Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An October to Remember

October, it seems, came and went, and ne'er did a single blog post pass my lips, or, um, fingers, to tap their sweet words out unto the keyboard of the blogosphere. Alas.

A great many things happened in October, though. Things like Thanksgiving, the traditional occasion of Canadians gorging themselves to near bulimia whilst listening to the shrill echoes of family members coming together to give thanks. I have no family in the city, and considered whether or not I should get a turkey sandwich from 7-Eleven, or buy a single, microwavable dinner for one, and eat it alone, watching Jeopardy, in a room poorly lit from a single, bare light bulb. In the end, that seemed like much too much effort. I went to bed, and the day came and went much like any other.

There was also Halloween and, again, I did not partake in any activities of note, except at work, where I took to making ghosts out of pillow cases and hanging them from various spots on the ceiling. I spent about six hours on this, total, and in the end, my ghosts largely looked like pillow cases, stuffed with shredded paper and tied with elastic bands, hung on dental floss from the ventilator chutes. They were taken down the next day. It was totally worth it.

And then…well…a lot of other stuff happened, too. I passed my probation period at my work, which is happy, and various friends were struck down with various ailments, which is unhappy. Flus, strokes, projectile televisions, and general stress of life (which is often much like a projectile television) came crashing down upon those I care about but, generally, everyone survived.

The swine flu (aka plague of porcine death) struck work fairly hard, and despite being a front-line health worker who’s clients are mostly HIV positive, I was not eligible for vaccine until three weeks after we all got sick (and three weeks after the Olympic torch relay team was vaccinated). But really, that’s a whole other ranty blog.

My own brush with death came in the form of a black, single-occupant SUV trying to make a hasty right hand turn, which is exactly how my dog got run over a year ago - fuck you, Vancouver black SUVs, I really mean it. Seriously. Wait two goddamn seconds for the pedestrians and their puppy dogs to pass, and then go on your way. Argh. …Anyways.

I walked onto the street, at a crosswalk, on a green light and in front of a stopped SUV, and the driver, at his red light, decided he did not care. The SUV lurched forward as I swivelled and let out a inconsequential ‘HEY!,’ and my hand landed against the bumper as the stupid car ground to a stop.

So, technically, I got hit by a car. Or, my hand did. Either way, it was fairly traumatic. I really hate black SUVs.

And that’s really about it. I’m sure there was more, somewhere, and perhaps I can find the time to write it down, if and when I think of what it is I want to say. I hope that November sees a lot more entries, and writing, and coherent thoughts, in general, and I miss you, my invisible audience, as much as I miss the false sense of self-importance that is my writing a blog. And so I hope to write again, soon.


Poppies are for Opium

Today, I am supposed to wear a blood red poppy and remember all those that have sacrificed themselves in acts of warfare and political combat for the pursuit of nationalist and internationalist goals. It is a sombre and sobering occasion, to be sure.

My personal inability to wear a blood red poppy is not something to be proud of. I feel tarnished, walking the streets alongside my well-dressed, tailored yuppy friends. I am relegated to the rank of tourist, of cheapskate, of unconscientious rube. I feel like my mom, in 1990, who wouldn’t let us watch the Oscars because they were wearing red ribbons for AIDS (and she thought Hollywood promoted a lifestyle of promiscuity, homosexuals, and other mars of immorality). Seriously. And she’d say, “well, why aren’t they wearing ribbons for diabetes, or malaria? Why AIDS?” in a way that makes me hang my head in shame as I argue “but why veterans? Why not all old people? Why not conscientious objects and displaced civilians, or peace activists, or humanitarians?”

And despite this, I really do think I’m right.

I believe that humans, all of us, have the power to know right from wrong, and kindness from unspeakable evil. I believe that become a soldier is giving up that power - it is saying that what the individual believes does not matter, and that power of thought and morality is given up to a larger structure - one’s commanding officer, one’s country, and one’s government.

And I believe that the act of giving up one’s power and basic humanity, to a government (or to a religious body) is a very, very dangerous thing. I believe that it allows us to step into a mass, ‘mob’ mentality and to commit unspeakable acts which we would otherwise never do. We kill. We rape. We ‘other.’

I believe that people go to war for good reasons. I believe that people, the world over, choose to be soldiers for good reasons. And I believe that the majority of soldiers on both sides of major conflicts occurring today, and in the past, are and were good people. But good people do bad things when they forgo their basic humanity and trade it in for dog tags. Good people do bad things when they go to war.

And so I believe that joining an army is an immoral act. And I cannot wear a poppy.

I will thus be spending this day of remembrance, not remembering, but on my much neglected blog, and watching five straight hours of video on College Humor. Wrong? Probably. But at least I'm not a hypocrite.*

*Evidence on whether or not I am a hypocrite, on this subject and many others, is mixed at best.