I was chatting recently with a friend, who has teens the same age as my own and will be heading off to university next fall. We were both fuming about the recent attack by our provincial government on funding for post-secondary education, and the tuition hikes and staff cuts that have resulted.

“I was talking with my mom about this, and she reminded me that we will be fine. Between them and our own efforts, we can make sure our kids get their degrees,” she told me.

It wasn’t until a few days later I started really hearing what she said.

We’ll be fine.

Famous last words of the entitled and very true.

We are solidly in the professional class. We have degrees of our own and the ability to plan ahead for our children’s education, save when we can, and make whatever budget adjustments in the moment that are necessary. Our kids will be fine.

Not that it won’t be an inconvenience, or mean readjusting expectations for our own lives and retirements even perhaps, but my teen and her teens will go to university and graduate with a minimum of debt. In today’s world, the only bigger advantage would be having parents who can foot the bill entirely.

But the more I thought about “we’ll be fine” the more it angered me.

Why is my kid going to be fine, but some of her classmates not so much?

And from there, I went on to assess current events in Canada and in the United States and realized the “we'[ll be fine” mantra is the root of more issues than not and has been for a long while.

I won’t blame the Boomers. Entirely. They were taught this bit of selfish. They didn’t invent it. But they, and their parents in the Greatest and Silent (what an aptly named bunch) Generations certainly perfected it and embedded it deeply within our societies and our politics.

We’ll be fine is what stops the privileged from taking the extra step or stepping into another’s shoes in the first place. It allows people to pretend their known outcome requires so much of their time and resources that nothing is left to spare for others who aren’t going to be fine no matter what they do.

It’s why people vote their conscious or agitate for revolution. When you’ll be fine, the unintended consequences and collateral damage to others really doesn’t matter.

Best example today of “we’ll be fine” is the Democratic primary in the United States. Where two groups with different visions of what fine looks like largely ignored a substantial base, their issues, and a vastly different idea of what fine means in real time.

In Canada, this same mantra has morphed into people who are fine trying to convince people who are slowly getting to fine to give that fine opportunity up because it’s not fine enough.

A cousin on Facebook today lamented the discord not feeling fine creates on their feed, but instead rolls by in a steady wave of discontent. Why can’t we all just appreciate the bits of fine flotsam and jetsam in our lives? And while the point about appreciating what’s right in front on you is well taken, I can’t help but wonder if the maybe the veneer of fine is wearing as thing for others as it is for me?

On a personal level, I have no complaints. Not really. Irritations maybe. Normal worries. But serious discontent? No. Those days are so far in my rear view they seem like a life someone else lived.

But I am not okay pretending “we’ll be fine” – because it’s true – is a good enough reason to not rage at the machine, which makes sure this isn’t the case for everyone.

Why should I turn a blind eye to racial injustice preventing people from voting and being represented by folks who could improve lives and communities? Why not point out the stubborn resiliency of misogyny? Or how inequity in education access is a waste of human potential that could benefit all of society and not just individuals in pursuit of material gain?

Why should I keep silent when my elected officials are greedy and corrupt? Or not remind people Google is their damned friend when they are sharing garbage websites written by weaselly trolls and fattening their own purses in the process?

I am supposed to sit silently by? Like the people who watched Jim Crow terrorize black communities? Like the people who did nothing when their drunk friend was led away to a bedroom at a frat party, knowing what was going to happen? Like the coworkers who say nothing when the usual suspects make racist or misogynistic jokes?

There’s that poem, right? They came for X but I was Z – and just fine – so I did fuck all.

Easter on the horizon reminds me of the horrible Passion. I can’t even remember anymore how many times we had to read that during Holy Week. Father was Jesus. The congregation played the crowd. The crowd who shouted for him to be crucified.

“Cruxify him!”

I never said it. It incensed me. I didn’t even pretend to mouth the words.

Once my dad chastised me for it, and I told him, “I would never have said that.”

He didn’t correct me. He never brought it up again.

I feel like that now. That I am part of a crowd giving tacit consent to something that I don’t consent to whenever I stay quiet.

My privilege is part of the problem. I understand this. But I don’t know what to do about it other than refuse to stay silent.

I told my teen I need another outlet than annoying my cousins and high school friends on Facebook.

“Maybe I should write angry fan-fiction about a Prime Minister who is a secret superhero ridding the world of injustice?”

She grinned wickedly, “Do it.”

If only I could draw. It could be a graphic novel. I can only draw stick people however. This might be a problem.

I still have Twitter, where everyone speaks up, so like Hamlet in England, our madness is not much noticed.

I know one thing. It’s nothing is fine right now and people will not be able to hide from that much longer.


I have written about being adopted before. It’s not a secret thing. I have always known I was adopted and have always been forthcoming about it. It was neither good nor bad. It just was a fact. Like being ginger or near-sighted.

My feelings about my birth parents have waxed and waned since childhood. I was always curious, but as there was no way for me to satisfy my curiosity or find answers to my questions, I tempered my comments with some version of  “it doesn’t really matter cuz I don’t want to know them anyway”. Not strange really. When you know that rejection is a likely outcome, you are not going to set yourself up for it.

Last summer, my brother took one of those DNA tests at the insistence of his children. They were wildly curious about his birth family and wanted to know where he came from. I am not sure he did, but he can’t deny those girls anything, so he took the test and nearly instantly found a half-sister and a dad of sketchy repute.

After that my daughter, who has been curious about my background since she was quite young, thought a DNA test would be a good thing for me to look into as well. But, I didn’t do anything until the fall after my godmother died. Losing her left a hole and I guess finding my birth mother seemed like a logical way to fill it. Never-mind that this was expecting someone, who gave me away and never came looking for me in half a century, power she didn’t have and probably didn’t want. But grief isn’t very logical, and it isn’t like I haven’t looked for her before – because I have on and off for a couple of decades.

DNA tests themselves are interesting. They require a surprising amount of spit. They also don’t take as long as you would think. Less than six weeks from spitting to “here’s your ethnicity and a shit tonne of people you share DNA with!”

It upended a few things I had been told about myself. I am not, for instances, Swedish. Like at all.

I am, however, a very English though not so much Irish. More Norwegian than I would have ever expected and surprisingly, a tiny bit Icelandic, which is frankly kinda cool.

I had only 4 close matches though. No parents. No siblings.

Two of my matches were first cousins and one of them responded to my query. With her help, I found my birth mother in about two days. Well, my cousin’s help and my mom’s “help”.

I qualify the help part because I discovered in all of this searching for bio-mom thing that my parents had known her name all along. I could have found her years and years ago. They just chose not to tell me the truth when I asked them for information.

Oh, they let things slip here and there, and maybe had I been more observant and less ambivalent, I would have noticed.

The Nancy Drew stuff is a story for another day, but the short version is I found my mother, but unfortunately, she is dead. She died unexpectedly in 2014. Her husband died in 2018 though I have no idea if he ever knew about me. But I know my half-brother didn’t know about me. He told me so in an email. It was polite and basic info informative enough, but I really don’t expect to hear from him again. Disappointing, but family often is. Low expectations are best because those are the ones that will met much more often than not.

There are other relatives. A few cousins seem determined to establishing legit connections. I think that’s going well. I am – as I told my sister when we discussed it – sometimes too much myself for people. It can be off-putting. She didn’t say anything because what can one say to such self-awareness? And also, she agrees with my assessment of me. Sometimes I am a bit much.

Legit connections, however, are what I want. I am not a curiosity. As an adoptee, I have had my fill of my needs being ignored in the whole adoption thing. In my opinion, cats and dogs from rescue shelters have their feelings and well-being better looked after than human babies, who are treated as commodities in contracts between adults who are much more keen on their own issues and needs than the thoughts and opinions of a baby, who will one day be an adult with questions, needs, and opinions of their own.

The most satisfying part of the finding my mother’s family thus far is finding people I resemble. In some cases very strongly. I don’t think anyone can know what it feels like to not look like anyone you know unless you’ve been forced to exist in a community that is physically completely unlike you.

I grew up thinking everything about myself was wrong. Freakish. My hair. My height. My weight. I was made to feel, sometimes inadvertently but often purposely, that I was ugly and doing it on purpose to embarrass or annoy people.

Seeing pictures of my mother, who was beautiful, and being told I look so much like her was something I needed to hear growing up and never did. I am not sure I can forgive people for denying me the right to know I was perfectly normal. That includes all of my parents really. And everyone else who knew I was out there somewhere and never thought to come looking for me.

And that’s the “what hurts” part of this. Aside from my half-brother, almost everyone in my mother’s family knew about me. There is a younger cousin, who wanted to find me but didn’t have much to go on, but it’s a bit hard for me to be okay with having grown up and living most of my life within an hour or two of my mom’s family, and no one ever looked for me.

She didn’t look for me. She didn’t tell my brother about me. That’s nearly as big a betrayal as parents not telling me her name in the first place.

I don’t buy that they did this for my good. Because they didn’t. They did what they did for themselves. They never once considered me. How I would feel. How I did feel. How I feel still. They were selfish and short-sighted.

I’ve told people that my dad is lucky he died a decade ago because I would have ripped him a new one for burning my adoption info and lying to me all my life. But if I’d have found a live birth mom, less than an hour away from where I grew up? I don’t think I would have been too forgiving of her not seeking me out or at the very least, telling my brother about me. That she didn’t do that makes me feel dark and dirty. Maybe not her intention, but certainly something she should have thought about when she was pondering my birthday every year – as I am told she did.

So now, I have a “real” family tree now to go along with the one my dad and mom created for me via stories and pictures of their extended family. I am not finding either very satisfying right now.

Cans of worms, right? There’s a reason why Pandora was told not to open the box. I am not sorry though. I have some (not enough) medical information which has helped me enormously, so totally worth it from that standpoint. But, I have no closure. My mother is dead. Her son and brother are polite but not interested in helping me. No one seems to have clue one about my birth father (who ran away when he learned about my existence so my feelings are “fuck him” for the moment. I don’t have a use for such a coward). And that’s that.

For now.

It’s an evolutionary process. Bit by bit things are pieced together in a puzzle I never thought I’d be able to complete. That’s something anyway.


A Facebook friend posted today in memory of the anniversary of her first husband’s death. As I was skimming through the replies, another widow commented that you never forget.

That’s not true.

The anniversary of my first husband’s death was a month ago. I completely forgot about it until I say my friend’s post today.

Oh, I didn’t forget that he died. In fact, last night I was thinking quite a bit about his illness because of news I received about the spouse of a young woman who is like a niece to me. The similarities took me back a bit. But I didn’t remember the anniversary until today.

I didn’t know how to feel about this. I suppose I should feel terrible, but that’s not really how I feel. Not guilty either because going on with your life, and really being present in it is, in my opinion, the only healthy option.

But I have a lot of widowed friends, and I am privy to some of the ongoing grief they share online. Years and years after the fact, and even being enmeshed in new realities, they never let anniversaries roll on by.

I checked the calendar to see what was going on that week. Husband was away. Teen had first semester finals. My mother was struggling a bit because one of my younger siblings moved back in with her after their life fell apart. I suppose these are reasons for forgetting the day I had a husband die on me. It was quite a while ago.

Does it count that he pops up in my thoughts at other times?

I will guess that some of you would say no. Anniversaries are extremely important mile-markers for most bereaved. Like the memorials they set up virtually and in real life. Like the graves they visit. But, I don’t do any of those things either, so I suppose this is just one more thing to chalk up to me just being me.

People still read my old posts on grief. The dating ones more than others, but one of the questions that comes up early after a loss is “how long?” How long will this misery dog me? Will I ever be happy? Or even just feel okay and not relive the agony multiple times a year for the rest of my life?

I still don’t know how to answer  beyond assurance that for the majority of people, grief ends. Missing probably never ends for most people. Missing and sadness are not grief. And for some people, new chapters in life can offer as good or better lives.

I am okay with having forgotten. It’s a first. There’s always firsts with widowhood. So many firsts. This one I wasn’t expecting however.


Horwath is spot on. Brown’s leadership is up to his caucus and they, who know him, won’t have him. That speaks volumes.
According to the news trickling out, Brown’s reputation for preying on young women is well-known, and reporters have been trying to piece together leads for a long time. This is not as sudden as the apologists and conspiracy nuts would like everyone to believe. And we need to remember there is never an upside for women who come forward. Never. Which is why women don’t make accusations public lightly because they are victimized for doing so.

The inspiration for allegations these days is Me Too and Time’s Up. Women see positive responses and real action being taken and they feel more secure. They know more and more people are going to finally believe and support them.

Whether women come forward the day before an election, or two years before one, isn’t the point or the problem. Our political system is rife with systemic issues of sexual harassment and assault, and it’s time for a close examination of who our parties are presenting as candidates when some of them come with baggage of barely concealed patterns of abuse of power.

 
And it’s disgusting when the default for some is still “women are liars”. Brown’s own right hand people quit. Just quit. His party tossed him within hours. Does anyone think there’s nothing to the allegations when that’s the response? Who skips carefree away from a leader they chose to follow? Thought was the answer to whatever the problems were. Who does that? No one.
 
Contrast the Ontario PCs with the Alberta UCP’s now. Their response to Jason Nixon, leader Jason Kenney’s top lieutenant in the legislative, is informative in the Me Too era. Nixon fired a woman in his company back in 2005 when she reported being sexually harassed. A claim that has been proven valid. The UCP? Crickets mostly until they trotted out the “he was young” and the “times have changed and he certainly wouldn’t respond like that today”.

Of course he wouldn’t but most likely because he couldn’t get away with it, and that’s just depressing. Doing the right thing because not doing isn’t a viable option is not an inspiration.

VOTE FOR ME BECAUSE I DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN I KNOW I WILL GET CAUGHT IF I DON’T

For too long that has been one of the foundation stones of politics. These bad actors hide in plain sight in our parties and in our governments. The bar couldn’t be lower.

Me too is not just something Americans struggle with. It’s coming for Alberta. Sooner than later. Just watch.


On Saturday, January 20th, women marched. Again. With them were men and children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers. People with whom they agreed on varied issues, and people they didn’t agree with so very much.

Women all over North America planned and organized marches and rallies that drew millions in total.

But not everyone saw the point.

 

There is a lot to unpack in those few sentences, and between their lines, but we’ll stick to the words.

In the United States, unlike Canada, women are not specifically included in the Constitution or The Bill of Rights. An attempt was made to add women as women rather than “all men” back in the 1970’s, but anti-feminists successfully fought that in a lengthy state by state battle, and it’s not been revisited since.

Women’s rights in the US are largely a series of court rulings, between the line readings of the Constitution, and individual pieces of legislation that are only as good as those willing to enforce them. They exist on paper but could disappear with the stroke of a pen.

Men and women have always had the same right to rights, but the reality is that women’s access is fairly new and not everyone is keen about that.

The election of an openly sexist man to the Presidency of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, was a wake up call. Complacency, which should never have been an option, cannot be a comfy corner of denial any longer.

And women marched. It was a rallying point. One that has launched more women than ever into politics and activism.

There isn’t a single purpose because women’s lives are made up of more than single issues, but there is an overarching theme. Time’s up.

Time is up on sexism in the workplace, education, religions and their institutions. No more hiding behind reasons that never made any sense or had much validity in the first place.

Time is up on misogyny. The casual violence of words used to silence, defame and wound. The physical violence that is still too often dismissed or ignored. The use of sex as a weapon to demean, instill fear, and dominate.

Time is up on the exclusion from politics and governance via systemic sexism which everyone can plainly see, but even in 2018, we still accept for reasons that have no validity if we really do believe that men and women have the same rights.

It takes fire in the belly to organize a march once, but doing it a second time requires clarity. Acknowledging that a year has gone by with successes and failures and with still much to be done. Being able to create an atmosphere that allows anyone who wants to participate the space to do so.

Organizers and marchers, by the millions, all across the continent showed up, marched, spoke, connected and became for a moment in time peaceful communities. They acknowledged each other and the importance of the many aspects of democracy and community activism they’d been involved in since the last march. To insinuate this lacked clarity is a bit of an insult.

But I understand where that impulse to dismiss comes from because once upon a time, I shared a disdain for the need to be a feminist. I wouldn’t call myself one. I played that silly word game of “I believe everyone is equal, but I’m not a feminist”. Except I was.

I can think of dozens of examples in grade school alone where I all but stood atop a desk and declared war on Sr. Walter Marie’s attempts to make a “proper lady” of me. I could never have been other than a feminist.

But as a young woman, all I could see was the hard work of being a feminist compared to the seemingly more cushy existence of not, and it wasn’t until I was out working on a career and running into roadblocks that my male peers weren’t that it dawned on me that feminism was just this. It was the blatant unfairness of being passed over for jobs that I was the most qualified for in favor of a male colleague who golfed with the principal or coached the football team of a superintendent’s son. There were too many boys’ clubs in too many aspects of life and being the most accomplished or hardest worker was never going to grow me the penis I needed for entry.

Privilege, and I never forget that I have a lot of it these days, makes agnostics of many. The need to believe and fight isn’t so much when bias and bigotry don’t affect your existence all that often. And so many girls are still brought up as objects rather than individuals with dreams and talents of their own that the acceptance of everyday sexism has to reach deafening levels to break through that training.

It’s hard to understand, but there are women who preferred the old way because they believed it benefited them more, and they were willing to make the compromises and personal sacrifices to play along with that game. There are still women who are fine with it and would like to turn back the clock regardless of how that affects other women.

In North America, we like to say that we all have the same rights. We are all equal in the eyes of the law. We all have the same opportunities. Even though we know this isn’t always true because of bigotry and bias, we are mostly united in the belief that we are striving towards that and making good progress.

The Women’s March was born out of the angry realization that we’d erred in our belief that good progress was good enough.

Women’s March of 2018 was clearly stating that we know there is more to do, and we are still committed to doing it.


With the exception of kindergarten and my undergrad years, I attended Catholic schools my entire life. Religion. Religion. Religion. Even in university, I fulfilled my humanities requirements with religion classes. As a result, I am pretty well grounded in the ideas that motivate a lot of conservatives.

In the Canadian province where I live, the government turned over from 40 plus years of conservative rule to a social democratic government a few years ago. One would have thought – given the wailing and gnashing of teeth – that end times were upon us. The concern came from a somewhat genuine place as the province was sliding rapidly into an economic downturn that pounded the province financially and conservatives, being who they are, never feel safe even in good times with “lefties” at the wheel, so the angst was raging at eleven most of those early days.

But, the new provincial government went with the tested and true method of taking on some debt and not drastically cutting anything and now, nearly three years on, things are really looking up.

Looking up is never a good thing for conservative parties who are out of power. They don’t have much to offer citizens in good times. So, they fall back on what they do best – social issues. And understand, when I say “do best”, I don’t mean they are offering great ideas. I mean they are incredibly efficient at stirring up bitterness, bigotry and outrage because say what you will, those things absolutely work with the disenfranchised, ill-formed and people who get all their talking points from a pulpit.

Where I come from in the US Midwest, and was a teacher for many years, curriculum updates are normal and slightly boring for non-educational wonks. They are undertaken at regular intervals to little fanfare.

Here, they are seen in the farther reaches of conservative-land as communist agendas made flesh. Zombie flesh that will devour the souls of good little future conservatives by distorting the cold hard facts of life with unicorns, rainbows and puppies. Children who might have entered a solid trade are rendered useless university students by a social studies curriculum that doesn’t spend significant man hours on Bahamian British troops sacking the White House during the War of 1812 or the importance of Canadian soldiers being used by the British as cannon fodder at Paschendale. Important factoids, don’t misunderstand, but less important than children understanding that we live on treaty land, our obligations as a society and how our parliamentarian system works and what our Charter Rights actually are and how they differentiate us from our southern neighbor.

The feeling among the “concerned” conservatives is that the provincial government is using the curriculum update to instill thoughts and feelings in students that will keep them from voting conservative as adults. It’s brainwashing for future votes.

I attended a school system where “brainwashing” was a primary mandate. In theory, I should be a Catholic rather than an atheist and militant feminist, so anecdotally, I roll my eyes a bit. Even my school mates who still consider themselves Catholic are cafeteria at best. Having gone to  agenda laden Catholic grade school and high school, I am super dubious about the brainwashing potential of social studies or science.

When I look back, I can pinpoint the moment I began to doubt and my usefulness as a future member of the Women’s Conservative Auxillary probably ended. It was grade two. I announced I wanted to be a priest. I was told, “But you’re just a girl, so you can’t.”

The beginning of the end.

We like to believe children are blank slates, and what fills them up is what we actively write on them, but that isn’t true.

My Dad sent me to a Catholic school because he wanted me to be a conservative really. Like he was. But if he’d truly wanted that, he’d have lived a conservative life and been more aware that he really wasn’t as conservative as he thought he was and with his own upbringing, never really stood a chance at being one anyway.

Yes, he was a sexist and voted against the ERA. He was hurt by my anger when I found that out because he never  thought that his vote would impact me because he raised three daughters to be independent and able to take care of themselves. He never told us we couldn’t do things because we were girls. He expected us to do well in school. In math. He didn’t think we needed to marry and never offered his opinion on our dating or living arrangements. He thought in his Depression Era influenced way that this was enough.

He taught me the basics of politics during the Watergate crisis, and when I was 12 and wanted to volunteer at Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters in our town, he drove me there. He was proud as hell of me. When Carter won, he assured me that my volunteering had mattered in that win.

Dad was a democratic socialist by actions. He believed we had a duty to our communities via taxes and volunteering. He helped found the first credit union in our city. He was on the board of directors for 40 years, and I remember going along with him when he went to talk with people who’d fallen behind on their loan payments. He was helpful and understanding. His family was wiped out during the tulmultous years leading up to the Depression. His baby sister died in childbirth because they couldn’t afford a hospital birth and they grew up shuffling from one relatives farm to another. Charity cases. He understood being that poor, and what a credit union represented to people and could do for them.

He sent me to a Catholic school believing that it would teach me to be a Christ like person and conservative. In school I heard one thing and watched the nuns and priests be something else.

And all the while I had a front-row seat for hypocrisy in school, I had a Dad who volunteered for church groups, pray lines, tutoring at the alternative high school, Meals on Wheels, read the newspaper from front to back to stay informed and modeled a commitment to casting his ballot in every election long after he stopped believing in partisan politics because he believed his vote could add up with others and matter. Not every time but enough times to make a difference over the long haul.

If a person is worried that their child might not grow up to think, behave or vote in ways they’d prefer they didn’t, it’s not the schools they showed be worried about.

Dad could never figure out why I wasn’t conservative  but of course I wasn’t because he didn’t raise me to be.

Schools don’t raise children. Parents do.


2017 arrived on a sleigh of smoking turds pulled by the four horseman of biblical fame, and still, we made it to 2018. Don’t ask me how. Last year was a blur. The world reeled, staggering from one shallow foxhole to the next with the various status quo in flames all around.

It reminded me of my favorite scene from that stink bomb of a psycho-drama The Birds.

Crows have just attacked the school, and the adults are huddled in a bar (kinda fitting) discussing a complete and terrifying turn of the table by Mother Nature (well played by the way) as though there was something rational to be found, if they just used their indoor voices, with town drunk – the only rational voice in the room – punctuating the discussion with occasional “It’s the end of the world”.

Is it though? Really? The end of the world.

Probably more reasonable to take our cultural reference cue from REM. It’s the end of the world … as we know it.

Because that happens throughout history, and if we are really ready to be honest, it’s happened more than once in living memory.

Someone on Twitter today had a list of all things that didn’t exist in 2003. On that list was pretty much the entirety of the internet as we use it today. Certainly most of our communication devices. The way we interact socially has been completely altered by social media.

Generation Zed knows nothing about an existence before hand held devices. They’ve literally been born and grown along with them. Our world is basically a teenager entering the end stages of puberty. And that, explains a lot.

So it makes sense that a political and economic world that our great-grandparents would still recognize and feel comfortable with simply can’t adapt. Things are giving way. It’s not like there are other options.

And okay, I will grant that the nuclear code rattling by America and North Korea could maybe sort of bring about an Armageddonish crisis, but I am going to throw caution to the wind and bet on us still being here in a year. What I will not claim is that the world will have settled down much. The current version of Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t transform itself in a couple of years anymore than the last Rome did. Change takes time even when it feels like the exact opposite.

Happy New Year then. Congratulate yourself if you aren’t a Nazi or one of their enablers, yet, and remind yourself that whatever is coming, you are not the only one going through it. Look around your neighborhood, workplace, gym, school, community and find those like-minded, who are out there, and connect a bit more than you currently are. There is safety in numbers, but also laughs, joys and fiendish plots to thwart those bags of dicks who thrive in the chaos of change.

Bring it 2018. If the world could survive 2017, it’s ready for you.