Cannabis & anti-Black racism

I’ve recently started microdosing. It’s sporadic as I’m new to cannabis (could never smoke it due to recurring bronchitis/mild asthma and also the skunky smell) and have only had CBD oil in my vegan yogurt or tea and 1:1 TCH & CBD edibles — my faves so far are the milk chocolates from Chowie Wowie and peach mango gummies from Foray (for both external links you will have to verify your age first). I’m trying cannabis out as I’ve got some health issues that have ‘manifested’ since turning 35. And maybe gotten slightly worse since moving to a new city.

It’s been a great experience so far, I think. I walk to the nearby cannabis dispensary and chat with the budtenders a bit about their stock and other cannabis-related things before leaving with my goodies. The environment is safe, clean and well-lit in addition to being easy on the eyes. Their displays are plain, but interesting to look at. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and non-judgy. When I walk out, no one is standing around outside leering or anything, so I feel safe walking home. The dispensary is located close to where everyone gets their groceries. It’s a safe neighbourhood for families, professional couples and seniors. I’d say it’s about 99% white.

A few days ago, I watched an episode of the Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj on Netflix about how the legal marijuana business is rigged. Minhaj goes into some detail about how all the way up and down the legal cannabis chain there are racial disparities. Basically, the only ones making money off of legal cannabis (and there is a lot of money to be made) — are white folks. He also explains how people of colour were and still are the ones most negatively affected by anti-drug policies. Now, I realize that this show is focused on global and American issues and politics, specifically this one episode, but hear me out here: in a piece published in the Globe and Mail last August, written by Chuka Ejeckam, he explains how these issues are affecting Black and Indigenous people here in Canada too. Of the top five cannabis producers in Canada, POC make up only 3% of management staff. 81% of cannabis companies are owned mostly by white men. Black people have gained little benefit to the legalization of marijuana. And the introduction of Bill C-93 (‘No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis’) which is supposed to pardon those previously charged with possession of cannabis, doesn’t actually expunge criminal records from 2018 onwards, it merely suspends them.

And why would things be any different up here in the true north, strong and free? Why do we think we are better? We are a country with a colonial past, one which we have yet to reconcile or even come to terms with. While Canada proudly pats itself on the back for their role in the Underground Railroad, there is an 11 year old boy being accused of wearing gang wear, and his mother is deemed “threatening” while defending her child. While we scoff at the egregious incarceration rates in the U.S. for Black people, most don’t know that in Canada, Black inmates make up 8.6% of the total number of those incarcerated when they represent only 3% of the total Canadian population. In fact, between 2003-2013, the number of Black inmates increased by 90%. Carding practices by police (a.k.a. “Community Contacts Policy”) disproportionately target Black and Indigenous people. Canadian journalist Desmond Cole even wrote about how he’s been carded more than 50 times — just because he’s Black.

So, with every bite of my edibles, I think about how privileged I am to look the way I do. To be able to afford legal, safe cannabis products that have been lab-tested to ensure that not only are they not moldy, but aren’t “laced” with other drugs or chemicals. To be able to walk down the street without being questioned or feared — nor killed. Sometimes, I can’t handle all the hurt in the world. My anxiety-ridden brain wants me to hide away. I haven’t been able to — nor will I ever be able to figure out — why some people are racist. I understand that it’s learned, perhaps some anthropologists might even go as far as to say it’s ingrained in our DNA to judge and fear others when faced with unknowns. But what if you’re a grown-ass adult who should know better? Are the wires crossed? Why the hate? It’s something I will keep trying to understand & change around me — in my own neurodiverse way, like with this blog post.

Black lives matter.

Livin that COVID (19) Life

Hmm life in quarantine. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. Roof over mine and my family’s head, a steady household income, pantry and bellies full of food, access to some of the fastest internet in the country and multiple devices to use it with for entertainment, education and communication. We haven’t had it that bad, all things considered.

So as I write this, I am going to acknowledge my privilage.

My kids have special needs: they both have ADHD and learning differences, one is on the Autism Spectrum, with the other not far behind in a diagnosis. Both with a general anxiety disorder. As well as their mom. Yes, I am/have all of these things as well. So staying home has been a challenge for all of us, an excercise in managing emotions, frustations and fears.

Challenging, yes, but somewhat manageable. We are lucky to have access to great health benefits, afforded by my partner’s workplace, and the province/country that I live in. Access to roads and pharmacies, for medical emergencies, groceries or walks along the beach. With our access to the internet and devices we have access to school, tutors, doctors and therapists. Our special needs, mental and physical have been taken care of as well as they could be under these circumstances. We live in a country that has both the political and economic power to help those left vulnerable to COVID-19.

And yet, there is always room for improvement. The homeless or those living in poverty, those struggling with addictions or an immuno-compromised system, or seniors and indigenous communities. The disabled community. These marginized groups have been left with not much else other than perhaps a slight increase to benefits (depending on province/territory) or offered no benefits at all.

During this stressful, anxious time, my stomach problems have gotten worse. My IBS has flared up almost daily, and a problem that I thought was either gone or treated, has resurfaced: GERD. Which means that I now cannot eat my usual go-to comfort foods/bevvies. No more chai teas or lattes, no more chocolate nor cider. No more hearty curries or pizza. I am on a bland and FODMAP-free diet. Basically, herbal tea with ginger and turmeric, egg whites, gluten-free breads, celery and peanuts, white rice and roasted (plain chicken) and salad greens. So yum, right?

And yet, I have access to medical professionals and medicine to treat symptoms. I am able to purchase whole foods that, while yes they are very, very bland, are providing me with sustanance. I am able to go on walks, watch comedies, read a good book or listen to a podcast and even practice home yoga to de-stress. I am lucky. My family is lucky.

As we prepare to open our homes to more families, we are able to use the outdoor space that comes with the home we live in. An outdoor space to relax and enjoy the beautiful garden and sunshine. A place to play. A space to make and eat food with friends we have not seen in a while.

I am grateful. Yes, despite my physical and mental ailments, I am grateful to live in a country where my spouse has been able to retain his job and work from home. Where we can afford the little luxuries to make this stressful time a little bit less stressful. It hasn’t been perfect, but then again, what parts of life are ever perfect? We have our health, our home and — despite the daily bickering that would have you believe otherwise — the love we have for each other is still just as strong as ever.

FOREO’s Luna fofo

I was really excited to finally see a smart beauty tech product included in one of my FabFitFun boxes! So I did an unboxing on IGTV and thought I’d post my thoughts on how it’s worked out so far.

My little black FOREO Luna fofo.

I’m a professional procrastinator so it took me a while to get into a routine to give this a try. The app was okay, but I didn’t love it as I stopped using the features after a week or so. But I kept using the device. I have blackheads that I’ve been trying to clear for ages in the usual spots — chin, forehead, nose and kind of where my eye bone follows the shape of my eye into my nose area. So I decided to see what would happen if I washed my face with the Luna fofo regularly. Now, I have sensitive skin so “regularly” for me is about twice a week (when I’m introducing something new into my skin care routine). I bought Neutrogena’s trusty Oil Free Acne Wash with Salycilic Acid to use with the Luna fofo to help with unclogging my pores.

I splashed some warm water on my face and then added a little pump of the wash onto the Luna fofo and turned the device on before lightly pressing it onto my chin. I then moved to my nose and did the areas under my eye toward my nose last. In retrospect, I should have done the opposite as it progressively got faster (the vibrations of the device) as I went. Which is what I did the next time… aaaand I loved the results! My pores were cleaner and smoother! I followed up with a moisturizer with salycilic acid to ensure those pores were going to stay clean & smooth.

I’ve managed to keep this as part of my skincare routine. Twice a week, my Luna fofo gets to work on my pores.

So did the FOREO Luna fofo work as a smart beauty tech device for me? Maybe not, but it worked very well as ‘just’ a beauty tech device!

No-Tech Health & Beauty Tools

It’s true that I love tech which makes my daily routines easier to manage, but I have plenty of other tools that don’t require an electric charge…and not just tweezers and my eye lash curler!

HERBIVORE Jade Facial Roller

While facial rollers have been a recent trend in the beauty/health regimen — facial rolling to stimulate lymphatic drainage (that is, massaging your face muscles using facial rollers to improve the flow of toxins to be filtered via your lymph nodes) is not new. The Chinese are said to have used what resembles the jade roller for thousands of years. Do you need one?

BeautyBlender Original

So, I’ve no idea WTF I used to use to apply my makeup before this little doohickie came along. Maybe my fingers…. Whatever it was, I obviously no longer use it as this has become my makeup bag staple. My cat loves it too as I’ve had to replace it once or twice as she keeps hiding it! So now I guard it with my life. I could buy the cheaper alternatives, but once I find something that works, I tend to stick with it. FOREVER. Kidding. (Maybe.)

Footlogix “At Home” Foot File

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to a spa in Calgary to get a couple’s massage and pedicures. The latter was supposed to be a new experience for him, and a teaching opportunity for me. You know, show him the ropes. And it was, for the most part, until practically the very end when the nail technician that had been shuffling between the two of us (guess they were short-staffed that day) mentioned how much smoother his heels were than mine. Now, I’m normally not a petty person, but take into consideration the fact that this man had never before had a pedi, NOR does he moisturize like a mad woman every night. Needless to say, I have been searching for the perfect recipe to smooth heels ever since. And I believe I have finally found 1/2 of the equation — this file. It’s so easy to use and to clean that I use it every time I shower. And I — erm, my heels — couldn’t be happier.

Simon’s Maison Pink Flamingo Shower Cap

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this thing with collecting shower caps I find in hotel room bathrooms. I would use (and sometimes reuse) them to let my hair mask or hair treatment seep into my hair follicles while I left it on either overnight, or while I showered. Then I found this pretty shower cap online at Simon’s and now I don’t take shower caps from hotel bathrooms anymore. Much more sustainable.

INTIMINA Lily Cup Compact

I’d never used a menstrual cup until this year — and this is the first (and last) that I will try. Easy to apply, remove, clean and carry. I used a pad with it the first few times (and definitely overnight) in case it leaked, but it never did. If you’re looking for a menstrual cup, I def recommend this one!

SEPHORA Face Mask Applicator

I haven’t had this little tool for very long, but so far I’m liking it. The masks glide on pretty smoothly (I use a variety of them — from Boscia’s Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment to Origins’ Dragonfruit Brightening Superfruit Mask) and it def beats having to clean the mask(s) off my hands and from underneath my fingernails (ughhhh) so I think I’m going to keep it!

The Grass is Greener

It’s been six months since moving away from Calgary, AB to Victoria, BC. I wrote this blog post at the height of my homesickness…kind of like an ode to Calgary. While Victoria is my new home and I’m learning to love it, Calgary will always hold a special place in my heart.

I’ve lived in Calgary almost my entire life — definitely my entire adult life. I’m now thirty-six. My husband and I made the decision to move to Victoria, a city in the south of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, partly because my husband found a great career opportunity…and partly because my family lives close by. I’m actually the last one from my fam to move out here from Calgary, so I guess it was time. Thing is, I thought I would enjoy the change. I’ve been complaining about how Calgary was always the outlet city, almost never a stop on the tour of a mainstream (or any stream!) artist, unapologetically conservative and a staunch oil and gas town. I longed for different people who brought more culture with them, downtown places that remained open past six p.m. — last call for those making the long trek home to the ‘burbs. Fashion houses who didn’t just dump their fringed leather trends or denim outfits into their recently-opened last-ditch-effort-to-sell-them outlet centres. When I was younger, I longed for nightlife with purpose. ‘Discoteques’, which opened just as frequently as they closed down — clearly did not belong in Calgary. As I got older, and had children, I wanted spaces for them to appreciate the city lights along with the greenery that Calgary is well-known for. Places for them to play, explore and learn.

I moved away hoping to find these things and more. And I did. But not in Victoria, at least not now, not yet. I realized that all these things were already in Calgary. But not just the culture — craft beer, pizza and ice cream and the myriad of fashion houses to finally open their doors in Calgary — but also places for my children to play, explore and learn. The Science Centre, Zoo, National Music Centre and the recently opened Central Library are all within a couple of train stops from each other. Riding on the network of bike trails leading up to those locations and the beautiful new East Village and St. Patrick’s Island were something my kids and I looked forward to every spring and summer. And the people… the people of Calgary, are as protective of their oil and gas assets as they are of their neighbours. You see, the cold makes people warmer somehow.

Speaking of which, as much as I hated those snowy, freezing sub-zero temperatures which made me want to (and sometimes I did) hibernate for weeks, I miss them. They became predictable. You learned that after the snow stopped falling, the sun would surely shine. And how I miss that wintery sunshine. Deceptive as it was (it’s so, so much colder when it’s sunny out, when you see the pretty snow glisten like so many heaps of diamonds) you knew when to bundle up. But you also knew to take advantage of the fresh snow…some went skiing or snowboarding on the nearby hills (or mountains — Calgary is oh-so-close to Banff and Canmore) or my still-favorite past-time — tobogganing and hot chocolate. And you also knew that you’d get a break — because Calgary, as opposed to the rest of snowy, cold, Canada — gets Chinooks. Beautiful warm winds that blow through the foothills, melting much of the snow on the ground, leaving the roads and your leather boots a mucky mess, but allowing for just enough time to get together with friends for a walk or to go for brunch at one of the many yummy breakfast places the city has to offer. 

I feel like I left Calgary just as things were getting good. Maybe, had I opened my eyes, I would have realized they had been getting good for a quite a while. Yes, Calgary is still struggling financially, and will for some time. But as they say, ‘if you can’t stay for the bad times, you sure as hell don’t deserve the good times’, amirite?

The grass may be greener on the other side (and here it remains green even in the winter!) but Calgary will always be perfect to me.