Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Saturday, November 26, 2011

what the lawyer said

I admit I was hoping for News. All we know is that everything we submitted is fine, there should be no further obstacles, and now we wait for packages from the USCIS. My package will have information about setting up the appointments for the interview and the medical check. Hopefully this will come in the next couple of weeks, but we just don't know really. All we know is that if things go well, we could be crossing the border before Christmas, and if not, then late January-early February at the latest. We sort of already knew this but it has been more or less confirmed. So that's good. I have one or two months left here in Victoria, on the Island, in Canada. I may or may not be here for Christmas (though this I'm sure I should know in the next two weeks).

It's so hard to plan with uncertainty looming. Well, it looks like I'll have more work from the BC Cancer Agency so I can keep my brain busy, at least. I'm almost done the Miss Marple series, which also means my Mezquita shawl is almost finished. I think I have about five or six rows (l o n g rows) left. The cats have been kept apart with success, though Sam saw Yuki outside through the window and was disquieted. Not in a mad-because-I-see-another-cat kind of way but hey-that's-a-BOY-cat kind of way. I only recognize it because she doesn't make that noise very often. Will wonders never cease?

If you look close enough, you can see the scales and slime from these shortspine thornyheads.
So. Now what do I do? I feel like I should finally get in touch with the people I haven't seen yet, even though I have been here for almost two months now. I also think that repacking my Rubbermaid bins would no go amiss. Believe it or not, I'm thinking about sending holiday cards, but I'm not sure I can get myself organized enough to do that. And what would I say? Happy Holidays, read my blog, it's all there. Last year Dan and I sent Merry Fishmas cards. I took a bunch of photos while I was working on the fish plant dock, of fish with a Santa hat or in a stocking. Dan Photoshopped them and we made them into cards. I will give making new cards some thought, I'm just not sure if I'll have time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

a little information can make me so happy

On Friday Dan received an affidavit of support that he had to fill out and return. This happened only one week after the petition was sent. They processed the payment last Monday, the first business day after. 

I had an hour-long conversation with Dan last night. It was great. We don't get to actually talk very often, and when we do, we have this bit of awkwardness because neither of us are good at small talk. We haven't been Skyping because a) you need Internet for that and we don't always both have it and b) Dan's netbook broke and he's waiting for replacement parts. So we have still largely been communicating by text messaging.

In our conversation last night, Dan told me all sorts of wonderful things:

He needs from me a list of every employer I have ever had including dates, addresses and phone numbers. Well holy crap, I have had a lot of jobs in my 23 years of working life. He also needs our rental agreements to show that we have in fact been cohabiting for a long time. 

The US Immigration service has a new thing where you can sign up for email updates of what is happening with the processing of your case. FINALLY!

It is possible that if we apply to have my immigration interview over the Internet, I won't need to go to Vancouver for it.

Also, there is an immigration doctor that comes to Victoria every other week, so I might not need to go to Vancouver at all. (I'd still sort of like to, I have people in Vancouver I would like to see, but it's nice to know that this whole process can be easier).

Dan will be sending me a PDF of an affidavit that I have to fill out and sign. Only, I have to sign it in front of a notary public. And guess what? On Friday I attended a Tweet-up where I met and made new friends with a notary public. How's that for synchronicity?

Dan will see the lawyer on Thursday. Cosmically, that's the day that Mercury goes retrograde but I'm not at all worried about that. The retrograde period is a time for finishing things, tying up loose ends. In this case, the Susan Miller horoscope for Aries in November said some big stuff is coming on the new moon eclipse on November 25th. She even said "green card" so I am pretty stoked.

The best news? Dan said that if nothing is happening with this processing by early December, he'll come for a visit. If things are happening, then he'll sit tight if it looks like he'll need to come make this trip with me soon. Obviously I hope for the latter, but one way or the other, I will see my husband in December.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I've been busy. I can't post everything that I've been working on with my knitting just in case a recipient is a reader. But here is some stuff: 

  Mittens for my niece that she requested. The yarn is Sandnes Garn Smart, I knit on 4mm dpns. I really didn't like this yarn, it made my hands hurt as I knit these mittens. I know it isn't just a function of doing stranded knitting, because when I was knitting the pink & white mittens for myself, which are also stranded, my hands didn't hurt then. So I'll never use this yarn again, but it was a DK superwash and didn't cost very much. And they're done.
 These are for my mum, who I'm fairly certain doesn't read my blog. Mum was telling me a few weeks ago that she needed to get some mittens. I asked what colour. She said "are you going to knit me some mittens?" and I said "I'm not promising. Just what colour would you like?" Navy. I happened to have some navy Cascade wool that was almost three different things, including a hat and a scarf, but the yarn didn't want to be either of those things. Also knit on 4mm dpns, I really enjoyed this, actually. 32 stitches, 2x2 rib for a bit, switch to stockinette, did afterthought thumb. Instead of a tapered decrease at the top, I decreased evenly all the way around and I like the effect. Someday I will knit mittens from a pattern. I finished these last night at the coffee shop with all the knitters!
 This is the Molly Beret by Alana Dakos. I bought a few of Alana's patterns while I was working at Knits by the Sea in Tofino. I've been carrying these patterns around in my head, wanting to knit them because I hear such great reviews of them. This is the second of Alana's patterns that I have knit now, the first is a secret (for now). The yarn I'm using is Sandnes Garn mini alpakka. I'm realizing that I haven't met an alpaca yarn that I didn't like. They are all the same in character and I just love the hand on them. I can wear alpaca around my neck and not have it itch (which alas, is not true for wool, even superwash). So this beret begins on 2.25mm needles and holy crap that is small. I'm used to knitting socks on needles this small but knitting at such a small gauge for a hat is really an exercise in patience. I'm two rows away from switching to the the striped section, which other than increases and decreases, it's basically stockinette on 3.25mm needles, so should go way faster. This is intended for a gift but... well... we'll see. It might fit me.
This is the one I am most excited about right now, in terms of my WIPs. This is the Mezquita Shawl. I don't remember where I first saw this pattern but I put it in my queue on Ravelry and it has been niggling at me ever since. At one point, the pattern said to me "Hey Stace, I bet I would go really well with that Handmaiden Sea Silk that you bought in Kelowna last year". And I said "but I don't have a 5.0mm 40" Addi Turbo circular needle!" And then some money came, and then I went to my favourite yarn shop in Victoria, and all barriers to me knitting this pattern were removed.  This is the shawl I mentioned in a previous post, the one where I had to cast on 361 stitches. I haven't had much time in the last few days to knit on this, because it does require some dedicated sit-down-and-knit time, but I am anxious to get it done so I'll have my aforementioned matching set. The weather in Victoria has gotten cold (read: below freezing temperatures!) and I'm finding the need to have something on my neck. I have been wearing my Darcy Shawlette that I finished in the summer, but it's azure and blue, so doesn't exactly go with my hat and mitts.

And now that I have cast off the mitts for my mum, I'll take those 4.0mm dpns and cast on another thing for someone else. Boy, after Christmas I'll have a few things to tell you all about. And look! This here is finally a post about knitting.

Wait - one more thing- I must admit I am absolutely itching to knit socks right now. I have two single socks that need to be finished, one for me, one for Dan. I really do want to knit on them just now, but I'm feeling like the gift-knitting season sort of takes precedence over knitting for ourselves just now. It will all depend on what happens in the next five weeks, really. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

O Hey

There I go again, neglecting my readers. Sorry friends.

I had a fantastic weekend chicken-sitting in Cowichan Bay last weekend. Sam and I drove up on Thursday and we stayed four nights.  The photos below don't really reflect what I did over the weekend, but hey, it's all I have to show for it.

Soon this place will be home to a wood stove. I can't wait

Mittens for my niece! She asked me for yellow mittens before I left Alberta. I didn't have enough yellow yarn, so I had to use white as well, which made them look a bit like scrambled eggs. O well. I have discovered that an afterthought thumb is my favourite.
 Sam slept on every surface in the house, I think.

 Cherry brandy! Earlier this year I was reading one of Diana Gabaldon's books and Claire was visiting an apothecary in Paris, drinking cherry brandy. So I needed some too.
 On Saturday morning I went into Duncan (the closest town, 10 minutes drive away). I don't know what happened to my old travel mug but I have been without one for - well, I don't even know. Five months? I don't really go into stores very often, not wanting to be tempted, but I thought I'd pop into London Drugs to look around. They had a not great selection of travel mugs but I did like this one. I'm thinking about something that will fit into the cup holder in my truck (I really think the people who design travel mugs should get together with the people who design cup holders in vehicles), something that is dishwasher safe, and something that will match with the car we might own in two years. Brown is a popular colour for newer vehicles and I really dig it. But I didn't buy this mug. It was 26.99.
 I had to buy lottery tickets. That's what one does when one needs hope, right?
 Action shot of Sam. Here she is rolling around on the floor. That's how I know she was happy!

 Aw. Sam is cleaning her cute kitty face. So cute.
 This! Ok so Toni had grown way more tomatoes than they could possibly use, and for about six weeks, they had tens of pounds of tomatoes ripening in crates in their dining room. These tomatoes really needed to be used up, so I cut up as many would fit onto a baking pan. Added a few rather large cloves of garlic, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt. Put it into the oven. That was as far as I had gotten in my plan, but it was going to be a component of the dinner I would make for my friends when they got home from Vancouver.

I can't remember what temperature I put them at, but boy they sure smelled good. I decided they would either go into a pasta or perhaps on a pizza, would let my friends decide. The vote was for pizza, so I threw together a crust.

Toni helped out by spreading pesto on the crust. Then on went the tomatoes & garlic mixture, we threw on some chopped artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, feta and some amazing cheddar. Oven was set to 400 degrees, we had it in for about 25-30 minutes.

I didn't use a recipe for the crust, just sort of threw it together. During the pizza assembly we were drinking beer too :-) so the 'throwing together' was a bit more literal than figurative. It turned out well though and between the three of us, there were almost no leftovers.

What else did I do? I watched Brokeback Mountain. Have you seen it? I had heard a reference in the news to the 'gay' penguins in the Toronto Zoo (who are probably not homosexual but are just very good friends, ah how we humans have to anthropomorphize everything) to the movie and decided it was time I saw it. Holy crap. I won't drop any spoilers here but gosh that movie had me thinking about it for days and days. I even tried to overwrite my memory with a few Miss Marple episodes (so much knitting while sleuthing for the murderer!). I'm not a fan of murder mysteries, but a few months ago on Twitter during a #knitchat, we had a discussion about knitting in movies and television, someone mentioned the Miss Marple series. Hey - it's BBC and has knitting in it, so it has to be good. And it is! The stories are all expertly woven together a la Agatha Christie. What I love, though, is the setting. All the stories are set in post WWII England in the late 1940s to early 50s. I love that era, especially the fashion of the times. That alone is reason enough for me to watch the series. Nuff. said.

I also went running a few times. It was so nice running around on country roads where cars aren't going highway speed and there isn't actually much traffic to speak of. I found some lovely enclaves, long straight flat stretches, and some beautiful scenery. The weather cooperated while I was there also.

I didn't take any photos of the chickens this time around, but I did hang out with them. The first night I was in charge, it was super stormy and blustery. The row coverings for the raised beds threatened to blow away. I worried about the chickens, but they seemed not to notice the storm. They were just excited when I came out to give them their treats (involving sunflower seeds). Chickens. The Skipper had built an automatic door opener to the chicken coop that is set on a timer, so that all I had to do was open and close the door to the outdoor pen. Happy chickens!

I also went into a feed store on Saturday, while I was in Duncan. The vet Sam saw in Alberta for her pre-border-crossing checkup & vaccinations gave us a free sample of dental formula crunchy food. Sam loved it so I promised her when it next came time to buy food, she would get that brand. It's amazing how much she likes it. And I don't know if it is having some variety, something different, or if it's just the 'new' bag of food. No matter. She likes it and that's all that matters.

I did a fair amount of knitting on the weekend too. Finished the mittens for my niece, started another pair for some other family member who doesn't read my blog, and also cast on for the Mezquita shawl. Three hundred and sixty one stitches. 361. Do you have any idea how long that takes? Because first you cast on, and you're counting, and maybe you're also watching Miss Marple so you lose count once or twice, but casting on takes a l o n g time. And then you recount your stitches like five times, getting a different number every time. Then you decide you need stitch markers but didn't bring any, so root around the kitchen for twist ties and voila! I put a twist tie every 50 stitches, counted them twice to be sure, and ended up with 362. Off by one. Easy to fix. I have since learned that one episode of Miss Marple, about 100 minutes, sees me knitting exactly two rows of this shawl. I'm not a fast knitter, but I'm certainly not a slow knitter. It's just lace and counting and thinking and going back and fixing. I'm 10 rows in now, have 10 more rows of the lace section before I get to the short row stockinette section. I haven't taken a photo of this yet or I'd show you. Maybe tomorrow.

I try as best I can to be cheerful and optimistic about my situation, but sometimes it's hard. The immigration lawyer Dan hired filed the application on Friday, having sent it registered mail. Immigration processed the cheque on Monday already, so that was very encouraging. When Dan filed the first time in the summer, they never even processed the cheque, so this seemed like a big thing. Apparently this is a slow time of year for applications for green cards, meaning I should get processed fairly quickly. Fingers crossed. Then yesterday I had an avalanche of sadness. This seems to be happening on a weekly basis at the moment, where I'll just feel like I'm scraping bottom. I'm oversensitive to everything at the moment, it seems, particularly my cat.

Sam fully recovered from the fight on Halloween, but on Saturday night she started oozing some pus out of her right eye. I called the vet hospital on Monday, the same one she got her sutures from, to see if the two might be related and she said no. She said it's probably not much to worry about unless it was accompanied by loss of appetite and lethargy. Well, her appetite is just fine. And lethargy? It's hard to tell. She doesn't have a lot of space to roam so she's probably too bored to do anything but sleep. I don't know.

Then, two days ago, she stopped being lovey with me. She's not an especially lovey cat but still. I haven't heard her purr since Monday night. She's all I have right now, you see, my dear cat that I brought home with me from Korea in 2003, this cat who has been by my side through all my depressive episodes and a few of my surgeries. I need her to love me. That's her job as my cat. Her eye goo is lessening and she is otherwise acting perfectly normal. I just want to hear her purr.

Yesterday this lack of affection hit me really hard and I just crumbled. Had an anxiety attack, actually, which is something I've not experienced in quite a long time. And you know, it's not just because of the cat, it's a combination of everything. I am bothered by this not so much because of the sadness but by how much it inconveniences me. Crying like that takes a lot out of a person so you're left exhausted. And I have things to do! I may not be working full time but I do have this little project I need to get finished. And the sooner I get finished, the sooner I can get to my knitting, non stop, in front of Miss Marple and underneath the electric blanket, tea to hand. Sam will be fine, she's just having a mood (just like I do). I will be fine too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FO: mittens for me!

A knitting project I can tell you about!

I know they don't look exactly the same, and that's because they're not. I started this project, oh, about a year ago or more. The pale pink is I think Diamond Luxury silk & merino worsted. The white is some Aran yarn I had in my stash. And the Aran is different in each mitt. I improvised the pattern and made the mitts to fit my right and left hands exactly. I finished the right mitt so long ago I can't even remember when.

And then, what usually happens when I set out to knit two of something from an improvised pattern, I think "I'll knit the second right away, I'll remember, I don't need to take notes!". And then months or years go by and I have to 'read' the first thing to figure out what the second thing needs to do. This was the case here. I mean, I'm pretty sure I used 4mm needles, but I got a way different gauge on the right mitt (40st) than the left mitt (36st), and the left mitt is arguably roomier. So it's a bit confusing, they are a bit mismatched but I guess you could say it's a metaphor for me. I make it up as I go, I figure it out, I make do. They're warm and they match my pale pink Brattleboro hat from Interweave Knits Fall 2010. I love this hat, I get compliments on it every time I wear it. I would like to make more, and as soon as I get my hands on more Malabrigo worsted, I will. And while I'm at it, I'd need a second skein of Malabrigo worsted for the Shawl-Collared Cowl. Wanting a complete set, then I'd need to find some mitten pattern that uses more Malabrigo worsted...

Ok back on track. Mittens. Yes, I am so close to matching! And since winter is/will be settling in here, I need to be warm! I'm pretty excited to have mittens again. Can you believe it? In the intention of moving to North Carolina, I got rid of ALL my mittens and gloves. I know, right? What was I thinking? I mean, it turns out it even gets cold in North Carolina. So, I will plot and plan to make another full set of warm for myself... well, maybe after Christmas knitting is done.

I'm not actually doing that much Christmas knitting this year. I'm just so up-in-the-air with where I'll even be over the holidays that I feel like I can't plan. I also can't buy yarn, as I have no money. I've pared down my yarn stash so much that it could probably all fit into two shopping bags. So, for the next few weeks, I have to think very creatively about how to give some interesting gifts of my own creation with my creativity, my current yarn, beads, and other things I can dream up. There may be edibles.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tapas feast

There has been a lot of talk about Spain in the house recently, as Z and the parents spent some time there in the spring. There has also been a lot of talk about food, as I cannot stop obsessing about cooking and baking and all around foodie stuff. So one night someone suggested we have a potluck tapas night, each of us prepare two savories and a sweet. So we did. There was a great and fantastic feast.
 Kebabs with only vegetables. I brushed a sauce made from a packet on. We don't have a barbeque, so I placed the skewers on a baking pan, whose edges were just the right distance for the food to hang in between.
 Same kebabs, only with chicken also. Some of the chicken went upstairs to Sam later. She was a HAPPY KITTY after that.
 I don't have a lot of experience with pastry. I can't recall having made a lot in my life but I do think I made a pie earlier this year. Well, this is a shortening pastry, which was not very interesting. My big plan was to make lime cheesecake in the pastries. It was a good idea, but I'm pretty sure I have never made a cheesecake before and one thing I learned for certain: you can't just wing it with cheesecake. Later I discovered I needed way more cream cheese than I had (three bricks instead of one) and I needed sweetened condensed milk. So, while tasty, they aren't exactly cheesecakes. We've been calling them 'lime tarts'.
 This was fun. Salad rolls. I took a head of lettuce and washed & dried the leaves. Once I got them to a uniform size, I took thin slices of carrot and green onion, bean sprouts, some mung bean vermicelli (Z called them 'glass noodles') and a few peanuts, put them in the lettuce leaf. The sauce to accompany them is somewhere below.
 Kale chips! Sister S made these. She baked some kale and collard greens after seasoning them, and they were so extremely tasty that they were the first to go.
 O shoot. I forget what this is. Spanish potato salad? Russian potato salad? S made this too.
 O hello. Olives and feta. Pure decadence! Made by Z.
 I'm totally going to botch this reference because I wasn't familiar with it. S made ham and jam on crackers as a tribute to so-and-so the something something mouse from a children's story they (three siblings) all knew about.
 The sauces. Basically they are the same thing: raw garlic & ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce. The one in the back also has peanut butter. The close one was for the salad rolls, the far one was for the kebabs. Normally I would have added sweet chili sauce too, but we didn't have any and it wasn't missed.
 Spinach and garbanzo beans with a lot of olive oil. There are only two ramekins in the house so Z used a mason jar. We are on a bit of a mason jar kick, with wanting to use mason jars as vessels for cooking and serving food in.
O dear! Here I am realizing that I missed two of Thor's offerings. Featured above is hard boiled eggs in a bowl of onion peel on a piece of bread. Atop the egg is paprika and caramelized onions. Aside from the raw onion, I really enjoyed this. Thor also made this very interesting... what to call it? A quarter of a large tortilla held some banana fried in curry spices. It was delicious. Thor also fried up an avocado in butter, sugar, bourbon and a a cinnamon stick. 

Also missing (see by the end I was on my third glass of wine so...) was the finishing chocolate. I'm going to mangle this name too - ciocollato de calde? Basically a thick hot chocolate that was like a warm pudding. Z made one with caramel, one with chili, one with citrus sugar and one with vanilla. I think I got the citrus sugar one, though it was so mild I couldn't taste it. But Yum it was. 

I really enjoy mealtimes with this family. I've been a part of it now for nearly five years and I'm still getting used to all the singing. :-) I loved being able to serve raw garlic and ginger and nobody batted an eyelash. I loved all the experimenting with food. It was great having leftovers. Yeah, we had a great time on Saturday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween at the vet hospital

I know, several days have passed since this event, but I was at first too exhausted to write about it and then I was just plain busy. So here we go.

Recap: Sam and I are staying at the house of my in-laws while we wait for my green card. Dan's mom & stepdad are currently out of the country, so I am currently housemates with Dan's brother, sister, and Yuki the house cat. Yuki is male, twice Sam's size, and sure doesn't like having another cat in his house. We have all been making every effort to keep the cats in different rooms so they never have to see each other, but that doesn't always work. The room I was staying in downstairs has a glass door, and the cats would often yowl at each other through that door.

Last Monday I was out running along Dallas Road. (Week 7 of the Couch to 10k program, I logged almost 6 miles between running and walking). I was about 10 minutes away from home when my phone gave me the you-have-a-new-email buzz, and someone tried phoning me. This is not unusual so I ignored it. When I got back to the house, I walked into the room Sam & I were staying in and at the same moment read Thor's email "there was a cat fight..." as Sam came from under the bed, paw dripping with blood. I guess Yuki had made his way into the room we were staying in and they had it out.Yuki won.

I immediately put her on the bed (luckily there were two towels and a hoodie to put down on top) for her to take comfort in my presence and start cleaning herself. There was a lot of blood. I like a lot. I have never had problems with a pet before, Sam is the only pet I've had in my adult life, so I didn't really know what to do. I started texting with Dan, sending him photos of the paw that wouldn't stop bleeding, sent him a 37 second video. He said to take her to the vet. Well, I had to shower first because I wasn't going anywhere all sweaty and gross. Sam had started shaking, probably from shock.

At this point, I was still in nurse mode, so was fairly calm. Thor was home and offered any possible assistance. He came with us to the vet hospital.

We were put into an exam room right away. Sam had been all wrapped up in her bloody towel, but as soon as the door was closed she looked for a way to get up high (her favorite place) or at least a place to hide. She settled on behind the laptop in the room. The vet tech came in and checked Sam's vitals. She was mostly fine (she did just see a vet in September prior to our border attempt), but the tech took her away so they could clean up the paw & get a better look at it.


They took my kitty away.

Waiting, waiting. Of course I didn't bring any knitting. And we didn't know how long we would be or both of us I think would have brought something to occupy our minds with. Thor found Halloween candy. Looked to see if there were any games in the laptop (!) (There weren't).

Later we were told that Sam was "not cooperating" (no, really?) and they had to sedate her to look at her paw. What they found was quite a large laceration where her paw pads met, hence all the bleeding. She required some very tiny stitches, a bandage, the Cone, and some antibiotics.

When we got her home, that's when I started falling apart. Thor made me dinner and gracefully helped me get through the evening. Sam & I moved back upstairs, to where the mattress is on the floor (and therefore more easily accessible to an injured kitty). It's a part of the house Yuki isn't really interested in, and (most importantly) the cats can't see each other through any window here.

When we went to bed, Sam was mad at me. Mad for having the cone on, mad about the bandage, mad about the car ride, the vet, the fight, all of it. The room was cold. I was upset and stressed out, which didn't help either of us get much sleep that night.

Mad kitty

On Tuesday morning the vet said the bandage could come off. I took the cone off too, knowing there was no way Sam would stand having it on for an entire week. She would have spent that entire week trying to get it off and probably further injuring herself in the process. I was going to help Sam remove the bandage but she was determined to do it herself.

I have to give her a twice-daily antibiotic pill for ten days. I figured the easiest way would be to crush the pill into almost a powder and mix it in with the canned cat food. Normally she gets this once a day as her 5:15pm treat, but at the moment she gets it 12 hours apart. She loves this getting served thing.

She didn't use her litter box for about a day and a half after the vet visit, which worried me some, but when she went poo I was SO happy I told the Internet (via Twitter). She was eating and drinking water right away, so I had no real concerns about her internally.

I haven't actually seen the wound or the stitches. She won't let me. I have caught her a few times trying to pull at them, but we're at day six now so I'm not too worried. The stitches will dissolve and fall off. My sister's husband, who is quite knowledgeable about animals, figures she probably didn't really need stitches. Well, I wasn't taking any chances. This cat has come with me from Korea, and is about to go another 3,200 miles east.

So things are much better now. I'm sure Sam will be much happier when we are in our own home and she can rub her own smells over everything with no threat from other animals, but in the mean time she is getting lots of loving and extra food.

Am I 1% or 99%?

Normally I don’t like to write about political issues. Not any more. I spent a lot of time in the 1990s as an activist, first as a student and then later when I got involved in the labour movement. I was all wrapped up in my activism and found myself simply being tired and angry all the time. When I discovered rampant hypocrisy and utter lack of integrity by leaders of these movements, I walked away. Life is too short to spend all my energy on negativity.

I can’t ignore this Occupy movement. I mean I can, technically, by simply not physically going by Centennial Square in Victoria. But I do think about it. A lot. I suspect that if I went down to the #occupyVictoria site, I would see a bunch of people I used to attend protests with a decade ago. Well, maybe not now, maybe in the early days of this Occupy movement I would have seen those familiar faces of people who just show up to every protest, but rumor has it the demographic of the people at the site has changed. 

Victoria and Vancouver have issues of homelessness and safe injection drug sites, as do many major cities. When the Olympics came to Vancouver last year, the city of Vancouver proposed to ship all the homeless somewhere else (read: Victoria) to sweep them under the rug and away from all the tourists coming here for Olympics. There has long been a call for more services to this disadvantaged set of individuals.

From the beginning I have been puzzled by the Occupy movement. I mean, Okay I get that people are angry about the rich not being taxed fairly while the middle class and lower have suffered greatly. But you know what? That is a trend that has repeated itself historically ever since humans could build. One group oppressed another*. One group enslaved another. Ever seen St. Petersburg? That entire city was built on slave labour. So were the Pyramids. North America’s early railroads (mostly Canada, but probably at least in the western US too) were built by Asian immigrants looking for a better life but were instead treated as expendable.  I’m not saying that slavery is good or something we should continue (thanks to @idreamnsweaters for catching me on this), but just that it’s not new. Read any Jared Diamond and you'll see how societies come and go, usually at the hands of this kind of movement from an egalitarian to a huge chasm between the haves and the have-nots. The way our current global economic situation is moving will probably lead to collapse eventually. But it is not just the result of our economic and political systems. (Hello overpopulation!)

I’ve been reading lots of the links that people have been posted on Twitter, with opinions on either side of the Occupy movement. One interesting YouTube video posited that the people behind the Occupy movement are some whiny poor-me Gen Yers who have a sense of entitlement and don’t know where their food or their IT gadgetry even comes from (i.e. the corporations they rail against). I have also been reading the comments of the news stories that are posted on my local media sites. The people who are largely against this movement, in Victoria at least, seem to be those who are supposedly in the 99%, that is, average people. When the City of Victoria turned off the power and water that the Occupy protesters were using, there was public outcry from both sides. What? The city was providing water and power for these people who claim to represent the 99%? No, more like they just took it without sanction. 

We have municipal elections coming up in a few weeks in British Columbia, so the Occupy movement in Vancouver and Victoria have turned into what the Vancouver Mayor calls a “political football” because it is no longer about “sticking it to the man”. The Occupy movement in British Columbia has turned it into yet another platform to draw attention to the issues of homelessness and drug use on our province’s streets. For this reason, both Victoria and Vancouver want to shut the encampments down and I have to say I can’t blame them. This is supposedly drawing criticism to both Vancouver’s and Victoria’s mayors and council. So says the media. We’ll see what happens on Election Day, as this is like to be the largest issue on which people vote. 

A woman at the Occupy Vancouver site died yesterday, allegedly of a drug overdose. Two days ago, another man from the Vancouver site was treated for a drug overdose. What the media hasn’t reported is which kinds of drugs were responsible, prescription or illicit, but it is largely assumed that it is street drugs that are the cause. This is the reason the people, the 90-97% (a number I made up) of the 99% can’t get behind this Occupy movement. So many people who are not the 1% have said “these people do not represent me”, and I think that is an interesting thing to consider.

Ah, percentages. As a scientist, I am very interested in statistics. Not only the numbers themselves but just how the numbers were arrived at. As someone who studied Humanities early on, I have a loathsome disdain for simple dichotomies, such as the proposed 1%/99%. In my brief foray into feminism, and other minority labels, I grew to dislike labels, which coincided with my growing away from being a political activist altogether. So if you ask me or label me as being on one side or other of these issues, I will tell you I fall into neither category. I don’t question whether “one percent” is representative, because I think it is. And 99 percent may be representative if we are only talking about monetary wealth, BUT, that does not mean my ideologies fit within the framework that the originators of the whole Occupy Wall Street movement envisioned. So this is where I get annoyed, because I hate being lumped into a category against my will.

I expect a number of books will be written about the Occupy movement in the coming years. It will be an interesting thing to look at all this in hindsight, and to see from which vantage point this hindsight will come from. Will there be a further breakdown of the 99%? As in 37% of the 99%ers are behind the cause, 54% aren’t, and the rest couldn’t care less?  How will this data be gathered? Who will be the objective independent third party responsible for collecting, analyzing and reporting this data? We will never know, and we must be content with never knowing. That’s the problem with history – like it or not, we are in an age where multiple histories can and will be written and sorting out who is right or wrong is too nebulous to comprehend. 

I do believe I am rambling now. I will summarize by saying I do not support the Occupy movement because it does not make any concrete specific realistic suggestions about how our global society can achieve financial equity. Trying to guilt the corporations and the rich will simply not work, and, as I see it, that seems to be the only tack the protesters are taking. I do not support the Occupy movement because, while it thought provoking, it is also causes people like me (who have had all kinds of bad luck and shitty things happen despite my best efforts to get out of poverty and debt, and who is also highly educated and motivated to improve myself) to resent any sort of political movement that claims to want to help people like me. I’ve been a part of a union and I’ve seen how unions as a whole protect the mediocre and the lazy (I’ll save that diatribe for another time, when I’m feeling sufficiently mad enough again), and the whole Occupy movement seems to me to be like one large union that forces you to sign the union card and take the oath, even though you absolutely disagree with every word of that oath. I also think that if the Occupy movement had any real teeth, you would see WAY more people out there on the streets. Since it doesn’t, I will continue to bust my ass to make ends meet, to get ahead, and to be the best human I can be.

 This post will no doubt piss some of my readers off (see, I'm even using expletives, which I abhor doing on the Internet, but this a highly charged issue), but I am tired of being silent on this issue. And I want it to be known that I don't support the Occupy movement. If I'm "missing the point" of the movement, that's not my fault. It's the fault of the people behind it for not making it clear for an intelligent person to comprehend. Even then, I might not agree. Gotta love free speech.

* An immediate response from a Twitter follower challenged me on this point. She said "Also you said for any other group to get ahead is to "oppress" another group. That isn't true." I don't think I said or implied this. I believe it is true that one group oppressing another has happened historically.  I am very careful in my choice of words when I write. I said "I agree. But it also happens that some groups often do get ahead by oppressing others, which is the point of Occupy, no?" And she replied "NO that is not the point. I think you need to do more reading because by your blog post I see you haven't."  So there you have it. Flack. I was expecting that. And this is all my opinion anyway, which I have a right to.