Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!





It is Christmas eve in the morning! 

I am here with my tree lights on and my coffee has a touch of Bailey's in it just has it has had every Christmas eve morning for numerous years. The girls are still asleep and the cats are curled asleep, Marble on the arm of the sofa to my left and Magic behind my head on the back of sofa. Robert Downey Jr is playing "River" one of my Christmas tunes, a sad and haunting song that reminds me that others aren't quite so fortunate. 

I'm thinking particularly of Kent's Uncle Alvin Gale who is in the hospital in St. John's. We'll miss visiting them this Christmas as well as his cousin Brian and family who'll be with his dad in St. John's. Christmas is an arbitrary day chosen to celebrate joy and peace but so many in this world have neither. The best we can do is give where we can, help however we're able to help bring better days for everyone. Not every Christmas is a happy one. In 1998 my father was celebrating his last one while very ill and he passed two short weeks later. 

Everybody is on a journey and while we mark a day as special, time has no markers or labels and the calendar we flip is irrelevant to its passing. As we go along on our journey we often, especially in sad times, seek the meaning and purpose. As far as I can tell the only purpose to life which is fragile and cruel at times is to be as happy as possible in any given moment and to share that joy with others and often all you need to give is a smile or a word of encouragement. Joy and laughter are contagious and if you feel it, it will spread. 

My heart is with the troubled but not troubled this year. My soul is with the joyless while filled with joy and my love surrounds the lonely because I've got so much to spare. I'm missing my girls in Ontario and my grandchildren. Hope they find lots of happiness in their Christmas presents tomorrow sent with love from Newfoundland. I wish you all peace and joy. Merry Christmas Eve 2015!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Corners-A long short story.



It’s a habit of mine, when the weather is fine, to walk out to the lighthouse.  I’m afraid of heights.  I get a squeamish feeling in my belly whenever I go there.  Yet, I do.  I walk along the rail and look out at the ocean.  That is all I plan until I’m compelled to do more.  And I’m always compelled to do more.  I have to see the Bell and I cannot see it from there. So I walk a little further.  My feet crunch and meld into the turf and my breath is quick from the activity and the anticipation. 

There is a high, narrow Island just off the main island that is a spectacular geological formation. I have never learned if Bell Island is named for that strange landmark that looks like a bell.  A few trees dot the top and then a rocky little area resembles a bell with a clapper.  I have asked locals. Nobody knows for sure and many say they didn’t even notice it there and are surprised by what I show them in the picture I have from my first visit.  But it’s a Bell and I think that can’t be coincidence. 

 After a few moments of looking at the mysterious bell, I am then drawn to see the swell and foam of the water at the base of that statuesque Island and inch closer. 

The fear is physical.  It is irrational.  It screams “don’t do it”.  But I’m drawn by a force in me stronger than fear. Curiosity.   I have never walked close to that cliff with anyone.   It’s not because I’m alone all the time though I am.  It’s because I’ve never been comfortable enough with another person to have them beside me as I near the edge. 

It never ever subsides, this phobia.  I face my fear frequently but it never goes away.   It just settles down and curls up for a nap, kind of like a cat, relaxed and comfortable but ready to hiss and scratch in an instant.   I have learned learn to live with it instead of from it.   Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person. 

I smile at my whimsy and then, when the time is perfect, I do perch at the edge, the dangerous part where I had no intention of sitting.  I am accompanied only by my notebook, a pen, my Blackberry and the ever present fear.  It is from that spot I do my best writing.  And it is from another, similar spot in my psyche that I do my best living. 

He is home.  The brisk wind blows at me forcing me to pull my windbreaker a little closer.  I tamp down my enemies of which expectation is the worse.  I used to expect it to be fun.  I always worked hard to make his visits home happy.  I expected him to do the same.  But after years, a decade to be exact, of not a single time having them met by him, I let them go. 

From the time when I had our first baby and it never crossed his mind to give me flowers or any symbol of respect for becoming the mother of his child I started to let them go.  Each time he got up from the table and didn’t say thank you for the meal I prepared.  Every time instead of a positive comment, I got a “joke” that made fun. 

I can take a joke, I can put myself down, but each whip of the tongue by a partner, if not tempered by appreciation and compliment at some point is a knife blade.  Not one that penetrates, sharp and quick like a switch blade, more like a dull butter knife scraped across the skin in the same spot time after time after time.  If you complain about each time, you have nothing to really complain about.  But if you add up a decade of such rakes across the skin you know it’s been cut deep and left scarring.  He hasn’t done anything wrong as a life partner really.  He’s just never done anything at all.  Except scrape my heart with a butter knife for ten years.

                “Mommy!”   Autumn’s blond hair curls around her head like a halo.  She is four and she is bonnie.  That’s the word I always think of when asked to describe her.   She bops when she walks.  She skips to me, a one legged kind of skip because she hasn’t learned the two legged kind.

                I reach out my arms and she jumps.  Light like fluff, I smell her indoor smell and her shampoo.  Dad had given her a bath she informs me.  Sis is reading and she missed me.  I missed her too.  I didn’t tell her that I needed to miss her because I’m burnt out from being the only parent for, well, ever.   An annoyed voice from the garage tells me the dog escaped.  If the blond child’s one-word description is bonnie, the dad’s one-word descriptor is annoyed.  I don’t answer.  I inhale my child’s essence and walk up the steps. 

The serene one smiles from behind her book and I love her like candies and cake and all things sweet right then.  Yes.  She is serene.  They have real names,  Autumn, Summer and he is Tyler.  That’s my family.  I could have called the babies Bonnie and Serene I suppose but I’m lucky their dad went for the whimsical names I did give them. He wanted Chloe or Zoe or something equally awful and trendy.  I won that battle at least.   It was the one time I actually insisted and got exactly what I wanted.  Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to that.  This was before of course.  Perhaps, if I had taken notice, been a little more that kind of woman instead of the kind of woman I really am, he’d pay attention. I simply can’t bring myself to force people to be who they aren’t.



                I don’t do corners.   Once my father in law complained that they had to let a cleaning lady go because she never did the corners.  She just cleaned the middle of the room.   I thought that was sort of petty.  Maybe she didn’t have time.  They had liked her.  She was trustworthy, she folded well and ironed and she dusted.  But she didn’t do corners so she was fired. 

 That’s me, I think as I flick the mop around the legs of the table.  I think a lot during housework.  It’s boring and mindless and I hate it but I do my best brain writing while doing them.  I do prefer the pen writing and often, in the middle of a chore I’ll stop mid job and run and type for an hour so I don’t lose the inspiration.  Is it any wonder I don’t get the house clean?

                Nope, I don’t do corners either.  Maybe if I was paid to do it I would.  It’s not that I don’t like a shiny clean house, it’s just that I never have time.  I do it half-assed between things I like doing.  Some might call that lazy.  I call it being happy.

My hair is tickling my face and I scratch it back quickly and continue with the mopping.  It’s the best I can do.  I have been at the Centre and I have written some poetry and updated the blog.  I have walked for exercise.  The kids are splashing in a long overdue bath and making noise in our only bathroom and my mind drifts to the latest escapade of Diane, the character in my book.    I’m running scenarios through my mind, trying to figure out if she would do this or that. 

Damn, the time!  I leave the mop in the bucket, against the wall, and run to the bathroom looking at my wrist.  There is steam behind the face of the watch.  Another one wrecked. Oh well.

”Quick kids, get out”.  They agree.   For a promise of cartoons.
I dry them off, then see that their hair still has some soap and I plop them back, run the shower quick over their heads and lift them out again.  They go from the room, wrapped in Justin Bieber towels to the television down the hall and with a sigh I hook the shower on its handle and strip my clothes off.

  The water sooths and irritates all at once because I don’t have time to bask in it.  I like to bask.  I grab my intuition razor and do some quick shaving as the conditioner detangles my hair.  I won’t have time to dry and straighten it before Tyler gets here.  Oh well, Tyler says he prefers it natural.  I sigh.  I like it straight so it’s not really a compliment.

                I hear the door open and slip and skid in my rush to get out.  He’s back and I’m not ready as usual.   My heart quickens in anticipation.  I realize that I missed him.  I never realize that any more until he gets home.   I get a towel around myself and figure after ten days he should be more excited to see me in a towel than have the house perfect. 

                He’s giggling with the girls a bit then I hear him admonish them for the wet footprints on the floor.  The kids stop giggling and Bonnie starts crying.  Already he’s annoyed.  I paste a smile and run my usual interference. 

                “It’s my fault, I needed to shower and didn’t get them dry.  I’m just finishing the floors anyway.”  I step around the corner and he looks at me, glancing with a grimace at the bucket of water. 

Then removes himself from the girls and gives me a quick kiss that I try to keep going but he pulls back and grabs the mop from the bucket and begins to clean the floor.  I shake it off.  I go to my little girls and quick kiss them and say let’s all go get dressed and ready together.  Their smiles melt me and we go have some fun and leave him alone as he prefers.  Jammies are on before the dinner I have made to welcome daddy home.
                Dinner gets no comment good or bad.  He cleans it up and then goes into the office to work on some paper work.  I get the kids upstairs and into bed.  Their hair is still wet so I braid it, ignoring the icky texture of the wet hair in my hands.  Instead I revel in the smell of them, clean and new from the bath.

                He will read the story and settle them as he always does when he’s home.  I let him know they’re in bed and I go to the basement.

                My world is online.  Sometimes I wonder how I would have survived without it.  Isolated on this island for the last 5 years, nobody really to relate to though I had a few friends in the town, it saved me from complete and utter despair many times.  Now I also had an iPod, and an iPad to play with.   My writing forums, my parenting forums and my Face Book friends spent more time with me than my life partner.
                “Hi.”  The little window pops open to the right of 3 other little windows that are open.
                “How do I get a copy of this book you wrote?”
                The little tingle of excitement is new.  I like it and my fingers pop the cursor in the box and reply instantly.
                “Hi, I have some here and I can send you one if you like?  I’ll sign it.”
                “Really?  That easy?
                “That easy.  Is it for you or a gift.” He has a wife, there is a picture of them together in his profile picture. 
                “For me.”
                “You like poetry ?J
                “I like your poetry.  I read it on your blog sometimes. J
                “Thank you J.  You’ll have to send me your address.”
                “How much is the book?  How do I pay?”
                The conversation moves to the details and I write the address on the envelope and place it with the others.  A signed book will be in there to mail before morning.  An email funds transfer is on its way to my bank account. 
                But I don’t say goodbye.  He’s very good looking, for one and for two, well, I don’t know. He’s somebody to talk to.  Somebody new.  Somebody male.
                “I was sorry to hear about George.  Shocked actually, I hadn’t even heard that he was sick.  He was very good friends with my brother when we were younger.”
                “It was hard.  Six years ago now.  Feels like yesterday.  I miss him.  We were very close.”
                “You’re younger?  How many years?”
                “Three.  He was my big brother.”
                “That’s why we don’t do know each other that well.  But I knew George.  He pretty much lived at the house in the summer, with my brother.”
                “What’s your brother’s name? “
                And so the small talk continues.  I’m curious about him.  He’s equally curious about me. 
My manuscript lies minimized in the corner as we get to know each other and then he tells me he has five sons including twins.  I tease him that he’s a “boy makin’ machine” and he “lol’s” at that.  

                I’m disappointed when he says good night but his wife has called him to bed and he has to go.  I see the little indicator shut off and know he’s gone and that’s when I realize I haven’t spoken to any of the others since we had started our conversation.  I pop them open and apologize to them all, one by one, and tell them I was selling books.  It’s the truth. 


                I wind up the conversations and shut the manuscript.  Tyler has been home for hours and we’ve barely spoken.  He is still in the office when I come upstairs, his light dim, he works in the dark.  Spreadsheets cover the screen and I tell him I’m going to bed.  He says he’ll be up in a minute.  

                The cool sheets lay on my skin and I wait.  My mind drifts to the conversation I’ve just had with the guy and his profile photo is behind my eyelids as I close my eyes to end the day, still alone.

 I don’t do corners. That is the second time to today that this thought crosses my mind.  It’s really not just about cleaning the floors.  It’s a commentary on my life.  I never my get to the edges, never get to be thorough.   I never complete anything but just sort of scrub around the middle of things. 

                               
Tyler is always sick.  Wait.  That’s not exactly it.  Tyler is “sicker than thou”.  If I am tired, he is exhausted.  If I have a cold he’s dying with something.  If I have a back ache, he’s riddled with arthritic aches and pains.  I’m resentful too perhaps. 
Sicker than Thou is a strange thing.  I think he thinks he’s relating but what he’s really doing is invalidating my illness.  Luckily I don’t get ill often. 
                I once got my friend in the room and put him on speaker phone and started the conversation to prove what I meant.
Tyler:  Hi, how are you?
Me:  I think I’m getting a cold actually.
Tyler:  I’ve had a bad headache since I got up.  I can barely drive.
Me:  My back is sore too
Tyler: My back has been the worse it’s been since I had the surgery, all this week.  I have to start doing my stretches.
Me:  I have cramps too.
Tyler:  I had to go crap three times yesterday.  I can’t think of anything I ate but I had something going on.  I only had to go once this morning so far but it’s still early.
Me:  I think I’m getting a sty. (I’m making this up)
Tyler: What’s that?
Me: A little bump on the eyelid
Tyler:  My allergies have me going nuts.  I could scratch my eyes out.”
By this time my friend is rolling on the floor laughing and trying not to be heard.  I’m ready to pee my pants from having proven my point so I say a quick “I love you.” And hang up.

            I think Bonnie’s first day of school was when I started moving from us to me.  When we were plural I preferred it.  But after years of not feeling all that coupled I started just kind of becoming who I am.  I know I started cooking for me right after the second baby started kindergarten.  For years I had made the meals Tyler preferred when he was home.  My nature was to take care of him.  To make for him all that he desired. 

                But six solid years of parenting alone is enough.  I had breastfed each for three and a half years and tandem nursed them for a while even.  I made my parenting a full time career.   I have researched and I have learned and I have grown.  I have loved every bit and I am not resentful of it.  But I am quite willing to take the time that I am given to do what I need to do for me. 

If I ask Tyler if he liked his meal he’ll reply “good enough to make a bit of shit out of”.  That was not even funny once.  To save him the embarrassment of me telling him not to say that I stopped asking if he liked his food.

 The thing is, he is a good man.   He does for his family.  He provides  Tyler works in the oil fields in Alberta.  He is intelligent, liberal in his thoughts and open in his mind.  He’s wasted out west and we both know it.  He is not a bad person.  He is, as I’ve said before, annoyed.  He is also very sensitive.  He cries at the end of Extreme Makeover Home Edition every single time.  He just doesn’t care about me.  That’s what it feels like anyway.

                It was also about this time that I started writing.  I started creating work that was good enough to submit.  I became published.  I made little money but I loved it and I was building towards something.  So with that came less time to keep the house in its preferred pristine condition.  I managed somehow, to make it presentable before he came home but that was easy as he came home once every few weeks.  The writing kept me sane and with my youngest now in full time kindergarten, I wrote every day, even when Tyler was home. 

I put me first in food first. Then eventually  I started bit by bit to put me first in everything.  My writing came before my house cleaning.  My volunteer work came before the gardening.  My children came before all of those things but only in a healthy way.  I was never born to be a martyr and somehow, my Bonnie and Serene, they love me better for it.

                Tyler didn’t really notice my absence.  He did notice the messy house.  If he noticed the food he didn’t mention it.  He’s too good for that.  He’s quietly resentful, fighting is beneath him so we never fight.   I wish we did.  I’d murder baby sheep for some make up sex.

                “Saw Manny in town.” Tyler was starting conversation?
                “Aww..I miss him.  How did he look?  Family ok?”  I sighed a nostalgic sigh.
Manny grew up with us and had been one of my best friends.   He had been a loner, spending his time with telescopes and teachers and was teased a lot as a kid.  I’d been in University with him and he’d found his crowd there, the science geeks but had married a local girl, a pretty blond who has five years younger than us and controlled his every move.  Well that’s how it seemed, since he didn’t say more than hi, if that, when he saw me now.  She was always there and swiveled him away from his old crowd.  His family no longer lived on the island so he never came back anyway except to visit her family sometimes.  

“He’s great.  Looks like he’s doing well, working at some big government job.  No kids.  Lots of money, nice car. He’s not a nerd anymore.”  Tyler chuckled and I smiled. 

Yeah, Manny had been a nerd.  Skinny, awkward, smart and different, he had been teased mercilessly by the boys, including Tyler.  I had been his friend however, and loved to hang with him.  Perhaps because I was a nerd too and he was the only boy my parents knew I was safe with.  Manny just didn’t appeal to the girls.

“That’s good, I knew he’d do well.  Wish we could get together with them sometime, have dinner or something.”  But I knew it would never happen.  Not because of Cindy and her separating him from his teenage friends, but because of Tyler and his reluctance to set any time aside for anything but work.  We have no couple friends.   My brother is single and Tyler is an only child. 

I sneezed then.  My allergies acting up due to my bad habit of petting our dog that I’m allergic to. 

“I was sneezing last week.” There is no God Bless or gesundheit.  “I had a day where I swore I was getting a cold.  Headache, sneezing.  Nothing came of it but I’ll probably get one soon.  My immune system is probably down.”

“I’m not getting a cold, I petted the dog.  My ovaries are aching though.”  And I wait.
“I’m chafed, right at the groin area.  Bought some Gold Bond but it’s not helping.  Some bad.” 

I cover my mouth and fake a cough to cover my laugh.  Then I veer and start walking before the eruption.  It starts after six strides and doesn’t stop until I’m a hysterical mess, tears from my eyes.  Cannot wait to tell my friend about.             

       
It seems the fog will never lift, either in the city or in my heart.  I miss my children.  I miss having a man.  I miss being part of a couple.  Yet somehow not enough to entice me into thinking I’ve made a mistake.  It is grey and damp and I step into the lane where the breeze can’t find me.  I hesitate in front of the door under the little canopy. 
 I have two choices, sit in my little apartment and be alone with the loneliness or go and be with people and escape for a while.  I prefer the second.   I refuse to wallow.  I push the heavy door and step into the Duke.
                It’s familiar now.  And I am there at the right time.  There are tables.  I move towards a small one at the back and remove my jacket and scarf and get ready to slide in when I hear my name.
                I turn and the man is right there upon me.  It takes me a moment. 
“Manny?” 
His sullen is broken by a smile.  This is Manny.  Sullen but then he smiles and the contrast is like the sun breaking through the fog at the edge of the ocean.  More magnificent because it’s unexpected and once told him he needed to smile more.  He had smiled at that.
He feels warm in my embrace and his hands come around my back and I remember that perhaps this is the first time I’ve hugged him as a man.  It feels different and I pull back.  It’s been a long time.  Perhaps I don’t know him anymore.
“Wow, you’ve changed.” and this is a compliment and he smiles again and knows it.
“You have too.” And he doesn’t appear disappointed by the changes but who knows.  I’m much older, I’ve had kids, put on weight.  I’m confused as to why I care about that. This is Manny, one of my best friends and that’s all irrelevant to him.
“Do you have a moment to chat?”
He looks sort of thoughtful, as though he’s trying to decide something and then another smile. 
“I have a lot of moments.  In town for a conference tomorrow, just grabbing a bite to eat.” He has decided. 
“You don’t live here?”
“No we moved to Bay Robert’s a few years ago.  I work all over so I can live anywhere and Cindy wanted to be near her father.” 
We order Fish and Chips and a pint of Guinness each.  It is good to chat.  His blue eyes flash with intelligence as we catch up.  We are still friends.  We are still comfortable.  We are interested in each other and I remember now why we were such good friends.  The things we talk about are not what interested all of the other people in our circle.  We were different from them.  I assimilated.  He didn’t.  But we were alike otherwise.  I touch his hand once.   A familiar gesture. 
A second Guinness loosens me up.
“Cindy doesn’t let you see much of the old crowd uh?”  It’s always bothered me that she controlled him so much.
“What?  Nah,  we see Mack a lot.  And Stan and Sue often come by.”
“Really?  Well guess it’s me then.  I’ve invited for you both to come to dinner with Tyler and me.  Both of you several times and she always says she will but it never happens.” 
“Yeah?  She never told me.”  He avoids my eyes.
“Really? I have stopped inviting her.  She actually seems annoyed when I do.  I just thought it would be nice if all four of us could be friends.  Too late now with Tyler and I splitting.  Probably shouldn’t have brought it up.”  I shouldn’t have. 
“It’s…complicated.”  Manny looks at the beer and then looks at me..then the door as though he wonders if it would be rude to run.
“Complicated?  What? How complicated could dinner be?”  It’s not like Manny to be dramatic. 
“I can’t talk about it here, but it’s not that she controls me so much as she just doesn’t want me to see you.”  He again glances at the door. 
“Are you expecting somebody?” I glance at the door.
“No,” he chuckles, “I ‘m afraid I’ll get caught I guess.”
“Caught?  Doing what?”  Isn’t he even allowed at a bar?
“If somebody we know tells Cindy we have been here together, then there’ll be trouble.  I’ll get in trouble.”  He reaches out and takes my hand and I look at his face.  He’s telling me something and I’m dying to know what it is.  I’m not letting him go without knowing.
“Then come to my apartment.  We’ll talk, nobody will know and you can tell me what the hell it is you seem to want to tell me and relax about it instead of watching the door for spies all night.”
“That might get me in more trouble if she found out.” But he laughs and nods in agreement.
“Well, yeah but there is less chance.   We’ll have a glass of wine and you’ll spill.  Let’s go.”
My curiosity is piqued and I’m taking him back to my place.  We had a very close friendship and I want to know what this “thing” is that is keeping us from being friends. 
                He calls the waiter over and pays for both our dinners.  I protest and he insists.  Outside we are greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke lingering and the fog of the St John’s night wrapped around us.  It’s a ten minute stroll and we chat about people we know and people who have died and remember the time we built a camp in the woods behind his house.  But I’m dying to know what’s complicated.
                I unlock the apartment door and the Fizz greets me.  I throw off my coat and tell him to do the same.  Then I walk into the kitchen and pour two glasses of red wine from the bottle I opened last night. 
                The living room lights are still low when I hand him the glass.  He takes a sip.
                “Now, you’re gonna have to tell me why Cindy doesn’t like me.” I smile then.  “Doesn’t everybody love me?”  I joke and he doesn’t smile.
                Sullen Manny is back for a moment and he takes the wine glass from my hand.  He puts both on the table and reaches out with his right hand.  I am protesting him taking the wine and I’m in his arms.
                “This is why.” He breathes into my lips just before they touch mine and the shock of the situation melts under the sensuality of it.  He wants me.  He not only wants me, he has wanted me for a very long time.  He is desperate and nervous and pulls away but I’m not letting him get away with that.  I reach my hand up and hold him right where he is.  And that is his undoing.  It is mine as well.
                We don’t make it to the bedroom.  We are urgent.  He has been waiting a life time for me.  I have waited a lifetime for this.  This loving from a man who wants me.  He wants me.  He wants me.  It’s  a drum beat in my brain.  He wants me.  Rat at tat tat the tom tom beats this message in my skull and I match its rhythm with my body.  I have only ever wanted to be wanted.
                He is hot in me, hot on me, hot beside me.  His skin is smooth and rough in all the right places.  He is large and he satisfies me in every way.  I am lost in it.  In this time, this place, this man.  I love him, I have always loved him but this surprises me, excites me, this different love that you have for a man only because he loves you.
                He makes love as though this is his only chance.  And I make love back as though this my one chance not to disappoint.  The cat disappears.  The apartment disappears.  The world disappears.  I disappear.  But this man.  This beautiful man.  He is present and real and tangible and he never disappears.  
                “I’m sorry.”  His apology is weak.  He is not sullen now.  He is sad. 
                “Sorry?  I’m not.” 
                “No?”
                “No. That was really unexpected.  But sorry?  Not remotely.”  I wait.  He will explain now.  But now I know.  I listen anyway.  
                “Cindy and I were friends.  We were close friends.  Kind of like you and I were friends.  And I told her then.  I told her that I loved you.  That I had been in love with you forever.  I also told her there was nothing between us other than friendship.   She was ok with that while we were just friends.  Then she developed feelings for me.  And I cared for her.  She is also very pretty and I was flattered.  I never even had a girlfriend until Cindy.  She was my first.  And then she couldn’t deal with our friendship.  I tried to tell her that you weren’t interested in me but that just made her worse.  She said that if you were, then I’d be gone to you.  So I stayed away for her sake.  She would never have allowed us to be friends, she was too insecure.”
                “Insecure?  It seems she was right?”  I get up and take the wine.  I don’t dress.  I hadn’t suspected.  I had suspected some attraction, it seems men always are attracted but I hadn’t even seen Manny as a man then. 
                “Yeah, guess so.” Sullen came back then.
                “Don’t do that?”  He is feeling guilty now and I can’t take that. 
                “What?”  He has grabbed his pants.
                “Don’t put on your pants.  Leave them off.  If we’re gonna ruin this friendship with sex I want the full measure.”
                He pulls his pants back off.  And he smiles.  I remember then that when we were kids I used to do all sorts of things to make Manny smile.  It was like a challenge to me.  I think I honed my wit on him and I fall back into that easily.  Yeah.  I would do anything to see him smile.
                “We have one night.  We’ve already done the damage.  Let’s enjoy what we have ok?  I’m here, you’re here.  We have wine and music..wait..where is the music?  We need music.  I know exactly which song to play!”
                I flick through the iPod as he drains his glass.  I tell him to go refill and he drains the bottle.  I find the song. 
                “Babe, I love you so, and I, I want you to know, that I, I’m gonna miss your love, the minute you walk out that door”  KC and the Sunshine band drifts through.
                “Ha!” his laugh is music and he moves to me, pulling me close in an embrace.  We sway together to it, its meaning so much more poignant now. 
                “I meant every word of this song at grad.” He says.  He sings along to me as he did so many years before.  We had always danced the last dance together.  This had always been the last dance.
                “I didn’t know.” But I mean every word of it now and I breathe it back to this man who has always wanted me.
                “Please don’t go, please don’t.”
                The next morning, in spite of all of KC and the Sunshine Band’s begging, he goes.  He has a conference and a wife.  Our friendship isn’t salvageable.  We know this.  We also know that we will always wish that wasn’t the case but he’s too good to leave his wife and I’m too good to make him.  So a foggy morning moistens our farewell kiss and I watch him walk down the hill to his hotel.  We haven’t exchanged numbers, we haven’t made promises.  We have simply spent a long overdue night together.
                I wait on the step.  The cup cools from the brisk air and I look towards the east at the sudden brightness.  The fog is moving, rolling and I wait for it.  I sip the coffee.  And watch the sky dance and quiver and change and then just as I’m about to give up it happens.
                The sun breaks through the fog and an amber light graces the day like a ray of hope.  Like a smile on a sullen mans face, it was always there, it just needs the fog to move for  it to be seen. 
                I want to be the sunshine.  I want to be the one who makes people happy, who makes people smile.  Perhaps I’ll practice with my kids.  No that’s too easy.  I have a better idea.
                I pick up the phone and call Tyler.  He answers and tells me he will get the kids.
                “No, I want to talk to you”.
                “You do?  What about?” he sounds wary.
                “I think we should try again.” 
                “You do?”  There is a long silence.
                “Not for the kids, not for the family, but for me and you.   I won’t move back, I can’t yet, but perhaps we can try a different way.  See each other, see if there is something there to save.”
                “Ok.” He says and I hear the smile in his voice.  I also hear tears but they’re not sad ones.
                I have done it once.  I have made the sun break through the clouds and if I can do it once I can do it again.  I then ask to speak to the kids but he comes back on the phone after. 
                “Do you mean it?” He asks quickly.  He knows me well enough to know I don’t play games with him.
                “Yes I mean it.  Catch the ferry here and we’ll start talking.  Find someone to watch the kids.” 
                And again I hear the smile and he hasn’t spoken a word.  I smile back. 

                I look across the floor after I hang up and the large window allows the first sun in weeks through. I notice where I had quickly run the dust mop over the aging hardwood floors in the little apartment at some point between chapters of the book I wrote these past few days. There is however, a layer of dust at the periphery of the room, around the edges while the center is shiny. I glance at the mop and reach for the handle then pull my hand back and head instead towards the shower.
I have to get ready for Tyler so the corners will have to wait.
               
               
               
                 
                 
               
               








Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Best Laid Plans and New Projects!





The Written Word; Always part of my life!
In spite of my determination to update regularly I got side tracked! And even now I don't have much of a post other than this redirection to my new project The Flame which gives insight into what I'm doing!

Please feel free to follow that blog or to simply continue following this as I'll be updating here also.

Cheers!







Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Go Deep!




Quick, with both hands, pull your mind out of the gutter.  Not that kind of "go deep" silly.  Though that's not a bad idea either!

I was just having a discussion with a friend of mine and we touched on the topic of depth.  Most of you are familiar by what is meant when someone uses the term "deep" to describe someone else.  I thought I'd talk about my own understanding of the term.  Not sure it's the standard definition but it is how I see it and you know, that's just the way I roll.

For me,  it's someone who allows themselves to think in original thought, to come up with ideas on their own and from their own wealth of experience and knowledge rather than regurgitating the ideas of others.  These people aren't necessary well educated, particularly well read, they aren't always scholars or experts, and generally they don't follow accepted dogma in anything even if they understand it.  What they have that sets them  apart is an outlook on life that reaches deep within their soul and they are brave enough to share their ideas without fear of being laughed at, ridiculed, or worse, thought to be wrong!  They also have large, open minds, are willing to learn and accept anything as possible. 

Will Smith said (paraphrasing)"....don't be realistic.  Is it realistic to think that you can weld together tonnes of metal and then expect it to lift of the ground and fly?  No but thankfully the Wright brothers were not realistic.  Is it realistic to enter a room, hit a switch and have lights come on?  No but thankfully Thomas Edison was unrealistic."  Will Smith is deep. 

So let me be unrealistic for a moment myself.  All people are deep or have the potential to be.  I believe this to be true.  I have encountered people who have opened themselves up to me in ways that I think have surprised even them and they shine, like a brilliant beacon in the sea of humanity.  Their depth of understanding and their commentary on life have knocked my socks off and made me delight in the new outlook I've gained from them.  Some of them are even adults!

For the adults...often...after the initial excitement at their self discovery, they lose it.  Frequently they slip back into old habits, old ways, old patterns, that have suited their needs and driven their lives for so long it feels comfortable, like a pair of slippers they slip on or their favourite pair of Levi's that consoles them in some way. 

They choose the same type of person they've always chosen as a mate because it's familiar, they choose the same kind of work because it's what they know and they live the same lifestyle they've always lived even if it isn't the  healthiest and then, when things go wrong and the same things happen that have always happened they suffer the same sense of loss and confusion they've always felt.  And then they wonder why.

The reason is, that in order to maintain and attain a certain depth you have to go deep within yourself.  Often you have to face your flaws, your weaknesses, and your past transgressions.  You have to face yourself and forgive yourself and remove all of the guilt you've ever felt for the way you've treated others, brave the demons that were left behind when others treated you wrong and get to a place where you know yourself so well that what you have been doing not only doesn't feel comfortable anymore, but it's possibly even foreign to you.  

This exploration usually scares the hell out of people and many suck their head back into their shells like scared turtles and slug along being exactly as they were, denying even the possibility of a different way.

But the ones who decide that it's worth the risk shine.  They begin to think in new ways and expand their experiences.   They get to know that they are an amazing human with a spirit that is meant to sparkle like a brilliant gemstone.  They are no longer afraid of the things they were once afraid of.  And people notice and some of them work hard against the change.  It takes a lot of strength to become who you are.

Perhaps you are so sensitive to the pain of others that you you lie to them to protect them from the pain you might cause with the truth.  Maybe you are a person that is so insensitive to others that you hurt them frequently because you aren't empathetic to their feelings.  Find out which you are, because many of us fall into one or the other of these categories.  From there you can grow.  From that point you can work on being authentic and from there you find your depth.

Then with that depth of knowing, you learn that it is your own heart you must cherish and not break first and foremost.  The key to that is that the truth is the way to protect it in every instant.  You take the repercussions that come being yourself.  You begin to pattern your behaviour in a different way, one that relieves you of shame, guilt or regret because you know you did what was right. 

Remember...it is impossible for a heart well-loved by its owner to ever be broken.

So depth isn't just about being "deep" but also about getting into the middle of your darkest fears and facing them.  It's listening to a special song over and over until it no longer makes you cry.  It's about being willing to be sad for just long enough and being brave only after you've been sad and reached the bottom and have climbed back up.

Depth of thought comes from exploring completely your depth of feeling.  It comes from admitting your mistakes but it also comes from only admitting your mistakes and leaving ownership of other peoples hearts with them, because you are, ultimately, only responsible for your own.  This means perhaps you will hurt people in your life.  But you will hurt them less if you came from the deepest, best part of you.

Explore your depths.  Share them.  Be who you are for real and you will find that all the love you ever wanted will come to you.  And all the love that isn't true will fade away and leave you free. 

You may feel more comfortable in the shallows but you will not learn to dive there. You'll never see the beauty of the coral reef if you never explore the depths and only ever float on your back. 

So dive into yourself!  Get into your depths. Once you get past the shock of it, it's worth the jump!

Namaste

 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pathetic in Print





Let me start this by saying that I am am an unapologetic feminist.  I am also the mother of four daughters. I have maneuvered through the obstacle course that is placed before women in this life and turned over a few rocks and logs and uncovered a few slugs in my days just as the author above has.

I too have felt an aversion to the signs and symptoms of a culture that bombards girls with messages that tell them they need to look, speak, act, behave and be different than they may well be intrinsically. (I'm also aware that the culture does this to boys)  I'm painfully aware of the so-called "princess culture" propagated by media and film(Disney in particular) that says(I'm simplifying) that girls need rescuing by boys and I've felt complete disgust at pageantry and beauty contests that seem to value girls based entirely upon their appearance. I've been careful to create counter messages in my home to balance the ones that state girls are less than or greater than based upon the make up product they use or the jean size they wear.

It's a tough job and a tiresome battle. But I do it. Because I have girls. Because I've been a girl.

Somehow though, in all my years of battling the patriarchy, the culture, the stereotypes and all the garbage that I've seen that creates the imbalance between the two most common genders, I have managed not to project the distaste I have for all of the things that seem to work against me as the feminist mother of girls, into a distaste for little girls, not even those that don't look like mine. Heck I haven't propelled it into a distaste for little boys either nor the men they eventually become, at least not in a general sense. There are certain specific men I don't care for but it's based upon actual knowledge of their character, or lack thereof, not something as frivolous as their appearance.

I've managed also to avoid the pitfall of judging parents, particularly mothers(because let's face it mothers' parenting is judged far more harshly than fathers') because I've been mothering for nearly 25 years and realize that parenting evolves over time. My feminism evolved over time as well and with my youngest being nine and the vast number of cultural changes happening in these current times it may evolve further.

I also, as a writer myself, try not to judge other writers. Writing skills evolve over time as well. That said I do have a fair to middling understanding of writing and I'm a decent communicator.

So it's out of my comfort zone to address all of this in a blog post but I feel that the above needs addressing, particularly since the message I'm getting from the editorial and defenders of this piece is that it is satire.

I have read satire. The Onion is satire. The Currant is satire. Ray Guy was satire.

Because I'm very busy and this isn't a professional piece I'm going to post a definition of satire from Wikipedia.
  1. Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming an individual, ideology, corporation, government or society itself, into improvement.
My understanding is that the definition above is about shaming an individual, ideology, corporation or society itself into improvement.

Now I have no problem with any of that. I've been known to use this sort of technique on an occasion or two myself.  I can be scathing and brutal in fact. And I must admit, I enjoy it.

The problem that I have with the above piece from the Northeast Avalon Times is that the shaming is placed upon weak instead of the powerful.The individuals in this case are children. Politicians and businessmen are adults who get paid and are in the public eye. They are adults, seasoned and jaded. And I am guessing that even they have moments of hurt from some of the slings and arrows of a well placed piece of satire.  

The target of satire should never be someone who is already without power.  Quite the opposite.  A good satirist uses their abilities to benefit the innocent, is a defender of the underdog and takes aim at those in power. They use their skills to knock down the ivory tower dweller, to point out the flaws in society as created by the corporations, the politicians, the government or the media or any organization that has influence to try to redirect them through humour and exaggeration to show the foolishness of their points of view.

That is why Robin McGrath's article misses the mark.  The target is children and they are the innocent.  If you're going to get all up in arms about the "princess culture" you don't  pick on the princesses. You pick on those who propagate the culture-mainly the corporations and fashion industry in this instance but the broader culture who still acts like girls need rescuing.  I wager however that most princesses have many more dimensions to their character than a tiara and glitter might show. 

In this article the focus is on the children-even if it wasn't meant to be--and it's not pleasant.  The writer admits to her absolute disdain for little girls of a particular type. Once that happened the rest fell by the wayside.  

The target of this article isn't Disney or society or the government. It is very specifically little blond girls which is an odd thing because I've not noticed that the princess culture is made of specifically of the fair haired. Even Disney has a balance in the hair colour department with Jasmine and Pocahontas for example representing the dark haired contingent.   

Any point she is trying to make gets completely lost in her own emotional venting. This venting takes on three main aspects.

First of all there is her strange and worrisome aversion to blond haired girls.  It is apparently a visceral aversion akin to the feeling of discovering bugs under rocks (a place I would contend the author spends considerable time.) 

Second to that there is a judgement of the parents of these same children. Parents who are doing what parents do. Making their children happy. 

Third, and the most disturbing part of the whole thing,  she makes it abundantly clear that the only reason for her disgust of these children is their appearance.  In fact she's OK with her own daughter because she doesn't look like these specific children that she sees as thinking they are privileged and superior.

In a culture that bombards girls with the message that their appearance is their most valuable trait this woman judges an entire group based solely upon this trait and justifies it by saying that these are the privileged so it's OK.  And yet somehow contends that she's a defender of girls? 

The writer states emphatically that she's never acted upon these feelings.

I counter that she has. Through her words in the article and her admission of an absolute disdain for little blond girls, she has acted upon her thoughts. Writing is a verb. An action word. 

Some of the adults reading her article may have little blond girls of their own but most certainly some of the adults reading it WERE little blond girls themselves and most of us still have a lot of the child we were inside of us.  Some even wear, gasp, pink.

Perhaps these revelations are cathartic to the author and she obviously is aware of how bizarre they are when she wonders if there are people out there who have an aversion to children who look like her daughter and hints at discomfort at that thought.

I wager there aren't many and if there are I hope they have the wisdom to reveal these rather deeply disturbing thoughts to their therapist and keep it off the written page until they've fully dealt with their issues.

It is her contention that the only girls of value are those who mimic Madame Curie or some other elevated(by her judgment) woman yet I can't say for certain that Madame Curie didn't adore pink and I wonder if she can. I suppose Marie couldn't have been blond as a child? That would totally mess up the fantasy. I do know she wore dresses and on occasion attended balls. So any child who holds her up as a role model is totally allowed to wear a ball gown. Just sayin'.

The writer approves of a certain "type" of little girl. The kind that fits neatly into her idea of what a girl should be. She approves for girls who their role models should be and chooses the type of woman they should become. It's a controlling sort of mindset.  It's ironically the sort of thinking that pretty much created the princess culture. 

It takes another kind of mindset to dismantle princess culture.  It takes the kind of thinking that says that little girls should be valued for who they are not what they look like.  That a princess dress and a construction hat are all equal choices for little girls and boys. 

Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about choice.  But feminism is about being valued for what makes a girl a girl also. 

My contention is that it is impossible to appreciate the feminist without appreciating the femininity in a woman or girl. Yes our culture pushes pink as the girl colour and blue as the boy colour. For most people who understand and are bothered by this, it does not turn into a diatribe of disgust for the girls but rather strikes at the more appropriate target, the culture.

Her arrow missed that target.

To the editors who defend this.  She has the right to write it. You have the right to print it.

And I have the right to aim my arrow in your direction-where it squarely belongs.