No laughing matter

There’s no map to human behaviour — Bjork

A week has passed since the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi came out with nine women stating he had sexually abused them.

I really didn’t want to dive into this again until this situation came to some sort of satisfactory conclusion. But given the initial reactions I heard when Canadian actor Lucy DeCouture stepped forward to tell her story of being victim to Ghomeshi’s abuse to the media last Wednesday, I feel the need to get something off my chest.

Yes, the details were disturbing and troublesome. But what I found more troublesome were the reactions from people around me once they heard and read the allegations. The reaction? Disbelief to DeCouture’s details of her abuse… followed by jokes and laughter regarding to the details of the attack.

Disbelief. I can handle that. Laughing and making poor jokes at some of the details of the alleged attack? Seriously? What the hell is so damn funny about the details? I get that some the details might be considered unbelievable. But here’s the thing… we really have no idea how dark and dangerous human behaviour can be. Just because, as individuals, we personally haven’t witnessed such behaviour or have been pushed to the point of conducting such behaviour, it doesn’t mean we should make fun of something we don’t know or understand.

Sure, making light of something awful is a reflex some people choose to exercise. But I really don’t think making jokes stemming of someone’s pain is all that funny, especially when the topic is sexual violence and when the jokes drag on for most of the evening.

Yeah, I should have said something, but quite honestly, my two cents wouldn’t have mattered much. I would have been told to lighten up. I think the saying goes ‘if you can’t laugh at it, you might as well cry.’ I know humour is used as a coping mechanism. I get that. But what is being forgotten, especially when the joking is being made in the workplace, is there might be a co-worker who has had his/her own personal experience with sexual violence and hasn’t voiced it to anyone or voiced it to any of his/her colleagues. That becomes uncomfortable for the silent co-worker. Making fun of the details of another person’s account of their experience with sexual violence, doesn’t really give that co-worker a sense of safety in the workplace. It’s insensitive, period.

Sure, jokes are just jokes. But the kinds of jokes a person tend to make shines a light into the person’s sensibilities. It’s OK to be jaded. I couldn’t give a shit if you’re jaded. Just don’t use it as an excuse to be an insensitive fuck.

Making jokes or guffawing at DeCouture’s account of her assault (even though it’s considered an allegation at this point) was tasteless and demeaning. Even before these allegations surfaced, Ghomeshi was a polarizing figure. It was either you loved the guy or you hated him. The problem with such lurid details coming to the forefront is making fun of some the details isn’t just about making fun of him. DeCouture and the other alleged victims are being made fun of, as well.

It also strikes me that those who were insensitive to the initial details of DeCouture’s account, were also insensitive to the BDSM community. Before DeCouture came forward with her story, the odd joke — of the 50 Shades of Grey variety — about handcuffs and whips had already been bandied about. Again, making fun of something you don’t understand. A show of ignorance and lack of respect. What BDSM is, is not summed up in 50 Shades of Grey. Far from it. But because of the success of that book, it’s too easy to use it as an example to describe a person’s sexual tastes.

How about doing a little reading on the subject before ridiculing it? Doesn’t take much to do some online research and figure out which sites are serious about BDSM. If staring at a computer screen is a bit much, there is no shortage of books. Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams, and The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge by Tristan Taormino are good books to start with.

Considering how this week went, I can honestly say, I’ve had enough of this ongoing story even though there is a lot more that needs to be said about Ghomeshi, how CBC did or didn’t handle the issue of workplace harassment, and sexual violence against women. I’m all for having those discussions. But what I don’t want to hear is the insensitivity to the issues. There is no room for ignorance and ridicule in these discussions. But I know it will happen. Some people can’t help themselves.

Make fun of something that is incomprehensible.

I should just shake my head, walk away and not look at this again until it’s all said and done.

I spy with my dilated eyes

I went to the eye doctor last week.

My left eyelid had been irritated over the previous weekend and I wanted to determine whether or not the irritation was due to some sort of allergic reaction or if my contacts were part of the problem.

It turns out that my left cornea has been experiencing a bit of oxygen deprivation, more so than the right cornea. I have my theory about why my left cornea was more affected than the right but I won’t go into that. Too long to explain the theory or the origin of my theory. It’s something I still would like to keep to myself.

Oxygen deprivation. What does that mean for me? Well, I go back to wearing glasses for a couple of weeks to let the corneas heal. But the eye doctor said it was okay for me to wear contacts for yoga and CrossFit workouts and switch back to glasses after. Then I go back for a follow up to see how it goes and take it from there. That means I will need to strike a better balance between wearing glasses and wearing contacts.

I’ve worn contacts since my late-20’s. That was around the time I was beginning to horseback ride three to five times a week and I needed my peripheral vision. Also, being around 800-1,000 pound animals who are capable of sudden movement can be a little rough on your eyewear. I wasn’t keen on regularly going to the optician to bend my glasses back to into shape.

Eventually, I started using the contacts you can wear 30 days in a row without taking them out. Radical concept at the time. I’ve been using those kind of contacts for several years. My problem was I never let my eyes take a break for a few days after 30 days of wearing contacts. It never seemed to be a problem for me until now. So now I need to implement a plan to strike a balance between wearing  contacts and wearing my glasses to avoid oxygen deprivation. I already have an idea of what I need to do. After my next visit, and if my corneas are looking good, I will make a concerted effort to strike a balance and make adjustments where necessary.

A lot of people I work with, had forgotten or didn’t know I used to wear glasses. One of the nice things about this change is I’ve been receiving compliments about the style of my frames and how nice they look on me. I’ve admitted to everyone who has mentioned the frames that they are two years old. They’ve been sitting in its case for two years. That gives you an idea of how often I’ve been giving my eyeballs a break. Well, that has to change. I’ve been diligent and vigilant about my health and that needs to extend to the health of my eyes.

For those who have been to the eye doctor’s office, remember the stinging eye drops the doctor would put in your eyes to check the cornea and retina? I remember them, too. Except these eye drops didn’t sting at all. My brother says the drops have been formulated to not sting anymore. Drat, had I known that, I wouldn’t have driven home in the bright winter sun right after the visit. I had brought my glasses with me in anticipation I would be told to give my eyes a break from the contacts. Thankfully, my glasses are made by EasyClip which have a magnetic attachment for shades that fits perfectly over my glasses. Best invention ever. As I was saying, even with the shades, it was still bloody bright. A lot of blinking, squinting and keeping track of the cars around me as I made my way home. Fun, fun, fun.

As soon as I got home, I checked my eyes in a mirror. Wow, I had completely forgotten those drops dilated my pupils like crazy. You know what’s even crazier? My right pupil was larger than the left pupil. Both dilated but the right eye was almost black. My first thought was ‘So that’s why my eyes are fucking sensitive.’ Freaky, yes, but amusing. My pupils went back to normal three hours later. But a thought did cross my mind that if the pupils remained dilated a little too long, I’d have to call the doctor’s office for some troubleshooting advice.

Although I love the frames, I’m not so crazy about my prescription. I’m blind as a bat. Well, maybe not a bat. It just feels that way. I’m even toying with the idea of picking up another similar-looking frame and sticking plain glass in them. That way, I can wear my contacts AND wear the frames. Yeah, yeah, you say that’s a crazy idea. I say I can’t hear you.

But hey, wearing glasses adds another 50 points to your I.Q. Depending on the style of the frames, they make you look artsy and/or smart. Hence the instant 50 additional points to your I.Q. Or the glasses can be very helpful and entertaining in some role-play with your sweetie, i.e. the naughty librarian scenario.

I’m thinking the next time I get those eye drops I’m going to play I Spy with My Dilated Eyes

Not so bad after all

I hadn’t expected to be so busy talking to visitors, some of which included my colleagues, friends and family. But that’s what happened last Friday night — opening night and reception for the art exhibit where some of my photographs are on display. To be honest, it was kind of nice. A change from the everyday.

I had a couple of surprise visitors which was great. I hadn’t seen them in quite awhile. Carole had hip surgery a couple of months ago and it was great to see her up and walking about. I hadn’t seen the other surprise, Tania, in about five years. Geez, time flies. We know each other from my horseback riding days. She came to the opening with Jeneen, who still has her feet firmly ensconced in the local horse community. We all rode at the same stable for years before heading down our own markedly different paths which we are travelling on now.

It has been an interesting journey. From the morning I got the phone call from Monika inviting me to be part of a three-woman art exhibit to having the actual exhibit underway, I’m glad I agreed to be part of this artistic adventure with her and Tanis. They’re lovely souls and it’s wonderful having them in my life.

For me, I think the hardest part of this whole process was installing the show. One might think hanging a few pictures and paintings is a fairly simple task. Not so. Hanging artwork in your home is way different from hanging artwork for a show. There’s actually a formula that the gallery uses to ensure all the images look like they’re all hanging off the same imaginary line.

We had one of the gallery volunteers, Bob, show us what the mathematical formula looked when applied in a real-life setting. Seemed straight forward enough. He advised us the first few hangings (my lack of a better description for the moment) would be a learning curve for us. It turned out Monika’s paintings were easier to install at the get-go than my images. Why? Well, unlike Monika’s paintings which simply needed a nail and hammer to get them up on the walls, I opted to use magnets and flat-head thumb tacks to get them up. Honestly, I couldn’t justify paying for framing my images when there was no guarantee that they would sell. That would have been quite costly. Besides, I wanted people to look at the image and not be distracted by a picture frame.

So, Monika and I had to slightly rethink the approach to installing my images. We thought we were doing great until we prepared the thumb tacks for the third image to go up. Wouldn’t you know it, the imaginary line connecting the thumb tacks started looking crooked and a bit strange. Then things got a little messy after several attempts to fix the imaginary line. And it dissolved into laughter and head-shaking once we realized things were derailing a lot faster than we thought. Two words. Gong show.

We finally took a step back, checked our numbers, remeasured everything and finally got back on track. The first five images were finally up. I think that took us an hour. Oy vey. After that, the installation of the rest of the images were relatively a breeze. Once everything was up on the walls and Tanis’ pottery were on the plinths, we pretty much breathed sigh of relief.

As for opening night, I actually enjoyed myself considering I’m not exactly a natural-born social butterfly. Go figure. I was rather calm about having people look at my work. But I was a little nervous because I didn’t know who (out of my friends and family) would show up for the reception. It was great having the friends who were able to attend, make an appearance. I’m glad my family was able to attend because it gave them an opportunity to see another side of me that I usually don’t bring to light all that too often.

As I mentioned in previous blogs, it’s been a long time since I participated in an art exhibit. This really isn’t something you can do anonymously or on the low-down. It’s not really a private moment. You’re allowing the world look at you in a slightly different light. It’s another aspect of you that you are revealing to anyone who cares to look. Sometimes, that can be scary if you’re not in the right mindset or not prepared for it. I was in the right mindset.

I had friends ask me if I was excited. In my own way, I was. I’m just not particularly emotive with positive emotions. I’m more likely to give someone the evil eye or slash their car tires than slap on a smile and be ‘sunshine and kisses’. I’m annoyingly low-key.

At the opening night dinner I had with some girlfriends, I mentioned to them that if I were to ever get married, I’d be pretty low-key about the whole affair, too. I really don’t understand why people expect me to express myself like some perky cheerleader who is over the moon because her hunky high-school quarterback boyfriend is going to take her to the prom. Ack. Just let me say one thing… that kind of self-expression does not feel natural to me. I’d rather not go there. It feels like I’m faking it. For someone else, showing that kind of exuberance feels great. For me, it’s like pulling teeth with a pair of pliers from the toolbox.

Anyway, I have to say it was pretty cool listening to people react to my images. There were remarks regarding certain details in my work that I had never thought about before. It  made me more aware of how I see the world. A lot of the little details that visitors noted in the images were never consciously noted by me when I took the photos. There is a lot of stuff happening, on a subconscious level. I don’t really know what’s going on there but something’s happening.

Some of the questions folks asked me, dealt with my editing process, when did I know I had the images I needed for the exhibit and what was my thought process in making the images. There were some good questions and I had to find the right words to answer them.

It was interesting to ‘see’ my images in the eyes of others.

The best way I can describe how I find an image, how I create an image, is that I shoot intuitively. I believe a lot of my background in photojournalism comes into play when I make an image.

I figure this experience is preparing me for other things down the road. This is another springboard catapulting me into another adventure. I have a pretty solid idea what that next adventure will be. And honestly, I’m looking forward to it.