Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Let's Find Joy In Our Lives

 "May you live in interesting times" is a phrase usually uttered as a curse or put down. Regardless of the origin and meaning, society uses it to mean "fuck you and die" - basically. Well we are certainly living in interesting times: the rise of White Supremacy, the destruction of Middle Eastern lives, the rise of despots in many countries, the fish, the bees and bears are disappearing.  People went toad licking crazy over toilet paper for a period of time. The King of the Universe, Mr. trump still wants to boink his daughter; the rodent looking one and not the pie face one. It's weird eh?  To add to the interesting times we have a flu which likes to kill in many different ways. The bees are under pressure from assassin bees, called Murder Bees. Ellen Degeneres who closes hers TV Show with signature "Be Kind", turns out she is a creepy unkind arsehole. With all this madness going on we really need to find some joy before we go into full metal jacket melt down. It is quite weird because we used to worry about the Post Office worker going all Brenda Spencer on people, now it is the everyday White guy we should be wary of. The world is full of things, people and events which suck the joy right of living. 

In my community, Sagkeeng First Nation, the meth monster has taken hold and is living comfortably there. Young people to middle age adults are prey to the meth monster. Material goods of any kind are disappearing from the yards, the cars and the homes of Sagkeeng residents as well as the neighbour communities. The rise of thefts, increased assaults are due to the need of individuals to feed their meth monster. Other First Nations communities are not immune to the ferocious appetite of the meth monster.  Meth monster just eating away joy from First Nation communities and main stream community as well. The meth monster is just another ill in the Indigenous community to compound the joyless existence.  First Nations are continuously being bombarded with society's racism. In Nova Scotia for example, the fishing industry comprising of white men are physically attacking the Mi'kmaq community, burning their gear, and killing their fish stock. The Mi'kmaq make up a minuscule amount of the annual fishing harvest. Still it is too much for the white fishing industry. No joy being experienced there.  As an Indian, an Indigenous person, an Anishinabe, I am outraged, angry and feeling like going on a shooting spree of White people. However, I have White friends and don't feel it would be good for my soul if I were to go killing random White people. It may be satisfying but after the gun smoke and ringing in the ears have subsided, the dead bodies laying around at the legislative building may damper the whole event. I mean who wants to be standing around dead bodies? That wouldn't be joyful, I don't think, but I have never experienced a mass murdering killing before so what do I know. 

Can we bring joy into our lives without bringing misery into the lives of others? Getting back to having White friends, I think this is why there is so much hate and racism out there. White people should have more friends who are not White. Maybe then they won't be so inclined to carry hate for being White. As for bringing joy into our lives, there are a lot of ways we can think of without shitting down someones neck. My friend is in the hospital and has been there for more than five weeks. He is most likely my oldest living friend. I can remember us on the swing when we were about 8 years old at the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School. He was transferred to another boarding school when he was about 10. He is really sick and the way I deal with it, is to tease him relentlessly when I go visit. It brings joy, but sometimes it is too much for him and he tells me "don't be mean." So joy is not joy if it hurts someone. 

Of course there are the families, the kids, the spouses which bring us joy, but there are other things which can bring us joy as well. The sight of an old white guy walking into a pole as he is swearing at people protesting police brutality. Now that brings me joy; him not so much. The dog rolling around in the grass brings me some joy. The laughter of little kids, especially little Brown kids, they are so damn cute. Young couples enjoying themselves, this makes me happy. For me I think young people should be enjoying their youth, lot of time to become grumpy old buggers. A Nazi getting punched and knocked out brings me joy. A smile from a stranger will bring me joy. A good looking dog with a tail wagging and no growling brings me joy. The sight of Mr trump (small T on purpose) getting his hand slapped away from his woman brought me laughter as well as him walking up the Air Force One with toilet paper on his shoe. Not sure if laughter, happiness and joy are the same thing? The sight of an Eagle flying around brings me joy. The smell of sage and juniper brings me some joy. Having a good bowel movement with no remnants hanging around the anus is always joyful. Having a good cup of Earl Grey tea, reading a book on the deck when it is warm, sunny and you have tunes going, brings joy. 

Of course the scale of joy is all different. Still any amount of joy is good for us. There are so much things in the world which are putting us in distress, bringing us hurt, uncertainty and grief so let us find some joy in our lives. The search for joy should be interesting. I will keep my eyes open for some joy and hope you do as well. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

We Love Music Don't We

 When I was a kid, my parents had one of those big cabinet stereos. My Dad had a collection of albums which consisted of Jimmy Rogers, Hank Williams, Charlie Rich, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash and others. The collection wasn't huge. But if records weren't playing on the weekend, there was the radio, AM radio. Music was part of the home. My Dad could play the guitar but I never seen one in our home and only saw him playing one time at his  cousin's house.  He did have Mouth Harps in the home that we fooled around with as kids. It was strange the music stopped playing at my parents home but I am not sure exactly when or why. When I say the music stopped, it was they stopped playing records. The radio still had its place in the house but just as background noise in the kitchen. 

When my kids were small there was music playing in our home as well.  The stereo was always on and a cd or a tape cassette was on. It is funny, we never learned to play an instrument in our home. Noozhis is starting to fool around with a guitar now.  I am hopeful my grandson will take a liking to the guitar and continue to play and learn. I have two guitars in the house. I have never learned to play. I love music but I guess I am too lazy to learn how to play, so I am content with singing along to songs in the off key. I wonder why it is, not everyone can sing? I mean everyone can try sing but to actually sing with a good melody, why that is not the case? 

As a young kid, the Drum was not heard around the community. The Residential School, the Church and the government laws ensured the Drum disappeared from Indigenous life. Our community had almost lost their connection to their ancestral ways. There were some Elder's and families which still followed the Traditional Ways, but it was quietly done. The Church ruled the community and their music did not include the Drum. This has changed in our Reserve, the Drum has even entered the Church. I wonder what my deceased Granny would think of that? Lot of Old People embraced the Teachings of the Church and saw Traditional Teachings of the Anishinabe as "Witch Craft, Bad Medicine." The Drum has come back to our community, the larger Indigenous community and people are loving the music.  Still the old country gospel is still fondly listened to by the Indian community. A small town radio station in Manitoba  (Portage CFRY) has a Sunday two hour segment of song dedications, much of the request are for gospel songs. The majority of requests are from the surrounding Indigenous communities. 

Music, all types of music can touch our emotions. I think this is why we love music. For Indigenous people the Drum reminds them of the Heartbeat. Can you see it? Look at how far modern medicine has come today. The practice is to have a new born baby lay on the bare chest of their mother. This is the Heartbeat of the Nation. 

Can you see it? The love of music, the hearing of a Heartbeat is good medicine, even now used by modern medicine experts. 

We sure love music, don't we? We sure like to share music as well. We want others to experience the same joy, the same memory, the same sorrow we have with a song.  When I listen to music it almost always brings up some feeling, some memory and it takes me some where. Enjoy your music. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Trolling For A Fight?

I have to admit I do like the debate, the civilized debate. A good discussion of point, counter point and a mutual respect of opinions. Ah, who I am kidding, I sometimes like to be a no-damn good troll. Of course not on a professional level, or even a good troll, but more like a wood tick type. The kind of troll who tries to make jokes but the jokes don't land well.  Either the jokes and teasing I try are lame, easy to dismiss, ignored or misunderstood. So the reaction to my jokes or teases is not always what I expect. Some people will actually get upset at my point. I have to admit when it comes to trolling, I am no good at it. I imagine a troll is like a wolverine. A wolverine is the subject of many fables about its savagery, its tenaciousness, its brutality and its strength. This is how I see the troll, I am non of that. I will engage but I will think about the interaction over and over and over. It sometimes plays in my head and makes my head feel soft like marshmallow (marshmello). So why do I do it? Why do troll for a fight?

It is just who I am I guess. I am that fella who will ask you a whole bunch of questions in a row. I will also say something which upsets you. Like I met this guy one time who was a casual acquaintance of someone I kind of knew. As we were sitting in a coffee shop, I looked at him, he was pretty good looking Indian guy with long hair (not Indian from India, but Canada and US's favourite image Indian), and I says, "are you a good person?" He looked at me and before he answered I said, "I want to make sure you are a good guy before I put effort into getting to know you." Anyways, that's me. 

A few years ago, maybe three or four, I commented on this young Native guy's social media page and I called him a gangster. I was teasing. I think I commented on a picture of his with another Native guy. I guess it may not have sit well with him. There are quite a few Native gangs where we live, so I imagine being labeled a gangster is not a good thing. I again commented on a social media page of his friend, there was picture of three young Natives in a car. I throw in some comment about watching out for the cops because a gangster in there. Little did I know I had pushed a dull screwdriver into a festering puss boil and popped it. The comments from the Native guy and his friend came quick and came angry. I countered but not with an all apology but with some soft lobs of explanation. The guy didn't seem to be having any of it. He said I most have a sad life and rather don't like my life. The friend of the guy, a young Native activist, was equally upset. She was rather strong in her support of the Native fellow. We bantered back and forth with me trying to weasel out of the jam without admitting I did anything really wrong. In the end I caved and apologized for my wrong doing. She took the moment to tell me to learn from what I did and go forward in life. This really bugged the shit out of me, a young Woman who had no clue as to my experience, my knowledge and my intent with the posts. So I pouted about this for a long while. That is why I am not a good troll. A Wolverine would just attack, go for the kill and piss on the remains so no other creature of the forest could feast on the spoils. This savagery is only that of the mighty wolverine, the master troll. Something I am not. 

It has been a few years and I still think of this trolling for a fight. I know it was with no ill intent but it caused a bit of a fracas. If I was a wolverine I would responded not with lame lobs of a soft marshmallow but with a ferocious savagery filled with venom and poison. I would have mauled them and left only a bloody carcass. Left only is the insalubrious mutilated warm bodies of a couple of pompous young Indians.  But I didn't maul them. Instead I am forced to use the passive aggressive almost cowardly story like this blog story. You see I am a teaser and a bad one. I was speaking at my Dad's funeral and thanked the staff for his care while in the Old Folk's Home. I went on to say "everyone worked so hard at the Home, even the fat ones." There is a notion (not held by me, which is why I mentioned them) that over weight people have a difficult time working steady. 

What I am trying to say is, I didn't attack the fellow on purpose. Throughout my life, gangster has been used by me on many people, even the one year old daughter of my neighbours. I called my deceased friend gangster many times over the years. He was a well respected Traditional Teacher and friend to many. To my kids, when ever we saw other kids riding bikes, I would say "gangsters." It was running gag that I still do with my adult children and now my grandchildren. Anyone who is wearing dark sunglasses I will say "gangster."  I say more outrageous things than gangster and even at inappropriate times. When my Mom was laying in the hospital bed having her stomach drained from fluid as her cancer was quickly killing her, the community Priest can to visit. I called him into my Mom's room and told him "my Mom wants you to do that holy roller stuff" as I made a cross gesture in the air. I even told him "I'm good me, Me and God are like that" as I crossed my fingers. The Priest said "I'll ask him." So he just rode with jokes. So it is my nature to just say things, and much of the time (not all) it is without malice. Perhaps sometimes it is a little mean spirited to slam and I should expect the reaction to be not pleasant. I guess the "super Indian, the more Indian than you," has always been my aunties heal (or some Greek story like that). My point is I say outrageous things that are many times more harsh than calling some entitled Indian a gangster.  

I think I am still upset over these two (bastards, the one, their Granny wanted out of Rez by marrying White, and the other one wouldn't know a jeet from a kit-ten). The over the top reaction and the pious, better Indian than you attitude still rubs me raw. Which actually means they own me. They most likely don't even remember the exchange. It is like the mosquito who bit you on the nose three years ago, gone. I have to get over it. It is something I have a hard time doing, letting something go. I was ripped off a number of times and it still festers, like a diabetic sore which won't heal, has turned to gangrene and is now at the bone. This is not good. The rot will only get deeper. I suppose the best way to avoid the festering, the seething, of deep feelings which turn into a cancer must be avoided in the first place. Funny because I have exchanges with racists, rednecks on the internet and it never bothers me at the time or later, weird. I have to stop being me, stop teasing if I can not handle over the top cry baby super Indians questioning my life (am I still pouting?).  There you have it, no more trolling for a fight.  But if an opening happens to arise for a pun, a poke, or a story, a tease well I am not sure what will happen.  I might have to get into another "debate" which the end result will be me pouting for years, again. 

Then again I could go with the standard come back, "F you and the arse you road on." 

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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