Yearly Archives: 2012

RANT: When is Enough Enough? Fuck the NRA.

In a few days, I’ll be wringing my hands with glee before I give an awesome plush dinosaur to a 6-year-old boy I know, and a hippo to his little sister. The notion of being surrounded by giggles and silliness for a couple days before Christmas has struck me as a great thing for a while now.

But on Friday a mentally-ill kid took a .223 assault rifle, a commercial model of the military M-16, and blew away 20 adorable children my friend’s son’s age. I can’t wrap my head around this, even now.

I’ve been having a problem putting a point on my anger. I don’t even know where to start with my emotions. I’ve purposely watched none of the video associated with the day’s events unfolding live, because there are some things I don’t want to have living in my head, and humanity reeling from confronting its lowest moments is one of them. Especially when little kids are involved.

I remember where I was for Columbine. I was on vacation in the United States. I pulled into a roadside diner in some backwater town in Oregon for a bite as I made my way to holiday in Newport, and locals were bleary-eyed and fixated on a crackling old TV in the corner over the service counter.

They mumbled things like “Never thought I’d live to see…” and “How did this happen?”

Now, nearly 15 years later, the heartbreak grows wider with every shooting I hear about, but so too does the complacency of dismissing guns as being part of the problem. Every time, the reaction has been increased gun sales. You could say mass shootings are the best advertising the NRA has ever had.

In 1996, Australia had its worst mass shooting. 35 dead. Within a couple weeks, everything changed. A massive gun reform legislation was tabled and passed. The idea of 35 dead for a stupid, stupid reason of the wrong person having a gun was enough to affect a political body and the country it governed, and change happened. Since then? They’ve never had another mass shooting. In fact, murders and suicides by guns are down by as much as two-thirds since then.

And yet stupid fucking people who don’t deserve the oxygen they breathe have the audacity to claim that the answer to Newtown, to Virginia Tech, to Gabby Giffords, is more guns, more guns, and less laws.

Never mind that an entire world has seen the folly in allowing its populace to easily own weapons that can kill a dozen or more people in under 60 seconds flat.

The trouble in America is the foolishness in believing all guns are created equal. I’m all right with people owning hunting rifles. I’m not okay with pistols carrying more than 9 rounds, or semi-automatic anything. Assault weapons… come on! The NAME tells you what they’re for. How is this legal? It makes no sense!

If you need a weapon that fires any more than 10 rounds a minute, you’re a lousy fucking hunter. Get a new hobby.

This anger I feel, I can’t let this go.

This culture-of-the-gun thing is exactly what’s wrong with America. Selling fear? Everybody’s buying, baby!

An American tourist had a couple Canadians ask him in an “aggressive tone” if he had been to the Calgary Stampede just this summer, and the off-duty Kalamazoo, Mich., cop wrote a Calgary paper to say he regretted that he couldn’t carry a gun when he was here because he felt he had to protect himself in the exchange.

Funnily enough, all the two men were trying to do was promote the Stampede and give him free tickets.

America is a shoot-first-ask-later country.

Gun-toting Americans seem to believe the average person is up to no good, rather than the opposite. Where I come from, we assume most people are kind and decent. I’ve never seen a gun in person. The only three people I know (peripherally speaking) who’ve been murdered in my lifetime were killed with knives, and yet knowing three people on the outskirts of my life to have met with such violent ends is really enough for me. How many people murdered would I know if guns were aplenty here as they are in the States? I’m glad I’ll likely never experience that.

In the 9 years after 9/11, 270,000 Americans were killed by guns. And yet… get the terrorists! BASTARDS.

I just… [sigh]

Like, where do we draw the line and say “This isn’t working anymore?”

Seriously, is the fact that twenty 6-year-olds and several school staff dead in a town deemed only last year to be the FIFTH SAFEST PLACE TO LIVE in the United States ENOUGH?

Is this the tipping point? Is this when America wakes up and says “You know… this isn’t normal. We’re the only country in the world that suffers these crimes, and guns are easier to buy here than anywhere else in the world?”

How does ANYONE smarter than a doorknob NOT MAKE THAT CONNECTION?

Who the fuck NEEDS anything more than a hunting rifle?

I know implementing gun control won’t take all guns off the street, but all I want is a roadblock between the angry lover, the pissed-off employee, the drunk motherfucker, or the mentally-ill guy looking for a rampage. I don’t really care about gangs killing each other as much as I do about people with short fuses getting the opportunity to go on a spree, because that’s when innocents die.

I’m not asking for a fucking miracle here, America. I’m asking for you to look at the fucking logic. Keep your hunting rifles. Make everything else really goddamned hard to own. If you’re a law-abiding person, having issues with any of these very basic requirements makes you kind of an ass.

And if you want to debate this topic with me, don’t even fucking bother.

This is 2012. We do not need efficient methods of killing readily available in a world that does not have easy access to mental healthcare.

Scratch that. We do not need efficient methods of killing. Full stop.

Take your pro-gun debates elsewhere. You won’t get ink on my blog. And fuck free speech. I get free speech here. You want pro-gun free speech? Get your own fucking blog.

Turning the Light On

For weeks, if not months, I have felt like I’ve been sleepwalking.

Recently, my sleep began reverting to the horrible insomniac ways that preceded my leaving Vancouver. I found myself moody, tense, and dragging my ass through my day. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a wet paper bag, slogging through each day and never getting half of what was on my to-do list done.

August was like a light turned on in my head and I became more productive, and was really hitting my stride in working-from-home and staying-on-top-of-life duties.

New sheets, freshly-washed duvet/cover/mattress pad, and more. Because good sleep is worth it.

Then Thanksgiving hit and our 100+ days of sun turned into typical Wet Coast autumns — full of moody gray clouds and all kinds dullness.

Last week, I grew angry as I realize my home I’d chosen for my Victoria life results in receiving the very last of my direct sunlight by 9:30am at this time of year. I was barely even able to get myself to my desk by 10am.

Then, Friday, I impulse-purchased a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp. Yes, with actual money. It wasn’t some promo gift for writing a blog.

This week, after four days, I’ve got my house clean, my work done, my client’s project put to bed. I’m more optimistic, have more energy, and am sleeping from 10-6, which is my ideal night.

Now I’m on a mission to make my life less seasonally affected. Everything from buying gadgets to investing in better sleep products (new pillow, sheets, et cetera).

I even feel a bit more like writing.

Let’s see where a couple weeks of determined Season-Affectations-Combatting gets me, eh?

Beyond these battles, there are other things afoot in The World Of Steff. But for now I have to work on bringing them to fruition, not spilling the beans just for your voyeuristic pleasure.

Stay tuned, and I’ll report back what life is like later next week after I’ve had a couple weeks of this daily dose of Fake Daylight.

Science fucking rocks.

When Writers Stop Writing

I feel like a fraud. A zombie Steff in a fake world.

I haven’t been writing. Haven’t had it in me. I’m on auto-pilot. Wake, skate through life, meet required time obligations, get the 40 hours of work in per week, plus the paid blogging, plus the client stuff, plus the rehab back appointments, plus… plus… plus… Oh, look at the shiny sunset.

When life becomes a thing of clock-watching, it’s hard to find the inspiration.

Every now and then, I’ve wished I could stop time and just write, but the day has been full of needs and requirements, and pressing pause would mean falling too far behind to make it through the week while sleeping through my nights. So, instead, I take a picture and I move the hell on. (The photos seen here are all in the last 10 days.)

But these are the choices in the life of those who do what they love outside the hours of that which they do for survival.

When you’re a writer, the unexamined life is like the tree falling in an empty forest. What’s the point?

I’ve taken pictures in the month that has lapsed since I last wrote for you. I’ve made a lot of good food, cleaned my house, walked a lot, spent a lot of time just sitting on the ocean shore and staring into I-Don’t-Know-What.

It hasn’t been an exciting life, a life worth writing about, but for all the little brief moments of awe and wonder during a life filled with stress and time-management, I think I found a livable balance. For a time.

But that’s not who I am. I can’t do “livable balance.”

I want to do life.

Balance THIS, grasshopper.

You know, when I got my new driver’s license photo issued in October, I spent a while reflecting on my last five years, four of them spent with chronic back pain issues. I refuse to believe my back can’t be healed despite all the obstacles and setbacks I’ve had. No one has told me it’s a cause not worth fighting for, either.

A young couple catches the sunset at Victoria’s Clover Point.

That was the catalyst for my choice to make my back a priority, the top priority, for 2-3 months. I’m tired of a life spent in half-measures.

Working so much so I can throw money at trying to make my body relax after years of trauma and stress is a strangely paradoxical life, and it does not fill me with joy, inspire me to wordsmith, or make me feel like sharing myself with others.

We do what we have to, so we can do what we want, is what Forrest Whitaker’s character espouses in the rousing drama The Great Debaters.

What I want to do is travel. I want to be able to go on long distance cycling trips. I want to hike into the backcountry. I want to be that chick you look at and go, “Look at her go.” I want to know my limitations are far and that it will take me a long time to reach them. I want to know the world out there isn’t too much for me.

I want more than what I have now.

If that means I walk around for a little while as a zombie, while thoughts wither and die without being recorded on the page, then I guess that’s what that means.

I hate it but I need it, I guess.

I may have to get all Dylan Thomas and rage, rage against the dying of the light, because that’s what not writing is starting to feel like to me.

I’ve been here before, almost dead inside, just because I stopped writing after my mother’s death in ’99 till ’04. It’s not about writing for a living or a big audience or for slow-claps or rousing applause.

When you’re not writing, the idea of writing isn’t about the end-user’s experience, it’s about existential relevance.

Deep down inside, I think there’s a kind of egoism that writers have to have. We believe we see the world through an interesting filter. We believe our thoughts have relevance. Unfortunately, this feeling applies to far more people than it should.

Fortunately, some of us are right.

Just before a foggy nightfall, Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.

Not everyone cares about having an audience. I’m not sure I do. I’d like to have the money that comes with one, but even that barely motivates me to do a “real” book or product for purchase. (But that day is coming.)

I toyed with advertising a long time ago, and hated how it made me feel pressured to produce, and loathed the standards I was churning out as a result.

It’s why I won’t create content for you right now “because I need to post something.” I won’t stoop to the Obligatory Posting point ever again.

For now, I need to fix my back. It’s the number-one thing that will prevent me from going further as a writer, because I do not like the filter I see the world through when I’m in pain. The limitations hurt my soul, and it affects what I put out in the world. That’s not the writer I want to be. Not anymore.

Not writing, though, makes me feel the same. Ah, a cruel contradictory ailment.

I’m five weeks from the end of my hardcore time-management needs for back-rehab, and similarly five weeks from my first REAL time off in more than a year, since this year’s vacation time all got spent on finding a home and moving into it.

But in the last few weeks of not-writing-just-staring-at-the-ocean, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about life and my place in it. Who’s expendable, who’s not. What I value, what I don’t.

Yesterday, I awoke with back stiffness, it was grey and miserable, and I spent 20 minutes talking myself into a dawn walk. By the time I returned home 90 minutes later, I felt grateful for where I’ve moved, the life I feel I’m on the path to have, and the world around me.

I also realized I’m at the dramatic midway point in the film that is representative of this year in my life.

It started with adversity, began in a turn-around, and now I’m at that challenging climax where the protagonist has to ask herself how badly she wants it, and how much she’s willing to do to get it.

And just on the other side of all this is the triumphant conclusion where she rides her bike off into the sunset, without taking an anti-inflammatory, then can skip stretching so she can write a blog post about it. Or something.

We do what we have to, so we can do what we want.

Somewhere in the mix of this zombie-like obligatory sense of life, my frequent pauses to enjoy the world around me, and the quiet I’m starting to find, I feel like this miway-movie point in my present is a really, really neat place to be, if also blood-draining exhausting.

I’m still looking forward to what’s around the corner, and especially finding the intersecting of both the will and the time to write, albeit I’m finding a lot of little small moments to enjoy in the middle of all my crazy.

Sometimes, it’s not a sin to live life. Sometimes, it’s the only way you’ll survive.

Even writers have to make choices. Today, this writer chooses Everything Else, but only because this writer knows that simply won’t last. Eventually, the word volcano has to bubble over and spew. The writer inside always emerges.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

Enhanced by Zemanta

CYCLING & MEC: Fat Girls Not Allowed!

The weather is coming.

We woke to fog yesterday, then a bank of clouds rolled in and parked upon us. Now, the weather cautions that rain, lots of it, for four days, will suddenly shatter the record-breaking drought we rainforest folk have been enjoying since late July.

As a girl who’s taken to a cycling/walking-only lifestyle after spending 60 hours-a-month-plus on Vancouver’s buses last winter, having great rain gear is the most important thing to me.

Unfortunately, in the last two years I have regained 28 of the 75 pounds I lost, and my cycling gear is too snug and a transit strike looms here my fair city. I cannot be without gear, and the idea of going and buying men’s industry rainpants because the fitness industry thinks a size 18 girl can’t pedal a fucking bike is getting pretty insulting to me.

So, I wrote the “leader” in getting outfitted for the outdoors here in Canada. Here is my letter to Canada’s MEC.ca.

Dear Customer Service:

I’m very, very frustrated.

You have so little available to larger women in your outdoor gear. I’m a 16/18, and I have moved to a city where I’m now 24/7 walking and cycling, and the rainy season is upon us here in Victoria.

My old XL MEC pants are coming apart at the seams after a very stressful year in which I added another 10 pounds to my frame, and I’m proud of my efforts to try and get fit of late since I’ve battled a lot of injuries to get here, but there’s no denying:  I’ve certainly gained weight, and I can’t NOT cycle just because the rain or wind are rolling in and I don’t have the option of proper gear.

You don’t have anything beyond XL, really. And you’re frequently sold out in the largest sizes.

It’s not like you seem to have a surplus of any of your biggest clothes at the end of the season, so you can’t argue they’re not selling, and yet you refuse to provide any sizes beyond!

I’m in a giant debate on Facebook and Twitter, where I have 5,000ish followers, talking about how little we can find at MEC, where we would EXPECT to find the gear, and how hard it is to cobble together something effective from other stores, usually where we’re forced to reduce ourselves to wearing men’s clothing, all because we have the indecency to be a size 18 or size 20 girl, or beyond, who’s trying to change her lot in life and be active outdoors.

You’re a LEADER in the fitness industry in Canada. If YOU don’t make it possible for the slightly-above-average girl who is ACTUALLY PRETTY AVERAGE to adopt a healthy, outdoorsy, fit life, then WHO, I ask, will do this for us?

Would it really be so horrible to offer fitness gear to people who actually want to become your customers, who are trying to change their lives, but who weigh a little more?

I keep hoping you’ll suddenly wake up and include us, but I guess it’s time I write a letter.

Also, I’ll be posting it as-is on my blog, to foster dialogue. That’s http://cuntinglinguist.com, and you’re welcome to reply there too if you like.

Thanks for listening. Here’s hoping next season it gets a little easier for me to be your customer for more than just my tires.

Regards,
Steffani Cameron.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Will to Write: My Story

On Twitter, I just described the sound float-planes make as “They sound like a riding lawnmower mated with a drunk bee.”

It’s not the greatest thing ever, but for the first time in a while, I wanted to describe something, and it came out the way I was thinking it. You think that SOUNDS like a logical turn of events, but when you’re a persnickety writer like me, it happens far more seldom than we’d hope.

I’ve had a pretty intense bout with writer’s block this year, and only lately am I starting to want to write again.

I've been creatively recharging this summer via doing this kind of photography.

I’m not sure if it was really writer’s block and not just mental fatigue. Last fall I had the most complicated time-management ever, too much commuting, etc, then I was planning the move here, executing it, et cetera. Writing was work in a life that already had too much work. I was drained, uninspired, and had fuck all to tell you.

And, frankly, gets to a point where sitting down and NOT thinking is about the only thing you want to do. Just… not think. Nothing. Boom. Chill. Disconnect. Enjoy. Rinse and repeat.

For writing is a burdensome thing.

And I don’t mean your food reviews, your educational or business writing. That shit almost writes itself because you know the bones of it, so you sort of just have to flesh it out. It requires craft, but it’s not so intimidating creatively.

When you’re writing on personal or creative themes, writing is a place you go to all alone. You can’t get handheld in writing. It’s you and the screen, man. Mano-a-screeno.

It’s genesis of something from nothing. What do you feel like writing today? It’s taking ideas out of dark mental corners and poking a stick at ’em.

Me, I’ll admit it, I’m a fucking scaredy-cat sometimes.

It’s easier to do non-fiction personal-based stuff for me, I think, because the places I go to in creative work have been pretty heavy. I write death well, I find. I do really much darker stuff when it’s creatively rooted. I’m a little too aware of it, and I’m not a big fan of the delving I do for those writing things. Or, I haven’t been.

I can’t imagine it’s all sunshine and roses being in Stephen King’s head, and that’s almost the genre I like to write in, but more Denis Johnson-ish.

I’ve had moments of writing fiction and such over the last years, but it was really about 16 years ago that I was last focused on doing creative writing. I dismiss myself from it because I don’t take myself seriously.

But I should. And now I am. Or, well, soon I am.

I moved here to pursue writing. I moved here to put the brakes on and turn my life 180 degrees away from where it was.

Have you ever seen the movie The Wonder Boys? I think the ending’s a bit of a sell-out, but let’s face it, sometimes life actually works out, so maybe it’s buyable if you’re a less skeptical soul like myself.

Anyhow, there’s this whole bit where Michael Douglas’ a loser has-been author-cum-professor whose book-in-progress is read by his student Katie Holmes, and she tells him how he’s always teaching them in class that writing is about making choices. She points to his manuscript and says she feels like he made no choices.

Life’s like writing. It’s about making choices.

When life was sapping my will to write ergo be myself, my choice was to get the hell out of the city that was distracting me so constantly and move to a quiet seaside small city on an island so I could find myself and be the writer I ought to have been by now.

I read not too long ago some famous creative talking about some writer they love, saying the guy took time off writing to “have an interesting life.”

I promised myself I’d do that in my new city. Take a break, enjoy it, and in the winter get my focus on.

After all, life isn’t interesting when you’re a writer. You turn off the TV and turn on the mind’s eye. You sit, you tap your fingers, cross your legs, uncross them, lean on your elbow, scratch your head, and occasionally come up with a few words before you decide your back’s stiff and you need a cup of tea.

That’s writing, I’m afraid, in all its unsexy glory. It’s a triumphant assault on everything that’s fun in life.

I mean, I live HERE. Would YOU rather be writing, or exploring for your first six months?

And it’s probably why I love it and wish I could latch onto it without so much “shoulda coulda woulda” bullshit that happens when one’s failing to adopt the new “habit” of writing.

But I’m a Canadian. In three months, I’ve gone from having 18 hours of daylight a day down to 12 hours. I’m desperately trying to enjoy the rest of this amazing “Indian summer” as the air freshens, breezes intensify, and leaves go Technicolor.

Soon, we’ll be down to 10, then 8 hours of daylight. Winds will howl across the Pacific and beat the hell out of my little coastal community. Night will consume a full two-thirds of every day.

Writing is something that lends itself to the winter season. Every author has wanted to start a story with “It was a dark and stormy night” with good reason. Because they’ve got a glass of wine, warm slippers, and a November storm is crashing upon their windows. It was indeed a dark and stormy night, and the writin’ was good.

No, it is not often indeed that a writer says exactly what they mean to say when they meant to say it. It’s why, for every 10-15 things we write, maybe one is memorable.

Once in a rare blue moon it happens, and what do you do then? You write more and more and more, day in and day out. You devour words of every kind, you explore where they take you, and you hang on for your life.

Real writing is an unseeable journey. It’s like most things in life, you think you know where you’re going, but very often you’ll arrive having taken a path you could never have predicted.

But that’s the fun in it.