Them Pussycats is Quick!


When I spent a week in the hospital I made a discovery; the food is disgusting.

Let me explain.

Years ago I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre in the kitchen. Now, I wouldn’t recommend that food for any five star nights out but it wasn’t bad. Perhaps a bit bland but otherwise edible. I say this so you will understand how bad hospital food actually is.

There were many meals where the smell of the food alone was enough to turn my stomach. There was one particular meal, I couldn’t tell you what the meat was, where it was so bad I was unable to eat anything because the smell was so pungent. It smelled like a combination of bad body odor and wet dog farts. For anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating, let me assure you I’m not.

At some point I felt I should go around the hospital to see if there were any stray cats because I had a sickening feeling I knew what each meal’s mystery meat was.

And the coffee.

This wasn’t even close to anything that could remotely be called coffee. It was brown and liquid but that was all it had in common with coffee. And, yes, it did taste a lot like something you might find in your toilet during a bout of the flu.

In short, the food was just this side of inedible and they’re feeding this to people who are sick and injured. Doesn’t that count as cruel and unusual punishment?

But let’s put that aside for a moment. The truth is there is not one person sitting in the legislature that would ever put up with eating food this bad for a single second. Yet I know that it’s possible to supply a large group of people better tasting food. We did it when I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre (although admittedly I don’t know what it’s like now).

So can anyone tell me where our health care dollars are going? It’s certainly not to quality food. Anyone with any ounce of sense knows how important good, healthy food is to healing yet our government can’t even be bothered to find out if the food is edible or not.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly where our health care dollars are going and it’s not to the care, diagnoses and recuperation of the sick, injured and disabled in Alberta. We have a health care system that is top heavy and is clogged with management. Again and again I’ve heard those in the health care industry whisper to me about how many managers and supervisors they have to report to. Those whispers come secretively because they’re afraid to speak out and they know those higher ups will do their best to stop any change.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just hospitals and clinics that are top heavy. It’s all over Alberta Health. Go to their administration offices sometime and count the number in managerial or supervisory positions. Now add in various bonuses and quirks like meetings that happen on the golf course. Yes, free golfing for those in Alberta Health in manager positions.

Are you angry yet?

There is a reason the food is inedible. There is a reason there’s a three-year waiting list for a hip replacement. There is a reason hospitals in Edmonton have equipment that’s falling apart. There is a reason there’s not enough long term care facilities.

That reason is fat cats sitting in positions of power that don’t want to give up their space at the trough. Isn’t it time we demanded an accounting for our dollars? How is it that countries like Iceland or Denmark or Finland can do it and we can’t? The wait lists for NECESSARY surgery and long term care are getting longer and absolutely nothing is being done about it. Why aren’t we screaming about those at the top getting cushy wages at the expense of Albertans’ health?

I hope the cats know to steer clear of Edmonton hospitals. I’m pretty sure I know what the mystery meat is.

The Saga of the Commode

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As my readers are aware, I just finished a week in the hospital and I want to share some of the highlights of my stay. Today I’d like to talk about the Saga of the Commode. So sit and grab yourself a coffee. This is a story that never should have happened.

Before I talk about the commode, I need to do two things; explain what a commode exactly is and why I needed it.

A commode is a device that helps a person get to the toilet to do their business. It looks a lot like a chair with wheels and a hole in the seat that your ass hangs out of so you can do your deed. The patient (me, in this case) sits on the seat and a nurse or nurse’s aide can then wheel me into the bathroom. As a diabetic, I used this device a lot. The aides decided they didn’t want to perform this task and that I was perfectly capable of walking into the bathroom on my own after the second day there. I wasn’t and I’ll explain why.

This whole thing started when I slipped and fell on a wet floor and sprained the MCL ligament in my knee. Now, had things been normal, that would have been no big deal as I could have compensated for it and gone on with my life. However, things in my life are rarely normal.

Prior to this injury I had done the following;

  • Radial head fracture to the left elbow – January 2018
  • Radial head fracture to the right elbow – April 2019
  • Prior reconstruction of the ACL ligament in the left knee – 2005
  • Degenerative arthritis in the right knee

The problem was my body was so banged up that I simply couldn’t compensate for the new injury and, as a result, kept falling. After I wound up in emergency for the fifth time I demanded they admit me. I knew going home was a death trap for me. I live alone and have no one to help (more on that later).

That brings me to the commode. It was a lifesaver for me. By the time I was in the hospital, I was simply unable to walk the short distance to the bathroom. To hell with dignity, I needed to pee.

The first commode I was given had only three barely functioning brakes on it. The brakes are important when you’re getting in and out of it, especially when you’re prone to falling like I was. Having brakes that didn’t work meant I was taking my life in my hands every time I went pee. Thus, the nurses and aides were relegated to the duty of using their body weight to keep the thing still.

I’m a large woman. If that thing slipped, not only was I going to do damage to myself but I was taking out whatever poor sod had the misfortune of trying to keep the thing still.

The second commode had functioning brakes but the armrests fell off leaving two metal spikes where the armrests should be. One nurse scratched herself on it and another commode was found.

The third commode had one functioning armrest and three decent brakes. It still was a bit shaky but better than the first two. Problem was it was narrow and me and my roommate were of the larger lady part of the population. It was like trying to pee with my legs crossed.

So this got me thinking. I looked at other equipment in the room. Tables designed to go over the bed had barely functioning wheels and couldn’t be raised or lowered at all. There was one chair in the room for visitors which was all right since that wasn’t much of a problem for me. A TV was mounted on the wall but had long lost its remote meaning that a nurse or aide had to change the channel and adjust the volume at all times. Rule became pick one channel for the day. A&E is far more interesting than I thought.

There were chairs that some of the elderly patients would be placed in that desperately needed replacing. Wheelchairs that looked like they were ready to give up the ghost and more that I’m sure I wasn’t aware of. Even the bathroom was problematic as it was placed directly behind the room’s door which was an accident waiting to happen.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is supposed to be one of the more well-equipped and maintained hospitals in Alberta. That’s what I was told, anyways, but it’s not. The truth is that the equipment meant to make patients comfortable is old and falling apart. So much so that jerry-rigging was an everyday occurrence for the staff.

Can anyone tell me why this hospital, or any hospital in Alberta, is in this state? It was disgusting to see staff and patients struggling with substandard equipment and rooms (which, by the way, have no air conditioning nor way to move air in them. In an Edmonton summer that means you are roasting in a very stifling room).

Sarah Hoffman had four years to make a difference. Now we have Tyler Shandro, a man I have zero confidence in, and I still don’t see anything changing. Is this what we Albertans want our health care to look like? Do we want a health care system that jerry-rigs equipment and overworks staff? That’s when accidents happen and in the medical profession accidents can be deadly.

It is time we Albertans started demanding an accounting of where our health tax dollars are going. Next time it could be you or your loved one in the hospital and Albertans deserve far better than this.

A Week in the Hospital

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I recently spent a week at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta due to repeated falls. It’s a rather involved story as to how I got there but that’s not my point today. Today I’d rather talk about the hospital and some of the conditions.



First, I want to say the nurses were amazing. They all deserve raises. Especially Rosy and Aisha (who work on Section 44). They listened to my fears as though they were profound and always took me seriously. I want to be one of those people who say they do not get paid enough to do what they do and still keep a smile on their face.

Doctors and Therapists

I know they’re busy and, gosh, I didn’t help. However, the doctors and therapists came through. After the tests were run and it turned out to be something fairly minor, they still treated me with respect and dignity.

Nurses’ Aides

This is where things take a dark turn. Some of the aides were helpful and kind but I found that was not the norm. Rather, I found many of them were terse to the point of being rude. They refused to take my concerns seriously and often gave me snarky responses to my questions. Crying (which I did a lot) was met with eye rolls they thought I couldn’t see. Concerns for my safety or well-being were answered with a click of the tongue they thought I couldn’t hear. At one point I had to ring my bedside alarm SIX TIMES before the nurse herself finally came in (she was on her way to another room). Having my alarm ignored was a common practice by the aides. One aide said she thought if she waited I would fall back asleep. My roommate didn’t fare any better with them and I gave up on trying to reason with them.

Going Home

My experience in the hospital gave me a perspective on Alberta’s Health Care system that shocked and alarmed me. This week I’m going to do a series on that experience that will hopefully show people just what’s happening with their tax dollars. To say we can, and should, do better is an understatement. The care that’s being provided is the absolute bare minimum and that minimum isn’t even the best care available. Old and broken equipment, underpaid staff, snarky and rude staff, inedible food…. Albertans should be demanding better for their tax dollars. After a week in the hospital I’ve got only one question:

What is the Alberta Government doing with the money that is supposed to allocated to health care? Why are hospitals having to deal with substandard equipment and food? Where, exactly, dollar for dollar, are our tax dollars going?

Next I will write about my adventures in the emergency room.

Women’s Voices

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Originally published on May 25, 2014 on

I read a blog today by Leigh Patrick called “What a Straight White Man Knows About Strong Women”. In the blog Patrick talks about the strong women of his family. It is this interaction with a few emotionally and psychologically strong women that Patrick assumes he understands feminism. In a Twitter battle where he first accuses me of saying that all men are potential rapists and later calls me an idiot and a psycho, I get the full brunt of his “understanding”. But someone somewhere is missing the point.

I’ve heard the same refrain over and over from other people. It goes like this; person A has met or lived with a woman who is strong and intelligent. This leads person A into the false sense that this experience leads them to have an understanding of what women are like/go through in their lives. The idea being that because the woman or women in their lives were strong that means that all women are strong or have a well of strength to draw upon. After all, this one or few women did it, why can’t we all be like that?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if women and girls around the world were able to draw upon such a well of strength on command? Shouldn’t we all be able to share in this strength? It’s been proven that it can be done. Why not?

Let’s start with circumstances. I’m privileged to live in Canada, a country that embraces diversity and supports those who cannot support themselves. As a Metis woman, I draw upon a culture that has a rich heritage from my Metis side and embody that stubborn Scots blood that runs so thickly through my veins. Yet I realize my privilege and I still struggle with anxiety daily. I see the problems women around me have that are not of their own doing.

I can honestly say I don’t know what it’s like to be a young girl who gets shot for posting a video on YouTube explaining why she wants to go to school. Yet, Malala Yousafzai is one of my heroes. I don’t know what it’s like to be a young girl in Nigeria, ripped away from her home and family simply because she had the audacity to go to school. My heart bleeds for them. I have never been a five year old girl enduring a genital mutilation without anesthetic where my labia is ripped away all in the belief that it will ensure my virginity will remain intact. I have never miscarried five times as a result of beatings administered by a man who kidnapped me and held me as a slave in his basement. Nor have I been a woman who has survived giving birth to a child in that basement amid terror and pain. I am lucky.

The person who has known the strong woman doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a curvy woman and to feel the fear she feels just going outside. He doesn’t hear the whispers or see the stares as she walks down the street. They don’t know what it is to be a young woman dressed in a short skirt on a spring day to get leered at and have guys assume she’s a slut simply because of what she wears. Those strong women don’t look in a mirror and hate what they see because the media says they aren’t perfect. They don’t spent three to four hours on makeup trying to hide the flaws that only they see. Flaws that are beautiful like the brush strokes on a painting.

I’ve heard people rip apart female celebrities because of what they were wearing to an event. Call into question their very existence because of a few snips of fabric. I’m tempted to tell the celebrities to start going naked and see how that fixes the critics’ little red wagon. If a woman like Angelina Jolie is torn down because of a dress, how much better can I fare when wearing shorts from Walmart?

I see women endure abuse, abuse themselves, hurt themselves, hate themselves, injure and kill themselves all because of the pain they hold inside. A woman who is a saint, a mother, a nanny, a caregiver, a grandmother is held in esteem and may be forgiven those mistakes and flaws they have made of themselves. A slut, a whore, a cunt, a bitch, a vixen, a succubus can never be forgiven. She must be ridiculed and beaten down for the error of believing her sexuality, her being is her own. She must be transformed into the Virgin Mary so society can feel safe around her. She must have a husband, although a wife is allowable in some circumstances, to keep her from straying away from her path and becoming a danger to all around her. She must never alter her gender, her genetic code defines her. We do not talk about those who have an XY gene but live as females.

So many women have lost their voices and do not wish to or cannot speak out. They hide in terror at being less than perfect and mutilate their every flaw or imperfection. If I could say one thing to those women it would be this; please show those flaws. They are beautiful. Those scars, those pains, those small things that make you who you are. Please paint them so I can see them. Please be proud of them. They are your flowers. They are your voice. They are you and they are beautiful.

I understand, Mr. Patrick, that you’ve had a few strong women in your life and I applaud them. Most of us, though, aren’t that strong. We’re scared and afraid of the ridicule and scorn we face daily. So we’d appreciate it if, until you’ve experienced some of that, if you’d kindly keep your opinions to yourself. We’ve had enough opinions of who we should be in our lives. We really don’t need another.

The Circus of Alberta Politics

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I am sick to fucking death of #Ableg and what passes for politics in this province. It’s like a bad version of the song, “Stuck in the Middle With You”

“Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right…”

“Stuck in the Middle With You” – Stealers Wheels

And what’s in the centre is starting to look like the goo left in the container in my fridge (sorry, Greg Clark, but it is). We have these three candidates all talking and not a single one is listening. It’s like a bad script that the Three Stooges turned down. The only thing missing is the theme song from American Horror Story. Since our beloved leaders insist on acting like refugees from a bad sitcom, then I’ll treat them as such.


Rachel Notley as the “Good Girl”

Notley will be that proverbial “good girl” who is always trying to do right. She’s the one with the latest fashions and is always involved in all the groups. A cheerleader by nature, there’s nothing she can’t do (except get a pipeline but, by golly, she’s trying). She can flip from being a geek to being an ally in the blink of an eye. You think she’s everyone’s best friend and confident. However, beneath this sparkly exterior is an interior you should beware of. She makes promises and then half-fulfills them. Said she was going to end poverty and then the bulk of the changes she makes only affects children because adults in poverty don’t make feel good stories. Oh and she’s a member of the Glee Club, too.

Jason Kenney as the “Villain”

Kenney thinks of himself as some kind of Sauron figure who is all-knowing and has a ring of power. The truth is he’s more of a Gollum figure who’s tricksy but not much else. He treats people in the same way Gollum fishes. Grabs them by his bare hands and then smashes them against a rock while singing. He’s forever searching for his Precious but those damn hobbits (the media) keep getting in his way. I’m pretty sure there’s a giant spider out there he’s friends with, too, but that may just be my imagination.

Stephen Mandel as the “Heroic Wannabe”

Mandel has this picture in his mind where he’s a cross between the star quarterback and the nature loving hippie. The truth is that he’s so focused on his image and people’s perceptions of him that he never stops to think that he’s actually doing damage. Everyone loves him and when he saves us we’ll thank him (yeah, I’d still love to thank him for that monstrosity in Edmonton called Roger’s Place Arena). The rest of us peons are too simple to understand the grandiosity of his plans. He’s a member of the Glee Club, too but has trouble staying on key.

I am sick to death of the mockery that has become Alberta politics. I look at my friends and see them hurting because of politicians who don’t really give a damn about the people they’re supposed to be serving. Like my one friend who’s been waiting 3 YEARS for a hip replacement and can barely walk some days. Or my other friend who was working above minimum wage before the increase. Now she’s just making minimum wage and there’s no raise in sight. She works for a small business owner who pays her what they can as it is. Or my other friend who finds himself at the whims in the Alberta Oilsands industry. Not one of them is being heard by the politicians who run around in some horrific slapstick of what the Alberta Legislature is supposed to be. Let’s not even start talking about the reconciliation that’s supposed to be happening or the future of AISH recipients once they age out at 65. None of this even touches on rents skyrocketing in Edmonton or the problems in healthcare. Not one of them has even looked at the base amounts for those on Income Support (which haven’t changed since the late 70s). You want a laugh? Ask any one of them what they think about the Universal Basic Income program.

The only person in all of this who has ever approached me to listen to my fears and frustrations was Greg Clark. A man I supported until Mandel stole the leadership away from him. Am I bitter? Yes. Clark is everything a politician is supposed to be and now he’s relegated to the back seat. I guess that’s what you get for actually caring about your constituents.

I’m done. This whole thing makes me sick.


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Okay recently the television show Supernatural announced that season 15 will be their last year and a lot of fans are left reeling from the news. Now I don’t know if it was the announcement or just how my brain works but I recently had a dream about the show. The dream was so much fun that I had to share.

In my dream I was watching the show but all the actors had been replaced with dogs and I had so much fun with it that I thought I’d share who I thought would be played by which breed.

Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) – Great Dane. Looks big and fierce but is really a lap dog.

Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) – Doberman Pinscher. Fierce and loyal. Only cuddly on his terms to his people.

Castiel (Misha Collins) – Black Labrador Retriever. Everybody’s friend and so willing to try whatever his people think is a good idea.

Crowley (Mark Sheppard) – Pit Bull. Looks fierce and everyone’s afraid of him but he’s really a big love bug.

John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Matthew Joseph Cohen) – Mutt. One of those dogs that has a little bit of everything making them the perfect companion.

Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith/Amy Jaclyn Gumenick) – Cocker Spaniel. Lots of energy, loves to have adventures.

Lucifer (Mark Pelligrino) – Siamese cat.

God/Chuck Shurly (Rob Benedict) – Pug. Everyone loves him but no one is really sure what he does.

Gabriel/Loki (Richard Speight Jr.) – Siberian Husky. Into everything and takes a lot of work but has so much personality.

Meg Masters (Rachel Miner) – Greyhound. Beautiful, sleek, intelligent.

Ruby (Genevieve Padalecki/Katie Cassidy) – Basenji. A hunter by nature but looks so sweet and innocent.

There’s so many that I’ve missed that I’ll probably think of later. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments.

Why Getting Fired From Alberta Education is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

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NOTE: This piece was originally published on my other blog, The Blaed on July 13, 2011

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, am in Grant MacEwan’s Applied Communications in Professional Writing Certificate program (going into my second year). In my past I have guest lectured at the University of Alberta (for 10 years running), ran a local theatre company, produced plays, written as a regular contributer for local magazines and been the primary caregiver for my parents. I tell you this so you’ll have an idea about me.

So I was excited to be able to work for the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Education (the specific department shall remain nameless). Here was a chance to step up my career. I had blocked out the trauma of working for the Government of Alberta three years ago and decided this was my chance to shine.

I pride myself in my ability to produce quality work quickly. This blog, for example, will go through one edit before it hits the line. Normally I’d do a couple of them, but I feel this is important. So, I can produce quality work quickly. Let me qualify that; I can produce quality work quickly if I know what it is I’m writing about and the style I’m writing in. I’m fairly adaptable, so I’m comfortable working in a number of styles but this easy, laid-back manner you see here is the one I like best.

So I was hired in June by the Ministry of Education to “tell Education’s story”. Specifically, I was hired in June to use my own laid-back writing style to “tell Education’s story”. “We want *you* to tell Education’s story,” I was told by the man who hired me. All right. I can do that. A week before I was hired I went online and tried to get a sense of what I was getting into. What I saw didn’t comfort me.

Go to the Ministry of Education’s website sometime. It’s chaotic, drowning in government-ese and dry as hell. It says little and what it does say is pretty useless…. in my opinion. However, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I needed this job and I needed to shine. I could do this.

Problems arose in the first week of my employment. I raised the possibility of doing a story on Mr. Bob Maskell, an incredible educator who’s made an impact on so many lives. That was shot down. Good try, I was told, but we couldn’t feature just one educator (who is retired), it’d look like favoritism. No, I thought, it’d look like we appreciate those teachers and educators who dedicated their lives to being the best they could. Never mind, they had another idea.

My boss plopped a document on the table; the “Framework for Action“. This was what they wanted me to write on. This document has been in the making for years and is extremely intricate. There are subtleties and nuances that would take years to decipher. Okay. In my own style, huh? I could do this.

To give you an idea of the task at hand, open the document and read it. I had two days, tops, to learn each section, its history and where it was going then write a 250 word piece on it. Factor in to that I’m not getting to talk to the managers who’s responsible for each section. No. I get documents in legalese and whatever I could find on the Internet. Still, I managed. I thought. First meeting with the boss I found out I didn’t have a clue. Back to the drawing board.

When you work as a journalist, you need to have a feel for your topic. It isn’t necessary to read every document written on it so long as you get an idea of what it’s about. It needs to be accurate, but you don’t have to know every aspect of it. For example, you don’t need to get a pilot’s licence to write about flying for a big airline . Not so with the Ministry of Education. I had to know these things inside and out and they are complicated. So, off to round two.

Between round one and two my mentor decided he was too busy for me so he passed me off to someone else in the office. Was I okay with that? Perspective time; I’m a summer student. I don’t have a lot of room for opinion. Keep your mouth shut and your head down. That’s the summer student’s motto. Even if it means being passed off like a bad date to a co-worker who’s first language is not English. Yes, she had a doctorate in research, but I’m a writer doing writing in English. I’m not a researcher translating my writing. That’s like a penguin trying to teach a duck to swim.

At this point I felt confirmation of my role was needed. My writing was too bland and needed more colour and excitement. I needed anecdotes and examples, my original mentor (still my boss) said. Okay. I can do that. So I let myself go and brought out my writing crayons, so to speak. Time for colour.

The second time around wasn’t as nice as the first time. What on earth was I thinking using anecdotes and examples? That’s not government style of writing. Also, I still had some tense issues (due to actions in the past affecting the future) but that’s easily dealt with. For example, I might write “the report he wrote yesterday will be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting.” Perfectly sound sentence, but not strictly grammatically correct. Also, I didn’t have enough examples and the writing was bland.

By this time I got the help of my new mentor and a co-worker to edit the pieces. I wasn’t seeing something, perhaps they’d see it. We’d edit two or three times before I was comfortable and then I headed for round number three. Oh good lord.

One of the pieces I’d worked on was particularly delicate so I went to the person who’s project it was and asked them to make sure everything was correct. When it was returned to me, this person had thrown out one section completely, two others were deleted (this person and the boss decided they weren’t needed. Was I asked? Nope. I was informed by e-mail) and another was so heavily edited it didn’t resemble anything I’d written. Okay, I thought, I had it wrong. I can do this.

I reworked the pieces and showed the boss who promptly got angry because they were unusuable.  They had no factual information and said little about the actual program. So, digging through my garbage, I got the original I’d written, retyped it and prepared to hand that in.

Now we get to round four. Understand that by this time I’m going home shaking, in tears and becoming dangerously depressed. If it wasn’t for the amazing support of instructors, friends, family and fellow writers, I would have either wound up in the hospital from a suicide attempt or from severe trauma. I could no longer look at my co-workers, let alone talk to them. I thought about giving up writing completely. It was my support network who held me up during this time and told me I could get through it and keep going. Several said I was too good a writer to quit. Even as I write this I’m crying. I can’t help it. I think of that time and can’t function.

By this time I was going to work not with the idea of producing anything quality, I felt like a hostage to a sociopath. All I wanted to do was give them what they wanted so they’d let me go. From 7 am to 4 pm, working through lunches and breaks, all I kept thinking was, “they said I could leave at the end of August.”

So, now I was given the instructions to “write in Government Voice.” Let me back this truck up a minute. There are classes dedicated to learning this style. There are writers who specialize in this style and take years to perfect it. Government writing style is very precise and there is an art to it. I have never written in this style in my life. This style is not interesting to me, it’s very bland and like chewing on drywall. However, those who can do it well have my utmost respect.

Let’s toss in here a round of computer problems that took three days to fix because the IT guys forgot to hook me up to the right network. Oh, now let’s add the fact that none of the people in charge of the projects are allowing me to talk to them. Instead, I’m handed documents in legalese that outline the project. I’m supposed to decipher these and make them understandable in government style. I leap over tall buildings in a single bound and dress in leather as a bat and stop crimes in my spare time, too.

So, back to round four. My boss walks into my office and informs me I’m texting too much on my phone. I text to keep me in touch with people who keep me sane, by the way.  He then spends the next hour and half to two hours asking me if I’m “supported” (I felt like we were talking about me needing a jock strap). Talk about turning up the pressure. Yes, on the surface he was asking me if he could help me. Yet, in the same breath he’d say things like, “I need results” and “I expected more.” This “chat” let me know I was on my last legs and yet I still had no clue what they wanted.

I called up my doctor, a wonderful man who knows me and knows I don’t ask to see him often, asking to see about medicating me for stress. I may not do well with most psychiatric drugs (learned that while trying to deal with my sleeping disorder), but maybe there was an herbal remedy he could recommend.

Yesterday I gave it one more try. I gave my boss work I wasn’t proud of, work I’d never admit to doing, work so sterilized of any life I didn’t recognize it. He hated it. No, not the sterilization. He liked that. What he pointed out was places I’d missed a comma (I got 15 minutes on that) or places he felt were unclear (three other people had read them several times. He was the only one that thought those places were a problem). In other words, he was looking for trouble and found it. By the time it was over, he looked at me and said, “if you can’t give me what I ask for, you’ll never make it as a writer in any corporation.”

He crossed a line. I reached past all the crap I’d been handed in the past month and stopped listening to him. The corrections he wanted took only a half hour to make but I drew it out all afternoon. I was going to quit at the end of the month. I kept hearing his words in my head over and over and got angrier and angrier. Over and over again I’d produced quality work that he’d told me he wanted. Over and over it wasn’t good enough. I had to spend three and half hours listening to Ministry of Education employees pat themselves on the back and being paraded around instead doing the job I was being paid to do. I had to listen to my bosses “are you being supported” speeches over and over instead of getting clear instructions. Now I was being told I was a mediocre writer and never going to be a professional. Yes, I was angry.

By the time I was fired this morning I didn’t care. I cried tears of relief as I packed up my things and left. Here’s what the boss who was so concerned if I was being supported did; he read my termination from a letter then walked out. He didn’t have the decency to ask me if I had anything to say or even say to me “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.” He left and went on his way.

I feel better now being without a job than I have in the past month. I’m free and I can go back to doing what I love; writing. I don’t know what will come of this blog, probably nothing. I do know this; I wrote this on the fly and it’s not bad and it feels so good to just write again.

Media and Politics

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When I was a 20-something with big dreams, no clue and a broken inner compass, I decided on journalism. As someone with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (although I didn’t know it at the time), journalism was perfect for me. Tell the story, don’t get involved, know all the facts. The rules were clear. I could do this.

Journalism is a weird hybrid, inbred creature. A journalist does not involve themselves in the story. A journalist is merely a tool to help tell the story. I loved being able to chase a story down and then getting that last minute twist that threw everything you thought you knew out the window.

See, here’s the rules; the journalist is unbiased. No matter your own personal beliefs, you tell the story as it comes to you. That’s it. You don’t get an opinion. The story is the telling of facts. You don’t omit or twist facts to get the story you want. A journalist works for their readers. Not the paper or station, not the editor or owner. The audience. A slant is allowed but if the slant breaks the rules, it’s out. You have the option of not telling a story.

That’s how it used to work. Now, the audience new they weren’t getting the whole story sometimes or there were some stories that were buried but the media was trusted to tell the truth. However, in the last couple of decades or so something bizarre has happened in the world of media.

It used to be that the media was owned by various people. In my own city of Edmonton, Alberta, the people that owned The Edmonton Journal were different from those who owned The Edmonton Sun. Now both are owned by Postmedia. These are the same people that own The Calgary Herald, The Calgary Sun and The Daily Herald-Tribune in Grande Prairie. One media company owns all the major daily newspapers (or dailies) in Alberta.

Why is this frightening?

Traditionally the media has been a watchdog of politicians. Watergate never would have been uncovered if it hadn’t been for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post. However, lately things have changed and it all has to do with who owns what.

When the media was in the hands of smaller companies, they competed with each other to get the story out. That was journalism. They also competed to ensure they were more trustworthy than the other. Now that the media is owned by a few large corporations there is no drive to keep them trustworthy. A large corporation with a large wallet doesn’t really care about a few small lawsuits. The media is no longer driven by the public’s need to know. Now it’s being driven by a corporation’s need to get information out. More specifically, get the right information out.

Back in May of 2015, The Edmonton Journal acknowledged that Postmedia told them to write a story endorsing Jim Prentice’s bid for Premier of Alberta. Not only did they tell the Journal to do this but they also told The Edmonton Sun, The Calgary Herald and The Calgary Sun to do the same thing.

Are you scared yet?

Now Alberta elected Premier Rachel Notley and we’re now seeing her being vilified in major media. There’s some seepage happening, too. She’s also being demonized in major social media as well. Social media that media outlets are quick to use. Truth be told, Notley could save orphans from a burning building and they’d nail her to a tree saying she didn’t prevent the fire.

And this is happening throughout the western world.

We learned that fake news was happening online and that major media was picking up on those stories. It’s part of how Donald Trump got elected. The same thing is happening here in Canada. Look at the mess that is Doug Ford and if you think he’s content with Ontario, think again.

This isn’t ending. It’s just beginning. I’m not one to cry wolf but I see a furry dog-like creature heading our way and its hungry.

Playing the Victim

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I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I was raped. More than once. I’m sorry that the memory of it sticks with me to this day as a kind of awful background noise that colors everything I say and do. I’m sorry that makes you uncomfortable. I’m sorry that in this era of #MeToo, I am starting to feel like I can finally talk about it. I’m sorry that you want me to shut up. I’m sorry it still hurts and makes me stop during my day to wonder what I did wrong.

I’m sorry I was abused. I’m sorry that my mother was so messed up about my sister suffering severe bullying that she thought handing me over to her was a good idea. I’m sorry that my sister took such pleasure in finding new ways to torment me all in the name of “discipline”. I’m sorry talking about it helps me to put it into perspective. I’m sorry I’ve tried to connect with others like me on the internet to share our stories.

I’m sorry I have Nonverbal Learning Disorder. I’m sorry I haven’t said the right thing or done the right thing or made you feel better or praised you enough or stood in the right spot. I’m sorry I got distracted again. I’m sorry I melted down again. I’m sorry I don’t understand when you’re joking. I’m sorry I don’t know how to organize my clutter.

I’m sorry I’m a woman. I’m sorry that I have to struggle harder than you do just to achieve the same things you do. I’m sorry that I have to point out when you’re being a douche. I’m sorry that I have to go to the bathroom in packs because I’m afraid a man will follow me in and attack me. Again. I’m sorry I carry my keys in my fist. I’m sorry I don’t walk outside at night. I’m sorry that these things make me angry and I want to change them. I’m sorry that I want to make things better for the women coming behind me just as others made it better for me.

I’m sorry I’m fat. I know how that offends you. I’m sorry I have an eating disorder. I’m sorry I have diabetes. I’m sorry I don’t exercise four or five hours a day. I’m sorry I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I’m sorry my anxiety makes me seek out certain foods. I’m sorry I’m not strong enough to be thin. I’m sorry I’m not wise enough to be the person you want me to be.

I’m sorry I’m playing the victim just by existing. I’ll try to do better in the future.

Mute and Block

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A while ago I began looking through my social media sites to see who I had blocked. I was curious and made a discovery. The worst of the trolls that I had to use the block button on were temporary or fake accounts that could be linked back to one or two people.

Let me explain what’s going on.

I make a radical statement like women deserve equal pay and the incels come out of the woodwork to bombard me with a barrage of tweets and posts saying that I hate men, I should kill myself, I deserve to be alone and worse. I have had up to 30 or 40 tweets in a couple of hours flood my Twitter feed. There are subjects that are almost as bad. Anything having to do with #MeToo is almost guaranteed to create a furor. #BlackLivesMatter can wind you up in a sticky mess and don’t even get me started on the anti-vaxxers or anti-choice people. #MAGA people are pros at opening the flood gates for something as simple as speaking out against Trump’s racism.

But when I took a closer look at things I was surprised. Now, I didn’t look deeply because I don’t have that much knowledge, time or patience but it seemed to me there were a lot of shady accounts happening. I did a quick Google search and found out there are blogs dedicated to showing you how to create fake accounts.

It should come as no surprise that this is a problem but I don’t think people have thought this through. It’s a bigger problem than anyone has paid attention to and it’s not getting better.

When I talk online about a subject, it’s important to me. There are some biggies I have like poverty and women’s rights but I’m not just flapping my keyboard to keep the pixels moving. There’s a reason I say the things I do and that’s so I can be heard.

It used to be that I had a variety of followers on my various social media. At one time I would chat with those on the right and they would chat with me. Sure we were each convinced the other was wrong but we tipped our hats to each other and gave each other room to breathe.

That’s not happening anymore.

Now when I type something, my mouse starts to smoke with all the blocking I’m having to do or reporting fake accounts. In the midst of all this are people who want to have a real conversation and ask real questions but I can’t respond because I’ve been flooded. My opportunity to connect with someone on the other side has been taken away from me.

However, when you report this flooding to the powers that be, it doesn’t violate their code of conduct and they start telling you to mute or block. Can anyone tell me why it’s up to me to regulate the behaviour of others on social media and not the responsibility of those who run these sites? When someone says I need to be raped, why do I have to shut that down instead of Twitter or Facebook?

People like me are being bombarded by these people in the hopes that the overwhelming amount of vitriol being flung will make me give up and go away. In many cases it’s worked. We are being slowly silenced and our ability to connect is being strangled. It is time that stopped. It is more than time that these social media sites stepped up to the plate and started assuming the mantle of responsibility instead of relying on people to use the mute or block button. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest make too much money to get away with such lazy and complicit behaviour.

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