Sundays are deadly days at Canadian Blood Services, my place of employment.

Two weeks ago today, a fellow employee of mine found out during her shift that her brother, 41, had died of a sudden heart attack. She let out multiple blood-curdling screams as she was led out of the main office area. I could only watch from my cubicle in awe of someone who had honestly had her heart broken.

The same thing happened tonight, sort of.

I was working out in the main office area, doing some half-training with some of the older ladies that do the telerecruitment for blood donations. Suddenly I hear a slight "thump" behind me, and there is a body on the floor.

Rushing over, I hear her mumble: "I thought it was my father, it's my husband, it's my husband." Turns out the poor woman's husband had a severe stroke, and is in the hospital. Cue screaming, cue exit, cue uneasy quiet afterwards.

I've always thought I've been good with death. It's inevitable. I don't tend to mourn. But these small brushes with death are starting to unsettle me. Not that I'm getting afraid of death, but something else.

I try to put myself in their situation, try and feel what they must be feeling at a moment like that. I picture my loved ones, dying... dead... but nothing comes. I feel empathy, I'm sure it hurts, but I just can't imagine what it feels like. I've had people die on me before, once infront of my own eyes, but I have never reacted that strongly.

I worry that I've grown too hard.

Update: It's official - her husband died a few short minutes ago. People are going home for the night early, as if it was their family member that died. I'm still here, as there is work to be done. Does that make me cold?

A while back I had the pleasure(?) of being able to attend a speech by Mary Daly, a professor at Boston University, where she taught such courses as "Introduction to Feminism," "Feminist Ethics II," and "Myths And Patterns of Patriarchy." Being of the belief that men would be a distraction within the classroom since women would end up deferring their ideas to men, she disallowed men within the classroom and only allowed them private instruction, but none took her up on the offer. Not too long ago, a male did wish to join one of her classes, and she refused. The student persisted and complained to the administration, citing Title IX. Eventually, she had to make a choice, allow the student, retire, or be terminated. She chose to retire (or did she?)

Nonetheless, this garnered her a name for herself within the feminist community. She is duly credited with being the founder and forerunner of the radical feminist movement. Many people, especially men, believe this to mean that she believes men to be "evil." However (and interestingly), not once during her speech did she say that men are evil, but she did say (and I paraphrase) that the patriarchal culture that we have been handed is evil. She continued on about how it repressed women from all over the world, created racism, flawed religions whose purposes were to repress women, is destroying the environment, placed Bush in the presidency (this is one part of the speech I agreed with her on), etc. She noted that not all of this was done by just men either, but also "men in women's bodies," which could be interpreted as women who took men's jobs, but did nothing different than what a man would do. She expressed strongly how this is not how women should become.

I was annoyed at how, for much of her speech, she dwelled on spirituality. She persistently spoke on how everything (perhaps including men, but read on), especially women and nature, have this "interconnectedness." Hatred, wars, destruction of the environment, etc. (all products of the evil patriarchy) are destroying this interconnectedness since they destroy life.

I was not crazy enough, as a male, to go to it alone, but rather got one of my good female friends to join me. She was bothered that Mary Daly never, during her speech, said that men can also have this interconnectedness. She could not reconcile the possibility that men would not have this interconnectedness and had to ask. Mary had this very heavy bag with her, and being the elderly lady she was, my friend offered to help carry it, hoping that that would allow her a chance to question. When my friend asked about the interconnectedness and men, Mary seemed upset by it, and kept repeating what she had said during her speech. "Everything has interconnectedness. I have interconnectedness. My cat has interconnectedness. Nature has interconnectedness. How can this not be understandable?!" I did not hear the entire conversation, but my friend said that Mary eventually, in a round-about way, that yes, men do have interconnectedness. It was interesting that my female friend had more to argue with Mary than I.

Other things:

Mary, as I said, is an elderly women (somewhere in her seventies) and it was clear that her health was failing. This was a disappointment since it made her overall speech much worse. She was often very difficult to understand, and at the beginning of the speech, she had a little bit of a cough (she had a bottle of Robutussin with her and drank out of it to alleviate the cough.) I was hoping for something with more energy, but I would have had an easier time finding a pot of gold and the end of a rainbow. After the speech, as she was trying to step down from the stage (it's not that high, and so does not have steps, but was still a little steep) she refused help on getting down and nearly fell. I was close enough, had she found herself in process of falling, to have helped her, but she, clumsily, recovered.

I was lying flat on my back and she was squatting astride my hips. Her eyes sparkled with glee like those of a playful child, while her hands, roaming my body, moved with the serpentine grace of an experienced seductress. Pausing for a moment, she braced herself on my chest with one hand while undoing the buttons of her amply filled blouse with the other. Giving up any pretense of resistance, I raised my hand toward the widening cleavage of luscious womanliness that was coming into view. Fractions of an inch from my fingertips, I could feel the heat radiating from her body when suddenly I realized something was very wrong.

Abruptly, she raised her head, her eyes took on a cold and lifeless stare and she opened her mouth. From between glistening white, razor-sharp teeth came an inhuman screech, repeated again and again as my heart froze in terror.


Half consciously, half in torpid reflex, I brought my hand down hard on the alarm clock, battering it into silence. Dazed by my dream, I sought briefly to find my way back there, then gave up and lay still for a moment while coming to grips with the reality of daily life.

Damn, I thought as the cobwebs cleared. Ever since saying goodbye to Astrid, dreams like this had been back periodically to haunt me. I creaked out of bed, cursing the morning, my job and my life, and generally feeling sorry for myself.

Last time I was sober, man I felt bad
Worst hangover that I ever had
It took six hamburgers and scotch all night
Nicotine for breakfast just to put me right1

That silly old song was going around in my head. Hamburgers? No way. Certainly not six for breakfast. Scotch? Now that was an idea. But hey, I had to commute to work, and while the clogged highway was no driving challenge, it would be just my luck to be stopped with booze on my breath. Oh well. I could always look forward to a bowl of cereal for breakfast.

  1. Heavy Fuel - Dire Straits

I'm a long haired man in a redneck town. In my senior year of high school there is a contest called Miss Senior. In this contest various men compete for the title, dressed in womens clothing, and very often the talent portion involved whips and leather. Everybody seemed to think that I should enter, somehow euqating long hair with a desire to wear tight micro-minis. I declined, mainly 'cause I did not much want to be in front of that many people at once, the clothes weren't a problem, I'm pretty sure I'd be one hot man in drag.

Finally some dumbass said that if I were secure in my masculinity that I would have no problem slutting up and shaking my ass, to which I replied "If you are so confident in your masculinity, then you should have sex with a man, it won't make you gay."

Not much later I was in the dean's office, explaining that any incidental contact between my head and his nose was the accidental result of the deranged transvestite's vicious attack.

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