Cold & Culture 

So I have been meeting people here. And oh one thing I have learnt- people  love to talk, so if you don’t want to talk stay inside and if you dont want everyone to know, just inside. Culture is a helluva thing. Which is better? Mine, which teaches us to keep everything shrouded in secrecy and gossip, or this one which promotes openness and less privacy?  But then, both sets of people have depression issues anyway, so oh well. And because of or despite the cosmopolitan nature of the populace, you will fit in some where along the spectrum. The old adage rings true…..tek you time and sieve out people….

So, everyone ask questions.  How long have you been here? When did you come? Why Edmonton? And then invariably it ends with the weather………

Thus, it goes without saying that I have been waiting, actually anticipating winter- as I need to see what everyone is talking about- no, complaining about. But you know what is weird, I think Edmontonians actually love their weather……I guess as humans we love superlatives……

I didn’t  have to wait long- yes it is brutal. In fact I don’t think anyone is capable of putting it in words- “horrifically brutal” (to quote a friend). No matter how much clothes, how many layers you don’t escape the wind chill. I have seen some weird attire too , men with ski masks covering their faces which I get, trust me, but it still gives me the chills. And girls in summer tights, mini skirts and dresses, sneakers- now that,  I don’t get in -25 and below weather. Are they machines or something?  Or are they just trying to prove a point? Either way it’s just plain stupid, (in my mind of course). A friend of mine asked me if I am sure this weather is for humans, I have been wondering that myself. Luckily Mother Nature, like any good mother varies her tempo…….

And I have been waiting to make a snowman, hence I decided on a whim on Christmas Day (of all the days) that I would make my very own snow man. I got his hat, a scarf, a pair of earrings for his eyes and set off for the park. I chose my spot, located a tree from which I would break branches for his arms, and just as I was set to begin to work, it occurred to me that I had no idea how this was done. You would think I would find that out first……😁Well that’s why I don’t normally do things impromptu……I plan almost everything. I discovered, first and foremost that you need wet snow for a snowman, the snow was very dry on Christmas Day. This is what happens when you are way in over your head 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

The other things that I have been pondering is violence…… yes it’s here too. After all, if you watch Investigation Discovery and 48 Hours and the myriad other shows like these, I am sure you have never seen an episode which relates to outside of North America, and they run the full gamut of human nature. Envy, pride, greed, jealousy, revenge……yes those things know no bias.

But coming from home, I naively felt safe and found myself talking unnecessary and foolish risks……two things jolted me to reality. The evening news and my bible study. And when I think of it, although the streets are well lit, and although the houses are close to the roads and although the area is densely populated, if I were attacked would anyone even hear me crying for help, or if they hear would they come to my rescue? I really don’t know, and I tend to believe I would be doomed because I don’t see that neighbourly behavior been exhibited in other ways…..so now I don’t throw caution to the wind for the most part.

People give you more than a second glance when you enter a shop, the nervous twitch or the eyes that glance away a little too suddenly. No one chooses to sit beside you first on the bus or train, and you are first considered stupid or violent, lazy or incompetent …….just because of the color of your skin. On an episode of ‘This American Life’, one of the interviewees said once ” of all the reasons to hate someone, you choose their color of their skin”. The strange thing is I feel none of that, I have met some lovely caring people from all races and ethnicity……but I must tell you I sometimes feel afraid of my fellow black folk.  I am not proud of myself for this one, but being afraid is a real thing. I feel it and face it all the time. I won’t lie to you, sometimes we look scary, suspicious and seem to be up to nothing good. I feel bad to be judging another black person, but it’s true, and we may have no good reason to feel this way except natural instinct and the crime reports.  When that happens, I get a peek into the mind of those who stereotype and put all black people in the same box, justifiably or not. Now we can call the sociologist to explain all the good reasons why blacks commit the most crimes and makes up the majority of the prison population- but that’s for another time. That is a complex web, which cannot be simplified.

Don’t get me wrong I sometimes feel trepidation too for the white or Asian folk who speaks a little too loudly, or walk around ragged and dirty, or who approaches me to ask me a question that is way too normal, or beg me money…….yes, prejudice cuts deeper than we think. It freaks me out when they ask me. “Why choose me, of all the people on the train platform or on the bus, why pick me?”
And I must tell you, I don’t like the turkey. I just see it as an oversized fowl, that is way too hard and a little too dry for my liking- yes me a J’can we love tender, we love gravy and meat a drop off the bone, so not me and the turkey.  December 31 is my anniversary. One year away from home, one year since I am fully responsible for my self, one year of not seeing family and friends, one year of adjustment……..one year older and many years wiser. One year later, and I am finally look into the ‘right’ direction when I am crossing the street. Most people exclaim that I made a brave decision, sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t just plain stupid.

Instead of Complaining……….

Let’s find things to be grateful to God for………

AM GRATEFUL

….. that God is merciful and just and righteous. I am grateful too his ways and thoughts are not like ours and in fact are higher than ours.

….. for my weaknesses, and for friends who point them out to me. Yes it hurts, and yes I may feel disappointed, and yes I cry, and yes I want to retaliate, but it certainly is the birthplace for vulnerability and whole-hearted living.

….when I have nothing to do. When I can sit, or lie down or just laze about with nothing to do, nothing to worry about, nothing to consume my mind.

….when I get home safely at nights. Many find themselves on hospital beds, in the morgue, or worse yet as victims of abuse.

…. when I have a normal, routine day. I could easily complain of the drudgery and boredom. Am grateful for this too, as it’s out of this state of despair that we find courage to take risks and soar.

….. for the situations which force me to forgive.

…..that I am neither master of my fate nor captain of my soul

…..that I am learning to hear God’s voice.

…..that God had not given up on me, and that he is teaching me how to give  what I most want to receive.

…..for eyes to see all the seasons

….. for words that comfort others

……for courage when I am so afraid

….. for lessons in patience and opportunities to learn how to listen.

…..for a meal each day, a warm bed, sleep and abundance of warm water

…. for a boss who gives me the freedom to speak

…..for a job that gives me time to help others

…..for light in all its forms

…..for friends who understands me, tolerate me, forgives me, and then still loves me.

…..for a mom and an aunt who love me with all they have

…..for a stepmother who will give her heart to me

…..that I can read, write, hear, see, smell, feel, touch and understand…

……for learning to align my intentions with my actions and understanding that if I am part of the cause then I cannot separate myself from the consequence.

…..I have been creating life of adventure, and risk and passion….Memories!!!!- am grateful for this too.