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.

9540740-angry-woman-shouting-stock-photo-woman-scream-crazy

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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…





Freaking Out!

25 06 2014

Gawd. I am losing it, and so, apparently, is the rest of the world. Everyone is fighting one another, my sodding firstFH9J-born is still not speaking to me with extreme prejudice, journalists are being kidnapped and women everywhere are being killed and raped and abused and by golly jinkums, I am just about ready to lose it and go postal on the entire place. And don’t get me started on the mess that is this Canadian government, else I shall shoot coffee out of my nose and burn you with the effluent.

It’s hard being cheerful in such a world. I find it almost impossible. Why just the other day I thought, quite seriously, about driving my car into a tree. What’s it all FOR, anyway? We don’t seem to be progressing, we dwell in hatred and anger and the urge (ever larger) to cling to the almighty penny rather than share a wee bit with anyone else.

What the hell is wrong with us all.

Oh yeah, and I’m writing crap. For my course. Which means I will have to send it to someone I respect and feel her frustration and watch the edits mount up online. Which of course is the worst thing of all the above…

Just kidding. The world sucketh anon. But if it weren’t for people like Helen Humphreys and Roald Dahl and Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett and Stella Gibbons and Bronwyn Wallace and Norton Juster and A.A.Milne and Edward Gorey and Jose Saramago and Donna Morrissey and PG Wodehouse and Nancy Mitford and Kermit, it would sucketh more, much much more.

And so off I toil, in the hope that somewhere in all this random verbiage, a flicker of magic may occur that makes some of this soul-sucking world make sense, even for a moment.

 





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.





The Writer’s Union and the art of gentle discouragement

6 02 2014

writers union blue cropI was lucky enough to be able to attend a Writer’s Union workshop yesterday. I say lucky, because, as a writer without a book published by a “real” publishing house, I can’t be a member, so it was a bit like being invited to a frat house but not allowed to drink.

It was an interesting workshop on the new face of publishing, on the glories and challenges of self-publishing, the thrills of being offered an impenetrable contract from a “real” publisher, the shame of self-publishing that remains, since oh so much self-publishing is garbage.

I learned a few things I couldn’t have picked up hanging about on web street corners, but the prevailing thing I learned was to keep a sense of humour about writing and publishing and BY NO MEANS expect to make money at it.

Well, I knew that.

But it hits a little harder when a prize-winning author in adult and child books (from REAL publishers) still struggles with contracts that give her less than the Writer’s Union suggest. Or when the originally REAL published author who has turned to self-publication tells you that she still hasn’t made back the relatively small investment she made. And still mentions self-publication with a wisp of shame.

They laughed, both of them, whenever money or joy was mentioned. They mentioned they had their books with them for sale. No one bought any. It was fairly discouraging.

On the other hand, they emphasized the work that goes into writing a good book, and in a way that was reassuring. I keep getting people asking me about why I don’t send in my things to publishers and such, but these authors emphasized the need for many many many many revisions, at least 4 years of production, and then more revisions, preferably by a professional editor. So I am off the hook a bit for the manuscripts that languish unloved (but, I hasten to say, still percolating in my head) on my computer.

When is your stuff ready to send out? “When you feel like you are going to throw up if you have to read it again,” was the jist of things.

I’m only a bit nauseated. I think I need some more revision time. And now, yes now, I feel like I want to do it. Despite the discouragement.

Why? Well, if my mum were still around, she’d tell you why. I’ve always been a bit bloody minded. If someone tells me I can’t do something, that simply means (to me) that they don’t know me. My mum, for all her faults and our arguments and her preference for my brothers, told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. She told me this every day of my life and hers.

It’s in my genes.

250px-Alice_05a-1116x1492

So when someone says, oh, this is horrible and you will hate it and you won’t ever ever ever succeed, well… my mum inside me rises up, with fire in her eyes, and says, “WHO are YOU?”

She really shoulda been a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Check out the Writer’s Union website for all sorts of helpful information, including sample contracts and a list of editors and agents. Plus a contest or two. Well worth a visit!

And maybe, maybe, one day I can become a member. For now I’m hoping to join the Whiskey Association of Halifax. Membership is easier there, and it might help with the other.





Revolutionary regrets, I’ve had a few…

21 06 2013

my-arms-are-tired-protester1Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the oppressed of the world could actually succeed in overthrowing the oppressors? Everywhere there is seething, but the outcomes are minimal, except for those killed, beaten, and imprisoned in the protest. Tyrants become stronger. It breaks my heart.
I remember travelling to Havana last Christmas, eager to see the Revolution’s results, knowing, of course, that it is hard to succeed when your nearest trading partner insists upon standing on your neck – but Cuba broke my heart. Such wonderful people, such beautiful art and music and talent and strengths and yet, so many slowly starving. Even the museum of the revolution was dusty, uncared-for, grim. It made the part of me that longs for some reprieve from the outrageous me-first greed and capitalism sad and sorry.
Are we destined to lose everything we have to the powers of the shareholders? Will we be discount-stored into non-existence? And will our world leaders continue to usurp our freedoms in the Orwellian name of “security”, while we dither about and do nothing?
It horrifies me, more than the destruction of the planet, even, for without power, we as citizens of the earth can do nothing to stop that destruction.
But we’re all too comfy, or too busy, or too hesitant to speak out.vote-the-bumsout
Or we do speak out, risk our lives, and make no progress against the juggernauts who shoot us, gas us, imprison us. And eventually, we have to get back to work. At the jobs they graciously allow us to keep as long as we keep our mouths shut.
My son has been reporting from Istanbul for the past several days, and now, as things quiet down, he wonders if anything was accomplished. Like the Occupy protests – masses of people rise up, make a lot of noise, get coverage for a few minutes of our magpie-news coverage, and then once the real messages come out, the media turns to the next shiny thing and the pressure goes off the leaders.
I used to feel I didn’t believe in armed insurrection, that peaceful protest was the right way, that working within organizations was the best way to change things.
Then I tried to change organizations from within, and every time I was broken against them. I’d get a change to happen, however minuscule, one that benefitted people, but as soon as I left they slipped back into the old ways, ways they didn’t even like but which they were used to.
So how do we change an outrageous paradigm?
Maybe it’s time to link Brazil and Turkey and Occupiers and the French (who are very very good at driving the dialogue) and those rabid footballers in various places, and pull together?
I don’t know.
I’m tired.
And here we have an admitted fraudster telling everyone he will run for office again, and people saying yeah, sure, I’d vote for him.
I give up, disgusted, and pull my covers over my head.
At least, for a moment.
I need to regroup. I’ll be back.Gandhi-368x378

 





International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award – or check here to depress yourself about a writing career

12 11 2012

Wow. Just pulled up this list, as my favourite author ever, Helen Humphreys, is on the long-list, for her wonderful book, The Reinvention of Love.

GAWD it’s depressing how many really truly good books there are out there.

It’s not that I feel envy, no, it’s just that when I read them I realize how far away my little dream of writing a really good book is. (See, even that sentence structure should tell you I am a rank amateur, unworthy of attention).

I mean, can’t you glowing wonderful, fabulous writers take a holiday or something? Just for a couple of years or so, until some of us catch up?

I am going to go drown my sorrows in a cup of eggnog latte at the delightful Cafe Brea and review my options. Perhaps I’ll give up and do needle felting for a while til the desire to write passes.

Meanwhile, have a look at the list (click the link). Every book on it is worthy of a read.

Sigh.








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