First Sunday of Advent

Last year I wrote reflections during Advent season on a (mostly) weekly basis. I’m glad I did for two reasons. First, it is nice to look a year back. Second, as I mentioned last year I have no church home here in my new home and I’d like to continue with some traditions. The tradition of lighting candles at home, reading a reflection and writing a post each Advent Sunday keeps the cycle of the Church calendar going.

Tradition and story passed on for thousands of years tells me that history is alive and that each person is more than an individual . We are connected to one another and stories, ceremonies, traditions make these connections visible. There are reminders that nobody must be alone. This is hopeful because we cannot easily survive alone, especially not given the history that has led to the presently configured way of life for almost every human being in the world today.

In Advent there is familial history. My mom would light the candles in our home at Advent. We’d read passages from a hippy Christ book, light the candles that had been set on a wooden board with angel hair and talk. I don’t know how many  years we did this, but it was enough to become Advent for me. And that is the tradition (much revised) that I do at home tonight.

Closing thoughts on Donald Trump’s election

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I’d like to get Donald Trump out of my head. Hopefully this final reflection works through my concerns for now…although I expect more troubling thoughts to follow once he’s in power.

Here’s what I know following the election of Donald Trump: I don’t know. I’m worried. I’m angry. That’s all that makes sense. And it’s all that can be said with any certainty, at least for now. I don’t think anybody knows what Donald Trump will do as president. He could be as ineffective as Jimmy Carter, as transformative as Franklin Roosevelt or as horrific as Joesph Stalin.

We just don’t know, and we won’t know until he’s actually in office – perhaps not until after his (God forbid) second term begins. Not knowing anything at this point may be terrifying, but it isn’t cause for claiming to know anything more. Times may be extraordinary, but that’s simply because it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next. If Donald Trump proves only to be the Republican’s Barack Obama, then I imagine in eight year’s time we’ll look back in relief of what didn’t become of the country. Time will tell. Continue reading

It’s okay to leave, America

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It’s okay to leave, America. I’m an American who left for Canada back when George Bush was president. I left because I didn’t want to live in a country that tortured people, waged illegal wars of aggression and built massive surveillance systems for spying on virtually everyone. During the aftermath of 9/11 the United States became more visibly authoritarian and the political culture was deeply eroded. I also felt targeted as a gay man. George Bush’s administration worried me. Given how much things changed in just a few years, I was concerned about where America would go next. I didn’t see Donald Trump’s election coming, especially not in 2006 when I decided to move to Canada with my now husband Ron. But now that Trump’s the president-elect I’d be even more worried, especially if I still lived in the United States.  Continue reading

The future of fascism is now

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I moved from the United States to Canada about ten years ago. I did this because the second George Bush administration had gone too far and I was concerned about where the United States was headed. After 9/11, the Bush administration practiced overt torture, waged an illegal war in Iraq and launched the largest mass surveillance system in human history. Bush was reckless, cruel and dangerous. I wondered where the United States was headed and I feared the worst. I wanted out because I did not want anything to do with such a dangerous and inhumane system of violence, oppression and terror. With the election of Donald Trump I fear that things are only going to get worse. Much worse.  Continue reading

On the Music Festival & Being Good Neighbours

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One of the reasons why I now live in Haida Gwaii is because I happened to attend the Edge of the World music festival on my first visit to the islands. I was here for a two-week outdoor education course by SFU, which I mostly attended to learn first hand if Haida Gwaii should be shortlisted on our where-to-move-when-I-graduate list. The course was offered in early August 2014, so I attended the festival as well. And here I am!

I liked the music, but that’s not why the festival helped draw me to the islands. What stood out was the community so evident in every detail of the event. Above all else, I wanted to move to a place where people regularly come together to create and celebrate cultures as community. The festival certainly stood out in this regard — including the homemade food, children’s workshops, range of bands and performers (from both on and off-island), and the Haida and other First Nations music and ceremony.  Continue reading

Summer 2016 Update

Been busy since school got out at the end of June. Here’s a brief recap of my summer so far:

  • Joined family in Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and had a great time watching fireworks for the Fourth, plays, spending time with family
  • Visited my dad outside of Seattle and had a blast at a Mariner’s game together
  • Had a chance to catch up with friends in Vancouver, before heading home for a day — and then heading right back to Smithers and Terrace areas for camping with Ron

I have another month before school starts up and plan to read, write and prepare a bit for the fall. My dad and stepmother will be visiting in August as well.

History Matters: LGBT Struggles or Western Crusades?

Nyc 10/19/98 Candlelight Vigil For Slain Gay Wyoming Student Matthew Shepard. (Photo By Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

I still remember the day that I heard the news of Matthew Shepard’smurder in 1998. Shepard, a gay man in a Wyoming college town, was tortured and left to die by his assailants. He became an icon in the struggle against gay bashing and hate crimes. Shepard had met his assailants at a bar, and it was widely suspected that he’d been lured out and then beaten to death because of his sexual orientation.

Shepard was in his twenties, from a small town and gay. So was I. This terrified me. I had already been attacked, when walking down the street in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood — a gay district in Seattle. My best friend had been severally beaten in his teens, also in Washington state. I knew people who’d been lured into dangerous situations, stories that mirrored the reports of Shepard’s murder.

And I knew our history. Violent police raids. Death from the neglect of the AIDS crisis by politicians like Ronald Reagan. A history that included Nazi death camps for gay men, just two generations before. And there was the entrapment, prison, shame and bullying that had carried on long after the defeat of the Nazis (and to this day, in many parts of the world).  Continue reading

Why Silence Still Equals Death

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“Hope will never be silent.”
— Harvey Milk

A new chapter in the history of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people started today. Forty-nine people were murdered in a gay bar in Orlando. At least 50 other people were injured. With so many deaths by gunfire in a single incident, this is the worst mass civilian shooting in the modern history of the United States. The victims were targeted by a killer who, according to his father, was recently upset  at the sight of seeing two men kissing. read more at my other blog

Spring 2016

The last update was just after Lent and right before coming back from spring break. Reading what I wrote then (mostly about the doubts and contradictions within teaching) it’s hard to put myself back there, considering all that has happened in my work as a public school teacher over these past two months. I am glad that I was thinking so much about how to do this work, given that I needed to be grounded in order to contribute to what would soon follow.

Soon after returning from break, our community lost one of its own in the tragic death of a student. I did not personally know the student – Jaylund – who died this spring, although I knew of him and knew who he was. Many of the students that I work with directly knew him well (as did almost all of my colleagues and many of my neighbours and other community members). His death is painful for the entire community and his loss affects us all.

As a teacher, who is new to the field, new to the school, and new to the community, the death of a young man hit me hard. Of course, it hit others harder. But I, like everyone, felt his loss and was shocked by his tragic death. Being witness to a community of young people – our students – in mourning and grief took everything I had. I am still drawing from my reserves and I am coming to appreciate that nothing can prepare a community for such a loss.  Continue reading

Seattle Layover

We managed quite a lot on our layover on the flight from Sacramento to home. I flew into Seattle and had time to see mom, Janice, and Luke (who happened to be in town for business – bonus). Ron and I attended a concert, too. Then it was up early for the final two legs of the trip.

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