If You Skate Upon Thin Ice

brave souls skating on thin ice
click for larger view

It was a chilly 2°C/34°F as I rode around the seawall today; cold, but not that cold. Everywhere I saw water I saw DANGER! THIN ICE signs, except for this little pond just off Georgia Street in Stanley Park.

I asked one of the guys how he knew where not to skate. “Pretty much anywhere I see water,” he replied. He said he and his friend had been out on the pond for the past four days. You can tell by looking at the etches in the ice from their skate blades.

I said it would probably be the last day they’d be able to skate, as the weather forecast indicated a warm-up later in the week. I waved goodbye and shouted “Enjoy it!” as I pedaled away.

Sometimes you have to go against conventional wisdom and think the unthinkable, to do something utterly ill-advised, naysayers be damned, to find your own moment of bliss.


The Disappearing Butch

butch woman holding a hammer
photo by flickr user arlette

Butches are all about chivalry, old school manners, and swagger… that’s how you’re going to know a butch.” – Butch Jaxson

As a femme-identified person who is attracted to more masculine women, I worry about whether butches are disappearing. Recently, Elan Morgan and I had a Twitter conversation about my discomfort around transgender issues as they relate to me. I would like to consider myself a trans-ally, but when I see that more butches are becoming men it seems, from my admittedly narrow perspective, that more women are transitioning to male, a little corner of my heart sinks. I don’t feel particularly comfortable admitting that, primarily because I don’t want to be seen as transphobic.

This issue becomes more complicated for me because I also identify as bisexual/queer. You would think that someone who is attracted to cisgender males would also find erotic appreciation for transmen as well. For better or worse, that isn’t the case. I’m not certain I want to unpack that here on this blog (but maybe if you buy me a beer, we can talk about it…), instead, I’d like to direct you to a discussion on the disappearing butch that took place on CBC’s The Current last week.

(I’m deliberately hedging and not revealing my true feelings on this issue, because I am not sure this is a discussion I’m quite ready to have in an unsafe space. All I can say is I’m reading, listening, trying to learn, trying to figure out what this has to do with me, if anything at all. I’m trying. That’s all I can offer at the moment.)


Judith Butler, DLitt – McGill 2013 Honorary Doctorate Address

Living in this cultural and historical moment where critical thinking, questioning, reading, and engaging deeply with the world around us is suspect, Judith Butler’s address feels a bit like a measured, well-reasoned call to arms.

“In short, we become more critical, and more capacious in our thinking and in our acting.”


"It's Time"

I realize I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the last few days, but this video from Cmdr. Chris Hadfield touched me deeply. The song Space Oddity always makes me sad, and while Hadfield has made space seem closer and more human than any other astronaut before him, his humor and approachable nature has never completely erased the inherent danger involved in this endeavour. I worry about the spaceman with the funny moustache. I worry what life will have in store for him once he returns, if he returns.

After reading this Vancouver Sun piece on Chris Hadfield’s future (and the future of the Canadian Space Agency), I sincerely hope life has bigger and better things in store for him. Cmdr. Hadfield humanized space travel for me and for many others in my generation who viewed it as something quaint and old fashioned, or worse, as something unobtainable and tinged with tragedy. If middle-aged me can be inspired by him, I can only imagine the effect he’s had on children.

Good luck, Commander. May your trajectory be true and may the ground gently and safely rise to meet you.


"Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a…

“Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.” – Charles Bukowski

This may be why I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo.


Don't Get Angry, Get Crunk

This is one of the greatest moments in television punditry. Melissa Harris-Perry goes off on a panelist who dared to make the comment that being wealthy is riskier than being poor. That moment reminded me of a quote I read in a piece by the Crunk Feminist Collective:

One of the ways White supremacy and sexism works is through a putative disavowal of emotion as a legitimate form for expressing thought. Women and Black people are overly emotional, so the conventional wisdom goes. We have been taught to overcompensate for this stereotype by being overly composed, even when anger is warranted. And we are wholly unprepared when our emotions start to split the seams of our tightly put on public selves. Perhaps it’s time to change clothes, and intentionally put on something that gives us room to breathe.

For me, that has meant embracing my own crunkness. Why go off when I can GET CRUNK? And by that I mean I can make an intentional choice to use my legitimate and righteous anger in an honest and compassionate way that is potentially transformative.

The Crunk Feminist Collective

This is something I struggle with quite a bit at work. I’m one of two black librarians at MPOW, and sometimes I think what some colleagues read as anger — because I don’t frame my arguments in a dispassionate, remote manner, and because my true feelings are always written all over my face — is read incorrectly because it’s different, because I’m different. We talk about diversity in the workplace, but it seems that there still is only one right way to present a position, and more often than not, I feel as if I never get it right. I wonder if I were in an environment where my minority status wasn’t quite so obvious if I’d still face the same challenges, or if there would be enough cultural shorthand and similarity going around where people could shrug off my “passion” and get to the heart of what I’m saying. I don’t suppose that’s something I’ll ever know, what with living in Vancouver and all.

So instead of getting angry, I’m going to learn to GET CRUNK about the changes I’d like to see. I’m going to learn to harness eloquent rage, even at the risk of alienating others. Part of this process of learning to evangelize myself is learning how to speak the truth without fear.