Muthadi & Me

A few weeks ago, I went to the Muthadi Drum Festival. The last time I went was 7 years ago.

When I was there in June 2001, it was at a crossroads in my life. A simple metaphor to explain it is this: I was trying to decide if I was Mt. Pleasant & Eglinton or Queen Street West. I chose Mt. Pleasant & Eglinton. But since then, I have, at times, longed for Queen Street West, and the life I didn’t choose.

Mt. Pleasant & Eglinton is a little more right wing, Queen Street West leans a little left.

Mt.P & Eg is LaCoste, Queen West is Betsy Johnson.

Mt. P & Eg is patisserie’s, Queen West is bohemian outdoor cafes.

Mt. P & Eg is straight lines, Queen West is curvy.

To me, that life is so much more free. Free of a lot of the useless stresses and concerns I carry with me every day. The people are more relaxed. There is so much more art and music and culture and intelligent conversation.

But there is also insecurity, and instability, and it’s that part of Queen West that I could never get my head around. It’s not always like that, but it was with the crowd I saw. So I turned away, went corporate, and only looked longingly over my shoulder occasionally.

Until just recently. I was invited to go with someone who is very Queen Street West back to the Muthadi Drum Festival after a 7 year absence. And I loved it. I loved the crowd. I loved the freedom. I loved the music and the art. I can’t believe I stayed away for so long.

It has made me start to think again about the choices made, and stuck with, over the past several years. It’s not that I regret them, but I wonder if it could be different going forward. If I can be different. I wonder if I could be Queen West after all. Or, if I could have one foot in both worlds, and live them both.

So much has been going on, and it’s a lot to process. But one thing for sure – I won’t miss Muthadi again.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

I went to my mailbox today having no idea what was waiting for me inside.

I pulled out the envelope. My address, right there in my own handwriting. The stamp, a leftover from Christmas, with a reindeer on it.

Inside, the end of my old life, and the legal permission to start a new one.

I stared at it for a good minute, not moving, not sure what to do.

Someone coming in the door of the building startled me. I took it upstairs, and just looked at it. It took a phone call to my DT, and the reassurance from someone who understands that it’s all okay, to finally open it.

It sucks, but it’s done. It’s finally done.

And the government makes me scream. Again.

This one is a doosey: The government of Ontario has now banned people from smoking in cars when there are children under the age of 16 in the car.

I honestly don’t know what the world is coming to.

Do I think people should smoke in cars with children in the car too? No.

But more than that, the government does not have the right to tell me what I can and can’t do in my own car. I don’t even need to extend this argument – we can see where this is going.

I am not a smoker. I have smoked in my life, and I probably will again here and there, but by all definitions, I am not a smoker. I would never smoke in my car. I would NEVER smoke around children, in my car or otherwise. But I feel for smokers on this one. I really do.

The government has made it impossible to be a smoker. You can’t smoke in the mall. You can’t smoke in restaurants. You can’t smoke in bars, or clubs, or public bathrooms. You can’t smoke on a plane, a train, and now, even your own automobile.

But, you can smoke. Smoking, not illegal. And yet, smoking – illegal. They won’t ban it, but they won’t let you smoke anywhere. NOT IN YOUR OWN CAR. Nothing is more ridiculous.

Dork University

York (Dork) University’s student council voted earlier this month to ban funding to anti-abortion groups on campus.

I’m sorry….WHAT?!?!?!

As reported by the Toronto Star, this means “that groups promoting anti-abortion ideas will not be reimbursed by the student union but will still be allowed to operate on campus, said Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students. ‘This policy does not apply to religious organizations,’ said Massa. ‘It only applies to groups whose sole purpose is to spew anti-choice rhetoric on our campus.'”

And I say again…WHAT?!?!?!

My position: Pro Choice

My other position: Everyone else is allowed to have a position

EVERYONE ELSE IS ALLOWED TO HAVE A POSITION.

As long as these groups are not hurting anybody, they have the right to have their voice heard. Full stop. Just because what they’re saying does not follow the left wing, socialist mandate of Dork U does not give the student council the right to dictate who gets funding and who doesn’t, simply as a matter of opinion. The only reason this ruling doesn’t extend to religious groups is because they know it would be in front of the Human Rights Tribunal before the ink was dry on the mandate.

What next? Groups who support the war in Afghanistan won’t get funding? Groups who support the war in Iraq (gasp!) won’t get funding? Groups who support the Tories won’t get funding? Groups who support the distribution of Pez dispensers at political rallies as a sign of fun and good faith won’t get funding?

And this, my friends, is why I went to Schulich. Not Dork.

An ending and a beginning

It has been confirmed. Hillary Clinton will not be the next President of the United States. But Barack Obama may just be.

As Hillary was getting ready to concede defeat, Barack made what was one of the most moving and powerful political speeches I’ve heard in a long time. For me, it was akin to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Barack’s speech: This Is The Moment.

I found it to be one of the most electrifying and inspiring speeches I have heard in recent memory. His delivery was superb, and his character came shining through. But ultimately, it was the message of hope, of change, and of the chance at healing towards a new beginning that really moved me. All delivered with the kind of integrity which I now expect from him – and he hasn’t let me down.

As with every great political speech, the last paragraph spoke volumes:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

I heard his speech live. I read it over and over again. And every time I do, I feel excited about the political process again. Because of him, (and Hillary too), I believe again. I BELIEVE. I believe it can be done. Not just for Americans, but for all of us. I believe.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/samgrahamfelsen/gG5gJ2

Gardenia

I’ve listened to this song many many times over the past few months.

Gardenia, written by Mandy Moore and Chantel Kreviazuk (performed by MM, though I think CK would also have done a bang-up job if she had performed it herself.)

It’s acoustic and melancholy and beautiful, and it resonates with how I’ve been feeling for a long time.

I tried to post just a portion of the lyrics, but it didn’t seem to fit. Then I figured, “Hey, it’s my blog. I can do whatever the hell I want.”

So here it is.

Well, I put so much thought into getting ready
Now I know that was the best part
It’s so easy to get caught up in what I’m regretting
Forget what I got from a wounded heart

I’m the one who likes Gardenia
I’m the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don’t want to hang up the phone yet
It’s been good
Getting to know me more

I’ve been seeing all my old friends in the city
Walking alone in Central Park
Doing all the things that I’ve neglected
Traded ’em all in
To be in your arms

I’m the one who likes Gardenia
I’m the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don’t want to hang up the phone yet
It’s been good
Getting to know me more


Well, I hear my own voice
It sounds so silly
Keep on telling my story all around
Everything I lost ain’t so different
Well, this is how everybody gets found

I’m the one who likes Gardenia
I’m the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don’t want to hang up the phone yet
It’s been good
Getting to know me more

This song reminds me to hold on to the lessons I’ve learned. Mostly lessons about myself, and my life. How I live it. How I want to live it. Who I want to live it with. What that would look like to me. But mostly, that I can get through it, and come out the other side happy. And to always remember that “pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding“.

Revelations

There is a book of revelations in everybody’s life.

These revelations keep coming to me – slowly, and often, and often more than once, because I keep pushing them away, not wanting to see them, and not believing the picture of me that is being revealed to myself. But it’s changing. I’m almost 31 for Christs sake. I can’t hide from myself forever.

Here are some revelations that have to come me lately:

1) I have grieved. Really and truly grieved. Over the past year, I have used a lot of words to describe how I have felt, but I never said the word “grief”. But I’m can say it now. I felt grief over what happened. Sometimes, I still do. Maybe I will for a long time to come, on and off, in waves, as it happens with grief. And that’s okay.

2) I’m afraid. Of a lot of things. Mostly of failing, which I have still managed to do on a grand scale many times in my short life.

3) It really does get better.

4) You can change.

5) Things are rarely what they seem. Less than rarely. Almost never.

6) I’m not as smart as I think I am.

7) I’m not as dumb as I think I am.

8) There is a lot of great music in the world that I have yet to hear.

And so it is

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know
The less I understand
All the things I thought
I’d figured out
I have to learn again

I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my heart is so shattered
But I think it’s about
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if
Even if
You don’t love me anymore

– Don Henley