The loss of superlatives

16 11 2016

getty_superlative-154954029I’ve always been the sort of person to speak in superlatives. I talk about the greatest thing, waggle my tongue around three-syllable words that overflow the conversation, wave my arms about, waggle my eyebrows, roll my eyes.

In writing, I try to take out my excitable words, seek other phrases that are less “Golly Gee!” and more description-enhanced. Less “fabulous”, more evocative.

But, since Trump, I’ve even lost those.

See, he’s absorbed the superlative arena. With his endless rants and talks of “bigly” and “the best” and “great”, and his manic gesturing and twitter rants, I am rendered mute.

social-network-mute-quiet-generic-640x434Since the election, I’ve been left speechless, even, in a verbal slump, angry at how words can be used to lie in all sorts of crazy, meaningless ways. Angry at the pundits, “Oh this was only campaign rhetoric. He’s not going to do that.” It’s okay to lie, they seem to say, because no one believes you anyway. Left without speech as I reel in horror as the actual future rolls out ahead of me, burning ground, shrivelled hopes, fear…

It’s like If84d9123c06e24a9e9632f6f721d6984 can’t think of words strong enough to explain my despair. I don’t even live in the US and I am unable to deal with this. His hateful speeches have opened the Pandora’s box of every country’s racism and sexism, and said, “Hey, let’s show our ugly side.”
And so we do. We aim our frustration at “other”, we snarl at anything that seems to put us out, even mildly. I know my patience is pulled tighter than a piano string as I hear one bad news item after another. As Mr. T settles intothe White House (oh, but he wants to commute back and forth to his tower because that will only cost millions and hours of frustration for New Yorkers but at least he’ll be able to sit on his gold toilet in peace), more ridiculous stuff happens, more stuff so outrageous I am left gobsmacked and verbally crippled.

It’s like my mouth closes tighter with every dangerous move. I feel  bit like Mrs. Lynde in Anne of Green Gables, mouth pulled into a knot, shoulders tense, head throbbing.

Perhaps it’s because, if I open my mouth, I’ll start screaming.

Bigly.

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On aging, and gradually disappearing

10 11 2016

432af0eea731d117bf5ac6181eea87abI missed my 40th high school reunion this past weekend. I was sorry not to see the gang, the people who had known me BEFORE – people who might have the memories I have lost over the years, the ones I dig for but can’t retrieve, unless I have them in photographs.

I’ve lost the old times, but now, since my MS has led me to retire early, I am seemingly losing form and shape of more recent years. I have people explain things to me as if I didn’t know about them – as if I hadn’t led a life of great activity in the work world, short though it was.

It’s hard when you see grey-haired, frazzled old me to imagine what I used to be – a nurse in a burn unit; a prenatal teacher; a home visiting nurse who saw people in dirt-floored houses; a campaigner for the NDP; an initiator of programs to benefit people’s health; a published writer and advocate; the woman who writes for Amnesty every year; the one who studied health policy amongst the socialists of the LSE and epidemiology amongst a team of students from around the world through the LSHTM. Someone who has travelled the world and read about places, read thousands of books, made hundreds of creative things, met with and engaged with thousands of people, one to one or in small groups, working to effect change for the positive.

Nope, people see me, the gal with the big words, the round tummy, the uncontrollable cartoon-happy-smiling-old-lady-senior-citizen-pink-dress-46821182hair.

I sometimes feel like screaming, “Look, look! It’s ME in here!” But, realistically, this happens to us all. I have a good friend whose life has led him all over Africa and to the depths of New Brunswick. I cherish the well-roundedness this life has given his thoughts and opinions. But to the outside, he is an older man, retired. He and I shuffle together. No one knows what fierce hearts beat or have beaten under our admittedly aging skins.

I have wonderful other friends whose lives would fill a book with adventures, but whose adventures I barely know, taken up as we are with the day to day lives of now. There’s a hesitancy in sharing as life experiences are so different, and what may just be talking may sound like bragging. I’ve had a privileged life; many others haven’t.

One of my sons worked on a project to go with people as they transitioned from home to care. It would tell the caregivers who that person was, how they liked their tea, what their background was, so they wouldn’t have to tell everyone over and over again what they did or were or valued. It would be like a much more informative nametag.

I like that idea, but the question is, who would read it? Would the busy care workers care that I once ran for the NDP nomination? Would they want to know about my poverty needs assessments that guided the development of services in Kingston, ON? Would they care that I change my preference for tea from time to time? Probably not.

And so we age and gradually diminish, becoming creatures of the present.

Unless. Unless we don’t go quietly into that good night. Unless we stick our necks out, risk things, do something new. Thats my plan.

the-powerpuff-girls

My heroes. AKA the Persistently Annoyed

I feel like Rhoda Morgenstern on the old old TV show, who shouted, “New York, this is your last chance!” Time for me to throw my hat in the air, and even if it falls to the ground, pick it up and keep on going.

 

 





Gnawing my fingertips

8 11 2016

images-10My nails are long since gone…..

I’ve been dreading this election Tuesday for months. I live in Canada and thus can only watch, horrified, as a rude, lying, idiotic man bullies his way through towards President, making all of his policies (if any) sound like “I know I am and so are you” schoolyard yells. Or whenever he is told of his past behaviour, he just bully-cartoon-2015-1denies it, like we don’t have a film record. It’s bizarre.

But some people do think he’d make a good president, I hear. Migods. Surely the American people can’t think that someone who makes money off of ripping others off is a success story? Or an accused rapist and admitted assaulter is good to send out into the world as their spokesperson?

But then I remember the American dream. The one that was sung to me when I lived there. The off-key tune that: everyone makes their own success; losers deserve it; and if you win, God’s on your side. It is a horrible, selfish dream, the kind of one you suck on like a thumb when you are curled up in the da51uphka8al-_sx319_bo1204203200_rk, chewing over some hurt. It is a gray-green dream, the colour of jealousy and pride, two of those deadly sins we hear about now and then. And it’s a white person’s dream, a white man’s dream. Everyone else knows that, sometimes, no matter how hard you pull on those bootstraps, you may not “make it”. You may not be rich or famous, which appears to be the only goal worth having. Well, that and heaven.

If you choose to avoid wealth, you are obviously sick. Good people are those that make millions and then dole it out in dribs and drabs. They are applauded, while those that suffered at minimum wage and long hours and poverty gaze up in adoration, forgetting the whip…

58660647And what of those very religious? I have a family member who believes that if God loves you, He (it is a male God, of course) will make you rich. My family member isn’t rich. How horrifying that must be, to think that therefore God must not like you. How damning. How angry it must make you at those you see as less deserving who are wealthier than you. Surely they cheated somehow, or were given the job because of special interests. It can’t be that YOU are not competent or prepared or the right fit. No never, because God loves you and so you are perfect.

It breaks my heart.

I’m also watching the races for the Senate. I have an irrational desire for a Democratic sweep – irrational because of the millions spent to prevent such a thing. I hear the GOP saying they will block everything if they get in and Ms. C wins. Childish and horrible. A waste of the taxpayer’s money they seek to protect. Or so they say.

It amazes me that President Obama was able to accomplish what he did, despite the racist rants and rebellion of the right. It sorrows me that he wasn’t able to accomplish a lot more. It enrages me that the block is by conservative men who want to control women’s bodies by preventing liberal appointees to the Supreme Court. Suspend Roe v. Wade, they cry, because life is precious. Until, that is, it is born, and then we can starve it, shoot it, beat it into submission…

But pgodzilla_zpsag7wurjbrimarily, I’m gnawing my fingertips because of the violence validated by the media and one candidate in this race. I worry for friends and relatives and everyone else too, if the situation flares out of control. Everyone seems to be packing a gun south of the border, and tempers are frayed. I’m hoping that people won’t go rioting or marshall up the militias because, somehow, having an uncivilized monster run for President has made it even more okay to attack those weaker than you. Or different from you. Or those who “took your job.”

But if they do, the media will be there, licking its hungry lips, making media darlings out of the worst of the worst. They should be ashamed.

The US has been fighting the “war on terror” for years, yet hasn’t trimmed the roots of terrorism within its own borders. I pray that poisonous tree will not blossom tonight.

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Last night I dreamed of blood…

2 11 2016

pyjamagirlcaseIt was one of those hyper-acute dreams, the ones that stay with you when you wake, the ones that play over in your head as you try to retrieve their inner details.

I love these dreams. I like trying to figure out what my brain was up to to create them, what they might mean, if one believes in those things. I try to be sensible and realize they are simply random sparkings of neurons, meaningless except in a “isn’t it a wonder what the brain can do” kind of way.

But then I remember my dad’s dream.

My dad was fine, healthy, happy, if a bit “well-nourished” as he joked about seeing in his medical record. His mother had recently passed away, and he was of course grieving her, but she was older and had been ill for some time. It hadn’t been a surprise, though he of course missed her deeply.

So, when he saw her in a dream, walking towards him, he was delighted. He called out, he raced toward her. She reached for him. As they got close, his sweet mother’s beautiful British face turned into that of a terrible hag, her hands into claws, her body into a skeleton. She grabbed for his neck, clawing at him as he pushed back in horror.

A few weeks later, he noticed huge lumps in his throat. He’d had them for awhile but now 10lymphoma-final-year-8-638they were too big to ignore. He was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma and given a death sentence. They treated him aggressively and he lived another ten years, but he nearly died a few times and his spine collapsed, and when the cancer returned there was nothing left the docs could do.

Before he passed away, he had a long period of bedrest and I was lucky enough to hang out with him and chat. I made it very clear that he was ON NO ACCOUNT to come and visit me with any such dire warnings, that I would prefer to go unknowing into my life challenges, thanks very much. I told my mum, too, but she doesn’t take orders well. I’m not convinced she wouldn’t figure out a workaround.

All in all, this makes me a bit freaked out about last night’s dream where Father Don, a priest AND my mother’s brother, walked my bleeding self around to see all the relatives. I was in pyjamas, and I wasn’t in pain, but all of my clothes were bloodstained, like I was having a period from years gone by. I saw figures of all of my extended family – my dear Uncle John and Aunt Colleen, Aunt Eileen (standing with her arms just so), Aunt Dorothy Ann (smiling, sad), other, less recognizable figures. I knew they were relations who were no longer alive. They all smiled at me, gently welcoming. No parents with claws, thank heavens, and it wasn’t scary, but…

Dashing to the online dream encyclopedia, I found ridiculous interpretations. Menstruation dreams can be either the relieving of stress, or the unburdening of self or in Islamic interpretations – (pah!) great evil. Priests likewise have a variety of meanings, depending on whether the interpreter liked priests. Blood? Relatives? Pyjamas? Therbf96bed1d413d194df6bf62c17468f52e is no help to be found there.
So I walk about today, vaguely unsettled, wondering…

And thinking, ah well, at least they were silk pyjamas.

(Doesn’t help that this is  All Soul’s Day, something I just thought of THIS INSTANT. Eeeks!)





Nanowrimo, or why it’s a darn good thing I’m an introvert

1 11 2016

aee
Ah, blissful solitude.

Solitude with the sounds of silence or rock and roll or even really old-time gospel music, while my fingers make strange movements and my brain creates a world in my head.
It’s a strange thing I spend most of my time doing – creating. Either I am wrestling with tiny bits of fluff and very very very sharp needles (with barbs), or I’m trying to get my  stabbed fingers to type coherent sentences, to create emotions with words.
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It can’t be done in polite company.

I’ve just spent the last two weekends at craft sales, filled with delightful people who create worlds, too, who toil in obscurity for the love of what they do. Filled, too, with the people who like created objects, the ones who may shop at Walmart for this and that, but who appreciate the time that crating from nothingness takes.

And of course the others, the scoffers, the bargainers. “Is that your final price,”
one woman asked me, for a handstabbed sculpture that I worked on for hours. I wonder if she’d accept the same treatment from her boss. “So, I didn’t really appreciate that hour you put in the other day – how about we just split the difference in your hourly wage and what I think you’re worth and let it go for that?” Or the ones who asked, “Are those made out of dryer lint?” Sigh.

I find it amazing that it is only women who ask to bargain, even professional, well-paid women, like C D on CTV, who tried to get a sale price on one of my critters. It’s like they feel fellow women don’t deserve a just wage.

But I digress. Most of the passers by were lovely and I particularly enjoyed when they’d smile at the things on my table, their eyes lighting up, even if they didn’t stop.

But I’m full up with people now. I need to extrude them onto paper, take the characters and the facial expressions, the sayings and the smiles and extract the good stuff and make them into new real people on paper. Maybe.

I signed up for the Iceland Writers Retreat next April. Why? It’s a silly thing, really – I haven’t been published in years, I write here rarely, I’ve taken enough writing seminars by now that I can never make back the money in writing.

BUT! Iceland!!! Northern Lights!!! Writers!!! ICELAND!!!

(many many handsome northern men)f3b4ba47b9e999a871f1a618a12cdc9e

So I tell myself that the only way I can rationalize such unreasonable expense is if I get published before I go and by ye gods I shall do it if I perish in the attempt. I’m using Nanowrimo this year to jump start my writing, to force my unwilling hands and brain to the keyboard. Tomorrow, around working on some commissions from my sales: two chihuahuas, a gecko, a moose, etc., I’ll be looking for places to publish my past work and writing more to spec. I have a hot date with the Writer’s Market and Duotrope and Places for Writers and more to find people looking for what I can write. Nanowrimo is for the first drafts of these projects. I know it’s supposed to be so you can write your novel, etc etc etc, but I prefer to write short. 50,000 words is a lot of articles written, a short story or two, a novella and change. It can be done.

And bliss, I can do it in my solitude, with dear cat Bendicks and Betta fish Bob for company and the sounds of life outside my windows. And of course, the occasional refreshing foray into the world for refills of inspiration and madness. And characters. I’ll be looking at you….

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I hope….





Feeling my way

17 11 2013

I foolishly rented a 14th story apartment for the view. Often it’s glorious – the harbour opens invitingly out of my bedroom window, and lake MicMac winks at me from my den and living room windows. I often while away non-writing hours watching the rowing shells draw circles and figure eights around the islands in the middle of the lake, take a fantasy ride along with them, curse with them the motorboat people doing doughnuts in the middle of the lake.
But for the past two days, the fog has been so thick I can’t even see the trees reaching their arms up to me. Birds flying by appear suddenly, like fish in a curved aquarium. The cat startles, unsure of how these pigeons are appearing. My apartment is shrouded in grey light and I am compelled to descend and walk on the earth to prove to myself it still exists, solid and still autumnal.
I haven’t had a winter in my aerie yet, and I wonder how winter storms will feel here. The last time I was this high in winter, I was living in Ottawa in my first year of nursing, sharing an apartment with my dear nursing buddy and two cats. We’d gone house hunting together and, both not wanting to offend the other, had agreed on higher and higher apartments as they were offered. We each thought the other wanted to live higher up…
And so we spent many evenings carrying two protesting cats down 20 stories after the fire alarm went off. The place where we lived had a resident who would set off the alarm to get the cigarette butts people would leave behind while the alarm got shut off. We’d all be outside for half a cigarette or so, and she could gather up the leftovers as we rushed back in from the cold.
We didn’t smoke, thank gods, since we often had to climb back up the 20 stories or else wait hours with struggling cats in the lobby.
There’s something oddly disconnecting living shrouded in fog. Down lower, you have the shadows of buildings, trees, cars, people. Up this high, you can go for hours with nothing visible out of the window. It’s isolating, sound is muffled, you have no idea of the time, until the grey goes darker…
In the midst of the fog, I’m drifting through a nanowrimo novel. I’m following my character around, watching with bemusement as he talks to people, does different things, makes love, creates mayhem. The path forward is as foggy as the view out of my window, but I’m liking the experience of drift. It’s fun being surprised by what he does, what other characters do in response.
So I’ll take the fog for a while longer.





Top 12 software to write your novel | Publish Your Own Book

4 07 2013

Top 12 software to write your novel | Publish Your Own Book.

thanks to D.P. Lyle for originally sharing








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