Sunday, November 29, 2009

I can look homeless?

Randomest Activity of the Week:

I was pulled out of a meeting at work to act as an emergency, last-minute model for a national end-homelessness campaign. The group (which is raising funds for some very cool and innovative interagency activities) had been using our drop-in centre for a big photo-shoot, but they were unable to find enough young women among our centre’s client demographic of older and middle-aged men. Enter me, apparently. They looked me over, “I guess she’ll do.”

A social-work practicum student and I found ourselves awkwardly awaiting direction from the campaign manager and photographer.

“You need to take out your pigtails.” Me, sad, “okay.”

“Put your hands in your hoodie pockets. You need to look more tough. Wait, less tough. More feminine. No, no, try to smile, but still look fundamentally sad. Good. Oh, your scruffy running shoes are perfect!”

I doubt my scruffy running shoes and I will be used in the actual campaign- I am the least photogenic person I know, I don‘t know how to ‘smile with my eyes,’ or my mouth, really, and I don’t know how to look tough or feminine. Their quest for individuals looking street-involved, or ‘rough and weathered,’ is not exactly what people think of when they see anything to do with me - on my more attractive days, when a group of Japanese girls see me, they all squeal loudly and exclaim ‘she looks like a doll!’ and then cover their mouths to giggle. Seriously. This happens about once a month. ?!

But there remains a slight chance that my face will end up on a bus ad, or a billboard, in Vancouver or a city far away. I like to think, in my hometown Ontario, someone will pick up a paper and think, “Oh my god. I know that crystal-meth addicted single mom!” And my mom, heading to work, will be stopped in her tracks by a sizable billboard plastered across the street from the school where she teaches, “This girl’s parents kicked her out at the age of thirteen. Now she smokes crack and sleeps in a dumpster. Will you shut the door on her, too?”

The thought of that does make me smile.

On Notice: Vancouver Drivers, Standard Time

Last “night,” one pedestrian was killed and six others were sent to the hospital (in five separate incidents) because Vancouver drivers could not be bothered to slow down.

Now, there’s a few factors here which I could rant about - one being the end of ‘daylight savings time,’ which puts us all in darkness ridiculously early and decreases visibility on the roads.

Daylight savings was originally proposed as a permanent plan to put human activities in sync with daylight hours, thus saving millions of dollars annually on artificial lighting (thus conserving precious resources during World War II). Like many good ideas subject to a democratic (and bureaucratic) process, it was whittled down to half a year of synchronized daylight…which, okay, that really doesn’t make sense, and won’t we all have to change our clocks twice a year, that sounds pretty inconvenient, but at least we’ll save a lot of money during the summer, so, okay….Yeah. That’s how we got out current daylight savings/standard time clock-changing system. And it doesn’t make any sense.

During the shortest days of the year, sunlight becomes all the more precious - and even more-so now that we know about Vitamin D and Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of us who live in the land of perpetual cloud-cover, Vancouver, a chance to see the sun feels a little like winning the lottery...and a reduction of those odds feels especially cold.

Today, the sun rose at 7:44am, and it set at 4:18pm - total hours of daylight just eight and a half. This puts the sun’s central point in the sky at high noon (12pm), which has a nice ring and historical significance (and is how Standard Time is determined, I presume). However, high noon is not the central point of most Canadian’s days, even if we are an agricultural and rather lame country, comparatively. Today was my first day off in a traumatic, sickly week, so I slept in until about 10am…which is really super late, but not entirely uncommon. So I missed over 25% of that day’s meagre dose of sun - a huge proportion. For a time system to be logical and fair, it would make the best use of daylight, proportionately, for all Canadians - so for every young adult sleeping in to 10am and missing two hours of sun, someone else would be going to bed at…2pm. Seriously. Does that happen?

The logic for Standard Time simply does not exist - we should get our daylight so that it coincides with times that all (or at least, most) Canadians are awake to enjoy it. This might mean going to work at 8am when the sun hasn’t risen…which sucks. But spending the majority of your day in darkness is always going to suck…it’s just the reality of living in the far North during the winter. Suck it up or more to Hawaii, I guess.

The net result of proper ‘daylight saving’ means that more Canadians are out-and-about during sun-lit hours, which means fewer Canadians with SAD, fewer lights being turned on (and millions of dollars in energy savings, which is kind of popular right now, for the sake of the polar bears), and fewer pedestrians being killed in the dark at 5pm by speeding motorists. (The old man who was killed was hit along with another woman…meaning that the driver somehow didn’t see both pedestrians in the middle of the street?)

Now, on to the speeding motorists…*

*Being a speeding motorist doesn't necessarily mean that you're going fifty miles above the speed means that your speed is too high given your competencies as a driver and the current road conditions. So...the motorists was 'speeding' if they could not slow down in time to not hit the two elderly people walking very slowly in the middle of the road (and they were going fast enough to kill and critically wound said elderly, fast enough.)

About a month ago, I almost died when a motorist decided to turn right, despite the fact that I was crossing the street a foot from his bumper (at a crosswalk, on a green light). My hand hit the bumper (as the driver screeched to a stop), and my body did not, and I get to live to pass on this angry tale.

Two years ago, another car making a right turn on a red light ran over my puppy, on leash, crossing the road, at a cross-walk, and then paused before speeding away. My puppy, despite going in to shock, survived. Two thousands dollars and immeasurable psychological trauma later, I was happy to have my puppy home, and it’s not about the money, or the trauma, it’s about the value of life.

So, seriously, Vancouver drivers…slow down. Stop turning right on red lights - it is clearly an option that you do not know how to handle. Stop running stop signs and yellow lights - slowing down is not an arbitrary instrument of the man. A friend who bikes to work (who is also, actually, pregnant) recalled the many near-misses she’s had on Vancouver’s bike paths, due to early morning motorists failing to stop at stop signs - most motorists get that they have to make sure another car isn’t coming, but forget the subtleties of looking out for men, women, children, on bicycle or on foot.

And this is the thing, Vancouver motorists - when you inevitably commit vehicular manslaughter, whether or not you decide to hit-and-run or to stay on the scene, it’s going to mess up YOUR day. It’s going to make you late for work, or to your daughter’s piano recital, or wherever it is that you’re rushing off to in such a hurry. It’s going to mess up your life. Did the police find bits of silver paint chips on the crushed little boy during the autopsy - did they match them to your brand of SUV? These are the questions you’ll have to ask yourself, at night, and when you hug your kids, you’ll have to know that they are as worthless to everybody else as that person you hit is to you. Watching them walk down the street, cross the road….these are the things that will fuck with your head.

So, Vancouver drivers, SLOW DOWN. Obey traffic laws. Stop killing pedestrians. It’s not for my sake, or my dog’s, or my friend’s or her baby’s, or for the minimum of seven people you hit with your cars last night…seriously. It’s for your own good.

Fruit Medley

Everyone’s a perfectionist. Some people are just better at it than others.

It had been the worst morning ever. Now, I know what you’re thinking - what about that morning my father died, and then I had to sit in the car with my socially obstinate grandmother for three hours on the way to and from getting a painful root canal. Well, that was pretty bad. But…whatever. This morning sucked, too.

I've just had a two foot cable shoved up my nose, attached to a camera, so that a doctor could tell me there's nothing wrong, and also, I have hearing loss. Fuck you, 7:30a.m. doctor's appointment in God-forsaken Burnaby.

I arrived for work, an hour and a half late. I walked in to our morning meeting near tears. My coworkers looked concerned, "Don't be upset....Nobody really cares whether you're here or not."

Editing the newsletter and printing out a sample copy should have taken me five minutes. Two hours later, I found myself on my knees in front of the photo-copier pleading “Hubert,” (I had named the photocopier Hubert), “for the love of baby Jesus, just tell me what’s wrong...” Three paper jams, three different computers, two printers, one photocopier, and a brief intervention from my boss later, I gave up. I hate technology.

Worst. Morning. Ever.