Kangaroo Creek.

As you know, when Sami and Seth and I were in the Okanagan for Ty’s wedding, we went to a Kangaroo Park. I have been sharing the photos I took there on Instagram. But I have a ton of photos and I thought it would also be fun to do a photo blog post.

It was an amazing park. It has been at least two years since I had pet a kangaroo and that is far too long. I also got the chance to use the kangaroo selfie skills I acquired over my time in Australia (there are a lot of kangaroo selfies in this post). Also you just told me that you and Josh are going to go here on your honeymoon, so here is a nice preview of what you have to look forward to:

 

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How adorable and wonderful is this. 

 

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This guy is an albino wallaby and his name is Casper.

 

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I think the name of Seth’s baby was Honeybun. Something super cute like that. 

 

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This was a very very happy moment.

 

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Feeding the roos.

 

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This guy was a little weird. The keepers said he was a bit of an airhead and liked to stare at the sky. I liked him.

 

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Unfortunately he was asleep and not running around at this moment. But this is a baby miniature  horse. Quite possibly the cutest thing on the planet. 

 

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I had never met a nice emu before. This guy let you pet him and was the nicest.

 

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If you look closely at this one you can see that the emu has turned its head and is looking directly at my face. After this photo I turned and looked back and for a second we locked eyes. Our faces were about 4 inches apart and for a second I thought I was going to get my eye pecked out. But he is a nice emu and would never do that.

 

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The birds kept talking to me and singing in my ears.

 

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Capybaras!

 

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Sugar gliders are soft and fluffy and adorable. 

 

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This is probably the most excited I looked all day. Sugar gliders are the cutest.

Wonder! Woman!

I went to see Wonder Woman this week and the drive home and for the remainder of the evening I yelled my admiration for the movie roughly in Josh’s direction. There’s a scene near the beginning where the Amazons are fighting, and I was surprised when I started crying; there were just so many women on screen, all being so badass, and my heart was so full with it. When the credits rolled, I had the same kinds of feelings (though not nearly to the same magnitude) that I did after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road for the first time. We got in the car and I said (yelled), “I want to do one thousand push-ups.” The next day I was like, “perhaps now I will feel more reasonably about Wonder Woman” but no, still high on the movie.

I’ll do my best not to spoil anything for you, but I want to tell you more about how much I love this movie.

First: wow there are a lot of women in this movie (at least at first, because yes this movie has problems but we’re focusing on the good here). AND, they have reasonable footwear. Diana wears, get this, boots. Boots! Without a heel! Her armour is also slightly more armour-like than it has been depicted in the past! It has a strap! The bar is very low for the representation of women in film! And like, it’s not covering a ton of her body, but it looks pretty hefty and she isn’t objectified by the camera. This is possibly because this movie was directed by a woman and you know what? Men have had their turn at superhero movies and they are becoming hella boring – fight fight fight fight and then deliver an Uplifting Speech, ugh – so how about we hand superheroes over to women. Throw in Star Wars and Star Trek as well. At least half of them.

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please note, her shoes

 

Also Robin Wright plays a general who is the top expert on fighting and AGH I love it.

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Antiope, ilu. 

Diana is portrayed as very much not stupid, even though there’s a ton of stuff she doesn’t know. Like, she grew up on a paradise island populated only with women, so there’s a few times she is surprised by things that seem run-of-the-mill, but she’s also a fast learner who doesn’t take things at face value. She’s smart! She thinks for herself! I love it!

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she also dodges bullets!

This movie also does a bunch of casual poking at issues. There’s a character who talks about not being able to do what he wants to with his life because his skin is the wrong colour. Women are dismissed by people as being incapable and then are like “um, no” and go on being awesome. I feel like casual conversations of these kinds of things in movies and TV so important. It’s part of why I love Brooklyn 99.

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Okay one last thing. You know how lots of war movies are like “GERMANS ARE EVIL AND THE ALLIES ARE GOOD” and don’t leave much room for any kind of nuance? This DC superhero movie practically goes out of it’s way to not toot America’s horn and it is downright refreshing. Diana does this thing where she values people’s lives on both sides of the war and DAMN if that ain’t my shit. I thought about taking that swear out but I am FIRED UP and I’m leaving it. This movie doesn’t sanitize violence the way other superhero movies often do!

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me, every Halloween, from now until eternity, world without end, amen and amen

P.S. also the slow-mo fights are OFF THE CHAIN and they’re beautiful AND they show the cost of war!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to go watch this film right the hell now!

 

 

A bit about privilege.

 I’d like to try and take you through a thought I have been having lately. It is mostly centred around work.

There is kind of two parts:

Part One: The Union

Everything at my work place is based on seniority. I knew this when I signed up, so please don’t take this as me whining about a situation I clearly knew about and signed up for, I am not going for that. I am commenting on a system I feel is flawed. Some things someone who hasn’t worked in a union might not know (obviously based on my union experience, maybe some unions are different):

1) It is almost impossible to fire a union member, even if they very much deserve it. In all of my time working at this mill (on and off since 2009) I have seen/heard of two people being “fired”. They were not actually fired. They deserved to be fired. The company tried to fire them, but the union kept getting them their job back in arbitration (the union is legally required to represent its members and fight for their jobs). Eventually the company offered them money to sign a paper saying they would never come back. I don’t know exactly how much each one got, but I heard it was in the ballpark of $30,000. So all this is to say, firing people is nearly impossible once they have made it past their thirty day probation period.

2) Everything is determined by seniority. If you want to be doing a particular job, you need to have the bid on that job. When jobs become available, they are put up for bid by the company. Employees have three days after a job is posted to put in a bid. When the posting has closed, the company goes through all the bids, puts them in order of seniority, and then offers the job to the person with the most seniority. If they refuse, they move down the list in order of seniority until someone accepts. If the company wants to run an overtime shift, they put up a sign up list. When everyone who wants to sign up has signed up, they take the list and choose the most senior operators to work the shift. If they need last minute overtime (eg. someone calls in sick and they need to call someone in) they have to call people in order of seniority. It gets a bit confusing sometimes, but basically all jobs are determined by seniority.

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When these two factors combine what you are left with is a work environment with absolutely no incentive for work ethic. How hard you work literally has no bearing on your job or wage. All that matters is how many years you have been there. All you need to do is be good enough to not be fired, and, as we know, it is almost impossible to be fired. It is kind of infuriating; maybe it is my millennial showing, but it drives me absolutely nuts that my work quality has no influence on my work schedule, wage, or job. I know that the boomer generation was more inclined to be into the whole “you put in your time and pay your dues” thing and there are a lot of boomers at the mill. I also know that when you have spent thirty years working shit jobs to build up your seniority, you will not be into the idea of abolishing the whole seniority thing. But I think it makes for an unproductive work force. Everyone knows that extra effort, or even a normal amount of effort, is not rewarded or celebrated with anything other than a thank you from your supervisor, who is completely unable within this system to reward you for your hard work even if they wanted to.

It annoys me that I can’t work hard and progress to a better job. This winter I was pulled off of a job I was good at to sweep sawdust around the freezing sawmill basement because a guy with more seniority than me decided he would rather do my job. And because I do not have near enough seniority to have a bid on any job worth having, I get put in the worst jobs because I am near the bottom of the list. It is a weird and frustrating situation because I am used to being able to get what I want through working hard. In every other job I have had I have been able to get the things that I want from that job by being a nice person and working hard. It is so frustrating to know that I am good at my job, that my supervisors like having me on their shift, and that my coworkers like working with me but that if some shitty worker with more seniority decides he wants my job he just gets to take it and I will be back in that basement shovelling rotten sawdust and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

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Part Two: Being A Girl At The Mill

So a little while ago I wrote a post about how I am treated by men in male-dominated environments (if you missed it you can read it here). As I have mentioned to you before, I find that I am experiencing a wide range of feelings about my interactions with men at work and the way that I am treated by men, especially when I am one of so few women (if you are not Glynis and are unaware of my situation, there are about 150 employees who work production; I am one of about five women and am the only woman under forty).

A related anecdote: one of my closest friends is a soccer player. She has played in a bunch of different soccer leagues over the years. Recently she told me that she has joined an all-female league and that she is done playing co-ed sports. I don’t remember what she said exactly, but it was something like, “I’m sick of playing with guys. I am sick of having to continually prove that I am good enough to play with them. You spend the entire season trying to prove that you are good enough to pass to and by the time they actually start passing to you the season is over.” I play basketball with a bunch of guys here in town and it is the same thing. Every time a new guy shows up to play, he will not pass to me at all. It takes me a significant amount of time, often several weeks and sometimes months, to prove that I am good enough.

This feeling of having to prove myself to men is the same feeling that I have at the mill. Because I am a girl in what has traditionally been a man’s job, I feel like I need to prove that I am qualified to be there. I feel like the assumption is that I do not belong and it is my responsibility to prove that I do. Every time I have to work with a new coworker or for a new supervisor I feel like I need to prove myself, that I am starting at a disadvantage because I am female. That I have to work my way up to the level where the men begin and work harder in the same job than a man does. I feel like I need to constantly fight to prove that I am qualified to take up the same space as a man.

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So these two areas of frustration are present in my life right now. But what they have really done recently is forced me to examine my own privilege. It is easy to be frustrated and to feel sorry for myself or feel very self-righteously wronged by these situations in which I feel that I am not being treated fairly. I have come to realize these things:

1) It is true that I am sometimes being treated unfairly, but this is so evident to me because I am treated so fairly in so many other aspects of my life. I have this super high bar for how I should be treated because I have been treated fairly in the past. I expect my bosses to treat me well and give me what I want when I do my job satisfactorily because that is what has happened in the past.

2) I am used to people assuming the best about me. I am used to starting on the same level as my friends, peers, coworkers, etc. I am angry that I have to work my way up to the level of the men at work. I have never been a position before where I started at a disadvantage.

3) It is exhausting to feel like you constantly have to prove that you are worthy of simply existing and taking up space to people who look down on you.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how exhausting it must be to be an actual minority. I can argue that being a female in the world today is kind of a minority. That it is harder to be a woman than a man. This is true. But I am a white woman living in Canada, so I still have it pretty damn good. But I think my experience at the mill is giving me just a small taste of what it might be like to be an actual minority. In no way do I want to say that I understand what people who belong to certain minority groups experience, because I don’t, but I think I maybe have just gotten a taste of how exhausting and infuriating it must be to feel like you began your life at a disadvantage. To spend your life fighting to get to the level that everyone else started at and to prove that you deserve to be there and that you are worthy of the taking up space. I get so frustrated that I am not getting what I want and that people are not treating me the way I feel I deserve to be treated.

But for me it is just a job. At any moment I could decide to never go back. To never see those men again and return to the life where everyone assumes the best of me and almost always gives me what I want if I work hard and ask nicely.

 

 

Wedding Season

I was in my sister’s wedding this past weekend, and is was joyful and delightful. Between this wedding, two other weddings in June, and my and Josh’s wedding coming up, I have gathered some Thoughts On Weddings and I’m here to share. When I say “you” in this post I don’t mean you, Raiah.

Let’s talk about bridezillas and crazy mothers-in-law.

When Josh and I got engaged, people started asking what the theme of our wedding was, what our colours were, where we were thinking of having it, and so on and so on. Largely, these questions were aimed at me and not at Josh. People would ask him the more logistical questions such as date and place, but most of the rest was asked of me. After a little while I found myself saying “my wedding” instead of “our wedding” and thinking of it more and more as my responsibility and my “burden”. This is not a fun way to think about weddings! Here’s what I want our wedding to be: a joyful, relaxed, beautiful gathering of friends and family celebrating our marriage. I want it to be equally mine and Josh’s; it’s not “my day”, it’s our day. Turns out, the cultural conditioning to care about weddings that I somehow thought I was immune to has indeed had an impact on me.

Women (and I’m talking about straight relationships because that’s my experience) are told from a very young age that weddings are important, weddings are life-changing, weddings are something to be dreamed about and planned for from a young age, and if one thing goes wrong it is a complete and utter disaster. And so when women start trying to plan and organize a very large party with a lot of (mostly bogus and made up) tradition surrounding it while also fielding expectations and feelings from all kinds of people around them, it is easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, if women care in the wrong way about their wedding, they are immediately condemned and laughed at as a bridezilla. This precarious tension between caring enough and caring too much carries over to mothers-in-law. For these women, if they are helpful or concerned in the wrong way, they are immediately labeled as “crazy” (there is a LOT to be said about women being called “crazy” but I don’t have time for it here).

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short version: don’t call women crazy

Let’s say you’re at a wedding rehearsal and the officiant mentions the mothers-in-law in the past who have held up proceedings with their deranged interest in the wedding going smoothly. Do they also mention fathers-in-law or disinterested groomsmen? Most likely not, and this is a problem. Talking in this broadly negative way says, to all the women in the room, “if you act in a way that I consider to be wrong or fussy or crazy, I’m going to talk negatively and condescendingly about you later to other people, but I’m disguising this threat as a joke accompanied with a knowing nod.” Heaping shame in this way on women in the past is a tool used – knowingly or unknowingly – to control the behaviour of women in the present. And what if you’re at a rehearsal and the person who is insisting the wedding party walk at the right pace or that the groomsmen are standing wrong or that the bride is the most important is the father-in-law? Will he be gossiped about later? Probably not, partially due to remembered experience vs actual experience and confirmation bias.

Human brains love patterns. When we see something that fits into an established pattern (in this case, culturally imbued from all kinds of angles (anyone remember watching Monster-in-Law?)) that the brain has already accepted. So when a mother-in-law acts “crazy” (read: cares in the “wrong” way), it fits into an accepted pattern and is more easily remembered and encoded by the brain. A father-in-law who displays these same behaviours will not be remembered in the same way. Guess what! Memory is not infallible.

Back to bridezillas. How insulting is it that my phone accepts “bridezilla” as a word but tries to autocorrect “groomzilla” to “groom ills”. In my mind, this is connected back to using “like a girl” or “stop being such a girl” as an insult. If you do this, you need to check yourself for obvious reasons and if you can’t see what those reasons are then please read at least one (1) book. It is also linked to the idea of the “cool girl” who “isn’t like the other girls” and oh my word can we please stop tearing other women down to build ourselves up? I am not better than anyone who likes pink nail polish because I like black nail polish. Did we not learn this from Legally Blonde.

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these are not difficult concepts to understand

The idea of bridezillas is, similarly to “crazy mothers-in-law”, a veiled threat to women designed to keep them in their place. Don’t do that, or you’ll be a bridezilla. Don’t act that way, or you’ll be a bridezilla. Don’t insist on things being a certain way, or you’ll be a bridezilla. “Bridezilla,” along with “crazy mother-in-law,” is unkind at best. Once again, why is it okay to a) use an entire gender as an insult, or b) tear women down to build other women up. There are so many other issues I could link this to like who gets to take up space, the trend of being very rude to grooms at weddings, and the perception of people as members of a group vs as individuals, but the key thing I want you, gentle reader, to think about is how women are coerced into acting in a certain way through societal threats, and that men are not subject to the same coercion.

Basically what I’m saying is think for two seconds before you speak and I just want my and Josh’s wedding to be free from misogynist bullshit.