Thursday, December 20, 2007

Goodnight and Good Luck

I started this in 2005. The writing has been a friend - and I treasured the writers/friends I've found here.

Everything has a cycle, though - and this cycle has come to an end.

I wish you all peace, happiness, wisdom, laughter - and good writing. I'm only a click away if you want to find me.

Be well, all of you.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pilot to co-pilot

Cat used to feel very very sorry for himself when I was at the computer. He was, after all, down on the floor like an animal and he didn't like it. He sang great sorrowful arias to that effect, too. Andy, formerly known as "the wanker," suggested that I might give him a place to sit and watch and much to my astonishment, it worked. As soon as I sit in my chair, he sits in his.

Now, my only remaining problem (other than him throwing up on the carpet), is that he feels compelled to bead. Or at least to stand on the beads when I work, trying to eat them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The truth of the moment

I’ve reached the State of Equilibrium. It borders on the State of Hysterical Inertia – a territory with a thousand highways criss-crossing flat, changeless land only to arrive back where they began. It is always exactly 5:00 p.m. in Hysterical Inertia – neither day nor proper night. You start having impulses to get out of the car and dye your hair blue-black, or shave it off, or move your bed into the bathroom. Anything to get off those roads. I imagine it’s like Alberta, without borders or mountains.

I’m not sure what’s beyond the metaphorical gazebo I’m sitting in now. The thing about Equilibrium is that it doesn’t particularly matter what’s out there. I’m counting crows and seagulls. A three crow morning today, matter of fact. And that’s about the only fact worth knowing. I’m pretty much happy with breathing as my primary activity.

You do have time to think here, though. And I realized today (with no sense of alarm or disappointment) that when people (okay, male people) hail you on an internet site, it is merely a reflexive action - a man passing by rotates his cranial unit and seeing apparatus in your direction. Rather like a nervous tick. A flicker that sputters out in the time it takes to send an automated compliment. I’ve stopped answering the flickers.

In November, I decided that a period of celibacy was in order. I cut the last thread with my used-to-be, who took it in a spirit of bad grace, foul temper and threw in a couple cutting remarks. No one else was in view, so it was pretty much a done deal. And I was happy with the decision for a week.

The fretting began soon afterwards. I was celibate for over seven years once. By the end, it was neither a happy nor a healthy experience. I began to dwell on that. Began to ponder years, possibly all the rest of them (because I-am-no-spring-chicken, as they say) alone. Alone except for the cliché of a cat. Woman and cat. How long, I wondered, until I was dressing the cat or making little hats for him and then taking pictures. Ohmygod posting them. Here.

I moved from Fretting to Hysterical Inertia over a period of weeks.

And here’s the thing – I have no idea how I got to Equilibrium. One minute I was considering packing a duffel bag and running for my life – to anywhere else. And the next, I was in the gazebo not even remotely considering haute couture for the cat.

And feeling like my life was…pretty much okay. Maybe it was the hours of making mandalas – or just plain old divine intervention. At any rate. I’m manless. The cat is hatless. And there was just one crow on the way home. No seagulls.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Send therapists

The floor of Herhimnbryns garden

I've gone Mandela mad. Kaleidoscope Krazy. I'd snitched this photograph from Secret Hill, having fallen in love with a certain blue-grey that seems to be everywhere in Western Australia, and this morning, because I had Far More Useful Things To Do - I made Mandelas instead. This is much nicer to look at full size. So please click to enlarge.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Travel plans

The cover of a book on Claude Monet is tacked to the bulletin board on the wall in front of my desk. It is, specifically, a reproduction of one of Monet’s paintings of the Garden at Giverny. I’m caught in butter yellow water lilies and the water itself, a shimmery reflection of surrounding greenery.

I’m dressed in jeans, a sweater, socks, boots, my winter coat and a scarf. My hands are icy.

The new heating system for the college is having one of its frequent unreliable days and outside, it’s -14C.

I’m imagining strolling the garden at Giverny, eating in Monet’s blue and yellow dining room, drinking coffee in his studio, talking a little about the work, the light…

Later, I plan to visit Frieda Khalo’s blue house.

Mostly, I plan not to be here – where the Atlantic Ocean spits wind cold and damp enough to split your bones. To leave this place where, for 8 months of most years, listless grays and shriveled browns give way only to the dingy white of exhaust-stained snow. This place of shoulder-hunch and salt-stained boots and February weather bombs. Soul shrinking. Bleak.

I will take myself to Frieda’s, where tropical flowers bloom year-round – fiery reds and flaming oranges, exotic pinks and purples…the scent of heaven in the air.

Frieda waits in this alternate dimension. A pet monkey on her shoulder, flowers in her hair, the jungle breathing green behind her. We will walk to the blue house together, holding hands and laughing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Winkers and Wankers

I do some of my best work when people piss me off on internet dating sites. I'd feel sad about sinking to the level of replying to some of these ding-bats, but hell, they "winked." What is a wink, you ask? A little message available to people who haven't coughed up the cash to actually join a site - but are able to post a profile and send canned messages like, "I think you're beautiful" or "I could be the one for you." If you email them (as a paying member) they can reply. They just can't initiate email.

Last night, a man in Britain winked. He said, in his profile, that he wasn't actually looking - just amusing himself. OK, fine. Then, he offered a joke that went:
"I got a sweater for Christmas but what I wanted was a screamer or moaner." He wanted to know if the winkees got the joke and found it funny. He suggested he enjoyed getting erotic email from strangers.

And then, I used a valuable two minutes of my life replying:

"The sweater vs moaner/screamer joke? Mildly funny. I have a hard time with puns. There was a traumatic pun incident in my youth involving an uncle who also wore plaid pants on Sundays. I'm sure you understand.

You are not looking for someone. Admirable. At least you admit it.

I don't write erotic emails - so we have a minus score there. I prefer to be erotic in person. This is not to say I can't write erotic emails. I'm very good at them - but I think some company like Hallmark should be paying me for them. I could be "Say it with Smut - a little tiny division of Hallmark."Or I should have my own 1-900 number. (You may not get the references here - unless you are cursed by Hallmark cards in Britain.)

I am looking for somebody. I actually - I WAS looking for somebody but have given it up. Now I'm looking for another cat and perhaps a goldfish.

What exactly is the purpose of the "wink?" I suspect it's a way of saying, "Hello there. You don't know me, but I'd like to see you naked." The reason I'm asking is because I've bothered to actually write letters (See! I'm doing it again) to winkers (try not to think about how close that is to another word)...and find that they reply with a sullen or distant few words and then disappear into cyber space, never to be heard from again. Or they express regret that I am so far away. Light years, if they only knew. And besides, the number of miles is clearly indicated on the profile.

But you're just amusing yourself and so I feel it's fair enough for me to amuse myself back with yet another letter saying anything I please. You did say that fairness was a quality you value, didn't you?
Cheers, Linda"

It was a therapeutic two minutes. Even though it's like feeling pride in being able to hit the broad side of a barn door with a volleyball. And at least I wrote something.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Planet, Saturn? Or as Mark calls it, "The Flaming Shitbrick"

“Once Saturn enters the twelfth house a subtle change occurs within the psyche…the time of dissolution.”

I’m cliff climbing up that rock face, sleeping or waking these days. Struggling to write something witty or even slightly, minimally upbeat. Sorting through my bag of spiritual answers and handy little mantras and folks, I’m coming up empty. Coming up dissolved you might say. I thank you from my heart for your patience – but I don’t see any immediate possibility of a change in weather patterns.

“There are many times the client has said ‘I don’t know who I am’, when Saturn is deep into the twelfth house. This is not to say that other people do not think that they know who one is.”

Which could explain the disorienting sensation that people are talking to someone who is not me. Someone who is occupying my exact location in space.

“The boundless deep of the unconscious is filled with primordial images that arise spontaneously, both while awake and while asleep. Images and sensations creep in, occupying what used to be superfunctional space in the consciousness.”

Well. There we go. Then everything is unfolding as it should. Do not adjust your monitor, there is merely a leak in superfunctional space. A sense of “terror and anxiety” is to be expected.

You see? This is also why, when friends ask me to look at their current transits, I know that they are likely twisting on any one of a hundred hooks like this. And I am plumb out of soothing phrases like "transitional period" and "opportunity for growth." It's the equivalent of telling a woman pregnant with huge triplets that she "will experience some discomfort" during delivery.

I am apt to use phrases like "Flaming Shitbrick" - and really, it's not very professional to do that.

...Once my friend KD dreamed she was sitting in a boat with an angel who was standing, (looming, I assume) at the front. She was trying to shoot it. And she was missing. “At close range,” she told me, in a tone of disgust...

I think I know the feeling.

(Quotes from Saturn in Transit – Erin Sullivan)

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I've been staring at the screen for a long time. Words refuse to type themselves and thoughts refuse to shape.

Last night I dreamed I passed through spider's webs and I was bound. Stung until it was a matter of death or immunity.

I woke to purrs and little paws walking over me. Sticky with threads, I pulled myself to consciousness like someone climbing a sheer rock face with no hand or toe holds.

Friday, November 16, 2007


The future fumbles
blank and blind
while tidal waves of memory
cover me.
Flotsam and jetsam.

Tide in, tide out.
Swallowing the ground
underneath my feet.

No one here but me.

A little shy,
I gave you music
I bought for you
on a rain-soaked lunch hour
and you smiled.

You said:
I’ll have to pay you back.
I’ll call you next week.

You meant to favor me
with your presence?

Alms for the past?

I swallowed shock.
I couldn’t reply:
A gift is a gift.
Not a trade.
I’m not cashing in
the chips of our history.

I didn’t tell you.
I can’t explain the obvious.
I never could.
Not that you wanted
very often
to know.

In the spirit of the writer's strike

An LOE rerun. I was reading back recently and decided that this was one of the entries I personally liked. I'd been uninspired for weeks and Mark finally wrote to say, "Just fucking write something."

So I did.

Maybe my friends should swear at me more often.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All that you have

This is what I'm listening to tonight.
And specially for Sister Teri of the beautiful voice.

Blessings all.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Post-Noel. Anyone care for a dried apricot?

Well. That was underwhelming.

Hurricane Juan hits us as easily as a Harlem Globetrotter lobbing a basketball into a flock of sleeping pigeons. We count on it subsiding into the nice kind of tropical storm we’re used to but no.

So this time, as Noel scuds up the Atlantic coast all whirling hell and red center on the radar pictures, nobody is asleep. The pigeons are wide awake indeed. They are moving patio furniture, slicing off dead tree branches. They have water, batteries, flashlights, first aid kits. And…

It’s no small deal to have 170,000 people lose power – especially if you’re one of them and it’s two days later. Crews are in from New Brunswick and Maine helping out and everyone should be back to our precarious “normal” soon. Until the next one, anyway.

When we’ll all be effectively reminded that Mother (Nature, that is), at any moment, can fling us back two centuries.

The winds were fierce. Up to 180K in Newfoundland. It rained in sheets for hours.

Personally, I woke up Sunday morning to flashing digital clocks – and the sudden understanding that dried apricots and almonds (I just had to have a few) are about as effective as peanuts and prunes.

But really, nothing to see here, folks. And hence, no material.

Perhaps I should try another date if I’m seeking disaster material.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Joyeux Noel

Dried Apricots & apples.
Almonds and sunflower seeds.
Applesauce in individually sealed packages.

Here we go again. Post-tropical storm Noel is due to arrive sometime tonight, packing hurricane strength winds and bringing with it what meteorologists are calling "a solid wall of rain."

This time, I won't be suffering the cheap, scented dollar store candles - the only ones left in stock by the time the stores finally opened after Hurricane Juan. Since Juan, I never have less than 500 tea lights (safe candles) and two dozen votive candles on hand. And a flashlight.

This time, I won't be stuck, if the power goes for days and days, eating the only dried fruit and nuts I could find days after the hurricane: peanuts and prunes. Usually when I tell people that's what I bought (because dried fruit and nuts are nutritious and don't spoil), they start laughing. I might as well have taken up a steady diet of Ex-lax. I was unwashed, my sinuses were suffering near terminal damage from inhaling cheap candle perfume, but I was, by god, regular.

Waiting for the bus this morning, the sky is heavy and sullen. The air is wet and cold - but the temperature will climb considerably today - and then plummet again after the hurricane passes through. Flocks of birds wheel wildly in the sky. When the wind begins, my cat will start to tear through the house, unable to contain the energy he feels from the change of atmosphere.
As for me? I'll haul out the duvet and hope that the power isn't gone for long. It will be 8C the day after Noel. That's around 45 F. Brrrr.

Wish us luck, folks?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Smarties Theory for Smart Women

Weedy came up with the Smarties Theory. Because, I suppose, she has to listen to me whine about my love life and my total ineptness is driving her nuts. Weed is half of a happy marriage that's lasted around 30 years, and (it seems to me) any guy she ever dated or has been around for over 20 minutes is still in love with her (in a charming, unobtrusive kind of way).

" Because they don't know everything about me," she explains.

As I am the good ship Titanic of relationships, she's seen fit to share her survival tips with me.

First this: I tell men what I think. Not just some of what I think. Most of what I think. OK - all of what I think. With hand gestures.

"Men don't want to know what you think," Weedy tells me.
"Well then, what's the point of a relationship then?"
"There isn't one. But that's just it, most of them don't want to know."

Weedy's secret to marriage and dealing with the male gender - hand out one or two Smarties of personal information as needed. Everything is on a need-to-know basis. Never give them the whole package. Maintain a little mystery.

"So, you're saying that giving them the chocolate factory in Belgium is excessive then?"
"Yes. Here you go - two Smarties. If you're good I'll give you two more Smarties."
"Then giving them Belgium in its entirety is a mistake?"
"Two Smarties. Believe me, they'll be grateful."

Weigh in, ladies and especially gentlemen. Two Smarties or Belgium?

Friday, October 26, 2007

In which she increases her incredibly crappy karma

Only two people ahead of me in the line at the postal outlet – just in front of me a young black woman with a notice of delivery in her hand. I’ve already fished my notice out of my purse. “She Bop” is blasting out of my head phones. The customer at the desk is an elderly lady who is gesturing broadly, waving what appears to be an empty Purolator Courier envelope. The very young clerk is registering barely contained distress. “Time After Time” starts. Finishes. “I drove all night” becomes “Hat Full of Stars.” Five, ten minutes. I unhook my headphones.

Something about a letter to the passport office not being picked up until 5:00 o’clock, after she paid twenty dollars and thousands of dollars are involved here and what did she pay for if the letter is still there at five o’clock and her son needed that passport and…

You get the idea. I’m not without empathy. I’ve had those days on a regular basis, when everything that can screw up, will. When you hit the wall of bureaucracy and I’m- sorry- but- I- can’t- help- you at high speed, with your face. Where the wheels fall off and the universe seems to have roundly cursed your every effort to stay sane.

Loop loop. Echo trap.

We are now up to “True Colors” though, and there are six people in line. Twenty minutes, thirty minutes. The woman spins through the same story over and over. The clerk, who is too young and good natured to have any idea how to stop it, proffers her best explanation and advice over and over again.

The man behind me explodes, “Jesus Christ!” Everyone else is sighing heavily and shuffling, including me.

Finally I work up my nerve to say, “Ma’am, I’m very sorry to interrupt and I know you’re having a bad time, but there are five of us waiting now.” She whirls around, five feet of grey-haired, tired-out, fight and frustration.

“I have as much right to be here as you do. I have a problem and I’m not satisfied with the answers and my son needed this to be delivered and I paid twenty dollars….” and it’s none of your business!.”

This is a finger on the trigger of the rather large man behind me.

“It’s our business when none of us can get our business taken care of. The lady has answered you. She can’t do anything else. There's a one-eight-hundred number you can call….”

And so on. Raised voices. The air is shuddering with crappy energy. Full moon. Loop, loop.

The woman steps aside. It’s the bass voice that does it. The testosterone voice.

As I’m leaving I comment sheepishly to him, “I guess we both get Creep of the Week for that, right?”

“Somebody had to stop it,” he replies. He thinks a second. “You started it but I was only too happy to finish it.”

Hell hath no fury like that of the powerless. I consider that she’s a generation before mine and most of her life, complaint has been met with actual assistance. By a human. No one gave her a 1-800 number and told her to get lost. Certainly no one charged her twenty bucks for the privilege.

Someone had to stop her. She was stuck, looping. There was no foreseeable end to it. But I don’t think that made either of the creeps in question feel a lot better.

Drink, anyone?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

F*ck it anyway. Girls just want to have fun.

So, another man I really click with - surprise - has huge, enormous, continent-sized intimacy issues. I allow myself to be truly naked with this man - the kind of naked that goes well beyond taking your clothes off - and although he is tossing around words like "enthralled" at the time - two days later he's saying he doesn't want his life "disrupted" by any woman.

Yes indeed.

Last night's therapy was posting the above photograph and a new, take-no-prisoners profile on the Plenty of Fish site:

"You want a lady in the streets and a wild woman in the sheets? You want passion but don’t want it to stray out of your exact comfort zone? Look elsewhere, because I’m not tame and I won’t darn your socks and write the Christmas cards. I'll understand whatever deep hurts you bear but I won't pander. I’m not appropriate unless you possess tenderness and nerve in equal quantities. I’m not appropriate unless you’re a realist who knows how to dream. I come with history (and if you say the word “baggage” once, you’re deleted from the mailbox). I’m not a one-night stand. I’m not what you expect. I don’t want to own you and I don’t want to be owned. I expect the same respect I'll extend to you. I expect caring and give it back tenfold. I don't care what age you are (within reason) just please be ferociously alive. Having said that, I am fiercely loyal, monogamous with the right person, deep down practical when necessary, sensual, sexual, creative, honest, intelligent and funny. And if you mess me with me, you better be serious about what connection really means. And if you write - let me know you read this. If you're just fishing idly - fish elsewhere."

Suddenly I am so very popular. Overnight I am on 16 "favorites" lists and my inbox is filling up. Good for me. A ton of strangers, 99% of whom I will have zero interest in have written to me. One polite question about whether I've ever let anyone worship my feet. And I'm so raw myself that I write back respectfully, kindly - because goddess knows I don't want to make anyone else feel this shitty. In spite of the dubious results, writing the post was damn good as a temporary wall between me and black, consuming sadness. And let's face it - at least I wrote something.

Tonight's therapy is dancing wildly to Cyndi Lauper's "Sisters of Avalon" and writing this post. The dancing, at least, takes my mind of the fact that I can come up with ideas for art but can't actually produce any. It fascinates the cat - who watches from a safe distance, looking utterly astonished.

This afternoon I proposed to Detta, my equally long-suffering coworker. We agreed that we both needed a wife and that because we could at least recognize each other's innate fabulousness, we were a good match.

Whistling whistling whistling past the graveyard. To Cyndi Lauper.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Laugh. I thought I'd never start.

I am hanging onto the edge of a cliff by my fingernails. The cliff is a metaphor for my lifelong belief that love matters, that people are innately good. My fingernails are, well, my fingernails – French-polished and neatly filed, but not much help in the staying alive department. And they make bad philosophers.

In this moment, it is the cliff, the fingernails, a lot of Tracy Chapman songs and Cyndi Lauper howling out “Who Let in the Rain.” It is wine. Whine. Whine. Woman alone music. Apologizing to the cat for being so little fun. It is buying craft supplies, books on soft sculpture, bags of fabric rose petals I-might-use-for-something and lime green dagger beads. It is copying pictures of the Venus De Milo and red apples to print on silk and plans to make a doll with mirror eyes. I’m going to call the doll “romantic love.” Naturally, the doll will have no arms. And I have a strategic spot for the apple. She may, in fact, have wings – or a Virgin Mary halo and horns. It’s part of the overflowing, moldy laundry basket that passes for my mind right now and any month or year now I’m going to sort the laundry and make art.

Or maybe I’ll write a self-help book. When Good Women Fall for Plaid Men. Or Vlad Men.

I want to be an art nun. But no, I keep dating.

Peter Pan. In wolf's clothing.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

conversations with The Cat

In which it is decided that my purpose is to be furniture. He hopes that this is understood and he won't have to explain it one more time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I'm crappy at meditation, but I sit. Observe my breath. Not enough. Light a candle and focus my eyes on the flame, the rest of my attention on my breath. Better.

The din in my head begins to subside. I'm using reminders. When the brain-spin cycle starts (and it's so sneaky how it creeps up) I remind myself: "thinking" and return to breath and candle flame.

For the past few months, the noise has been deafening. Thoughts becoming emotions becoming thoughts becoming emotions in a ceaseless chicken or egg-first cycle. I am overdosed on the stories of my life churning in my tired brain. I'd prefer a plotless life for at least a few hours every day. I'd like to fold up my opinions, ambitions, fruitless worries, vain and reachable hopes, my judgments, fears and even happiness and just be whatever is underneath all that deafening, distorting stop filtering, to stop being twice, three times removed from myself.

This makes it difficult, you understand, to write...

But I'm quietly reading you all, all this time.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


My mind floats and bobs, gets caught in eddies in the stream, bumps up against a rock at the edge and attracts a discarded plastic shopping bag which clings, flapping in the water and then floats off...

Three months by the calendar. Rocks and rapids. White water swallowing the sound of my voice.

Trapped in the broken boat of my own thoughts.

Emerging. I begin to wind paper and cloth into beads. And to gather silk cocoons.

It is the start of a voice.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And the good news is

Two news stories I can live with in under three weeks. First it was the squeegee kid who gave chase when a gang of girls were beating a 65 year old woman using a table leg as a weapon. Other squeegee kids helped the woman while he ran after the girls, hollering for someone to call the police. Someone did and the girls were caught.

And this is the other story:
written by Dan Savage.

A little more of this and I'm going to get downright hopeful about the world.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


composite photo: self-portrait & shadows on jute rug.

I wake up in a room I didn't rent. Where the walls once bore pictures, there are rectangles of unblemished paint. The wooden floor is bare and worn. The place is empty of furniture. I don't know what street I'm on, what city I'm in...

I haven't looked out the window yet. I'm just sitting on the floor, watching the shadows move across the wall. Calm.

Ghosts come and go.
I am not frightened.
This is a waking dream.
This is the mind telling the mind stories.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pox girl and the Phobic

Okay, he's truly, clinically phobic about germs, the new boyfriend. Nobody is perfect, right?
I tell myself I don't need to take this on. I really don't. Not my problem.

But he's phoned twice trying to make it up. The second call, I'm virally teary, offended and depressed and ask in a somewhat hysterical, quavering voice, what other phobias might be looming - homophobia? racism? Because those are real deal breakers I tell him. He assures me he is not a Nazi or harboring either of those peculiarities.

He asks if he can see me after I go to the doctor tomorrow. "After all," he argues, "I'm not going to get over the phobia sitting here alone." And he's proud that he's already made it past the discovery of a tattoo on my upper left arm - tattoos apparently being related to the germ-thing. He's thinking maybe he can conquer fear of germs and viruses next. "That's what you need alrighty, a tattooed, virus-ridden girlfriend for therapeutic purposes." He agrees enthusiastically. As if he can tell that I see his point and seem to be moving him out of potential ex-new-boyfriend to probationary-new-boyfriend status.

What can I tell you? What passes for my love life is, at least, not boring. And did anyone see "Aviator?" Because Howard Hughes was a pretty interesting guy before he went completely off his rocker. Okay. Never mind. Fire at will.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We are not amused

Day eight. See how much better this is looking? You don't. Well, admittedly, me either - but I haven't wept uncontrollably for two days and this, I assure you, is progress. Weeping and depression are two of the side-effects they don't mention in articles.

Today the Doctor actually issued me a corticosteroid ointment. To tell you the truth, I'm not confident anything will help, but I'm desperate enough to try and desperate enough to beg for anything that might. It's that or spend the next three or four weeks wearing high necklines and scarves wound around my neck. It's August, for the love of god. August.

Today was the new boyfriend's birthday. I'd rallied a little and planned to cover up suitably (I am not contagious) and take him out to dinner. However, it seems he is a little Howard Hughesish about rashes and wasn't about to take the doctor's word that he wasn't in danger. I believe that was sufficient reason to push him into the ex-new boyfriend category in my mind. Instead, I took Weedy and her husband out because, frankly, by this afternoon, if I had to stare at the walls of my apartment or go without human company a minute longer I'd have gone stark raving mad.

On the up-side, I can start the medication for the bladder infection just as soon as I finish the anti-virals! Party!

And P.S. I have decided that my immune system is not the only thing past its best-before date. The dating pool is, at best, a stagnant pond full of bottom dwellers and slugs. The good part is that I no longer care.

Thank you for allowing me to rant. Stay tuned for the huge spiritual realization that will follow all of this. I'm grinning. Really.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The blue pill makes you smaller

"It's Nancy from Spryfield Medicine. I'm sorry, I should have caught this while you were here, but the doctor needs to see you about your tests results. When are you available?" Half an hour ago. Half an hour ago I was sitting in the doctor's office, fully available.
"Well, Nancy, I'm just kicking back enjoying time off with Shingles, so my schedule is pretty open."
"Monday, at 11:00?"
"Nancy, she said the office wouldn't call unless something was wrong and I really would like not to wait four days to find out what. Else."
"Something with the urine test. I don't think it's urgent." Jesus, what now? Kidney failure?

This is what you get for letting your immune system kiss the dirt.

Turns out, in a rarely dispensed follow-up mercy-call, the doctor has the office advise me that it could be a minor bladder infection. Am I having symptoms? Nothing I can't live with. And besides, the doctor has just increased the dosage of antivirals from 1,000 mg. a day to 3,000 mg. and these are nasty little babies. I'm swallowing six blue horse pills a day and twice that many vitamins and I'm strangely put off the idea of adding a prescription for bladder infection.

I was hoping for a nice mild attack of Shingles if I had to have any at all, but it seems four or so nerve paths are involved in the party and I am beginning to look like a plague victim. The good news is that I am young for my age (the doctor's opinion) and very unlikely to have paralyzing pain for months after this clears. Good. And the lesions, now that I'm on the right dosage of drug, should start clearing up before I have to wear a burka.

Meanwhile, whether its the virus or the cure for the virus, I am operating like an out-of-sync film. Which is to say, my thoughts are trailing about five inches behind my body, my head feels like a floatation device, and my feet are not quite touching the floor when I walk.

But there's always an up side, isn't there? If I can still whine, I must still be here. I have zero appetite and my diet is solely small amounts of healthy food so there will be weight loss. Oh. And The Cat is very happy to have a private sofa with massage feature 24 hours a day.

Thanks everyone, for the kind comments on the last entry.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shingle me tivers!

I get up finally when The Cat gives up on purring and head bonking and bites the top of my head to wake me up. No coffee. Fasting-since-midnight tests upcoming. I drink three glasses of water, shower, scoop the litter box, feed The Cat, make the bed and get dressed without actually being fully conscious. Weedy picks me up at eight a.m.

Blood tests. Routine yearly blood tests that I regularly go for once every five or six years when the doctor suddenly says, "How long has it been since...?" Take a number. Wait. Maintain dull caffeine-deprived stupor. Try not to look at other number-clutching victims. When number is called, proceed to stall four. Sit down, hold out arm and be recognized by staff vampire who knows me from another lifetime and needs to list all common acquaintances of our youth and ask if I've seen them. Stupor is holding perfectly. Lucky I know my own name. Finally, we reach the grand finale and I pee in a jar.

Then we are directed to the third floor by a nice man who clearly doesn't know if that is where you drink barium. By a stroke of luck, we arrive in the right unit. A sign says "Barium enema, Barium swallows, Upper GI" - very warm and homey. I am "Upper GI" and thanking the gods for it when I consider the alternatives. I take a number. I turn to Weedy and say, "It's your fault I can't read a magazine."
"That's right. Germs." she says without any hint of remorse or apology.

Finally they call my name and we go to waiting room three of the morning and I am issued the standard cotton-tie raglets. Everyone has barium to drink but me, I am wearing only large dust cloths in unflattering colors and my sandals and I consider complaining about the service. Then I look at the faces of the people drinking barium and reconsider. A half hour after my appointment time has come and gone, I am ushered into a room with a slab and given my very own cup of barium. I don't think it tastes half bad and swallow as ordered while a machine studies my inner workings.

By noon, Weedy and I make it to food. We inhale eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes and I steal an extra piece of complimentary fudge for her as we leave.

On to the doctor. Who looks at the big nasty sore red patches blooming on my chest, shoulder and back and decides that I have Shingles. He prescribes large dark blue pills and assures me that they should help. Should? Should? I am running horror stories about people with shingles getting addicted to pain killers and being unable to function for six months. Should??? No way. I am not taking "should" for an answer. This virus WILL die and it will damn well do it fast.

I phone to inform the new boyfriend of my pox-ridden condition. And add, cheerfully, in a later email, "Well, at least it isn't an STD!" I know how to charm a man, by god.

Inside my head, however, a small high-pitched voice is whining, "Why meeeee?!"

And of course, you all know the answer to that one, don't you? Why not me?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This might be going well so far...

A trip out for ice cream and a walk includes a stop at the grocery store so I can pick up a few things and, it turns out, he's located the Tall Girl shop for me out in the Big Box ghetto. He takes me to the store and comes in to wait while I look for straight-legged jeans. He passes the time charming the salesladies.

This is nothing, right? Big deal.

Big Deal. Very big deal to have a man think of the fact that I don't drive and groceries have to lugged and the Big Box stores are so far away that it's a day's expedition to go there. Big deal for him to offer so casually that it seems like a routine thing. And he makes it fun. Coming out of the Superstore, we meet someone he knows and when the man introduces himself and his wife, HB smiles cheerily and says, "Nice to meet you. And this is my wife, Linda." I manage to keep a straight face until we get away, at which point HB says, "Well he had a wife." We snicker like children.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Athletic footware and interviews

A month ago, the final breakup with the Scorpio. A note under my door, followed by weeks of off-and-on snotty nosed crying. I'm puffy-eyed and feel like someone has taken a metal scoop and dug my heart out. The space that's left is sore.

And it's back to internet dating. My old rule is "you have to write me for a while before I'll meet you." Someone points out on their profile that what this method garners is a lot of history that may not be particularly relevant. Someone else says, "You write for ages and then you meet - and hey! You're still meeting a stranger." I have a new rule now. I will talk to you once or twice, briefly via email - and then we meet in a public place.

It's like interviewing. I had three interviews this weekend - one on Saturday, two on Sunday. As my friend D says, "it gets exhausting." Up until the third interview - when I meet HB.

He picks me up, and rather than suggesting a coffee, he spreads out a promotional poster advertising the events at the harbor this weekend. "I have an itinerary," he tells me. We locate the place the bands will be playing and light out for the harbor. He parks and is bewildered, when he comes to open the car door for me, that I'm already on the other side of the van. Good manners, I think. Not me, him.

We stroll, we locate the beer tent where the bands are set up, and we settle in to watch people and listen to the music. He's funny and he gets all my jokes. Never short of an answer. He won't hear of me buying a round. The music is great and we're both belting out songs along with the band before too long. I keep thinking, in total amazement, this is a real date. And I'm actually having fun.

By the end of the evening, we're in The Red Fox Tavern. There's painful local talent on stage and the place is jammed with regulars and it's a little like the bar scene in Starwars. He'd said we were going to another bar. "Bait and Switch" he grins at me.

The next morning, I get an email. "Do you have plans? Shall we go to brunch and for a walk?"
I have plans. My house is in shameful condition. I'm behind on my beadwork. "Brunch would be great" I email back.

Brunch starts at 10:00 and he leaves at 8:00 that night. It turns out that he's a bit of a lunatic. Attention Deficit, I think. He's very bright and his mind is going about 20 times the average human speed. We end up driving and he gives me a tour of auto body shops, indoor cart-racing facilities and remote factories, mostly because that's where the van pointed at a given moment, I believe. For some reason, I just relax and enjoy the pointless meandering. It's a beautiful day. Why not drive anywhere at all?

In the evening, he wants to show me a lake.
Now the interests on his profile were hiking, kayaking and swimming. When I answered his email I agreed to meet with him if he could settle for a woman who might hike, provided no bogs or swamps were involved. I am wearing silly jeweled sandals that consist of a thin sole and two straps over my feet. The path is less gravel than treacherous chunks of rock and root. It's narrow and the trees are closing in. There are boggy patches. We pick our way through what seems like a mile of bad walking and finally I say, "HB!" He continues walking merrily along. "HB!" He stops and turns. "HB, look at me. Have you noticed at all that I'm rather a girly-girl, as opposed to your basic outdoor athletic type?"
He beams at me. "Almost there."

The lake is beautiful when we arrive. He's promised me the sun will set for us and light the water, just wait. It hasn't quite when we arrive and he admits he hasn't come through on that but quickly points out a tree the beavers have almost felled. "Bait and Switch" he says again.

On the way back, it seems there are more paths than we noticed earlier. After tromping, in my ridiculous sandals for about ten minutes, he stops ahead of me and says, "Does this look familiar to you?"
"Does this look familiar to you?" I look around. It looks like forest and bush. All of it.
"Noooo. I don't think so HB. Why?"
"I don't think this is the way we came. See usually I go a different way and come out over there." He points to a jetty of land about four miles away and then perks up. "I'll bet if we took this path over here, we could still get to it - and it's on our way!"
"HB. Get me out of here." He looks surprised. He hands me a blueberry.
"Eat that. These are SO good for you."
And then, I'm not absolutely sure it was anything but blind luck, he got me out of there.
"I'm not forgetting you dragged me through bogs, HB." This does not diminish his cheer level in any way.

But I see the pattern shaping up already. We work different hours through the week and just before he leaves, he says, "I know! I'll come over Wednesday morning at 6:00 and wake you up and drive you to work."
"No you won't."
"I won't? Why?"
"Because I know what waking me up means and I'd be late for work."
"Noooo. I'd get you to work."
"You know you just might start to like that after a while."
"I will kill you if you show up here at 6:00 a.m." He smiles beatifically.

The pattern:
"No HB. I'm not doing that."
And then we do whatever it is he had in mind.

So we'll see. We'll see. You know it might not be half-bad to hang around someone who has announced, in answer to something grumpy and skeptical I've said, "I'll be the cognitive therapist for us." A Leo. Goddess help me.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A good frog is hard to find

Here is my fantasy:

I meet a man in my day to day life. We talk for a few minutes here and there. We finally decide, because the conversations are pretty good, that we should have coffee together. We have coffee or a drink together and the conversations get even better. He's interesting to me and I'm interesting to him.

We exchange phone numbers. He says he'll call on, say, Wednesday. He actually calls on Wednesday.

He asks me out to dinner.


Dinner. At a decent restaurant, with a little ambiance. And why does he choose that kind of place? Because he wants to impress me just a little and wants the atmosphere to be congenial and pleasant.

We meet at the restaurant with a little ambiance. I wear a dress and my wonderful new high heels. Why? Because I'd like to impress him a little.

And while we're having dinner and another great conversation, we're both thinking how lucky we are to be there with each other. We're thinking about possibilities. We're actually entertaining hope.

After dinner, we go to our respective homes - kind of wishing that we weren't but not wanting to spoil things by rushing ahead.

Right. Pigs fly. And it's the era of internet dating. Besides, I keep mistaking frogs for princes.

Either KD had a slip of the tongue today or I had a slip of hearing but I thought she said, "Traumedy" describing a movie. I started to laugh. The perfect label for my so-called-love-life:
Romantic Traumedy.

Damn I'm tired of it.

**Some post after all this time, but hey - that's what's not so new.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The meaning of X

A kiss

A "do not" symbol when placed over the picture of another object

A way to mark the spot where treasure is found

An unknown quantity

In Runes, a rune of the elder futhark meaning "Gift" and indicating the principles of sacrifice and generosity, cooperation and relationship.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The meaning of (o)

A stone.
I was here.
I listened.
I read.
I felt.

A small mark in the vast universe to show you passed by.

The embers of a shared campfire when the travelers continue their separate journeys.

Breaking bread.


Reaching but not intruding.



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Excerpt from a letter

Excerpt from a letter to Jim, who never quits trying to do more than hate injustice in his heart...

(Came home sick and) got a great cab driver - a philosopher from Somalia who didn't have a high opinion of the human race in general - but admitted, before I got out, that everywhere in the world, no matter how crappy it is, you will find that one person who doesn't know you and will benefit nothing from kindness but will be kind and unstintingly generous anyway. It was a nice conversation. And a nice turn in conversation. And then I came upstairs here and passed the hell out.

Today I'm home - just because I still feel a tiny bit rough around the edges (but better, overall.)
I read your description of being in Statesville during lockdown with interest - and not without a certain amount of sadness. It's been a year since I wrote Lamar - but not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of him. During our last visit, he looked at the door before I left and said, in a strangled voice, "I just want to go with you. I have to get out of here." I can't seem to forget that. Can't forget the enormous blast of feeling behind the words. Or that it is so unlikely he will ever get that wish.

I wonder sometimes if it's intentional - keeping the prisoners off-guard. On the one hand, I know that when they built the super max prisons, they adopted techniques based on those used on Japanese prisoners of war - I had papers from a conference to that effect at one point. At one point, I had in my possession, a letter written by the prison chaplain at Menard, recommending many inhumane and cruel and punitive measures. He must have been a hell of a spiritual comforter. Certainly the suddenness of change - the ripping away of "privilege" - the uncertainty, is an effective tool in keeping people constantly paranoid and mentally locked-down for self-protection. Works well on visitors, too. Who also never know when, after they've followed the rules to the letter, a CO will suddenly spring a new "rule" on them and usually there will be no room for debate.

God I hate prisons. They stink of fear and anger and lost hope and injustice. I've met a couple great human beings who were COs (correctional officers)...and had a good experience with a warden at Potossi who actually was very helpful in assisting me to choose a place to stay. But I think anyone who spends time in those places is affected adversely.

You go on - doing what you do - perhaps you get discouraged, but it never seems to stop you. Me? I can't think of being in a prison without a wave of sadness coming over me.
First visit to Lamar at Charleston, when it came time for count, the guards didn't take the guys out of the room. They were just asked to line up on one wall. The visiting room went silent - a huge reminder, just in case we'd been able to suspend disbelief and feel relatively "normal," that things were not normal. That this is what the guys went through umpteen times a day and night. We all sat - fathers, mothers, friends, wives, girlfriends, children, with our eyes averted. The CO on duty was a Native American guy with a good sense of humor (and I suspect, a little compassion) and he turned to us and said, "And visitors can line up on the other side of the room for count." It was a joke. And met by silence. Because it was too close to us. It was too close to that feeling we all had of having become prisoners for the duration of the visit - subject to the same rules, the same arbitrary changing of the rules, the same hassle to enter or leave a room, the constant possibility of being yelled at if a guard even imagined we committed some infraction - say, our chair was too close to his chair, we absentmindedly took a potato chip from his side of the table.

My Somalian cab driver told me that in Islam, they are told to act against an injustice unless it will endanger their lives. If it is life endangering to act, then to speak against an injustice. If it is not possible to speak, then to hate the injustice in your heart. The last is the worst of all the solutions, he said - but to not at least hate it is to be less than human.
I hate it in my heart. And it's no solution at all.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday in July: components

1. The sofa formerly known as Mine.
2. Light hitting Freda.
3. "Dance" in progress

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Where she's been.

I've been in the studio. Anything worth considering it on the bead blog. But for those of you who might suspect my demise, I've posted two new digital pieces I worked on when I took a break from beading.
I've been...happy. Happy. Yes, I believe that's the word for it. Solitary and happy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wherein she commits to a relationship

I suppose this is the beginning of the decline. Soon it will be stewed prunes for breakfast and sensible shoes. I've taken to sitting in the sun - damn the wrinkles, let 'em come. And now this...a cat and I have adopted each other.
Meet Smoke, my new roommate.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Miss Blue Eyes

A warm misty day. Fog blots out the usual neighborhood activities – street conversation and kids playing in the parking lot. Everyone is huddled at home. At times it rains – a staccato conversation, water on pavement. The whoosh of tires on the road sounds like ocean rolling in and out from the shore.

My beading hand went into a charley horse yesterday, so I am holed up resting my it and come to think of it, the rest of me. Silence, then a movie, then silence. The day has no time sequence. It just rolls slowly, like the fog.

For some reason, I think about a doomed pregnancy that ended in my fallopian tube and with the doctor’s pronouncement that I could easily become pregnant but it would probably be life-threatening. I wonder, if that baby had come to term and been born, how old it would be now. Twenty-two or so, I calculate.

I wonder, if there was a soul, a spirit, waiting to come into the world. If so, did it find another mother? And inevitably, it occurs to me that I’ve spent twenty years working with people the age that child would be now. Although that child never became a part of my life, many others did.

I think about the students at Toronto Dance Theatre and my student assistants at the library– a few of whom I’ve reconnected with by putting a profile up on Facebook. E. found me.

E. graduated a few years back and was, last time I saw her, a successful entrepreneur, looking very big city and glamorous, compared to her student days. E. has beautiful eyes, a quick, quirky wit. She's a natural scholar. She is funny, pretty and kind.

I almost didn’t hire her. I was worried that, with cerebral palsy, she’d find it difficult to cope with all the physical motion at the library desk. Back and forth, hauling down course reserves, having to move quickly when it was busy. Marko knew her, and he was a friend so I confided my dilemma to him.

“She takes sculpture,” he said. Sculpture is a heavy, physically demanding art form. “And if you’re not sure if she can handle it, ask her. She’ll tell you.” Right. It was good advice, as well as a mild rebuke.

So I hired her. She hefted the heavy hard-cover books onto tall shelves without a whimper of protest. She waited on the public, and handled the cash and helped people find the material they needed. She showed up on time, every time and often filled in when someone blew a shift. She sat, to my shame, in the same broken-down, second hand chair – the one with the wonky wheel and no back support – that all my student assistants put up with. And she never asked for anything, even though student services told me there was a fund, if she needed a good chair or anything special. It killed me that she had to sit in that refugee from a second-hand office furniture store.

I found out about her sense of humor and kindness because of the chair. I insisted on a new one, budget or no budget. An expensive, ergonomically correct chair. One with all the requisite wheels attached and functioning. When it finally arrived, I was beside myself. None of my student assistants could come near the library without me joyously urging them to sit in the wonderful chair and try it out.

I learned later that E. had whispered to the others, “Make sure you notice the chair. She’s so excited about it.”

Sunday, June 03, 2007

They pay Oprah for this

I realize that most of you probably imagine me to a kind, patient, loving and occasionally amusing person – clear and articulate about my feelings and sensitive to the feelings of others. A virtual model of consistency, level-headedness and at least a little comic attitude. Certainly someone who doesn’t deserve the unfeeling sons of bitches who litter my love life.

This concludes fiction practice for the day…

“What is it you really need?” he asks.

“Not to die alone….but that’s stupid because, let’s face it, no matter how many people are around your bedside, they aren’t making the trip with you.” He smiles and nods and I continue, “I want to feel protected. Like some man actually wants to protect me. But the minute any man tries it, I wheel around and ask who he thinks he’s talking to – I demand to know if he thinks, for some reason, I’m incapable of looking after myself.”

That’s probably as accurate a picture as I can paint of what it’s like to deal with me.

Now him…the recent villain of the piece…he’s afflicted with the same damn set of emotional paradoxes. Or at least the male version of them. He's just as emotional as me too, only he's stuck with the macho inability to rant and rave when aggrieved.

And this. Both of us have good-sized betrayal issues (I know, who doesn’t?) stemming from our relationships with parents of the opposite sex. Both of us are hyper-sensitive to rejection – real or imagined - and both of us are disposed to think death is preferable to indignity. Our honesty levels (along with our tactless blundering) are about the same. Our sensitivity to undercurrents is very close and we are both very observant - except when it comes to ourselves. Our certainty that only we know what’s really going on is the same. We are independent, passive-aggressive and horribly stubborn. We laugh and cry and care about many of the same issues.

That's why we understand one another, why we connect effortlessly, almost always. Except, of course, for the times when we don’t connect and the whole thing proceeds into the toilet with great haste. And then comes anger. And pain. On both sides. Have you ever seen the tarot card, "The Tower?" It's like that when it happens. Babel. Suddenly we need a universal translator because we are from different planets and cannot make ourselves understood.

Having blabbed my own hurt and innermost feelings all over this blog, I feel compelled to emphasize now that I was talking about my feelings, my interpretation of the whole sorry fiasco. That’s all I knew at the time. And so I write it out and he, this unnamed man whose side of the tale you never hear, comes off sounding like a cad and a bounder. And it’s just that he doesn’t get a speaking part here.

Officially, as narrator and the recently distraught, I want to clarify: he isn’t a cad. My boyfriend is not a twat. And his last two weeks were about as lousy as mine. Only he couldn't talk to anyone.

Just for the record.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On the thirteenth day

By the 13th day, anger has flamed into ashes and blown away. The emptiness of loss hollows a space that fills repeatedly with tears. I can’t think badly of him, can’t live with the last furious words I said to him. I can’t summon outraged dignity and hurt pride.

I call to leave voice mail, tell him I hope his upcoming biopsy is over with quickly and the results show he’s holding his own. The wish for his good health is real, but only the top layer of the message, which is I am still your friend, no matter what. I call when I’m certain he’s not there, because I’m not challenging his decision.

And he responds to the message sounding like it’s the first time he’s breathed in two weeks. We talk for two hours on the phone and I say, “I’m glad we could have this conversation. I’m glad it didn’t end in anger.”

He says, “Are you free? Can I come over so we can talk in person?”

At the end of the afternoon, he looks at the bead journal page – studies it for a minute before he says anything then,

“You really thought I was gone for good, didn’t you?”

“Every time.”

Maybe this time we’ve taught each other how to recognize the minefields. God knows, two people never tried harder.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Have shovel, will travel

Archetypes come in all shades: the good nurturing matriarch and the destroyer, the strong, protecting patriarch and the tyrant…the trickster, the fool, the rebel, the child. You get the idea. All these archetypes exist inside us in some measure.

In dreams, I work on the premise that each element of the dream is a fragment of myself.

So what I’m going to talk about here is personal. It is not about a man or men, or about my conscious views on the subject of the male of the species. I’d like to be clear about that.

“Your patriarch had a dream,” KD says, after I tell her about the nightmare.

The light is dim in the dream, a brooding near-dark. I am standing on the bank of a large flat-bottomed pit, about six or seven feet deep. It resembles, slightly, a skate board park but it has been built for the purpose of torturing women. In this dream, there are a group of nearly grown boys. They are wearing the uniform of an exclusive private school – shorts, white shirts, jackets and striped ties. I know that the uniforms mean they are the children of wealthy, powerful people. Above the law.

One of the boys is in the pit, mercilessly kicking a woman who is only half-conscious and curled into fetal position. He is doing this simply because he can, because he thinks she is less.

I am down on the floor of the pit suddenly and find a shovel nearby. Raging, I hit at his legs with the edge of it, over and over, as hard as I can. He continues, somehow, to kick the woman anyway and I keep swinging the shovel at him.

The dream shifts and I am at the far end of the pit, back on the bank, face to face with an older man wearing the same uniform. The boys have retreated to a kind of underground bunker behind him. “No one is going to get to those boys,” he says.

“I’m calling the police,” I tell him “and we are going down there.”

Another shift and I’m at the opposite bank. In my hand is a crumpled medical document in a wrinkled paper bag. My father’s wife is there and I’m telling her that it’s medical information about my father. I’m anxious that it might be important and might be lost. And then I realize that my father is never coming back.

I wake up crying.

Patriarchal power gone mad and corrupt. Right next to the beloved father.

All in my own little psyche.

Somehow, the job is to own all this. I feel like I’ve been in a hit and run. From the pavement, I look up and see that the driver is someone I love and trust. I know perhaps, that he couldn’t swerve in time. But what kills me is that instead of getting out of the car, he screams into reverse and gets away from the scene as fast as possible. That’s how it feels.

In my heart of hearts though, I know that at some level I’ve allowed it to happen. The same corrupt patriarch embedded in his psyche – the one that tells him he has the power and I don’t, that he is justified in his feelings but I am not – is embedded in my psyche, too. The same beloved and good protector in his psyche is in mine too.

I’ll tell you though. I’m damn proud that I didn’t back down to the boss of the bully-boys.

And maybe, I’m going to own it all a little more. And stop blaming myself – and him – a whole lot more.

I'm not foolish enough to think that this ends with one dream or realization. Or that I won't spend more days in tears. But right now, I'm upright. I'm walking and I have that shovel.

Bead Journal Page 1



Monday, May 21, 2007

I used to write

I wake up sane. At least, as something passing for sane. A sense of calm, a sense of something better, or at least different, approaching. There is always something new to learn.

In responding to a letter from a dear friend who has asked for my blog URL, I choose links to a few entries rather than subjecting him to the whole, sometimes badly written saga. I was cheered to think that once in a while, I actually say something that holds up over time - for me, anyway.

And because I'm not much in a writing mood right now, and some of you have started reading here recently, I'm going to post links to the pieces I'm not embarrassed to have written.

Of Sandals and Sealing Wax
You are what you (h)ate
Night of the Iguana
The Habit of Sorrow


Thanks for allowing me to rerun. And for sticking with me through the not-so-hot times and not-so-eloquent entries.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weather report

Day three.
The pattern for the magazine submission is done. Seven pages of directions and diagrams, an alternate clasp arrangement enclosed at the last moment. New photos posted to the bead blog. Fewer tears.

Telling myself a door closing always means a door opening. You have to be patient to see how your story turns out. I am waiting in a deep silent place for the page to turn.

The self-portrait says it better.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Country and Western songs

The phone rings at 8:57 a.m. - but only once. It rings again at 10:00 a.m. and this time he doesn't hang up. By then, I assume, he's taken the requisite number of deep breaths and stiffened his resolve so that, after a long and almost entirely happy relationship of two and a half years, he can announce that we have not been very happy and now it's over.

He phoned it in. That's all I can think about. Two and a half years and he phoned it in.

It is, I think, the second time I have ever let him see me angry. Or more accurately, hear me angry. I don't argue or point out that we have one of these every six months and the rest of the time we are overjoyed to see each other.

"I hoped we could be friends, " he says, "but you don't sound friendly, and I guess that's understandable right now...."

Friends. Does a friend dump you on the phone? Doesn't feel very friendly to me. Feels downright sleazy, in fact.

And now, onward and hopefully upward - pushing off on my three unbalanced wheels, I'll just be continuing with the diagram and directions from hell.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I fall in a hole.


I'm steaming towards a goal. Right now, I have to write directions and draw diagrams for a bracelet pattern because, to my shock and surprise, a pitch I made to Unnamed Beading Magazine got to stage one - which is: send the bracelet and directions for consideration. I chose, in my infinite wisdom, to submit a bracelet design that I seriously doubt I can explain in under 100 pages. But that's not the pattern I'm referring to.

I'm steaming towards a goal. I need to focus intensely. At exactly the moment I get speed up, an important relationship in my life goes pothole (like going postal, only without weapons) I'm left trying to reach the goal of the moment, driving over the speed limit, on three wheels.


The phone rings. It's 10:00 a.m. and I'm having a good day at work. It's Man In My Life and he's calling to inform me that I've sent him a covert message. The covert message in question is that I'm having doubts about him and he's trying to decide if my life would be better without him in it. I have recently, casually mentioned getting email from a Man Who Is Not In My Life. This was the fatal mention containing top secret content understood by him, but not me.

I blithely assumed that I was telling him something about my life. You know, day to day news. I compounded the problem in a later conversation by explaining that I get too far into my maze-like brain as the result of choosing to spend days without human contact. I thought that I emphasized "choosing" as the operative word here but, according to him, I am sitting around alone and blaming him if I am lonely. I am, it would seem, a goldmine of secret messages. And crazy or stupid to boot because, really, I actually thought I meant what I said. I thought I was clear. I thought I knew what I felt.

*Pattern: Blindsided in a public place, deep in the pothole, I try to explain that I didn't mean to give covert messages. I consult my gut. Nope. No secret wish to have him out of my life there. Nope. No blaming him for my choices or general dilemmas.
But I have, I do, I am guilty on all counts, according to him.
Repeat from * over and over and over until I am trying to hide in a nearby storage cabinet with the phone while crying snottily and doubting my sanity. Maybe I'm not even on the phone. How would I know? Maybe I'm not even at the office. The general idea seems to be that I'm shaky on these kind of details.

I call KD, a Trained Professional and more importantly, a pretty smart cookie, for an objective opinion because I'm beginning to doubt whether it's really my hand dialing the phone.

According to the Trained Professional, Dr. Smart Cookie, what we have here is a mixed message which reads:

1. Be free! I have no claim on you. I am not jealous or possessive nor do I want you to be.
2. I am the alpha male and you have just mentioned another man. That upset me and now I am going to make you sorry.

I think that's pretty close. And what makes it bearable is that he has no idea that he's doing that. He gets pinned between his convictions and his conditioning, the testosterone floods in and maybe he's thinking, too, that what's the point of a girlfriend if she comes with issues and - voila! I'm a crazy woman, speaking in tongues, saying bad things. Covertly of course. Just like a bloody woman, don't you think?

Somebody shoot me?

No. Somebody shoot me if I do not a.) make a firm rule against conflict calls at work and b.) if you catch me apologizing for sending messages I definitely did not send.

No shooting him. I still love the big idiot. That's the other part of the pattern.

"Once had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out it was a pain in the ass"
Heart of Glass - Blondie

Sunday, May 13, 2007


They did not kill it while it slept, the chainsaw executioners. They didn't do this a month ago, when buds were a dream and reality was bare and frozen.

Two days now, the escalating whine of blade meeting the resistance of a living tree, just blooming into leaf. The sickening crack of branches as they give way. The shouts and ecstatic whoops of men enjoying the sweaty labor of destruction.

They perch precarious, stories up in the maple's branches and silently I urge them to fall. I wish them dead and then pull back the wish. Curses are dangerous. Perhaps a broken bone or a missing finger would do. Limb for a limb.

A red maple three stories high. As tall as the building I live in. How old was it?

Branch by branch, they dismember it. In a neighbourhood, I think, where beauty is not the hallmark, what we really need is another squat, treeless bungalow surrounded by nothing but patchy grass and decorated with a prefab shed.

I plug my ears with silicone stoppers. I turn the music up. But now and then, sickened and anxious, I check.

There is a hole in the landscape. Through it, I see pavement, cars, bungalows. Where there was a hallelujah of red growth, there is now sky.

Do curses fall on small patches of ground? Not long ago, at the house adjacent, there lived a big yellow dog who was chained to a shed. No one ever walked him. I never saw anyone pet him or talk to him. My landlady asked the owners to have him put down if they wouldn't care for him. The man snorted, "It's her dog and I don't live here anymore." Neighbors fed him and brought water, but many days, ( he was sick and cold as well as forgotten) he keened and mourned aloud - a sound that stabbed my heart. One day the owners sold the cursed place and I can only suppose, grudgingly paid the money to have him killed. I was thankful to think he might be dead, might be free.

Now, right next door to where the yellow dog mourned, this.

And I keep thinking, just a finger, even a fingertip...just so you know how it feels.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I am the new poster girl for a charity event in which people (not me) are sponsored to rappel down the side of a thirty story building for money. This event takes place annually, diagonally across the intersection by my workplace.

At the corner of Hollis & Duke, in front of a Subway sandwich shop, I am standing, one clear blue-skied day last year, mesmerized by the proceedings. Wind gusts hard off the ocean and the victim/volunteers, many of whom are entirely inexperienced, dangle and swing like bells, tethered to life by a mere piece of rope. Many of them can't seem to connect toes to building except to push themselves out into midair again and again. Way up there. About a foot from the sky. Miniature people, from my vantage point. Below them, waiting, are reporters and TV crews.

I recall this with the clarity of absolute attention - my neck aches, my head is thrown back, my hair blows wildly. I don't move for a long time. I gulp down the hugeness of the sky, the sight of the flapping flags on the building top and the flapping humans-on-a-string. For me, the world has stopped its push and shove, it's anthill flow of street level activity. I could have stayed in that spot forever feeling the sky fill me up and the blood pound through my veins.

This past week, people keep announcing that they've seen me on TV. I don't watch TV so take their word for it. Apparently, the next rappelling event is being promoted - and there I am on flickering screens in their living rooms - locked to my spot outside the sandwich place, oblivious to everything else, thinking it's just me, the sky, and dangling people. Can they do that? I mean can they make you be the poster girl without asking?

Sometimes, my brushes with celebrity are less innocuous. For instance, I once agreed to be interviewed by Frank magazine - a muck-racking tabloid of little repute. A friend who had a friend who wrote for them asked me if I'd agree to meet them. They were sympathetic to prison issues, she said - and they said. They assured me they wanted to do something positive.

I asked around, "Should I do it?"
"What the hell, said one friend whose judgment I trusted, "why not? Who reads Frank anyway?" I couldn't argue with that. Certainly no one I knew.
Who reads Frank anyway?

Let me tell you. Every person who visits a corner store, grocery checkout, magazine stand. Every person, in other words, who doesn't live in a cave outside of town, saw the cover - with a hideous picture of me, under the screaming banner, "The Librarian and the Lifer."
And the story was even worse. Not mean. Just...cliche. I told Lamar, the "lifer" of the title, "I was Joan of Arc and you were the Baby Jesus."

Even farther back, practically in neolithic times, when I was receptionist for a local TV & Radio station and when the guest for an afternoon talk show didn't arrive, I was yanked from my receptionist chair and plunked down on the set to be interviewed (live) about the mystery of Tarot cards. Considering the five seconds notice, I did a damn good job. The station even thought about asking me to host a show. Until the calls came in about the godless witch on the afternoon show.

I wonder if that's my fifteen minutes? If so, I'm not looking for more. Not unless I see a cheque soon.

Thanks Evaard, for the inspiration for an entry. For paragraph two - and the rest as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A mind is a terrible thing to waste

abstunt: to abstain from an activity thereby stunting growth

assclown: I just like this one. From KD

bioblabgraphry: talking about ones’ life on a blog (alternate: bioblographry)

biocide: unsound ecological practices (I haven’t heard this, but it might already be in use)

bubblegut: The result of drinking too much beer or bad elimination habits

coopernation: What politicians see as patriotism (these days)

drome: A self-employed person who works at home (fr: drone and home)

fantmare: A fantasy that turns into a nightmare (such as coopernation)

fembrane: the largely useless membrane that denotes virginity in women

Farch: Occurs in the month of March when it feels like February (Weedy’s word)

frage: fear followed by rage

frice: The price of friendship

friceless: Often mistaken for a typo (KD) meaning “without frice.”

sleaky: Slick and sneaky behavior; a charming sneaky person

tofood: Anything vegan trying to act like another non-vegan food

Undulush: Lush undulation

wisteria: transitional emotional state between wistfulness and hysteria (not to be confused with the flower)

worshop: To believe that prayers are currency to be redeemed for merchandise or other rewards

As usual, the f-words have it. Anyone else just dying to burn off a few brain cells in the pursuit of nothing? (It started with "wisteria" and I have no idea why.)