Holiday photos

Three sets of photos I took recently:

First, snowy Vancouver! There was a nice dump of snow just a few days before I was scheduled to fly back East, and I was delighted. Hey, I wouldn’t need to go anywhere to enjoy a white Christmas! On the winter solstice I walked around the West End snapping some pictures. Everything was so beautiful!

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The trip to Ottawa was… interesting. I got to the airport a bit too late to check in, which meant they rescheduled me to a flight later that afternoon (hey, it could have been worse!), connecting through Montreal—where I’d have to spend the night, flying on to Ottawa early the next morning. Oy. It would have been faster to drive to Ottawa—though maybe not in all this snow, I guess.

Still, it was my bad, so I’m not complaining. Too much. And I had fun in Ottawa; in addition to seeing my brand-new nephew, I continued the theme of “tourist in my home town” by visiting the Diefenbunker (never been before) as well as the National Art Gallery (haven’t been in ages).

(And though I did take a photo of the first-level concourse, I only realised later that the ceiling is actually itself a temporary exhibit. So it’s not going online.)

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Also, last Saturday I took a few lovely photos of Blue Mountain Park in the fog. Eerily beautiful!

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That was 2013

And that was an interesting year. A year of new beginnings in some ways, but also false starts. Definitely a learning experience.

The main thing I did in 2013 was going freelance. I’d been thinking about it for months, and finally took the plunge in February. In the short term, I’d been working on a web site in my off hours, and it was burning me out. If I could work on it full-time, I reasoned, I’d be less stressed, and have more time to work on other projects I really enjoyed.

Which… didn’t quite work out as I planned. First, my time management skills were somewhat lacking, and working 100% on my own meant I was responsible for every aspect of my business, as well as my personal life. Second, I was unprepared for how isolating working from home would be. Third, though I was reluctant to admit it, I don’t really have the temperament for freelancing. I needed to be someone way more outgoing and confident, schmoozing and getting contracts. I did do some of that, but not nearly enough.

In the end, though work did pick up somewhat near the end (mostly through referrals from colleagues), I just wasn’t making enough money. So when my old boss offered me my job back, I said yes. Had to think about it, though. Part of me wanted to keep trying, that stopping now would feel like failure… but I had to face reality: I just wasn’t ready. Best to write those 9 months off as a learning experience. It was not wasted time, and it was not a failure.

But what now? Well, I’m not giving up on the freelance experience completely: I’ve still got a few little side projects, and who knows? In a few years, once I’ve polished my skills (not just development, but all relevant skills) and beefed up my network, I may give it another shot. But if/when it happens I’ll definitely be better prepared.

But though money was tight, since my schedule was more flexible I traveled more for gay volleyball tournaments: Ottawa in mid March, Calgary on Easter weekend, Regina for Thanksgiving. Okay, Ottawa wasn’t exactly terra incognita, but I hadn’t been to Ottawa U in ages, and it kind of felt new, y’know? But overall, it felt great to visit brand new places. It’s been way too long since I’ve traveled anywhere except to visit family over the holidays. There’s a whole wide world waiting for me!

And a few more new things this year:

Dyeing my hair for Pride. And since it was my first time, and Pride, I naturally had to go all out and dye it ALL THE COLOURS. But the really awesome thing? Those selfies were the first photos of myself in ages that I was really happy with. Usually I’m awkward and shy around cameras, but there I was smiling and curious about my new look. Huh. Maybe I should dye my hair more often!

A week later when I had to meet a client. So that was potentially a little awkward, but nobody said anything. And a week after that, I decided to chop it all off. The colours were fading, I was getting a little shaggy, and I’d always kind of wanted to try the skinhead look but then always chickened out at the stylist. But now I had a razor with removable heads, so I took care of it myself!

And eventually I grew it back a bit. The skinhead look’s not for me after all, but I’m enjoying having ultra-short hair.

A couple months before at Northern Voice, I got up on stage with Dave Olson for his ending talk-slash-fireside-chat. When he asked for volunteers to join him I was all, “What the hell, YOLO” and went right up. I’d expected more hesitation on my part (or probably even just staying in my seat) but it was surprisingly easy. Telling a cute guy I think he’s cute? Really hard. Being on stage (when I’m not the centre of attention, at least)? Apparently not that hard.

And I almost forgot another first: volunteering for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus Christmas show. I’ve been going to all their concerts for the last couple of years, but this time I procrastinated just a little too long, and they sold out in record time. I moaned about it on Twitter, and the VMC Twitter account replied, asking if I wanted to volunteer. Well, of course I said yes, and it so happened that the two night they still needed volunteers for were the two nights I was available!

And it was tons of fun. I got to see the show twice, wear funky masks, meet some new people and meet up with friends in the chorus. Plus, I helped sell raffle tickets which meant going up to talk to strangers. I was flashing back—just a little—to having to sell those chocolate bars and calendars and things in cub scouts, but I really enjoyed it. I’m still not terribly outgoing, so this was good social practice. Most interestingly, I wasn’t the shyest volunteer there! So that was some interesting perspective right there…

So that was the year’s highlights. It might not seem like a lot, and part of me worries I should have done more, and greater things. Maybe. But you know what? I’ll just enjoy the victories. And look forward to many more in the coming year.

What I learned from playing Journey

Journey is a wonderful little PS3 game from thatgamecompany (the same people responsible for flOw and Flower. It’s got breathtaking visuals, immersive gameplay, and a unique story. Basically a platformer puzzle game, what really makes it come alive is the interaction with the world’s… inhabitants, and one’s interpretation of what the journey actually means. What’s at the end? Enlightenment? Apotheosis? Heaven? Hell? Personally, I think the end doesn’t matter. It’s the journey that matters, and it’s taught me some very important life lessons.

1) Go with the flow. This is common to all exploration games, that there’s always something to see, and if you think you’re stuck there’s always a way out. But here it was taken up to eleven. Heading for the nearest landmark (or the Mountain itself) was always the right answer—or, in a couple of scenes, following the cloth creatures. Bottom line: always head towards whatever looks interesting.

2) Be thankful. I have no idea how sapient the cloth creatures are supposed to be, but I like to think they helped me along purely out of affection and generosity. When I sang and the little ones swarmed in, giving me a boost, I always made sure to thank them. Because you never journey alone.

3) Have fun. A life-changing spiritual journey is no excuse to not cut loose and relax. Stop and smell the flowers. Or slide down massive sandy slopes with your newfound kite creature friends, jumping and floating and running through stony arches.

4) Don’t give up. Again, adventure / puzzle game. But not all such games have the character struggling up a gigantic mountain, freezing to death in a blizzard. I was so immersed in the game that it never occurred to me to go back down, and when he finally collapsed, I just sat there in shock until the Ancients came. Bottom line: push yourself to your limit, even if there are no benevolent astral beings waiting for you there.

The Culture Crawl: Hungry for inspiration

This blog post has been percolating in my brain ever since the East Side Culture Crawl a week ago. This year I revisited 1000 Parker Street and the Mergatroid Building, both excellent choices if you want to catch lots of studios in a short time. Also, it turns out, excellent choices if you want to enjoy delicious mini-donuts and peppermint hot chocolate, provided by friendly vendors outside. How long have they been there? I don’t remember them from the last time I was at 1000 Parker…

Anyway, I did more than enjoy a lot of artwork. See, in the last few weeks, I’ve taken up drawing again. That’s been an on-and-off hobby of mine; I have absolutely no natural talent for it, but I enjoy taking up a pencil and doodling whatever my hand wants to doodle. And I realise I want to practice this more regularly, see where it takes me. So I think part of me was looking for inspiration at the Crawl, some clue to help me figure out what would work for me. Maybe that’s the wrong approach—I need to find my own way, especially if I’m just starting out, or I’d just be aping other people. And it’s hard to avoid comparing myself to these excellent artists—just as I do with my web development career (the thing that pays the bills) I have to balance having something to strive for and being intimidated by superior talents.

Still, it was instructive. Some artwork resonated more with me, and this may be a clue as to what my own art will become. My favourite artist this year was Arleigh Wood. I love her subject matter, mostly quiet beachscapes it seems, but it’s her signature style that I find most attractive. There’s just something about the muted colours and rich textures, contrasted with startling touches of gold leaf… It’s something to chew on, at least. I know the answers will come.

Thanksgiving in Regina

Over two weeks late, but it took me a while to get around to sorting through the hundreds of photos I took.

So a friend of mine invited me to the Golden Crown volleyball tournament, and it was tons of fun. I’d never been to Regina (or Saskatchewan, for that matter), and was looking forward to visiting someplace new. Before this year, I really hadn’t done much of that—but that’s changing, and gay volleyball tournaments are a great excuse to expand my horizons.

Regina is a lovely town, with super-friendly people and super-hot university students. I didn’t know many people there and my introvert side was acting up, which was kind of annoying, but I managed to have fun and socialise, even go out dancing at the gay club. Yes, there’s just one. It looks like it’s managed by a non-profit—probably because a for-profit club wouldn’t survive in a town this size; but according to its Facebook page that does make it the only GLBT community-owned club in Canada, which is pretty awesome. It reminds me of Club 318 (I think that was its name) in Ottawa, back in the day, except that only took place every second Friday at the Lisgar Street community centre. I wonder if that’s still going on?

I gave myself time to do the tourist thing by myself Friday afternoon and all day Monday. Everything is pretty much within walking distance, so transportation is no problem. On Friday I walked around the amazing Wascana Park, dodging all the bundled-up cyclists and joggers. Yeah, Regina is a bit chilly and overcast and hella windy—though I guess I should count my blessings, since it hadn’t actually started snowing yet. Still, the park was beautiful in its autumn finery, all soft golds and oranges. No red that I remember; I guess they don’t have maples in Regina. Which really makes you think: Canada is a big place, with many and varied ecosystems. Magpies in Calgary and Kamloops, but not Vancouver. At least 2 species of crows, in Vancouver and Ottawa. Neat. I just needed to get my feet on the ground a bit more in this big land of ours, instead of flying over it.

Two days of volleyball and partying really took it out of me, physically and emotionally, so on Monday I was happy to do the solo tourist thing again. I bade farewell to roommates (they were all driving back to Edmonton), and I set out.

My first stop was the Mosaic Stadium, home of the Roughriders, and easily visible from our hotel room. I don’t particularly care about football, but I was told I should try to get in, and take pictures from the seats—or even the field, assuming there’s no practice going on. I walked around the whole place but couldn’t find a way in, so I shrugged and went on my way.

Next was the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, located in Wascana Park (like half the city’s major landmarks, it seems). An awesome place where I learned all about Saskatchewan First Nations, geology, and wildlife both past (dinosaurs) and present. Amazingly, they had a fossilized Mosasaur skeleton, along with stuff about how Saskatchewan was mostly underwater back in the day. But I already knew that, thanks to The Oatmeal!

Megamunch the animatronic T Rex, was just the icing on the cake.

Next was the Legislature. I wasn’t sure if it’d be open for tours on a holiday, but it was! Yay! (Though the bookstore and gift shop was closed. Boo!) The handsome francophone guide took us around the foyer, to the Library with neat historical artefacts on display, the hall with Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipients, the room with portraits of past SK Premiers and even more historical artefacts and documents. And the Legislature itself, which we unfortunately were not allowed to set foot in, so we had to take pictures from the door.

And last, the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Which at first I thought was closed, but then a security guard came up and showed me the right door to use. Derp.

And then I was off to the airport! But I’m sure I’ll be back someday.

More photos here!

Hwy 1 crossing Evans Rd

Downtown Calgary

Victoria Park

Good morning

Mosasaur skeleton

Sask Legislature

Saskatchewan Legislature

Saskatchewan Legislature, from the West

Albert St

Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2013: Final Thoughts

Well, that was fun! A lot of movies seen, a lot lovely people met! The VQFF never disappoints. Let’s recap, shall we?

Number of films seen: 17. I’d originally planned 19, but decided to skip In-between Days and She Said Boom at the last minute.

Number of night I did not see a film: Just one: Saturday, August 17.

Length of time between the end of the festival and my last review: 20 days. Oy. In the past I’ve always been able to post reviews a day or two after each movie. This year it didn’t work out so well due to my being insanely busy right at the wrong time, and thus having little energy for blogging. To be honest that stressed me out more than it should have, and for the first time made me see writing reviews as something of a chore. That’s no good. I’ll need to plan things out better next year.

Favourite feature film: a tie between Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish and G.B.F. The former is a deep and touching tale of identity and transformation with mythological callbacks; the latter is a pants-wettingly hilarious comedy that gleefully plays with every high school and coming-out cliché in the book.

Favourite short film: Kimchi Fried Dumplings. Honourable mentions go to Bill is a Photographer and Bill Please! (also from The Coast is Queer), as well as all those amazing porn films of yesteryear.

Least favourite film: I Do. It looked good on paper, but the execution just didn’t work. On the bright side, it did convince me to go to International Village and watch In The Name Of… and Bwakaw, so that worked out all right.

Movies I would have liked to see but didn’t: R/EVOLVE, The Outs, Head of the Class and Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?

Percentage of subtitled films I saw: not counting shorts, 69.23% or 9 / 13. Interesting. I didn’t even notice it until a couple days into the festival when it hit me that all the films I’d seen were subtitled, the first English-language feature film being Camp Beaverton on Wednesday. (Actually, Hors les murs / Beyond the Walls was missing subtitles for the first 10 minutes or so due to a technical snafu. I speak French so I didn’t mind too much.) It’s a nice reminder that queerness is not just a North American thing, and cultures all over the world have something to say on sexuality, gender and identity.

VQFF Review: Frauensee

I’m honestly not sure what to make of Frauensee. It was an interesting movie, well-acted, with some nicely-explored characters and gorgeous shots of the German countryside. But there was no real plot, no resolution to the personal drama or even to the one minor side plotline. It left me feeling vaguely frustrated.

Maybe I’m approaching it from the wrong perspective. My only previous exposure to German lesbian cinema is To Faro, the 2011 VQFF’s opening gala film, and it was similar in a lot of ways: big focus on atmosphere, minimal plot that left lots of room for emotional drama but without any real character growth, and a very open-ended conclusion that wasn’t so much a dénouement as just an ending, and which left a bittersweet aftertaste. So maybe this is typical of the genre?

Rosa is a warden looking over a lake in the country, setting traps and watching for poachers. Her lover Kirsten is a high-powered architect from the big city who owns and fully renovated a house by the lake, which she comes down to on the weekend to relax. Though half the time, she’s still running her business over the phone anyway. I think in her eyes Rosa is just a part of her weekend getaways: she enjoys them but has no interest in making it full-time. Kirsten does care about Rosa but doesn’t know anything about her world, and doesn’t particularly care to.

Case in point: the one side plot involves some mysterious poacher stealing fish from Rosa’s traps. If she catches him, Rosa would have every right to ban him from the lake, but Kirsten advises her to talk with him, get his side of the story, maybe find some middle ground that could keep both of them happy. Not only does this come of as really condescending, it just reflects how out of touch Kirsten is: I’m sure in the big city it’s all about compromise and you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours, but in the country, it’s not okay to steal from people and damage their property.

On the weekend’s first day, Rosa catches two young college students, Evi and Olivia, stealing from her trap (because they forgot to bring enough food) and setting camp on an island that’s a nature preserve (against Rosa’s explicit instructions). Instead of throwing the book at them, Rosa joins them and then invites them back to Kirsten’s house for dinner, then allows them to stay for a few days. Evi starts to hit on Rosa almost continually whenever she thinks they’re alone, and while Rosa is kind of annoyed, she isn’t exactly saying no either. Olivia isn’t thrilled either, though she’s learned to put up with Evi’s shameless flirting.

All of their tensions and frustrations come to a boil a couple days later during a booze- and pot-fueled party at the house, where everybody spills their guts to everybody else. Nothing actually changes, though, and I don’t know if anybody has learned anything. It was all revelations that the audience and most of the characters knew anyway, the only difference is that it’s all in the open.

The last scene shows Rosa leaving for work at dawn as usual, the three other women still sleeping. But where is Rosa really headed? Is she running away from all these new revelations? Is she finally leaving Kirsten and heading off into the sunrise of a brand new life? Or doggedly going back to work just to go through this same crap over and over?

So yes, like I said, an interesting film. It didn’t really speak to me, but I did quite enjoy it, not least because of the gorgeous shots of the lake—the huge sky, the rippling water, the surrounding woods, the wind in the reeds—and the glimpse of quiet German rural life. I’m not sure if it was the best choice for a closing gala film—the last two were definitely more upbeat—but hey: a little moodiness and introspection never hurt anybody.

VQFF Review: I Do

I Do is the first dud of the festival. It looked good on paper, and was pleasant enough to watch, but I found it preachy and uninspired, and overally very forgettable.

Ten years ago, Jack’s brother Peter was on top of the world: he’d just gotten his green card (they’re both British, having lived in the States since they were teens), and his lovely wife Mya was expecting; but later that night after a celebratory dinner he was run over by a car in full view of Jack and Mya. Since then, Jack has become a surrogate father to his niece and a quasi-husband-type-person to Mya and has focused pretty much all his emotional energies on supporting them. He used to be an avid photographer but now is employed as an assistant in a photo studio, repairing cameras and so on. He has little time for relationships, instead hooking up with fuckbuddies from time to time.

Then out of the blue, two things happen: Jack’s visa is about to run out, and due to new rules put in after 9/11 there’s no way to renew it in time. He wants to stay and help take care of Mya and Tara, but how? The only option is marriage, and that has to be to a woman. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in New York State, it is not recognised by immigration law. His sister-in-law—the first logical choice—will have no part of it, since it might lead to jail time if authorities found out the fraud. His next choice is his lesbian BFF Alison, who agrees.

Around the same time, he meets someone at a gallery showing: Mano, a suave, urbane, intellectual Spanish-American architect, and it’s love at first sight. But their budding romance is complicated by Jack’s need to maintain his straight masquerade, and his constant running off to take care of Mya.

Eventually, Alison gets spooked from repeatedly dealing with Immigrations and their questioning, and sitting home alone every night while Jack is gallivanting off with Mano, and asks for a divorce. Coincidentally, Mano has to return home to take care of his ill father. He invites Jack to move to Spain with him—they could even get married!—but Jack wants to stay in the US with Mya if he possibly can. In the end he can’t, and he accepts that he needs to live for himself instead of for Mya, so he moves to Spain to be with Mano. The end.

I think part of the problem with I Do is that it tried to shoehorn two different stories together: a political one, about gay marriage in the US; and a personal one, about Jack’s relationship with Mano and their respective family responsibilities. The rest of the problem is that neither of the stories were that engaging to begin with. The romance storyline was uninspired and by-the-numbers, and the gay-marriage storyline was clunky and preachy. I guess it tried to send a Big Message about love and how it must be respected, but it just seemed to be trying too hard.

VQFF Review: Bwakaw

Bwakaw is a gorgeous movie about loss, regret and hope, a touching reminder that it’s never too late to start living.

Meet Rene, a curmudgeonly old man living in a small town not too far from Manila. A retired janitor at the local post office, he still comes in to work every day in spite of barely tolerating his coworkers because hey, it beats sitting at home by himself. In fact, his home isn’t much to look at: it’s old and kind of decrepit, filled with boxes he’s never opened, with no furniture except a table and a bed—the latter half-occupied by a supposedly-miraculous statue of Christ he inherited from his mother.

Rene’s grumpiness is at first only played for laughs, but underneath there’s deep pain: he came out very late in life, has never been in love, has never even kissed another man. Though he regrets all the missed opportunities, he now feels he’s too old for love; so he’s resigned to his lot in life, to be alone amongst a bunch of loons and idiots, and reserves all his affection for his loyal dog Bwakaw who he takes everywhere he goes.

It’s Bwakaw that causes an argument with taxi driver Sol. Sol wants to charge Rene double for the extra passenger (ie: the dog), but Rene only tells him to piss off. Their paths keep crossing, with their squabble flaring up in increasingly funny ways (Sol puts up a “No dogs” sign on his windshield? Rene responds by holding up a “No baldies” sign by the side of the road—Sol is pretty sparse on top despite being in his thirties). However, the hatchet is buried when Bwakaw falls ill and Sol drives Rene to the vet.

It turns out Bwakaw has very advanced cancer; Rene never suspected since he hardly ever touched her and she never complained. At this point there’s nothing for the devastated Rene to do except give Bwakaw regular painkillers and make her as comfortable as possible until the end.

Oddly, in every other way this seems to be a time of positive change for Rene. He loosens up quite a bit; reconciles with his only gay friend (a very fey hairdresser) and even agrees to colour his hair brown to cover the grey, which looks great; Sol sticks around to help repaint the house and do other odd jobs. The two chat late into the night, and Rene discovers he has feelings for him. While Sol is sleeping, Rene tenderly starts stroking his face, and plants a couple of light kisses on his lips. But then Rene wakes up and… doesn’t take it well. Rene is left alone. Again.

Bwakaw dies soon after, but for Rene this isn’t the end. He unpacks all his boxes, bringing out flowerpots, drapes, rugs, all sorts of lovely knickknacks, and his house becomes what it should have been all along: a colourful, inviting, well-lit home. And then he leaves for a walk, taking only a walking stick. He should look lonely without Bwakaw, but there’s a certain spring in his step, and he looks free: free to explore, free to hope that there’s more to life than regret and waiting to die.

The very last scene has Rene on the road, walking along, and a taxi passes by. I think it’s meant to be Sol’s taxi; if it is, Rene pays it no mind. He’s fucked up with Sol, and that can’t be undone. But that’s life; you fuck up every once in a while, and then you move on. That’s Bwakaw‘s message, and it’s an uplifting one. No matter what your situation, no matter what you’ve done or left undone, it’s never to late to start fresh.

VQFF Review: W Imie / In The Name Of…

This is a tragic and disturbing tale of faith, shame, secrets and one man’s quest for love.

Adam is a Catholic priest who cares deeply about his flock. As the movie opens he is assigned to a boys’ school in the Polish coutryside—mind you, the “boys” are actually in their late teens, and looking back I’m not sure it’s really a school. They seem to spend a lot of their time digging ditches, moving heavy equipment around and other manual labour. From the dialog I think this lot seems to have come from a very harsh reform school, and the bad ones are threatened with being shipped back there.

In one scene the school director’s wife point-blank asks Adam how he could get transfered from Krakow to a nowhere shithole like this, and he calmly replies that priests do get moved around, and he goes wherever the Church chooses to send him. But in fact, he had been having sexual relations with a boy under his charge (around the same age as the boys in this place, so he was probably of legal age) and the church authorities had to move him.

Adam finds himself attracted to new student Lukasz, a very troubled boy who apparently was a bit of a pyromaniac. What complicates things is that the attraction is mutual, though for a long time the two don’t go beyond hugs and lingering looks. They do bond emotionally, though; in one awesome scene, the two of them are walking back from the lake where Adam had been teaching Lukasz how to swim, and Lukasz runs off into a nearby cornfield to play hide and seek. Instead of leaving him or acting like a stern authority figure, Adam decides to meet him on his terms and play for a while, even echoing Lukasz’ weird apelike howls.

But this delicate situation can’t last: the school director sees Adam and Lukasz parked together by the side of the road—in broad daylight, and nothing really happened, but it looks wrong enough that he reports it to the local bishop. In what is easily the creepiest scene in the movie, the bishop assures him that no, he didn’t really see anything wrong. Yes, he was right to report it, but now there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. The poor guy was asked to lie to himself to help the Church save face.

And so Adam is transferred again, his record tainted even further. Lukasz torches the local convenience store, where some local assholes used to bully him. When we catch up with them it’s at least several months later, possibly a year or two. Lukasz got his life together and is working construction not too far from the old school. He hears that Adam is living close by, and he immediately leaves work to find with him. Poor Adam has sunk even further into drink and depression, living by himself in a dingy hovel—possibly still in the priesthood, though I’m not sure. In one of the movie’s few bright spots, they kiss (awkwardly) and go on to share a tender night.

This movie could be seen as a critique of the Catholic Church. And yes, that’s part of it; but the Church authorities don’t exist in a vacuum. Do the problems start with bishops’ top-down authoritarianism, expecting not only obedience, but complete faith in their right to dictate reality? Or with lonely priests doing a mostly thankless job, held to impossibly high standards but with no real emotional support? Or with lay people’s acceptance of their doctrine? Or with these boys’ ignorance and casually homophobic bullying of each other? Under the veneer of rituals and traditions, of hymns and incense and lovely golden crosses, the roots of Catholicism are at best flawed, and at worst downright poisonous.

It’s an ugly picture all around, and we’re given no easy answers. Except maybe that, in this messed-up world, you should follow your heart and find what joy you can. Save yourself first, then worry about saving others.