Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Mythical Bird Update

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Qualtrough,
When I was 22 years old, I got my second tattoo. I got it on my ankle, a discrete spot, since tattoos were still seen at the time as fringe (yes, I’m that old). I got it in honour of successfully adult-ing. I had a solid government job in my field, an apartment without a roommate, a cat and a closet full of business casual. I had shed my shy, cautious teenage self and had become confident (acting) and (seemingly) self-assured. While not necessarily a unique concept, I managed to find a different take on the classic Chinese character – a simple red line drawing symbolizing truth, beauty and long life. A phoenix. A fucking phoenix is permanently emblazoned on my body.
It could be worse. I'm looking at you, Ben Affleck.
I wrote an open letter to you, Prime Minister, on December 6, 2017. Following some high profile attention, Public Works was suddenly (after 20 months of silence) very interested in getting a hold of me. In fact my MPs office beat them to the punch in delivering an update. It was, of course, not news to me, as I had been living it. And it also failed to recognise the human behind the errors and the ‘acting assignment’ has been my full-time job for the last 8 years. The summary went a little like this:
Ms. MacDonald’s acting assignment was inputted late by HR, resulting in her not receiving pay at her acting salary for the period of April 1, 2016 to October 2, 2016.  This payment is still outstanding.
Ms. MacDonald commenced maternity leave October 3, 2016, and while her substantive pay was stopped on time, there was a delay in Ms. MacDonald receiving her maternity allowances. 
Ms. MacDonald received maternity allowances for the period of October 3, 2016 to March 22, 2017 on April 5, 2017, and she continued to receive maternity allowances throughout the remainder of her maternity leave.  Because her acting assignment was inputted late, she was paid at the incorrect rate.  Retro-active maternity allowance adjustment was issued on February 21, 2018.
Upon her return to work, her acting assignment was again inputted late by HR, resulting in Ms. MacDonald receiving pay at the incorrect salary for the period of October 3, 2017 to January 24, 2018.  This acting assignment has since been processed and payments were issued on February 7, 2018 and February 21, 2018 for this period.
The Pay Centre will process Ms. MacDonald’s acting for the period of April 1, 2016 to October 2, 2016.  Payment will be issued by April 18, 2018.
Did I have any questions? Oh, where to start. So I sent a few, and the answers came back:
Why do three separate provinces show up in the tax section? If I've paid taxes to BC (where I haven't resided since 2008), what does that mean for my home province of NS, and what does that mean for my taxes? Ditto for deductions for NWT (where I have never resided). Why does my pension adjustment on my T4 show NT? I have reviewed phoenix and it looks like when your HR has entered lines into peoplesoft the wrong province was selected a couple of times.  Your acting rows are correct and reflect NS.  I will get in contact with your employing department and have the necessary changes made to your substantive row.  

Regarding your T4, unfortunately we cannot adjust and correct tax this will be done by CRA once you file your taxes.   
Another question, why was my maternity leave adjustment was so highly taxed? Tax rates are pre-populated by phoenix, however, I reviewed your MAT leave adjustment, it was taxed at 42.40%. Lump sum payments are taxed at 30% plus the regular provincial rate of 12.29% for a total of 42.29%.  There is a difference of 0.11% this is most likely due to rounding as phoenix calculates everything to the sixth decimal. 
Oh, and that internal April 18, 2018 deadline, obviously broken:
As you are aware your scheduled payment date is April 18, 2018.  Unfortunately, due to the complexity of resolving your pay concern, the commitment date will not be met.   Please be assured that the pay issue that you have addressed is a top priority.  Again, I apologize for the delay that we have encountered and appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to work towards resolving your pay situation.

I’m just too complicated. Yeah, thanks, I’ve heard that one before, but the thing is, it’s not me, it’s you.
Not to worry though. While there are a number of lenders with their hands out and a bunch of worrisome bills, relief ought to be in sight with the filing of our 2017 income tax, right? I mean, for the entirety of the year I either wasn’t paid or was being under paid, so a healthy return should help right the ship and get us back to floating. Except, of course not. Of course that had to be wrong as well. Somehow, despite the financial agony of the past two years, despite working for the same employer that collects my taxes, despite now having a child and paying childcare, somehow Phoenix found a way to make it worse. And now, not only did we learn that the CRA had decided to audit our 2016 taxes, but that we were somehow responsible for over $13,000 in back taxes. We have no way to pay this. We are deeply in the red. This ship has not been righted, it has been torpedoed and we are going down.
We recently received our annual bill for the storage of our extra embryos from the IVF process. Three potential tiny humans. Their viability was already lower than the groups of cells that became Sullivan, and the freeze/thaw process is also a challenge. Implantation has risks, and the potential health risks to me loom large after the OHS of last time. I’m also about to turn forty, further raising the risk of complication. Those issues aside, both Jeff and I are the elder of a sibling and we had both imagined our family being 4. But Phoenix. We cannot go through that again. We now know that we cannot afford the storage, let alone the medical procedure. And time is not on our side.
I am grateful for this little person every day.
We are mourning our second child. We are broken. How has this happened? How does it continue to happen? When will someone take responsibility? When will we get our life back?
I scream in frustration. I cry in anger. I shake with fear. An old friend asked why would you ever want to work for a government who has treated you this way.
I believe in what I do. It is the only place that I can do the work that I am doing. And that’s where you have so many of us. We could be paid more and treated better elsewhere, but this work can only be done here. But I’m not believing in much anymore.
Shanna MacDonald

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Rising from the ashes of a flaming bag of poop.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

When I was told I was pregnant, I thought I would be more excited. I thought I'd be ecstatic. After 5 years of desperately trying to get pregnant, struggling mentally and financially with the reality of medically assisted reproduction, I thought my joy would be overwhelming and my relief would be an instant lightening to my crushed psyche.

Instead, as I lay on a hospital gurney, drifting in and out of consciousness, I struggled to breathe. I was not lightened, I was being crushed by the accumulated fluid in my abdominal cavity. I am not a big person, but in the course of a week, my body had retained 35lbs of 'water'. The doctors and nurses reassured me that my pregnancy likely wasn't at risk, but we needed to act to protect my overtaxed liver and kidneys. IV fluids, albumin infusions, pain management, fluid drainage, twice daily blood tests. Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome is a rare side effect of In-Vitro Fertilization. Severe OHSS is even more rare. The biggest risk to the pregnancy was that in order to save my life, they would need to abort. So, no, I was not blissed out. I was not excited. I was drugged and pin cushioned and scared. In my mind, I was already failing as a mother. But then one day, maybe day 5 in the hospital, I peed. And I had some toast. And I turned a corner. A day later, I got to go home. A month after that, I got to see a little bean growing inside me that they told me was my baby, and I was finally excited.
The little bean.

The rest of the pregnancy was pretty even sailing. Because of the urgency of my file at work, I had very little down time for lingering thoughts. I slept and I worked (and I flew with my giant swollen ankles to my next hotel/meeting and did the same again).

A new stressor did surface however, one that should not have been present in my life. We stretched ourselves financially to pay for IVF. And of course while I was undergoing the pin cushioning of hormone injections and blood tests, is when our roof failed and we had to replace it. Money was tight, my husband's company was struggling and he was moved to part-time. But I have a great job, that I mostly love and I'm very proud of. It's not my romantically hatched dream job, but based in this reality, it is one I am deeply suited to and one that has a meaningful and lasting impact. Like any other place of employment, we sometimes struggle with corporate culture, public perception and workforce morale. 2012-13 was a particularly tough stretch. But never have I ever questioned my employer's ability to pay my salary. I have never felt unfairly compensated for the work that I do. I know that I could make a higher wage doing the same work elsewhere. I know that the people across the meeting room make twice what I do. But I like where I sit, and I like representing the people of Canada. So why then was the CBC reporting that a new pay system was jeopardizing a very simple premise of the employer/employee relationship, namely I do the work, and you pay me?

As I grew rounder with my little bean, it became clear to me that things were problematic. People were not being paid. The people responsible for keeping our boarders safe, rescuing lost hikers in National Parks, patrolling our waters, serving our country, filling out forms to ensure others get paid, were not being paid. And most unnerving for me, as someone suddenly being underpaid due to system error, new mothers on maternity leave were not being paid.

As my delivery date neared, there was no resolution to the issue. I was placed in a purgatory-like cue: fill out a form, send to generic email address, hope it is read, phone 'service' line, speak to someone who has no authority to help you, get told to fill out a form and send to generic email address. Repeat. Hear nothing. Approach departmental HR. Get told that since you are being paid, even if the amount is incorrect and much less than your regular salary that you are not eligible for emergency assistance unless you are not being paid at all...unless you are on leave, in which case you are not eligible for assistance even if you are not being paid. WTF.

I have been in my current position for over seven years, before that, I was in a different job. I was being paid at a salary level from 9 years prior. The impact of such a drastic change in salary combined with the above noted financial strain required us to seek assistance from the bank. Luckily we were able to set up a line of credit before I gave birth and stopped being paid all together.

It turns out that my ability (or lack there of) to get pregnant was not an indicator of my body's ability to give birth. Sullivan and I came through the process without any difficulty, and as he lay on my chest and his tiny fingers wrapped around mine, I fell deeply and completely in love.
Our first moments.

But bliss doesn't last long in a physically, mentally and hormonally taxed body of a new mother. Going in, I knew that because I already suffer from depression and generalized anxiety that I would be at an increased risk for post partum depression. What I could not of foretold was that months of sleep deprivation, the dark days of winter, fluctuating hormones and the weekly commute to my MPs office to beg them to do something, would cause me to spiral downward. Silent sobbing while I nursed my son. Not one hand from my employer, my MP, my government, outstretched. It took six months and the intervention of my Minister's Office for my employer to front me an emergency loan, and another month of top of that before my EI and maternity leave kicked in. It was still not correct. Still based on a salary from 9 years ago. Mortgage payments deferred, loan payments missed, final notice, past due. On the phone explaining the issue, asking for a break, trying to distract a six month old who wants to play with the funny box mommy always has on her ear. The first six months of my son's life, the son I yearned for, and went through a process that almost broke me to have, instead of absorbing every moment with him, I was fighting, arguing, begging, on the phone, on the web. Hopeless. Sick. Angry.

Seriously, I just want to stare into this little face.
And now my maternity leave is over. I am back to work. I am still being paid my salary from 9 years ago, and now I have to pay for childcare for the privilege of working for an employer that treats me like this. So now we are back to the past dues and final notices. In the meantime, in my spare time, I'll go through a year and a half of my past bills, bank statements, loan forms and spend hours trying to figure out what all this has cost us. Just as soon as I catch my 13 month old son. And after I do the laundry and cook dinner and vacuum up crushed Cheerios and do the laundry and storytime and bathtime and laundry (seriously, how is there so much laundry?). Oh, and try to sleep. And work. Thanks. I'll get right on that. And from what I can see online, I can claim interest and NSF charges, but how about my credit score? Who is going to fix that? How about giving me my time back?

All this to say, Mr. Trudeau, I know that Phoenix was a bag of dog poop that the former government left on your doorstep, and I know that a number of high ranking bureaucrats recommended going ahead and implementing the system, lighting that damn bag on fire. And in trying to put the fire out, well, the poop went everywhere. But you need to clean it up. I'm never getting that time back. My finances are in the toilet. Now fix it. Last year, all I asked for for Christmas was to be paid. That didn't work out so well, so I'm asking again. Let me have a merry Christmas. Let me enjoy the lights dancing on my little monkey's face. Let me enjoy these toddling days before the terrible twos. Let me have my life back.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Just a quick note. Mostly a rant. I travel a lot. I'm that annoying person that gets seated before you and gets to check luggage for free. Because travel doesn't suck any less for me, I'm not going anywhere fun and I have to do it all the time, these tiny perks make my life in airports bearable. I'm also not a very big person. I take very little of the available space on the earth (or in the sky). And since I can check my bag for free, I'm not taking up any of the precious overhead bin space. My footprint is small. So, can we talk about why yours is so large? You and I purchased the same amount of space. I am small enough and compact enough that I should really have a buffer. I get that you're taller and weigh more, but dude, that doesn't afford you the right to my foot space and to exclusive use of the middle armrest. It also doesn't mean that you, because of what I can only assume is your pendulous penis and ball sack, get to press your leg against mine, nor that every time you move your upper body that you get to Gordie Howe me in the boob or what have you. I'm very sorry that you have a confined space, and congratulations on your enormous organ, but, here's the thing, what if I was a guy? A guy of equal size? I see it all the time, two big guys sitting beside each other. It's as if each has leprosy, the desperation each uses to make sure there is never any touching, never any encroachment. WHY can't I be afforded that similar...disgust? Maybe I should stop showing before flights. Maybe I should let my dental hygiene slide a little. Or maybe I should make a scene, or even a gentle reminder of personal space instead of just ranting here on my phone...but the thing is, I can be on upwards of 4 flights a day. I do not have the energy to correct your bad manners and the bad manners of every single well endowed person that sits beside me. It's been six years of this. I'll see if I can submit it as an agenda item for the next general meeting of your Enormous Dick Society. I bet there's four feet of space between each chair.

Same goes to you jabby mcjabberson sitting behind me. Have you really never had a smart phone? You don't know how touch, I reiterate: TOUCH, screens works? This, this is why I use my express check-in lane and the lounge. We all sit up there and drink, buffering ourselves to this nonsense.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

An Unremarkable Spring - yes I know it's the fall

I’ve fallen very behind on my posts. I have a few in the wings for the next while, but instead of trying to catch-up, we’ll just erase the spring, shall we?  It wasn’t terribly notable.  I travelled quite a bit, a garden was put in, but because spring took its sweet time arriving, and was so late and so damp, it was a less than stellar year. The yard is normally terrorized by unruly cucumber plants bent on world domination, but this year, almost half my plants drowned and the rest remained demoralised even after a turn in the weather. My tomatoes eventually flowered and fruited, but we will head into the first frost with green tomatoes and no Greek salads.

Emancipation Day
I did a read a few books, but honestly, only a few were particularly memorable. I know we knocked off Emancipation Day for bookclub. I remember being underwhelmed and though interested in the history presented about race relations in post WWII Windsor/Detroit, I found the supporting characters mundane and the main characters unsympathetic.  I also read The Girl on the Train at the behest of every newsstand kiosk, blog, best sellers list etc.  Honestly, the book was hard to escape it was/is so much the rage, but, the thing is, I could have cared less about the horrible people contained within the book and the misery they caused each other. Sure, you can never truly know another person, but good grief, that is an unbelievable level of manipulation and spineless addled-mindedness. Sure, maybe the two attract one another, but I felt only relief when the book was over.  Maybe I am too na├»ve, but there is no way I could accept the premise of this novel, let alone that such direly stupid people could function as contributing members of our society.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane: A NovelOn the more positive side, I also furthered my Neil Gaiman experience by reading the classic American Gods (4*) and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (4.5*). Both are gorgeous reads, full of mind popping visuals and truly immersive worlds. I also had the pleasure of reading Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance.  It was delightful as I feel Aziz himself is; quirky, cute, but holding substance. I didn’t find the results of the research particularly earthshattering, but the fact that he undertook the research was fairly remarkable.  What I know for sure is that I am grateful that I am not part of the Tinder revolution. I found LavaLife hard enough on the ego/self-confidence. A swipe? Icky.

A God In RuinsWith A God in Ruins, I was devastated that Teddy fathered such a reprehensible off-spring. My heart broke for him, and for me since Life After Life was as near a perfect story as could have hoped for. I know (no, really, I am full of a very deep understanding) that there are gross people in the world. I guess I just don’t care to read about the undeservingly entitled and unpleasant people in the world of fiction. I see too many of them in the grocery store and on the bus. Of course, we all have our stories, we all became the person we are today due to a series of defining moments of our lives. And we all have our own unique hardwiring which dictates how we will experience and allow those moments to shape us.  I guess my own wiring and defining moments harden me from accepting those moments as unredeemable.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

March Bookshelf

Wow. I was completely convinced that I had already written this blog post until I got into a discussion this afternoon with a work colleague about a letter we were writing. My colleague wanted to use the phrase 'spectacular wilderness' in the letter, but I have a thing about the word wilderness, especially in the context of a National Park. I had planned on quoting from this blog post to explain my position on the word, but then realized that said post did not yet exist in finished form, just in pencil scratches in my notebook. So...

Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage My interest in Boundless was piqued by a review I read in the Globe and Mail last September. At the time, we were in a Franklin Frenzy!! The announcement that after 170 odd years of the Franklin Expedition being 'lost', the Erebus had been 'found'. Don't get me wrong, from an archeological 'discovery' perspective - pretty huge (full disclosure, I studied archaeology in university, so I am in no way throwing shade at the field of study). But from the government's sovereignty perspective, claims to the North - strong and free - perspective, from an announce-able perspective: GRAND. Yes, I am cynical, because the thing about archaeological 'discoveries' is that they are a lot like anything else in the purview of white men and Western culture: someone not from that culture knew. Someone was a guide. Someone had a story. While it may be big news and all new to those guided and those that listened to the stories, it was not for the guide and the storyteller. I am often horrified by the continued under valuing of Aboriginal culture. It is a remarkably absurd hangover from our colonial past. How can we discover something that was already known?

Likewise, what is wilderness? In western culture, wilderness is bad, it is wild, untamed, it is the place of the deep dark forest where the big bad wolf waits to gobble-up wayward girls.

Merriam-Webster defines Wilderness as:

But there are no true equivalents in many other languages. In fact, when many 'wildernesses' were being 'discovered' there were all manner of human beings inhabiting the tract or region. In Ucluelet, where I grew up, there are dense forests, stunning mountains, raging rivers and the thunderous ocean. Many non-aboriginal members of the community would refer to this area as 'wilderness', but the Nuu-chah-nulth word for the same area is "nisma" which would translate to our land.

Winter covers these topics with the tone of a lyrical storyteller. She is a witness to the experiences of those around her, and she eloquently captures her own conflicted feelings about the western values with which she was raised and the utter respect for the values and knowledge of her Inuit traveling companions, the interest and awe of following in Franklin's doomed footsteps and the utter absurdity of the reverence western culture holds for foolhardy exploits of a long dead white guy.

I highly recommend: for the lovers of Emily Carr and Margaret Laurence

Love At First Stitch: Demystifying DressmakingI love Tilly's blog, Tilly and the Buttons, and was excited when Mollie Makes reported that she would be releasing her first book. It doesn't disappoint.  Beautifully executed, the book is bright and colourful and as easy going as its author seems to be.  She has some wonderful tips for beginners, easy to follow patterns and straight-forward projects that can easily be modified with personal touches and whimsical fabrics.  If you're thinking of trying to build some of your own unique wardrobe staples, this would be a nice addition to your craft room. 

Neverwhere: Author's Preferred TextWhen I was in high school, I read a book by Deepak Chopra called The Return of Merlin. The premise is that many of the mentally ill homeless in our cities are actually members of King Arthur’s court, displaced in time and utterly confused by the displacement. The Fisher King had a similar theme, though, ultimately (SPOILERS) mental illness was the root cause of the delusion, not time travel. In Nevermind, the homeless and the lost fall through the cracks of London above into the dangerous and slightly out of phase London below. London below is filled with monsters and mystery, fiefdoms and courts, hardship and magic. Because it is out of phase with the topside world, topsiders only experience these monsters and mysteries as shadows and easily ignorable people and movement.

The Doctor (so many things in our lives are relatable to Doctor Who, if you try) has repeatedly told us all that there are reasons we are afraid of shadows (hello vashta nerada), what's under our bed (um, yay) and that thing you can't quite see out of the corner of your eye. But though fear may be a superpower, living afraid is no place to be for the long term, and Gaiman makes the case for sometimes being lost, sometimes being forgotten and sometimes being a hero in your own story.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Thank you for being a friend

And if you threw a party, and invited everyone you knew, you would see the homemade gift would be from me and the card attached would be appropriate to the occasion, but not homemade as I have too many interests already.

For better or for worse, I have been trying to make most of my gifts over the last year.  It certainly was a crafty Christmas.  If you nail the homemade gift, there is nothing more personal or treasured.  Of course, if you goof, there is nothing more awkward (and nonreturnable).  So, you've been warned.  One day, you may be gifted with an awkward and nonreturnable craft project that I slaved over and thought you would love.  And my earnest little face will shine as you stare at it in horror wondering what in God's name I was thinking.  And you will feel obliged to dig it out of the deep recesses of your closet to display it when you know I'm coming over, to avoid crushing my delicate soul.  But, hopefully, I'll knock it out of the park.

Christmas, birthdays, babies, weddings, housewarming are all fair game to my crafty gifts.  I've had a number of projects on the go, including:

My favourite recipes on cards and hand embellished tea towels for weddings;
Homemade preserves, teacup candles and aprons for housewarming/hostess gifts;
Quilts, sweaters and hats for babies:
Rainbow Quilt and log cabin pillow
And a little girl being carried away to dreamland

For birthdays, it really depends on the person.  For instance, I made my niece a little frock and crochet collar that looks equally adorable on the hanger, hung as it is meant to be worn, and on her with the collar worn as a crown, because, well, because.

My favourite of late has been an attempt at cross-stitch.  This is my first real foray into the thready arts since a mother's day project at Girl Guides.  I don't even remember if that was particularly successful, as I hated stitching (and given the number of badges I had, you would have thought I had gotten somewhat used to it - not so humble brag).  I preferred my crafts executable with a hot glue gun.
Picture it, Ucluelet, 1992.  We didn't have a lot in the way of TV signals making it to us.  One of the only consistent TV stations that we had was the CBC.  And, for whatever bizarre reason, despite being below the 49th, we only had access to CBC North.  This meant that we had nightly news that was based in Yellowknife and was often in one of the Aboriginal languages of the North.  However, everyday after school, my girlfriends and I would rush home for one particular program - The Golden Girls.  It was awesome, and it was in English.  Long before there was Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, there was Dorothy, Rose, Sophia and Blanche.  Oh, we loved them so.  In particular, my friend Z was taken with them. 

Inspire your prayers
One day, I was on the twitter and someone posted a set of prayer candles emblazoned with these remarkable women.  I immediately started an Etsy search, but alas, they had sold out.  I was now convinced, like a sign from St Estelle Getty herself, that I needed to make a gift by hand.
I've been thinking of starting to explore embroidery for some time.  I love the look of a little bit of embellishment on the corners of napkins, little flowers on pretty dresses, and the woolly tattoos that Dottie Angel has been busily adding to her thrifted finds.  However, as I have explored elsewhere, I don't really have a ton of patience and my hand stitching always starts off ragged, becomes great and ends rushed.  But whilst searching out gifts for Z, I came across a cross-stitch pattern for the Florida quartet, and I knew I had to give it a whirl.  It took time, and I got annoyed (and stabbed) but in the end, I think it turned out magnificently.  And while I'm in no rush to get there, I do look forward to being a subversive senior, running amok with my besties.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Depression Lies

The little beast sits on your chest and pretends to be your friend, looking out for you, nourishing you, but it is in fact feeding you lie after lie.  It has an answer for every rebuttal because it does not need to live in the world of fact.  At first, it feeds you what you need, a little soul pablum, and then it feeds you what you think you need, a little mind candy.  But soon enough, it's dosing you with poison.
No one cares about your stupid crafts.
No one reads these posts.
Your voice isn't worth listening to.
You're not a good writer, so why are you even bothering?
And you listen.  And you stop.  Ideas come, but you don't act because it likely wasn't a good idea anyway.  Maybe, you tell yourself, when I feel more like writing and feel more brilliant, I'll get back to writing.  Spoiler alert >>>>>
With depression, you never feel like it.  IF you feel at all, it's certainly not a get up and go kind of feeling.  It's certainly not a, hey, let's open up and expose our vulnerability kind of feeling.  It's actually easier not to feel at all.  Bottle that shit up, lock it down, stick a smile on your face, laugh at every joke.  But it's not in the eyes, if you really look, it doesn't reach the eyes.  Maybe that's why I still don't have crow's feet.
This winter was a tough one.  There was no reprieve.  It was relentless and ugly.  I had a bad fall, and I'm still recovering from the resultant injury, still in pretty constant pain.  The world has seemed to be a particularly gross place this winter/spring too.  Perhaps I'm just feeling it more, the world's psychic pain is hitting me harder at the moment.  But the gross people, and the gross things they are doing and those gross things being justified and excused away by other, sometimes grosser people. 
And in some ways, being someone with mental health issues is harder, the stigma larger, even though as a society we're trying to talk about it more and normalise it.  But then you have folks blaming mental health issues for acts of terror and murder, and how does that make talking about it easier and safer?
Anyway, I don't feel like writing.  I don't have any answers or solutions to gross.  I'm not looking for any external validation, because as I've said, the beast doesn't work in fact.  I am however, going to write because we all must be warriors against the gross.  We have to fight the exhaustion and the despair.  We have to push back against the cynicism and anger and find the love and the patience to continue to fight.
Say no to gross.
And say yes to summer, finally.