Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Everything everyone likes about me now is because I read for at least three hours every night as a kid because no one else liked me then. I read when I was lonely because no one wanted to hang out with a nerd, I read when I was happy and too excited to sleep. I read because I was curious and being curious made me interesting. 

In my reading I found things I wanted to be and I read how to become them.

Sometimes I wish I could show 11 year old Allison my social schedule. I wish I could tell her that she has all the time in the world now but one day she will have to fit her novel habit into 15 minutes over tepid herbal tea and incomplete breakfasts in the morning.

This is not to give the illusion that I am popular, liked, or even cool (I am really cool with being decidedly uncool.)

Reading taught me to be interested and to some people that makes me interesting and they are frequently people I am interested in. Who I am is made up of written role models. 

It is glorious to be curious and that is what I hope I can tell every child to be because I’ll never be able to tell angry, lonely, 11 year old, 13 year old, 15 year old Allison that she will live a story worth reading one day.

// many thanks to E who encouraged me to share

Monday, April 21, 2014

7 very short stories about things that happened to me over the past 7 days

In no order.

1) I stood outside the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton. I thought of the people I had the privilege of meeting while working on pro-choice bus ads. I thought of the people who had good experiences. I thought of the people who told me about their self harm when faced with the idea of pregnancy. I thought of the girl who had made me want to go to Fredericton in the first place. I pictured her as she told me about throwing herself down a flight of stairs. I didn’t respond strongly to her story at the time because I was so focused on comforting her. But I didn’t forget a word she said, her exact phrases only echoed louder in my mind until my ears felt hot. I told myself I wouldn't forget the architecture of the building, the strange passion of this moment. I thought I might cry but in a perfect moment Wigwam by Bob Dylan came on so then I didn’t.

2) I went into a coffee shop that ended up being a hookah bar as well. I ordered two samosas; one beef and one chicken. I went and tucked into a very lovely magazine made of very thick paper. I was brought two veggie samosas. I corrected the person saying that I had ordered one beef, one chicken. Someone sitting on the couch, with a mouth full of flavoured smoke, exclaimed “You’re eating meat on Good Friday?!”

3) I took a taxi. The Vietnamese driver told us about how he didn’t take black people in his cab anymore because a friend of his got beaten up so bad that he now has no memory and cannot walk. In the cab were two people I really loved who sometimes pass for white but sometimes do not. I had a bad fever. I didn’t say anything. I felt like I might cry but then in not a perfect moment no comforting song came on so I did.

4) I made peanut butter + Nutella cookies. Despite using an actual recipe shared by one of the few celebrities I admire (at least on a recipe level), they somehow turned out terribly. Very dry, very bland. I didn’t know that was possible when you put Nutella in cookies. I didn’t eat them.

5) A cab driver in a city asked me what size my feet were. I was alone in the cab. It was terrible.

6) I watched a gull vomit in front of me and then eat its own vomit while sitting next to someone on their first visit to Nova Scotia. It looked like an actual piece of fish and not just a French fry.

7) The Habs played hockey quite well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Choosing to Speak Up

The Morgentaler Clinic is making an announcement at 10 am, which many believe will be a sign that it is shutting its doors. This would be a devastating loss not only to New Brunswick but to people all over the Maritimes, especially Prince Edward Island which does not offer surgical abortion services at all, despite the best efforts of many.

Many asked me why it was so important to me to create bus ads for a pro-choice organization. Simply put, if the abortion debate must still be fought, it should be through accurate information, not through access. Less clinics performing the procedure does not lead to less abortion, but simply to less safe abortions. 

I am no stranger to how vicious online commenters can be. Nastiness is inherent to large platform that where power can be gained without visible consequences to anonymous people. I have also never had an email that has shaken me to my core and I’ve received a lot of them: from simplistic remarks about me being too ugly / too pretty / too smart / too dumb for this to some truly perverse ones suggesting I take out actions of violence on myself. They come randomly; yes, in flurries when I’ve made a recent media appearance but at any time doing any thing I will suddenly get a capslock and mistake laden not-quite-threat reminding me that there are people out there who I will give maybe a second but never a third thought to who stew all over my words.


So it’s with this context, this context of knowing how scary speaking up can be, that I ask you to do three things:

  1. Pay attention to what is happening to The Morgentaler Clinic.
  2. Speak up about it.
  3. Consider the appropriate action when the time is right.

Typed out, these are not revolutionary actions. Many people will ask you to do the same to save this, prevent this, etc. Still, I think it needs to be said so that Canadians do not sink back into a state of passive pro-choice. I appreciate that the bus ads that South House worked so hard on were considered a rallying call, but the thing about rallies is they happen over and over again. This is another one.

Follow #nbprochoice to participate in the conversation.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A race of stubborn little things

"So, where does that leave us then, in our present? 

Maybe all any one of us can do is push against the baseline as it shifts.

We can be a tiny counterweight. We weigh almost nothing but generation after generation, that weight ads up. Sometimes in some places the baseline starts to shift in the other direction; in the direction of more beauty, not less, but that happens incrementally too. It can be hard to notice.

So picture that scene at JFK again, all those turtles. When Hornaday was born, they were closed to extinction, being hunted because they tasted so good in soup. We’re like those turtles: a race of stubborn little things that barely notices as the wilderness it migrates through, fills up with villages and lights and swells into an airport runway. Just keep migrating across it anyways, tucking the eggs of the next generation into the sand.

And we’re like the airplanes too, 'cause we have changed, we changed into something Hornaday could never have imagined: a species that at least tries to slow down, try to stop.

I like to think about those airplanes powering down, the lines of them parting like a shiny metallic sea, so this tiny tribe of turtles can pass through.

I get it. It looks funny in the present. But squint into the hazy panorama of history and those airplanes idling in place, that little moment of not moving forward, looks, unmistakably to me, like progress."

-Jon Mooallem from his book Wild Ones

You can hear an excerpt of it on 99% Invisible. I have listened to these final five or so minutes of that episode so many times since its release when I feel lost in all the future that is happening around me.

Like today.