Why Can’t I Quit You?


I watch the doings in the House of Commons. Question Period. Debates. Members addressing green chairs.  Even when I don’t watch, I follow the pundits on Twitter who live tweet the House and the various committees and press conferences. It’s a good way to stay informed. To know what the government and our representatives – and no, they are not one in the same – are up to.House of Commons

Often they are up to nothing. That is to say, they have work to do, but they err on the side of doing as little as humanly possible for as long as possible. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view and who the government of the moment is.

The government of the past eight years has been the Conservative Party of Canada. Not to be confused with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which exists now only at provincial levels. The Conservatives lead by Stephen Harper are not progressive and find the whole notion of Canada as progressive and terminally left leaning (which it is) something that should be slowly, carefully and methodically excised. If they could euthanize the idea of the common good, they wouldn’t blink while doing it.

So, naturally, when I decided to get my politics back on, I didn’t go with the sitting government.

At first, I scoped out the Greens. Not because I have any natural affinity for them but simply because I could. They exist here as a real political party. In fact, had I the option of exploring the Bloc Quebecois (which only exists in Quebec), I would have checked them out too because I like to be as contrary to the status quo as I am legally allowed.

But the Greens were a no go, sadly, I  cannot lack enough sense to truly buy in. Greens are not practical enough for me and yes, I do believe that one can be progressive and practical at the same time. Greens, however, don’t. Or at least they appear not to and when you try to point out the contradictions between their first world lifestyles and their politics – well, that’s a conversation that has nowhere to go.

Liberals or the New Democratic Party (NDP) then.

And I watched them both in the lead up to 2011.

The NDP emerged, for the first time, as the Official Opposition and the Liberals faced a catastrophic collapse that left them with a mere 34 seats in the House of Commons.

Neither was a surprise.

The NDP had a very charismatic leader, who has since died, and the Liberals were being lead by a Canadian academic who’d spent the vast majority of his adult life living outside of Canada. In fact, he currently teaches at Harvard. More American than I ever was.

I pondered the NDP for a nano-second following their ascent, but I am an Albertan – and my father’s daughter. I simply cannot embrace in your face socialism, or even take it seriously as a good idea, because it hinges on the misguided notion that people will always, or mostly, default to their better instincts and act accordingly, which just isn’t true.

People can and are usually decent, but not when it comes to the common good. This, I think, is because it is difficult for humans to really work up a “give a fuck” about anyone they don’t know.

You will argue with that that this isn’t so.

Look at all the concern for the Gazans when Israel was bombing the crap out of them.

And Israel is still containing the people of Gaza in their open air prison, systematically knocking down their cell blocks one neighborhood at a time. Children are still in danger. Where are the headlines? The tweets? The outpouring of concern? Outrage? Anything?

It’s no surprise. No matter how immediate the various medias make the disasters and tragedies of others seem, inevitably the pull of the reality around us – filled with the family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who make up our real worlds – will be what matters most to us.

Still don’t believe me?

How’s Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine going? It wasn’t that long ago when Putin – not Hamas or now ISIL – was the Big Bad.

What about those poor Central America children pouring across the US’s southern border?

Ebola ravage West Africa?

All horrors have their moment but the moment passes once we get tired of tweeting and liking and the MSM has found a new story to boost the ratings up again once we’ve tired of the current calamity.

Liberals then.

Their Americanized (the kiss of death in Canadian politics) leader fell on his “sword” and resigned after the party’s implosion on 2011.

Just an interesting aside. Here, losing by a big margin means party leadership will be changing hands. It’s a given. You simply cannot lose big and stay on as the leader of your party. Bad form.

The Liberals had an interim leader and then a short leadership race.

Aside again. Most races are short. Even an election takes weeks as opposed to the marathon of months and years that it takes in the United States.

A new leader emerged. Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s father was the late Pierre Trudeau who was also once the leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister from 1968 til the early 80’s.

Justin was born while his father was in office, which in Canada doesn’t translate into an inevitable career in politics with dynastic aspirations, but in his case, it has.

Political dynasties, however, make Canadians itchy. After all, we have a Queen and a royal family. We are not keen to crown another or several others.

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I spent some time sizing up Mr. Trudeau. I found him … not blatantly insincere nor idealistically offensive, and he appeared to have some common sense.

He was a teacher. I liked that. Though he didn’t teach very long, which made him a bit suspect and worse, being a Member of Parliament is the only job he’s held for more than a few years. It stunk a bit of Barack Obama, a bad sign.

But he was not Stephen Harper, which is probably the most appealing thing about him. His chief good quality. Followed up with that fact that he seems genuinely committed to staying away from the mud pits of politicking, and since I hate partisan politics and all that goes along with it – I was game.

Canadians are fed up with Harper and Canadians (I love this about them) make it a habit to hand over the keys of 24 Sussex (the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa) to someone new on a regular basis. Prime Minister’s and their parties are like litter boxes in that they should be dumped out regularly to prevent … stinky-ousity.

I joined the Liberal Party a year ago.

I volunteered. I sit/sat on our riding’s executive board for the Liberal Party. I helped with the social media.

Today, I am quitting

It wasn’t one thing. It was a lot of one things.

It was the wishy-washy stance on Gaza over the summer. The lack of detailed policy on just about everything. The infatuation with Barack Obama (and yes, I put up with that from the get go, and you all know me. I loathe Obama and everything he stands for and to hold my nose while his campaign team riff-raff infiltrated and advised Trudeau and his people was difficult. I held me tongue a lot. Yes. Me.)

But this last weekend as the “should we join the new Iraqi war coalition or not” thing began to play out and Trudeau’s tepid performance – and good gawd was it a performance – drove it home for me that I can’t stay a Liberal.

Not officially.

I am still more liberal than not. I absolutely object to the idea that not being socially backward or religiously bent disqualifies me from being practical, fiscally responsible and generally and firmly planted in the realm of common sense. You don’t have to espouse conservatism in order to lay claim to wit.

But, I am simply not a sheep, and I’d have to be a really blind one to stay a member of the party.

Today I followed the debate in the House of Commons on the NDP’s proposed amendment to the Conservative’s Iraq motion.

The Conservatives spouted nonsense mostly, though Laurie Hawn seemed a less ideologically driven yes-man than Pierre Pollivere, who will rot in the lowest level of hell if there turns out to be one.

The NDP, mostly made sense, if moving in a perpetual circular motion in the hopes that others will eventually hop on the merry-go-round with you makes sense.

The Liberals seemed to have left their C team on the floor. I won’t critique them any farther than that.

The vote – on the amendment  – as Canadian participation in the US’s latest mistake in Iraq is a forgone conclusion – will be tomorrow.

The Liberals have withheld their approval, as have the NDP, but I will go out on a limb and say that they will vote with the Conservatives on the overall mission and with the NDP on their amendment, which will probably lose because the Conservatives won’t support it because they don’t have to.They hold the majority of the votes.

And off we will go to Iraq to fight the “war on terror”.

A decade-ish ago when George W. Bush first uttered that mangled bit of English, did you think it would still be hanging about like a stray cat?

Even if Trudeau hangs onto his dignity and votes against the Iraqi action (and I don’t think he will), I am still done.

Because where was our fearless leader today during the debate?

He was attending one of Hillary Clinton’s Canadian book tour stops at Canada 2020.

Seriously. He was.

Took his wife. He gets a point for that.

But much as I loved Clinton back, back in the day. She sold out when she took the job with Obama. She’s tainted and willingly so.

A woman does what a woman has to do to get ahead in a man’s world, but doesn’t mean I have to respect her for it.

Saddens me. Once upon a time, I would have voted for Clinton, but that was when I was an American and younger.

I am a Canadian now. Older. Wiser. And nobody’s sheep.

I’m Back


Has it really been a year and a half?

 Ottawa earlier this year

Ottawa earlier this year

Good Lord.

Though I am certain no one will notice, and might care less if they do, I am going to blog again. However, I am done with the subject matter of yore. I have no more to say about any of it.

I am going to write about now.

Now in Canada, Alberta, the world at large  – should I fancy to – and any other delightfully off-beat thing that catches my attention.

So, to catch up those dear readers, who might have graciously allowed me to gather dust on their feeds, I am a Canadian.  All of 13 days.

Unsurprisingly, I feel exactly the same, which confirms my suspicion that I was clearly born the wrong nationality.

I am a Liberal.

Okay, that’s not a surprise, but what is new is that I joined the Liberal Party of Canada.

They give you cards. To carry. Red ones. Numbered. Seriously.

And I here I thought the phrase “card carrying liberal” was just some random saying.

I joined the party not quite a year ago after spending several months following its new leader, Justin Trudeau.

It hasn’t been easy.

The last time I belonged to a political party officially was in the very early 90’s though it could easily have been the late 80’s. I am not certain when the state of Iowa began allowing people to register as Independents. I dumped the Democrats as soon as that option became available and have militantly shunned allegiance since.

Belonging is a trap not a privilege, and it strips you of your right to think for yourself. Slowly and those who belong would argue that this isn’t the case, but it does.

However, Trudeau … didn’t make me roll my eyes … or question his sincerity, but I will say that I have little doubt that he is being slowly assimilated and one day, he will be a full on politician, indistinguishable from the rest. On that day, my little red card will join other memorabilia in the scrapbook labeled “things I did once but am over now – no judging”.

How do I know Trudeau is doomed? Because he isn’t Superman. In fact, he is a little bit on the scrawny side, and despite his ability to take an actual punch, everyone has their kryptonite. There are no messiahs out there just waiting for a chance to save the world. If six years with Barack Obama for a president taught me anything, it taught me that. But, Parliament Hill (the seat of the Canadian government in Ottawa, Ontario) is like the Overlook Hotel. In the battle for your soul, it will win if you overstay within its walls.

I think most overstay.

Although it has not been steadily downhill with Trudeau since he allowed himself to be shorn like Samson, I have come close to cutting up my pretty red card on several occasions.

Most recently the party’s gleefully opportunistic suddenly flip on the Israel and Gaza issue sent me into a “seriously!!” rant that only my husband got to enjoy, which set me to pondering a return to blogging that lasted the summer and here I am.

Meanwhile …

Life is life. I draw and paint now. I re-learned to crochet. I teach yoga with an ease that astounds me though I don’t know why. Teaching is like breathing. Try as I might, I cannot quit it.

Rob is Rob. Wise and wonderful.

The children continue to be themselves in ways that delight, exasperate and make me proud.

I nearly have a novel finished.

No, for reals.

A political thriller.  A kind of Jack Reacher meets the West Wing. With some romance. A bromance. And, of course, terrorists. How could there not be? Only in Canada. Alberta, mostly.

When I am ready for a few beta readers, I will let you know. January-ish, I am thinking.

Oh, and I re-started my Twitter account.

Yeah, I know. Twitter is ruled by the vapid and intelligent interaction is often meme’d an ugly death, but I have found the Alberta politically minded to be more discussion leaning and tolerant of diversity than those I ran with in the States. There are a few mean girls (aren’t there always?)and a whole lot of bleating sheep, but that’s to be expected in a public space. And while the Canadian pundits are a bit full of themselves, they occasionally crawl down from their towers to engage with the serfs, which is something that doesn’t happen in the southland at all.

And that’s it.

Dating While Widowed: Hand Me Down No-No’s


English: Screenshot from the original 1958 the...

From the original 1958 theatrical trailer for the film Vertigo Frame taken from (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normally, I ignore Dear Prudence when it comes to her advice to widowed who are in new relationships. Although she married a widower years and years ago, she’s often of the mindset that her husband’s widower experience, and her having navigated dating and marrying him, is a shared one, and that she “gets it”.

You can’t be or understand widowed vicariously. It doesn’t matter how up close the view.

Today, however, I noted a letter from a newly dating widower, who wondered if it was okay to give his late wife’s vibrator to his new girlfriend. It was an expensive, top of the line model that they’d barely had time to enjoy prior to the wife’s death.

Prudie said “no” and added an “ick” sentiment to her reasoning and I agree totally.

Which brings me to my point for the day, you can certainly bestow the material goods of your late spouse on friends, relatives and children – as long as said goods aren’t sex toys or other intimate in nature possessions – but when it comes to new significant others, just don’t.

While I know of cases where new girlfriends have been offered, and accepted, jewelry, clothing and even footwear, most new loves will be puzzled, hurt or even slightly repulsed by the idea of such “re-gifting”.

It’s difficult enough to deal with objects that are simply too vital or expensive to be replaced. For example, beds and other furniture or cookware and dishes. No one expects a widowed person to replace shared everyday items before they begin dating again or cohabitation with a new love. That’s not only impractical but it’s going way overboard with the idea of starting over.

But being sensible has its limits. I would never have offered my late husband’s clothing to Rob. And not just because their styles were quite different or that they are different sizes and body types.

It would have been “creepy” as my ten-year old daughter would say.

Hitchcock’s Vertigo centered on the attempts of a man to recreate his dead love’s appearance and mannerism via his new, look-alike love interest. The movie culminates in an incredibly disturbing intimacy scene that makes it clear this new woman is merely a stand in for the dead one.

Dressing up your new friend in clothing worn by your late spouse or making your Friday night dinner date at the restaurant you and late spouse loved – is kind of like that. An attempt to recapture someone and something that’s over and gone.

You should be careful with anything that is essentially a “rerun” for you. Vacation spots. Gifts that are things you would have given your late spouse. Pet names. If it is something you shared with them, be careful when sharing it again. A new love is expecting, and deserves, a space of his/her own in your heart and in the laying of a new relationship foundation.

I’ve read about women whose widowers think honeymooning or romantic get-aways at places shared with the late wife are great ideas and who become petulant when their new loves feel second best when they find out about the locations previous encounters. While a woman can be understanding about the mattress on your once shared bed, she isn’t going to be as thrilled about sharing a romantic locale. Beds are a practical matter. Romance is a matter of being creative, thoughtful and taking your new love’s feelings into account.

Not long after we married, we had a garage sale to try to clear out some of the clutter that the joining of two, very grown, adults can make. There was a box of Rob’s late wife’s clothing that needed to be sorted. He wasn’t keen but was willing to let me do it. And it was easier for me because I had no context to place the clothes in.

But before I started, Rob made an off-hand comment about my taking anything I fancied for myself.

Even if she and I had been the same size, and she wasn’t his dead wife, I still would have declined, but I also felt the need to point out that my wearing her clothing was a creepy factor beyond which I was comfortable and wouldn’t it bother him to see me in her clothes?

He conceded the point and didn’t offer me anything of hers again. Though I will admit that while I have kept and used many household items, and have no issue with them, I have always simply chucked others – even if they were perfectly usable – when I felt inclined. If my step-daughters didn’t want them and I preferred not to use them … out they went. It’s been enough for me to live in her house and integrate myself into her community. I didn’t need to keep everything simply because it might seem silly to replace them. I needed to establish myself as the lady of the house. Things that were mine alone were important to that process.

And it is a matter of comfort, so being willing to ask and have discussions with those you date or establish serious relationships with is a must. What might bother one person could be perfectly acceptable to someone else. Just remember to allow the other person their own feelings and don’t expect these feelings to mirror your own or that with a little pressure, you can persuade them to see things your way.That’s just selfish. While you might think you’d be fine living in a house that  your love shared with someone else, your new love doesn’t have to feel the same way and you should respect their feelings.

But getting back to sex toys- sex anything really – just don’t go there. Well sanitized or not, there are privacy issues where the late spouse is concerned and sharing items and details from intimate moments is, my opinion, not only disrespectful to the new love but to your late spouse as well.

A new relationship, if it is to work, should have as much “just us” to it as possible. Even if that means giving up your favorite vacation retreat or buying a new bedroom set. It certainly means springing for a new vibrator in any case.

Obama, Romney or Brain Munching Zombies


Soccer Mom Zombie

Soccer Mom Zombie (Photo credit: juco)

Apparently three scenarios exist for the Tuesday POTUS election in the States.

Obama wins comfortably while Red Staters gnash teeth, rend clothing before donning sackcloth and rubbing themselves in ash to sit shiva for the next four years.

Or Romney rejoices in the bounty of a landslide courtesy of his God who believes in clean living and underwear while Blue Staters learn the sad truth – that Canada really doesn’t want them.

Or finally, the race runs to the wire. Recounting and lawyering-up follow with the nation bracing for Armageddon, which can only be realistically followed up with a zombie apocalypse.

Seriously not a great time to be an American regardless but the mood ranges from weeping toddlers who wonder who this Bronco Bama is and why he and Mitt don’t just get along to Liberals and Conservatives, ironically, accusing each other of being incapable to carry on a discourse about the political direction of the country without resorting to harsh meme’ing and snarky tweets and FB status updates.

Can’t we all just get along, indeed.

I’ve run the gamut on this election from Obama to … well. not Romney ever … but to vaguely considering the Libertarians and the Green Party and ultimately concluding that for a change, I am going to worry about my own interests and simply sit this one out and concentrate on becoming a Canadian (because I actually have that option, living here, being a legal resident and married to one.)

So why worry about it?

For the obvious reason. The United States is due south. Running the entire length of our border. And a bat shit crazy with sore loserness America is a bad neighbor at best and a potentially encroaching threat to Canadian stability and freedom at worst if the folks down there can’t get their shit together and behave like the adults so many of them pose as on FB.

If one is inclined to go with that fact based, statistical analysis of Nate Silver, it’s time to take a Xanax or five (most people I know on FB carry a veritable pharmacy in their handbags of all places) and trust that the process works.

The process. You know the process, right? Both sides present their slightly to completely altered and deliberately misleading interpretations of events, the future and themselves to the public for two years until John and Jane Q are moved to finally give up their land lines and only watch Netflix to avoid them. And then they vote.

Endlessly they vote. For weeks and weeks.

Does the idea of an election day have no meaning anymore? According to the media, they’ve been lining up to vote down there since early last week despite the fact that, officially, the election is held on the first Tuesday of November.

If you aren’t a Nate Silver fan, however, let me point you to Michael Barone, who thinks that Romney wins it by a good margin. Which doesn’t mean anything really though it gave Andrew Sullivan a moment or two of pause because Barone, “knows every inch of every district in a way few others do; he’s deeply knowledgeable about the electoral process”, which muddies waters already quite brown with a giddy Media crowing, “it’s a tie! omg, it’s an effing tie!? how did we get so lucky? 2009 was historical and now a fricking tie!! praise be!”

Okay, they might not have said all of that, but they aren’t the tiniest bit sorry to promote the idea that their guy, Barack, who they have propped and protected since they fell in deep like with him during the Democratic Primaries back in 2008, could possibly lose. Not that they are fine with this, but it’s just better tv. You understand.

And we do, don’t we?

A comfy win is dull but a tie that might end in brains being eaten is entertainment, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what an election cycle every two years that lasts for a solid two years is about?

On Tuesday someone will win the POTUS and someone will lose, and basically nothing about the events impatiently waiting to play out between the acceptance speech proclaiming vindication of one or the other great vision for America and the new year will be affected in any tangible way. The world at large will shrug along with Atlas and continue to wonder how exactly the US got to be a great superpower and how much longer will they have to be suffered.

And there probably won’t be zombies, which is too bad because that would make it more interesting than it’s likely to be.

Dating While Widowed: On Giving Advice


Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Prudence over at The Slate received an email from a widower recently asking for insight into an issue he has with this girlfriend. Seems the girlfriend, in the opinion of the widower, is “touchy” about anything to do with his late wife and the fact that he is close to his in-laws.

Nothing surprising about that. If you haven’t been widowed yourself, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that widowed folk really don’t go through the same separation process that one does when a relationship ends in a mutual or acrimonious break-up or when a marriage ends in divorce. Different end games result in different emotional processes.

Prudence aka Emily Yoffe is the second wife of a man who was widowed young. She’s written a rather touching essay on the subject and occasionally outs herself and him in her advice giving. That said, her experience hasn’t made her particularly sensitive to the plight of the widowed. You can’t really be a vicarious widowed person even if your contact with a widowed is rather intimate, so her advice veers off into the cliché, the assumption and the insensitive more often than not when anything widowed comes up.

A person could get speculative here. Perhaps her marriage has experienced more than a few unsettling moments due to her husband’s widowhood and advice seekers on the topic get to bear the brunt that her husband doesn’t. But assuming gets a person into trouble as does reading between lines. Let’s not go there.

Instead, the focus should be on the term “insecure”. Prudie/Emily replied that she felt the girlfriend in this widower dating scenario was simply being insecure and that he need only reassure her before laying down the facts that 1) he had a past and that past includes a deceased wife for whom he will always have feelings though these feelings didn’t preclude him from loving her just as much and 2) his in-laws were his family – get over it.

The insecure wife/girlfriend trope is not exclusive to widowed dating scenarios. It’s a rather effective way to disarm women who have issues within a relationship that their partners simply don’t want to admit are issues that need to be discussed and dealt with in a mutually agreeable manner.

Labeling a woman “insecure” is the first step in making her feelings irrelevant by labeling them irrational. It’s a great way to win any disagreement provided you are totally okay with stomping your opponent into the mud by using such a disingenuous douchebag method.

So why am I talking about advice giving?

It’s easy to give advice. Advice is like opinions, which as we all know everyone has – just like they have assholes.

And it’s also quite easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you’ve experienced something, you are automatically an expert and therefore qualified.

I am not an expert. Nor do I play one on the Internet.

I’ve been widowed. I’ve dated in the aftermath. I’ve remarried.

If one were looking for a bit of wisdom on the topic of successful dating, relationships, remarriage and marriage to a widower, I would be a safer bet than someone who hasn’t managed any of those things or who isn’t married to a man who was widowed himself. However, I have only my individual experiences to draw from and I am not you. Therefore anything I might say needs to be weighed heavily against your own reality.

Prudie is my example of this. She’s married to a man who was widowed, and yet she mostly gives sketchy to bad advice on the subject of widowhood and relationships in the aftermath. Her experience hasn’t translated into much of anything worth seeking out or following.

Of late, I’ve had emails from widowed and comments from those dating and I have tried to reply as best I could. I really do reply to all emails and comments because I know what it is like to have questions and no one to ask. Or to ask and have no one reply or reply in less than helpful ways.

But I am firm believer in weighing everything. There are blogs, books, message boards, Facebook groups and even conventions. All well-meaning but of varying degrees of useful. Certainly there are no experts. Just people with experiences to share and who are no more qualified than you are to solve the issues in your life.

I have written quite a bit on dating, grief and moving on. All based on my experience. Just the opinions of one “asshole”. If there is something that you can take from these writings and put to good use, wonderful. I am glad to have helped.

But there is no one size fits all.

When I was teaching middle school, I would run across this or that student who really didn’t mesh with my teaching style. The best solution was always to find a teacher who did. My seventh grade English teaching partner and I probably traded two or three kids a school year based on our philosophy that for every student there is a teacher – somewhere.

It’s good to shop around. I am flattered and humbled by the blog traffic I generate on widow dating. My husband thinks I should write a book – or at least blog more often -, but I am not a fan of the self-help genre, and I don’t write it for the same reason I don’t write about my first husband’s illness and death. It feels wrong to make money off it. That’s a personal thing rather than a judgement. I admire people who can write and do real good rather than simply exploit an issue for personal gain or fame. Those people do exist. I just question the idea of being one of them myself. It’s too easy to get full of yourself and I am as human as anyone.

So when surfing about, shopping at Amazon or joining this or that group, be careful. Be a critical thinker. And remember that you really do know yourself best. Take and apply only that which fits you and your situation.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to the man who wrote Prudie. Hopefully he did not approach his girlfriend from the stance of “I know you are insecure, dearest, but here is why you are wrong …”.  Don’t be that guy. And don’t worry so much. Whatever issues has brought you here in search of answers are likely as not fixable with a little bit of thought, open honest discussion and taking a few good deep breaths. The yoga teacher in me feels we should just all breathe more because all things pass. You are going to be okay.

On Not Voting for Obama This Time


Vote Oregon!

Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)

I should actually say that I am not voting period in the 2012 POTUS race. I did in 2008 though I declined to vote at the state level and didn’t vote at all in the 2010 midterm.

Part of the reason is that I am committed to the immigrant thing here in Canada. My ancestors left their homes in Ireland and Sweden and became United States citizens first and last and that is the right way to do it. It’s the Christian bible, I think, that says one can’t serve two masters and that is about right too.

Though the U.S. doesn’t have an official yea or nay on the dual citizenship thing, it is clear about having first dibs and could care less if a person has chosen to be or was previously a citizen of another country.

This policy has vague and ugly undertones that imply indentured servitude at best and ownership in pre-Civil War Mississippi plantation sort of way that grates against my entitlement attitudes regarding personal liberty.

And so, for this reason, first and foremost, I am abstaining from casting a ballot. I’ve just come to the realization that I am a Canadian though not quite in fact yet, it’s inevitable.

The other reason is that like many others who voted for Obama in 2008, I don’t think much of his effort, the direction of his policies on civil liberty, financial regulation or foreign policy. I don’t think he has any idea of what to do about the economy that isn’t tired and already a proven failure. And the whole secret warring thing and the way he whole-heartedly endorsed all the loathsome police state policies of the Bush II era makes my skin crawl.

Although, I have to admit, the guy gives a good speech.

We were in Iowa when he was bus stopping through the center and northeast. In fact, we got re-routed in Waterloo when his motorcade came through and the local police blocked off our exit strategy while we were stopped for dinner.

There were no more tickets available for his appearance in Dubuque the next day, but we watched him on the local television station.

Dee sat on Rob’s lap and occasionally asked him, “Is that true, Dad?”

And he would explain, “Sorta”. Then give her the actual facts.

At one point my 11-year-old nephew walked into the living room, saw Obama and announced, “I will NOT listen to that man!” and stomped off in the kind of huff only a preteen can manage with any semblance of dignity.

His mother, DNOS, explained later that N2 listens to Rush Limbaugh in the afternoons when he gets home from school. Like his father, he is quite the conservative.

In addition to addressing the misinformation issues for my daughter, I had to correct some of the misleading details of the “scare the old people about their entitlements” with Mom and my Auntie.

“Nothing will affect you guys,” I said. “All the reform is directed at people under 55 whether it’s the Democrats or the Republicans.”

“Well, I don’t know who to vote for,” Mom said.

“Dad would have voted for Ron Paul,” I pointed out. “You can always just write him in and not vote for either Obama or Romney.”

“I can do that?” she was genuinely amazed and seemed a bit relieved.

She didn’t vote the last time. Dad had just died and the election came and went pretty much unnoticed by her.

I used to rail at my Dad for “throwing his vote away”. I don’t think he voted for anyone but 3rd party candidates since Reagan. He was hardcore Republican prior to Bush I. He hated the senior Bush. Thought he was shifty and power-hungry.

“Can’t trust a man who headed up the CIA,” was his opinion.

And a fairly sound voting rule, in my opinion.

Now though, I think Dad had it right. Defensive voting is a losing game. You are forever setting yourself up to be disappointed and not substantially better off in the long run.

Vote for Obama because Romney is the harbinger of the Zombie Apocalypse. Or something like that.

Nothing, however, is going to change really regardless of who wins. There are too many snowballs rolling down the mountainside and no one can stop them or mitigate the damage they are going to do once they roll into the populated areas in the foothills. Perhaps when the powder settles and the people have started digging out, they will get serious about putting into power positions candidates who care more about achieving something than simply the power game itself. I won’t hold my breath but stranger things have happened.

Finally, I am not voting because my best interests aren’t served by involving myself again. I compromised my integrity by letting myself be somewhat peer pressured into accepting Obama as the Democratic candidate in 2008 despite my thoughts that he played dirty with Clinton during the primary and my estimation that he really didn’t have the experience at that point. His rather ham-handed performance in his first term proved the latter and the distraction issue campaign he’s run against Romney has confirmed the former – that he is a politician first and foremost. He is not change at all.

On Facebook, I have been nothing if not contradictory, putting up articles that make it seem that I am a liberal while simultaneously posting conservative views. The fact is that I am neither. I am too much of a realist. There is good and bad on both sides in terms of policy and opinion. To mire myself too far inland on either side would leave me unaware and uninformed on too many important issues.

While it would be nice to be someone who is okay with following for the sake of acceptance and warm fuzzies that has never been me.

So I am not going to vote although that won’t keep me from commentary. George Carlin once said that it’s only those who don’t vote who have the right to complain. People who participate in the system are the ones who should shut the fuck up because by voting, you are agreeing to be okay with the outcome.

The outcome is going to suck. I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up the mess in 2016.

Because What The Homeless Want Is a Swag Bag of Toiletries


English: Homeless woman in Toronto.

Homeless woman in Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rob came home from work one evening last week and asked me to add toothpaste to the Costco list. Periodically I venture into the warehouse for staples and as I hadn’t made a run in months (and am concerned about rumblings concerning inflation on the eating front), I was steeling myself up for the experience. This involves days of list making and trying to decide which day of the week is least likely to be totally ruined by spending a chunk of it in transit, navigating an overly large shopping cart among the shopping warrior class and realizing as I perused the goods that I’d forgotten to list about half of what I really needed and that as a result the cart was getting too heavy for me to push.

“You’re out of toothpaste?”

He prefers the organic brands and Costco is not into organic toiletries of any kind.

“No,” he said. “It’s for work. It’s charity month and we are putting together baskets for the homeless.”

By “we”, he meant the female engineers because anything even remotely unrelated to the process of pure engineering he now has enough seniority to ignore almost completely, and despite being a women friendly workplace, my husband’s employer is as traditional as any other when it comes to these things. Social committees, charity drives and off-site celebratory gatherings still are majority off-loaded on the females because we have the proper DNA for these types of tasks.

“Toothpaste?” I asked, thinking that if I were one of the legion of homeless that roam the metro of Edmonton, toothpaste would not make my wish list.

“Yes,” he confirmed.

“Because what the homeless really need is a basket of personal hygiene as opposed to something more useful?”

He frowned, “I guess so. I don’t know. I was told to contribute toothpaste.”

“Not mittens? Or a gift card to Timmy’s?” which to me seemed the more logical. “Cuz if I was homeless, a basket of assorted soaps and toothpaste would be taken as a judgement of my cleanliness.”

Because it totally is.

Handing out swag bags of this nature might make Whyte Ave smell better from the point of view of the local residents but it will hardly relieve them of the burden of negotiating the gauntlet of panhandlers or reduce the number of bike thefts.

“A really good basket for the homeless would have warm socks and a bag of loose change,” I said.

“That’s cold,” he said.

“That’s real,” I replied. “Where are they going to brush their teeth anyway? The transit station?”

They do, by the way, use the washrooms at the transit stations. At the transit station closest to the Fort, usually only one of the two washrooms are open on any given day and the line up of homeless washing up every morning pretty much discourages all but the most desperate commuters from bothering to queue up. Although I will say that most of the homeless men are pretty nice about letting you line cut because they aren’t in any hurry.

Fast food places and groceries are also well-known venues for hygiene for the homeless. The washroom at the local Safeway is a place best avoided in the few hours after it opens until someone from the store has a moment to get in there and clean.

“Maybe they can trade the toothpaste with a homeless family for something more useful?” I added.

“So you are saying that giving toothpaste to the homeless is not the best choice?”

“Well, it’s a veiled judgement and unless one can it eat or sell it on some oral hygiene driven black market, I can’t see the point.”

“The homeless deserve good teeth too,” he reminded me.

“On Maslow’s hierarchy I think good teeth fall low on the priority scale when weighed against long underwear and a shopping cart from Wal-Mart with a decent set of wheels on it.”

“We should be giving them shopping carts?

“Or bikes with baskets,” I said. “But I still think just a big jar of loose change would make the day of a homeless guy most of all.”

He shook his head, “I’ll pass your thoughts along to the committee.”

Trouble with these charity committees is that they are headed by people for whom being homeless is only a theory that they deal with once a year.

“What would I want if I were homeless?”

Toothpaste, of course. Something with tartar control and a whitener.

Huh?

As we are already into fall up here, I would want cold weather accessories. Thermal socks? Or toothpaste? Not even really a tough call.

And change. Toonies or Loonies preferably but smaller stuff buys things too.

But they would just spend that on booze or drugs.

Sure, but they eat too. Just like we do, and you can’t barter with toothpaste at Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s.

All week Rob has been bumming coinage and paper off me because like the Queen, he never bothers with hard currency unless forced. We’ve contributed a fair bit to this year’s charity efforts at his company. The toothpaste is the only thing that rankled, however, as it feels like money that might as well have been put to the flame. I just have visions of perfectly good tubes of it being summarily dumped in one of the many trash receptacles that line the River Valley path system.

But, no one asked me, so I scouted out a couple of multi-packs of Colgate, and Rob dutifully turned them in.

It doesn’t feel like an accomplishment.