A Birthday

I’m going on a crazy trip soon. I’ve been planning this on and off for 5 years, to pacify myself to the personal calamity of hitting a milestone birthday.

In turning a closer to the end than the beginning age, I’ve been having trouble seeing interesting endeavours in my mid- to long term future. I’m hoping this trip will guide me to a more fruitful path.

People around me have been super excited, first to celebrate my birthday, then for my trip. Maybe they’re living vicariously through me – a nice change of pace. Or maybe it’s because friends and colleagues have never gotten the opportunity to be excited about my wedding, my pregnancies, my home buying. All normal milestone events that I preferred not to experience. Close friends I’ve also seen me struggle long and hard to overcome professional woes, as well as anxiety and depression. It feels a little like they’ve had all this potential happiness for me bottled up for so long, now that it finally found an outlet, it’s overflowing. It’s lovely… and a tiny bit scary.

Scary because I’m new to having people happy for me. For decades, I surrounded myself with less than ideal relationships. I’m doing way better now. My former therapist called them “nourishing relationships”. Well, I’ve been feeling pretty nourished lately.

 

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La guerrière

Je suis née en me battant pour survivre et de longues années pour seulement respirer.

Battue contre les biais, les préjugés, le sexisme, l’âgisme du trop jeune et puis l’âgisme du trop vieux.

Battue  pour faire assez d’argent pour survivre, pour exister, pour être respectée, pour ne pas me retrouver otage de la cruauté dans mes vieux jours. Il n’y aura jamais assez d’argent.

Battue contre la peur et la noirceur, sauvée par ma fierté piétinée. Je n’ai plus assez de fierté pour me sauver. Trop d’années, trop de douleur. Trop.

Ennemis d’antan et du présent, pions sur l’échiquier qui me barre ma route quotidiennement.

La guerrière n’a pas de galons pour prouver sa valeur.

Pourra-t-elle un jour arrêter de se battre ?

 

Notes on Netflix and Crave TV Series

In spite of the fact that we’ve had a glorious October,  Fall is on our doorstep and my nesting instincts are kicking in.

I recently worked on finishing a few short series  and thought it might be a good idea to share some thoughts on these. Warning:  I abhor graphic violence and rampant mysogynism and will avoid a number of series because of this.

Winners

CraveTV

Agent Carter – 2 Seasons

If you haven’t already, run to watch Season 1 of this show. If you don’t have a CraveTV subscription and aren’t in the mood to get one, you can enroll for free for a month, watch the 8 episodes and move on.

Set in New York after World War II, Peggy Carter rules the screen as an agent working for a covert agency in a time where women were mostly condemned to subordinate professional roles. The actors, decors, costumes, scripts,  all shine here, particularly Hayley Atwell.

Due to the need for cost cutting, the second season is set it in California, and sadly from then on, the show never recovers its magic. The fact that Peggy Carter gets two cardboard love interest doesn’t do it for me either. Series finale offers a mild cliffhanger.

Netflix

Scott & Bailey  [5 seasons  totalling 33 episodes – » 45 min. each]

In spite of the dysfunctional personal stories, I loved, loved, loved Seasons 1-3 and most of Season 4. Season 5 felt like everyone was tired of working at this and the three episodes were a disappointing goodbye.

Call My Agent [Original French (Dix pour cent ) with subtitles, 6 episodes]

Comedy with a bit of drama and a lot of cameos from recent and less recent French stars. It’s always a plus for me to watch series and movies set in Paris, so bonus points there too.  Good cast, mostly fun stories.

Riverdale  [Season 1 – 13 episodes » 42 min. each – Season 2 just started]

As a kid I was a diehard fan of the Archie comics. This series is however far from a TV adaptation of the Archie world. The characters have the same names (Archie, Betty, Veronica,  Jughead, etc.) but that is where the similarities end. The show’s tone is much more akin to Twin Peaks, with a murder investigation and a rural setting.

Additional plus: my old time crush, Skeet Ulrich playing a bad boy.

Annoyance: the fake red hair of the Archie character.

Loser

Netflix

Paranoid  [8 episodes » 42 min. each]

I’ve loved Indira Varma since Human Target (sadly not on Netflix or CraveTV). The creator, Bill Gallagher doesn’t do her any favours here however, as she is stuck playing an hysterical, unprofessional detective. Come to think of it, Gallagher doesn’t do any favours to the other detectives either, one being a raging and repressed, best years behind him old white man, and the other a young, oedipal, way too naive to be a detective young white guy.

The first two episodes held promise in spite of this, but part of the plot are evil anti-depressants and the  clear message (anti-depressants are bad and you should not take them) was not a message I could endorse considering my experience.

As well, I see the message that sex with anyone would be a good thing for a person with mental distress, way off base.

That’s it for now – have a great week!!

Alanis Obomsawin

You may remember from a previous post, the realization I made a few months ago, that the biographies section of my book collection was quite narrowly dedicated to portraits of Americans, especially American women.

I would therefore like to introduce you to Alanis Obomsawin, who among many professional endeavours, is a Canadian documentary filmmaker who has lived most of her life in the province of Quebec and who celebrated her 85th birthday August 31. Since 1967, she has documented First Nation experiences through her films. To my utter shame (especially considering that her most renown work is a documentary about the Oka Crisis), I learned about her only very recently through the below 2016 podcast from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF):

Listen to Alanis Obomsawin on Why We Need to Listen More from TIFF UNCUT in Podcasts.

[I believe the animated film she refers to at the end is the short Four Faces of the Moon by Amanda Strong.]

I love her message that all her documentary work begins by listening to people.

Favourite quotes:

“Time is the greatest gift you can give someone.”

 “Everybody is important, every human being, everybody has a gift and you have to apply it. You’re here for a reason, find the best in you and express it.” (Video)

You may stream, free of charge, 22 of her 50 documentaries on the National Film Board (NFB) site. Canadian libraries may also hold some of her work in their collection.

Here’s also, an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) network from February 11, 2017 (starting at 21:22 ending at 32:33). Interviewer is Adrian Harewood.

And yes Adrian, I think she looks gorgeous too.

 

Nova Scotia Vacation

I know I’ve been pretty silent over the past few months. I let my job overtake my life from January to June. At the beginning, I felt trapped in high self-expectations, as well as implicit expectations my staff, my colleagues and my boss. Later on, working on projects I enjoyed more, and as long-term initiatives succeeded, I just rode the wave of truly enjoying my job for the first time in many, many years.

I knew the situation was not ideal, which is why I did not delay my summer vacation. I needed time to let go of work, chill, and look at other venues for my creativity and problem-solving skills.

To this end, I went on a one week trip with a good friend from university. We live in two different countries so we meet up every once in a while somewhere we think we would enjoy visiting. This year, we landed on the East coast of Canada. It was the second time I visited its main city – Halifax – so we went further and day tripped to Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and also spent a few days in Cape Breton (Ingonish and Baddeck), with a rainy day trip to Sydney.

Visual Highlights

Halifax Public Library

I fell in love with its new downtown building, opened in December 2014.

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And especially its rooftop café (other café on entrance floor).

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Halifax Public Gardens

And returned to visit an older love…

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Construction

Encountered quite a few construction sites, so we, unfortunately didn’t venture all the way through the Cabot Trail. (But we didn’t lose our cool with a poor employee at the Tourism Bureau, like another tourist did, claiming he had encountered seven construction sites and would never had come had he known.)  We may not have either come to think of it, but try hard not to yell at people with no control over a situation.

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Double Rainbows (but only caught one in my pics)

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Middle Head Trail

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Ingonish Beach

Best, soft sand ever and gorgeous to walk in, in spite of the coldish water.

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Green Cove Trail

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A Shopping Find

I like to shop when I travel but I had very little space in my suitcase (expecting hot, cold and rainy weather will do that). I was charmed by this place however (apologies to vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights defenders), situated on the Cabot Trail between Baddeck and Ingonish.

Leather Works by Jolene

Innovative work done in supple leather in many different colours. I bought a dark brown backpack (not yet featured on the site), that I absolutely love for its finished look and practicality. It was also at a very good price ($160) considering the other bags I had seen at Rudsack ($328?!) and Roots ($250).

The store only had blue backpacks when I visited, so the saleslady encouraged me to go online to purchase. When I didn’t see it, I enquired by email  and Jolene helped me order one easily (including showing me a picture), with the addition to a reasonable shipping fee.

Leather Works add sales tax to Canadian order, but also ships internationally, with no tax added.

Last Vacation Thoughts

Weather was really hot in the city and pretty cold in Cape Breton, especially at night with two rainy days. I would think July might be a better weather time to visit.

Have a great week!

 

 

Lost Boys of Summer

April announced the start of the baseball season. It used to be a magical time for me. Between the late 70s and early 2000s, I was a devoted fan of my hometown Major League team.

I started being interested in sports when I was four years old upon realizing that, if I watched a hockey game on TV with my dad, I could spend more time  with him watching that one game than I did in an entire week.

Then my uncle came into the picture and I was sold. I had many years of fun talks with both over line ups, trades, decisions of the coaches and amazing plays.

In those years, baseball games were on TV only on the weekends. The rest of the time, if you wanted to follow a game, you listened on the radio. To this day, I remember that the first sign of Spring for me was to hear the familiar voices of the baseball announcers calling the Spring training matches. The sound of the bat hitting the ball for a home run, the cheers of the crowd – indelible memories.

I attended matches too. My first when I was eight years old, just before the team moved to a bigger and colder stadium. In 1993, I was in the stands with my dad when they retired my favourite player’s jersey. He had gotten free tickets (my dad is quite a cheap wad).  It was a memorable event. I missed not having my uncle there though.

The 1993 and 1994 seasons were amazing for my team. Then it went it hell in a hand basket with a players’ strike, a fire sale of all our best players, my uncle being diagnosed with cancer and passing away three months later. For these and other reasons, 1995 was one of the worst years of my life. My sport interest waned but I still waiting anxiously for April, for the sounds, for the hope, for the cheers, for a while…

The last hometown match I attended was just before leaving the city in 2003. I went because close friends invited me. Convinced by the team’s bad management that the team was doomed to move away, not longer benefiting from fun chats with my uncle, I had stopped caring. Instead of waiting for the team to leave me, I had left the team.

In February 2012, my favourite baseball player of all time passed away. Way too young, just like my uncle. In watching retrospective video clips of his career, I cried and cried. I cried for the loss of a sports hero, for the loss of my team a decade earlier, for the loss of my enthusiasm for sports  and, again, for the devastating loss of my uncle.

I’m sure you all know by now that life is very different from sports. The winners and losers aren’t clearly distinguishable, and more often than not, there is no next season to make things better.

We simply keep on.

Mighty Be Our Powers

Last month I mentioned looking forward to reading the book Mighty be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee. It was a quick read, which is unusual for me as I always seem to put all kinds of work and my Twitter American politics addiction, before m y reading pleasure.

I expected to be inspired by this book, considering its author’s journey and life changing accomplishments, but I didn’t expect to like her so much. After all, we come from very different backgrounds, and I’ve been allowed the privilege of making much different choices when it comes to marriage and child bearing.

One of my favourite quotes from the book: “…my image of wealthy white women was that they had one child, if any, and gave all their attention to their dog.” It was of course a comment coming from the new perspective that becoming a rich white woman’s friend gave her.

I would recommend it for its realism and hope.

8/10