Hug the world goodnight

5 03 2016

Despite the metal sign over my door that reads “Laugh Out Loud”, I’m not a fan of those stick on aphorisms, the endless “Live, Love, Laugh” painted bits of wood, the tiny segments of quotations that are so bland as to make them meaningless. Bit I do have a yearning for little bits of poetry, excerpts from movies, last lines of great novels, somehow included in my life, hidden but in plain sight.

I have “Let the world breathe you” hidden in a rug I’m doing for a backrest for my bed. I 51PZS3Z5J9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_found that in a tape by Andrew Weill, MD, one of the few hipster gurus that seems to have his head screwed on right (plus he’s so darn healthy and happy looking it’s hard not to believe him. Every time I have salmon with butter I raise a toast to him and his advice.) On this relaxation tape, he encouraged listeners to simply let go and pretend that the world was breathing for you. Try it. It feels wonderfully supporting, like there really is a god and he or she truly cares for you. It IS miraculous how our bodies work. Even if they slip up now and again, they take a lot of abuse and keep on supporting us…

Another line I’ve always liked is from Walt Whitman, as quoted in “Now, Voyager”, a movie with the fabulous Bette Davis, finally escaping into her own after climbing out from under a domineering mother. The movie also has the Claude Rains, a man of infinite charm.

The poem, called “Untold Want”, has always pulled at my soul. See what you think.quote-the-untold-want-by-life-and-land-ne-er-granted-now-voyager-sail-thou-forth-to-seek-and-find-walt-whitman-311738

As with my favourite word, hiraeth, there’s an undefined feeling of longing. I’ve always had that. It makes me restless, not discontent, just endlessly searching for something. Perhaps for my long-gone parents, perhaps for a community, perhaps for my spiritual past. There’s another word, from The Meaning of Liff, scothropping. It means making the shape of what you want while looking for it, as in making your fingers look like scissors when you are digging through a drawer looking for them. I figure that’s what I’m doing 3with my various activities – knitting while looking for ties, needle stabbing while looking for sensation, writing while looking for my mind, playing the ukulele in search of music. Or maybe I simply want Claude Rains. Or even a fabulous hat.

I’ve been reading a lot about relationships for my upcoming book on MS and intimacy. I read that, of course, it’s hard to be intimate if you aren’t intimate friends, if you don’t share lives or ideas or non-naughty life together. It’s shared experiences and ideas that make the relationship weather the rocky parts. It’s the touch of love, not sex, that builds connection, the caring interest, the pat on the back. My marriage starved through a lack of feeding that side, both of our faults.

So I was thinking of the pillows you see everywhere that say “Kiss me goodnight.” It occurred to me that the pillow should be meant for BOTH partners, whereas now it seems to read like a command for one to the other. Or maybe the pillows should read “Hug me goodnight.” Because a hug can mean so much more than a kiss, which in my case leads to lust and then well, the moment gets all tangled up with that.

And then I got to thinking that the real thought should instead be gratitude. Gratitude that the world still exists, that the sun will rise tomorrow, that you are lucky enough to have a partner who loves you in the world. Or, in my case, a purring cat sitting on my chest. Whipping his tail past my eyes.

So maybe the thought should be to hug the world goodnight…hmm. Maybe I can work that into a bed pillow…

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Losing my boss

10 02 2016

a294e7bd9e71d075a5318146d38e792aOne of the little things that we folks with MS have to deal with often is the residue of the minimal (or more) brain damage caused by the lesions and inflammation of the disease.

For me, it’s all about my boss-brain. Executive functions, they call them. I used to have them, once upon a time. Apparently it’s fairly common to have problems with them as MS progresses.

My poor friends and family have to put up with my whip fast mind-changing – I toss ideas through the air, get all excited about them, change my mind, and race off in the other direction. I seem incapable of choosing a route and following through, and the poor folks who listen to me are probably hurt and confused as I waver to and fro.

God love them, so far they have simply commented. I recently nearly lost a good friend this way, and it drew me up short. How to cope with my Anne of Green Gables-ish enthusiasms, which seem to take no one else into account? I must appear completely selfish as I toss myself here and there – thinking of moving here one day, changing my mind the next, planning a trip or an outing another time, rejecting it totally the next.

I’m working on being less reactive, but I do suspect most of it has to do with the holes in my brain. (Which I can never say without channelling my ex, who used to quote the following:

There Are Holes In The Sky, by Spike Milligan

There are holes in the sky
Where the rain gets in
But they’re ever so small
That’s why the rain is thin.)

My holes in my head aren’t so thin anymore. Things flash about in there and the boss brain is out to lunch or off playing a round of golf or perhaps shagging the secretary (cos God KNOWS I don’t have anyone writing down my decisions or ideas!).patrick-star-sparks-o

I always liked the thought of a creative wander everywhere mind, but that’s when my boss was still about to rope it in when I needed to organize my thoughts or accomplish things or make decisions or think about what I want to say. Now it’s a bit too free-range for me. I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone, shouting WTF!!!, but I’m afraid now. If I get close to someone, how will the brain act? Will I end up hurting people all over again?

And given that MS is a chronic, progressive disease, wouldn’t it be better if I just hid myself away, said nothing, kept to myself, walls fully up, just so the laser beams sparking out of my damaged cortex won’t fry anyone?

It’s a conundrum. For the moment, trying yoga and meditation, CBT and DBT, self-regulation and prayer. And lots and lots of apologizing to those caught in my brainstorms.

Of course, on the bright side, maybe I’ll lose the ability to speak/type/communicate…but where’s the fun in that?

Not-thinking-before-speaking

 





Wandrin’ Star

23 01 2016

By now probably all of you have seen the ad by Amazon, with the tousle-haired man and his dog with the broken leg. It’s sweet but the song attached to it seems an odd choice (well, except that the dog wants to wander and can’t, poor wee thing). It’s catchy, though and sticks in the head. For those of you who wonder how the rest of it goes, here it is: (click on the first lines for a link to the Youtube of Lee Marvin singing it…)

I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star
Wheels are made for rolling, mules are made to pack
I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry
Home is made for coming from, for dreams of going to
Which with any luck will never come true
I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hello
Heaven is goodbye forever, its time for me to go
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star

When I get to heaven, tie me to a tree
For I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star
Read more: http://artists.letssingit.com/lee-marvin-lyrics-born-under-a-wandering-star-zfs6zf2#ixzz3y79V5jpL

I’m feeling that restlessness again. I don’t know whether it is winter or cabin fever or my lack of success with knitting broad-amyut I feel the need to stretch my legs. Somehow.

The other song that keeps running through my head is the Rose Vaughan Trio’s Restless as a River, a lovely tune with a haunting melody that sounds just like water over river rocks. And then there’s Rawlin’s Cross‘s Open Road, a song I listened to obsessively when I was contemplating divorce so many years ago…:

 If you want to you could stay, dream your life away
Counting the old memories you have stowed
But if you could be what you could be, you’d be just as good as free
I think it’s time you hit the open road

Chorus:
Open road, carry me
And take me where I can be free
Lead me where I’ve got to go
To the end of the open road

The future sits beside you, whisper in your ear
Telling you that now it’s time to go
But I don’t know how far you’ll get before sunset
I just know it’s time you hit the open road

Leave the past and let it wait, do not hesitate
Take your time and time will take your load
There’s nothing here for you but the memories and the blues
I think it’s time you hit the open road

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Sagittarius in me, or maybe it’s from years of wandering as a military spouse, but for a while now I’ve felt the need to shift my location. I’m not sure where as yet. Will it be to Wolfville, small College town in the Annapolis Valley? Will it be elsewhere? Where?

I love it here. I love the people I’ve met and gotten to know. But there’s something… Perhaps, like Vianne Rocher in Chocolat, it’s the tricky north wind that calls me to travel, to experience something new. To force myself out of the comfort of routine, to encourage me to step bigger, to take chances, to expand my view. Or maybe to tighten my view, live somewhere smaller, somewhere where I can walk places, where there are birds other than pigeons to see.

Perhaps I can do this here. Perhaps I can’t. I only know there is something not sitting quite right here in my lovely cozy spacious apartment in the city, despite the friends around me. Like a pebble in my shoe, it pesters. I can push it to the side, ignore it for a while, but it’s still there…

not-all-who-wander





Losing my voices

14 01 2016

051726b3b9c2504494417355e49585450db82-wmSome of my pals tell me they are visual types, focused on how a thing looks to determine how they feel about it, or him or her.

Not me. I’m a voice gal. I used to swoon regularly listening to Long John Baldry’s deep voice, especially his “Oh, Baby!” on “You’ve lost that Loving Feeling”. I croon along with Hugh Laurie in the car, delighting in his deep tones. Matt Andersen gets my money whenever he appears in town. I get phone calls every once and awhile from a fellow I’ve never met, but I’m always delighted to hear from him because he has a glorious “radio” voice. I’ve been known to assault unwary waiters with the suggestion they look for voice work.

Add an accent and I am as liquid as a cat.

So when David Bowie passed away this past week, I was left saddened but not tragically so. His reedy voice never turned me on. Too hip and tight.

But Alan Rickman????? His loss grieves me to the core.

I’ve watched every movie he was in. I swear to the gods I’d listen to him reading a grocery list, my head tilted forward, ears turned greedily toward the sound. I wish I’d had a chance to hear him on stage.

Why is he no longer among us? I feel bereft, so sad, just like when I heard of the loss of Long John Baldry. My favourite voices are slipping away….

Of course everyone knows Rickman as Snape, the evil/good character from Harry Potter, but I love him best for his role in Dogma, as the Metatron, the Voice of God. If my god had a voice, I’d sure as heck want him to sound like Alan Rickman. I’d be ever so much better behaved if only there was an Alan Rickman talking crossly and then gently to me. Heck, a Voice like his could simply say hello and I’d vow to be good forevermore.

Maybe he’ll get a voice over job up THERE? I can only hope.

Until then, I shall simply keep on sinning, with a deep bass background…

images-5

Whisper in my ear…..

Thank you, A.R. You’ve made my life immeasurably richer.

 





Returning to modesty

13 08 2014

I picked up this book the other day – bought it new! Thought it might have some pertinence in our lives of TMI, loudness, lack of privacy or respect, rape culture writ large and small.

Well.

It’s not that the author is a nutter, exactly. I mean, she does have some good points about modesty and keeping oneself for those who honour you with a relationship. Though I don’t want to come straight out and talk about my misspent youth (which was about four years ago), I have found that intimacy is MUCH better with someone you like, or better still, love. I do feel that the “hookup” expectations are of more benefit to men, who enjoy that sort of thing, than to women, who often react better sexually in a place of safety.

Me, I always made certain I could physically take down the men I dated if I needed to.

Until one time, I couldn’t. And that was the end of taking the risk. Because someone took me, without permission.

So then you get to being distrustful and all that and maybe that isn’t where you want to be.

So she has a point.

Maybe being more hesitant, more modest, more unassuming would help things, reduce assaults. Fair enough, she encourages men to be modest, too.
But not very firmly. It’s mostly about women.

And then she starts going on about the shame – about how masturbation is a sin, about how lying with a woman who is menstruating is a sin, and all that stuff that simply makes sex and bodies “dirty”, and she loses me.

Yes, I want to be respected and treated with concern and care. But no, I’m not going to cringe in the dark, afraid of the sexual being that I am. I’m not going to insist men only hold my hand on the third date, and never kiss til the sixth or seventh.

Life is too damn short.

The author says she got hate mail when she originally published the book. I’m not surprised. It’s not so much her idea of abstinence that is offensive, because that is always a viable choice, but her slut-shaming women who take the pill, who have more than one partner, who enjoy their bodies. We’ve had enough of that, don’t you think?IMG_0264.JPG





The end of an era

1 07 2014

ImageThere’s something terrifically sad about the end of a generation, that moment when the last of a set of siblings pass away and you realize, with shock, that there is no one left who truly remembers your parents as kids and you forgot or were too busy or wrapped in your own details to ASK about them, to get the info, to spend the moments with your loved ones.

My dear uncle Laurence passed away this week. I say my dear, not because I knew him well, because I didn’t – but I knew him a bit and extrapolated from what I knew of him and what I knew of the rest of my dad’s family and my gosh I wish I’d sat down with him for hours and picked his brains about his life and the others’.

It was a remarkable and unremarkable family, tested with illness and some separations (most sadly, my family’s separation from the clan over time), but tied together with love and humour and a sense of family that is, to my experience, truly exceptional. I’m envious of the other Brown families – they are close together and supportive for the most part, and we didn’t manage that to the same degree.

The boys served in the war, the one girl became a nun, but a nun with a wicked sense of humour who couldn’t be restrained there forever, and left in her middle years to share her spirit and enthusiasms in a wider realm. The boys must’ve been a handful for my grandmother, a woman given to small smiles that hid an outpouring of love for them all. They interfered with their dad’s radio opera mornings, they played tricks on each other, they told each other jokes. John, one of my very faves, actually told dirty jokes to my mother’s brother, a priest, and managed to reduce him to helpless giggles. He introduced me to “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark”. I’ve never recovered. Jim i barely knew, but I remember him calling my dad when he was sick with cancer, and telling him jokes until my dad could barely breathe. George I met in England, a wonderful, big hearted man. Every single one of these Brown families has, without hesitation, welcomed me and my siblings with open arms any time we appeared.

That’s not common in families, at least in my experience. They are truly loving people. I want to be like them.

Uncle Laurence, handsome enough to be on screen, given to a roguish twinkle in his eyes even when I visited him nearly two years ago – he raised a family of gentle loving girls. There are photos of him dressed to the nines, others of him with some disgusting trick goo dangling out of his nose (which reminds me so of my dad, tossing fake vomit out in front of my Cousin Grace, or feeding my Grandmother Warner and Aunt Annie grasshopper chips and then showing them the bag after they’d eaten a bunch.)

They were all capable to being funny without being cruel, of getting away with foolishness in the best way. I think they made the world a vastly better place. 

I’ve posted a photo by my sister, Margaret Gagnon, to go with this post, to give form to the family in a way. When we were in Florida one time, we came across a pack of laughing gulls like these that would hang around if you threw them Cheerios. They’re called that because their cry sounds like they are laughing. My dad was delighted. He’d recently found a book of Henny Youngman jokes and kept telling them to us to no reaction. You know, the “take my wife…please” sort of jokes. When he saw those gulls he figured, hey – the perfect audience – finally someone will laugh! So we threw up some Cheerios, gathered a crowd of the gulls, and he started talking. The gulls stopped laughing, completely. They were dead silent.

My dad did get a laugh that time – my sister and brothers were rolling on the grass, laughing at the gull’s response.

This family, god love ’em. I just know they are cracking up the crowds in heaven. Be prepared for rain – tears of hilarity…

I miss them all. Love to Uncle Laurence’s family, particularly, as they cope with this huge loss of a wonderful man. xoxoxo





Moving on

29 03 2014

Just listening to Stan Carew on Weekend Mornings – he plays the best music and woke me this morning with a rousing fiddle tune by Natalie McMaster. I’m feeling my toes tap under the covers as I sluggishly awaken.
But the song spoke to me.
Lately I’ve heard from a quite a few people who are by choice or not in a position where they are living in a hellish situation. Family dynamics, unhappy marriages, awkward locations, bad jobs. It seems so many are trapped, struggling against ties, but unwilling to take the risk, unwilling to bear the swirls of awfulness that come from change. We’ve all been there at some time….
There’s a part of me that still feels badly about the dissolution of my marriage. I was brought up to believe that marriage was a lifetime promise. But sometimes the contract is in fact broken, and then sometimes it is the right thing to leave, rather than stay and let the poison of our anger or hurt eat away at everyone in the family. Or so I tell myself. I don’t know.
Life is short. Should we make ourselves unhappy for all of it? Or should we move on, so that we are capable and have the resources to be joyful, bring joy to others? I’m not saying to cast aside things casually, but if we tried our hardest and it doesn’t work, what good are we doing breaking ourselves against the rocks?
See, the thing is, where we are at may seem like absolute hell. But, like standing in a prairie rainstorm, two or three steps to one side or the other may bring us into the sun again. Change doesn’t have to be dramatic, in fact, we are such small bugs in that prairie rainstorm, a tiny change may well be enough. A willingness to speak up, to try something a different way, to reach out or push away…
But we also have to be willing to draw our line in the dirt and say ” this far and no further.” And if we are still miserable, we can turn, and move on.

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