully) will be the last tight one, and then we can go on to start trying to get some savings together, ESPECIALLY if I get a job!

oh, I hope I hope I hope! I have to admit though, if I do get offered the job, it's going to be a HUGE shock to the system, because it would change so much, so fast. I would go from job-hunting & lolling around at something I hate, to actually working in my career, and doing what I wanted & loved.

So, I'm already feeling apprehensive & excited about it, about just the idea- because it would be amazing to go on to do what I really want to be doing with my career.

But since I won't find out until Tuesday, I'll just enjoy the weekend while waiting to find out! After all, it's a long weekend and it's actually WARM(ish) - hurray, we got a Chinook!- so it's definitely time to shake off the cabin fever & go out and have some fun!

Hope everyone else has some great plans in store for their own long weekends!

And until it ends, I'll just keep just about EVERYTHING crossed in anticipation of becoming the law society's communications assistant!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kynance Cove

Ok, so just redesigned the page, I like it so much better, even if it is a template- far more 'my' style!

Even if it is a bit unoriginal :)

Anyways, the photo to the right is one of the (many) I took of Kynance Cove, last time I was there. It's about a mile from the southern-most tip of England (known as 'the Lizard'), on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

I go there every time I go home to England, as Kynance is my favorite place in the world, and what I would almost call my 'spirit home'. This is not just because of the beauty of Kynance, but because of its magic. Kynance is a place where the spirit feels at rest, where it is rejuvinated and filled with wonder & joy. There is no such thing as a bad day if you go to Kynance Cove- the beauty of the place, combined with the feelings of the sun, wind & sea, fill you with serenity and hope. You can be in a horrible mood before you get there, but once you are there, it disassipates- Kynance is filled with a magic that does not allow the soul to harbor pain, grief or anger.

It's a place that I long for, frequently, that I dream of constantly. All I have to do, to feel at peace, is to think of Kynance, or to look at the photographs. And so, my dreams take me there frequently, the most beautiful dreams, where I lie on the grass of the cliff to the side of the cove, with Jeff by my side, and watch the waves come in. And I wake up from these dreams, feeling the same peacefulness, rejuvination and sense of greatfulness to experience something so beautiful, that I receive each time I visit Kynance.

Because it is not this secluded cove's beauty that is it's greatest gift to the world, but its magical quality to grant its visitors serenity, joy and awe at the power of Mother Nature.


So, I actually have things to accomplish today, but I don’t want to do any of them.
Maybe it’s because I’m tired, or because my legs are sore (the therapist said my BACK would hurt from him re-aliging my spine, but trust my legs to get in on the act anyways). However you look at it, however, I’m time-killing.

Maybe it’s because of Mum’s surgery- I don’t want to think about it, so I’m allowing myself to kind of …float, through a mist. I don’t want to start using my brain, because once it is operational, I might think about the operation. That said, I’m not picking up on any worry inside myself… maybe it’s too deeply buried right now, or maybe I know, on some level, that everything will turn out perfectly. And god knows, I certainly wish it was the second one that’s right.

So, I’m floating/time-wasting/time-killing. And that, in itself, seems like a waste. Life is so short (and like I’m not getting reminders of that today), and yet I’m just… wasting time, waiting. Waiting for all the exciting things to happen, for the day to get to the point where something important goes on (I hear from Dad, I go for my job interview), for when I get to go home to Jeff & then, even if we’re not doing anything, at least I have company. Wasting & waiting for the company I interviewed with yesterday to call me back, waiting to find a dream job, waiting & wasting, always.

This seems, on some levels, totally depressing, or like I’m completely depressed. But the truth is, that what this really is about is feeling like I’m not accomplishing, that I’m not living life to its fullest. Unfortently, that requires some money, so I doubt I’ll ever accomplish living life to the degree I would like. But that said, the winter blahs are here, and I’m bored, and I need something new to pursue. And I need to be more social- I think I’ll have to call around tonight & have Jeff do the same, and see if we can’t find some people to go out with this weekend, go do something simple, like bowling or skating. It would be fun, and I need some fun right now. The second benefit is that it’s physically active (ok, well, bowling not so much), so it means moving around. Which I think I’m not the only one in need of – Jeff is definitely feeling the winter blahs too. And although I might not be having so many problems getting up these days (really should have started multivitamins a long time ago), Jeff’s finding it harder & harder- he needs some sunlight in his life & something to give him a couple of laughs (other than me).

So, I know how to improve my life outside of 8-4pm, M-F, or at least, I know how I would if I had more money (that said, we HAVE to do something more exciting with food lately, I’m getting sick of western food, need something exotic in my life, maybe we should try massacering Indian food by making it at home this weekend?). But as to the 9-5, all I can hope for is that I get a job soon, where I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something, am actually busy & am actually enjoying my job. It’s funny, because the company I interviewed with said they wanted someone motivated, that could give their all. Hey, I’d be willing to give 50 hours a week (well, not every week), just as long as it was for something I loved, or that mattered. But make me work 35 hours a week at a job I hate, and well… fuck, I resent every moment I’m here.

Although really, I should have enough time to phone health services today & find out about Drs nearby (Jeff needs to actually go and get a health check up, and so do I). But am I motivated to do anything like that? No. Not even though I’ve got plenty to do, and all of it has deadlines.

I’ve got no motivation, because I hate what I’m doing. And that’s why I’m wasting time… even when it’s running out on me, both in terms of the workday and life.

Fuck, I really should of brought my chocolate to work with me today :D

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Blogsphere

Alternatively titled: Confession of a Grrl Genius Addict

So, I have a confession to make. Each and every day, I sneak a bit of a drug. Well, actually, lately, it’s not been so much a little bit, as a full-on addiction. I take time out at work for it several times a day, I even feed my habit at times from home or during the weekends.

This addiction is getting pretty serious, because, not only does it take up my time, it’s affecting the quality of my work (or it would, if there was anything to apply quality to here).

It is, of course, the
grrl genius blog- a wonderful community of women who come together virtually to communicate with each other & share their accomplishments & fuck-ups, to ask for advice & to offer support. It’s run by the head grrl genius, Cathryn Michon, an amazing & inspiring woman who has collected around her a community of like-minded women who all believe in the grrl genius philosophy.

And I’m proud to be one of them!

Let’s face it, with the blaas of winter this year being combined with a dead-end job that doesn’t offer me any type of mental or vocal exercise, I need others to talk to. Now, I could get Jeff fired by calling him every day several times, but first he doesn’t have a office & secondly, well- he’ll get fired. Instead, I have my fellow grrl geniuses, with which I discuss either the topic that GG introduces, or whatever we feel like or move onto.

And seeing the output we manage is fascinating. Not because of the quantity of it (although, judging by how much some of us put out, I am not the only bored administrative assistant on the site), but because of the quality.

This is not a chat room or message board where people fight, swear and try to hurt each other. Yes, there have been arguments (especially over the concept of working mothers), but for the main part, there is support. One of the grrl geniuses recently admitted to having an affair & asked for advice. While advice was forthcoming, it was in the form of suggestions, and most importantly, it was all delivered with love. Whether or not we had been in that boat, on the other side, approved or disapproved, we all gave this woman love, asked that she take care of herself, let her know that we were thinking about her. We gave her strength, and encouragement- encouragement to move past her guilt & discover both WHY & what is the best thing for her to do. When another woman was thrown out by her emotionally abusive boyfriend, we gave her encouragement, both to be tough & say “NO” when he tried to contact her again, and to also realize what a liberating, wonderful opportunity it was for her- no matter how it hurt, that it was NOT her fault, and that the world was full of better opportunities for her. And whether or not it has, she feels that our support has helped her to get through it, to venture forth filled with self-love & optimism for the future.

These same women pick each other up when they are down- when one of us is having a bad day, we can admit it on the blog, and receive encouragement and support. I am buoyed especially by the other women of my age, who are also searching to move their career dreams forward & encourage me with mine. I go onto this website to announce job interviews, and they are almost happier for me than I am for myself. The support I feel is amazing, almost staggering.

I know we are a virtual community, and that my chances are slim that I will ever meet any of these women (although, as some of us have dreams of becoming authors one day, maybe we WILL meet each other, or at least Cathryn). That said, we are still a sisterhood of grrl geniuses, and that is exactly what I feel I have in this community- sisterhood.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t have a wonderful sister in my own sister, because I do. She’s amazing, supportive, funny and everything terrific that a little sister should be (even if she is prettier & smarter than me, damn it). But this community is also my sisters- my virtual sisters. And in this, they remind me of nothing so much as long-distance family, something I am very knowledgeable about.

Yes, they do not effect my daily life, they do not play a role in it (although I ‘talk’ to them just about daily). But the love they offer IS in my life daily, I know I can go to them for support and encouragement, because our anonymity allows us to be honest & also to open up our hearts & share love with each other without the fear of being hurt- just like sisters do. So, they are my virtual sisters- whether they be the ones my own age, that share my trials & tribulations & make me laugh with their own antics, or whether they be older & sager members of our community, whom take the role of the big sister I would always have liked to have had- regardless, they are my sisters.

And I’m grateful for each & everyone of them and the love they offer, whether it is to me or to other members of the blog. Because, through reading every comment, we imbibe each others’ support & love- when one grrl genius is encouraged, we read that encouragement & feel it in ourselves- because we know it will be there for our individual self when we have need to call for it.

Because we’re grrl geniuses, and that’s what grrl geniuses do- succeed in themselves & encourage others to do the same!

Monday, January 22, 2007


My Mum is going in for surgery on her thyroid on Tuesday. It’s the second operation- this one will result in her entire thyroid being removed. And while this operation is happening to HER, and she’s just as brave & chipper as ever, I’m completely freaked.

It’s a routine operation, and the chances of anything going wrong (despite there being quite a few things that could go wrong), I can’t help being scared.

Because she’s my Mum. She may have given birth to me over 25 years ago, and I may have left home almost 4 and a half years ago, but she’s still my ‘Mummy’. I still talk to her on the phone multiple times a week, she is still one of (if not the first) the first people I want to tell anything good or bad to, she is still whom I go to for comfort. When I argue or fight with Jeff, the unhappy little girl inside of me still screams “I want my Mummy!”. I might be 25, I might have moved out, but I still haven’t cut the ‘apron strings’- my mum is, without a doubt, the most important person in my world, because she is the person who has always been there for me, since even before the first moment of my life. She has been there for me, for everything. She is still a major influence on me, and still the person whose support, encouragement and praise means the most to me. My mother is my role model, my hero, my guide, my champion. And so, she is always my ‘Mummy’- the one I still rely on, as much as I am trying to rely on myself, to be there for me, to make everything better.

And so I’m terrified. Because, right now, I want to be there for her, and I want to help her through this as much as I can. She’s going out to my sister & her bf to recuperate, and I’ll take care of Dad, so he can’t worry her. Before then, I’ll make sure she’s happy in the hospital & that she has plenty for herself there & also that Dad’s ok, I’ll even send them home with food on Sunday so she doesn’t have to cook in advance. In short, I’ll try to do everything I can- everything except for be there when it happens, take her place.

Because I would if I could- because this is the woman who gave me life. And if I could give my life, part of me, to make her healthy- I would. And not only because, as the person who gave me life, I feel that I owe her the same- that, if in my hands, I should give her that gift. But because I would WANT to- because I can’t think of someone more deserving, more special.

And so, while I’d willingly lie on that table, let Drs take my thyroid if it would make hers work, I am still terrified. Because it is still my “Mummy”, my Mum who is going to be going through this, something that has the potential to take her away from me- forever.

I know that, one day, that will happen. That my mum will no longer be here with me, and that day & the ones that follow will be the hardest & darkest I ever go through. And though I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready for it, there is no way I could deal with it now. Jeff is always saying he’ll take care of me, if things happen, he’ll pick up the pieces. But I think, if something happened, now, there would be so many pieces I don’t think we’d even be able to find them all. Maybe that’s melodramatic, but that’s how I feel. Because, in truth, my Mum IS so many of those pieces. So much of who I am, is influenced by her, shaped by her, guided by her. So much of who I am, my strength, comes from her love and support. And without all of that, I’m not sure if I’d be anything more than a shell of “Jo” for a very long time.

And so, last night, even though I know how small the risks are, even though it’s not me going through it, last night after I got my Mum’s email, I curled up in Jeff’s arms & I cried. I cried because of how suddenly this is happening, even though we’ve known she needed surgery for months. I cried because of how much I love her, and how scared I am for her. I cried because of how scared I was for me, and because my “Mummy” wasn’t there to fix it. Because, even though Jeff was there, holding me, I still wanted my “Mummy”- my Mummy to tell me that everything was going to be alright, that she would come through fine, my Mummy to hug & to hold me. Because, that little girl inside of me, she still believes her Mummy can fix anything, and so she wanted her for reassurance & love. And that little girl cried because couldn’t have what she wanted, her Mummy, right there, right then.

Instead, all I can do, as the woman that my mother raised me to be, instead of the frightened little girl, is give her all the support I can, see as much of her as possible before and after, let her know, just in case anything happens, how much I love & treasure her. So, if anything happens, I will know that we at least had that time together, that she knows how much she means to me.

And if I need to cry more, I’ll cry in private. Because although I still need my “Mummy”, although the apron strings have not yet been cut, I know better than to be so selfish as to take comfort, to demand reassurance, from the person who is undergoing this all.

Because love is about being unselfish- and that’s a lesson “Mummy” taught me a long time ago.

*note: I should have posted this on Friday, but it was one of those weekends... although I got to spend a lot of time with Mum, which was great :)

Monday, January 8, 2007

Always Female

On the BBC the other day, they had a ‘Have Your Say’ about whether or not you identified yourself more by your nationality, family, tribe, ethnicity, etc. They asked for people to send in their answers, and I was really intrigued by this question, especially since, to me, they’d left out the biggest identifier- gender. I wrote this response with the intention of actually sending it in on time, but due to its length, I didn’t get it edited down in time to submit it. This morning, I was on the grrl genius blog, and as the discussion was feminism, I was reminded of my little article, and decided to post it up. Because, really, the timing seems perfect :D

“As someone raised in two different countries, on two different continents, I tend to identify myself, of the categories on this list, by nationality- to identify myself, as the situation determines, as either English or Canadian, or ‘both’.

But what I identify myself as, first and foremost, is a woman. Although sex is (usually) the most obvious identifier of ‘what’ a person ‘is’, it is also a central part of most people’s identity, and especially for me.

My gender is the part of my identity I feel most comfortable with, perhaps because there is no confusion- while others (and even myself) may debate whether or not I am ‘truly’ Canadian or English, whether I fit better into European or North American society, what is never under debate is my gender, or how that affects how I relate to others and the world around me.

Identifying myself as a woman allows me to identify with the feelings, concerns and plight of other women, whether within my group of friends, my family, my city of residence, either of my ‘home countries’ or throughout the world. Although I can not understand the plight of refugees in the Sudan or Iraqis suffering through the insurgency there, while I have more rights than many other women around the world, I can still relate to these women as, on some level, we all share the same concerns- the concerns of caring for our families as the usual primary or sole caregiver, unequal representation and labour standards, the needs of survival, and concern for our physical safety in ways that do not apply for men.

Being female shapes my actions and concerns. I react to others as a female, I volunteer for charities that help or promote women as one day I may need their services.

I am from southern England, I am Western Canadian. I am English, I am Canadian. I am European, I am North American. But I am always female.”

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Interview Pains

So, showed up at an interview today, only to be told that I wasn't suitable for the job (which I'd found out about through my placement agency) since a) I don't have the required 5 years of experience and b) I don't have a vehicle with which to travel 5 days of the month with.

I'll point out that a) the advertisment said 'entry-level' position and b) didn't mention travelling. I'll go even further and also state that c) the agency already knows exactly what type of vehicle and experience I have (bus, feet, 1 year).

I'm less than impressed, especially since I was then given 'advice' about how to get into the industry- by doing temp work. It's what I've been doing for a year so far, without any results! So I'm very frustrated right now, especially since the industry group I joined (which cost lots of money, and was my xmas present from my very sweet parents) just sent me an email going 'nope, no existing support for new graduates- keep checking the job page!'.
For the record, the job page usually lists things for 'marketing director' or 'communications manager'.
You know, the type of job they really like to give to people one year out of University.

Oh well, back to the drawing (or should I say job-hunting) board!

My First Blog Entry

Ok, so, not much point to this post, other than that, since I'm feeling frustrated with my lack of progress on the career front through regular means, at least this way I can get some of my stuff up & about- right?

Anyways, will write more when there's something worth commenting on... which will probably be soon, knowing my capacity for writing & talking & 'commenting'.