Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pay it Forward...?

The other day I received an email from the parents of a girl I grew up with. It was one of those forwards that reminds me that the people from Saved! aren’t just a stereotype – you know, the ones that say things like, “Support the troops in Iraq who are doing God’s patriotic will by saving the heathen Iraqis and bringing God’s chosen civilization to the savages! Put your name on here to get prayer back into our godless schools! If you don’t, remember that Jesus is watching! Shame and judgement will follow you all the days of your life! Vote for the Christian candidate even though everyone with half an eye can see he’s a complete hypocritical prick!” – those kind of emails. The last one I got was so full of hatred veiled in righteousness that I cried, and then sent an email back requesting that they not send me any more forwards.

It’s been a long time but another one finally made it through. This one was equally angry and bitter. Apparently the Canadian government wants to take the words “Under God” off of our money. I didn’t know those words were on our money, but whatever. Maybe it’s one of those American forwards that is making the Northern Tour, as it were. Either way, it was full of the angry justice that makes me forget what Jesus was about.

“If they [the government] doesn’t want to acknowledge God on our money/in our schools/in our courts, then I [the Christian, presumably] don’t want them taking Christmas or Easter holidays. I want my post delivered over the holidays, I want full government services when the Christian holidays occur. After all, if they don’t want to serve God, why should they get any of the perks?”

That’s not exactly what it said but that’s what I got out of it. (If you want to read the actual email leave a comment and I'll send it to you.) I swore (I was having an angry day anyways) and then wrote them another email. Here it is –

Dear LR,

Do you not get the impression that these kinds of emails are going against several commandments in themselves - namely, Love thy neighbour as thyself and be good to those who persecute you - ? This doesn't seem to be turning the other cheek or any of the things that Jesus spoke to us about.
Yes, it saddens me when a nation turns from God, but really, this country hasn't been a nation 'under God' in years. I doubt God has been a central part of any government in Canada during my entire lifetime. If it matters to you so much to have 'under God' on your money, or to have the 10 Commandments on a government building, or to have prayer in school, then fight the government on that instead of being childish about it and saying, well then fine. If you aren't going to do things the way I want, then you can't have any holidays. Good grief, people. That kind of attitude just makes Christians match the stereotype.
Please stop sending me crap like this. It just makes me mad and I'd like to have as many good days as possible. Thank you.


A few days later, to my immense surprise, I got a response.

Sorry Becky that you are sounding so bitter these days. I’ll pray for you.

I laughed when I got that. Bitter? I’m sounding bitter? Excuse me, did you read the email you sent me first?

Then I shook my head, took a breath and thought about it. My email did have anger in it, and I can see how anger sounds like bitterness.

More interesting to me, though, is that, from opposite sides of this email, we both think the other person is bitter and completely wrong. Deceived, even. We probably think the exact same things about each other and see ourselves in the same boat that we think the other is missing.

That intrigues me extremely. I would like to sit down with LR and have a conversation to see if my interpretation of the forwards is what she actually means. Perhaps it is all a difference of semantics.

I kind of doubt it. But I would like to start some kind of conversation to see.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Recent Thoughts

People confuse and intrigue me. They are mysterious and predictable. I sometimes think I should understand them better since I am a people too but I don’t.

One of my friends was getting close with her ex again, to the point where I wondered if they had secretly gotten back together. If they were, that sure ended fast. The girl who caused them the most trouble swooped back into the picture and now the ex is off with her, dropping my friend like so much hot dog shit. Why did this happen? I don’t know. I don’t see any love between the ‘home-wrecker’ and the ex. I know my friend loves him but I don’t think he loves her back. And I wonder at these people’s ability to love themselves.

It seems that people who can’t love themselves also can’t be alone, and that’s what this feels like to me. It’s horrible and painful and difficult to witness, and I wish I could be there for my friend – but she flew to Vancouver to get away from this. I hope that’s a good thing for her but it feels like she’s just running away from the pain instead of dealing with it.

It makes me so, so thankful that I let S. love me and that he lets me love him. I am so grateful that we share a love together.


I just had a good talk with my roommate J. We talked about people, relationships, pain and how people hurt each other over and over and over. How it’s so hard to witness people hurting each other but that that is all you can do most of the time.

As we talked, he mentioned that his brother-in-law is so awkward at their family events. We talked about how people sometimes assume that their future mates should just mesh into their families of origin. It happens for some people. My friend L. who just got married, they both fit into the other’s family like water into more water. But does that mean that if it doesn’t work out that way that the relationship is doomed or bad or with the wrong person?

I don’t think so.

I think the fear is that if the significant other doesn’t fit in, that the child will then choose the mate over the family and it will cause a schism. That happens, I’m sure. But if the mate doesn't fit, it doesn't mean there will be an unhealthy separation of the child from the family.

I feel like my parents are afraid because S. doesn’t fit into our family like he was born there. I wish they wouldn’t be. There isn’t anything to be afraid of. He knows my family is important to me. He just can’t handle any expectation that he’ll get all chummy with these people who created me. He doesn’t do well with expectation from anyone, even those he trusts, and he takes time to trust people.

I wish that didn’t scare my parents so.


I wish that people would learn, once and for all – you can’t steal something that you can’t own.

In other words, people.

Loves cannot be stolen. If A leaves B for C, it’s because A didn’t want to be with B, not because C stole A somehow.

There are a few people in this town that I would like to slap, to explain this to, but most of them are in the midst of believing that they’ve been stolen from so I doubt this would go over well.

Besides, another truth is that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. I can talk until I’m blue in the face but no-one has to listen or accept what I say as truth. They have to all figure it out for themselves, the hard way it looks like.


I wonder why people blame this place for their troubles and their pain. I have heard so many people say that they have to leave this town, to get away from it all.

There is pain here, crap here, politics – good lord, are there politics in this town – but it isn’t any different ‘out there’.

The only difference I can see is that out there you don’t usually live in the midst of the people you share intimacy with. When you don’t interact with people on the level we live on here, of course you don’t get hurt.

You don’t experience the love, support and blessings either though. Not on the same scale. Pain and love live at the same depth. When you are the most open to love, you are the most open to pain, and it seems to me to work the other way round too.

I don’t understand why people think they can run from their pain. Pain comes from inside you and that goes with you wherever you go.

I feel like I can’t live in Rosebud forever, but not because I’m being smothered here or damaged here. I have to leave to get another perspective of the world. I went from my parent’s house to this town of intimacy and I wonder what it is like to live in a ‘normal’ place. I feel a need to prove to myself that I can live and be okay 'out there', that I can make friends in a world where they aren’t made for you. I also need to live in my own house, without roommates (someday), and that won’t happen here simply because this is a town centered around a school – the houses are centered around dorms so there is nowhere to live unless I have roommates.

It isn’t that Rosebud is smothering me though. I love the people here, I love the people I live with. They are like people I have seen everywhere else...beautiful, damaged, blessed, open, closed. People are people wherever you go. Life is a blessed thing, wherever you are given the chance to live it out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Magic Mother Eyes

My mother has been silent this holiday.

We haven’t talked much and I feel it as an uncomfortable weight on me.

I don’t know what she’s thinking. I don’t know if I want to know what she’s thinking. It’s driving me crazy not knowing what she’s thinking.

I don’t know if I want her to know what I’m thinking either.

When I was young I stole a box of Smarties from a guest who overstayed her welcome in our house. I stole them a few at a time until they were all gone. Mom confronted me and asked me if I had taken them. I lied to her face. She believed me and that was when I realized that the magic mother eyes were a lie.

It’s strange how if you’ve been told something enough times, even when it’s proven to be false you still believe it.

This Christmas I got busted for smoking pot with my brother. My mom was so shocked. I was shocked too. I thought she already knew. I don’t know why. It’s not like I told her. The myth of the magic mother eyes is strong.

There are a lot of things that I assume my mother knows and when it becomes apparent that she doesn’t it surprises me every time. She asserted her omniscience so often in my childhood that it is going to take a lot of repetition before that lie is broken in my mind for good.

One thing I know – it won’t be broken with silence.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


My boyfriend just got cast in a show. I’m very proud of him – he’s a talented actor and he loves theatre so much. I’m really happy that he’s got another chance to do what he loves.

Last night I went to the first read-through. This is where the cast and crew sit around a table, designs are presented, and the play is read aloud. This play is a tear-jerker. I know I’ll be a mess when I go to see it – I’ll need Kleenex for sure.

Afterwards, as I was leaving, one of my teachers came up to me and asked if she could talk to me for a minute. We sat on the couches in the lounge as people were leaving the building and she told me that I failed dance.

I failed dance.

It is the first time I’ve failed anything that I was being graded on.

Tears spilled down my face as she gently told me that my absence from 7 of the classes meant that I did not meet the requirements to pass. Frustration welled up inside me. Those 7 classes were missed because of my health. My body betraying me. I’ve had a bad past five months, health-wise.

She did tell me that the Ed Team took that into consideration and they aren’t making me take the class again. I’ll still graduate with my FRSA. I’ll just have an F on my transcript. That was so frustrating to hear. I worked hard so I wouldn’t have to take dance yet again.

I could have used the Kleenex last night too.

S. was full of astonishment when I told him. Not because I failed, but because I’ve never failed at any graded thing before. He laughed at me, after he held me and comforted my last tears away, and told me that failing at something just made the winning later that much greater. “Like when you finally pass grade 7,” he said.

It made me smile. I think that was the point.

We talked it over. I guess I wasn't terribly surprised that I failed because of absences. Even though I went to every class I could physically handle, and I worked hard in class, that just wasn’t enough. I guess my body has limitations and it just let fly with them last term.

One thing we both thought was interesting though was how, and where, and when I was told about it. In a public place, right after a reading of a play. Crying on a couch as people walked by, leaving. I think I would have preferred it if she had set up a meeting in her office or something. But this is Rosebud and that is how things end up being done. I can’t say I’m not guilty of having done the exact same thing to people - 'Oh, hi, I have this to tell you right now because it's on my mind...not because this is an appropriate time and/or place to do so...'

Whatever. I have my first F. I’m still here. I’m still okay. I still like myself.

For some reason I feel wonder at this. And a little proud of myself. I can still like myself after I fail at something. I've grown.

Good to know.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I want to yell but
I repress it yet again.
Don't want to startle
the neighbours
the calm predictable people
with whom I must
be calm
and predictable
even though it chokes me
and smothers me
and makes me want to

And capital letters

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Life & Time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything meaningful for this blog. At one point I had determined to write twice a week, to treat this as the column I’d love to write some day. Then I had a dark tea time of the soul and I haven’t thought of that since, until now.

Christmas has come and gone. It’s my brother’s 20th birthday tomorrow. Soon I’ll be headed back to Rosebud and then on to Medicine Hat for the wedding of L & K. It seems the busy never stops, not even for the birth of Christ.

Well, the remembrance of it, anyway.

My cousin has mono. She’s a school teacher, like her sister and another cousin. Looking in from the outside it looks like Holdeman Mennonite girls graduate school, stay home for a few years, and then if a proposal hasn’t come along they go teach school. They don’t go into nursing until it looks like those wedding bells are going to be a while. I wonder at my cousins and their acceptance of their life with the apparent lack of choice. They probably wonder at me and the life I’ve chosen.

My extended family and I have very little in common. I realized that at this years family gathering. They sit around and talk about people I don’t know, events that I don’t care about, details of life that don’t involve me or I don’t experience. The things I want to know – who likes who, what are their thoughts on God, life, relationships – they don’t talk about those things. I disconnect from them because it doesn’t come close to anything I care about. I think that’s unfortunate.

I haven’t been outside today. I’ve looked outside and seen the snow falling from the sky and landing in little drifts. I’ve thought about my dog, getting fatter every time I see her, who probably spent her day in her house too. I’ve thought of my brother’s ferrets. If they weren’t so smelly I’d go play with them but they reek of musk.

In a way it will be a relief to go back to my home and my schedule. There is a certain stress to being ‘home’ for the holidays. This isn’t my home and never has been. Any place I lived with my parents is in their (and my) past now, since they moved here (and bought this land) after I left to go to school. It’s strange to come to a place where I’ve never had a bedroom, where my furniture is in the storage shed and my things have never had a home. They have to carve out a space for me when I come visit. It’s a change for both me and them and I think while we both like seeing each other we also both breathe better when it’s over.

Maybe not. Maybe they don’t find my visit a stress at all. Now I feel guilty for feeling stressed out here. Well, being the daughter of a recovering addict, a Holdeman Mennonite, and two Catholics (and yes, that’s just two parents), I’ve probably come by this guilt naturally.

I have enjoyed being here. Seeing my brothers. Seeing my parents. Relaxing and eating and drinking and being merry. I haven’t had any deep heart-to-hearts with my mom, which surprises me. Every chance we would have had, the television stole from us. I’m not used to having a TV.

I have seen a lot of Christmas and New Years shows and it makes me want to be with S. on New Years, to join the tradition of kissing the one you love when the year ticks over. Someday I know it will happen. I like traditions and being part of them so I will make it happen.

Happy New Years, everyone.