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Let’s get straight to the point: I have no sense of smell. I wasn’t born like this, but I have been what I like to call ‘nasally-challenged’ since I was in high school. I couldn’t say when I lost my ability to smell because it was a very slow and gradual process. Losing your sense of smell is not like losing one of your other senses, I think we rely least on smell and taste out of all of the senses. So when it starts to fade, you don’t even notice it in the beginning. Then one day you find yourself in a freshly painted office and have absolutely no idea it was just painted. That was quite a shocking experience: to come to the realization that my sense of smell was pretty much non-existant.

It has been quite a journey since then, trying to regain this lost sense. A few years back I had an appointment with an ears/nose/throat (ENT) specialist doctor, and discovered I had nasal polyps. After a speedy recovery from nasal polyp removal surgery, I asked my doc when I could expect my sense of smell to return. You know what he did? Shrugged his shoulders at me, saying he really didn’t know if or when it would return. How wonderful. To this day, don’t try to shrug your shoulders at me, it will not go over well.

My next route to explore was naturopathy, and so I received a combination of osteopathy, acupressure and acupuncture treatments. Several months (and dolla bills) later, I began to have moments — albeit very brief moments, like in the 1-2 minute range — of smelling bliss! Typically occurring within the first hour of waking up in the morning (though not every day), I was able to smell again. You better believe I would run around my house picking up and smelling everything I could get my hands on! Oh, and especially going to the backyard and taking a whiff of fresh air — could I smell the rain in the Spring, the flowers blooming and chlorine from pools in the Summer, the pumpkins and leaves in the Fall, the snow and chimney smoke in the Winter? You don’t always appreciate it until its lost. I know I didn’t.

These moments of nasal nostalgia were few and far between. It seemed to be an incredibly slow process to regain this lost sense. Though I suppose it makes sense, because it had taken years and years to fade away in the first place — I suppose getting it to return would be just as slow.

In recent months I have found that intense physical activity can also trigger a breakthrough. While out running I have had the experience of suddenly being able to smell the ocean, smoke from wood-burning fires, and BO (hey, I didn’t say everything I was smelling was necessarily pleasant!). Again, this doesn’t happen every time I run, but sometimes.

I have also noticed that the more I fall asleep while lying on my back (versus my stomach, with my head squished into my pillow, thereby crushing my face somewhat), the greater the chance of having those few moments of being able to smell in the morning.

This post is titled “the sacrifices I make for my nose”, because there are a lot of things I am trying to do to recover this lost sense. But it isn’t easy. It is frustrating, time-consuming, energy-draining, money-spending, and at times hopeless. There are times I am resigned to a life of non-smelling and accept my nose as merely a tool for breathing air. But then I have a breakthrough moment and am able to smell freshly cut oranges: zesty, bright, citrus, giddy, bold, juicy, sweet. Vanilla: soft, warm, baking, grandma, rich. Boyfriend: happy, musk, cedar, comfort, salt. Masset: ocean, damp, woods, moss, smoke, grey, fresh, endless. It’s funny how much I draw on other senses now to describe smells — as if smells have become so foreign to me I don’t know quite how to describe them simply on their own terms.

I wrote this post — and will probably continue to write more posts like it — as a way to monitor my own thoughts and feelings and progress on the issue, but also to reach out to other people who may be experiencing similar smelling deficiencies. Have you lost your sense of smell? Have you figured out why? And most importantly, were you able to regain it? Please share! I’d love to hear other peoples’ experiences.

Feministing, “Adrienne Rich: groundbraking author, poet and feminist dies at 82”
The loss of Adrienne Rich is truly upsetting. What a brilliant and truly beautiful soul she was. And she introduced us to the idea of ‘normative heterosexuality’ — which we now refer to as heteronormativity. I mean, come on…genius! Thank you Adrienne, for your theoretical contributions to feminist and queer theory, for your poetry on loving women, and inspiring your readers (myself included).

The Guardian, “How can we connect with feminism’s global future?”
This is a long read, but worth it if this is a question you have been thinking about. I will be writing a longer response to this article in the coming days. For now, I will just say that I think it is high time feminism was reviewed, re-energized, re-visioned, and reclaimed.

Women’s Media Centre, “WMC releases media guide for gender neutral coverage of women candidates and politicians”
The Women’s Media Centre just released a how-to guide for identifying, preventing and ending sexist media coverage of female-identified candidates and politicians. The guide, part of the Name It. Change It. Project, was written specifically for members of the media to educate them on the ways in which they may perpetuate sexism in their coverage and reporting. One pretty neat tool in this guide is the “rule of reversability” — if you aren’t sure if a line or phrase contains any tones of sexism, try applying the line to the opposite gender and see what happens.

Ms Magazine, “Moroccan Women Protest Amina Filali’s Death”
Women activists took to the streets of Rabat, Morocco, to protest the government law which grants freedom to rapists who marry their victims. Why don’t they just pass a law that promotes bank robbers to bank managers? Cause that makes just as much sense. Amina Filali was 16-years-old, was raped, and then forced to marry her rapist. She spent 5-months with this man as her husband before ending her life by drinking rat poison. This law is unbelievably cruel – it forces survivors of sexual violence to re-live their trauma daily, and to live in a perpetual state of fear.

Ms Magazine, “People for the Ethical Treatment of Anyone but Women”
PETA’s latest ad campaign, “Boyfriend Went Vegan”, had the intention to raise awareness that a vegan diet has many men reporting “more energy and stamina after switching to a plant-based diet. Consuming less cholestoral and saturated animal fat promotes freer blood flow to all of the major organs”. The campaign video depicts a half-dressed woman wearing a neck brace and her male partner repairing a hole in the wall, presumably damage from the woman’s head during sex. On the one hand, yes, this could be a sex-positive ad, which accepts that anything can go in the bedroom so long as there is consent. But on the other hand, it is also drawing a clear line to intimate partner violence, and that it is okay if a woman gets injured during sex because she was “asking for it”. What are your thoughts?

Retronaut, Tips for Single Women, 1938
Something a bit lighter for this lovely Friday.

One of my peers posted this article on Facebook a few weeks back: “True friendship between women is real, it is love”. It is a story about one woman’s realization of the power and significance of her relationships with her female friends. In her travels from Geneva to Santa Fe, the author discovers and reflects on the ways that women support one another through the trials and tribulations of life. Here are a few of my favourite exerpts:

“Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones. Women’s friendships outlast jobs, parents, husbands, boyfriends, lovers and sometimes children.

This was a snapshot of what my own deep friendships could lead to: transformation. I saw, on that afternoon, that it’s possible to transcend the limits of your skin in a friendship. That a friend can take you out of the boxes you’ve made for yourself and burn them up. This kind of friendship is not a frivolous connection, a supplementary relationship to the ones we’re taught and told are primary — spouses, children, parents. It is love.

Support, salvation, transformation, life: this is what women give to one another when they are true friends, soul friends, what the Irish call anam cara. It’s what the Wrinklies did for one another, what the French resistance fighters in Auschwitz did for one another, what women do for one another in real relationships with real consequences in real time, every day, what my friends do for me.”

We help one another other live and sometimes, we watch — and help — one another die. It happens in movies, sure, but it also happens every day, in real life — now, tomorrow, yesterday. It is transformative and transcendent. It is real. It is love.

And I agree entirely with what Emily Rapp has written, for I too have found that it is in my friendships with women that I have found lifelong friends, support persons, listening ears and crying shoulders asking nothing in return, and love. Especially being out on this remote island, I have noticed the importance of my friends back home, as well as forming new friendships with women out here. The women in my life back home remind me of who I am, where I come from, and they provide me with a strength to continue doing my work, fighting the good fight, reaching my potential and living my dreams. The women I’ve met here in my new surroundings inspire me to push further, to go that extra mile, that it is okay to step outside of my boundaries and safety zone, and they provide me with amazing support and compassion. What is all this if not love?

OVER IT

Eve Ensler wrote this article for the Huffington Post. While I could just place a link taking you to the article, I want it posted here, because of the power of these words, and the effect I want them to have on you.

I am over rape.

I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.

I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.

I am over how long it seems to take anyone to ever respond to rape.

I am over Facebook taking weeks to take down rape pages.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the thousands of women in Bosnia, Burma, Pakistan, South Africa, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Afghanistan, Libya, you name a place, still waiting for justice.

I am over rape happening in broad daylight.

I am over the 207 clinics in Ecuador supported by the government that are capturing, raping, and torturing lesbians to make them straight.

I am over one in three women in the U.S military (Happy Veterans Day!) getting raped by their so-called “comrades.”

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over the fact that after four women came forward with allegations that Herman Cain groped them and grabbed them and humiliated them, he is still running for the President of the United States.

And I’m over CNBC debate host Maria Bartiromo getting booed when she asked him about it. She was booed, not Herman Cain.

Which reminds me, I am so over the students at Penn State who protested the justice system instead of the rapist pedophile of at least 8 boys, or his boss Joe Paterno, who did nothing to protect those children after knowing what was happening to them.

I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public.

I am over starving Somali women being raped at the Dadaab in Kenya, and I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime – the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.

No women, no future, duh.

I am over this rape culture where the privileged with political and physical and economic might, take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it.

I am over the endless resurrection of the careers of rapists and sexual exploiters – film directors, world leaders, corporate executives, movie stars, athletes – while the lives of the women they violated are permanently destroyed, often forcing them to live in social and emotional exile.

I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?

You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?

I am over years and years of being over rape.

And thinking about rape every day of my life since I was 5 years old.

And getting sick from rape, and depressed from rape, and enraged by rape.

And reading my insanely crowded inbox of rape horror stories every hour of every single day.

I am over being polite about rape. It’s been too long now, we have been too understanding.

We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine – once and for all – what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered. We need you to let our rage and our compassion connect us together so we can change the paradigm of global rape.

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.

ONE BILLION WOMEN.

The time is now. Prepare for the escalation.

Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.

Because we are over it.

and she goes West

Well it finally happened. After almost 5 months of job-searching, I’ve landed a job. The catch? It’s out West. Waaay West! And North. Latitude 54 North. Like, almost-freaking-Alaska-North-West.

So I’m off on an adventure. If you don’t know much about Haida Gwaii, because I certainly didn’t before coming across the job description, have a read: Haida Gwaii. You can see a few major towns listed on the map above — I will be in Masset, the Northern most city on the island.

My job is two-fold: one, Stopping the Violence Counsellor, where I will be doing one-on-one and group counselling with women who have experienced violence; and two, Outreach Worker, doing educational work, workshops, crisis line, and accompaniments with women. AKA: DREAM JOB!

I plan on keeping up as much as I can with my blogging, as well as attempting some vlogging. Of course, being on such a picturesque West coast island, there will be many, many nature photos. You have been warned.

NEW JOB! NEW PROVINCE! ISLAND! EXCITEMENT!