The Hibernation of Summer

It’s mid-August and I can feel the imminence of Fall.  It’s in the back-to-school supplies that are crowding every shelf at Walmart.  It’s in the woods jackets and plaid flannel shirts that are hanging on racks.  It’s in the now-dark 5 am mornings that greet me and the cooler evenings that now descend before 9pm.  Summer hasn’t yet arrived and here we are readying for another season.  I’m lamenting a summer I never had.  I’m still waiting for that everlasting full day of sunshine and sultry heat that stretches into a dusky evening.  I’m waiting for days full of water-balloon tossing and garden hose spraying and evenings of open-windows and flies eating me alive.  Where was all of that?

Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland

We missed an entire season.  It was a summer of spring-like days at best.  Cool winds, rain and almost hot-enough-but-not-quite temperatures.  We will be back to wearing coats and boots before I even broke out my shorts.  I don’t mean to complain, but this is why most people in St. John’s need a break and head to the liquor store.  Or try to find solace and heat either more west on the island or head south to anywhere else.  We know that soon enough, it will be a full-frontal assault into cold and ice.  We desperately cling to those final few evenings of near-warm-enough temperatures to steal away on the back patio for a fire and a glass of wine before the gale-force wind of 100kms/hrbegin to blow through.   It’s hard to go to work on a nice day knowing that when we are on a treasured day off, the wind will howl and the rain will pelt our faces so hard we feel the sting for a week.  We flee the office building in the midst of theevaporating sunshine holding our faces skyward in hopes to feel the last of the rays beat upon our skin and feel some semblance of warmth.  We shed the office pallor for some fresh air and bright light, not the fluorescent kind.  

Sometimes, we get lucky.

Today, the wind is high but the air is warm.  I’m hoping to retreat to my back patio for a little sun before the clouds elbow their way through the sky, squeezing it behind their billowing puffs of air.  If the sun can manage to appear in our sky a few more times, I will be grateful for that.  

Right now, I’m grateful for the liquor store’s cache of wine…

 

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Conquering ‘Hoods

I don’t know when it happened.  When the kids grew up and I am now faced with retirement ads that I actually watch.  When we look at the house and say ‘we need to fix this before we move’ or when we look around at the now adults who we once carted and snuggled and fed and loved; who needed bed times and naps; who needed rocking to sleep and lessons in ‘appropriate songs to sing in public’; who were once my babies but somehow morphed into adults, and I hear myself say ‘when y’all fixin’ to move out?’  like I’m suddenly southern and drink lemonade in a rocker on the front porch.  I’ve been so busy raising kids and cleaning houses and buying groceries and making dinners and trekking kids to this and that, then driving lessons and graduations and convocations and first jobs and first dates and first car accidents and first hangovers and generally, just living, that  I missed when I grew up.  I missed my journey into full-fledged adulthood, motherhood and womanhood.  Generally, all of the ‘hoods.  How did that happen?

I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment of ‘missing’ my growth.  It happened when I wasn’t looking.  When I was distracted by a ten pound baby careening out of my vagina.  And by ‘careening’ I mean taking his sweet ass time because who doesn’t love being in labour for fifteen ungodly hours followed by hearing the words “You’ll feel a little discomfort” (HAHAHAHA)   and then seeing a wall of onlookers oohing and ahhing.  Ahh, childbirth.  And that was the last time I did THAT.

I wouldn’t change it.  The three labours.  The three births.  The three babies that are now trying to find their ways into the world and stumbling every now and then.  I’m not missing their journeys into their ‘hoods…I’m paying attention to theirs.  I’ve just been absent in consciousness for mine. 

I look at the pictures and see the outward changes.  The weight gain, then loss, then gain.  The progression of one baby, then another baby and then the last chunky kid who threw Cheerios on the floor in great bunches.  The relocations.  The new friends.  The old friends.  The new neighbourhood.  The hair gets lighter, then lighter then *gasp* grey!  The glory of discovering ‘the perfect shade of red’….

Maybe I haven’t missed my growing up, but have simply participated in less mindful way.  That’s a new term I’m learning.  Mindfulness.  Maybe I haven’t been so much AWARE of my growth, as I have actually grown.  That could be it.  I must have matured and grown emotionally after all of these twenty five years of being Mommy, Mom, Maaaaaammmmmm!!!   It isn’t possible to stay stagnant without some semblance of inward enlightenment from all of the nights of illness, worry, fights, battles and dolls thrown down the hall in outward defiance of ‘get to your room’.  (That was D1 in all of her 7 year old will) There has to be some sage, some wisdom from raising three children while working and staying married.  There has to be something other than grey hair and osteoarthritis awarded for all of this middle-agedness.  For all of this Motherdom.  Wifedom.  Womandom. 

Please tell me, there is.  

There must be some spec of intelligent advice, some all-out magical power that is awarded to us moms, dads and upbringersof the generations that carries us to that moment in our lives when we fold our hands on our laps and say ‘we did it’.  

What if I’m at that moment?  What if I’m there now and I don’t know it?  What if I’m missing it? That would be a tragedy.  

I don’t think I am.  There yet, I mean.  I’m hoping in a new mindful way, I can acknowledge when I’ve reached the point where I can say I truly feel grown up enough.  Grown up enough to say that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do.  Grown up enough to let go of those babies and watch them move on without the dramatic doll-throwing.  Grown up enough to take ma damn lemonade and sit on the porch in my rocking chair, saying ‘have a nice day, y’all.’    

Until then, I’ll just be over here while you conquer your ‘hoods.  I’m not quite finished conquering mine.  I’m still growing up.  

 

Riding Semis With Strangers

The wind is blowing, the sun is kinda shining and I’m not wearing a parka.  What a great Friday! The following tale is not for the faint of heart and one not wishing to lay witness to the winds of change.  An emotional upheaval of a woman fraught with anguish, ire and scant hormones that have left her (me) with little else but to rant and rave to the Gods of the Universe to bestow patience and lots of wine.  Here you go….

The inevitable is careening at me like a Denzel Washington train of disaster and I can’t move out of the way fast enough.  I’ve ranted and raved, threw my fist in the air to protest the injustices of errant hormones and still I’ve been relegated to bowing my head in disbelief and wanton despair.  Approaching 52 has never been so tumultuous.  I imagine.  I’ve never approached 52 before and never will again, for that matter.  Good thing.  I’ve had to reel in my tongue lest the innocent bystanders fall victim to my raging Norma Rae pontifications.  A little dramatic, I realize but that’s how it is these days. I’ve had to remind myself that someone being a little late is not an ‘idiot’ or a ‘fucking moron’ or anything other than just being late.  I’ve had to remind my body that I’M NOT THAT OLD, M*&^*F**&^CKER AND I CAN DO IT IF I WANT TO.  OR, maybe I should take a few days off and think about it.

I was forced to counsel Hubby on the upcoming personality disorder that will be defined as his former wife, due to the unfortunate incident of him answering my plea of being rescued from a place of employment with a curt ‘no’.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO?!  It started and thereto began the Great Conflict of Summer 2018 when Hubby had the audacity to suggest I keep my car and let D2 walk.  THE ABSOLUTE NERVE TO THINK I COULD KEEP MY OWN CAR.   With the windows open widely so the ‘hood could partake in the banter and loud yelling of I CAN NEVER BE ANGRY BECAUSE YOU JUST GET ANGRY THEN EVERYONE IS ANGRY. NO, YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER AND THIS WHOLE PLACE IS OUT OF ORDER AND WHY AM I QUOTING AN OLD 70’S MOVIE AND  JUST LET ME BE ME FOR ONCE!!!   GAWWWWDDDD.    Yes, a teenager-proud moment was never heard so well and as renowned as the plea for my emotional independence.  I Lost. My.  Shit.   What. The. Actual. Fuck was wrong with me?

I ranted on D2 about how she was driving too fast and if she doesn’t slow the fuck down, I’m getting out of the car and walking because I can’t take this shit.  I later drove the car to her employment place only to begin my long walk home.  Stalking along the street, I was determined that if a truck driver manning a semi with a lady tattoo and a penchant for beer stopped and offered me a ride home, I may agree. A true moment of being a statistic on a milk carton, only display that pic of me on a wine bottle so my friends could actually know I was missing.  WHO DRINKS MILK AFTER THE AGE OF 40?   A few minutes later, she stops aside the road pick me up along the way to say I was being ridiculous.  RIDICULOUS.  ME??

No, I was being emotionally independent of all the fuck that’s happening in the world and LETS GET COFFEE AND COOKIES, DAMMIT.

Because coffee and cookies are like the meth of menopause.  I use the ‘M’ word with bated breath and downcast eyes, lest I look directly at it and it blinds me.  I’m not entirely within its grasp, but rather on the outskirts, stealing fearful glances at its promise of further rages with opened windows and moments of hitchhiking with semis.  She carefully throws cookies at me like feeding a rabid dog and fearful of her hand being bitten.

I now know why divorce rates rise at this stage of life.  I HAVE LOST MY FUCKING MIND.

I have come to the ultimate conclusion that this is my life for now and I have to filter my reactions to people’s utter lack of understanding and their predominant ability to be stupid.  I have to ask Hubby if what I just replied to someone could be construed as ‘snippy’ or ‘sarcastic’??  Me???   Or if I’m in ‘that mood’ now and should just try to shut up and stop talking? Look the other way?  Turn the other cheek?   I have to ask a neutral party if I’m being nasty or logical.  It sounds perfectly okay to me…but, apparently, it isn’t.  I’m not.  So, distract me by turning my attention to the shiny things and appease me with glasses of wine or chocolate.  Pretty soon I’ll be locking myself in a bathroom so I can’t wield hurtful words or ‘snippy’ retorts (that I’ve come to know and love) at random people with seemingly good intentions and no idea that the nasty ‘M’ is wreaking havoc.

Pass the cookies and the coffee.  The vat of wine over there is keeping me from wielding an axe and jumping aboard a semi with strangers… If I go missing, put a nice picture of me on that bottle of red Merlot.  It’s the least you could do….

No Dress Rehearsal

It’s now Oct. 18th, 2017 and Gord Downie, aged 53, has passed away.  I wanted to repost this one in honour of a life lived well with love.  Take care.  

This is the first post I’ve written since my Aunt died.  I haven’t been able to post anything since.  She read everything I wrote.  She commented on everything I posted.  Sometimes it seemed like she was my only ‘fan’.  I still think that. Even if what I wrote was total crap, she liked it.  She laughed at it.  She loved it anyway…at least, she made it look like she did.   I didn’t realize how much I wrote knowing she was there to read it, until after she was gone.  It’s weird she won’t read this.  I think she would have liked this one…

Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   

What an emotional week.  The Hip concert, our friend crashing his bike, another friend’s mother has heart issues and an old friend of our family died this morning…it seems that life is taking a journey into a roller coaster of ‘life is too short’ expressions and asking us all to take a good hard look at how we do this life thing and get on with it.  Move it, sista and get to whatever it is you need to do because tomorrow is not promised to you.  It is dangled precariously in front of your face, lulling you into a false sense of promised procrastination, all the while the edge of that cliff draws ever so near.

There is no waiting until tomorrow, or I’ll get to it next week, it’s now or never time.  It’s the time to do that massive thing you’ve always wanted to do because tomorrow is gonna be too late!  Never have I felt so urgent a need to appreciate a day in the sunshine or a day in the rain as I have this week.  To love my grey hair, (sorry bestie) my uneven walk and my penchant for junk food…hell I’m even relishing my descent into madness (via the other M word) and learning to cope with hot flashes and mood swings…Yeah, it’s happening and that’s a whole other rant.  I’m grateful…just to be able to feel something and relate and cope and struggle and rant.  I’m grateful for the opportunity.  I’m grateful for this day.

Saturday night, Canada closed down for three precious hours and said goodbye to Gord Downie and The Hip.  The band. The Canadian guys.  The guy who is dying, has his days numbered on a calendar and instead of taking to his bed and laying down, he got out into the spotlight and sang his heart out in towns across Canada to say goodbye and thank you to his fans and the people who supported his music and his life for the past 52years.  How awesome is that?  It must have drained every last bit of energy in him to hit that stage and sing, perform and dance for his fans, his people.  The mere act of standing must have taken its toll, but he did it anyway.  He cried, screamed, danced and sang all laying it out for the country he loved, to see.  He sang with humility, honesty and a great deal of force. There was no time to hold back, no putting it off until tomorrow or next week, it was now time.  It was heartbreaking and emotional and difficult to watch, but we did anyway.

That’s what walking through life is, isn’t it?  Singing, dancing, screaming, crying all with a great deal of humility, love, passion and power until finally you are no more.

With illusions of someday casting a golden light. No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”

Get to it.  We have to crush this living thing…we owe it to the people who don’t have that chance, who will never have that chance.  We owe it to ourselves at the very least.

 

Gord

Lose Your Jack

I was perusing Facebook last night and was surprised to see a post from a lady from our neighbourhood who was appalled and ‘disappointed’ that a pumpkin had gone missing from her front porch. Apparently, she was hoping some wayward homeless child picked it up and brought it home to treasure for Halloween, but lest, she was more taken with the thought that given the state of our ‘hood lately, it was probably stolen by some mischievous teens out for a good pumpkin-robbing time. The wording she used felt like she was saying our neighbourhood was falling into the skeet category of ‘hoods. The Compton of St. John’s. It was like she was comparing our white-bread middle class family oriented neighbourhood to 8mile.  In the spirit of neighbourly neighbourly-ness, I decided to write a little diddy using Eminem’s “upbeat” ‘hood inspiring song Lose Yourself in hopes she realizes the erroneous choices of words in her post. Or not. Whatevs, Yo.

Lose YourJack

Look

If you had

One shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

Like a pumpkin

Would you capture that pumpkin?

Or just let it slip?

Yo.

His palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy

With the burden of a pumpkin weighing his hoody

He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready

To pick jacks, but he keeps on forgettin’ the address

That he wrote down, the whole ‘hood goes so quiet

He opens his hoody but the jack won’t fit

It’s too round, times up, over, Splat!

Uh, oh, he dropped it, at the park. He needs another.

Oh, there goes Skeeter, he choked

He’s so scared but he won’t give up that easy. No

He won’t have it, he knows his whole back city’s ropes

It don’t matter, he’s dope. He knows that but he’s broke

The rules to the ‘hood jackin’ a jack, it ain’t right but he needs his cred

He better go capture another and hope it don’t pass him

 

You better lose that jack in the ‘hood, at the park

You don’t own it, you better never let them see

You take a pumpkin without asking, it ain’t fantastic

You gonna be known as a Skeet

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to throw

This jack to the ground, it comes once a year. You better…

 

The souls escaping, through this hole that is gaping

In the pumpkin, where the smile should have been

It’s gone. He smashed it. He knows he’s not askin’

He’s goin’ on to another.  

Jacks are easy to find. On the porches, in the backyards

He only needs one more.

He’s stealth. A monster. A Jackster of Jacks.

 

You better lose that jack in the ‘hood at the park

You don’t own it, you better never let them see

You take a pumpkin without asking, it ain’t fantastic

You gonna be known as a Skeet

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to throw

This jack to the ground, it comes once a year. You better….

 

There you have it, yo.  

Word.

Original lyrics to Lose Yourself by Eminem  

The porch of the skeet who stole the Jack O’Lantern. 

What’s The Colour of Paprika?

I was having difficulty writing last week, hence the non-blogging, non-posting non-thinking non-action from me. Saturday, I decided to head to Chapters to see what’s up with books lately and wandered in with my expensive coffee and daughter in tow. Whilst perusing the aisles, I thought in order to kick start some ideas I would invest in a daily writing book. I wandered to the back where all of the discounted we-still-have-these-and-price-them-ridiculously-low-so-you-think-you-are-getting-a-deal books are located. I found one stuffed on a shelf under the heading ‘Writing and Other Shit’. I swear that’s what it said. Anyway, I bought the book for ten dollars and really should have taken a deeper look at it. It hails that it has 365 writing prompts to “INSPIRE YOU EVERYDAY!!” It looked good to me, so Sunday I cracked it open. The first prompts were to write about colours of herbs and spices and describe something that same colour.  I shit you not.  

What am I, in Grade 1?

By the way, BOOK OF INSPIRATION, I have no idea what the fuck herbs and spice look like other than salt and pepper. They’re spices, right? All I know is that most grow out of the ground and are green. Basically, you want me to describe everything that’s green. Awesome.


The only thing this book has accomplished so far was to make me even more of a sarcastic wise ass. Which is not really a bad thing and pretty par for the course, but I was expecting something a little deeper. More meaningful. More adult and less Grade 1 and what colour is Paprika? Answer: Reddish orangeish like Pippy Longstocking’s hair on acid. Kinda. I’M SO DESCRIPTIVE.

Today’s writing prompts were three events from different eras in history and it asked to describe a mundane event that may have happened on the same day. The first date was William Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616. Now, I’m no historical expert, so what the hell do I know what folks did on a daily basis in fucking 1616?!

This sucks.

Want to know my answer for that one?

Here it is:  

Too bad for William Shakespeare. 1616?! How am I supposed to know what folks did in 1616?! Killed kittens? Planned murderous plots against the King and Queen? Had their pantaloons tailored? Wrote shit poetry and answered everything with ‘where art thou?’ WTF…

If nothing else, I get to be a sardonic jerk without actually failing a course or having an actual writer person tell me I suck at this.

Which I do.

Tomorrow’s prompt?

Jesus Wept

Why? Because He read my last answer? Great. Can’t wait.  

Jesus isn’t the only one weeping.

Ugh 
 

Little Girl Writing


In beginning a memoir project, I decided to dig through my old journals just to get a feel for what fifteen year old me was thinking. Holy cow, I think I should have just closed it up and left it be. Teenaged angst, early views on relationships and the all-important she likes him-he likes someone else drama happening. I didn’t remember writing any of the events that transpired in those pages, but I remember the feelings. The awkwardness. The shyness. The melodramatic events of school dances and hockey games; movie nights and trips to the record store; history classes and failed math tests. How much I missed my Dad.  

I skipped ahead to my second year of college to compare. It seems I grew up a bit in that time. The theatrical expressions were lessened and I spoke more of the transition of becoming my own person from that of a little girl in a confusing world. I loved living in the city. I loved working with the kids in residential treatment. I loved feeling necessary, intelligent and valued. I grew in college. I grew from a little girl writing down her daily activities to a young woman experiencing a life independent of parent, familiarity and routine. My entries were less frequent as I moved through classes and newfound friendships; downtown escapades and girl retreats up to northern Ontario. As I read through my second year the absence of the mention of my brother’s death was surprising. Not a word about one of the most traumatic events of my young life was there.  

The glaringly obvious absence of such an event should not have been a surprise. I must have thought I had outgrown the use of a journal and had no need to write such drama down on pages. I must have been so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t bring myself to record it at all. I wish I had. I wish I would have written every last detail of it. The shattering phone call. The train ride home. The days leading up to the funeral. The Thanksgiving dinner where we laughed until we cried. The devastation of watching my brother grow from an impulsive angry child to a more mature independent young man with his own apartment and a girlfriend, then having it all taken away in an instant. His life was moving forward in a more positive adult direction. We were all breathing sighs of relief. And then it changed.  

It could have been cathartic. I remember thinking as I walked away from those difficult days with my mother and my family and boarded the train back to school that I was returning a different person. I remember thinking I wasn’t the same after his death. I had changed somehow. I had grown.

I have been journal writing these past few months on a more regular basis. It may not be filled with all of the drama and angst of my teenaged years, but I find it soothing to write my thoughts on paper. It may not be cathartic nor reveal a secret hidden meaning of life, but it certainly gives me perspective on my life now and my life then. Perspectives on my changing world as my children grow from kids to adults, embarking on their own journeys and new discoveries; and how I continue to fit in to their ever-evolving lives. Apparently, my main reason for living right now is dinner prep and food organization.  

With all of life’s changes, it’s nice to take a look at where we were and where we strive to be. Maybe keeping a journal is another way of taking stock and reflecting on the journey. If you are a journal writer, take a look back occasionally to see where you were.  

You may be surprised at how far you’ve come.