Tag Archives: isolation

Like no other… or phrases I’ve grown to hate.


It’s everywhere.

A graduation… like no other.

A school year… like no other.

A walk down the street… like no other.

A dental floss… like no other.

I mean, come on, lazy journalists! Isn’t it time for a different phrase to describe out current state of ambiguity? Sure, maybe we haven’t experienced these things in exactly the same way before but certainly by now, after all these months, we can stop saying this phrase as if we had never had a concert rescheduled to the internet, or classes being taught by zoom, or shops closed down, or whatever.

We are becoming experienced in the ways of the deadly Covid-19, and so many of the messes we continue to experience should NO LONGER BE A SURPRISE. We are running out of things we can truly say haven’t happened before. Quite recently.

So the phrase is becoming almost as annoying as the drum music I’ve been forced to listen to for days on TD Meloche Monnex’s insurance site while I try to cancel a policy I no longer need. Days. I am not exaggerating. I have the bing-bang-da bing-bang stuck in my head so completely I will be forced to play Patsy Cline tunes to push it out. Or maybe some John Denver.

Even the phrase Covid-19 is wearing thin. I know, I know, it is the NAME for the thing, and to be precise, one should use it, but couldn’t we shorten things a bit now? Call it Cody, or Vid, or George or Sid. Anything. (Sorry, it seems a male entity for some reason – how very gender-inappropriate of me!) Or Nancy, or Mavis, or Ophelia? We might listen better with a different sound to grab our attention?

Ah, it’s Covid fatigue speaking. It’s so BORING being encapsulated still, after all these months. Grocery shopping in my new town is simply exhausting – trying to learn the proper pathways around the store, trying not to have to double back, lest I collapse in exhaustion. I can feel the glares of the afraid at my back when I step into the wrong aisle, sense the anxiety of everyone around me as we do the distancing dance. Similar to a square dance…like no other.

No touch!

Like everyone else, I want to go see a movie, eat in a restaurant without feeling like I am sharing spit with the devil, laugh with other people without worrying about how moist my laugh is (or theirs are). But I know it isn’t time yet. We have to hunker down for a bit longer, probably til spring, until the flu season…like no other… is done with for another year.

Argh. Where are my socially acceptable dancing shoes? I’ll have to dance alone in my apartment, but at least I can still dance… Maybe the music will finally block out the TD hold song….

Ant sac, or disturbing my nest again…


You probably have seen what happens when you kick over an anthill and all of the ants panic and run all over the place, carrying the egg sacs, looking for safety?

Back in the days pre-divorce, the ex and I used to call our regular sorting and rearranging of stuff “ant sac” activity – we’d be grabbing our things and rushing back and forth between floors of our house, through rooms in a panicked, not quite sensible manner…

Now I am ant-sac-ing again, carrying my stuff there and back, up and down, in and out…

You see, the pandemic disturbed my anthill.

I live in the glorious Maritimes. In fact, I am writing this from the balcony of *the best apartment ever*, overlooking the Halifax harbour, pausing now and again to gaze at the ocean. I’m seizing the quiet moment before the heat of the day begins and I lose all sentient thought…ah, maritime humidity. I remember flying into the airport from Ontario and the air here felt like breathing through a water-soaked sponge…

(Pause to gaze at a container ship easing on by, seemingly silent…)

But see, the pandemic. I do love it here, but the enclosure of Covid-19 has left me with a slightly lonely tinge to my thoughts – my family is all so far away. And the Maritimes is all about family. If you don’t have one here, well,…

And yes, ‘friends are the family you choose’ – and I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful people here and I am going to miss them all madly, but as I creep towards my dotage, I realize I need to be a bit closer to my relations- my kids, my cousins, my sister…Nova Scotia is just that little bit too far away.

So I am busily sorting my stuff, carrying it here to the “for the recycler/junk people “ (a large pile) and there “for the move” (an unpleasantly large pile still). I feel like the panicked ant, trying to save my babies but also wanting to give them all away, start a completely fresh nest elsewhere…

But I just have to keep this book, this piece of art, this crafted coffee mug, the cat…and so I continually sort through the piles, tossing more things, packing and unpacking, trying to squeeze my stuff into smaller spaces.

Just heard a voice from the BBC (which I always believe because…British accent…) counselling people not to make any irreversible decisions during this time of oddness. As my father in law would say, “‘Too late,’ she cried, and waved her wooden leg.” It’s all in motion and I am on the highest point of the roller coaster, waiting for that exciting swoop down into the loops.

I’m not regretting my choice. I’ve had a lovely ten years here, way more than was originally planned. Its been like an extended holiday, with a bunch of new and exciting travel partners. But it is time to go home, and much as I tried to claim Nova Scotia as my home, it just won’t take me.

I blame the fiddle music. Lord, I do hate a fiddling jig.

So it’s farewell to Nova Scotia in about a month. I’m hoping it’s not a permanent farewell- I have the sea in my bones (and in my lungs- how I long for a good dry-out in the prairies!) and will likely have to come back to visit. Good friends are hard to leave.

The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me

Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I’m far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me

Evaluating…or those artists who self-isolate in the woods – did it work for them?


So here we are, heavily into the pandemic, learning how to talk to ourselves just so we can test our vocal muscles. I am following the advice for keeping a car running, and taking my voice out once a week for a trot around the verbal block. Cat remains unconvinced.

FH021312_003_CABREP_02For my part, I am noticing just now how every single one of my cupboard doors is slightly off-balance, with a wee dip to one side or the other, making all the spaces between the door fronts ever so slightly variable. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t UNsee it. I know it will drive me crazy over time. It’s making me want to get out the screwdriver except that I know if I do, they will end up even more tilty. And they aren’t my cupboards. Ruining them is not an option.

Messy is the way things are happening lately. Make coffee – spill the coffee and the water, drop the container holding the coffee, sweep that all up, only to miss the garbage as I tip it in, spilling it again all over the place. Make dinner, creating a mess on the counter because – see coffee –  clean that all up, wash pots, put away dishes, only to drop one, shattering it amidst the food still scattered on the floor – see coffee – and trying to clear that up before the cat walks all over it, so rushing so I spill it as I dump the dustpan. Start over.a-messy-kitchen

I suspect this all has something to do with the lack of finger dexterity I conceal in my stitching through pure will, but which means I can’t tie a knot in the floss or pick up a needle without my handy dandy magnet stick. (repurposed from my canning set because  I can too readily imagine the mess that would ensue if I made jam, for example.) Last night I took a full five minutes trying to tie one bit of floss to another. I eventually did but there may have been some language involved.

I was just testing my voice. Honest.

I am surrounded by things I am seemingly too busy to put away, thinking longingly of packing boxes, so help me, and their soothing plain brown sides and healing shutness. I feel certain I would feel better if I could put everything away behind those plain brown wrappings and send it away – but of course, no one wants my things, especially in the pandemic shut down. I imagine charities will be completely overwhelmed once we are let out…

Meanwhile, stories of artists and writers and creatives of all sorts moving out to glorious isolation in the woods or wherever are all over my internet feeds. It all seems like a more glamourous version of the isolation we are all in now, focused isolation, creative isolation. Could this be the way to go to get creative juices flowing?

reflection of trees in lake

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am becoming convinced that these folks really did this so they would never have to clean up. Or dress up, or brush their hair. I’m getting into this sweatshirt and pant existence. My hair is growing like a wayward shrub. If I was to never be seen again, except to tumble out into the sun some years hence with a brilliant novel in one hand, well, that seems like a viable idea.

So, my silenced-in-the-isolation brain tells me, ‘you could live in the woods! Never have anyone come by! Never have to account for your clutter or lack of progress or general moodiness! It could be done! Like Thoreau! You could write! Write! Write!”

“Hold on,” my brain says, “Thoreau had a maid and ate regularly in pubs and at friend’s houses. That’s not isolation, that’s just hiding clutter…” and “Internet, remember the internet.” and “But wait, you actually like talking to people, especially the kids whose toys you tidied back when you tidied things. And friends! You have some. You like seeing them.”

Truth is, I am getting out of the habit of communicating. I messenger people and try to connect as I can, but it is all getting more difficult to push myself to do so. Like the clutter around me, it all seems too much to take on. As time goes on, it becomes more comfortable to just not.

But am I writing? Creating?

Um. No.

I have to tidy up first.

 

Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?


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.

lead_960

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….

 

 

Going to ground


Time is creeping on….

I’ve made a vow to myself to tie myself into writing for the next several months, stay focused, try to avoid distractions. I’ve signed up for a high intensity writing course and I want to devote the amount of effort needed to get good results and not waste my or my mentor’s time. Which means cutting some ties, removing myself from some activities, stopping myself from my involuntary volunteering.

Ah, the volunteering. You see, it’s a problem I have. I’m not sure if it’s because of my Roman Catholic inoculation of guilt, or the inner knowledge that I am not the person I want to be, but I find myself endlessly wanting to throw myself into things to help out, to atone, to serve. Maybe I just need to go to Confession.

I’m not sure wanting to help is necessarily a BAD thing, but it means I tend to overcommit and get confused. And waste time, and exhaust myself. All foolishness I should have learned to give up when I developed MS. But I struggle on, silly me.

Detaching from people is difficult, too. It is hard not to give offence when you are really setting boundaries, especially when your boundaries have been too flexible in the past. Poor judgement, the need to be liked, the desire to be loved and wanted – well, they all play in to wavery boundaries and the loss of goals and focus. I’ve always been slightly scornful of those who are able to set firm boundaries with their time – how uncaring! How selfish! How cold!

How accomplished they are now.

And there is a part of me that says I have a gift, sometimes, with my words. I can touch people, I can tell a good story, I have something I want to do with my writing. When I allow myself to immerse myself in it, I can make some headway. But I consistently shortchange myself.

So I’m going to go to ground this time. I’ve allotted myself time for ukulele, as it gives my soul wings. I will continue with my rug hooking, as the fibres and colours speak to my heart. I’ve booked in time for exercise as my MS won’t stop moving unless I fight against it every day. My family always has first dibs on my time – as the woman said in the coffee shop, “Ah birthed ’em”, so I’m always going to be there for them.

There are my dear friends, MB, H, B, P, L, T and W. Always a space in my life for them, though the times may be shorter than in the past. I hope they’ll understand. 

And then there’s Mr. PH. He I can’t put off, ever. For one thing, he’s my conscience, quite able to nag as needed. For another, I’m too fond of his dear phlegmatic British self.

Finally, Mr. Bendicks, my furry friend. I can’t put him off, either, but that’s primarily because if I do he stands all over my dasjbbdfgl;hf.

The course runs until late fall this year. Wish me luck with focusing. It’s with Humber College, and I encourage writers to explore it. Task for today, continue reading the recommended text, Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft.