Friday, March 30, 2012


Having a Queen fest with youtube. Suddenly Somebody to Love popped into my head, and I just had to hear it again.

I find it painfully ironic that I didn't know who Queen was when Freddie died. In my defence I was 13 at the time. I distinctly remember hearing them announce it on MuchMusic.... Because I had no idea who Queen or Freddie Mercury was, or why it was such a big deal he was gay. I've never understood that particular prejudice.

It was only after Freddie's death, with all the media focus on Queen, that I 'discovered' them, and in turn found Rock N Roll.

Queen changed my life. I'm sure that sounds melodramatic, but it's true; I just can't imagine what my life would be like without them, without rock and roll.

I've always been a music lover, I get it from my mom. Before poetry, I had music. Such a powerful thing, to have someone speak to, speak for your heart and soul. Queen, did that for me, still does (as do many other men and women with guitars and attitude). They... they spoke to me, they soothed, they raged, they prayed, sorrowed, exalted with me.They made my passage from childhood to adult, fuller, easier, they helped make me the woman I am. And I don't think I've done too badly for myself. ;)

Also, while I'm being a sap, I gotta say, I cannot be happier to have the particular prayer of this ^^ song answered. Having somebody to love, I never thought I'd get it. All through my youth, it was my deepest wish, but the one I was most certain I would never have granted. Now, now my life is so much fuller of love, because I can see the love that's always been there in my family, and now my husband and his family. So much love spread around. But gods, I'm a lucky woman to have a man who loves me so very much!

Okay, no more sappy time. Time to knit! I've got lions to make! :D

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ahmen Sister!

This lady's story is both inspirational and sad.

I feel her pain, almost literally. Though I have a different cause for my pain, I understand where she is coming from. She is far braver than I. Her determination inspires me; it makes me want to fight for myself.

"Women have a high pain tolerance for a reason. We always thought we had to suck it up. If you think you experience pain that is not normal, ask your doctor. When they blow you off, ask again. And again. And again. My story does not have a happy ending…yet."

I'm getting better at pushing for what I need, but it's hard for me. I... Don't always know how to respond to doctor's who tell me they can't help me, or that nothing is wrong with me.

I am so very lucky to have a husband and our two families backing me up, on my side, and helping me learn how to advocate for myself.

Next week I go see a Doctor at a pain clinic in Toronto. I sincerely hope she can help me. Mostly I hope that I can actually speak up for myself and present my condition accurately, so I can get the help I need.

I know I'll never be pain free, Fibromyalgia doesn't have a cure. Hell, they are still trying to figure out what causes it and how it works. Many doctors don't even believe it's a real thing! I'm a realist. I dream of being able to manage my pain. Every day is a fight. Some days are worse than others. When it's cold and miserable out, there are more bad days, for whatever reason. In the warmer, sunnier weather, I do better. But still there is always pain. I just want to have some recourse when the pain gets so bad I can't think. When it's so bad all I do is curl up in a ball and try to sleep.

This woman has gone through so much, and spent years fighting with doctors and the medical system to find out what is wrong and how to fix it.  Brave, brave woman.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't Mess with My Parents.

The Honourable Dwight Duncan
Minister of Finance
7 Queen's Park Crescent, 7th floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 1Y7

March 8, 2012

To The Honourable Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance:

There is no polite way to say how angry I am right now. I was raised by two wonderful people that raised eleven children including me, ten of them their own. They are seniors, on a fixed income. They own their own home, their own car, and they pay their bills on time. They taught me to pay my bills on time as well. This, I think, is a lesson you never learned.

I was at my parents house today when they got their tax assessments back. My Pa, who makes the same amount every year, whose taxes are taken out of his pension cheques, somehow owes the government $64.12. Usually they get $500 or $600 BACK. How on earth should he have to pay?

I understand that you have decided that the government changed not only the timing, but how they pay out property tax credits, as well as the Senior's Homeowners grant. I realize that six long months from now, AFTER they have to pay their property taxes again, they will finally see some portion of the money they are rightfully owed. Are you going to pay them interest for keeping their money so long? Because if they waited until they got a penny from you to pay their tax balance, I know for sure you'd charge them interest.  Buddy, you have some nerve.

It's okay for people like my husband and myself. We aren't counting on that money for anything other than adding to our RRSPs. Now if we don't actually get all you owe us before we have to pay 2012s taxes, mister you are going to get another piece of my mind.

How dare you decide you know better how to handle Canadians money, than they do! That's not your job. You just want the money, their money, to float your budget.  Like, I said, you have some nerve screwing over the most vulnerable people in our society. Now my parents, are very good with their money, they don't *need* their tax refund right this second to pay outstanding bills, but you bet your ass they want to see it before they have to pay their property taxes. But they won't, because they are due in June, and you aren't giving anyone a red cent until July. Nerve, mister, you have too much.

Also, explain to me what the hell kind of sense this makes?  My Pa has to pay you $64.12, he's going to send that in, someone has to process it, then six long months later, you are going to go ahead and give him that back, and eventually more. As long as he doesn't die. How dare you! If he died, he'd still have to pay his taxes, or rather his impoverished widow would, but you don't have to pay him the money you owe him?! How can you look yourself in the mirror?

He's 84 years old my Pa. He fought in World War two. He raised eleven children. All but me have at least two more, and they have two more as well. My parents are the fountain head of a family of 60+ people, over 40 of which work and pay taxes in this country. Their story is not unique. And yet this is the group you decide to screw over?!  What part of this plan ever seemed like a good idea to anyone who isn't upper middle class? Did you even bother to vet it with the actual working class you planned to mess with?!

Did you even bother to announce this change to anyone other than accountants and tax preparers? I never heard hide nor hare of this until today when I was trying to tell my very distraught Pa why he owed the government money. But I don't understand it myself. He's on a freaking fixed income. There are no surprises. What have you done wrong in collecting his taxes all year long that he now had to pay??

I just don't see how this makes any sense at all. Instead of doing things once, one assessment, one bill/cheque, you've turned it into three or four processes, taking up more resources. How is this possibly helping anyone, even you?!

I'm angry. I'm angry for my parents, and other seniors, students, and those on/near the poverty line. If you had to screw with someone, why not the middle class, why not the precious upper class? Why did you have to mess with those most vulnerable?!

You need to fix this. And you need to fix this now. It's not too bloody late to fix this for this year. You can just go ahead and do the assessments now, like you should have, and give people their money. At the very least, you should send all taxpayers eligible for credits a letter asking them if they would like installments starting in July, or if they would prefer their lump sum in July.

I just read a CTV article that stated you were going to include the option for payments of lump sum on 2012s tax forms. I sincerely hope a) this is true, and b) you actually follow through.

Next time you have a bright idea, I suggest you run it by the people who will actually be affected. At the very least you need to ensure Canadians know what's going on.

My parents are confused and distraught, and I am spitting mad for them. You know, I don't actually expect nor do I really care if there is a Canada pension waiting for me when I'm old, as long as you take care of my parents. And thus far, I see you are doing a piss pour job of it.


One Very Disgruntled Taxpayer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Day I Lost My Faith

My hubby sent me a link, that brought me somewhere else - to a blog entry recounting the writer's journey from Catholic to Agnostic: It's from 2007, but that doesn't matter, it's still as poignant and thoughtful today.

The article made me think about my own conversion as she puts it. Hers seems... much more thoughtful and torturous than my own. Though, I don't think mine was any easier.

I was 13 when I started thinking about god, and whether or not he was real. I read the bible, hoping it would re-kindle my dwindling faith. I even got baptized in hopes it would help me feel a connection to God. neither worked as I'd hoped. Instead I was left angry and faithless. I spent the year in turmoil before I eventually made my decision.

I read the bible, up to maybe Genesis; it's a whole fucking chapter of who sired who. Watching paint dry is more interesting. But the bits that stuck were before that. The bible straight out says that women were evil, just for being born. As a young woman, this pissed me off to no end. It made my blood boil. I'm evil because Eve opened Adam's eyes to the truth, to the real world?! I didn't see how that was such a bad thing in the first place.

On the whole, the bible is pretty misogynistic, at least that's how my 13 year old brain felt. I haven't picked up a bible since, I don't see any reason to either. I decided then and there, that sunny afternoon, that I wanted no part in any religion that thought me evil or somehow less just because I was a woman. I refused to believe that just because I had a vagina instead of a penis I was less worthy, of less value, less capable, less anything.

I'm pretty sure I was baptized by the time I came to that conclusion and I know the experience weighed heavily on me then, and for years after. You see, I wasn't a 'believer' when I was baptized. I was, instead, confused, scared (who did you turn to when God wasn't there?), and wanting to please my religious mom. My actual baptism was a nightmare. See, I have asthma, so I've never had good lung capacity, and during a baptism - at least at the church I was going to then - the preacher dude held you under the water while he did the ritual, much talking was involved.

They did baptisms in batches, since they had to fill this tank in the floor of the stage with water. Really cold water by the way. And we had to wear white shifts. When my turn came, I gasped as I stepped into the cold ass water. He grabbed my wrists, and pulled them behind me and held them in one big hand. He told me to take a deep breath, then wrapped his other hand around the back of my neck, and dunked me. About half way through his long-winded speech, I need to breath. I tired to pull up, but he pushed me in farther. I squirmed and tried to get away, but his hand was like a vise on my wrists. I should mention, that at 13, I was 5ft 6in tall, and a size 13. I was not child-sized. The water was under 4 ft, so part of my problem was my body was doubled over and confined by the floor, and his body pressed to mine. I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. I needed AIR, and this brute just squeezed my neck harder!

When all was said and done, I didn't die, clearly, and I didn't like Christians one little bit. All I could think, over and over in my head was "he tried to kill me!"  For at least ten, maybe fifteen years after this, any time someone touched the back of my neck, I freaked out, like hyperventilating panic attack. You can imagine what a damper this put on any chance I had to make-out with boys/men! It didn't matter that I wasn't in water, that he wanted to kiss me, pull me in to him, not kill me, I couldn't handle it. To this day I don't like it. I tense up. My husband knows, as I've shared this story with him, and doesn't touch the back of my neck. So yeah, the baptism only secured my dislike of Christians and their views on women.

For years I had a hatred of Christianity. Anytime the religion was brought up, an intense feeling of betrayal, hatred, and disdain filled me. I didn't hate the believers, my mom believed, and still does, in God, and I love her more than I can ever articulate. But I think pushing your beliefs on others is just rude. I don't push my atheism at others. That's one of the things I respect most about my mom: she believes in god, she goes to church, she prays, she says grace at meals, she prays for non-believers in her life, just as she does believers, Christ/God/Christianity is part of her life, part of who she is, but she never pushes, she doesn't try to recruit others. I try to emulate her in that.

I realized back then that religion was a safety blanket for dealing with the world, a way to make it less scary. And when I abandoned mine, I was scared. One of my favourite sayings in my teen years was "ignorance is bliss", and I believed that with all my heart. If I'd just stayed ignorant, if I'd just not questioned God, I could believe in him, that he was helping me, that he had a plan, that my life didn't end with my decomposing body. But, I couldn't not question. I'm not the smartest person, but I have heavy doses of skepticism, common sense, and feminist pride.

Ironically, when I was in first year university, I tried on a lark, to pray to Fria, an ancient Germanic goddess who was an early incarnation of the Viking goddess Freya. I was in so much pain carrying my 50+lbs of school books home with a broken backpack. I saw the moon, half full in the 4pm blue sky, I thought of her immediately.

How did I learn of Fria? When I was 14 I read a book that was based on historical fact, about the time the Romans were invading what is now Germany/Austria.  Fria was an earth goddess, her tree the oak, her 'planet' the moon. Women here sacred, but they too could be warriors in their culture. Women's menstrual blood was scared, because it signified a woman's ability to make babies, to create life, so they believed. Fria caught in my mind then, and at 19, I still wanted to believe. I don't actually believe she's real, and yet... I prayed to her all through university. I have marked my flesh with her moon where my lifeblood runs close to the skin (inner wrists). I freely give her part of my soul.  If she were to command me, I would follow.

That day, with the moon high, facing off the sun, so prominent, I prayed. I prayed for her to take the pain away, to help me get through it, to help me get home without breaking down, overwhelmed with the pain. As I stared at the moon, begging for Fria's mercy, it came. The pain was still there, but somehow, miraculously, it didn't touch me. I could feel it, but it was like I was outside of the pain somehow, like I was looking at it, not truly feeling it. In that moment I believed, or at least I wanted to. My logical mind just can't believe in something there is no proof for. I can't help it. And yet, I made my allegiance to her that day. Whenever I say the moon from that day on, I thought of her. I saw the moon as my symbol for her answer. If I could clearly see the moon, then everything would be all right. If the moon was clouded over, if it kept hiding in the clouds, then everything wouldn't be all right. And you know, it worked for me. It really did. Seeing the moon clear, even in hard times, made me feel like I could concur whatever came at me, that with her at my side, I would be fine. That is the power of faith.

Do I still believe?  I'm not entirely sure. Do I still love Fria? Oh yes. Pain is a theme in my life. To be given a reprieve, even for so short a time, for that one act of kindness, she had my heart and soul, and will always have a piece of me.

I guess I just couldn't live without a safety blanket of my own.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Not As Devoted A Daughter As I Thought?

Last night I had a nightmare, and it's left me wondering just how devoted I am to my mom. I love my mom. I'd give my life for hers. I'd walk through hell for her, and have, emotionally speaking. But would I go into glorious debt, really risk my life? According to my dream, maybe not.

I dreamt last night, that I went to China with some friends on a kind of retreat. And my mom surprised me by signing up and coming too. It was sweet and wonderful, and we had a mostly great week.

On the last day everything was rather chaotic. The ladies were getting manicures and pedicures in shifts (I opted out of the manicure). We were collecting and showing off the things we'd made. We were having having smoothies and light snacks - everyone was going to lunch/dinner together before leaving.

So in the hustle and bustle, I lost track of my mom. I wasn't worried initially. I was talking with one of the girls, and picking out the make-up (from the pile we'd tried the day before) that I wanted to keep - we all got the option to keep the ones we'd used ourselves.

But when I couldn't find her in any of the rooms or out in the garden, and no one had seen her for some time. I got anxious. I asked if it were possible she left on her own, but the organizers said no, that we were all getting in the van together to go to the airport, that if she'd said she wanted to leave, she'd have been told to wait. Only she never approached them. When I told them I couldn't find her, they got worried too. Everyone looked. No one found her.

This huge man, that I guess was security - I'd not actually noticed we'd HAD security until then, went next door to this bar, and laid down suppressing flames before entering. He went in rattled the patrons and came back out saying a crew of gangsters were seen taking her.

There were two options: (1) the gang took her to escalate a turf war that was at a truce between the people(gang?) that were our security, and their gang, in which case she was probably dead, and hanging from the rafters somewhere to show off their kill/taunt the people we were with OR (2) the gang was branching out into kidnapping/ransoming and in that case she'd be alive for now.

I had to make a decision, did I leave her for dead/assume she was dead, or did I send the security crew in, guns blazing, and possibly start a turf war that would get many other innocents killed. The answer was easy, I would risk anything, everything to get my mother back.

This one old woman scoffed at me, and said I was selfish, that it was a fool's errand. I got up in her face and told her my mom was everything to me, she was the person I loved most in the world (I felt guilty saying this, knowing I had a husband at home waiting for me that I loved, just... not as much as my mom).  I'd walk through hell for her, and she'd done that for me. That I owed her everything.  That I wouldn't be there, I wouldn't be the person I am if it wasn't for her. That I would do anything and everything in my power to get her back back. If that meant starting some kind of turf war, then so be it.

The huge guy with the flame thrower, and some others went to their headquarters, and I tagged along. No one gave me a gun, and I was in the middle of a gun fight, it was totally stupid of me to go in unarmed. We got to the building, got in without being captured, but then their numbers overwhelmed us and we were their prisoners.

The leader was an arrogant ass, just as one might suspect. I had more than my mother captive, and at first I didn't see her. Then he lead me by my elbow, to show my mom wrapped in some kind of green tarp, laying helpless on the low table, her glasses and personal effects taken from her. In my dream she still needed her glasses to see (she had cataract surgery last winter and doesn't need glasses to see anymore), so they'd effectively frightened her to near death by not allowing her to know one inkling of what was going on. I thought my heart would break just from seeing her like that. My mom has never been a powerless person, she's always been so capable, and confident.

The horrible man, whose touch made my skin crawl, said he wanted $300,000 CDN, and all the pictures from the weekend retreat. Over the weekend, mostly the younger of us, did a 'love your body' two day thing where we were naked a lot, we did yoga, body painting, took pictures throughout the whole thing - they would be ours to keep, but it was a way to see our bodies as beautiful, they had a pro come in and set up a studio for us. I guess the leader guy was a creepy perv, or perhaps he wanted to sell those too, I don't know.  I was too busy worrying about how in the hell I was going to come up with three hundred grand fast enough, and if I could ever pay it back. 

The big guy that was with us, said they'd get the money, told the leader it was not a problem and started making a call - when the gang goons let him - to some lawyer or banker of some kind? The call made is seem like they were pretty familiar with the whole kidnapping ransom thing, and were good about getting the money fast. At the time I was too busy freaking out about the money - only Chris works, I have no money of my own, how in the hell were we ever going to pay off such a large sum??  We'd never own a home, we'd never be out of debt. My stomach was roiling  with worry/anxiety/fear/doubt. It occurred to me that some of my aunts and uncles might chip in to help pay the debt, as they'd be just as willing to get mom back, but it wasn't any kind of a guarantee. Most of my family weren't... in a position to help, and those that were... well, I didn't trust they would. Which would mean I'd be ruining my husband's life. I'd be ruining our chances of every having the life we wanted. Could I really do that?

Then I started wondering if they would ever actually let any of us go. We'd seen their faces, we knew who they were. This wasn't some anonymous deal. Perhaps they would make me sign over the money, make sure they get it, and then kill us all.

Apparently my brain did not like where this was going, and decided it wanted to start over.

I went back to the point where I decided to go in after my mom, and this time, I went on my own, loaded for bear with as much ammo and guns as I could carry.

I got in easily, confused the bad guys and shot them down while they were still confused about how I got in. I killed maybe half or more that way.  Then they caught on and went after me. There was about 4 or 5 of them, laying down impressive suppressing fire.I managed to hide behind this huge marble stand - they had a museum in the front room of their warehouse - real professional-like, with meaty marble pedestals, great recessed lighting, and glass cases for everything). So I hid, and managed to shoot 3 of the 5 in the legs and one in the hip - their hiding spot initially was no where good as mine. I even managed to get the leader in the knee. Boy was he pissed off. I'd destroyed his knee! But once they got cover they started shooting at metal plates I hadn't noticed before in the ceiling, sending bullets at me from the side not protected by the marble. I hunkered down, and used some kind of wall divider that had been near me as cover, putting it over my head, so at least they couldn't see where I was under it.

Somehow this skinny blond bitch, pretending she was an angel (her look was too innocent, it made my teeth hurt), snuck up on me while I was trying not to die from ricocheted shots. Maybe she was hypnotic, because suddenly my gun was out of ammo, and I was surrounded. I played it cool. I knew showing fear, or panicking would get me no where and just make me look weak.

They captured me, but didn't frisk me. Stupid. I still had my gun. And I had ammo at my back, under my jacket, I just needed to loose my empty clip and refill without them noticing. I set them at ease, perhaps cause I'm such a sweet looking white girl? And managed to dump my empty clip in a closet and put in a full clip without them seeing. Only, they saw me do something, and checked finding the empty clip. Everyone suddenly pointed their guns at me, looking worried. I had after all killed over half of them without getting even a scratch.

They wanted to know where my gun was. I showed them my hands. They asked about my pockets. Very slowly I started showing them my empty pockets on my left side, knowing full well my loaded gun was in my right main pocket. My brain was working fast, trying to figure out how I was going to shoot all four of them, that surrounded me in a half circle without getting dread myself.

And this is when I woke up. I gasped, like I was coming out water from some depth. Immediately I felt shame for doubting, for not being sure I'd take on the debt to save my mom. After the adamant, heartfelt speech I'd made to that woman, when it came down to it, I.. I wasn't sure I'd actually do what I said. I just..  I don't know. The dream is making me doubt. But I don't get my whole brain in dreams, I miss things that become obvious once I'm awake, I don't have the same... decision making capabilities. But if I was alone, without Chris to back me up, and was asked to come up with $300,000... I just.. I don't have that kind of money. I don't know if I could even get a loan! and if I could.. how on earth would I ever pay it back?  *Sigh*

But on the flip side, could I watch her die? Could I stand back and see the tears flow, as she didn't know what was going on at all. Could I watch her suffer? No. No, that I could not do.