Light, loss & living for others

At the time of first trying to express my grief and gratitude–the news about Christopher Seguin’s sudden passing was very recent. Three weeks have since passed since the staggering loss. His celebration of life service was held on Saturday, October 14.  While sitting in the church, hearing about his life, attempting to comprehend the moment, working steadily through a box of tissues–I marveled at how his absence was a deeply felt presence in the packed room. 

There has been rumors and revelations–and while there should be appropriate and respectful channels to discuss and dissect the circumstances surrounding his death, but I won’t do that here.  Existence is a complex experience. We navigate through frameworks of social constructs, we play roles, we love and are loved, we lose and recover, we try and fail until the clock stops ticking–and we then become constellations in the vast atmosphere that is the human condition. 

I tried to capture a singular moment that reflected my memory of Christopher. Words failed as I reeled at the magnitude of the loss.  The tragedy is layer upon layer of agony and anguish for all who were impacted by his life and his loss– his family, his wife, his children, the community, the university–and on and on and on. My heart goes out to those hurting most–and I extend my loving thoughts outwards. 

….

The flags were flying at half-mast on and while I logically understood the reason, my mind revolted against the truth. I half-expect to see him somewhere on campus. However, that towering figure, that booming voice, that presence is gone—and that reality is simply too painful to bear.
To me, Christopher Seguin was like a classic movie star come to life in the modern age: strapping, stylish and smart—a gentleman and an adventurer—like Cary Grant from somewhere between The Philadelphia Story and Gunga Din.

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We met through the Kamloops Film Festival. He became a mentor, ally and friend.

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During a period of professional adjustment—when I was feeling rather lost in the world—Christopher offered direction.  He regaled me with a self deprecating tale about himself as a young, idealistic man writing a piece that he felt so proud of—only for it to never see the light of day.

This conversation took place during a quick walk around campus.  He stopped where we had started, about to set off in another direction.  “The writing is good”—he said, smiling, assuring. As he walked away, his coat collar popped against the crisp autumn weather, he tossed a final sentence over his shoulder “…but it could be better.”
Ah, that was a cool moment.
He wasn’t one to soften blows, he told you how it was. At the same time, he showed vulnerability while sharing stories of his own personal growth. He offered insights and advice, but tasked you with reaching higher levels of personal achievement. It’s good–but it could always be better.

In the first days of shock and sadness, while trying to occupy my unraveling thoughts–I thought a lot about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief–and tried to remember the DABDA scale from long-ago Psychology classes.

Denial:  “In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis or situation is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.”

Yes, the false, preferable reality seems reasonable to me.

As Joan Didion noted in her memoir “The Year of Magical Thinking“, “I was myself in no way prepared to accept this news as final: there was a level on which I believed what had happened remained reversible.”

In grief, we are at war with ourselves, rallying against reason, and struggling to reconcile the loss. My mind wanders back and forth between fact and fantasy—I strive to create a world in which Christopher could overcome death. He had plans, goals and value

This. Cannot. Be. It.

And yet, it is. Waves of anguish crashing repeatedly, threatening to overwhelm you as you try to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Wrestling with memory and circumstance, burdened by the weight of  heartbreak, the clashing of absence and presence.

You were just here.

What is one to do when great lights are snuffed out? In that darkness you begin to realize how much these people were quiet architects to our growth and successes. There lies a portion of Christopher’s memory—his legacy resides in those he insisted do better.

As Margaret Atwood once said:

I hope that Christopher becomes more than that. I hope that he carries on in spirit through acts of service. As we move forward into the wilderness of grief and loss, I hope we carry along his memory. He was someone who urged us to excel beyond our wildest expectations–and to encourage others to do the same.  Instead of envisioning a great light dimming into darkness—imagine it fracturing into a million pieces—so that we could find it everywhere. As we move forward, may we absorb even a fraction of that energy, warmth and light.

 

 

Magic & the Big Reveal

Grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon. What can be more uneventful?  After leisurely sauntering through the aisles, I guided the trolley to the shortest checkout lineup.

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The cashier is a young woman. She is wearing pastel Easter bunny ears in commemoration of the upcoming holiday season.

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After a pedestrian exchange of pleasantries, she casually, yet conspiratorially reveals her evening plans in a manner of two gals chatting over cocktails. She’s seeing a man that she’s been “talking to…a lot.” Her mouth wraps around the words.

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“Have you met him before?” I ask, leaning in slightly.

“Yes, but this is the first time we’re going to really hang out. We have so much in common; there’s so much to talk about,” she sighs.  

That seizes my heartstring a little bit. That twitterpated-kind-of-feeling is simply magical.  And really, it’s the only thing in life that matters. That friendship connection. That spiritual recognition. When that you meet someone, and you know that you know. Or you know that you want to know them…you know?   It’s like finding other people that seem to share a slim fraction of some ancient soul.

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It’s also exactly like when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly discover their commonalities after a brief feud in “Stepbrothers”.

“Did we just become best friends?”

“Yup!”

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The cashier was enthusiastic but cautious. Clearly, she’s been burned before.  “There are guys on ‘POF,’ that just message: “sex?” When it clearly says, ‘no hook ups’ on my profile.”

I furrow my brow trying to figure out what “POF” means. Finally blurting out “Oh, PLENTY OF FISH?”

“Yeah,” she says with just a hint of “Duh.” Obvs, lady, catch up.

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He lives alone. She still lives with her parents. As the owner of a rather sizable dog and rodent collection, she’s finding moving out a challenge.

The date will take place at his home (naturally). The plan is to watch YouTube videos.

The containment of her excitement is like steam whistling under a pot lid.

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“I’m looking for something lasting, you know? I just want to be honest. I just want to be myself.”

This girl hungry-hearted girl is killing me.  Jamming cans and loaves of bread together in the same bag, while pouring her soul and exposing her loneliness. She speaks with absolute certainty; as if she wants to believe it, but can’t quite conceive it.  As if love is like wanting to live on the moon and wear nothing but flamingo feathers and Chanel.

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“Well, that’s a healthy attitude,” I say, reorganizing  the provisions in the bags. “Sooner or later, our true selves come out.”

What is “our true selves” anyway? Under the aesthetics and armour we simply skeletons and skin stuffed with sad stories. We’re red hot messes, emotional icebergs, tangled twisted piles of traumas and tragedies.  Still, we cling to the veneer for as long as humanly possible don’t we?

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Whenever a relationship was on the cusp of ending– when all those red flags were flapping in the wind as the storm started to pick up, I’d think about the beginning. I’d remember being coy and unfamiliar as you approached intimacy. When you didn’t know about each other’s failings. You weren’t disappointed yet; you were all hopped up on the possibility of finding everything you were looking for. Isn’t that a Feist song? Let it Die?

“The saddest part of a broken heart/Isn’t the ending so much as the start…..the tragedy starts from the very first spark?”

Yes, yes it is, and now I’m listening to the album in its entirety. Let’s go down that emotional rabbit hole, shall we?

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“The last guy I was talking to, he met me once, and then never texted again. I mean, what did I do wrong? I wish he would just tell me,” the cashier huffed.

Sheesh, what do you say to a single bunny with shaky romantic past?

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Sometimes, it’s not about doing wrong; it’s about not being a right fit. Ultimately, it’s about not having the emotional connection that equates to the matching of ancient necklaces. Or you have the matching necklace, but you get taken you in opposite directions. It doesn’t make less of the love; it’s just that you sometimes just have to go.

OMG, this is SO Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.” How those two couldn’t make things work out is beyond me. Still, the love is unending. In the final scene, she brushes the hair off his brow, and gives him a look that says, “Get out of here you gorgeous bastard before I kiss you on directly the mouth.”

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At the root of this fear, is that all magic is just an illusion? When we reveal our “true selves”, perhaps it’s more akin to wrenching the mask off a Scooby Doo villain as opposed to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat.

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Where did I go wrong? Did I reveal too much? Too soon? Too late? Not enough? Too much? In the matters of love, a sleight of hand is essential part of the act.

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We all want to love and be loved, accept and be accepted. Meanwhile we build walls around ourselves to protect and defend from unknown enemies; we tear the wall down and then…build up new walls, brick by flipping brick. We trust, break trust, fail, fall, open up, clam up and clamor back up to seek that connection.

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I pay my bill, and wish ole bunny ears the best of luck with her evening plans. I leave the store, my mind buzzing from that conversation.  Love can be quite the magic trick. Some days it’s about illusions, distractions, angles and disappearing acts. Other times, it’s such an inexplicably magnificent experience that it’s best not to question the spectacle.

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Images Courtesy of Google, and the fine people behind the internet  

Nobody’s Mother, Nobody’s Aunt.

This has not been my finest collection of hours. My mood is dark, feeling very much between a pre-menstrual pre-teen and menopausal matron. Down and out and wanting to crawl under the covers. John Lennon is present in the news, its the 35th anniversary of his assassination. Gun statistics, Global Warming, Anti-Muslim propaganda, Donald Trump. It all feels so bleak. I’m scattered, like my brain in a twister and my thoughts are all the random items picked up and swirling around. My sense of humor is a faint heartbeat.

Despite the unshakable funk, I press on with the work day.  I pass one of the teachers walking a small group of boys to the bathroom. One little boy, blonde bowl hair cut and big smile asks me: “Who’s Mother are you?”. “Me? I’m nobody’s Mother” I said, “But I have a puppy, does that make me her Mother?. Um. No. Not in World According to Bowl-Cut. Ask a three year old a serious question, and you get a serious answer. I’m tired, grumpy, and I’m nobody’s mother.

Driving in the afternoon, the thought of that child overlapped into a memory of my friend Monica and this t-shirt I used to own. Well, I actually had it made after catching a random episode of The Simpsons, it was inspired by gnarly spinster aunts Patty and Selma.

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One of them was wearing a t-shirt that said “Sexy Aunt”, I thought it was rather funny.  Not an indication of my now enduring elegance and style, I bought a black baseball style shirt with pink sleeves that had glittery rock n’ roll lettering, that in fact made “Sexy Aunt” look like “Sexy Avnt”. No matter.  My brother was a father, and I was young and ironic, surely that justified the purchase.

“You’re nobody’s aunt”, Monica spits out the words at the sight of my t-shirt. “Yes I am”, I scoff…” What a thing to say..Nobody’s aunt. “Who?” her face is contorted in disbelief. “Who are you an aunt to?” “My older brother has a kid”, I retort. “Oh”, she lowers her guard. “You never told me that”.

It was quite possibly the only thing I hadn’t told her. In the time spent as neighbours and friends in a little building on the corner of West Seymour Street, smoking cigarettes and playing records in her eclectic little top floor apartment, we hammered out a lot of issues.

I lived downstairs. I met her in the laundry room. She said she needed a roommate, she used the expression ‘cheap like borscht’. I liked her immediately. I brought her cupcakes after our initial meeting; she in turn called me ‘Cupcake’.

The first time I came to her apartment was not by her invitation. Her dreamy new roommate saw me reading outside on the little stoop and invited me upstairs for a glass of wine. Because I was a twenty-something nitwit who willingly paid for a t-shirt that said “Sexy Aunt”, a glass of wine upstairs with Mr Tall, Dark Stranger sounded perfectly reasonable.  He had just moved in, and there was boxes stacked in his room, with a mattress on the floor. Nowhere to sit, we moved into the living room, where Monica was sitting on the sofa. Monica’s shelves were stacked with well worn books, she had a glorious music collection; she owned Jeff Buckley’s Grace–which is a completely unifying and friendship inducing album.

The space had a dusty, disorganized bohemian vibe: funky thrift store art, old photographs, punctuated by little piles of papers, costumes, clothing.   Her bathroom was teeming with Jesus imagery. Technically, the bathroom’s theme was “JC”, there was some Jackie Collins book, and there a picture of Johnny Cash right at eye-line when sitting on the toilet. Aggressively flipping the middle finger. Mostly, it was about Jesus and The Last Supper.

Once, while walking home, we spotted this very old and fragile woman lugging home two four-liter jugs of milk. Monica called out to her, and asked if she needed help. The woman brightened up immediately and thrust the jugs at us with new found super human strength “Sure!”. Monica thought that was funny, but worried for that trusting old lady, who let us into her apartment without hesitation. She offered us a milkshake, talked about Mussolini funded summer camps in Italy,  prattled non-stop as she puttered about busily among all her own piles. Monica spotted a picture of The Last Supper. It was perfectly hideous and wrapped in a ornate, ten pound gold frame.

Monica passed along her compliments. “Take it!”, she flapped her hand dismissively. Monica hesitated and the woman insisted “Take it, I’m not taking it with me when I go….” and after an uncomfortable amount of time….”to Italy”. Monica and I locked eyes from the across the cluttered room. Mouths twisting up into smiles. How did we even get here? Within the confines of that friendship, I found myself in so many strange rooms with her and random people. She would talk to absolutely anyone, get secrets out of strangers. As we left the old lady’s apartment, Monica thanked her, but cautioned her from being too friendly with strangers. Poor thing living all alone.

Who were we to talk? I lived alone, and after her roommate left, so did she. We became family. I visited her daily. She made tea out of an orchid tea pot where the spout looked like a vagina. Her kitchen was filled with oddities. Sushi earrings, random plastic fruit in a buster wicker basket.  Her sense of humor was present in all that she did.

We once got an unstoppable case of the giggles at a neighbour’s funeral. Bad weather and a broken vehicle held us up, and we wound up leaping out of a cab, and sprinting into the chapel soaking wet from the rain. Such a violent shift of emotion, you’re pissed off that you can’t get there, and then suddenly you’re there and it’s a funeral. As we settled in, like drowned rats dressed in black, I leaned in and cracked some remark to Monica. Holding hands in the back row, our faces were straining from forceful laughter that wanted to burst out of our mouths. Church giggles are one thing, but funeral giggles are only acceptable if you’re Mary Tyler Moore.

Cherie lived down the hall from me; she looked like a later years Karen Carpenter, dressed in velour bathrobes, and wore make up but her short hair was always rumpled. She never left the house. She would send her husband round to bring me expired food from Liquidation World. Grant had a pot belly and a fanny pack, harboured this little black and crooked mustache above his top lip. He said “alrighty”, and stared at you a little too long. Her death wasn’t a huge surprise. She was made of brittle glass and blue eye shadow; her ashes were placed in an urn with a majestic wolf on it. The thought of Grant selecting the best urn for his fragile lady, broke my heart.

After the funeral, over milky mugs of coffee, Monica retold the story of the time she inadvertently stole an ambulance from Cherie. Monica had gone out to help assist her, but then had a seizure herself and they took her instead of Cherie. Even though Cherie was now in a majestic wolf urn, we howled with laughter. When the giggles subsided, we sobbed our hearts out.

Monica taught me about grief. How to live with loss, wear that itchy wool  until it’s a second skin.  The memories that hurt most, that weight you carry, it’s the lines on your face, the grey in your hair, it’s in absolutely everything you do whether you know it or not.

She had mementos from the past, dead people’s possessions. She once referenced a shirt she wore into oblivion, and then cut it up and turned it into wash rags. I was quietly horrified. Wouldn’t you just save the shirt? Tuck it away and look at it whenever? Her reasoning was that it took up space, on a number of levels. Let it dissolve in your daily life. I had that thought when Bluebear stared to pick at a pair mittens that a long-lost friend had given me. Sure, I could save them and take them with me everywhere, but never wear them, or I could let my dog unravel the colorful pattern joyously. As if the material and the memory regenerate into new and possibly practical forms, and it becomes a new style of letting go.

Like Cherie, Monica’s death was neither expected nor was it unexpected. Monica would have been the first to tell you she wouldn’t be pulling silver-haired hi-jinx at the retirement home. I think she knew her time was short and she acted accordingly. She lavished in the small pleasures. She was reckless, and infuriating and apologetically slow-moving. She told extremely long stories, with even longer subplots. She would fake injures and cause public spectacles. Sometimes it was hilarious, sometimes it was endearing. Sometimes you just wanted to run some bloody errands quickly and efficiently.  As the years went by, I was consistently bothered by her health; I wished she took better care of herself. I wished I was better equipped to take care of her. At the time, I could hardly take care of myself.

On the day of her passing, I popped by the box office where she worked, where I sat with her many times. She wasn’t at work, and I didn’t wonder why. She was unwell a lot. Then, after the show it was announced that she was gone. I wanted to believe there was a way to bring her back.

In the middle of my no-good bad day, one of Monica’s oldest and best friends posted something on social media about Grand Marnier to celebrate her birthday. That’s what Oprah refers to as an “Ah-ha Moment”. That explains a lot–the haunted undercurrent of my sour mood. Both of us being December babies, it’s strange that her birthday slipped my mind. I don’t keep track of dates well–and really, I think of her every single day anyway…so it was not uncommon for a memory of her to overlap with my random everyday nonsense as if it were a reflex. “I’m nobody’s Mother/ You’re nobody’s Aunt” is all a part of the constellation of my daily recollections.  In every moment is another moment.  And then–nearly eight years after her sudden death, it’s still as if it just happened, and I’m still that kid being told about it in a room full of people.

She would have been 51.  I would give anything for a warm drink in her cluttered kitchen, one of her famous hugs where she gave you an extra long squeeze just before she let you go. I cried all way home, big fat tears free falling down my cheeks. Wearing the familiar feelings like a well-worn sweater: missing her, wishing I could have saved her, and wondering if there is still a way to bring her back.

Images Courtesy of Google Images etc.

Last Post Salute.

Let me say, with utmost respect to its context, that I really needed a stat holiday to pop up in the middle of a work week. It’s been another hectic stretch of time, and I’m exhausted.  Of course, this day is not about me and my needs, it belongs to veterans, their families and is reserved for generalized National reflection. Remembrance Day offers a sense of reverence, and a quiet Sunday-type of feeling washes over the daylight hours. Telephone turned off, face freshly washed, quietly listening to the radio with a book on your lap. Coffee on the couch with Benjamin, sitting under blankets in front of the fire with a sleeping dog nestled between us.

CBC 2 is offering a steady stream of Remembrance Day themed music and content. We sat down to a late breakfast, but when 11:00am struck and the Last Post Salute began, our forks were lowered onto the plate, and we sat in silence. Not one to be completely idle I pet my dog, and wipe away errant tears. Thinking about soldiers in a fresh uniform, before they ever see a war zone. What it would be like to say goodbye to your dog–your family, the warmth of home, everything you’ve ever known. To leave behind people who will worry about you, mourn for you, learn to live without you. Not being sure if you will ever return. To die in the worst possible circumstances and conditions, so far away from where you began. It’s an unbearably heavy collection of thoughts.

Editors Note: best remedy for this is to Google ‘soldiers and seeing their babies for the first time’…

…or how about ‘Soldiers and Dogs’? Jeez Louise, have a tissue handy for that one. It then easily rolls into a watching a YouTube montage of excited dogs and their returning masters and it makes your eyes want to explode with a burst of pure salt water.

Ah, that’s better.

After the moment of silence passes, the radio announcer carries on, introduces another song, we release a big sigh and we resume with our poached eggs. We decide to follow our meal with a walk on the beach. Before we do that–we stop by our local pet store. This is something Benjamin does to me all the time–we go out to walk the dog on a lazy Sunday–but first, lets run this quick yet unexpected errand. I ultimately run into a professional acquaintance or customer, old friend or ex-lover and I’m lurking around Petland looking like an extra from The Walking Dead. Unbrushed hair crammed under a red toque, sunglasses firmly in place, giant woolen scarf, yoga pants rolled up at the angle and running shoes; if I had an invisibility cloak, I would have happily worn that as a layer too. I hear a familiar voice, and see a woman I know looking absolutely, deliciously chic in a gorgeous black and red trench coat. Her blonde bob was impeccable. Very Grace Kelly meets Kate Middleton meets Remembrance Day. She’s just come from the ceremony in Riverside Park, which was absolutely packed with people. I’m stricken with a splash of guilt; feeling like a ceremony skipper caught out in public looking perfectly dishevelled, and sans poppy to boot. What a disgrace.

It’s been years since I’ve been to a public Remembrance Day service.  It hadn’t become a ritual for my husband and I–it was always best spent as an ‘at home’ day. Also, as a little girl I know said about being at those services: “You have to stand there and be quiet for a really long time, and that’s just not my jam”.

Amen sister.

I feel as though a full morning of Remembrance Day programming on CBC 2 is as good as a trip to the Cenotaph. I mention that to Grace Kelly, just put it out there that I’m observing Remembrance Day in my own private way–I’m not just being an insensitive non-patriot picking out dog coats without giving a second thought to the millions of people who died for their country.  How can you not? Whatever your opinions about politics, military or war are, you can’t help but get a lump in your throat when you think about all those goodbyes, and of all those poor souls who never came back to say hello.

  Images Courtesy of the Fine People behind the Internet

Blogging & Blow Jobs

Everybody stay calm.

The inevitable has happened. I’ve hit my winter weather wall.

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It was snowing the other morning. It hadn’t snowed in a while.  The sight of the fat flakes falling and settling over the hard and crusty slabs of December snow was not welcomed in the least. A huge sigh leaked from my lips, a huff, which worked in conjunction with a massive shoulder slump.  You could practically hear the theme from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

cb_DepressedStanceLeaning on the kitchen counter with my coffee, flipping through Facebook on my phone. There were slew of photographs of beautiful friends in New Zealand and Australia, looking tanned and relaxed, smiling  in sun filled rooms and on luscious beaches with blue skies and green seas.  They look happy. They look warm.  It makes me remember a time when Benjamin and I used to ride our bicycles on deliciously warm nights, cruising along the dolphin filled Swan River under endless palm trees in Perth.  There was this sudden ache–like a shot through the heart, and not in a Bon Jovi, ‘you give love a bad name a bad name’ kind of way.  Genuine homesickness for the other side of the world.  A physical craving, a hunger pang–the same instinct that Dr Richard Kimble from”The Fugitive”, gets when he knows that the cops were right behind him, and the one-armed man is only one step ahead. Time to move on to the next town.

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Blame it on Blue Monday; and the rat tail days of January when the snow is no longer magical but a muddy slush speckled with dog feces, litter and the sediment flakes from the decay of time.  What’s Blue Monday you asked? Oh you didn’t? Well this is my god-damned blog and you’re going to listen to every word I say. Sorry that I spilled my drink of you, it’s just that I am practically dripping with diamonds.  I could literally kill a man with the rock on my hand, so I can barely hold the glass.

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Firstly, I’ll let Wikipedia take the reigns with laying down this explanation:

Blue Monday: “where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. ‘D’ is not defined in the release, nor are units”.

\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}

In short, that scientifically measurable moment when the Christmas train runs out of steam.  When those credit card bills start to roll in, and the true cost of Christmas rears its ugly head.  When you combine what you spent, and what your earned often clash together like the Titanic and that darn iceberg.   Although most scientists reckon the theory is a real load of bullocks, but there’s got to be something said for it.  The famine following the feast.  Feeling fat, cold and so very very poor.

Gold-Rush-Eating-boots-N_54Ordinarily Blue Monday is the third Monday of January;  this year it was decided that the 6th, the first Monday after the holiday, was the official date.  That’s not depression, that’s the last day of summer camp.    For me, it came late–Monday 27th, I felt the beginning of a funk in the same way you feel a cold coming on.  And then it overstayed for a solid week.   Perhaps Blue Monday has expanded to become the depression equivalent of Boxing Week–when one day just isn’t enough.  I can’t put my finger on the issue I just felt…bothered.  Emotionally itchy.  Like my soul was wearing wool sweater with a large tag scratching the back of its neck.  I thought that perhaps I need to work out my issues through the majesty of blogging, but once seated in front of the computer I am greeted with a whole lot of nothingness.

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I jot a few pages of notes–shorthand scribbles, as if I’m too annoyed to bother with full sentences. After a measly handful of half-written phrases, I abandon the work for Pinterest. I don’t write for the rest of the week…letting the serial killer chicken scratch marinate in my battered journal.  Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.  Truth is I don’t want to open that box inside my heart.  I don’t have the energy to break the anxiety down, find its source and record my findings in a humorous and pop-culture laden essay.  Obviously, that’s the low-grade depression talking as work usually comes before the reward.  It’s a bit like wanting to lose weight by staring in the mirror and wishing you looked different.

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You have to sweat a little bit, I suppose, pay your dues, bide your time. Then again, I have been pursing my lips at the whole blogging front.  I don’t know if I am quietly blowing minds or if people are just blowing chunks.   Elsewhere, someone writes benign pieces about movies, books, or celebrities; or angry tirades about customers, lovers, jobs and children, and readers…and the internet community as a whole are hitting that like button as if it would add years to their life.  Someone posts a picture of a snow-covered tree accompanied by a Robert Frost poem, and it gets 38 likes and 52 comments.  Nobody likes Robert Frost that much.  I mean come on, who do you have to blow to get that kind of response?

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(Okay,time out.  I won’t actually blow anyone for better ratings, but I would make a fine cup of tea and allow access to my fine record collection.  I hope you like Barbra.)

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You know, I wore something very similar to work the other day…and it was not well received.  Yet Babs shows up at a fashion shoot and lets the photographer snap one picture (as long as her nails and pinkie ring got to photo-bomb the shot). Ah Barbra, now there’s a lady who does what she wants, when she wants, and could claw your fucking eyes out if necessary.

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For me, there are few “likes”, and the only comments I get are from “use Rocket Spanish” who writes

“I think the admin of this web site is genuinely working hard for his web page, for the reason that here every stuff is quality based stuff”.

Now there’s a sentence that makes sense.  Regardless, I’m glad that someone appreciates that the admin of this web site is genuinely working hard.  So good for me.  Thanks spam!  I shake it off, I think to myself, that it’s just ego–that wanting to be liked that interferes with artistic honesty.  But–if there is no response at all–it’s like…well, sure why not? Let’s go there–blowing someone…if they make absolutely no noise, you’d think you were doing a bad job.  Maybe you’ve taken him to pleasure town and he’s left his own body and is floating above himself admiring the work of a great genius…or maybe he’s kind of bored and lost interest half way through.  To borrow a line from a Kevin Smith film: (which admittedly I thought came from “Mallrats, but was actually from “Chasing Amy”–who knew?)

“Chicks never help you out. They never tell you what to do…. Most of them sit there frozen like a deer in headlights. When a chick goes down on me, I let her know where to go- and what the status is. You gotta handle it like CNN and The Weather Channel–constant updates.”

Blogging and blow jobs…it’s an awful lot of work and you’re really doing it for the other person.  Feedback is also essential. So it’s pretty much the same thing.  How’s that for a math equation?  That’s why they call me the songbird of my generation. When it all comes down to it, I like what I write. I like that each blog goes where it wants…I never know where I’ll end up.  Did I think I was going to mention blowjobs when I started this piece a week ago? No.  Did I have any idea what I would find when I searched Google Images for “Blow Job, vintage”?  Did I think long and hard…(he he, long and hard) about posting one or two of them? Yes.  That’s the journey, and I’m happy to follow the thread where it leads.  But the occasional spoonful of validation never hurt anyone. A sip of water on the long road to the slimmest shred of creative success.  I’m bratty like that…like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka’s factory, wanting everything right away.  Not trusting that everything will fall into place as things ordinarily tend to do.

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Let’s be honest. Veruca Salt was a dick, and I’m pretty sure she dies in this movie.  Her impatience was her fatal flaw, and I share that with the late Ms Salt.  I’m trying to do as the bumper sticker tells me and just “let go and let god”, which I do, for increments not longer than it takes to finish a Tic-Tac.  I’m of two very distinct minds: more than anything, I want to pay off my student loan debt. It’s a sum that collected over eight years of schooling.  I suppose I’ve always been aware of it in the same way that one imagines their own demise–it’s too far down the track to imagine the inevitable day when the Grim Reaper…or in my case the Government of Canada, arrives and says “pay up sucker”.  On the other hand, I am giving hungry eyes to every map I see.  I want to walk on foreign soil, I want to zig-zag cross the globe, I want to see so many places. And yet, it all seems impossibly out of reach.  There’s only so much money to go around, and the persistent adult living inside of me is saying that now is the time to scrimp and save.  I’m 32…and it feels like that sand is burning it’s way through my hourglass.  I am reliable at work, pay my bills on time, obey road rules. I am a functioning member of society…but my soul is a gypsy wanderer that sometimes wants to disappear into a crowd.

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Benjamin is working overtime to lift my spirits.  Like a tap-dancing bear, rattling off the many blessings in our life while I sob and snivel in the shower. He’s right of course.  He’s a permanent resident.  We’ve finally settled. We both have excellent jobs, a nice home, solid marriage.  While I love my career, my home, my husband…there’s still an extremely large part of me that wants to be in-transit,  heading towards the next destination.  And I’m at war with myself about it.  The idea of properly settling down makes me want to hang on pretty tight to the door frame of adolescence and only pass through only if pushed.   When we look at our future, where anything is possible, there is a blight on the plan.  My student loan debt is the genital herpes of my finances.  I fear I will have carry that around forever; that it will be the obstacle to my most cherished plans. The way I am feeling right now is the very reason Peter Pan refused to grow up.

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My poor husband is hovering along the outer perimeter of the house.  Walking along the walls, giving his wife plenty of breathing room.  He’s sensed for sometime that I am a panther ready to strike…or a wounded orangutan who would swap at you weakly…(it’s been a real low energy week).  I’m crying, and I feel like I can’t stop, he rubs my back and says: “You’re crying for no reason…this confuses me”.  Poor bugger.  Finally, he drops the gauntlet…”Alicia, do you think maybe this is PMS?”.

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The Bear gets a multitude of bonus points for the endless love and support.  The glass half full, cheer-leading approach is truly uplifting.  But everyone knows that suggesting being ‘tired’, ‘hungry’ or ‘premenstrual’ to a depressed and slightly irrational woman is like putting a loaded gun in your carry-on at the airport.  The end result is not going to be in your favor.

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It very well could be PMS, it’s usually hard to tell because of my IUD, I really only experience symptoms every four months. Whenever I dip into an existential funk, I can often console myself that it is simply hormones making a fool of me.

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Meanwhile, my sandpaper sentiment rages on.  I can’t write it out, and so it brews inside of me like a toxic tea.  Why can’t I see the positive?  Why does everything feel like the worst case scenario?  When Ben was listing our lengthy tally of blessings–I could appreciate every one.  We do have a good life.  Maybe it’s my own scientific quota: debt/dreams x age ÷ fleeting years of fertility.  This hit the nail on the head when I’m crying in the shower; Benjamin said that there were no ‘deadlines’, that there was room in our life for everything, that there was ‘lots of time’.  The thought of a pre-baby time crunch made me cry even harder.  Fuuuuuck, where is the time going? Why does 32 feel so old?

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As I finish the blog, I’ve come a little closer to accepting that I am right where I need to be.  That everywhere I’ve been was where I was meant to go.  I haven’t reached all my goals because I’m just not there yet.  It’s not my time, I guess.  I’ll just keep walking this path, keep writing, and not hate on Robert Frost so much. (He actually suffered immensely in his life, lost a lot of love, and wrote the line– “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world” which was later engraved on his tombstone.  Now I feel kind of annoyed with him all over again. I feel the same way about life and wish I had written it first).  But that’s just my ego talking.  A new season will come around.  Moods will lift, PMS will pass; the days longer, the sun shinier.  The snow has to melt sometime.

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Images Courtesy of Google

Semicolon Cleanse

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve forgotten your mobile phone, I-Pad, carrier pigeon, whatever–and been stricken with the image of a million people trying desperately to reach you.  And then once reunited with your phone, there is not a single missed call. Not a text, a tweet, a like, a poke…nothing.  It’s as if the whole universe is like “No I didn’t need you, let me just check with my other realms…no they didn’t want you either”. Sometimes that is an isolating feeling, a  real ‘feelings-hurter’; thinking that nobody wants you, needs you and that there ain’t no way they’re ever going to love you.  But don’t feel sad, because, shouldn’t your own company be perfectly adequate?

Alone in a CrowdYesterday I overheard a woman taking about joining her daughter in a colon-cleanse.  The daughter couldn’t face the task alone, and so the mother got lured into it.  Ugh, the thought of a cleanse sounds horrible, reminds me of the cayenne pepper, maple syrup, lemon and water cleanse that girls used to do.  I never did it because I saw the horrifying results, the monstrous behavior of malnourished girls.  It didn’t matter if you had an amazing body or squeaky clean intestines,  if you were in the clutches of something ravenous and emotional.

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What interests me is the idea of electronic cleanses; occasionally eliminating the news or the internet from your daily life.  Since I started the blog in March, a huge part of my life has been sitting in front of the laptop.  The phone that my husband bought for me (that I said I didn’t need) has become a real presence.  It’s so easy to check on and obsess over blog stats and to post endless opinions, pictures, preferences.

Pin-up+girl yellow phoneI’m always connected, always online; delving deeper into the eternal avenues of the internet.   I worked last night, and once I got home, I just sat there, eating in front of the computer, squinting at the screen light, reading about Sid and Nancy.

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And I just felt so tired.  I suddenly had my fill.  I shut the computer off.  This information will be there another time, that e-mail will not implode if you don’t check it right away, and the internet is not going anywhere.

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I’ve taken on a social media project,  which I love.  I could research and write forever.   But this morning…I  strayed from my routine–getting up at seven, and turning on the computer before I grab a cup of coffee.  I’d bring said beverage into the office, where I would remain for hours.  Firstly, I slept off and on until nearly nine.  I overslept so long that by the time I got up the coffee pot turned itself off.  And without making a conscious effort or declaration, I didn’t use the computer, I didn’t check my phone.  I just wasn’t bothered.  And my god, is anyone else aware of how much spare time you have if you are not fucking around on the internet?  I could have baked bread from scratch and then churned the butter for it afterwards.  I spent the morning tidying up, organizing the office, doing a load of laundry, washing a stack of dishes.   I visited a good friend, and watched her baby, while she had a shower.  The wee one and I watched a portion of the soap opera “The Bold & The Beautiful”, which takes place in a magical nether-world where everyone looks like models and makes statements like “Listen Brick, you know I haven’t been the same since that plane crash on that secret island with the twin brother I didn’t know I had”.

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Afterwards I went to yoga.  I love my Friday class, the whole purpose of yin yoga is to hold poses for five or so minutes and just…quiet the mind.

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I need that.  I need to turn the volume down on my thoughts.  I get so bothered.  I get angry, jealous, frustrated, bugged, irked–you name it, I can get in touch with that emotion.  The constriction of stress.  The choking sensation of discontentment.  And I’d prefer not to feel that way.

snake charmerWhat I’d like is to hold on to that post-yoga class feeling: calm, relaxed, at peace.  I wish I could be carried home, with my eyes closed, not concerned with traffic, obstacles, deadlines.

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Once home in the afternoon, I checked my phone, which I had left at home.  Nothing.  I checked my inbox.  Nothing.  Facebook offered very little in the way of messages and notifications.  And I didn’t feel alone.  I felt relieved.  No one was let down in my absence.  And I felt better for my inadvertent technology cleanse.   I then spent the rest of my spare time in the office, searching for images, staring at words, blogging, writing, and making up stories as I go along.  A feast after a fast, and everything looks so much more delicious.

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The Mean Reds

This week has been a real doozy.  It’s been emotional and frustrating and exhausting.  Today I don’t have much to offer and I sit in front of the computer screen, frowning slightly and wishing I felt brighter.  When not blogging, I’ve recently been working on a piece for a contest; the theme being ‘sustainability’.  I decided to explore the topic of rebuilding after natural disasters, and my personal experience with the massive earthquake in Christchurch.  And these are not fun topics.  And now I have enough of an essay, and the deadline is close enough that I don’t want to change topics, but it’s not a fun place to visit;  the memories of that treacherous time, the universal idea of disaster and destruction.  The world can be such a frightening place, tornadoes are ripping cities apart, soldiers are being hacked to death in the street, Kim Kardashian wore than horrible dress to the Met Gala (yes those are matching gloves and shoes)…nothing makes sense anymore.

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My problems are all definably ‘first world’; the immigration process is moving at a glacial pace, my university degree is gathering dust, and I’m not yet living to my potential.  I have so much to be grateful for–a loving supportive husband, wonderful friends, and an amazing family.  I’ve got a roof over my head, bit of money in my pocket–I live near two different Starbucks, it’s hardly Darfur.  I have a solid support system who act as a life raft as I try not to drown in this rushing river of my life.  Still, why is it that I feel I can’t catch my breath?  That I feel so hopeless that I can’t stand it?

In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”  Holly Golighty describes her mood to Paul Varjack:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

All too often Ms Golightly, all too often.  Though I don’t have her problems either.

Mickey Rooney isn’t living upstairs pretending to be Asian.

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I’m not a thinly veiled prostitute that has to cater to the boozy (and I mean 1960’s boozy) clients for “cab fare” or “powder room” money.

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I’m not a former child-bride being stalked by Buddy Ebsen.

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I’m not refusing a gorgeous man who would love me unconditionally; (and who would one day star with Mr T in “The A-Team“–hello? how could you refuse?)

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But sometimes I feel tired, stripped down, like I’ve been emptied out of hope and good humor.

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And I don’t quite know what to do with myself.  Holly Golightly reckons that the only thing to do about the mean reds was to “hop into a cab and head down to Tiffany’s”.

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Or if that doesn’t work, a hot shower and “Moon River” on the fire escape always does the trick.

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But what do you do when you don’t feel fabulous at all? When the happy places won’t do.  When it won’t stop raining and you can hardly lift your lips into a smile?

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No…seriously, I don’t really have the answer.  And I’m not sure Holly Golightly does either; nor do I think she’s an suitable role model for good life choices.  I don’t think she has the slightest clue what’s she’s doing with her life, and guess what? Neither do I.  She’s just trying to save a bit of cash for when her brother Fred returns home from the army,  so he can gorge himself on peanut butter on a ranch in Mexico.  I know what I want.  I can close my eyes and see the future as I would like to paint it, but when I look around me, I see nothing but obstacles.  This whole big world is saying “Don’t Walk”.  It’s not the time to make a move; though every fiber of my being is electrified with intent. But there are so few avenues where it seems my purpose has a place.

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Sigh–apologies to my darling readers for this lashing of  blues and reds on your fabulous Friday.  But I thank you for making time in your day, and for giving my thoughts a place to go.  Your eyes on my words is my diamond-gazing, little-black-dress wearing, pastry eating and coffee sipping in front of Tiffany’s.  And it means so very much.

25044-breakfast-at-tiffanys-sleep-mask_1                  All Images Courtesy of Google

Kansas After Oz

When I first returned to Canada, I wondered if this was how Dorothy felt after she returned to Kansas.

I left Oz for this?

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If you think about Dorothy’s life in “The Wizard of Oz“, Kansas did not seem like a very good time.   She was a lonely–a pest in everyone’s way–she had no friends, and had only farm hands/grown men to roll with, and she spent an awful lot of time talking to that dog of hers.  She’s bored in the Prairies, and singing “Over the Rainbow” about the place beyond the bleakness.  But that’s just the movie, I’m flipping through my copy of “The Wizard of Oz”, and L.Frank Baum really cuts to the chase.  To sum up the first chapter in a sentence– “everything was gray and then there was a cyclone”.  One could really make a rocking drinking game out of the word ‘gray’. Maybe the thesaurus wasn’t invented in 1900, but were there no other synonyms within reach?  Rumor has it that L. Frank was going to name the book “Fifty Shades of Grey“, but God had something planned for that title.  “Wizard of Oz will be more suitable to this generation, they just aren’t ready for S&M”– He thinks, stroking his mighty beard.

dorothy frightenedThe first chapter is hardly something you’d find in a travel brochure for Kansas. Gray this, gray that; Auntie Em was once young and beautiful, and now she’s bitter and beat-looking, wailing and whining any time any fun is being had.  When Dorothy first arrived on the scene, the sound of her childish laughter made poor Aunt Em (and I am quoting directly here) “scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy’s merry voice reached her ears”.

Jesus Christ, calm down lady, I’m just having a laugh with my dog, who happens to be my best friend…and who, according to the book,  saves me from growing as gray as my other surroundings.  This little black dog is keeping me young and fresh–so just back off, bitch’.  (Wow, Baum’s version is so different from the movie eh?).

Uncle Henry sounds a bundle of fun too, for he “never laughed…and did not know what joy was…and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke”.  Awesome.

So not only is the company not amazing, their homestead could hardly qualify for MTV “Cribs”.  Its just one giant grey room with two beds in opposite corners.  Seriously guys, are we so poor that we can’t afford a couple of throw pillows? Spruce it up a little?  They don’t even have a decent cyclone cellar, it’s just a shitty hole in the ground.  So generally speaking, the best thing that could ever happen to Dorothy was being swept away in a storm–although looked how well that worked for Madonna.

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Yeah, I went there.  Just when you think I’m going to zig, I zag.

Again, old ‘close the deal’ L. Frank Baum goes from Chapter One: “grey and stormy” and  manages to expedite the story to Chapter Two: “the twister transports Dorothy to Munchkinland, Dorothy gets new shoes, all the information and encouragement she needs and is immediately on her way to Oz…oh and a house falls on a witch–no big deal”.  Man, no wonder MGM had to pad the film version with musical numbers and emotional intent.  In the book there are no farmhands, no one has a beef with Toto, there are very few Munchkins on tap…it’s just Kansas sucks and then then shit went down.  Still, the common thread between the source material and the film is that Dorothy wants to go home.  She is on her way to meet a powerful wizard who has the ability to give courage, brains, and hearts…and she is going to waste her one wish on Kansas?   Silly girl, she had this amazing opportunity to explore, meet new people, and she didn’t seem to have any time-sensitive visa restrictions placed on her.  Yes, she had the pesky task of murdering a witch, who was in turn trying to destroy her and take her fabulous footwear.  And I can’t imagine being trailed by those damned flying monkeys.  But there’s always stress in travel.  But the whole time Dorothy is bitch, bitch, bitch, Kansas this, Kansas that.   Uh, remember how dull and gray it was?  You are living in a technicolor world and you’re best friends with a scarecrow, lion and tin man! You don’t have to talk to Toto all the time!  What more could you want?

It’s like–uh hello girlfriend, you’ve got some brand new shoes, break ’em in a little!

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But I can connect with that sentiment, wherever I am, I always want to go somewhere else.  I call it ‘wanderlust’, my husband calls it ‘restlessness’.  I was recently lamenting the limitations of the immigration process to a girlfriend; that our marital existence was in such a holding pattern;  we can’t leave the country, we can’t make any long term decisions, all we can do is wait.

“Well…maybe that’s a good thing, maybe you just need to be present“.

Maybe.

But from the moment my husband and I met,  we were on the move: working-holidays, mini-breaks, road-trips, and then we just stopped.  Like you could literally hear the screeching of brakes.  The plan was always to settle in Canada after Australia, but I couldn’t face the end of our journey.  I suppose to me, British Columbia represented ‘reality’; with all the history and heartbreak, and the occasional dark shadow in certain pockets of the province.  Instead we landed in Toronto, and drove through Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia with my best friend Evelyn and her husband Craig.  While the trip was amazing, we did take ‘money to make a home with’, and turned it into a ‘we don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn’ type of situation. By the time we arrived at my parents’ place in British Columbia, we were pretty much like cartoon hobos with moths flying out of our empty pockets.  Though it was never the intention, my parents opened up their home to us so we could gather our bearings, and save some money.  And our first Canadian summer passed in my parents basement, in my old bedroom.  Ben framed houses in the hot sun, while I worked at the local newspaper office and at Boston Pizza most nights.

My parents live in a small mill-town, and there is not…a lot to look at.  I wonder how Dorothy coped with the sepia colored landscape after all the luscious hues of Oz.  “I don’t remember it being quite this grey”, she’d think to herself.  We missed so much about Australia: the city of Perth, the blue skies, the palm trees, the Swan River, the heat. Though my folks were so kind to take us in, it was occasionally difficult for all parties; especially when both couples are used to their own routine on opposite ends of the earth.  I mean,  Auntie Em and Uncle Henry probably kind of liked having that room to themselves while Dorothy was off gallivanting in Oz.  And then Dorothy came home with one of the bears she saw hanging in the forest with the lions and tigers, and the space got even tighter.

Working opposite shifts with Ben meant we mostly saw the other curled up in slumber.  We weren’t able to talk, we were losing touch, we were drifting away from each other.  I told almost no one that I was home, I could hardly process it myself.  Geographically speaking, it was like being “The Wiz”, and wishing you were “The Wizard of Oz” again….I don’t want to be Diana Ross, I want to be Judy Garland! 

wiz_the_1978_685x385Of course, Canada is not a gray and miserable turn of the century Kansas farm; there was family, friendships and happiness before I left the country for nearly three years.   But it was in being where the circle began; the indignity of being broke and dependent; losing touch with my husband during a period of long hours and hard work; the uncertainty of the immigration process that pushed me to a breaking point.  Like Dorothy when she weeps for fear of never leaving  Oz.  Of never getting home.  Where is home? There’s no place like home? What does that even mean?  Home has become where my husband is and that summer he felt as far away as the Southern Hemisphere.  When the seasons changed, we moved to a different town, and made a little home  together, and we could finally think of embracing this country as our home.

I realize now that living in Australia was not always a fantasy land either; I go over old essays or journal entries and know there were our own metaphorical versions of flying monkeys,  nasty fruit bearing trees that sassed you if you dared to pluck an apple, and forces threatening to spoil our adventures.  Every country, every place will have it’s trials, there is not one perfect, untroubled destination.  And I can rationalize that the grass is always greener and whatnot, wherever you go there you are and so forth, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering what else is over the rainbow.  I suppose that where I am right now is exactly where I need to be, but my advice to Dorothy is to savour her journey and be grateful for the color, for there is a black and white horizon ahead.

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Abreast of Breath

Angelina Jolie‘s preventive double mastectomy has been worldwide front page news.  Opinions, comments and compliments are now flying everywhere.  It is quite a shocker, but the fact that she lost her mother from breast cancer at merely 56, and carries a similar risk to develop cancer at a young age, I can appreciate why she would do it.  She’s choosing her life above all else, and that’s commendable.   (Also, imagine the kind of new super-human bionic-boobies that only Jolie/Pitt kind of money could buy).

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Last summer, I discovered a thick band of lumps alongside the curve of my left breast.  It was like this long stretch of a congested highway, and one lump was so sizable, it was like the accident site holding up the rapidly growing traffic jam.   I showed my husband, who is possibly more familiar with the territory than I; and his lips pursed in concern.  After another day or two, I showed my mother, who did a similar lip purse, before suggesting that I get to their family doctor.

After the appointment, sitting on the examination table, resisting the urge to swing my legs like a child while  the doctor draws black circles on cartoon breasts.  I mean, he wasn’t ignoring me while absentmindedly doodling breasts on a prescription pad, it was meant to be sent to the hospital.  But they were a seriously decent artist’s rendition, full and round, they are the kind I would go for if I had a choice, (minus the black dots).

Of course, I had to wait about one hundred years before my appointment at the hospital.  It was a crisp fall day when we arrived at the hospital.  First I was meant to have an ultrasound, then if there was further cause for concern, then I’d  immediately pass go, and head in for an exploratory mammogram.  I kept thinking, please don’t pass go, please don’t pass go.  After the ultrasound, the technician left the room, and Ben and I did not speak from holding our breath.  When she returned, she explained that I was to have the mammogram.  I inhaled sharply, my damp eyes, immediately seeking my husband’s face.

Sitting in the mammogram waiting room; it is a cramped space, middle aged women, myself and my 6’9” husband, clinging to “Beautiful British Columbia“, the only magazine in the room .  Everyone else is wearing outfits; whereas mine is in a hospital issued plastic bag.  I’m still in my hospital gown, with my pashmina wrapped around my neck.  (“Are you cold? A nurse asks me.  “No, I just want to look fabulous”, I answer).  I have a baseball sized lump in my throat, and am staring straight ahead at the generic painting on the wall.  One woman in the room is nervously jabbering on, her voice teetering on frantic, desperate for some back-and-forth. Normally, that is my kind of thing, I think nothing of striking up conversations in grocery store aisles and cinema queues, and really, there is no better place to have a laugh but in the hospital waiting rooms.  But not today.

Though something inside of me, in this moment,  wishes I had said something to her.  I’m sorry that you felt alone.

When my name was called, Ben squeezed my knee before I rose out of my seat.  I went into the room, where there was not just a mammogram machine–but a MEGA mammogram machine.  My jaw dropped and the …mammogramologist… (is that a word? it is now!), looks at the machine and back at me.  “Have you had this done before?”  “No…but I heard something about pancakes”.  She chuckled, “It’s something like that”.  “Sadly mine will be more silver dollar pancakes”.  And the technician has a good ole laugh, and I relax slightly.

When this machine was invented, there was little consideration for short women with underwhelming breasts; there was no delicate way to discover whether something deadly was slipped into my A-cup.   I had to mount the machine like a graceless whale humping the shoreline before my little silver dollars could be minted.  After the test, the technician left the room, to show the results to another doctor.  I waited, making a big sweaty mess of the hospital gown, the fear suddenly catching up with me, and the thought of this once laughing woman coming back into the room with a grave expression.

She comes back in, “You are good to go”, and I let my breath go like air being let out a balloon.  And maybe I cried a little.  “It’s okay…were you that worried?”  Who’s not worried when you are sentenced to a mammogram?  No one thinks to themselves, ‘What to do with my day off–massage or mammogram?’  Or “I hope the results are utterly terrifying!”  The technician gives me a warm squeeze on my shoulder, “Take it from me, if you feel a cancerous lump, it will take your breath away”.

Take my breath away? Like in “Top Gun“?

Top-Gun

Sadly, Not like ‘Top Gun’.  But if that day were to come that something in side me that made me feel the way that was foretold, I’d like to think I could pull an Angelina Jolie, wrench the danger from my body, and fight tooth and nail to live another day, before my breath was taken away.