30 September 2013

Taking "conspiracy theory" to a whole new level

You ever see something so massively ridiculous that you have to laugh, and then you start to feel sad that some people are just so unbelievably fucked up? That was my morning reading facebook while one kid ate and the other watched Word Girl.

The original poster is a friend of mine. I knew she was a little off... but I had NO idea this much.

The second comment is also from the original poster. What I'm hoping is that the first comment is actually someone telling her that her thought processes aren't normal. The third comment gave me momentary hope for sanity. But the fourth comment is from the same person as the third. *sigh*

Being ever helpful, I'm seriously considering offering Epic Disaster Insurance. The way it would work is if something awful happens and knocks out all the electronics, my army of awesome people would deliver water and food to people in their areas who had bought my insurance. For a mere, I dunno, say $20/mo, I would have someone in their area stockpile water and food, and bring it to them should there be a worldwide disaster. For an extra $10/mo, they could pay to say "one last thing" to a loved one in a different city. So if you think the world as we know it will end, and you have a sister in Seattle to whom you need to say, "I love you" or "I'm sorry I banged your husband" one last time before you die, I'll have that handled too.

*sigh*

29 September 2013

Compassion, Son-Rise style

Pop and I braved the rain this morning and went to church. We went to Fairfield United this time and took our little dog with us. It was a Blessing of the Animals service, where people are encouraged to bring their animals for a blessing. It was fabulous. It was an intergenerational service, which means there is no Sunday School, and the kids stay upstairs the whole time. They make these more kid friendly by either having no sermon or a very short, easy to understand one. Today was awesome. They showed a video of animals who were raised together, abused, rescued and then separated. They wouldn't live apart happily. So they put them together. A lion, a bear, and a tiger. Pop loved that. There was a little activity where we tossed around a ball of yarn, which went remarkably well in a room full of dogs. The songs were even kid friendly. We sang The Unicorn. :) So that was fun! And no one even told me I couldn't sit where I wanted to. Whee!

I like taking Pop to church. It's a good place for him to get to socialize with other kids, and the supervision is really good. He's doing so well. I cannot believe what Son-Rise is doing for him. He's amazing. Last week, at BC Children's, the doc said, "I cannot believe this. This is amazing. What are you doing?!" So I told her. She shook her head and said, "That shouldn't work this well. This child does not seem at all autistic to me!" YAY! However, on Wednesday at Sportball, I talked to his coach for the first time. Coach (as all the kids know him) said, "Pop had a great night. Really worked hard." I said, "Not bad for a kid with autism, hey?" He said, "OH! Ooooh. That explains everything. Now I understand." LOL. Not as recovered as I'd hoped, eh? Guess it's good that I'm going back to the Option Institute (Autism Treatment Center of America) in a couple of weeks.

I've been thinking a lot about why I take him to church other than socialization. I suppose many would call it indoctrination, and I guess that might be fair on some level. But mostly, it's that I want him to know God like I do. God is a source of joy and comfort to me. God helps me be a better person. I want to look at people and see them the way God does. It would be so easy to just write some people off as assholes and let them go. But I can't do that and call myself a good Christian. God tells us to love our neighbour. To love our enemies. That whatever we do to the least of God's people, we do to God. So I cannot say, "to hell with you" without saying to hell with God. And I want Pop to have that too. And I don't see that being reinforced much of anywhere else.

Except at the Option Institute. I love that place. The whole goal of that place is to help people love. Love themselves. Love others. It's amazing. I once asked Bears (Barry Kaufman) if there was anyone he didn't like. He thought about it a while and said, "No. I can't think of any reason not to like someone." He continued, and I'm paraphrasing: I might not like everything someone does, but what people do is not who they are. Good people do horrible things sometimes because they're so deeply unhappy. He said that he'd once taught a class full of Jewish people and told them they didn't have to hate Hitler. Said he didn't make many friends that day, but that the odd one understood, and that was okay.

I want that. I want to be able to look at people that society calls evil and see them the way God would. I want to love them, while being smart enough to enforce safety boundaries. I want to be able to decide I don't want someone in my life without needing to hate them first. And I want to be able to be happy even when those who are close to me aren't happy, or aren't there any more. So... more Option Institute learning, and lots of prayer.

edited to add: The Option Institute is not religious in any way. They're not Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or or or. It's all about love. :)

28 September 2013

This week in Autism

What a week. OMG. At home, it was a hell of week. We spent all of Monday taking the ferry to the lower mainland so we could go to BC Children's hospital to see a specialist who apparently doesn't know what Celiac Disease is. Yeah. So that was fun. Nutshell: Something's wrong. Fucked if we know what it is.

Tuesday was an appointment with Snap's team. That's always fun because I can't take the kids, they can't do it here, and I can't get a babysitter. So Tony takes the afternoon off work. God bless the union for making that possible.

My new assistant is pregnant and missed two of her three days this week. The other assistant is sick. From the ferry ride. She has a terrible immune system. So while I usually have 29 hours in 4 days, this week we had 3.

And then today this story broke. A family with two autistic kids, twins, who are 16, had one of them surgically altered so that he can't scream so loudly. And the Internet went crazy. People who had never experienced the 100 dB screams 1000 times a day for 3 years jumped in to screech about what awful people they are. Many assumed they'd never tried to find out why he screamed. Many assumed they'd never tried any alternatives. Many didn't think that the potential hearing loss they were experiencing was relevant. Many didn't think that the comfort and well-being of the other boy was important. They just howled that these are awful parents no probably declaw their cats too.

Well fuck all y'all. 

If you haven't lived it, you don't know. Do you know that loud sudden noises are use to torture people? To totally fuck up their nervous system. It works too. If you consider judging these people, I want you to set up an alarm that shrieks at 100 dB once every minute for 17 hours a day. Then find a child who screams and cries every time the alarm goes off. Try to make food, play, eat, read Facebook, or even take a shit while this is happening. I dare you.

I have lived this. I continue to, but no longer that many times a day. Oh, and I don't know what pitch that kid shrieked at, but mine does it at the highest A on the piano. And for a year or so, he did it every six seconds that he was awake. Less now, but often enough. Maybe a couple hundred on a loud day and 15 on a quiet day. Now add to that that he can't be left alone.

The surgery that boy had reduced his need to scream. It is reversible. And he can still talk at normal levels. He talks more now, and he eats better. So how exactly do these parents suck? 

Right. They don't. But the judges of all things parent say they do. Why? It's simple, IMO. They see a loud kid and imagine what they would want to do in that situation. They'd want to shut that kid up at any cost, and they feel bad about that, so they imagine the worst in others so that they can feel morally superior.

Fuck 'em. 

And has anyone asked the boy how he feels about it? I'm thinking that needing to shriek about 90% less and being able to talk and eat are probably a good thing for him. Let's ask him. And if he can't answer, then it is his parents' and doctor's decision. And fuck you if you think you can judge.

And now, I have to go, because Crackle is having a 104 dB meltdown (according to my sound meter app) and Snap is ready to jump out a window to escape it. Tony and Pop are at Costco getting groceries. Someone offer me this surgery. See if I don't consider it.

edit: I approved two comments for this. One from Karen and one from KirbyCairo. Neither of them appeared. Not sure what's up. I'll try to restore them somehow. Karen asked for a link to this story, which I can't believe I didn't put in.
Here's Salon where they talk about the ethics of it.
Here's where I first saw it

21 September 2013

Family trees

Family trees. Give 'em a shake, and a lot of interesting nuts fall out. Every single tree. Every single time. As you may remember, I'm offering to do family trees for people to raise a bit of money. I've done a few for readers, and I'm really enjoying it. Y'all are being way more generous than you need to be, and wow. Thank you.

The things I find are fascinating.

I dug into the life and family of a freed black woman in the US south in the 1800s. I didn't find much except a heartbreaking lack of records, a possible mother's name, and a phone number of someone who might know more.

I found that direct ancestors of one of my readers lived in the same place as my Dad's family. Within a mile of each other. For hundreds of years. They almost certainly knew each other.

One of my readers is related to my husband. VERY distantly. But still. They're both on the same tree. And God BLESS the French Canadians and their meticulous record keeping of women's maiden names. Actually, make that two of my readers. But one of them figured that out for herself.

One part of a reader's family was easily searchable on Google, because they were a part of prairie history. She didn't know that at all.

Another's grandmother was a lot LOT more famous than she thought. Her family was full of interesting twists and turns.

My husband is a direct descendant of Adrienne DuVivier and Augustin H├ębert. Twice. He is also descended from Marie Priault, une fille du roi. He had no idea. His family is much more excited to learn they're related to the Geoffrion family. *sigh* Hockey.

And pretty much the weirdest bit of it all? In at least one family of every person I've worked for, there are people from a tiny town in Manitoba.

So, I'm re-upping my offer. I'll dig into your tree for $15/hr. If I come up blank, it's free. Email me. luna@ headingwestTAKETHISPARTOUT.ca


10 September 2013

Homeschooling and special needs

As many of you know, my 7 year old, Crackle, doesn't go to school. He's homeschooled. It's best for us; it's best for him. Anyway, we have him enrolled in a Distributed Learning program that is accountable to the government. It's called Redacted Christian. I went with them not because they're Christian, but because they offered me the biggest cut of the special needs grant that they get to provide him education. But Luna, aren't YOU providing the education? Well, yes. But I need help, and the government gives the school money to hire someone to help me, because of his considerable special needs. However, as soon as I signed up with them, the money they offered dropped by 2 grand. :(

I'm really really not impressed with this company. I know I'm naive, but I expected some sort of morality from a Christian organization, and I'm not seeing it. I like lists, so here's a list of my issues with them.

1) Their hiring policy for SEAs (special education assistants) sucks. Again, they lied about allowing me to hire whomever I want. Nope. All SEAs have to sign a contract stating that they are evangelical Christians. Ew.
1a) All SEAs are contractors. That's Redacted's way of not paying them any benefits, which I find remarkably immoral. It's legal, sure. But it's not moral.
1b) THEY decide what the SEAs are paid. The max that any SEA may be paid is $17/hr. Why? It just comes out of my budget anyway. If I want to pay $34/hr and have half the hours, why can't I? Since they're not paying benefits anyway, it seems only fair that they pay a decent wage. But no. Can't be decent people. Must be capitalist shitbags.

2) The cut. For every child that enrolls in the DL school, the government pays the school a small amount of money. The school takes a cut and pays a teacher to do a report card based on the students reporting, and to do the paperwork involved in keeping the child enrolled. If the child has special needs, like Crackle does, then the school also does an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that the parents and SEAs use as a plan for educating that child. In that case, the school gets a large grant ($16,500, last I looked) and uses that to hire the SEAs, OT, SLP, and any other program the child might need (swimming, for example, is covered for children with muscular issues). However, in almost all cases, the school siphons off about $6500 that they use for I don't know what, because my kid never sees it. Now, I know *some* of it has to go to the teacher, because that IEP takes time. But I certainly don't see that it needs to be that much. And, my husband was a teacher, and I have the vast majority of a B.Ed (I didn't do the internship), and we know how to write an IEP. But we're not allowed. Save them time and money? Nope. No can do. It should be noted that all the schools are the same on this. They collude to all siphon the same amount of money out of our grants. It's perfectly legal. The grant belongs to the school to provide special education to us. It is not my grant. But it sucks. They're making gobs of cash that they could be providing to kids. Instead, they throw a giant convention for the EAs every year, forcing them to come down to Victoria from all over the province. Nice Christians, these.

3) They monitor email. BIG time. Every email I send to my son's teacher is also read by the administration. That's creepy shit. They don't trust me. They don't trust the teacher (who is actually quite a nice person, but she's not a teacher to my son, and it bugs me that she's called his teacher.)

So why don't I quit? Several reasons... ooooh, I smell another list coming on!

A) It's a pain in the ass to change. I already have an SEA set up with them. I already have my IEP done. That's a ton of work.
B) They're all the same. I just expected the Christians to be a little less evil. Wrong.
C) The ones that aren't the same are worse.

So why not send him to school?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The school board special ed person told me not to. She told me that they can't accommodate his needs. Then she told me she'd deny ever saying that because it's illegal. But she wanted me to know he wouldn't be safe. (wheeee, another list!)

Wanc) He is LOUD. He'd be too disruptive to be in a regular class anyway, and they'd either have him alone (so why not be at home where he's safe?) or in a group of other loud disruptive kids. And he's sound senstive, so that'd go over terribly poorly
Nuba) He's terribly terribly sensitive to gluten. The kids for some reason must eat in their classrooms. That means there are crumbs on everything. One crumb makes him sick for over a week.
Yamni) He's clever. Any SEA they hire for him is going to have to be aware of him 100% of the time. And they overburden the SEAs. He would get away from them.
Doba) He's clever. And they wouldn't actually teach him much.
Zapta) The school focuses on academics. That's their job. Crackle needs to learn to be socially connected to what is going on around him first. Forcing him to give the SEA the red block when he can't even play with her isn't going to help him be a happy, healthy human being.
Shakpe) He's too anxious and overwhelmed as it is. Throwing him into a schooling situation would be a nightmare for him.
Shagowi) Right, so he's non-verbal. If anything ever did go wrong, he couldn't tell me. Imagine if you had to send your child into a situation where he or she was vulnerable to abuse, and you knew there was no way you'd ever find out.

So yeah. No school for him. None for Pop either, but only because of number Nuba and the fact that he's brilliant and would be bored out of his gourd. I'm putting him in Sportball and Scouts for socialization time. And in the homeschooling interest groups too. But I sure as HELL won't be putting him in Redacted Christian!

06 September 2013

That's some fine customer service, Shaw...

ARGH. Why why why is it so hard to get information from companies? Especially about billing? Is Shaw Cable, taking cues from Telus? I'd rather live under a rock with no internet at all than go to Telus, so I guess I'll put up with this shit, but check this shit out:

GoToAssist:
Your representative has arrived.

Melody #6443 (18:15:39):
Hi Luna, thanks for choosing Shaw, my name is Melody. How are you today?

Luna (18:16:03):
Pretty good, pretty good. Glad it's friday. :) I have a question about my bill.

Melody #6443 (18:16:12):
Sure, go ahead

Luna (18:16:56): [I know that she has access to my bill and account information as soon as we connect]
My bill says, "Effective September 1st 2013, the monthly rate for your services has been increased to $122.00". Can you tell me why? What went up? From what I can tell, it looks like my billing bundle discount was cut.

Melody #6443 (18:17:42): [Nice cut and paste...]
The rate increase you had inquired about may raise concerns from customers such as yourself.  As consumers ourselves we feel the same way.  Like your heat or electricity bill, Shaw services are exposed to economic pressures and subject to change.  Shaw is always focused on providing the best level of service to our customers at the best value.

Luna (18:18:43):
Yes, but what went up? The services appear to cost the same as always. Was the cut out of the bundling?

Melody #6443 (18:19:32):
Yes, the bundled service went up for Personal TV and Broad band 50

Luna (18:20:05):
So instead of getting an $18 discount for bundling, I get a $6 discount?

Melody #6443 (18:21:41):
All our other customers pay $119.95 for Broadband 50 and Personal TV. You are getting a $12.95 discount

Luna (18:23:52):
Huh. That's strange, because my account history says: 24-Aug-13 050-888 Billing-Bundle Discount -18.00. But my current bill went up by 12 dollars.
Luna (18:24:34):
Which tells me that was reduced to $6.

Melody #6443 (18:25:53):
The services for internet and TV went up as well. All our customers are paying $119.85 for these services. Sorry for the inconvenience but these rate adjustments are out of my control. We am keenly aware and appreciate that our customers are facing rising costs for all types of services and are sensitive to price increases.  We would like to assure you that at Shaw we closely manage our increasing business costs in order to keep our services affordable for customers while continually striving to add value to our products and maintaining high service levels.

Luna (18:31:20):
*sigh* I am not upset. I am just trying to figure it out. I'm not asking you to do anything about it. I simply wanted information. I don't really care what anyone else is paying. I want to know exactly *where* my rate increased.  The services *appear* to be the same price as they were before. So, it must be in the "other" charges, no? My new bill says that Personal TV + Broadband 50 is $107.  I can't actually see my old bills, just the account breakdown. So I'm trying to figure out WHAT went up. I am not trying to get you to change anything, or give me a discount, or anything like that. I just want to know what changed.

Melody #6443 (18:33:15):
Personal TV and Broad band went up

Luna (18:36:22):
No, they didn't. Because the new bill says Personal TV + Broadband 50   107.00. The old acct info says 109.90 when I add them up. $75 for Broadband 50 and $34.90 for Personal TV for a total of 109.90.

Melody #6443 (18:38:08):
Yes, they did. Before you were paying $96.90 plus taxes for these two services
Melody #6443 (18:38:15):
Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Luna (18:39:32):
Excuse me, but I am looking at my account information for August 13, and it says
"24-Aug-13 050-1112 Billing-Broadband 50 75.00
24-Aug-13 050-1063 Billing-Personal TV 34.90
24-Aug-13 050-888 Billing-Bundle Discount -18.00"
Luna (18:43:43):
Are you still there?

Melody #6443 (18:44:32):
One moment please

She never came back. :(

01 September 2013

Church matters

Time for a Sunday Morning church post. It's long, but not preachy, so relax. :)

The United Church is my church home. In the same way that BC is my home. I wasn't born into it; I adopted it. There are parts I love, and parts I avoid like the plague. There are people I love to be around, and plenty I don't. The doors I used to walk through on Sunday mornings have closed. Permanently, and so now I'm looking for a new place to put my butt. And so far, none of the seats are comfortable.

It's not that the people aren't lovely. They are.
It's not that there isn't a warm welcome. There is.
It's not little things like projectors instead of hymn books.
It's not the theology.
It's not even the liturgy (which is NOT my favourite thing).

So what is it?

Old. Conservative. Tedious. Stodgy. Institutional. Completely out of touch.

Well, what I like about the UCC is the liberal theology. The questioning of what God is. And the okayness of saying, "Oh, I totally disagree!" Today's service could have only been more panentheistic if they'd actually used the word. The labour rules that the church enforces are equitable between sexes, between genders, and between genders is okay with them. Women are valued as much as men. And no one gives a crap whose fucking who. That's kinda awesome.

The church is liberal. The central church. The moderator. The congregations, at least the ones I've been to, aren't.

Take today. I went to a lovely little church tucked away in a wealthy area of town (which in Victoria means the houses in the area average about $800,000). I walked in about 2 minutes late, and it had already started. There was a sea of white hair and little else. I scanned the congregation and found 4 other adults under 60 (there may have been more, but that's what I saw). And there were 5 children. The children and their parents were the only people who weren't white. Oh, and one Asian guy. Now Victoria is rather white to begin with, so this wasn't really a surprise. And not a bad or good thing, though I do enjoy diversity. Just an observation. The average age was at least 72 and probably closer to 75. We took a seat at the back. The songs were projected onto the screen, but there were also hymnbooks for those of us who like to look at the music as well (BLESS THEM! There's nothing worse at church than not being able to sing along because I don't know the tune and have no music to read).

Then it was time for the children's time. I went up to the front with Pop and we listened to the fifteen minute lecture that the old woman had prepared and read - She READ the children's "story". It included words like narthex and right relationship with God and doctrine. I literally expected her to use the word panentheism at any time, because that's what she was explaining to them. It was basically a sermon, but written for ... I don't know, adults with a learning disability? It certainly wasn't for children. And I was bored to tears.

Oh, and the "responsive prayers"? Good God, people. Either do it with some joy, or just drop them. There is very little on earth that brings on the lolsob than hearing a congregation of people reading a prayer of joy like they're 8 year olds repeating after the most boring teacher on earth. Oh God we sing your glory! We praise you Oh Lord! should not sound like something Charlie Brown's parents say. And I've never yet found a church that doesn't fail that test. Every one of them. It's painful.

So we went off to Sunday school where I usually leave Pop. But he was clinging and I had a weird feeling about it. Ugh. Another lecture. No toys. No games. Nothing fun at all. It was literally school. One of the women figured out that Pop and another boy were bored and so she took us downstairs to the nursery. Where there were also no toys. They were expected to colour quietly while talking about God. No. I am not kidding.

There are a million reasons why the church is dying. The old conservative people's idea of reaching out to young people is playing a tune written after 1970. One. For diversity, I guess. The clergy must be getting frustrated. The young ministers come out of the seminary with all these ideas and then run into councils that are filled with old white heads that cry, "But we've never done it that way!" They make tiny little changes that to them feel groundbreaking, but to those of us dying for change feel like rearranging the furniture (and sometimes, rearranging the furniture is literally the change they're arguing about making. I am so not kidding. I witnessed a large church blowup about whether a pew could be moved.) There are still choirs in robes. There are still anthems. There's still membership. You have to officially join a church to be a member of the elders which is another stupid thing (elders?! Everyone there is elderly. I was an elder at one church, and I was the youngest member of it!). This means, you can go to a church for 40 years, but if you haven't joined officially, you can't vote on spiritual issues. Bwuh? My generation says no to that. Just no.

Institutional change is needed in our churches. And I have no idea how to make that happen in a bottom-up run church. Why why why must every service be at 10am on Sunday morning? Why not Saturday evening? Why not Wednesday evening? Why must every service be exactly the bloody same? Sure, different readings, different sermon. Same shit, different day. And I mean that as gently as I can. I love a good sermon. And I guess the answer is, "Because that's what the people who still run it want". They don't like to do new things. I went to a service where the minister asked everyone to turn around to each of the cardinal directions. He honoured the directions as symbolic. Well! You'd think he'd asked them to get up and dance a jig and then spit on the cross the way they reacted.

It's a problem. Young people who might be craving a little bit of the spirit have no where to go that respects them. Show up in a UCC while being under 40, and you can pretty much expect to be asked to join a committee. Blergh. Bring a kid, and they'll want you running the Sunday School. I honestly can't think of any church job I'd rather do less. Maybe being the person who has to keep the UCW happy (United Church Women, for the uninitiated). We're young. We have jobs. Or kids who are full time jobs in my case. We don't have the luxury of being stay at home moms to kids who go to school for 6 hours a day. So it makes sense. We don't run it. We don't get things our way. And so we don't go. We don't stick it out like the old folks did. And they don't get that. I actually heard one woman say of my closing church that her church would absorb all of us. She said, "There's no other United Church around. They'll have no choice but to come here". Oh. Oh honey. No. We can choose to drive across town. We can choose to not go. We can choose to join the Pentecostals (shudder). She didn't understand that. And I love that lady. But she doesn't get it. One flu epidemic, and her church is done. There's no one there to keep it going in any fashion, never mind the way she likes it. Because there's no youth. And the way it's set up requires a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money.

You know what'd I'd really like? A charismatic church with a liberal theology. I want to sing and dance and celebrate on Sunday morning. I want to revel in God's love. I want to sing the glory. I want to wave my arms in the air. And I don't want to be told I'm a horrible sinner not worth of God's love. I don't want to hear about some literal hell where I'm going to burn forever because I think women are sexy. I don't want my friends to be unwelcome because they think God is "just" the energy of the universe. Or because they have a penis but wear a dress. I want a place where everyone is welcome, as is, and is celebrated as is. And where we can all get together and worship. And I do not see that in the United Church. Oh sure, there are some where my dancing would be smiled at rather than scowled at. And once, someone joined me (I named Pop after her. Only sort of kidding.)  But it's not the norm. And not even possible in some places.

So what's the answer? I dunno. Change for the good of the church, or die and rise from the grave. I know which one started the church... So I guess we'll see. In the meantime, Pop and I will keep looking for comfortable seats to put our butts in every Sunday. Even if they don't fit properly, we can try to find something that's close enough, and then work to make it just right.

What if?

You know how some people can obsess over things that happened or might happen? It's the "might have beens" and "what ifs" that bother me the most. Missed opportunities, missed chances to say the super awesome snarky comeback. Wondering what would have happened if... What if that person hadn't been there? Close calls. Things like that.

For me, sometimes those memories are worse than the ones where shit really did happen.

Today, my chiropractor and I were chatting after he fixed my back up for me (God, I love that man...) and we were talking about startle responses. I was saying that mine is really stupid bad, partly because I'm always on guard for Crackle. I'm always, always alert. Always ready to jump. And I said something about the time my dear niece decided to jump out and yell "BOO". I nearly hit her. Like, the kind of nearly that is OMG, I can't believe I managed to stop myself! What if I hit her? What would have happened? It bothers me. So he said to me, "That's quite the response. Have you been attacked or something to give you that?" I said, without thinking, because I wouldn't be me if I thought for a second before I spoke, "Yeah. By Alex Ternowetsky and a few of his buddies". He said, "Boys pulling pranks?" I said, "Google his name." That's all I could say, because in my brain I was screaming SHUT UP BEFORE YOU START CRYING, YOU FUCKING MORON.

Now, what happened with me and him and his buddies didn't amount to much. I was outside at work. They surrounded me, pushed me around and generally scared the shit out of me with the stuff they said. One of them seemed scared and told Ternowetsky to knock it off (I don't remember that kid's face, but I vividly remember him saying, "Come on Alex. Don't do this"), and when Alex turned to give him the STFU look, I bolted into the gas station I was working at and locked up and called the police, who declined to come because the boys had already left. But that fucking haunts me. Far worse than some other things that have happened. What if? What if the boy who had a conscience hadn't been there? What if they'd decided to wait for me after my shift? It was dark. Late. I was alone. My car was in a dark corner. What if? These kids proved themselves to be psycho little bastards not long after.

And what if my hockey hero hadn't been at that party?

What if the doctor at the hospital I stayed in shortly after Snap was born hadn't switched out with the other doctor? I'd have been an easy target. I wasn't from around there. I was vulnerable. But the other doctor insisted on taking my case. Why? And what if she hadn't?

I have so many close calls like that. Most of them don't bother me (like the doctor). But some? I can't seem to stop thinking about them sometimes. Today was one of those days. As soon as I said that fuckwipe's name (and by the way, he's out of prison, because apparently planning and committing a murder is a minor crime if the victim is a First Nations female sex worker) I was shaking and flashing back. All fucking day I was off. For something that barely happened. I never really understood "being triggered" before today. Now I do.