The Housing Crisis as Seen From Below

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There is a new bill up for debate in the Alberta Legislature that would end child-free housing in Alberta. What this means is there would no longer be anymore adult only buildings. This sounds great on paper and, as a matter of fact, Mark Holmgren, a man I admire greatly, advocates for it on his blog post. However, the idea horrifies me and I don’t think people have thought this through completely.

I don’t have kids for a reason and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve said this before in previous posts and, yes, that makes me an asshole. However, that’s not why I’m against this. The only reason this is up for debate in the Alberta Legislature is because kids make for a great photo op and politicians earn brownie points when they look like they’re fighting for kids. Let’s look at the real cost of this bill, shall we? Here I present three real life stories of people I know who will be impacted negatively by this bill.

Lady Grace

I’m going to call this lady Grace because she’s tried to live her life with the kind of grace and acceptance that few attain.

Grace wanted to be a mother all her life. When she was very small she’d play with her dolls, caring for them as if they were live babies. She never resented helping her mother care for her younger siblings. She looked forward to a time when she would have children of her own.

She married a wonderful man and became pregnant right away. Sadly, she lost the baby in the first trimester. Then there was a second. Then a third. Then a hysterectomy. Her husband felt helpless and their marriage didn’t survive.

No one knows the pain of losing a child unless you’ve been through it. Grace battled depression even as she desperately tried to move on with her life. Yes, she could have adopted but she never quite bounced back from those three miscarriages.

Grace now lives in adult-only buildings. Living next door to families is just too much for  her to deal with and can spin her downward into a suicidal spin. Now, though, she may have no choice. So her life is put at risk so politicians can earn brownie points.

Ernie

Ernie was severely and repeatedly abused by his father from a very young age. His father was a sexual sadist who would alternate between beating and raping him. Ernie survived his childhood by running away and eventually getting help to deal with his demons.

One of his demons involves pedophilia. Even though he’s never looked at a child sexually or even thought about it, Ernie is afraid that what his father did to him left him damaged in ways that have yet to manifest. This is one of the things he sees a psychologist for. His biggest fear is that he will turn into his father.

As a result, Ernie lives in adult only buildings. Living next to children is terrifying to him. Whether the world understands it or not, Ernie is trying to keep himself safe. Now, though, he will have to sacrifice his security so politicians can have the opportunity to say they’re fighting for families.

Me

I live with Nonverbal Learning Disorder. An easy way to understand this is if ADD and Autism had a love child, it’d be NLD. As a result, I often suffer from sensory overload which causes me to try and focus on every single thing I’m seeing and hearing at the same time. Yes, this leads to panic attacks.

I currently live in a family friendly complex and it’s a fresh version of hell daily. Kids screech at volumes best reserved for slasher flicks. Parents yell, bringing up memories of my own abusive home life growing up. I am now doing my best to save up so I can move into a building that doesn’t have children.

Am I selfish? Probably. The truth is I don’t want to have to pay daily because someone else chose to have children. I don’t think I’m out of line here when I say please don’t inflict your children on me.

Conclusion

Should there be more family-friendly housing in Alberta? Hell yes. Then again, there should be more adult only housing. More senior’s housing. More housing for veterans. More low income housing period. However, if we want to look at the truth of the situation, let’s look back to those same politicians who are wringing their hands over a lack of housing for children.

Here in Edmonton there has been a frenzy of development for the kind of neighbourhoods that house the good folks. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Boxy little houses in boxy little neighbourhoods with boxy little people leading boxy little lives. They regulate everything from what kind of fence you can have to what kind of grass you can plant so they can always be assured that housing values will always rise. That way the good folk never have to worry about *that* element in their neighbourhood.

Worse is what has happened downtown. Luxury highrises going up faster than a porn star’s dick. Oh sure they look beautiful and I’m sure they have amazing features and views. The result of these highrises is always the same; rent prices increase in a city where a cheap one bedroom costs upward of $1000/month. Capital Region Housing Corporation is overwhelmed already and these highrises do nothing but cause more strain on an already overburdened system.

Want to know who’s to blame for the current housing problem the poor face? Point your fingers to greedy developers who build faster than they can sell and the politicians who approve those developments while older and poorer neighbourhoods go overlooked yet again. The poor are pushed into those neighbourhoods where crime is rampant until the benevolent politician gods see them and decide to develop them. Then rents rise again and the poor move again.

Eliminating adult only buildings is only going to cause more problems and is just another band aid fix to a problem capitalism and politicians created. There is a fix to this problem but not one politician wants to take a look at it. It’s called the Basic Income Program.

But, fuck it. The poor only matter as a photo op.

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One Percent

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All I have are words.

There is a battle going on in society today and I’m afraid I’m woefully underprepared. I would like to say that my mighty lance and fiery charger are armored up and ready to slay the dragons but that would be a lie.

See, the revolution that’s being waged is against the wealthy 1% and they are more than prepared for this battle. They’ve been waging this war since the Middle Ages in one form or another and they’ve had time to sharpen their teeth.

The latest battlefield is Ontario’s Basic Income Project. Oh, I know, so insignificant to that dragon we shall call One Percent, isn’t it? I mean, can they even locate Ontario on a map? Believe me when I say that this battle is more significant than you realize.

Okay, so let’s go back in history for a moment. Once upon a time it was a lord’s duty to see that all the people living on his land were taken care of. Very often he would ride around with his entourage dispensing justice or aid where necessary. In return, the people farmed the land and made the goods that the lord traded or sold. There was a balance. If the lord or king ever failed in his duty or demanded too much of the people, they were happy to replace him.

Let’s just say this didn’t mean a nice, quiet retirement for him.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. Instead of lords and peasants we got governments and people. It should have worked, this system. Everyone has a voice and everyone can be heard but recently it’s started breaking down.

I’m not going to go into the pyrrhic victory that is Trump’s rule. That horse has been well and truly beat. I’m going to talk about the bone-deep weariness I have every time the government shows its ignorance in its duties. The absolute rage I have at those in power using their position to masturbate their egos rather than do their duty. The soul wrenching sorrow I feel at those who must pay the price for the government’s unwillingness to remember what their duty is.

When the Ontario government introduced their Basic Income Project I cheered. At last we were gaining some ground on One Percent. Basic income would mean that the playing ground would finally be levelled out some and everyone could have an equal chance regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or who their daddy was.

But we can’t have that, can we?

See, One Percent does have a fear. That fear is that those people at the bottom of the pile, those who have been repressed and abused for centuries, will finally wake up and realize that the One Percent is no longer needed. One Percent has built a house of cards called Capitalism that relies on certain “truths” of society . It needs the poor to constantly pour money and goods upwards to feed its belly. To keep the feast coming, One Percent has perpetuated racism, fear mongering, hate, ignorance and division. So long as we fight each other, we ignore the true horror that is Donald Trump and Doug Ford and Jason Kenny. So long as we nip at each other’s heels we fail to see the smoke and mirrors act going on.

That is exactly what Ford and his crew are relying on.

Ford is hoping we will be too busy being outraged by Melania’s coat or the next trumpite being an asshole to really do anything about the removal of the Basic Income Project. The Basic Income Project represented a real weapon in the fight against inequality and he’s hoping we won’t notice when it’s removed.

We are in the middle of a revolution and it’s now we need to fight. This revolution is taking place online and we cannot allow One Percent to win. We have to keep fighting and taking back our ground.

So use your social media to fight. Write blogs and post videos. Phone and email Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod even if you’re not in Canada. Let them know we’re not giving up. Let them know they have an obligation to their people.

Don’t let One Percent win.

Suicide & NLD

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again the issue of suicide has popped up again on the media radar. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have managed to bring it to everyone’s plate and now we get to watch as social media spins out its version of “thoughts and prayers” in the form of “reach out.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s good advice. Completely useless to someone who is currently flirting with killing themselves but good advice. What happens, though when you add Nonverbal Learning Disorder to the mix? Are we NLD Superheroes more susceptible to suicide as someone once suggested to me? To be honest, I don’t know. All I can talk about is my own experience with suicide and suicidal ideation.

If I’m going to be completely transparent here, and I must for the sake of this conversation, I have to admit that I’ve attempted suicide. Suicide by fate, I call it. As a teen who survived abuse and found herself unwanted by her family (my sister was my abuser), I felt tired. Tired of fighting to survive. Tired of trying to reach out to my family again and again and being rejected. Tired of trying to figure out how to live in this confusing world. I was tired down to my soul and I just wanted to rest.

I was nothing if not creative so I decided to let fate decide if I should live or die. At this time I was involved in an evangelical Christian group and fate was another word for God. If God wanted me to live, He’d show me. So, I took to jaywalking.

Here’s what would happen. I’d need to get from one side of the road to another. Didn’t matter what road it was, a residential street or busy thoroughfare, I’d jaywalk. However, I never bothered to check for traffic. I don’t know if any gods had their hand in my survival but even though I came close many times, I was never hit by a car.

My life at that time was pure chaos. Evangelicals pretended to care about my soul while  they dictated how I should live while my family showed no interest in where I was or who I was with. At the time my Nonverbal Learning Disorder was undiagnosed and I may have had a celestial being or two looking out for me because I never wound up on the side of a milk carton, either. Despite many opportunities to end up there.

So what does any of this have to do with Nonverbal Learning Disorder?

As I stated earlier, post-celebrity suicide is when everyone on social media advises those with mental illness to “reach out.” If you have NLD, that’s a whole new level of WTF.

Those of us who have to live with NLD are the proverbial odd shaped pegs trying to fit in a square peg world. We pretzel ourselves into being something we’re not just so we can be seen as high functioning. This places an unbelievable amount of pressure on us and only makes the existing anxiety and depression that are NLD’s sidekicks that much harder to control.

Having NLD means functioning in a different vibration from the rest of the world. The resulting clash that comes when our functioning meets the tidal wave of “normal behaviour” ends up in anxiety and depression. Does this automatically put NLD people at risk of suicide? I don’t know. I have no answers.

What I do know is the advice to “just reach out” is useless. As someone with NLD there’s a few questions I have about that. Reach out to who? Tell them what? When do I reach out? Is there a guidebook I can consult? Communication is one of the problems people with NLD have. Are the people we’re reaching out to aware of that? If so, do they know how to understand us?

Suicide is a problem and feeling isolated is a part of it. So instead of saying “reach out,” I’ll give some different advice. Go out and learn what your options are. NLD people are great at gathering information. So go out and use that to your advantage. Learn how to access the medical community. Learn how to build a network of support and coping mechanisms.

I don’t have any answers when it comes to suicide and NLD. All I know is what I’ve experienced. If you’re feeling suicidal, please know you’re not alone.

A Concerned Citizen

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Someone was murdered last night,
I didn’t know who she was.
A bank was robbed,
It wasn’t mine.
The Russians and Americans aren’t talking,
I’m Canadian, though.
Terrorists hijacked a 747,
I don’t like to fly, however.
The workers are on strike,
But I’m unemployed.
A drunk driver killed a little boy,
He wasn’t my son.

As I read the paper
Someone is smoking nearby.
So I stand up
And demand my rights as a non-smoker.
Hell, someone’s got to do something.
After all,
It’s for the good of mankind.

Originally written: June/87

The Loss of Beauty

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It’s so easy to lose your beauty. I’m not talking about that which time steals. I mean the part deep inside that knows magick is real and stares in wonder at the bumblebee landing on the dandelion.

We have it as children but it fades with each “grow up” we hear or every bit of ugliness we see. We become adults who pretend to see beauty but it’s a faded replica of what we knew as children.

Why is it better to know that Santa’s not real and the Tooth Fairy is really your parents? When did believing in fantastical reality become a sin? We laugh at the dad playing tea party with his daughter or the mom throwing a baseball with her son. When did bouquets of dandelions fall out of fashion?

A short time ago I decided to try to find my beauty. Like Frodo, I’m on a wondrous adventure. Sometimes my journey is fill with amazing friends while other times I’m achingly alone. I’m off to conquer Mordor, the burden of a gold ring known as Reason weighs down my steps. I hear “you can’t” or “that’s not reasonable” or “be mature” like arrows tipped with dots of poison.

Each day I scan the skies for the dragons I know are there. I search the honeysuckle tree for my fae friends. The dragonfly whispers its message to me.

“Beauty is there,” he says. “Just look and see.”

A New Day

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I’ve made a decision. I’m starting a new religion because I’m tired of people waving their religions around like a mace and bashing people in the head with it. That shit belongs on the set of Game of Thrones not real life and certainly not in politics. So, I’m making a new religion. One that, hopefully, will let people live and worship in peace. Like any religion, though, it has to have rules so here goes;

  1. Worship as you will. It doesn’t matter what building or park or house or pool or bar you go to commune with your god. It doesn’t matter if you wear a scarf, a colander, a yarmulke or even a stuffed ferret on your head. It doesn’t matter if you kneel, dance, do a jig or wave knives in the air. What matters is your relationship with your god. If that relationship is comfortable (it should feel like two old friends going out for a beer type of comfortable) then you’re doing it right. However, just because you have that level of comfort with your god doesn’t mean you get to force others to believe what you do. Don’t get all pissy because others want to worship their own gods.
  2. Ask questions and seek answers. Your god gave you a brain to use. Stop turning it off and do what you’re supposed to do. Question everything. Keep seeking answers. For the love of all that’s living, keep learning. Respect scientists for it’s their job to ask questions and seek answers. Protect them. Listen to them. Remember that teachers come in all forms and not all of them may be human. It is your job to hear what they’re teaching you.
  3. Reaffirm your connection to the world and the universe. You are a part of a species called humans. Reconnect with your species. ALL OF THEM. You are a part of this world. Examine your world and understand your place in it. Know that you are not the pinnacle of anything simply because you’re bipedal or have opposable thumbs.
  4. Live a balanced life. The Universe loves balance in all forms. Light/dark, good/evil, hot/cold… everything comes in balance. Live your life accordingly. Remember that true balance is not stagnation. True balance is motion and growth. The tree is balanced between its roots in the earth and its branches that stretch to the sky and it is always growing. When you find your balance, and it is unique to you, then you can become a truly aware being and true growth can happen.
  5. Respect your world. Respect the Earth. This is the only one you have. Care for it. Love it. Heal it. For you are a child of the Earth and it is your duty to respect and care for it.
  6. Use the tools given to you. Mankind has created such wonders as science, medicine, technology. Don’t turn your back on them simply because you believe they’re “not natural” or anti-spiritual. The very act of creating is a spiritual act of itself. Respect that. There are many, many tools available in the world. Some come from the Earth itself, others come from humans. Respect them all and use them wisely.
  7. Love. Love yourself and others. Every creature on this Earth has a life and a right to live that life. If you find that you cannot love someone then move on and cause no harm to them. Know that when you love yourself deeply, you will realize what a wondrous and miraculous creature you are. Magick lives within you if you only want to see it.
  8. Live fully. You were given the gift of life. Use that gift to its full advantage. Experience all that life has to give you and let it guide you. Do not waste this life thinking there’s another waiting for you if you only perform the right rituals. This life is here and now. Don’t waste it by worrying about what the future may or may not have.
  9. Be fierce in your protection. Not all in the world is pure and good. Evil exists. Not in some mystical, magical way but in a very real, very immediate sense. It is your duty to protect your world, your loved ones and yourself by speaking out, by making a difference, by doing. Do not assume others will do it for you. Even a small voice can be heard in the silence.

This is my religion. I invite you to follow with me.

Evolution

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2016 has been a horrific year. Between mass murders, deaths, racial tensions and Donald Trump; I keep hoping the gods will jump out and say, “just kidding!!” However, that will never happen. No powerful being is going to pull us out of this one no matter how many prayers you throw at the dead and dying. It’s up to us to change the direction of our destiny.

We have an opportunity here to do something amazing. To be more than we are and we can do it one person at a time but it won’t be easy. Evolving is painful and difficult but if humanity is to survive, we have to do it. Each person can have a hand in it and know they helped humanity to move forward. To evolve.

First I ask you to set aside your religious beliefs for a moment. I’m not saying give them up but, rather, just put them in a box to the side for a bit. Be human before you put on the mantle of your Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism or Wicca or whatever. Put all that to the side and just be human without the help of gods or written words or holy men. Just, for a second, be human in all its frailties and foibles. Be human in all its glory and wonder. Just be human.

Second, put aside your things. Oh, I know, they’re important things. Houses and cars and clothes and boats and bikes and… things. Just put them aside for a moment. They’ll still be there when you return. I promise. Just put them on the shelf for a second so you can remember your humanity without the burden of things.

Third, the next time you come across a living creature, take a look at it. It might be a person, it might be a butterfly or a dog or a monkey. Just look at them without the tint of religion or the white noise of things. See them. Know that they are struggling to live just like you. Understand that they have as much right to be on this earth as you.

Now look at the world around you. See it for the first time without the noise of society and religion and things. Understand that you’re an intricate part of that whole. That your place in that whole matters. It matters without the religion and the words and the things and society. You matter. You’re important.

The last part that I ask you to do is the hardest. Take up your religion and your things. Now see them as you have the rest of the world. Some will hold up to your scrutiny and some won’t. You have to decide what to do with them.

One thing I will tell you is that once you see the things and the religions without the white noise of what “should” be, they will start to look very different than you once assumed them to be. It’s not that they’re unimportant or wrong but that they may not have the shape and size they once had in your life and that’s ok. It’s when this happens that the truly important things can enter your life. Things like a love of life, an acceptance of that which is different from yourself, respect and love for yourself and others. True love and respect, not the mouthings we voice daily.

I challenge everyone to try this. 2016 should teach us something important; that we matter, that we are part of a whole. Unless man evolves beyond his infantile ways and temper tantrums, we will not survive.

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