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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Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?

5 11 2016

solitudeI’ve recently had the chance to speak with several over-60-year-old men, and women, about relationships, being single, loneliness.

Well, okay, some of these were dates. Some were laughter over dates. Some were thought provoking, others broke my heart.

We all handle being alone differently. Many of the women I know who are single seem happy to stay that way, at least for now. They are tired from years of sharing their lives with children or family members and are still craving the gentle solitude of a solo cup of coffee in the morning, or a cuddle with their pet in the evening, when they are weary and don’t want to talk.

north-coast-nosh-capper-coffee

coffee. peace. quiet.

Or they want to take off on women-only trips around the world where they can just go and be without the need to perform.

But they are a self-selected group. I hang out with independent (some may say too independent) women.

I also know so many women whose lives are destroyed by solitude, who must have companionship, preferably male and human, to survive. These women are shattered by divorce and find it intolerable to live alone. They, too, break my heart. No one should be alone who doesn’t want to be…but on the other hand…part of being a good partner is learning to be good on your own, I think.

For me, I may more be one of those independent women who prefers to live in MY space, to invite friends to visit, but never ever to stay. Not to say I don’t like the visitors…

axe-man_zpsmfukqwlb

not a real man in a cabin, though the axe might be real.

I know a few independent men, too. But they seem smaller in number, perhaps because they are out in the woods somewhere living in a cabin and so I don’t meet them often.

Most of the older men I meet are painfully lonely. It breaks my heart. I seriously think men find it harder to be alone, struggle more with their sense of self-worth than women do, on average. They seem driven more by the need to make love/have sex/fornicate than women let show. They wake in the mornings dreaming of sex, they go to bed thinking of it. Without it, a huge part of their inner selves seems to wither.

So what does an aging man have to offer a woman? They don’t seem to know. Instead of seeking companionship, shared interests, etc, they look for younger and younger partners, hoping their flagging sexuality can be enlivened by a more active lass. They tell themselves lies about their fitness, desirability, general selves. And so they doom themselves to failure and loneliness. They aren’t used to hanging out with guys, most of them, so they end up isolated. It’s terribly sad.

Oh, and they judge women, by scores they don’t apply to themselves. In happy delusion,

judge_weird

One of my recent dates, examining my height

they seek tens, when they themselves are 4s or 5s, or on a good day, a 7. I had a 400 pound man tell me that he didn’t think I looked THAT overweight (in tones of condescension). I’ve had people suffering bankruptcy tell me I was getting a good catch who would look after me. Riiiiiiiiight.

They don’t think about evolving themselves to fit the needs of women in their age group, to read, to learn, to cook, to be responsible, to be independent and self-supporting. To have let go of anger. That is unutterably sexy. Women who have spent years looking after people don’t want to meet someone who, on first acquaintance, obviously needs looking after. And so many men have interesting lives, if only they would share them in a non-self-aggrandizing way.

So women are stuck in a bind if we want companionship. No one our age wants us – men seem to want women ten to twenty years younger. The ones twenty years older than us want us, but they are often looking for someone of their porn dreams, someone to care for them, someone to adore them, as they were adored when they were young and fit and had their future ahead of them. Oh, and someone who wants to make love all the time.(One chubby fellow I dated showed me his sticky little book of sexual positions, many of them life-endangering. When I laughed out loud at one contortion, he said, sure, we could do that. No, I said. I’m not standing on my head for anyone. Sorry. That was that. I washed my hands and left.)

518ldvbqs-l-_ul1200_Or they want a nurse, preferably one who would wear that sexy nurse outfit while massaging their feet.

Dating is perilous in this age group. If you meet and decide he isn’t for you, and you try to let him down gently, you run the risk of being stalked, as you try to peel his tentacles off of you.

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If you are clear with them, you are a bitch who only values money. (or healthy teeth or someone who lives responsibly or someone who doesn’t spend every spare minute looking at porn on a 60 inch tv set). They get furious at you.

Either way, dating feels more dangerous than it should.

Other men are so sad and hopeful you want to be kind, you err in kindness, you give mixed messages to try not to hurt, you hope they will break up with you so you don’t have to deal the crushing blow. They, understandably, get confused, and you end up hurting them anyway. Or vice versa.

So for those women who want male companionship with a little naughty icing, they have a challenge.

But thank heavens, we seem better suited to solitude. And as for me, male friends rock. More than that, I dunno.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are into crafting with our friends. js23831350

Off to needle felting I go….

 

 





Well, F*** it all, anyway.

29 03 2016

img_1503-1I’m in a mood. I get in a mood whenever my MS takes a little bit more of me away.

When I’m IN that mood, the following things make me furious:

Statements like, on the Shift.ms website: “MS doesn’t mean giving up on your ambitions, just rethinking how to achieve them.” HA!

Statements like: “My XXX has had MS for years and she still walks five miles a day. Healthy living, you know.” GRR!

Statements like: “Oh, you don’t have spasms like XXX has. His are really bad.” OH REALLY???

Or anything that either suggests I can’t possibly do something, or, alternatively, that of course I can do something. Or people telling me I have it good, or people feeling sorry for me.

It’s an angry, crotchety place, my current locale, surrounded by thorns. Can’t move in any direction without being offended or put out or frustrated or angry. I’ve been in it for a few months now and I don’t like myself in this spot. I much prefer to be the cheerful, “Well, tomorrow is another day” kind of gal. The one who copes well all the time, the one who LIVES her life instead of dragging from one day to the other.

The one who doesn’t feel like ripping the throat out of anyone who says anything about MS or life or feeling or anything. Mine or their own.

My excellent counsellor tells me I am grieving. That I need to allow mys11855132-largeelf to grieve to let things go. Well, I don’t know how to grieve. I’ve never learned. I can fake it, yes I can, I can look moodily out into the middle distance, etc, etc, but grieve? Nope. Not in my makeup, not anymore. Too much has gone by ungrieved I have a bloody ice jam in there and the surroundings will likely be flooded if I chip away at things. So it just piles up in huge lumpy blocks of coldness…

So much hurt, so much loss, so many things I’ve tucked away into their own personal hurt lockers and slammed the door. Everything from when I gave out Valentine’s Cards in grade eight and the boys who received them put them on the floor and stomped on them, to when my brother called to tell me my dad had died and I was just pulling the turkey out of the oven for a dinner with friends and I sat there and made polite conversation like I didn’t care. From being a married mother of three to being a divorced mother of distant children. From living with the loss of my job and identity through MS through constant struggles to find meaning in the new life I deal with every day.

But then I give my head a shake. First world problems, I tell myself. You have enough money to have a comfy home, good food, can go out and have fun occasionally, you have friends who put up with you and the occasional more-than-friend who holds you close. Your cat loves you. So what if every action requires days of recovery? No one is bombing you or starving you (alas) or hurting you. You have nothing to complain about.

And truly, I don’t. I am grateful for so much, it seems churlish to complain.

So I’ll just try this grieving thing and hope I can undo the ice jam, just a bit. Time to think about my blessings. Time to do some “aggressive self-care”, as my lovely cousin puts it. Beware of flooding. And maybe take a page out of Roald Dahl’s theory of life and try to think happy again. If only to look lovely…

 

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Some people say these are the worst of times…

5 01 2015

Ah, Styx…..How I loved them, still do. Was mellowing out to music today while stabbing a felted mushroom (yes, my life is odd) and this came up on iTunes Shuffle.

I loved Styx in the day, though sometimes their heavy musicality, like that of the Alan Parson’s Project, overwhelmed my ears like too much Beethoven’s 9th. All wonderful things, all moving, all sometimes too demanding on a bubble pop day.

But the message of the song seems oddly apt these days of such violence and despair and sorrow. It seems every news item is about people behaving badly or stupidly, about our government in Canada acting like tinpot dictators, about the crazies just below us carrying weaponry when shopping with their toddlers or killing police or innocents in the street.

It is easy to give in to it all and give up. Like the song says, “The best of times, is when I’m alone with you…” – it’s easy to hide inside and mutter in your small groups about the outside, about the dangers. To shut it out with noise, or good books, or activities or each other. I’d love to have someone to spend the best of times with having some sweet cuddles or something to distract me from Mr. Harper for a moment or two. But I digress…;-)

It isn’t enough, is it? The hairy beasts are still outside the increasingly porous gates. Perhaps it’s time to try and recreate the paradise we once had…with each other, within ourselves, in our world.

“as long as we keep alive…The memories of paradise….”

I’m thinking that maybe we can get there again…we are smart enough, rich enough, connected enough that these COULD be the best of times…

Or if nothing else, we can sing madly along with songs of our youth and stab tiny animals out of wool…





New Year, new days, no mistakes yet…

2 01 2015

Well, not strictly true. It’s difficult for a gal like me to get through a day without a mistake or two. I almost set fire to my hot bag today, for example. I’ve given mixed signals to a friend. Promised myself I wouldn’t do that. But I did.

Fortunately, I have other things to write about besides self-blame. I was given a “Forgotten English” calendar for Christmas (Jeff Kacirk’s, see Amazon…)

6033113062_1ab2b8da21_z The first word for the year was so appropriate I have to talk about it. It is baubosking, which apparently makes reference to the straying of cattle or sheep from the pasture assigned to them.

I love that there is a word for such straying. I think this may be a good year for us all to stray a bit, step outside our comfort zone, be seen where we normally wouldn’t be expected, step out and be heard, create discomfort, ask questions. It’s an election year here in Canada. Time to wander into the pastures of unfamiliar organizations, find what is important, munch down on policies we haven’t yet explored.

We spent much of 2014 hearing bad news. Maybe it’s time to leave that pasture, too, look at the good things, FIND the good things, in ourselves and others. Maybe the grass is really greener outside the fence of bad news and media reports.

It’s also been all about sexual harassment in 2014, too. Let’s jump that fence, shall we? Let’s expect men to behave like human beings, let’s hold those that don’t meet that expectation accountable. Let’s pull together, men and women, to ensure respectful treatment for everyone, of all ages. It takes so little to be polite, so little to hold open a door to contact, so little to be well-behaved. Let’s not hide behind bureaucracy and work and puttering and buying and eating to numb the feelings that would make us stand up and offer support and help to others.

I’m eying the pasture gate, myself. Not sure which way I’ll head, but I’ll be stepping out. Want to join me?

Peak_District_Animals_-_Sheep_2We can do it.





Hope, or living present while giving presents

8 06 2014

-hope-15908It’s been a week. Shootings in Canada, Women hung for living, flogged for breathing, elections going to the right-wing, just a whole bunch of despair-inducing news. So I dither, and distract myself. Drink wine. Laugh too loud. Read the inter webs.

There are only a few wonderful blogs I follow religiously and read every day –  a favourite is Brain Pickings, and after months of finding gems on it, I’ve decided to support it as a subscription. Well worth it.

Today’s posting was on Happiness, and its fleeting nature. Feeling the teensiest bit blue (as I always do of a Sunday afternoon/evening), it spoke to me.

First, a bit from Kierkegaard, about how hope and memory damage happiness –

Consider first the hoping individual. When, as a hoping individual (and of course to that extent unhappy), he is not present to himself, he becomes unhappy in a stricter sense… But if he cannot become present to himself in hope, but loses his hope, hopes again, and so on, then he is absent from himself not just in the present but also in the future, and we have a type of the unhappy…

Similarly if we consider the remembering individual. If he finds himself present in the past, strictly he is not unhappy; but if he cannot do that but remains constantly absent from himself in a past, then we have a form of the unhappy…

Unhappy individuals who hope never have the same pain as those who remember. Hoping individuals always have a more gratifying disappointment. The unhappiest one will always, therefore, be found among the unhappy rememberers.

Whew. It reminds me a bit of Pema Chodron’s exhortation to “Abandon Hope” as then you will not suffer hurt or loss. I’ve always been a Anne of Green Gables gal, though – I’d rather feel the ups and downs of hope and disappointment, the swells of love and hurt, of joy and embarrassment. I can be blue, but I can also be screaming bright yellow. The contrast is nice for me, at least. Maybe I prefer that gratifying disappointment…but I must say, if I hear of one more woman being killed by some radical religious zealot, I am going to explode with grief and anger and horror and hatred.

A more cheerful outlook from Anna Quindlen… (highlights mine)

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you…

Get a life in which you are generous...And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. 

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

Maybe a trip to the beach is in order, to remind me that there are good things, and good people, in the world. To be present, and grateful.

I’ve been lucky to meet a few people who are generous without thinking about it, who give and appreciate and enjoy and love. They are as the stars in the sky, they lighten my life with their beauty.

One day I hope (there’s that word again) to be like them. Right now I’m in a morass of hoping people will just behave like decent human beings. Or animals.





Mourning for Christmas

18 12 2013

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Ho oh ho! Celebrate! It’s the big day next week! Let’s laugh and play…
Not so easy for those who have lost someone this year, or recently, or who have someone like my dad, who passed away on Christmas Eve, this making every year an ache of longing for him and his cruel/funny approach to the holiday. My uncle the priest said at my dad’s funeral, “he was a fairly good Catholic”, which caused my mother, his sister, to fly into a rage.
Oh families are fun. I miss the strum und drang sometimes…

I just read a review in the New York Review of Booksof Julian Barnes new book, Levels of Life, which might be a helpful gift for those like me who deal with loss over the holidays. He writes about his grief at the loss of his wife, but never directly. In several stories, he lets us know the depth of his grief obliquely. The quote that struck me the most, and reminded me of the time my daughter turned away from me in anguish, never to speak to me again, was this one. He was asked how he felt after his wife died (stupid question, often asked). His reply, recalling a ballooning accident he’s mentioned in the book:

So how do you feel? As if you had dropped from a height of several hundred feet, conscious all the time, have landed feet first in a rose bed with an impact that has driven you in up to your knees, and whose shock has caused your internal organs to rupture and burst forth from your body.

I don’t think you can get a better description of overwhelming grief than that…

It’s one thing when a person dies. The grief, while acute, softens over time. I miss my father every day, but I miss him as he was when he was 60. He’d be 87 now, give or take. Would he be the same? I get to remember him as he was, a man interested in the world, passionate about his interests, talented, funny, always fascinating. But I’m selfishly glad I didn’t have to see him diminish over time, become not himself.

My daughter is another issue. I grieve her in my heart every day she doesn’t speak to me. She has transitioned to be my son and I’ve been excluded. I want to support him as he becomes himself, but I am not permitted to. It is untold cruelty to me. Initially I blamed myself, felt I must have done something wrong. I questioned every interaction I could remember with my firstborn. Overall, I know I wasn’t perfect, but I think in general I was average as a parent. Most parents don’t have to cope with this level of abandonment.
Now I’m merely heart-broken, and every holiday makes it worse. I still feel that knee deep in the ground, internal organ spilling feeling whenever he crosses my mind.

Someone once told me a very true thing – the only thing you can control in life is your reaction to the events that surround you. I’ve tried to react in helpful ways, spoken out and supported trans causes, dealt with those involved, cut myself off from those my son accuses. And yet…

I asked my ex for my son’s phone number. Just to leave a message, try to cross the breach. He has chosen to ignore this request. Probably on my son’s direction. It breaks my heart. And fills me with rage.

How do I react to silence?








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