Prepared to grieve

16 04 2018

williamshakespeare1The tragedy of the Humboldt hockey players bus crash and the loss of all those sweet boys was and is truly horrible. I feel for parents and friends and other teams and everyone involved. Especially the driver that survived…images-26

But while this is happening, and we respond by doing things like putting hockey sticks outside doors, wearing team shirts, etc., I can’t help but think that at this moment, we are all prepped for grief, standing on the edge of weeping, hanging onto the unstated hope that the US government and people will not send the world into war.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in this constant state of tension, waiting for that deadly tweet from an insane man who doesn’t think the rest of the government has any role. What will keep he-who-shall-not-be-named from setting up a fake situation with Russia or Korea and sending off those “very smart” bombs he is so proud of? Especially if his stock goes down, or that infamous tape is released?

1bvnzs(Aside: his childish hatred of the Democrats is insane. Who does things like pee on a mattress just because the Obamas slept there? What is in this man’s head?)

As a Canadian, I’m not directly involved in the loss of democracy below the border, but it and the hateful rhetoric that allowed the fascist oligarchs to take over is slipping through the permeable membrane between our countries. H-W-M-N-B-N and the GOP have made it okay to promote racism and stupidity and flash anger over rational thought. That’s tempting for anyone who is frustrated by the status quo. Simple sound bytes and lack of discussion are easier, clearer, than complicated explanations and balanced approaches.vx7jcsh

 

 

So everyone I speak to seems to have an undercurrent of tension these days. A little high pitched note under their speech, a slight twitch to their eyes. We joke – but there’s a tone under the humour, like things are changing in ways we don’t like to this may be the last time the winter is like this, the spring comes like this, fall slips in like this.

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I imagine it felt like this before WW1. I’m reading Barbara Tuchman’s excellent “The Guns of August” about this lead time and it sounds terribly, awfully familiar. People taking offense at nothing, anger over things that are said, a sense of chaos and loss of control. Evil people consolidating power and denying existing governmental rules, backroom deals and the lust for money.

It almost feels like something must happen to let off the tension.

Let’s hope it’s impeachment and not world destruction.

 

And meanwhile, we watch in the darkness, sensing the storm coming, unable to stop it. We giggle, nervously, clutch at entertainment and the solace of hygge, wrapping ourselves in wooly cocoons. But when something awful happens, we scream out, prepared as we are to weep.

Practicing. Preparing. For the big one?

Thank heavens for the young, the hopeful and perhaps a wee bit ignorant. Everyone says everyone must study history. True. But we must do so without engendering the cynicism many of us have tangled so close to our chests. Because cynicism crushes hope, and only in hope can we achieve any change.

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Hot Milky Tea

21 02 2017

cup-milk-tea-20969682I’ve been feeling so unsettled lately. The horror of DT’s first month reminds me of those other DTs – not that I’ve had them, mind you, but I’ve seen people in the throes of delirium tremens and it isn’t pretty.

I’m kind hoping that some of the people who voted the way they did are feeling a bit of that now – having over drunk the wine of hatred, they are swiftly and agonizingly detoxing as they see what’s going on.

Though I rather suspect not.

1418268334632And the world writhes. Like my stomach.
Used to be that people would recommend hot sweet tea for shock. It solved everything from post-amputation pain to a sliver in your thumb. I’ve taken to drinking it in the morning now. Coffee is too much for my agitated stomach.
I don’t drink it sweet – but milky is almost as good for shock, I hear, and oh so soothing to my tum.

In the back of my mind, I hear, homeostasis, homeostasis. All of life tends toward balance. It also tends toward entropy, which is where I feel we are now – the population finally realizing that democracy is a participatory sport, trying to fit decades of “just lying back and thinking of England” in with brains now realizing they don’t like what is happening, that they prefer to be part of the choice to be fucked over.

images-12It’s both exciting and terrifying, a race to some end. Having lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and been told how to cower under my desk in event of an atomic attack, having lived in Germany during the Cold War and been given the pamphlet telling us how to survive in case of war – painting our windows white to repel the flash, storing 6 months of food and water, seeking out bomb shelters (which were marked everywhere in Germany and in Boston where I grew up), having sat through the test of the emergency broadcast system frequently on TV, I have a bit of remembered feelings of nuclear fear. They are here again, a niggling thought in the back of my mind. And in others’, too. Sales of bomb shelters are on the rise.

images-10Or maybe my fears are foolish and all this will result in a safer and more involved world, one that has looked into darkness and rebelled. Maybe this is the final impotent spurt of pale white men with big guts and empty souls, those worshippers of credit cards and such (read American Gods by Neil Gaiman).

The question that makes me agitated is, which will it be?

Thus the need for soothing tea. I’m not sure who to be more frightened of – DT, or the people behind him who are working double fast to remove all controls on business, or the appeaser countries, fearful of losing trade, so tossing self-respect in the wind and crawling cravenly to make peace
with a bully.

In any case, there’s little I can do about it, other than write to various representatives, protest where I can, make art, and drink my tea. And enjoy the chirping spring birds, the warmth of the sun, the icy snow, the taste of wine and cheese, the faces of my friends. We are living in blessed times in so many ways here in North America. They may be the last we have, whether through ecological change or rapid disaster.

Mind you, we’ve thought that before. Every age seems to think it is teetering on the edge of the abyss. Maybe this outing of our baser instincts, this example of how far our neglect has let us come, will cause the revolution we truly need to have happen.

Or maybe we’ll simply sink back into our couches, tired from all the protesting, and sip our milky sweet tea.

Let’s hope not. Cozy  and tummy-soothing though it is.

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Screaming and screaming

30 01 2017

stock-photo-angry-man-screaming-88188004A few years back, the family and I went to see an “in the park” performance of “The Compleat Works of Shakespeare, Abridged.”

It was hilarious, but the second half of the play was rained out, so we went to see that bit at the theatre. Now knowing they would want audience participation, I wedged my kids in the front seats so they could have some fun. In the second half of the play, they perform abridged Hamlet, having dispensed with all of Shakespeare’s other plays in the first half.

In any case, they needed someone from the audience to play Ophelia, and the actors reached over the kids and plucked me out of the crowd. My role was to take on all of Ophelia’s inner thoughts and to scream out loud.

I did. It felt great. No, they said, that’s not good enough. So they got the whole crowd hollering Ophelia’s thoughts and I had to scream again. And I did. At the top of my lungs.

hqdefaultIt felt terrific.

Not only to scream, but to scream with enthusiastic support for it! Incredible!

Frequently, when we are overwhelmed with anger and frustrated about our inability to do anything about our situation, we are encouraged by therapists to scream in our cars. Scream into a pillow. Go scream out to the sea. All fine as far as they go, but nowhere near as purging as screaming AT someone.

There’s something about others hearing you scream…it’s validating in some weird way.

All over the world, people are looking at the US right now and protesting, screaming, yelling, shouting, making noise. They are hearing each other, and I’m sure it feels good to shout out the anger and frustration at this bizarre toddler presidency, this feeling that the 1404281384777end of the world is looming.

There is an audience for this screaming, but unfortunately it’s not the right one. Our screaming is like my first one, loud enough but without the support of the crowd. The right crowd. The ones who can make a difference.

It’s time to scream at our elected representatives all over the world, to force them to hear us, to force the downfall of the Trump presidency before the US descends into chaos.

46737925-angry-furious-businesswoman-working-on-computer-screaming-with-alphabet-letter-coming-out-of-open-mo-stock-photoIt may already be too late. But maybe, if we gather our crowds around us and scream at the actors, they, like the ones in Compleat Shakespeare, will drop what they are doing and stare with awe. Or at least pretend to, and change what they are doing, put the play back together. The real play. the one that has sustained us since Shakespeare existed. Good government and discipline, politeness and caring.

So help us God.

 





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





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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Creativity and madness

27 07 2014

I’ve struggled with depression for years. It started with my multiple sclerosis and was the first symptom spotted. Coincidentally, I restarted writing.

My family always tells me I’m the creative one, the one who thinks oddly, out of the box (though I would argue my older brother is also gifted in this area – and my kids are wildly so). I know that, during my brief career in management, I was often on a completely different page than many. This led to feelings of failure and isolation and utter hopelessness…

So, now, I’m having a bad bout with the MS – blurred vision, muscle spasms, pain, confusion, the whole package. And depression. And I feel at these times, any challenge is beyond me, AND, at the same time, my life is meaningless if I don’t do something important. It’s a tough place to be stuck. So I decide to quit everything I am doing and try new things in a flurry of trying to succeed at anything, anywhere.

51TTMH+FdgLAlong comes Maria Popova’s excellent Brain Pickings today: Creativity and Mental illness. Sometimes, at my most paranoid, I think she secretly knows me, her postings are so appropriate for the day…

And suddenly I don’t feel so alone. There are many others here in the murk (with occasional northern lights and lightning) here with me.

Now all I have to do is decide. Do I quit the writing game? Or do I listen to my chafing neurons and continue?





Trust, that elusive animal, or Humber, week two

16 05 2014

It’s coming up to the point of no return. Today is the last day I can withdraw from Humber’s School for Writers with no fee penalty.

I have to admit it’s looming large in my head. Not that there’s anything wrong with the program, and I am lucky lucky to have a mentor who I love reading and who has, I believe, a similarly twisted sense of humour to mine.

But I’m afraid. I’m afraid of letting myself down, I’m afraid of failing again, I’m afraid of starting something that I might be going to fail.

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And I’m SO good at NOT writing. I find it very easy to doubt myself, my ability to stick to anything, to see a project to completion. My lifetime script has been that I am an initiator, not a finisher. But that’s not strictly true, I know, if I think back. But I still don’t trust myself. And on the other side, I hate when I don’t try something out of fear.

Not sure where my messed up self comes from, don’t have time to dig deep enough into my psyche to figure it out today, but I know it’s there, like a big rock in the middle of the stream.

It’s not just me I don’t trust. I could list the names of trustworthy types I feel I know on the fingers of both hands (on a bad day, just one). Like Nova Scotia weather, you can come to rely upon a sunny day only to find rain driving into your face. I’ve become a cynic, not totally by myself, but with some considerable help. And fog.

But, when you have trouble trusting others, and you can’t trust yourself, either, it gets pretty murky out there. I have to start somewhere.

Maybe I should take a page from Neil Gaiman, another favourite author.

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