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

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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.  

 

I Need One More Day Off To Do Shit I Won’t Do Anyway 

Mondays are tough days to get through especially if it’s the beginning of a work week. Memories of the weekend are still kinda fresh, unless you occupy my mind where I forget to brush my teeth some mornings, then really it’s all kind of a blur. But, for the most part you wish you could have just ONE MORE DAY off to do those million and one things you were supposed to do all weekend, but you never got around to do because people needed insignificant things like food and dinner and a clean toilet. Then, wine. 

 Never mind that you had things PLANNED. Organized shit you were getting done no matter WHO OR WHAT GOT IN YOUR WAY YOU WERE MAKING A STAND. And then you caved and made banana breads and a nice dinner where no one showed up and then oh, wait I have to go for a run because it’s such a nice day and oh, wait that chair outside looks lonely maybe I should sit in it with my fourth cup of coffee that afternoon and oh, look at the dog, she looks like she needs a bath….And on and on it goes.

What were those PLANS AND ALL OF THAT ORGANIZED SHIT YOU WERE GOING TO DO?

Huh.

I forget, but one more day off would be AWESOME so I could finish what I had in my head to do.

If my head would cooperate and remind me what the actual fuck I was going to do.

Probably had something to do with the bathroom needing painting and my car needing a good clean-up and I should really organize the kitchen cupboards…

You know. Useless crap like that.

I’ll make a list next time and keep it by the wine, that way when I go to grab a glass on the weekend I can have a laugh while I pour…

 

Parenting Tips For Surviving The Teen Years With Grace, Dignity and A Little Less Drunkenness

Adolescence, otherwise known as the slow descent into madness, or those lost years mommy raided the liquor store in search for more wine, or when the little darlings morph into bigger versions of Teletubbies gone awry, is a trying time for everyone; parents, teens, grandparents, teachers, babies, the dog, the mail-delivery person, the librarian with the big ass mole, the nice policeman who escorted you home after being caught outside the liquor store after hours banging on the doors pleading for them to “PLEASE OPEN I NEED WINE! I HAVE TEENAGERS!!!”….

The brains of average teenagers are still developing and pushing the limits. It’s one of the many fun and interesting ways they determine their place in the family; their role in the world and their intimate social circle. It’s also annoying as hell.

Limit setting and parents sticking to them is the key element to any good survival during this emotional roller coaster. They will yell, scream, slam doors and then use the ever favourite “Jan’s mom let her do it”. “AGAIN WITH THE JAN’S MOM?! I’m not Jan’s mom! I don’t care what Jan’s mom let her do! WHO THE HELL IS JAN?! Jan’s mom can stick it!! “ Natural and understandable responses to an illogical and peer-pressure kind of tactic that only ensues argumentative combative behaviour. BAD FORM, TEEN. But that’s what they know. Knee jerk emotional responses to having their asses slammed into a room with nowhere to go but to a ‘Jan’s mom’ kind of response. Stick to your guns! Not literal guns, but your limits. Stick to your decisions. You get it. DON’T CAVE!  

I could say here that communication is the key to any good relationship and speaking in quiet tones and providing a caring and open environment for them to participate in mature dialogue will assist in curbing the emotional upheaval….but that would be utter bullshit. Seriously. Teens are a ball of emotional crap wrapped up in a brain-fugue ire that speaking at all will only escalate the already shitty attitude they possess. I tend to throw my hands in the air and say “Jesus, help me with this child! Give him the necessary good sense that he needs to see the light!” and then proceed to speak in tongues. This generally confuses the shit out of the teen and he is so freaked out he turns around and goes to his room to try to call his father saying “Mom has lost it! Come home now!” And will never ask to go to another party/borrow the car/jump off a bridge, again.  

As a mother of three teens who are now adults, I can say you will survive. Motherhood be damned, the adolescent years are the most trying times; following of course after toddlerdom when the word ‘no’ was the prompt to put more toys in the toilet; the righteous pre-teen years where buying the right shirt was a major meltdown affair and of course the roaring twenties where there’s university exams, classes and staying out all night. Actually, now that I read that statement, being a parent kind of sucks. There is no decade safe where you can really sit back with your feet up and relax and say, ‘yep. We did it. We raised our kids.’ A parent’s work is never done and even now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’, I can say I still worry. We still argue (yes, Miss H even with Son), we still have to set the limit and toe the line and all that parenting lingo you read in all of the Parenting 101 books that kinda only work when the kid is already well-adjusted, graduated with a PhD and on his way to his own wedding. All those nice parenting books you bought will surely serve better as a nightstand where you can lay your bottle of wine after an afternoon of endless pleading and begging with the mail-delivery-person to please rescue you from your torment only for him/her/neutral to pry your death grip from his/her/neutral arm and run madly up the street….damned mail-delivery persons! (being politically correct is wordy, but not expensive)

Suck it up, Mommy/Daddy you’re a lifer now!

Ahhh, think back to the day when that adorable little pink baby was first placed in your arms and you promised him the world! And now, well now, he’s still kinda adorable and you would still give him the world if he wasn’t so damned stubborn like his father and have the intelligence of a snail. Then he comes home with decent grades and you think “Yesss. Finally, he has turned a corner. He is growing up” then he dents the car, or floods the basement with the garden hose or goes bowling with a frozen turkey and throws it through the front door.  

Yup.  

A teenager. The universe’s way of reminding you that young people can be stupid. We are the force that guides these young impressionable teens into adulthood with common sense, values and a wealth of information to make solid decisions; like bowling with a frozen turkey is way better suited in the basement using the hockey net. Duh…ANYONE KNOWS THAT.  

That’s why we also have wine. For when those guidelines are a little skewed, those decisions are a little off the mark and we struggle with guilt, ire and Jesus.

Good luck, fellow parents. You are not alone during this traumatic and challenging time. Remember, they will be around FOREVER. Also, the liquor store is open daily until 11pm. Make sure to get there early.

You. Are. Welcome.

 

    

 

My New Job is Going To Be As An Obituary Writer Because Who Doesn’t Want a Snarky Obit?

I read a funny obituary online today. That sentence in and of itself sounds morbid and creepy, but really it isn’t. This woman who passed away, had the best obit written by someone close to her who knew her so well and appreciated her individuality so much that he or she took the time to write something that reflected her personality. It wasn’t sad or sappy. It wasn’t flowery or artsy. It used plain descriptive, and named her children and grandchildren who were going to miss her. It then plainly stated they weren’t going to obey her final wishes to ‘be propped up in a corner with a gin and tonic so I would look more natural.’ I laughed out loud.

That’s how I would like to be remembered. Having a sense of humour and making people laugh out loud even after I’ve…gone on to the great vineyard in the sky; passed on? Kicked the bucket? Crossed over to the ‘other side’? Died.

Is there alcohol in the sky? Or Heaven? ‘Cause I think I’m gonna need some. Think of all the other people who have ‘passed on’ who will be crammed up there waiting for the big arrival and if they don’t have a bottle of wine and glass in hand. There could be trouble.

I mean, really. You go through life and all of its struggles and tragedies and heartache and your big reward in the end, the big finale is a bit of cloud and a family reunion without alcohol?! HAS THERE EVER BEEN A FAMILY REUNION WHERE SOMEBODY DOESN’T END UP FACE DOWN DRUNK IN THE POTATO SALAD?!  

C’mon Janice, get it together!

If it’s a true family reunion, there’s lots of beer and wine and dancing. Gotta be dancing. And in my family, all the guys are golfing.

I think a good obit is important. It says who you are to people like me who randomly read obits to get a sense of the person who died. The person had a life, a family and a history. There’s questions like, how did she die? Was her family around? What did she do for a living besides drink gin and tonic and do crosswords? (that was in the obit) Kids? Dogs? Did anyone else want to be propped up in a corner with a drink to look more natural, too? That’s sounds way better than being laid out for show.

I’m with her.

Also, I think I’m going to pen my own obit in advance so my kids don’t have to go to all the trouble of trying to think of something witty to say about grandma, without sounding cruel and uncaring. I mean, I did just die. Nothing says ‘love’ like an obit that has a personality. And brings laughter to the couple of people who actually scan obits to see what the hell happened to the old lady who wreaked havoc in the seniors’ home. (life goals, peeps) That way, I won’t end up with something that says I was loving and generous. Or liked reading. And throwing dirt over the fence. Or the line “mom had a penchant for using salty language in her blogging days” because that’s not necessarily true. I wasn’t salty, I was sweary.

Wait. Am. Am sweary.  

I guess I’m just fearful of leaving something that could be so epic to other people. Maybe I’m a control freak. Or just particular about words. Or what’s said about me in the public. Or know the kids will shoot for words like ‘loving and giving’ and not ‘sweary and snarky’.

It should be a little entertaining, shouldn’t it?  

I think I’ll stipulate in my will and last words, that the obit is included and should be published with a picture of me with a drink in my hand, sitting in a corner smirking.

Life. (Death?) Goals.

 

Love this…