Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Interpretation

The kid has an imagination.  (It came mail-order.)

Henry's concept of Halloween as a two year old, is well, rather unformed.  Explaining that he would dress up in a costume and go to people's houses to be given candy somehow turned into: if I a wear a firetruck hat, then I am a fireman.  Ergo, I should have a firetruck and go fight fires on Halloween.  

Maybe that's why he rejected his horse costume.  Maybe he thought he would really turn into a horse, and that quite frankly did not appeal to him.

When people offered him candy, he asked for a firetruck.   "Where's my firetruck daddy?

S took him trick o' treatin' while I manned the front door.

Here's the documentation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Son ~ Two Years Old

My son in quiet at first.

He likes books with a lot going on.  

He likes to name, identify; count.  

He likes to make connections;  how music is made.  

He likes cats.  He likes talking to cats.

He likes making his stuffed cat kiss pictures of cats and real cats.

My son sits in his bus seat, doesn't want to be touched.  He wants to see; to be.

My son looks up a street and sees all of the trucks.  Many of which take me a while to find.

He loves to run.  He can run the length of 2 bus stops laughing.  

He is loyal to his friends, except when he wants "my truck/ my ball."

He likes routine and order.  The trains move in one direction only on his train table.  Mummy must have a sip of orange juice before Henry has a sip of orange juice.  Daddy must wait on the front walk until Henry has done a "big jump" off the edge of the walkway.

My son is fair, he's blond, he's thoughtful.  Does that make him a beta male?  Will he be the toughest, the most aggressive, the most stoic, the one who never cries?  

What if he turns out to be a scientist, or architect, or musician or scholar, or teacher, or veterinarian, or lawyer, or astronaut, and not be an alpha male?  

Why would I care whether or not he's a beta or an alpha, so long as he is himself and is enjoying a fulfilling life?  

I love how complicated he is, how I must tune in, watch, wait and be patient.  What is growing inside him is an amazing possibility to learn to be anything he wants to be.  

Lucky kid.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Lament for the Republic

However evolved and modern I might think the world has become, it is firmly rooted and coded in ancient life.  Like a bird perched in the branches of a  towering oak tree unaware of the roots and trunk, so have I enjoyed the freedoms and the fruits of the Western lifestyle, without fully understanding the foundation and why it was built in the first place.

It is doubtful I will ever make the effort to even get close to fully understanding the history and politics behind modern Western civilization.  But that will not stop me from musing. 

I have spent my 30 odd years of life ping-ponging between Canada, England and the United States.

Each time, I expect more similarities than differences in the cultures, and I find exactly the opposite.  

In the taxonomy of countries, surely these 3 would find themselves in the same genus?  

England: ok it's Olde Worlde and has a millennia of history compared to the few hundred years of the New World.  The UK was an Imperial Empire and was  a colonial master of both Canada and the US.  It is still a constitutional monarchy...ok so the differences are immediately evident here.

So then, what is the difference between Canada and the United States?  Why do many of my American friends and family not feel at home in Canada and why do I not feel at home in the United States?

Before diving right into this musing, I must confess that I'm hot on the heels of a 3 day visit to Charlottesville, Virginia to see my dear childhood friend tie the knot.  I moved to Charlottesville from Toronto, when I was 10 years old.  I held Canada close to my heart throughout my 10 years growing up there, and then returned to Canada for university.  It has been 10 years since I have been back to visit Thomas Jefferson's academic city nestled in the bosom of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Instead of that feeling of connection and reminiscence, I felt detached and withdrawn as I skimmed past old haunts and schools.  I had never felt like I fit in, that I could relate to the way people thought and viewed the world.  

At the time growing up, I thought it was me.

Now I know it was not just me being a weirdo.  

The first 10 years of my life were lived in the culture of a constitutional monarchy, and the second 10 years were lived in the culture of a republic.

It sounds silly to say.  But I now understand how significant a model of government is in shaping the psychology of an individual, and by extension, an entire nation.

Moving to the States as a sensitive and sometimes shy girl, I was unprepared for the assertiveness of the Republican mentality.

I characterize the Republican mentality as nationalist, patriotic, individualistic and competitive.  I believe these characteristics are born out of the founding principles of a Republican system, which is necessarily seeking to create an effective government to grow and protect a group of people under a powerful ideology.  In the States, the results gave rise to amongst other things:  the American Dream, a legacy of competition and excellence in business and education, discovery and innovation in the arts, science and technology.  

I characterize the Constitutional Monarchy mentality as more introspective, less decisive, more dependent on allies, a quiet sense of pride, a strong belief in freedom and education.  More incorporating different cultures and previous systems of power, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.  Larger government bureaucracies, but a higher overall quality of life through the investment in a social safety-net.   

Some Constitutional Monarchies:

Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UAE, UK.

Some Republics: 

Afghanistan, Austria, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, United States, Zimbabwe

In short, it is like 2 children in a family who have very different personalities.

The republican child leaves his mother and father, and through his own hard work and beliefs, establishes himself on his own two feet, and therefore does not need to take their advice, and need not pay fealty to his roots. 

The constitutional monarch child stays in close contact with his parents. Perhaps takes over the family business or continues to share the same beliefs and stays in close contact.  The relationship is more symbiotic.

Not perfect analogies, but for me, it captures the contrasting types in essence.

And so America today.  

I feel, and felt as a child, that it had gone astray from its founding principles.  The classical principles of checks and balances, the civic involvement of citizens and the premium on equality, education, freedom of speech and religion, the pursuit of happiness, etc...

What I believe is happening now, America is turning towards a new form of feudalism/dictatorship with Wall Street pulling the strings.  The income disparity, the social divisions, the violence, the over-consumption, the fear...the unanswered questions...I believe that most all Americans know something is wrong.  

What made America truly great is not wholly gone.  But it is in grave danger.

My proposal is for Americans to reacquaint themselves with the founding principles of the nation and visit the historical examples of what happens when these principles slip away out of reach.  

Thomas Jefferson had a vision for what the country might be.  He designed and built the University of Virginia, of which the Rotunda you see below is the star of the show.  This vision of America, contrasted with the Wall-E reality, is enough to break my heart.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I wanted to wake up and neatly apply my make-up, smooth my hair into sultry waves and smartly walk out the door.  Walk a block and I would then congenially hop onto the streetcar to the Danforth GO station, where I would seamlessly catch a commuter train for a 7 minute ride into Union Station.  I could grab a cafe au lait and a croissant, and with not a hair out of place, I would sit down at my desk and work diligently until 4pm, gracefully handling all of my phone calls, emails and papers.

A life of control, predictability and oddly bereft of irritants. 

Irritants:  noise, crowds, excessive waiting, bad hair day, heavy bags, rushing, fuzzy brain

What really happened today:

I woke up, tried to leave home early but after putting drops in toddlers eyes and calming a brewing tantrum, having Henry holding my legs down and whining non-stop.  After 2 slices of toast and no coffee, I left the house hauling recycling and compost out to the curb, while carrying a heavy backpack full of clothing/laptop/books/food.  Walking up to the subway, I kept pace with a smelly and noisy skid steer loader while road crew tore up both sides of Woodbine.  Get to the subway and find myself on the platform with the ward city councillor.  My nerves were already shot.  When I got to work, I did a quick change in the bathroom, exchanging my grubby trousers for a sheath dress, and b-lined it for the Flavia coffee machine, where I inserted one of the last packets of Barista's blend and supplemented breakfast with a Quaker Oat bar from the vending machine.

Maybe someday I will control my life and achieve my desired scenario.  

But then, I think that the collective "we" of the West don't seem to care that our drones, our bombers, our bombs, our weapons are making thousand's of men, women and children's lives a daily living hell, something they must wake up fresh to each morning.   

It is disproportionate, to say the least.

In this increasingly connected globe, this kind of disparity, where some human lives are not valued as highly as others, there is a correlation to the growing income disparity.  

Whatever happened to morality, principles and human rights?  Hell, whatever happened to the Declaration of Independence?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."