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Thinking Differently 3 and also some travel stories

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I’m on the train again from St Austell to Bristol, then Bristol to Newport, then Newport to Bridgend. Where Grandpa Morgan was born in 1905. Yesterday I had lunch with my cousins Dave and Gill Stuart, and their daughter Jenny (my second cousin. I’m getting better at this, I think). Dave is my grandpa’s nephew. In 1907, Grandpa’s mother, Mary (Williams) Morgan, died. He was two, his sister Gwladys was 4, I think. Their dad, John, remarried – a woman named Edith (perhaps the woman after whom my mom is named, but more likely the aunt Edith who raised him). This marriage wasn’t very happy, according to the sketchy family stories. Edith had two sons with John, and a girl, I think, too. Yes. Her name was .

Nancy. I forget the names of the two sons. One of them was Evelyn, I think.

In 1914, when young Dave was 9, Gwladys was 11, their father died. Maybe he was 40. I don’t know what happened to Edith. But I don’t think she wanted them anyway. Gwladys went to Uncle Phillip in London, and Dave went to Tom and Edith Williams in South Wales – Cowbridge? Maybe. That’s where my cousin Alun lives, Cowbridge. [Update–Brynna, they were in Brynna– Katie, David, Tudor and Tom were the cousins]. Alun’s Tom jr.’s son, so my grandfather’s second cousin? I think—I need a chart. Kind of more like a nephew than a cousin is Alun, given that Grandpa grew up with his father. Anyway, so they were separated, Dave and Gwladys. My auntie in Ontario is named after Grandpa’s sister, my Uncle Tom after Grandpa’s uncle, or cousin maybe (it gets a bit confusing). My mom is probably named after Alun’s grandmother Edith, NOT John Morgan’s second wife.

Grandpa had a hard life, and it made him into a hard man. Good, but hard. He was tall, handsome, athletic, resourceful, honest, loyal and had a sense of humour – clearly, someone loved him. But he was stubborn, rigid, had a mean streak, and could hold a grudge. I think he didn’t really approve of Dad. My poor drifty messy dad. I am so like him. Dad, not grandpa. Grandpa’s tool bench was meticulously organized, and he knew how to use everything there. Dad’s was – well – he had some tools, I think, but he didn’t really know how to use them. And everywhere he went, he left a little trail of clutter. Me too!

Dear me. Look at that! We’re passing through these valleys, green hillsides bounded by hedges dotted with sheep in one, cows in another, guarded by gorse and thistle—here’s a field of corn, and a stone bridge we’ve passed under. No wonder Grandpa yearned for this place. He left in 1926, and didn’t return until 1969. His life here, from when he was 13 until he left, was centered not in the valley farms, not on the land, but beneath it in the mines. When he left, he made his way to the Canadian Prairies, a place with few hills, and he came before the shelter belts were planted, before the Great Depression – which means there were no trees when he came, either. Grassland and sky. Mostly sky. He left this lush, wet, green land for long horizons, dry relentless wind, and brilliant hard sun.

Stephanie Davies-Arai was the next speaker – I should have powered through and written this update the day after, because it’s all a bit fuzzy now. Stephanie focused her talk on what’s going on with children. You might know that the referrals of “transgender” children to the Tavistock Clinic in the UK has risen by over 900% in the last few years.

“If anyone had said, five or even two years ago, that in order to become their ‘authentic self’ children would have to take puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and prepare to undergo surgery – they would have been thought mad,” she said. Now, this is the kind of thing that ‘gender specialists’ are promoting. I have to say, once again, that this is so like the promotion of prostitution. It’s not only that liberals are describing prostitution as a form of labour, they are now erasing the harms that the pimps and purchasers wreak upon the women who are prostituted. Everywhere, women are expected and coerced into subjugating to the entitlement of men to women’s bodies, women’s spaces. If we resist, we are bigots. We are threatened with our livelihoods, our homes, our lives.

Now it’s Saturday, the 23rd. I’m waiting for my cousin Alun to pick me up. We’re going to see my grandpa’s childhood home, and the graves of his parents. Then the Welsh national museum.

Here’s a story of coercion: On Wednesday, when I was in the youth hostel, Christiane from Germany asked Lydia from China, “your skin is flawless, how do you do it?” they are both young women. Lydia is tiny and dynamic, Christiane is tall and broad. Lydia didn’t understand the question, and Christiane said again how beautiful Lydia was, how perfect her skin. I said, “you’re both young, you haven’t had time to dry properly yet” and “you’ll find different beauty in a couple of decades”.

Christiane told us a story (it was late at night) of her evening. She went to a pub with some other young people. A man invited her to go for a walk with him to the beach. “I didn’t go, I came here. I was going to, but then I thought, ‘wait a minute, no light, a strange man, an empty beach – no thanks. We went to another pub and then I just left after a pint.”

She expressed admiration to another woman for her conventional beauty, joking that she herself was too big and heavy to be attractive (she is nearly 6 feet tall). Both of them talked about their boyfriends, and the way their boyfriends touch them – Lydia’s picks her up, he’s as tall as Christiane. Christiane’s makes a big production, grunting as he plays at picking her up. Christiane says, “that’s not very flattering”, and they laugh. Then she tells this story about an encounter with a friendly man in a pub. A friendly man who is a stranger. “you can’t be too careful” she said.

I found it really interesting, in a really-really-angry-almost-despairing kind of way. She was at the same time admiring the beauty of another woman, and talking about the need for vigilance against the men for whom women work so in order to achieve this ‘flawless skin’. We learn very early that we should want to be attractive to men, and we should work at it. We also learn that men are a danger to us, and that we can’t ‘lead them on’ or reveal our distrust—“If I told him the real reason I didn’t want to go for a walk, he wouldn’t understand” said Christiane.

More likely, he would, but instead of getting angry with other men, or about sexist,  he would get angry with her for telling the truth—and he would be defensive and unpleasant at best.  None of us pointed out the obvious dissonance of that moment. It’s always our fault

July 24, 2016 – oh dear. It’s a week after the conference now, and I haven’t got half way through. And we went to St Fagan’s yesterday! And I want to tell you about Welsh Faggots! Not “Poofters”, mind, faggots. The first night in Bridgend, my cousin Alun, and his wife, Sian (who, turns out, has the same birthday as me, November 22) took me to dinner to a little pub in Bridgend. Alun ordered the mixed grill, which was about seven different kinds of meat, a grilled tomato and some chips (French fries). Alun is a tiny man, about my height, (which is really 6’2”, but people keep “mis-heighting” me at 5”3”), and probably I outweigh him by a stone (which is UK for about eleven pounds, or about 5 kg) at least. He has the metabolism of a hummingbird.

I ordered the Handmade Welsh Faggots. Only because I wanted to say, “I’ll have the faggots, please” with a straight face (well, of course, with a lesbian face—which is quite stern). The waiter looked at me a little bit quizzically, as if to check to see if I was serious. I grinned in a friendly way.

They were delicious.

Stephanie Davies-Arai said that Bernadette Wren of the Tavistock clinic notes that little boys outnumber little girls, but teenage girls outnumber teen boys coming to gender identity clinics. “We are absolutely training our boys and girls into boxes that do not overlap” Stephanie said. She showed us side-by-side photos of children surrounded by their belongings, a project of a Korean artist, I think — boys the world over were awash in shades of blue, girls in pink. it was stunning.

While girls presenting at gender identity clinics indicate the presence of other disorders and problems (depression, anxiety, autism, bullying, eating disorders, self-harming behaviors, past trauma, sexual abuse—to mention a few), there is no research into causes of the huge rise of girls presenting as transgendered. And therapists are NOT looking at underlying problems, or possible sources of this alarming increase in dysphoria.

Of course, I think it’s easy – we are ALL “dysphoric” – we live in a dystopia! Really, if you’re gender-conforming, you’re not well. Not well at all.

In Vancouver, the School Board and the Parks Board have lost their ever-loving minds. It is now policy that anyone can go into any bathroom they please. Children in schools can take the name they want, and “identify” how they like, and the school is under no obligation to let parents know. I have absolutely no doubt that had my parents and teachers been as encouraging of my magical thinking as parents and teachers are expected to be now, I would be a ‘transman’. Also, married to my father, and probably dead – because I wanted to be a cowboy, and I’m very allergic to horses and hay. That’s an aside.

Next up, Julia Long, who first read a statement from a woman who is part of a disability rights organization. The statement referred in part to the trans ideology that those who believe themselves the opposite sex are “born in the wrong body”. Which is completely inaccurate and deeply insulting to people who are born with a disability or disabling condition.

Right. The first thing Julia said was “transgenderism is a form of male violence”. I’d never heard that before, but when she said it, a light went on. I have often joked that of course men know exactly what men want in a woman, we can just retire to some tropical island and let them do ‘woman’. But that is not what they’re after. They will still require us to do the messy emotional and care-giving work, while they wear the corsets and heels and ‘perform woman’ with all their entitlement fully intact.

Julia went on to describe how, basing her analysis on J. Galtung’s (1990) description of ‘cultural violence’, and Marilyn Frye’s (1983) description of ‘oppression’.

Galtung: Cultural violence is […] events, actions, threats, etc. which have a deleterious and injurious effect on an individual’s or group’s basic needs being met (survival/well-being/social/identity/meaning/freedom).

This violence is Direct, Structural, and Cultural.

She images and accounts drew from news media and blogs that described how the transgender lobby enacts these forms of violence against women, and reinforce the bars of the cage of patriarchy which incarcerates women in oppression (Frye, 1983). She drew a clear picture of the increasing pressure on women, and especially lesbians, to disappear. We are in danger of erasure by the trans lobby, this is clear.

of course, we’re not going away, though.

Lookit, I’m going to see if I can find Coity Castle today, and it’ll take me at least an hour to get there, and it closes at 6, so I’d best get after it. I apologize for the meandering and tangential mess of these posts – I want to tell you too about seeing Grandpa Morgan’s childhood home (that guy was gender-conforming, by the way – except for his immense talent for growing gorgeous flowers. I see why he got that faraway look whenever he talked about Wales). Oh! And St. Fagan’s! and sheep and cows in fields and roads so narrow that the trees at the side scrape against the car as you drive by, and how people greet you in the shops and on the streets and –

So this is it for now, I’ll post again in a day or two.

Thinking differently installment 2 (with some travelogue thrown in)

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Now I’m on a train to Cornwall! Normally I do not like exclamation marks, I find them kind of shrill and demanding. But I’m all exclamatory these days – I’m far from home but returning as well. It really is the trip of a lifetime. As usual, I packed too much — too many books I’m not reading, too many activities I’m not pursuing (I packed my resistance bands, for example, and have barely used them. I am yearning for some gym time, though), too many projects I’ve barely approached (making the ol’ dissertation into a play – the conference was inspiring, but I’m still struggling with dialogue and character development). Also, I am bringing presents back to the colonies, I thought I’d left enough room, but turns out not to be the case. Oh well, I’ll give away some t-shirts.

Oh, look! The woman in the seat across from me just went off to get a coffee and asked me to look after her stuff. She’s even more spread out than I am, if you can imagine such a thing. I said, “of course” and she asked if I would like a coffee—I gave her some change (it’s still kind of ‘play money’ for me, which will surely be my undoing), and off she went. Everyone’s been so pleasant and friendly so far. Likely my pallor contributes to that. Also the slightly befuddled, yet earnest look. I always feel a bit apologetic when I travel. Usually that’s because I don’t speak the language. Don’t know what it is here –

Anyway. Back to “thinking differently”. Ah, she returned, then we had a lovely conversation, she’s a bit of an artist, bit of an anarchist, bit of this and that – we didn’t get into feminism – it’s a drag that I felt shy to talk about women’s resistance to male domination with a woman who is obviously concerned with inequality. But she said something about Jeremy Corbin being a great guy, and she was getting off soon, and she had gone and got a coffee for me….anyway, as she was leaving, we started talking about the harms of pornography, so I am hopeful. We exchanged email addresses too.

Okay. Really now! Thinking differently – Sheila said too, that we should be talking about “sex caste” or “sex class” rather than “gender”, because gender has become biological and essentialist. I’d add that it is both essentialist and meaningless – that no one knows what it means anymore, but perhaps it seems more polite than saying “sex”. Plus there is no way to provide a structural analysis unless you talk about the specific class or categories and their positions in relation to each other. Which gender essentialists refuse to do. It’s not more polite at all — the opposite. It’s dishonest.

“Identity”, Sheila finished with this, “is an invention of the United States” – There was far more questioning in the 1970s—questioning of sex roles, questioning of the status quo – we were more dangerous, it seems. Girls now, expected to conform to increasingly sexualized versions of what is considered a “natural” female, see no alternatives. Indeed, I’ve noticed for many years now, that we no longer tell each other our “coming out” stories. When absolutely everyone can be “queer”, there is less and less space for lesbian stories, lesbian existence. I went to dinner last night with Julia Long and Karla Mantilla, and we all did that, told each other our coming out stories – and the common thing between us was that all of us decided to become lesbians in the context of the women’s liberation movement. We were all connected, or beginning to become connected, to something greater than ourselves – not a community, but a movement, an uprising of women.

Oh my. The English countryside is so lovely, isn’t it? Look at those sheep grazing on the trim hillside, the quaint little 200-year-old farm house nestled there in the crook of the hill surrounded by slightly unruly shrubbery….

Okay, so then we went on to Lierre Keith, whose short, packed presentation addressed the question “what is gender”? She opened with a slide showing Marlo Thomas’ 1972 record Free to Be…You and Me which Lierre’s feminist mother got for her when she was a child and which lyrics she still remembers. “I was seven years old, and I went around to everyone in my elementary school and asked them, ‘are you for women’s lib?’”

She is still asking that question. She is still fighting for women’s liberation from men’s domination, often at great cost. She frequently receives death threats, “always from men on the left … It’s transgender men who threaten me with violence”. She talked about how gender is a hierarchy, which idea was new to me when I first heard her speak of it a couple of years ago, but which makes perfect sense to me. It’s a hierarchy that is based upon the sex caste into which we are born – as ‘race’ is a hierarchy, as economic/social class is a hierarchy. As Anita Sarkeesian said, “In the game of patriarchy, women are not the opposing team. They are the ball.”

“Gender,” said Lierre, “is a fist and the flesh it bruises” – she said a few other evocative and poetic phrases like that, but I didn’t write them down. It was all going so fast…

Lierre ended by saying by quoting Andrea Dworkin, “Feminism requires of women precisely what patriarchy forces out of us: Absolute courage in the face of men’s power”. I think I got that quote wrong, but close anyway. And Lierre advised us, feminists, to “match their contempt with our power”.

The first woman to comment after Lierre’s presentation did just that. Alerted to the presence of a contemptuous man tweeting furiously within the hall about “so-called” feminists, Kate loudly pointed him out. In her broad Scottish brogue she shouted to him, “How DARE you!” and said, “you called on us to confront their contempt with our power, and I’ve got an opportunity to do that–his name is Michael Ezra and he’s tweeting shite about us now”. He tried to protest, smirking awkwardly, but was, by and by, escorted out by the two women in yellow vests who were on security duty. Kate then offered an appreciation to the man in the audience who alerted her to this man’s tweets, for turning in his sexist brother. That IS “men’s work”, to refuse to collude or protect other men’s sexist behavior. Kind of easy, though, in a roomful of feminists. I hope our friend is as brave in the locker room or the pub with his mates.

Wow. We’re going past Teignmouth between red cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. Tides out, there are a million little boats nestled by the docks, resting on the algaed sand (is “algaed” a word? Guess it is now). And the hillsides dotted with white-washed little cottages.

Speaking of security, I was surprised that there was no protest. Nothing. Not a whiff. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest. I was kinda looking forward to a bit of a tangle with the liberals—the transactivists and the non-binaries and the allies. Mind you, it was a pleasant Saturday, and perhaps they were more concerned with shopping and sunning. It was nice to have time with other people (almost all other women people, but some men, too) who were like minded, and/or curious in an open-hearted kind of way.

Right. That’s enough for now. Stephanie Davies-Arai was next, on the ‘transgendering’ of children – which is increasing exponentially. I’ll post more later. I have to change trains soon….

Thinking differently

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Well. THAT was refreshing!

Saturday July 16, I attended a one-day conference in London at Conway Hall. The conference was called “Thinking differently: Feminists questioning gender politics”.  it was organized by Julia Long and Sheila Jeffreys, and featured radical feminists speaking critically about the deeply sexist construction of gender, particularly as it is currently promoted by transgenderism.

I’m here. Here in London! Well, I’m in Hitchin, a little medieval market town about a 30-40 minute train ride away from London. I’m staying with a couple of friends. They came too. It was a great way to begin my visit here in the Ancestral Homeland (which I always capitalize because, well, why not?).

Julia Long opened the day with a warm welcome and a call to not only think differently, but to speak and to act upon what we are thinking. Otherwise, of course, we and all our potential allies will be rattling around thinking we’re unhinged or wrong, and we won’t get anywhere. So speak up! Stand together — we are responsible for each other’s well-being.

The first speaker was Sheila Jeffreys. If you don’t know her work, you should take some time to read her. She’s prolific, her scholarship is rigorous, her research impeccable and her writing is very accessible. None of that obtuse pun[ctu]ation that a lot of academics like to use, for example. Her most recent book is Gender Hurts.

Right outta the gate, she pulled no punches (to mix metaphors). “Transgenderism is a social contagion”. She described how it has been socially constructed, and became institutionalized in the 1990s. David Valentine, who worked in the AIDS outreach industry at the time, promoted the idea that cross-dressing gay men were actually “transgendered”. Of course, the NGOs, medicine and social services picked that up and promoted this–in fact, those whom the powerful identified as transgendered did not themselves so identify.

This is very like what has happened to women in prostitution. They themselves started circulating information about particularly dangerous johns, and providing each other with what slender protections they could imagine together. By and by medical professionals, social workers, and others tied to those kinds of institutions picked those tactics up and repackaged them as “harm reduction” and started administering them to the women engaged in street prostitution. They also took up and promoted the term “sex worker” to these women, and made the claim that it was stigma that was most harming them, not the violence of the men entitled to buy them for sex. the women who started the “bad trick” sheets and other peer support services didn’t want to institutionalize “sex work” — they wanted to provide each other with some protection, some comfort, some hope of better. Then the very people who might be able to help women get out of prostitution, merely “met the women where they’re at”, re-named them ‘sex workers’, and rabbited on about how they make choices and should be respected for their choices — and left them there in poverty and sexual servitude. You might say, “no, no, come on, that’s not what happened, that’s not so” — but it is.

That’s an old report, that link, but they stand by those ideas. And you know what, the same people who want to legalize all aspects of prostitution (and let me again clarify — prostitution is something that men do to women — it is an institution driven by male demand for orgasm-whenever-he-wants), are also among the main promoters of “transgender rights” to enter/take over women’s organizations, services and female spaces.

Alright. that’s where i went with that — Sheila went on to describe how transgendering is a source of significant funding for pharmaceutical companies and institutions of medicine (as is harm reduction in relation to drug use and prostitution, by the way). It is an entirely iatrogenic phenomenon — that is to say, it is a medical condition created by medicine. It’s not a thing on its own. It’s not like, say, epilepsy — which is a thing, but was, until recently misunderstood as demonic possession or something. No. It’s more like gay conversion therapy on steroids. when someone displays behaviour, tastes, attributes that do not conform to those supposedly appropriate for their sex — the new ‘go-to’ diagnosis is, instead of homosexual or ‘invert’, transgendered. And a whole big machinery heaves into operation to turn the gay boy or the lesbian girl into a ‘proper’ girl or boy. I’ll say it again, ‘transgendering’ is gay conversion therapy on steroids —

Look, I have to go, but I’ll continue this in another post. There were so many great ideas, and excellent analysis on Saturday, this will take a few posts– stay tuned!

 

Ancestors

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Tomorrow i’m going to go to London, England.  I’m all excited and nervous and, well, a little beside myself, really. I’ve never been so far away for so long (24 days) and all alone.  I’m not going to be all alone, though. The first few days I’ll be staying with a friend — we were lovers a long time ago, had a sweet, short affair before she moved to London. We keep in touch, though. She’s living just outside London with her lover, and they’re both excited to have me visit. Then I’m going to Cornwall, where my mom’s cousins Dave and Gill live. They have a daughter who lives not far away from them, too. Dave is my grandfather’s sister’s only child. He is probably named after my grandfather, David.

Thirty-three years ago, when they visited Canada for the first time, we met at a family reunion. They came to Red Deer, too, for a bit. I was living with Frank then, and a bit wild. The cousins invited Mom and Dad to come visit them in the UK, and when Mom said, “well, Erin will probably be the first to go, of any of us.” Gill said, “Mmmm. We’re not quite ready for Erin.” So when i wrote them to ask if we could meet up (carefully explaining that i did not expect them to put me up, just to visit), I said, “I know 30 years ago, you weren’t ready for me, but I’m a bit more….tempered now.” Plus they’ve had probably enough time to get ready. heh. I also wrote to another cousin — he is Grandpa’s cousin’s son — I think that makes him a second cousin, or is he a first cousin, once removed?

Here’s another chart, maybe it makes more sense. Or not. Anyway, i wrote to Alun, too. He lives in Wales, which country has ALWAYS intrigued me. Grandpa Morgan was from Wales. When Grandpa was 9, he and his older sister, Gwladys, were orphaned (my auntie, Mom’s sister, is named Gwladys after her). They were farmed out to different relatives, and Grandpa went to Alun’s father Tom’s family (I think my mom, Edith, was named after Alun’s grandmother, Tom’s mother Edith. Are you following so far?). So Grandpa would be more like an uncle to Alun, though I doubt they met until Alun was grown-up.

When I wrote to Alun when Mom died, I didn’t hear back from him. So I didn’t have any expectations when i wrote him this time. Nor for David and Gill for that matter. Both of them responded within 24 hours, and I am surprised by how excited I am.

Grandpa left Wales when he was a young man, May 5th, 1926. I know the date because I have a bible that Grandpa got from his church Sunday School, and inside the front cover, he wrote “Sailed from Southampton, May 5, 1926”. There was nothing for him in Wales but a life in the mines. He sent away for his papers to Canada and to Australia, and whichever answered him first, that’s where he would go. My grandpa with the soft Welsh accent, the meticulously organized tool bench, the magnificent gladiolas…He was strong and tall, competitive and tender, a stubborn trickster.

Grandma always used to caution me, “Erin, don’t ever marry an Old Country man.”

Every step of the way, I’ve wanted to call Mom. I wanted to talk to her when Joanna was dying, (she was a catalyst for this adventure — she lived life to the full, did Joanna–and her final illness and death increased my sense of urgency). And i know Mom would have been sympathetic, and shed some tears for Joanna, and especially for Joanna’s mom. She knew what it was like to lose a child. Joanna faced her death with grace and courage, but it’s weird that she would have to face her death at all, so young. It was when i learned that she was not likely to live to her next birthday that i decided I’d better go to my ancestral homeland. This is a journey for which i’ve long yearned and a spur-of-the-moment decision. I have a little money left from Mom’s estate, no teaching work in July and August, and  A LOT of work coming in September — so it’s a good time. A good time to go find where I come from.

Last weekend, too, Shawn and I took a trip to where we began. Regina, Saskatchewan. When Mom and Dad’s son Scott died in 1961, they bought three plots in a cemetery that was then just outside of Regina. In 2005, Mom, Shawn and I drove there with Dad’s ashes. We stayed with Don Jacklin. He and his wife, June, were good friends of Mom and Dad. Mom and June often talked on the phone until June died in the early 2000s. Don was a good host to us, and he took us for breakfast, i think. Some of our cousins from Dad’s side came to the internment, as did Uncle Jim, Mom’s oldest brother, and his daughters. We went out for dinner or lunch or something after. Our Saskatchewan cousins are all farm people, and his sister Kay’s kids loved their Uncle Jack the best of their uncles. Probably dad was their favourite uncle because he was their mom’s favourite brother. We were the “city cousins”, so cool. They were the farm cousins, and i envied them too. It would’ve killed me to live on a farm, I’m afraid, but whenever we visited, I remember being captivated by the barn, the cats, the cows, the chickens — did they have chickens? or am i remembering someone else’s farm? Never mind, they all smelled of manure and hay and mud — horse and cottonwood. Sometimes a visit would mean the hospital the next day, sometimes just itching and wheezing–but it was always worth it. We didn’t go visit our cousins much after Auntie Kay died, I don’t know why. Mostly we visited Grandma and Grandpa Morgan in Swift Current when we went to Saskatchewan. Grandpa Graham died in 1967, he was 79. After Kay died, (i learned this from Karen, maybe Bev this visit), Grandma Graham’s descent into dementia deepened. She died in 1986 at the age of 95, but she’d been gone for years. Most of the time she didn’t recognize Dad when he went to visit her. Shawn said that he remembers going to the nursing home with Dad one time and Dad walked right by her, had to get one of the staff to point her out to him. “That really bothered him a lot,” Shawn said. It must have. For mother and son to not recognize each other — and I know Dad loved Grandma with great tenderness.

Okay. it’s now the 13th, and i arrived right on time for my 6:30 pm flight, only to find the flight was delayed by 4 hours. No. 5 hours. they gave us $15 vouchers for food. And there’s a great big rainbow out the window here, so that’s nice. I kinda like airports anyway. And hospitals. Hard to tell what i like better. Hospitals of course have drugs, which, when i’m there for myself, I find enormously relieving. Airports have those kiosks that sell toys and watches and scarves and earbuds and other things I don’t need that cost money I don’t have. But that’s why god created credit cards…(capitalism. evil on both ends, producing and consuming–and consumer also consuming the producer –Ouroboros without the renewal part, yet).

The waiting area is filling up, boarding time is coming soon. I forget, is jet lag worse on the way there or on the way back? There’s a gang of teenage girls all in some team uniform in a corner. They look like they’re around 14 or 15 years old, all limbs, braces and ponytails. Do girls wear long hair more than they used to? There are many British accents in the air — posh and working-class, Scottish and Irish as well — I’m listening for Welsh, but don’t hear it. I’m watching Hinterland on Netflix because it’s Welsh and English, made in Wales by Welsh people. Everyone sounds like my Grandpa Morgan.

I learned a bit more about my Graham and Mitchell relatives from my cousins Bev and Karen. Bev said that our great-grandparents were loyalists who came to Canada — Ontario — during the American revolution. And she said she found another cousin in Saskatoon, who has our grandmother’s name, Christina. Grandma was Lydia Christina, everyone called her Tina. I love that family — they’re salt-of – the -earth good people. i won’t let our connection lapse again. In order to know the ancestors, I think we have to know who’s here now, to nurture the connections between the living. I felt part of something big when we were together in that cemetery, saying goodbye to Mom — cousins from both sides of the family together because of Edith — She did that in her life, brought people together. i didn’t realize how much, what a rare talent that is until she was gone. I take it as my job now, and it’s a bit daunting. She did ask me, and i did promise. So I will. She taught me how, I just have to remember.

I’m close to tears a lot, as usual. I don’t know, I’m lonely, is all. Makes that promise to nurture the family connections that much more urgent.  I don’t mind traveling alone, i think I prefer it. Plus! I have those cousins in the Old Country. What an adventure is before me. No matter what happens, it will be good. Though it’s kind of unnerving to not have anyone with whom to plan. Mind you, if I were with someone, it’s quite possible i would let her do the planning, which has lead to resentment on both sides, let me tell you. Yes. this is better. I’ll be more confident, I think.The prairie part of my trip was grounding, a good start. I love this ancient place.

Saturday I’m going to a conference called “Feminists thinking differently” about gender and sex — that will be refreshing. I think that deserves a post of its own. I’m going with an ex-lover and her partner, they’re hosting me for a couple of days. Though she just sent word that a water pipe burst and their ceiling collapsed in part of the kitchen. That’s exciting in an unpleasant way.

right. we’re going to board soon. more to come. No way i’ll sleep for a loooong time. i just had to have a Tim Horton’s coffee, didn’t I?

 

 

 

Gender Enforcement at Five Megahertz

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I’very thought this for a long time, too. Disturbing.

the big board

A picture from an old Lego advertisement from 1981 has been going around lately that shows how toy marketing has changed in the last thirty-five years. I recommend reading this article from 2014 where the woman that girl from the ad grew up to become talks about what she thinks about toy marketing today. It’s an interesting article and includes the original ad if you haven’t seen it.

As someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I can say that what Lego did was not unusual. EZ-Bake Ovens had a boy on the box along with a girl or two. Battleship had its “G-4. It’s a Hit!” box with a girl turning the tide in her losing game against a boy. Compare that box to the mid-sixties box. Sure, there was potentially contaminating”girl stuff” that boys like me would avoid, at least when any other boys were watching, but I really…

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Hello again, Goodbye-

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I don’t know what to say. but I figure if i just start writing something true will come out. My head is full, my heart is tattered but the scar tissue is strong. Fort McMurray, a small city in Northeast Alberta, is on fire. 88,0000 people have been evacuated. their homes are ash and cinder. It’s awesome in the biblical sense of the word. I think of the time that my ‘fridge caught fire and smoked me out of my house for six months. I didn’t lose everything, I stayed in town, my place was rebuilt, my neighbours were okay, and helped me. It was easy. But Fort Mac, now, it’s all ash and cinder. Consumed.

I think of my friend who moved there a decade ago, more, to be an electrician. I think of my brother, the quality control guy for a firetruck sales company. He sometimes delivers trucks up there. His livelihood depends, though indirectly, on the gas and oil industry up there. Everyone’s does, really, in Alberta. Nearly everyone.

an ex lover of mine moved there last summer with her husband (I know. I have a bit of a pattern, looks like. never mind, that’s another story). She’s really smart and generous, and has a gift for communicating and facilitating understanding. A bright light, she is. Our breakup is in the lesbian record books as the most loving and gentle of all break ups. We went out for dinner and gave each other appreciations for all we gained from each other. She gave me love and acceptance at a really lonely time  — she admired me when my confidence was flagging and and encouraged my writing. We encouraged each other. We went to the gym together, we did the BCMC trail together for the first time for each of us (the grind was closed at the time), we went to feminist events and helped to organize some, too. We went together to Michfest in 2009! We hosted lesbian feminist dinner parties — until we broke up, and even after we still kept up for a bit. We did pack a lot in in our brief time together.

I’m not easy to be with, I think. I’m kind of self-involved and I’m hella messy, holy shit. I have a million things on the go and new shiny things keep crossing my path. I’m emotionally expressive, which is sometimes a good thing — you know what you’re gonna get from me from 50 paces — but I can be mercurial, volatile. More so then, when we were lovers seven years ago now. I was newly sober (again), and rough around the edges. She was patient with me. I was not so much. She was in the midst of big changes — career-wise mostly, and experiencing some depression and uncertainty because of that.  She’s twenty years younger than I am. almost. We helped each other grow up, in a way.

Why am I writing all this?

She’s dying. She’s only 33 and she’s riddled with cancer and she’s in her hometown with her mom and her siblings and her husband and she’s dying. I can’t remember where i put my keys, or who i promised to see today, or how to do simple things sometimes. I can’t walk in my fucking house without tripping over something but i keep bidding on shit I don’t need on ebay…We are not in each other’s lives anymore, but we were important to each other once, and the things we fell in love with are still there —

And my last lover, she liked her too–this would be something we could talk about, think about, feel about together. this is one of those times when it would be good to belong somewhere. with someone. Anguish is a good word for this.

never mind. i send Joanna some picture of beauty every day, I play my accordion every day, i send her cards in the mail, I pray to my ancestors (because i don’t believe in god but i do believe in grandma) every day, and I try to remember where i put my damn keys, and to take my asthma medicine and to read those articles for school next week, and to smile at people I meet and I try to be patient and to expect the best of people. That’s what Joanna does, she expects the best of people. Especially people who have not had those expectations, the people who are perpetual “clients”. Joanna, who is dying, always raised the bar, and gave people what they needed to meet her expectations and to get beside her. Now you would see, in her hospital room, on her facebook page, wherever she has been, traces of the love and respect and faith she gave so generously returning to her as she walks toward that final doorway here. Gathered in the arms of her family, her friends. She is leaving. She is leaving her gifts for us.

 

 

 

 

 

Video: Swedish reporter interviews college students on identity

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Watch right to the end, this is good. But I must say i’m a bit chafed about the height thing. I am certain that i’m 6’2″ tall.

Video post.

Source: Video: Swedish reporter interviews college students on identity

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