Well here it is! Happy ten days into the new year. And though I'm aware the year is rather an arbitrary number, and really, any day is just like the next, the budding of a 'new year' instills in the hearts of the Western world, something nice for a while. Something intrinsically hopeful. Though I wish these feelings would sweep over the nation more than once every cycle around the sun, I'll take what I can get.
Graduation is nigh! It's been a long time coming, but the light at the end of the tunnel! I can see it! I am convinced it will be the spiritual equivalent of the new years of my twenties, if that makes any sense. After my first week of classes this semester, I am acutely aware that this last semester, unfortunately, will not be easy on me. But everything's so close to the end, I'm a little hard-pressed to care.
Coming back to the city after Canmore is always a little disappointing. It's a loud and busy place, where there are more people to ignore you - then you realize it takes an hour and a half by bus to really 'get outside' in the traditional sense. I definitely don't ever want to forget what living in a small town is like.
Something I tried really hard to do this past Christmas was shop for local things in Vancouver (I also tried to say 'happy holidays' to someone instead of 'merry Christmas' and got an overreaction that I was not impressed by - I'm wishing you well for your holidays, whatever they are - I don't have to, you know - I can say, 'thanks for your purchase, don't get your damn knickers in a twist', but please, continue to make mountains out of mole-hills). This ended up being a slightly more expensive, and time-consuming venture - but the return was quite rewarding. At numerous locally-built and maintained shops, people are willing to chat (about literally anything), help you make decisions. I had a nice chat for almost an hour with a woman in a shop on Granville Island who was selling a local designer's clothes. Talked distilleries with a couple of the new ones in town - I think my favourite has to be Odd Society Spirits - I love their labels and I sort of put Cremé de Cassis in everything over the holidays. It made shopping a little more of an adventure. I remember my first year I lived here I did most of my shopping at Metrotown. I do not go there any more. For anything. Ever.
This, in conjunction with a recent brain-bubble, has made me very interested in consumerism as a power, and a choice. And this includes all form of consumerism - what you're eating, watching, buying, and buying into. I was listening to the CBC recently and they were talking about the Weather Channel (a private company) and their website, explaining the sensationalized storms they choose to name (similar to naming hurricanes) outside of the NOAA's classification system, the cat videos they fill their page view quotas with when there aren't any extreme weather phenomenon to report on or spin into a wild news craze. I consider this akin to those awful morning talk shows (and many other things) I re-experienced while having access to satellite over the holidays. I sit and look at it and think, 'who is putting money into this? Who keeps watching this? How does this crap continue existing?' I am always at a distinct, mind-boggling loss for answers. How does this mindless generation of sub-par, fear mongering, and ultimately ignorant content keep getting bigger, angrier, and more profitable? It's like the overstimulation olympics - who can cram as many little white lies, useless information, and out-of-context sound bites as possible into a news segment about a cat fashion show.
It's extremely easy to make misinformed, or uninformed decisions in a time where everyone is out to get your attention and your dollar. It's exhausting to think of the implications I am purchasing into when I buy a brand of clothing or food. Who or what am I exploiting by buying this product? The lists are usually long and very depressing.
I think maybe it's something we don't think of often enough; consumerism as a power. I've always felt that my own voice in the world wouldn't ever do much - how do you say anything to the people who run the world. It seems the best mode for any exchange of ideas (much to my chagrin) is through the mysterious channels of money. As much as I like consuming fish, I'm well aware of the debacle around wild and farmed fish stocks. I make a decision not to purchase fish products or eat fish, even though it is highly accessible and I like it. It seems a very 'first world' sacrifice - that's because it is. I think because the first world has such vast access to things, people think they have the right to a vast access of things. Maybe 'right' is the wrong word. But ultimately just because you can doesn't mean you should. It's an incredible responsibility, and in a marketplace in which you alone are what determines what is and is not consumed, it takes willpower. And to be honest, I think we all can use a little more of that.
I am in the middle of a disheartening work of non-fiction by Farley Mowat called Sea of Slaughter. He systematically goes through species that have been ruthlessly decimated not out of need but out of greed in North America. I read about a once bountiful ocean, the one that existed some 300 years ago, and I look at what's left. The hollow shell left behind by an over-excited industrial complex. The sense that seems common to me would be to use a natural resource with enough knowledge and foresight to allow it to replenish, and ultimately, live so that the next generation of Homo sapien can also benefit from it. But what seems to happen, again and again (and again) is a resource (in this case, any plant or animal ever to be determined to attract capital) is tapped, hunted until it becomes a valuable commodity, then it is beaten to extinction while being marketed to a higher class of people without a whole lot of forethought. It's all for the dollar. It was just this step-by-step syphoning of every resource into the pockets of tycoons. It still happens - and it will continue to happen because people seem to be able to remove themselves from the global situation if they have enough money. It's just very frustrating. Well not just just. It's huge, hairy, and rather frightening.
Anyways, I could talk myself in circles about this stuff forever. I have a bunch of global identity thoughts I've been mulling about as well. But I'll save those for another time. It's a hard thing to put into coherent sentences because I am aware of all of the things I don't know (which are plenty), and all of the misinformation I have probably consumed about these things. And what's worse is I feel really cheesy talking about it - preaching the helicopter parenting of the 24-hour news cycle, and that we need to save the planet. But come on. The writing has been on the wall for decades. When I talk about these sorts of things, tag lines from Hollywood films always come to mind. Everything has already been said. A thousand times over.
Ultimately, always consume with a conscious. Whether it be the blogs you read, the olives you put in your martini, the illin' kicks you bought online, or the cat videos you endlessly scroll through - it all exists inside your sphere of influence.
There aren't really any resolutions for me this year. Because I've known for a while what I've got to get done in 2014. The list is long.
I'm revamping my Etsy site this weekend (so keep an eye out) - with some new things! Recent findings have found me to be as broke as ever, and I can't seem to get a job even bagging groceries - so I guess I will just make things out of other things. Want a monster made of felt? Or possibly any other material? I am your lady.
Oh - and all of you in Vancouver - Save the Date: May 17th, 2014 - I am hosting and programming an afternoon of film and video projects (plus the premier of my most recent short film), complete with opportunities to eat, drink, network, and be merry! It's at the infinitely lovely Vancity Theatre, and it will be full of great people and wonderful things. So make sure you're around!
I decided to list some of my favourite things that I can remember discovering in 2013, that you can also absorb into your body of consciousness - I am astounded by what I currently cannot remember, surely there were more things than this - links below!
Things to listen to:
Things to read:
The Very Persistent Gappers of Fripp by George Saunders
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
An Astronaut's Guide to Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield
Things to view:
Rheanna Toy's short film, NINA, was accepted into the National Screen Institute's online film festival!