Would you please stop fucking barking??

I’m among the lucky, working for the government in a government town. Full time employed, full salary and benefits. We got sent to work from home on March 13.

The dog walking service had to close when the rest of the economy closed in March. So since the 13th of March I’ve been living full time with three dogs. I was sick the next week with some mysterious lung infection so for the next month I didn’t leave the house unless it was to walk the dogs and sometimes not even then.

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It involves singing.

She asked me to relax and let myself surrender to the music and just sing. I did. I sang a whole C major scale over a single octave, in tune, and with some wonderful tone.

It felt good.

She said, “There you are! That was you. I see you, Susan”.

Anxiety welled up in the back of my chest and the tears flowed. Being seen felt unsafe. Bad. Dangerous.

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Another selfie from another trip I was on alone. I’m not even sure which country this is in.

And that was a typical singing lesson. I know it’s not actually therapy, but there are sure days it feels like it. My instructor tells me she is the cheapest therapy in town, and she’s not completely wrong. …

My lived experiences

There was another kid called Susan in my classes through all of grade school She was Black. She was one of two Black kids in my high school. I never wondered if that was hard for her or if anyone was racist towards her. I lived in a bubble where racism wasn’t a thing.

The other day, I watched Belonging, the profile of Michelle Obama on her book tour, on Netflix the other day. Watching the young Black women on TV cry when they met her gave me a glimmer of how much she means to Black folks, and women in particular, in the USA. I mean, I am a fan. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t adore her. She’s a force of nature. In comparison, Hillary Clinton was also a meaningful public figure for me but Clinton looks more like me, and I wasn’t too wound up over the difference in skin colour. I never missed seeing people who looked like me in positions of power. Not enough of them are women, granted. …

It was awful.

I screamed and it didn’t matter. It felt like minutes went by while I tried to intervene between Rolo and Lelos. Brownie kept trying to put herself between them but they are both faster than she is. I took my oversized cardigan off and thew it towards Rolo, trying to capture him. I missed.

Lelos tried to lie down, submit and screaming, begged for mercy. Rolo wasn’t having it. Lelos tried to defend himself putting his toothless face up towards Rolo’s to deflect the attack. Didn’t slow them down at all.

I threw the cardigan again and it missed. But this time it distracted Rolo. He made a couple more rushes but now was paying attention to me when I stepped between them. …

Because being at home means getting more done, right?

Ah, May 2–4. The Canadian long weekend in May that is also known as Victoria Day weekend. Called May 2–4 because it’s the 24th of May long weekend, and because people often consume a case (or cases) of 24 beer (called locally a 2–4) over the course of the three days. It’s officially a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. A uniquely Canadian holiday, it rarely lands on the actual 24th of May which actually happens to be Queen Victoria’s actual birthday. The holiday is held on the weekend before May 25, so can land anywhere from the 18th to the 24th. …

Crafting Outside the Lines

I have been obsessed with getting the right kind of head gear over the past winter, living in Ottawa in Canada. The weather gets cold and I had been living in warmer countries. I started knitting hoods in the fall of 2019. I have long hair these days. It doesn’t fit into most hats, even if I leave it down and definitely not if I put it up. I figured hoods were often designed to go over a long head of hair, buns, and other up-dos. I like making things that have a historical flair. I started knitting.

Patterns? Bah! Not my forte. I’m not great at reading patterns and find it more stressful than simply trying things. However, it also means I don’t know that much because I am not following the instructions of one-who-knows-things. …

Short term gains, long term pain.

Here’s the thing — the pandemic is creating amazing, positive gains for the climate. Emissions are down. Electricity consumption has fallen. Animals are returning to cities.

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Reports that wildlife is returning to urban areas is, in some cases, overstated. Source: Unknown. I’d thank them if I could, but a co-worker shared this on a team chat.

Globally, people are taking actions to curb the spread of this virus, actions that will define the current generation in the way that the wars and depression defined the lives of our grandparents or great grandparents (or great great grandparents, depending on how old you are). We will lose people. The economy will suffer.

In the short run, we are seeing that it is, indeed, possible to curb the economy for the good of the environment. It is, indeed, possible, for businesses to change the way they work. For many of us to stop commuting, sitting for hours a day in our cars. …

A reflection on the importance of creative pursuits

Years ago, I read The Gate to Women’s Country by feminist science fiction author Sheri S. Tepper. I actually hated the book. However, there was one thing that really struck me. In this particular female-dominated society, every woman was required to study three things. One sport, one art, and one science. All three were required to become a well-rounded adult.

Somehow in our modern western culture, a balanced education has been de-valued and the arts marginalized. Knowing someone who can sing or draw or dance seems special and not part of daily life. Schools defund music, art, dance, theatre and other arts programs in favour of the sciences, by which they mean chemistry and math (and not social science, somehow). Tepper’s idea that women should study at least one thing in each area was shocking to me even back in 1987 when it was published, and our western education systems have moved even more away from the arts than when I was a younger woman. …

Crafting outside the lines

When you add sleeves to a vest you end up with a jacket. I made a vest without a pattern and was thrilled to end up with a wearable garment.

I am far from a standard size. I’ve never been a standard size, but these days I’m a plus sized non-standard size with narrow shoulders, large chest and belly, and a flattish bum (relatively speaking). Standard sizes have always assumed a hip-to-waist ratio that is far from representative of my own so things either hang like a sac from the hips down or they are flattering through the bum and way to small through the waist. Plus sized clothes for some reason assume that my shoulders grew along with the rest of me, but no. They did not. …

While Justice Moves at the Speed of Bureaucracy

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Source: Creative Commons

Watching the US system of government go through a slow descent into madness has been like watching a car crash. I can’t look away. I watch too much MSNBC and had to give up on CNN because I can’t take all the yelling. For the record, I’m Canadian. Our government is not perfect but it’s consistent and reliable, and, at its best, very dull. I seriously do not understand how Americans can appoint anybody they want to cabinet positions. …


Susan Robertson

Susan is an economist who worked in international development. Interested in food, board games, dogs, and development. Writing about whatever I feel like.

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