A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #8 – The Burger Car

19 03 2019

Jacke Wilson is my superhero. I’m addicted to his History of Literature podcast, and am ashamed to think that I have only now set out to find his blog, which is brilliant, as per below. Would love to have him over for dinner, or better still, set out on an explore of literary London with him and the thinky son. My darling children, who I hope think of me as at least a chocolate chip cookie if not a madeline, these parental thoughts match mine when raising you. Off to buy Wilson’s books, whoever he truly is…

Jacke Wilson

Home from traveling, I jump into the gray Corolla. I’ve been a Five Guys Dad lately, flying to Los Angeles for work and back home on weekends to take the boys to soccer and movies and the library and their favorite restaurant. It’s not an ideal way to parent, but what can you do? My job requires it, and my life requires my job.

As usual, I’m first. As I wait, the smell inside the car rises up and makes me shudder. Old burgers and fries. The smell of a grill, the smell of grease. I do not feel like I do when I’m on a sidewalk and the hot fumes coming out of a bar make me hungry and eager to go inside. This smell is stale and disgusting and I hate it.

I’ve never liked this car. I was forced to buy it in a hurry (two cars in two days) when…

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God Finally Releases OS Update Addressing Horrifying Depths Of Human Depravity

19 03 2019

via God Finally Releases OS Update Addressing Horrifying Depths Of Human Depravity





Relocating a purpose

25 02 2019

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I went to meet up with some of my most vibrant, involved women friends last week. They are getting older, easing into their late 80’s, but they are still so heavily involved in their communities, in politics and environmental conservation, teaching, and learning. They inspire me every time I see them.

I was surprised when one of my friends said that she was ready to die. She had just taken us around her town, meeting friends and people she’d helped and would continue to help everywhere we went. She was so integrated into the town, so many people demonstrated how much they loved her. But she added, “What would be the purpose in living on?”

It’s a question I think we all deal with as we grow older, or more infirm, or when we retire. Suddenly the parameters that used to bound our lives are gone and we shake our heads and try to re-define ourselves. Or at least I do, and my friends are also doing so.

images-8As for me, and my wobbly brain cells, I’m still all over the place. I am still overcommitting and not meeting my responsibilities. I do a slapdash job because I am scattered in my head and want to do so many things before I can no longer do them. Write, create art, sew, see friends and family, explore…(I suspect a pathological avoidance of housework is to blame..). I am still trying to figure out WHY I am here, what my purpose is. Every time I think I have it, my world jostles and options are shifted out of reach.

As I plunge into my activities, I think over my past choices, adventures, losses. I know I must take the things that have affected me, and dig deep to find my reason to be here. Otherwise, I seem to be merely supporting capitalism…craft supplies aren’t cheap…

images-7Something has happened recently that is making me rethink priorities. A lifetime friend of mine passed away suddenly. Another friend is struggling with cancer. I have spent so much time ‘being busy’ that somehow I’ve not spent enough time with them. I’ve learned things, I’ve completed things, I’ve written. I’ve been busy and tired enough I’ve neglected exercise. I’ve made myself ill.

But what strikes me most are the lack of moments I’ve spent with those I love.

MS gives me only so much energy per day. I’m feeling it is a good idea to focus on physical activity (for energy and health) and being with the people I treasure. Everything else is replaceable. Nothing else is truly necessary. And it is something only I can do.

Just have to finish my books first…and learn to paint…not because anyone needs another book or another painting, but because I am better for trying to create. And when I am “better”, I can give more to others, my friends, my family.  Which is maybe my true purpose after all?

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That joy of tidying up thing: underwear edition

15 02 2019

too-many-clothesToday I decided it was time to unwedge my dresser drawers and get rid of all the clothing that wasn’t “bringing me joy”. I dug out all the shirts that had lost their joie de vivre – the ones from cheap shops that were light and woven by factories where toxic chemicals are regularly present. I pulled out the wool sweaters I’d washed in hot. Actually, ALL the wool sweaters had to go, as my allergy to wool increases.

I sacrificed the pants I’ve been wearing for years with the turned up hem that refuses to stay in place. (I’d wear them and say to myself, “A turned-up hem means you’ll travel!” I did travel. Still living on peanut butter on toast paying for it.) I let go of socks that had done yeoman’s service for ten years or more. I didn’t thank them for their service, but we did share a moment. I tossed the dressy shirts of scratchy polyester. We didn’t have a moment but my 100% cotton sweatshirts could be heard snickering.

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It was all going swimmingly until I got to my underwear drawer…

Those delicates desperately in need of bleach were an easy heave. The bras with the underwire teeth already bared I discarded with extreme prejudice.

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But what about the sexy undies I’d bought in hope and thrill, thinking about what might happen when they were on? They slipped liquidly around in my hands, still in almost brand new condition

They made me laugh, made me wistful, tossed me into a meadow of memories. I couldn’t believe I actually had bought some of the things I found crumpled in the back of the drawer.

 

Some were too uncomfortable to even wear, bought in a naughty mood and tucked away – those ones that ride into uncomfortable places and make you walk funny. Some had lace so scratchy I’d have needed band-aids after wearing. (I thought that maybe it would soften after washing. It didn’t.)

The thing is, lingerie really is for the person wearing it. In me, it somehow creates confidence, a jaunty walk, a feeling of being sexy, even in an unfit self. There is something so pretty, so feminine, about those threads of undies.

I can slip on something light and lacy and maybe some pull-up stockings, and feel like I could be that woman who gets the bacon and fries it up in a pan…

… until the elastic attacks something it shouldn’t and I limp unattractively to the nearest washroom to detach myself. Heaven forbid I should try to tuck a tiny panty liner into them as the liner will immediately glue my buttocks together and make walking exquisitely painful. And awkward.

Ridiculous, really, given my body, rounded by chocolate, split by three huge pregnancies, tired and partially bionic. Kind of like putting those little ruffled hats on turkey legs…

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But I just can’t let all of them go!! Dreams die hard. The urge to feel sexy dies even harder. (Ask any 70-year-old man) And the gym opens soon. I can be buff again. Can’t I?

Laughing, I tuck a few of the least painful ones back into my drawer. If nothing else, I can wear them and walk about with a knowing twinkle in my eye. And that brings me joy…bb9dc47145b341c55dcd0f0a5be22cb9--vintage-lingerie-nice-things

 





The 4 AM moths

21 01 2019

 

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Wakey, Wakey!

Sleeping has never been difficult for me – more it’s waking up that seems the challenge – but I find that as I get older, waking up at 4 in the morning is becoming a regular thing. I’ve even seen more than a few dawns lately, something I thought I’d left behind. More of a night owl, me.

 

And then it starts. There’s something about this time of the morning that makes me wander through my entire life, highlighting mistakes I’ve made, things I wish I’d done differently, things that were foolish (and not in a good way). I hold imaginary conversations in my head, rewriting them so I don’t sound a complete fool. I turn decisions around, looking for an option. I tell myself off. I tell others off. I revise my life to not make those mistakes I made, waste the time I’ve wasted, spend the money I’ve spent.

dysfunctiondemotivatorAnd I wonder about myself – how have I messed up so badly as to end up here alone and a mite lonely, with a cat who helps keep me awake by checking up on me as I toss and turn?. Little moths of doubt flutter about the room, batting their wings at me and leaving the dust of my misspent adulthood all over the place. Maybe it IS true that “The only consistent factor in all my dissatisfying relationships is you.”  Or me, in this case.

 

 

I think about times when I’ve accepted bad behaviour from friends, where I’ve let my boundaries fall, where I have let myself down. I think about the shoulda dones – the wishes I’d spent more time with friends, less time being busy, the friends I’ve let down or sent away. Then I think about all the things I should have accomplished by now if only I’d applied myself.

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I plan desperate new diet and exercise regimes, I contemplate moving to a new place, a place where I haven’t made so many mistakes yet. I writhe at the thought of bad intimacies, poor judgment, improper financing. I vow to attend church more often. I promise to do better, to make something of my life, to be kinder and more thoughtful and just stop being misled. I remind myself that I never make good decisions after two beer.

 

 

I can’t help but wonder why, when I wake up, I review all the miseries of my life, instead of the fun stuff. There has been fun – laughs with friends, creative outpourings, more affection than I probably deserve, the opportunity to contribute…

 

 

But still the night moths flutter, each one laden with a failure here, an embarrassment there, a poor judgment, a heartbreak.

I’ve always hated moths. Way back when I was small,  I read a story about a boy named 01288582Denny who collected moths and stuck them to the wall of his bedroom with pins. At the end of the story, a giant moth comes to his window and he can hear its wings battering the walls. Then Denny is no more.

The story creeped me right out. I haven’t liked moths ever since and struggle to look at butterflies, though I adore their beauty.

Some terrors acquired early sink deep.

Some acquired late also pester. Usually at 4 AM.

 

 





The occasional wallowing, or how I wish I could chat with Sophia Loren

19 10 2018

Approved-Sophia-Loren-Armando-Gallo-Photographer-I have a lot of friends who are dealing with chronic illness or the illness of loved ones or bereavement or even the loss of pets. So when I saw this article, it called to me: “The Other Side of Grief” by Whitney Akers. The article links to a group of stories about how people coped with their grief, from goat yoga on… One of the points made truly resonated with me:IMG_8129

“Even years later…a sense of deep loss comes in cycles, is hidden in the nooks of your house for you to unexpectedly stumble upon, and becomes a part of you forever…”

So true that. I fell across a sketchbook of my dad’s the other day (he’s been gone 32 years now, for context), and I had to stop and catch my breath, the feeling of loss was so acute. Every time I see an apricot poodle, I am overcome with memories of Pickles the wonder dog, my best friend through many years of my marriage. I talk to someone about a work issue and I can’t help my mind from skipping back to things I wished I’d done differently at work. I feel again the loss and embarrassment I felt when I was forced by my MS to leave employment.

People with chronic illnesses deal with incremental grief, too – every new challenge needs to be adapted to, self-image redefined. Inside we try to stay the same as we were (or better still, learn from our experiences), but our outer selves change and toss us aboutfunny-picture-dump-the-day-53-pics-funny-funny-misshapen-body a bit.

Sophia Loren says: “If you haven’t cried, your eyes cannot be beautiful.” I agree. It’s like parenting or running a marathon. Unless you’ve experienced significant loss, you really don’t understand. And the type of loss isn’t what is important. It’s what it does to you. You can grieve the loss of a pet as heavily as of a person. (I urge you to avoid grieving for plants or fish though as they die frequently and you’d just be a mess.)

I’m not saying it’s okay or good for anyone to grieve constantly. I think that just lays you waste. But in my experience, it’s good to be prepared for those little bits of grief that leap out at you from the corners. It’s extra special good if you can appreciate the feeling and then use it to enrich your world, by helping others or creating art or even just smiling at strangers who look like they might be having a terrible day.

Sophia Loren also says:
“I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.”
Mind you, perhaps sharing ALL of your past might be unwise (shameful details might lead to the wrong impression…;-) ) (ahem)

 

Of course, Sophia also said:

e4e93e94-73ea-4980-b49f-e124be457e98“Everything you see I owe to Spaghetti.” and “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

See why I love this woman?

So, while I’m not inhaling spaghetti (though now I am dreaming of it), I’ve decided to take the lumps the world has given me and sculpt them into something else. I know it helps.

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Writing classes, or how to spend lots of money without really having to write

13 10 2018

I’m guilty. I’ve been signing up for writing classes since I started writing way back when become-a-writermy youngest was 2 or so (He’s in his late 20’s). I’ve done college classes (excellent), online courses (variable).  Like Claudia Casper, I love literary festivals as well (SO fun and full of kindred spirits and one was in Iceland, just saying). I’ve done Humber, Gotham, and a few other classy places.

One could argue that I’ve been wallowing in writing courses and socializing with other writers rather than actually (ahem) images-2writing. But I have been published here and there over the years and was feeling pretty confident until I started writing for public health and was told I needed to suck all the life out of things. Now I have too much life in things.  It’s like, once the boot of writing pamphlets was lifted off my neck, all I seem to be able to write is bad language, unusual sex scenes, and naughty characters. And religion.

I MAY be working a few things out somewhere in the depths of my brain.

220px-Margaret_Atwood_2015I’ve just finished a Masterclass online, taught by Margaret Atwood. I’ve had my difficulties with Ms. Atwood, with her negative worldview, and most especially with the stranglehold she has on Canadian Literature. In a sour grapes way, I complain about the FOMA (Friends of Margaret Atwood), those who get slid in for Booker prizes on their first attempt, the upper crust of writers. (I am still bitter about Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, which is yet another memoir about how awful doctor training is. They should try nursing training – the same disadvantages with much less pay and no respect.) (OMG, Bloodletting has been optioned for television! Gawd.)(I really don’t think it’s very good, can you tell?)

But I’m slipping into my usual pit of writerly jealousy and self-hatred (What have I published recently, anyway???). So, back to the class. Very rarely in the writing biz you fall across someone who is both a good writer and a good teacher. Margaret Atwood is one of those rare angels. (As are Christina Decarie and Meg Wolitzer and David Lebovitz and Claudia Casper, to name a few) The others I mentioned are good face to face, where I met them. Margaret Atwood manages to be warm, engaging, encouraging and realistic while chatting to a screen. As in Steven King’s wonderful On Writing, her course offers nuggets of information that are worth the time and expense to obtain.

Well, at least I think so, and as I said, I’m a bit of an expert in these things.

My favourite tidbit of advice from Margaret Atwood’s course?

“The wastepaper basket is your friend. It was invented for you, by God.”

I’m posting that on my computer. I need to remember this. For all of my creative endeavours…it’s freeing and opens the door to literary and creative play. After all, no one has to hear a wastepaper basket scream… and I can even use my crafting urge to create the basket itself!

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