So, turns out dropping a dozen sheets of drywall onto your own legs, being pinned to the ground in a crumpled mess underneath the near tonne of dead weight, finding yourself surrounded by people who panic with you, rush to your aid, get enough able bodies together to lift the sheets high enough for you to crawl out, and then discovering that you haven’t broken anything but your gonna have a great bruise and limp for a few weeks, is a great way to finally get the motivation together to write another blog post.
I’m laying on the couch at home after volunteering today with HEROWORKS, a nonprofit that renovates other nonprofits. Today we were renovating the local food bank. I had gotten up off the floor earlier today, visited first aid, and iced my leg after the drywall incident. I then puttered around the job site and tried my best to find something useful for me to do, even though I had crippled myself useless within the first 7 minutes of the day. I wiped down the lunch tables and filled the water glasses. I stripped 4 BX ends and stuck anti-shorts and connectors on the whips, caping the hots with a marette. I was working next to a 70 year old man, the same man running the first job I volunteered with at Heroworks 4 years ago, listening to his stories of a lifetime of community service, survival, and rewards. He used my ladder all day, and when I told him it was mine, he greased the hinges so it wasnt so sticky.
I was working with union organizers who understand that if unions have a future, we will have to rekindle the original idea behind why we made unions in the first place; to improve all our lives collectively. I was working next to many female electricians, many of whom I had the pleasure of accompanying to a conference in Seattle called WOMEN BUILD NATIONS.
Now that I’m laid up on the couch I have some time to reflect. This has been a busy month. Last weekend I boarded a bus heading to WBN, with 40 female identified trades workers from BC, and we drove across the border to join 2000 other trades women from all over the USA (as well as a few other nationalities). Retention and recruitment of women into trades was the main theme of the conference.
It was incredible. To be surrounded for an entire weekend, by the fiercest possy of brazen ladies, each one their own stories of battling misogyny, scars to prove it. We all want the sovereignty to choose our careers, to be trusted with skills and to not have to argue about our place among men or doing a mans job. To have dignity. It was a convergence of people that left feeling stronger, knowing the weight behind their asks was heavy, and their asks are not asking too much. It’s a movement for future people in trades, continuing on the work of tradies past, enabling small lady balls to roll that will hopefully makes the lives of future tradies better. The labour movement really flourished once women started participating after all. It was beautiful and I dont think a single person left without a new vision.
I have a confession: I cried my guts out when I got home tonight after volunteering. I was crying because I felt so lucky to have been crushed and walked away. I was crying because my leg fucking hurt and all I wanted to do was walk the dogs, make food, and play in the garden and I was so angry and sad I couldn’t walk or stand without pain. I cried my guts out because I had held it in all day. I didn’t want to ruin how positive the project was of fixing up the food bank with such an incredible group of people by admitting an embarrassing injury.
I’m crying now because I’m remembering hitch-hiking to seattle many years ago, to see a basement music show, with two friends and no more than probably 100$ between us. I drank too much alcohol back then, a large motivator as to why I hardly drink now. I’m crying now because it used to be me that got food at the food bank. I used to feel directionless, powerless, insecure. I was remembering the helplessness of working class oppression, opting for fleeting entertainment because it felt impossible to even begin trying to succeed at anything important and big, like saving money or the idea of meaningful employment. I had a thick cloud of depression, anxiety, and guilt following me around that took years of experimenting and learning to get to the point of clarity I am at today. Carefree and dirt poor, my, my, I’ve come a long way. I was living in a closet in the basement of a house then, my room had no door and I paid 75$ a month for rent. Now I rent a whole house with my partner and we can afford it. I work full time as an electrician and feel that I am contributing to my community in a positive way. I can buy enough food for myself and my little family. I can save money on top of that without stressing too much. I’m crying now because I feel like I’m where I want to be and where I belong, and the journey and struggle was worth it. I am crying because I feel so blessed. And I know I truly am.
And I truly hate drywall the most.