vancouver writer

On the Upside

On the Upside

Published in the December issue of Link Magazine

The night after Donald Trump was elected, I was driving with my dad. The radio was playing Tom Petty, like it normally does. Just as we crossed a bridge, out of nowhere he announces to me that he’s been inspired by the Trump phenomenon. My dad and I don’t talk about politics much. We’ve talked a bit about the outrageousness of the Trump situation, and the headlines-of-the-day, but really we just talk about funny things that happened to me on the Skytrain, or the day-to-day events that occur in our lives. But on that November night, my dad opened up and told me that he wanted to do better. He said he was making a personal effort to call out casual racism and people who make “harmless” comments.

This was pretty cool for me to hear. I’ve never considered my dad to be any shade of the bigotry rainbow, but I do think he (and a lot of other people) have reasons why they don’t speak up most of the time. My dad’s name is Rocky and he works in the construction industry. He owns his own business, and many years of managing large projects and employees inside the “trades” culture has made him into a “Rocky” kind of guy. However, I know him well enough to know that he is a bit crunchy on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside.

I think everyone has their own reasons why they might not speak up about the harmful words they hear around them, and I can’t claim to know what all of those reasons are. Maybe they’re just too polite, or don’t want to rock the boat too much. Sometimes it seems easier in the moment to ignore it, brush it off and move on. But I’ve noticed a shift after the election results rang in. For a lot of people, like my dad, something about Donald Trump has changed them.

Rocky told me that he was making a personal pledge to do better, and combat the off-the-cuff bullshit he hears on the daily — little racist remarks, sexist comments and homophobic jabs. Because it’s little comments like these that snowball into larger problems. It’s hard to imagine how a dumb joke that someone makes on their lunch break contributes to a culture of violence. You may laugh it off politely, but what if that joke was directed at your kid, your neighbour, or your friend? I get it though; it can be uncomfortable to call someone out when they make an off-colour joke. But you know what else is uncomfortable? 1 in 4 women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The degree of separation between yourself and the victims of abuse, harassment and violence is not that large of a gap.

We all can become really passive to these statistics, but I think Donald Trump obnoxiously dominating the news for the past year has lit a real fire. People want to do better. I think now more than ever, Rockys are realizing that when they stay silent about the stuff they know in their gut is wrong, it’s like saying that it’s okay.

But there is good news. This situation is a reminder of a couple things. First, it’s a huge reminder about the power of voice and influence. What you or Donald Trump says has an impact on listening ears. Second, spawning from the first point, you can be influential and make positive change. I think Donald Trump has exposed a repulsive, hyper masculine part of our culture, and people, like my dad, no longer want to be associated with it and let it carry on. So he’s speaking up, which I think is a real shift away from just complaining about it. Don’t like what Trump stands for? Do something about it.

Do you believe in magic, honey?

I wrote about my experience visiting with a psychic back in 2015, but never published the story. Below is my experience having my cards read by Madame Carmen, September 2015. 

I slept in quite late this morning, tossing and turning with vivid dreams all night. Those weird dreams where you are floating through your regular day-to-day, nothing really too weird, but everything and everyone are kind of different and twisted. My friend is 50 lbs heavier than she is when I’m awake, my house is twice as big and old as it truly is, I’m loosing my teeth and lost all of the beer I bought for my house party with none of my close friends.

Playland Ride 

Playland Ride 

Last night I went to the fair at the PNE. I walked around, ate junk food and went on some rides. I went to a psychic who had a booth between a slushy drink stall and frozen dipped desserts on a stick.

A man with shoulder length, black, wavy hair, wearing a jean jacket and baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, leaned against the entrance. He was swaying slightly. I stood outside the stall wavering about going inside or not. My friend walked up to the front table and asked a woman with large, thick-rimmed red glasses “she wants to get her palm read, who do we talk to?” Madame Dolores was with another client, so I got the next psychic in line. She stood up and said, “I’ll read her,” as she led me into a small semi-private stall with blue draped satin curtains. There were two folding chairs and a table, cards and pamphlets scattered across the table, a crystal ball and a clear plastic tablecloth stretched across a blue trivet shaped like a flower. My friend wasn’t allowed to come inside.

The psychic didn’t smile and was chewing gum to one side on her jaw. She introduced herself as Carmen and asked if I had ever had a reading before. “You want a palm reading or your cards?” “Huh? Palm reading I guess”. “You guess? Do you want to know more about yourself honey, or do you want to know your future?” She had round features and inexpressive eyes. Her hair was tall and neatly pulled back with a little swoosh of bangs across her forehead. “Ok, cards please”. She picked up the pile of tarot cards with her stubby gold ring clad fingers. She asked me to shuffle the cards. I started shuffling the cards, wondering when do I stop? Will it make a difference if I shuffle the cards once, or if I shuffle for five minutes? Is the way I shuffle the cards telling her something about my future? I stopped when my OCD let me and put the cards in a pile on the little table. She asked me to put my left hand on top of the cards, take my time and make some wishes. “Do not tell anyone what you wished for or the wishes won’t come true.” I stared blankly at the stack of cards and made some wishes, trying to concentrate on wishing and not let my mind wander. “Okay I’m done,” I said and she picked up the pile of cards. She laid out eight cards in two rows. She warned me that I was not to tell anyone of what we spoke of in the stall. As she flipped over the last card in the second row she asked me, “do you believe in magic?”

We flipped through the cards and finished off the deck. I reached down to make sure my purse was still sitting beside my chair. “God bless you, and do not tell anyone your wishes or what we spoke of or it will not come true. God bless you. That will be $25”

There were some predictions and advice given to me that was accurate and encouraging (and no, I will tell you what exactly). I am not a firm non believer or believer in psychic ability, magic or faith, that this booth was not a scam, but I tend to always look for signs in my life. My mom always told me that if it is meant to happen, things would fall into place. I have been looking for direction in my life, choose a direction but self-doubting each of my possible decisions. I think I know my next step now. It’s silly how my loved ones, friends and coworkers can all give me good advice but the advice I’m following cost $25 in a 4x4’ room at the PNE from Madame Carmen. 

Pamphlet for Madame Dolores, European Psychic 

Pamphlet for Madame Dolores, European Psychic