October 16, 2013


I posted this on Facebook last week, and I thought I'd expand on it a bit more.

Minnesota has been disarming the armour I never even knew I'd built up over the years.

I'm not used to strangers smiling at me and giving me warm hellos. I'm not used to people letting me in on the freeway, or not honking at me if I don't gun it the instant the light turns green. I'm not used to not being tailgated. I'm not used to being pulled over by a police officer for minor speeding, having a friendly conversation, and being let off with a warning instead of a ticket. I'm not used to the hotel clerk chatting me up and cracking an inside joke she and I have whenever I walk out to my car. I'm not used to going to a gay bar on pride and hanging out with 5 locals for an entire night and sharing a lot of laughs. I'm not used to having a girl I'd met just once in passing walk past me and call out my name and stop to say Hello. I'm not used to walking around town with a relaxed smile on my face rather than a serious, "I'm going somewhere" face. I'm not used to questioning my reflex thought of, "What do you want from me?" when a stranger talks to me. I'm not used to not being asked, "Where are you from? No, I mean where are you REALLY from?" I'm not used to being in a small town and not being stared at.

I'm not used to this now, but I sure could get used to it!

October 6, 2013

To Rural Alberta, With Love.

I'm a logical, rational-minded person. But I also rely a lot on my intuition. Translation? Yes, I'm a bit of a hippy-dippy-granola-nature-gaia freak. Nothing over the top, but I'm definitely a 50/50 split between my science/logic-minded side and my "oooh - let's see what the universe says!" side.

So, a little over a month ago, as I do every year, I went to see My Guy. He's this dude outside of Ottawa who does these fantastic tarot card readings. (Now, stop your laughing for a moment and just roll with me here!) I've always found his readings to be very insightful and very helpful. It's not that he predicts the future… But rather, he is able to give me insight on what's happening now, why it's happening, and give me an idea of what to be mindful of in the near future. A bit kookie perhaps, but it works for me, so I run with it. (That's my hippy freaky intuitive side saying that. See what I mean? Sometimes I can't get the bitch to shut up!)

Anyway, in my reading last month, My Guy said something casually that I didn't really think too much about. He looked at the cards and said, "Everything that's been taken away from you will be given back." What? But nothing HAD been taken from me! I mean, I felt FINE.

I didn't think anything more about it, and went on with life. I went to Minnesota and started a software project there. And then, I came back to Edmonton to revisit my past and… Well, face some dark things that had been buried for many years - relentless homophobic, racist bullying and how it had affected me my whole life. (You can read about this here.)

Well, as shitty as things were when I was between 5 and 10 years old growing up out here in rural Alberta… There really was another side to growing up here, one that had also faded in my memory. It came to light last night.

October 2, 2013

Almost Gay Bashed In Rural Alberta.

I once heard that in Native American/Shamanic tradition, if you go through a traumatic experience, a piece of your spirit breaks off and goes away. There are ceremonies and rituals you can go through to call the piece of your spirit that has broken away back, to make yourself unified and whole once again. I never realized that there was a piece of myself that had broken off and gone away - until almost getting gay bashed in rural Alberta called it back and made me whole again.

The irony of using an idea from Native American spirituality to tell this story is not lost on me, but it's the most accurate way to describe the experience.

I've been visiting Edmonton and rural Alberta (where I grew up) for the first time in over 14 years. I've been having a lot of fun reconnecting with old friends and revisiting places from my childhood. So many fun, good memories!

However, my childhood here wasn't all idyllic. The darker side of my time here was the intense bullying I experienced for 6 years at the first school I went to. The school was on the First Nations reserve close to the acreage we lived on back in the 80s.

Remembering all the good times, though, I thought to myself, "Was it so bad? Maybe it wasn't. Maybe I was just a kid and it seemed a lot worse than it actually was."