The Abyss of Indifference

The Brock Turner case has me gutted.  The awful story of the Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted a young unconscious woman and left her behind a dumpster.  The guy who was reportedly so great, that they posted his swimming times to get you on board with their horribly flawed thinking that ‘he’s an athlete, so he’s awesome and this was a mistake’.  A MISTAKE.  An OOPS.   Thinking an elephant can do ballet in a pink tutu is a MISTAKE.   He raped an unconscious college student. SO MUCH MORE THAN A MISTAKE.   Could have been my daughter.  Or your daughter. She is somebody’s daughter. Amidst the online outrage and social media comments, it’s devastating to think this happened at all.  Heartbreaking for the victim, devastating to think this young man feels that he has a defense and moreover, actually justified in what he did.  And so does his father!  And apparently the male judge.   There is no defense for rape.  It is immoral, illegal, horrendous and WRONG. ALL KINDS OF WRONG.  I read his statement to the judge.  He was sorry for drinking.  He was sorry ‘this happened’.  He was sorry he got caught up in the ‘party culture’.  Never once did he deny he raped the woman.  Never once did he say he was sorry for a total disregard for her well-being, her health, or her safety by dragging her behind a dumpster and assaulting her!!  Never once did he even acknowledge his responsibility.  Everybody else was having sex so he thought he should too?!  Willing or unwilling partner, conscious or unconscious it was all the same.   It was the drinking that made him do it??!! IT WAS A MISTAKE.

There were many injustices with this case, not just the appalling lack of jail time of a mere 6 months which was a slap in the face of victims everywhere, but also the abhorrent disregard for the victim here.  The total lack of empathy for her as a human being was horrifying to me.

I see the tweets from women who are angry and news outlets are running around looking for legal experts who are frothing at the mouth just waiting for their chance to trash the judge who thought it was too hard for the boy who is a great swimmer to spend more time in jail than six months.  And the father who said his son shouldn’t have to pay a huge price for “20minutes of action.”  ACTION??!!!!  WRONG ANSWER. WRONG.  What happened to people?  Has humanity taken a giant leap into the abyss of indifference that we blindly allow our kids to do whatever it is they want without consequence?  Without conscience?  With total disregard for someone else?  Really?

I’m looking at the parents here.  What makes a young man think that it’s okay to sexually assault, physically assault, verbally assault ANYONE, let alone a woman without regard to her as a person?  SHE IS A PERSON.  A HUMAN BEING.  How did he not see that?

THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM.

He did not see her as a human with feelings or thoughts or intelligence.  She was an object to him.  Something he could use at his discretion and toss aside.  Willing or not.  Conscious or not.   There is something wrong when a young man possesses such a level of omnipotence and entitlement to make him believe that anything about this was okay; that it was okay to drag a young unconscious woman to a secluded place behind a dumpster to have sex with her whether she knew it or not.  Consented or not.  Aware or not!   Or maybe he had a hunch that it was wrong, hence the move behind the dumpster thing, but hey, nobody will find out so who cares?  If that was his thinking, then that’s even more disturbing.

Respect for people who include women, children, men, grandparents, was that ever given a thought?  Community obligations?  School?  Friends?  We have to find out what went wrong that made this seem like an okay evening activity for this kid. Where did he get the idea that this was fine?  Acceptable behaviour?  And then not take responsibility for anything.  She was drunk.  I was drunk.  It was a party.  What?!  Young adults and teens have to be made to take responsibility for their shit.  I’m not just talking about school, although that’s a good start.  Be responsible for their friends, for their jobs for their community for their parents’ feelings.  People have feelings, as basic a notion as that is, it’s hard for some kids to even see their parents as people.  The parents.  They tell us what to do.  Tell us where we should be, how to behave, who to hang out with, to clean our room, to be nice to the neighbour’s cat…they also laugh, cry and hurt, feel pain.  Human stuff.   Fact.  Parents are people.  People have feelings.  So do girls and boys and men and grandpas and grandmas and that young drunk woman over there who is unconscious lying behind the dumpster!!   Remember the feelings board?  This is Kindergarten stuff.

Maybe if that comes first, then this wouldn’t happen as often.

Not that it will never happen again, there are bad things that happen to good people all of the time.  That’s life.  But better parents make better children and those children grow up to be better adults and better adults make better parents and better parents make better children; in the basic cyclical sense, this is how it is supposed to be.   AND, by ‘better’ I mean respectful, responsible, kind, empathetic, intelligent…

I posted the video below because it was awesome in its simplicity and its message.  Consent.  So in line with respect.

It really isn’t that hard.  Share it, breathe it, live it.

There are heroes to this story who should be applauded.  Not just for stepping in and helping a victim of a heinous crime, but for not even thinking about NOT helping.  There was no thought, only selfless action on their part.  THEIR 20MINUTES OF ACTION DESERVE MORE ATTENTION, APPLAUSE AND PRAISE.

Carl Arndt and  Peter Jonsson ,both from Sweden

 

 

 

 

 

East Coast Trail The Sequel, With Art and Everything!

We, meaning the ladies and I and a few little ones, embarked on our second epic East Coast trail hike last Sunday morning onto Cobbler Path.

2016 645  A 4kms and change hike into awesomeness that can only be described as steep and climby and a wee bit sweary.   Although it wasn’t raining…it was foggy, instead.  Newfoundland weather never disappoints.

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See over the cliff?  That’s the ocean.  See it? IT’S RIGHT THERE! 

So foggy, I couldn’t see the ocean…which was a bummer because who doesn’t like to see the ocean?   AND, we had to walk/hike/climb and of course, swear up the long stairs onto a steep cliff to look down and see…nothingness.  White nothingness.  Ugh.  At least we got through it…with a balancing act of epic proportions, I might add.

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  WHERE ARE THE DAMNED RAILINGS?!!

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The last pics are the artwork we found on the buildings just as we were heading out of Red Cliff.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

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They are waiting for me to cross the rocks and water.  Smartasses.  

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Graceful as fuck.  Again. 

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We are happy we are not lost in the fog…BTW…THERE’S THE OCEAN IN THE BACKGROUND.  WE FOUND IT. 

Wow…a wee bit sweary, but interesting for sure…

Our next adventure we are expecting to see actual vistas…and scenes.  And hopefully each other at some point.  One of the ladies is hoping there will be railings on the stairs, but I’m not holding my breath.

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http://www.eastcoasttrail.ca/

http://eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/view.php?id=22

 

East Coast Trail Hike

So, the ladies have decided to try to conquer some of the East Coast Trails this summer and I decided in my infinite wisdom to join them.  We attempted one of the ‘easier’ trails on Saturday amidst the rain and muck and slippery-as-fuck rocks.  Did I say I ‘attempted’ the trail?  Yeah.

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The cliff of no return

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Graceful as fuck

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I’m over here!

As you can see by the photos, I’m not only waaaay behind ALL of them, I’m also as graceful as fuck when crossing the streams and smooth as silk rocks that beg you to just TRY to pirouette over them without slamming your face into theirs.  Seriously, East Coast Trail Association…your definition of ‘easy’ is so very different than mine.

Also, notice the sky high cliffs with the death-drops that defy anyone to take a jump and actually live to tell about it.  Bestie is not allowed to work at the suicide hotline after saying she could give tips if someone really wanted to be done away with life.  “I could just tell them where the best cliff is to make sure they’re not coming back.  No question on that one.   Oooh…just look at that drop!  There’s NO WAY your face will be recognizable after that!”  See?  She is your go-to girl for maps on telling life to take a flying leap…literally.

I’m expecting the next adventure to be just as ‘fun’ as this one.  It was enjoyable, except for the ‘wait for me’ and ‘do we have to cross that rushing water again?’ moments.  I’m just glad I didn’t have to pee.

 

Here are the links where to find the trails and the descriptions of each one.  If you’re out this way this summer, take on a trail but be prepared.  Take water, snacks, maps and maybe somebody who is sturdy on their feet.

http://www.eastcoasttrail.ca/

Our first foray into trail hiking was this one:  Silver Mine Head Path http://eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/view.php?id=24

 

 

 

 

Positive Parenting

With all the bad news in the world, I thought it would be a perfect time to engage everyone into tips on parenting young people.  You know.  So, we can move forward into the great unknown with a renewed sense of purpose through empowering our young people to be more positive and productive.  And because we need people to lead our universe without using the idiom of building walls or threatening minorities.  Less assholes, more leaders.  Yes, we have that power.

  1. Watch your words. They can hurt easily.  They can also provide an ongoing narrative of encouragement and support.  Your choice.   Hearing “I Love you” every day is much better than nothing.  Silence is heartbreaking.  Unless you are alone and the kiddies are safely tucked away, then it’s wine.
  1. Speak the truth. Trying to lie your way out of a question can be damning.  There’s Google and damned Wikipedia so the youngin’s think they have you covered on the information gathering.  Also, a little life truth never hurt anybody.  My quote this week of “Get used to it kid.  It’s not all lollipops and unicorns” sent D2 into a wow moment. Truth.IMG_0704

 

  1. A little struggle never hurt anybody. Learning anything new is hard.  Growing up is hard.  Going to school is hard.  Getting your first job is hard.  Getting out of bed is hard.  LIFE IS HARD.   We have all struggled with something.  It’s getting past that struggle and moving on that builds character.  Instead of trying to save the child, stand beside the child while he saves himself.  You will do him a grander favor by supporting, not carrying.

 

 

  1. Get a sense of humour, will ‘ya? Teaching the child that laughing at a situation instead of worrying or crying over it is a much better option.  Nothing is ever that bad, that pointing out the absence of obvious logic isn’t funny.

 

  1. Teaching compassion. We need to do this more often.  Sensitivity and learning how to be decent to other human beings is glaringly absent from social media these days.  Teach kindness.  Nice words.  Kind gestures.  Open a door for somebody.  Say something nice to your child about somebody else.  Point out something they did nice for someone.  They may have thought you didn’t notice their good deed or didn’t realize what they did, made an impact on that person.  Every action has a reaction.  Every word and deed has an impact on every other person.  It’s how the world works.

 

  1. Relationships are the crux of our universe. People need to learn how to relate to other people in order to survive.  Even something as simple as ordering from a menu, speaking on the telephone, asking directions, making appointments, etc.   If communication is challenging, then accepting that challenge and finding ways to deal with it is a big deal.  Accepting of others challenges can make and break a person’s ability to relate.  How you speak to someone stays with him for a long time.  Take your time.  Choose your words.   Young teens venture into the foray of relationships with wobbly legs and fearful eyes.  Rightly so.  It’s a jungle out there.  We can support their journey with big ears and some pointedly accurate words.  “Yes.  He sounds like he has an issue with you being funny.  Tell him to sog off.”   “Yes.  She sounds like she has an issue with you being friends with Jenny and Janet and Quinn.  Tell her to sog off.”  I joke, but not really.   Allowing the young person to tell someone when something is wrong or doesn’t feel right, is a great way to empower her.  We tell our kids to be nice and listen.  We also need to give them the right to say ‘back off’ when they need to.  It’s a balance thing.

 

  1. Bad things happen to good people. Tragedy is as much a part of life as breathing.  Unfortunately, it will touch everybody at some point.  Grief is a part of letting go.  Allowing them to grieve and feel sad and cry is allowing them to be human.  Emotions should not be put down as a sign of weakness or strength, but as a part of being a human being.

 

  1. Rise above.  By this I mean to remember to be better than the small person talking smack about somebody else.   Rise above that shit.  Be better than that.  Remember that if someone is saying something negative, return with a positive.  Like a tennis match.  She lobs a negative remark, you return with a positive.  She strikes back with a ‘but she’s a bitch’ and you hit the ace with ‘she’s had a rough week with her ex and needs our support, not our shit.’  YOU WIN.  Too often we are quick to judge or quick to put down without knowing the full story.  Get the story or say something supportive. Kids learn by example.  If you try to remember to remain positive and it becomes your reflex, your kids will follow suit.   It really is that simple.

I know I’ve spouted a lot of stuff here, but the basic message is to remain positive.  Even if the arse end has fallen out of ‘er, try to rise above.  Be better.  Be respectful.  Remember kindness.  Human dignity.  Compassion.  It can still exist.  We are all capable of rising above the small shit.  

 

When Good People Take Bad Pictures…Ugh.

So, I went on vacation and took some pictures.  I should not be in charge of pictures.  I’ll show you a snippet of what I took with my iPhone.  It’s a good thing Apple doesn’t totally trust me with electronics and fixes shit.  Here are some pics I thought made my trip to Hawaii more interesting.

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Pineapples growing in rows.  Yummmm..only, can you see them?

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Everyone should have a self-portrait complete with a natural wind machine.  I couldn’t recreate this shot if I tried. 

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A giant phallic symbol growing out of the ground.  Awesome!

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Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a sunset over the water…I was aiming for that ship in the distance.  SEE IT?!  IT’S OVER THERE!! 

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I found this very interesting.  A gun club in Waikiki.  REALLY?! Vacation =shooting practice.  Hmmmm.  The top stair that says bring out your ‘Dirty Harry’ really makes you scratch your head.

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Notice the finger hovering over the top?  Yeah.  So good at pics.  

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Officers poker tournament.  I LOST BADLY…Look at that concentration…on everyone, but me.  I’m wondering where ma drink is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you go.  Pics to prove that unskilled photogs do exist.  That last pic was compliments of a friend we met on-board, who thankfully is more skilled than I.  Thanks, Ron.  You rock.

Need Glue? Or An Eyeball? Ask a Mom

I wrote this on a plane whilst travelling the past two weeks.  I spied a young mother, expertly organized, travelling alone with her infant daughter.  She had a contraption that could strap the child in to her body if so desired for feeding or for sleeping, but could also release her.  She had food at the ready, toys, blanket, diapers, wipes and seemed to pull any and all of these necessities from out of the air.  I remembered the days of babies and not being so expertly organized.  I was impressed and in awe with that young mom.  The little baby had everything she needed and was content and occupied the entire 5 hour flight.  That’s why moms are awesome.  This observation is what inspired this post.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who would claw out their eyeballs for their kids without blinking an eye.  Well, the other eye…

Mothers are the glue that hold the world together.  If a child needed an eye, the mom would claw it out with her bare hands and hand it to the kid.  “Here.  Take it and go.”  No questions.  No fuss.  She would just pry it out and give it up.  “Here.  I still have the other one.  No, really.  I’m fine.”

Now, a Dad may take another direction.  He would first consider the request and then start reviewing his options.  He would have to ascertain the most obviously painless way possible to remove his eye.  Surgery?  Laser?  Can it be done?  How much time would it take? I NEED PAINKILLERS.  Does the kid REALLY need my eye?!  Then, he would likely move on to solve the whole ‘aesthetically pleasing’ thing.   What would I look like without my eye?  Can I still maintain my masculine mystique with one eyeball?!  Sunglasses work for some guys, is that a permanent possibility?  Ray Bans are cool….I wonder if I get a different hairstyle, if that would cover the gaping whole in my face?  Hmmm…. Lastly, he would have to consider vision.  How can a guy see with one eye?  Would I need a cane to get around?  So much to consider.  A team would be called in.  Consultations would have to be made.  There would be meetings.  LOTS of meetings.  Reports.  Graphs.  PIE CHARTS.

For a mom, there’s just a kid needing her eye. She finds the quickest way possible to allow him to function, so why not just give him hers.  That’s it.  Simple, really.  No discussion, no fuss, a little mess but hey it’s worth it.  The kid has an eye.  Oh, the stuff he can do now that mom has given him her eye.

Sacrifice.  Dedication.  Love.

All without Pie Charts.

Glue.  Mommies are glue.

nose picker

 

 

 

A Few Words to Newfoundland and Labrador

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I wrote this piece a few years ago when the Powers That Be were deciding whether to relocate us (mainly Hubby, we could join him if we wanted to) to another province.  I wrote it because even though Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t my first home, the one I was born and raised into, the province where I spent my childhood or even my teenage or young adult years, I have grown to be a member of its community.  To be rooted in its existence; to be placed within its confines and be a responsible member of its society.  We are raising children into young contributing adults, who are attaining education and part-time jobs, building relationships and creating independent flourishing lives.  This latest budget is like a kick in the guts for all of the work we’ve put into creating a family rooted in a flailing province.  We feel like fools for putting our lives in the hands of politicians we trusted into moving the province forward, so our children could make lives for themselves here, and maybe not be forced out of its doors with their degrees in hand and goals thrown over Signal Hill.  We were wrong.  Now, with the encroaching end of University life for two of our ‘children’, we are egging them to move onwards and upwards, out of the province into which they have grown, out of the province they have called home for all of their lives.  Out to get better jobs, better lives and a chance at moving forward.  We may be going with them.  It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve contemplated jumping ship…or were asked politely to heave-ho.  This budget may be the kick in the arse we need to get there.

 We still love it here.  We still think Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot to offer, however, we are dismayed and broken- hearted over the debacle they call fiscal responsibility.  It’s not all of ‘them’.  We did this too.  Ugh.  So, do we jump into a plane and head Westward young man with our young adults to start anew, or do we stay and weather the storm that is this brutal budget?  Tough times, ahead my friends and the decision to stay or go will be made more visible as the cuts keep coming.  I can’t sit and pretend my head is not on the chopping block.  The cuts to services like mine are always the first to get the axe.  Vulnerable populations are swatted aside in the name of ‘fiscal restraint’ and are forced to deal with already difficult challenges made even more arduous due to our inability to put humanity first.  Compassion and human dignity are too expensive to support.  And so it goes.  I sit and wait to see where my fate will fall in the grand scheme of the government’s budget. 

Thank you, Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 22 years…    

From An Open Letter to Newfoundland and Labrador

“…I’ve had the privilege of living in a world where crime was on a much smaller scale, the children that my kids went to school with have become life-long friends no matter where on the island they live, and we have had family close by and far away, but never completely gone.  From Danny Williams’, our former Premier’s mouth, came the phrase “Newfoundlanders have an innate sense of responsibility for their communities” and I have witnessed this several times over.

  There seems to be a sort of communal outpouring of care for each other that is lacking in other provinces or even towns west of our shores.  Here in St. John’s, we live in a neighbourhood that embodies that spirit.  No child can walk down our street without the mother or father being friends with other mothers and fathers.  We make sure someone is home; we make sure there is an adult present and if there isn’t by some happenstance, we step in.  That’s called community, people.  Fundraising for playgrounds, for sports teams, for Girl Guides it’s all in a child’s life and my kids have done their share.  The understanding that family is the main portion of a child’s sense of self and giving that family the support it needs to sustain a life is an inherent part of being and living in Newfoundland.  The past year we have seen many challenges to that family life, with the provincial cuts and layoffs, however, I have also seen a spirit here that will surpass these pitfalls with the never-ending belief that their home is not away, it’s here.  Even if the jobs are scarce and the times are difficult, the young people forced out to look for work in other provinces, come back with a fervor that this is always ‘home’.  We have made friends here that have become part of our family.  We vacation together, live on the same streets, share the same worries and celebrate each other every chance we get.  There’s a foreboding that this could all somehow end.  That we could lose something or someone to change.  No matter where we end up, I will have my SLS family, my family in Central, my family now on the west coast and my mainland family.    

These provincial cuts have had a hand in our impending future.  Hubby’s job is tenuous at best and with the thought of another move forging its way onto our doorstep, I can’t help but be grateful for the past eighteen years here.  We have been able to raise our children in an environment free from abhorrent abuses of power, bullying, crime and rampant drug use.  Oh sure, all those issues are here, but we seemed to have escaped their reach.  The recent drive-by shooting has all residents appalled and angry that such violence has reached our rocky shores and so we should be appalled.  So we should be angry.  This isn’t indicative of the province I have come to know and admire.  This is what happens on the mainland, not here.  A mainlander I am and a mainlander I shall always be, but crime to this speaks of higher issues and greater responsibility.   Get ye home, b’y we don’t want this shit here.  We don’t want to be like everybody else.  We are unique. We are the home of quiet acceptance and hospitality.  Warm hugs and raucous kitchen parties. Tea and biscuits kind of people.  We are Newfoundland.  The only city I know of that when a TV show is shooting in any area of town, they broadcast the street closures on the radio and then the star of the show tweets his apologies for the inconvenience.  He’s sorry that you had to detour making you five minutes late for work.  He’s from the Goulds, Newfoundland.  “Innate sense of responsibility for his community”.  Yeah. 

That’s Newfoundland.

Thanks for the eighteen beautiful years.  I’m just looking for eighteen more….

God love ‘ya.”