Life Shifting News

I have a lot to talk about:

  • I got my first comment (yay!) from the first person to read here (double yay!) who challenged me to investigate why I feel so defensive about her post. So, I’m going to do that, but not today. (I’m thinking about it a lot, actually, so I’m sure that I will write about it again soon, at the risk of making this blog entirely about Settler’s Guilt.)
  • I’m psyching myself up to start the final major push on my novel.
  • I’m reminding myself that this writing is to get me better at writing what’s in my head and to not worry too much about what comes out the other end of my fingers because this is all for practise at writing quickly.

But I’m not talking about any of that today, because I’m talking about the thing that is going to shift the course of my life a little bit.

What do you think it is?

Remember when I said that someone hit me in a round-about a few weeks ago? That same day, actually, right before that happened, was a job interview. I got a call to interview for a job that I applied for over a year ago.

I remember getting the email that day and staring at it; I was thinking: “There’s no way that I should do this interview. I’ve only been at [my current job] for a year. I should pass on this job.”

But I didn’t want to pass on the job. Something inside of me was telling me that I shouldn’t pass on the job.

So I stalled. That night, I called my parents. “You should probably pass on the job. You don’t need to take every new job that comes your way. It’s probably just another job exactly like yours. There’s no need to burn bridges in your current section by leaving after so little time.”

But something was telling me that I shouldn’t pass on the job. I emailed the staffing person, not to say that I would take the job, but to see if they could send me some more details about the roles and responsibilities of the job.

A little bit of time passed. They sent me a 5-page document that outlined a bunch of the responsibilities and, at the end, there was this:

[The job] presents an excellent opportunity to gain holistic and integrated … experience that is essential for success in any executive position within [the place that I work].

It was enough to get my attention, but it still wasn’t enough. I talked to my boss. I said: “Listen, I know that I’ve only been in this section for a year. My default position is that I’m not going to do this interview, because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. But here is the description of the job that I’m being offered an interview for. What do you think?”

And my boss looked at the paper, and he read all the way to the end with a furrowed brow. I could see his hand shaking a little. He said: “You want to be an executive, don’t you?”

I said yes. I do want to be an executive. I think that their work is interesting and challenging and I would be good at it.

He said: “This is better than what we can offer you here. You should try the interview.”

I accepted the interview. Turns out that it wasn’t one interview, but two.

The first interview wasn’t for the job, but for the pool. I had about a half hour to prepare answers to a handful of questions, which I was supposed to present to a panel of 3 people who told me that they probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time looking at me. I wrote a bunch of notes and got to the end of presenting the first question when…

“I’m going to have to stop you there for a minute,” said one of the interviewers.

My heart sank. For the next five or ten minutes, the interviewers poked at me, trying to weasel out of me a technical term that I was supposed to use to get full marks on the question. I never figured out what it was.

“You’d better move on,” the interviewer said. “You still need to get through the rest of the questions.”

The rest passed in a blur. I read out my notes, as the back of my brain tried to figure out what it was that I had missed on the first question. At the end of the interview, I rattled on some more about that first question, but still never gave them what they were looking for.

I went home, convinced that I’d failed. After I got home and closed the door, I remembered the technical thing that they’d wanted me to say, all two words of it.

I beat myself up for a full week, until I got the email that said that I’d made it to the next step.

The second interview was better. Two interviewers and a conversation. I really like that type of interview. I think I’m good at them.

And then they offered me a job. Tomorrow morning, I will accept it. I like new jobs, they represent hope and a journey and new things and interesting new challenges.

Wish me luck!

Settler’s Guilt, Part III

Almost finished my bike ride home from work today, I pressed the button for the crosswalk and happened to read the poster that was taped to the light standard.

The event has already happened. But I learned something new.

The Chaudière Falls and its islands in Canada’s Capital have been a sacred healing and meeting place for Indigenous peoples from the East coast to the Rockies for more than 5,000 years. We ask all Canadians to support our call to keep these islands and waters open to all Canadians under the stewardship of the Indigenous community.
This land and water was never ceded by treaty or sold to any government. For the past 65 years many citizens and their elected leaders on both sides of the Ottawa River have lauded the vision of Grandfather William Commanda who lobbied for the creation of a central park for all, and an indigenous national healing and peace centre. For the last thirty years, architect Douglas Cardinal has worked tirelessly to keep that vision alive. He supports the August 2015 statements by four Algonquin chiefs from Quebec and other Indigenous leaders who oppose a condo proposal by Windmill Development Group and Dream Corporation

There’s a petition to sign, here.

(I tried to sign it… and then couldn’t because it wouldn’t let me. The guilt will not be let go so easily as that.)

Settler’s Guilt, Part II

Tomorrow is National Aboriginal Day, according to my calendars both at work and at home. I didn’t realize that this was a thing until maybe 3 months ago. I’ve never celebrated it, or even acknowledged it before.

Well, so happy National Aboriginal Day everyone. May it be the start of an upwards spiral of happiness and well-being.

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about culture and appropriation. I read this very thoughtful post on just that subject. It’s written to non-native people wearing headdresses.

An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses
…I see you are confused about what constitutes cultural appropriation. I would like to provide you with resources and information on the subject so that you can better understand what our concerns are.

I’m going to first note that I’ve never worn a headdress. I’ve worn plenty of hats. As a child, if I found a seagull feather on the ground, I might put it behind my ear. That’s about where my experience with headdresses ends.

I’m not guilty of this offense. And yet… on the first read-through, I felt super defensive. I was being told that I could not do something and I didn’t like it.

In the article, she references Cultural Appropriation Bingo. Basically, you read the statements, and if you identify with them, you might part of the Cultural Appropriation problem.

Out of 24 statements, I identified with 24. All of them. That’s, like, a super bingo with a capital everything.

I’m a seething mass of cultural appropriation that’s oozing down the street appropriating cultures with every step.

(I’m going to pause and appreciate the image in my mind of me lurching around the world as personified cultures run screaming. I am the Incredible Hulk crossed with Godzilla crossed with the Loch Ness Monster of cultural appropriation. And no, that’s not going on my resume.)

It’s uncomfortable to stare that in the face. It makes my brain try to flee when I try to focus on it too much. But it left an impression, and the thoughts keep swirling.

That thing my stomach did

I don’t think that I was writing when it happened, because it came in the middle of my time working super hard on my costume (That ended up winning! No, I can’t get over it yet.)

My stomach went on strike. It didn’t so much announce the strike, as did it just walk off the job one morning when I was at work.

I went to get water first thing in the morning and threw up a bit in my mouth.

Weird. I thought. That’s not a thing that I do. I should probably eat something; that will settle my stomach.

I sat down, and ploughed through the small container of cashews that I bring to work every morning. My stomach still felt upset, so I drank a whole bunch of water.

None of this is good for a striking stomach, which has decided that it doesn’t want to let food pass through it.

I had a meeting later on in the morning. By this time, I was bloated and my stomach was feeling so strange. Also, there was a lockdown at work because someone thought that there was a bomb, so the ventilation system was off, so the air felt tight and close and there was no breeze and in my mind I was visualizing bashing a hole in one of the windows so that I could get fresh air (no, I couldn’t go outside, because then I couldn’t come back in, and then I couldn’t go to my meeting).

All of this, and then suddenly I knew that something was wrong and I leapt from my seat, covering my mouth with both hands and I made it halfway down the hall before it started, but I held it in with my hands and then, I was in the bathroom and… I exploded. I had no aim, there was no rhyme or reason, there was just noise and mess and grossness.

As quickly as it started, it was over. It took me a while to clean up the bathroom, as I thanked my stars that no one was in there during the whole process. I went back to my meeting, my face pale. Then I went home.

For three days, eating a few tablespoons of soup felt like ingesting a turkey dinner, leaving me full and bloated, even as I felt light-headed from a lack of food. I woke up a few days later, as if nothing had happened, my brain having reached a negotiated agreement with my unruly stomach, promising it more sweets.

Today Has to be Happy

I’m trying to curate this a little bit, and I want to go back to using my super happy emoticon to describe this one.

What is making me super happy lately?

1 – There’s the fact that I’m as healthy, happy, and unscathed as I currently am. There’s been a lot of upheaval going on all around me, and I feel like I’m shrugging off a lot of it just like a duck. This isn’t meaning to vague-blog – I’m talking about needing to move offices suddenly; about the car getting hit; about various issues at my parents’ rental house that have had me back and forth putting out metaphorical fires; and all the other things that you wake up to when you’ve been embedded in a project for a month without looking up.

2 – There’s the clean-ness of the rooms that I’ve cleaned. Contrasted with the dirtiness of these same rooms before they were cleaned, and it’s amazing. I’m loving to sit in the kitchen right at the moment, as I gather courage to tackle my room.

3- I’m rediscovering how many friends that I have. I very reluctantly went to Ottawa Comiccon this year, but ended up reconnecting with a friend from high school. (What, people have been doing this with Facebook for a decade? Yeah well I don’t have Facebook, because my online social networking savvy is on par with a cave person.)

If a Man Drowns in a River…

Have I written about this before? I think so, maybe.

I live near a river, and there’s a dock on that river. It’s really nice to go sit on the dock and listen to the sound of the river and the trees, while trying to ignore the omnipresent traffic noise.

One day, I went to the river and was joined by two men and a woman who were talking loudly, seeming to be friends.

It’s not my dock. I smiled at them and made room.

Two of the three stripped off their shirts and dove into the river and swam around (I’ve been looking forward to this all day! one said), trying to convince the woman to jump in. She didn’t want to. She pulled out cigarettes and started to smoke it, sharing some puffs with the two in the water. They asked a few questions about me, and we made some small talk.

“Let’s swim across the river!” One said.

“Don’t do that,” said the other one. “I don’t want you drowning, and then the cops have to come.”

“They’d probably just push me back under, rather than rescuing me.”

“Nah, they’d probably just arrest me for murdering you, because I’m just an Indian.”

The other two nodded in agreement. “Cops hate us,” the woman leaned over to me and said in a teaching voice.

That was when my privileged little heart just broke in two.

I can understand feeling like the cops are out to get you at a speed trap, or if you get caught 2 cm in front of the stop line at a light and get a ticket. But until that second, I didn’t understand that anyone could think that the cops would not help them in a moment of true distress.

The logical part of my brain kicked in. It’s true. Canada’s Indigenous peoples have had extreme difficulties with law enforcement and government at all levels. So there is a very logical reason why these people who I now know identify as Indigenous Peoples (“Indians”) would not trust law enforcement to actually enforce laws in ways that wouldn’t hurt them.

The other part of my brain was just churning around the same thought. You can’t trust law enforcement. That is tragic and awful. How are you not always terrified?

Even now, in the re-telling, I feel bad that I never asked what their names were. That’s even though I never ask for people’s names, sometimes even with work colleagues, because I usually won’t remember them anyways. It’s just how I roll. But I beat myself up, because I wonder if I should roll better. And even there, that’s not the point, because sometimes I find myself lying in that state before sleep, and I see their faces and I wonder if there’s anything on Earth that I can do to make it so that those three people that I met on the dock don’t have to be afraid of law enforcement. And then my privilege overtakes me and I drown in all of it, the dark waters covering my face, because there are no answers, just more questions.

Sinkholes at lunch

“Did you hear about the thing that happened on Rideau Street?” Steve said at lunch.

“No,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Andrew. “There’s a big sinkhole that opened up and swallowed Rideau Street.”

No, I thought. That can’t be true. They are totally the type to pull one over on me.

“Did you hear about the sinkhole on Rideau street?” said Carl walking in. “I heard it swallowed the whole road.”

Totally serious. Everyone was totally serious.

Because they were being factual. A sinkhole did open up and swallow the entire width of Rideau street, closing the Rideau mall and Colonel By drive, a really useful arterial road. At just after one o’clock, traffic was still at a standstill on all of the major roads.

As frustrating as it has been to have to move out of my old building, I was happy. The new building forces me to bike to work, and now I wouldn’t have to deal with all of the sinkhole-related traffic.

I don’t want to say, ‘it hits close to home’. Yes, it’s walking distance from where I live, but I don’t drive there. It’s more just that it feels weird, because in the last few months I feel like I’ve been in proximity to a bunch of really freak once-in-a-lifetime occurrences.

I don’t feel like I’m cursed; more like I’m really, really, really lucky. And I can say that, because no one got hurt in the sinkhole, except for some guy’s car. So, even my smashed up car feels lucky in comparison.

(hastag blessed… somebody smack me now)

bumper Cars

Today, I went to drop off my car for 10 days to have professional people fix all of the damage that had been done in the accident.

Oh, I didn’t mention that I’d had an accident?

Tee hee, how coy I’ve been. Or maybe I’ve just been trying to put it out of my mind.

I was in an accident two weeks ago. It was both incredibly dramatic and boringly mundane all at the same time.

It was awful because I lost my faith in people sticking to traffic laws. I was in a roundabout, I was the only lane, and there two cars on my right at the yield sign. Then, suddenly, one of the cars at the yield sign jumped forwards and into my way. It was like bumper cars, but in the worst way. I had the sinking feeling that I was now going to be late for the meeting that I was on my way to.

It was mundane because, well, we were going really slowly. No gigantic airbag deployments, just a lot of crumple-zoning. There was an off-duty police officer behind us, and he jumped out of the car and pointed to the other guy. “You, it’s your fault!”

But bleh. It’s sad to see my little coddled car getting all bumped up like that. I’ll be excited to get it back in better shape.

Recital

Today I had a recital for the step dancing class that I’ve been taking all year.

  1. There was the traffic; lots of traffic. A bike race on the Alumettiere highway shut down a stretch of it. I ended up taking the long route.
  2. There was the trip to the Galleries d’Aylmer to try and get my other step dance shoes repaired. Long story short: no repair, much frustration.
  3. There was the rehearsal, which was late because of crossed wires and a caretaker who didn’t know that he was supposed to show up.
  4. There were adorable kids in animal costumes shuffling their feet (mostly) in time to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’
  5. There was the little girl in the lion? tiger? costume who sat on my knee and told me “I’m the queen of Africa”.
  6. There was deafening noise as 45 pairs of tap shoe clad feet rumbled around on the tile floors.
  7. There was dancing. Much dancing. There was choreography and moving around the stage. Some of the dances were like well oiled machines. Some of the dances were looser and featured mistakes.
  8. There was efficiency; one song moved into another fluidly.

But above all, there was love and support from the audience full of smiling people. It was truly lovely. Can’t wait to go back next year.