A Little Hope

These past few months, I’ve been working on my first romantic fiction novel titled, False Hope.©  It’s been a long haul and I’m still writing and I hope to be finished soon.  I’m to the point now where I’m cluing up the last few chapters.  Below is the final passage that is written from my protagonist’s point of view regarding death and loss.  I thought it was especially true and wanted to share it.  Here it is….

  I came to view the emotional tumult of death similar to that of travelling through a tunnel.   My life prior to entering the tunnel as opposed to my life after having walked through it.  My life before the tunnel was full of youthful energy and hope for the future.  I had a new job, good friends and much to look forward to;  then without warning I lost her.  Midway through the tunnel,  I didn’t think I would ever recover from the devastation and despair.  I crawled my way grasping to anything that remotely made sense to me.  It was dark and rank and I knew I had to keep going, but the struggle was so mired in confusion and pain, it was exhausting.  And then I woke up.  After walking through all of the sorrow and grief and loss,  I felt a change within me.  I emerged from the tunnel different than when I had entered.  Things appeared clearer, my understanding of the world around me was renewed and I felt empowered.  I had conquered the most overwhelming loss and yet, I was still standing.  I was still breathing.  It was miraculous to me that after having my guts kicked in by her death, I ceased being doubled over in agony.  It had passed.  It had evolved into an everlasting ache, more than a sharp acute stab.  I could live with that.  The choice to move forward was as much in my power as I willed it to be.  I could have chosen to wither and wallow in self-pity and hide myself from the world, but that would not have been living.  That would have merely been existing and was that any way to honour someone who had died?  By simply throwing myself on the mercy of the earth and grovel away my life, instead of making it count for something?   My choice to stand and move forward was as much for selfish reasons as opposed to anything close to altruistic.  I refused to concern myself with how others viewed my departure from grief and instead focused on how to live with the loss.  It wasn’t going away, there was nowhere for the empty space that was once occupied by a living breathing person to go.  It simply did not get refilled with something or someone else.  It continued to be empty.  It followed me around and became a part of me.  This empty space attached to my leg or my arm or my heart continues be a part of who I am.  Yes, death changed me.  But so did hope.  Hope in its finest form gave me the chance to move forward.  The hope for a better tomorrow, the hope I could find love, the hope I would feel like a whole human being again pushed me to live my life; to re-enter the world with the perspective that I had the power to change what may lie in wait for me.  Good or bad, wrong or right, truth or lie I hoped for more for myself.  Whether that hope was true or false it was worth holding tight to my chest.                                                                                                                                                         -Ashley, False Hope© 2019

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Opinions About Opinion Pieces and Where To Put the Tuna Salad

I just finished reading an opinion piece in the Independent that sounded like, if I were British, and young and still cared about where I put my tuna salad or even ate tuna salad for that matter, it sounded like I wrote it.  It got me thinking how I should be writing more opinion pieces and stuff about more important newsy crap like tuna salad and Theresa May’s lipstick, and less about my trials and tribulations of being abandoned by children and having to struggle my way through Menopause.  It hit me like trying to remove a sweaty workout bra.  Smacking myself in the face while trying to pull the soaked yet suddenly rigid material up over my head.  The idea is a good one, it’s the execution that’s tricky.  Also, it’s a total piss off and funny as hell at the same time.

Then I thought if I don’t write about the daughter-who-left-me-alone-and-sad or about the Big M, what the hell will I entertain ‘the lot’ about?  That’s you all.  The Lot.  Sounds like a great title for a book.  The Lot, a continuing saga about wine-binging children-rearing sweary-sadists who revel in the Writer’s hardships with gravity and battles with people-who-think-they-know-better.   Anyway, what would I write about?  I’ve listed possible incoming topics to keep everyone happy.  They are as follows:

1. Meghan Markle’s ridiculous spelling of her first name and how I hate her hair.  Seriously, what the hell is the ‘h’ in there for?  Am I supposed to say it ‘Megawn’?  Or ‘Meghawn’???   Or Duchess of Sussex, which fills me with unending amounts of joy that it fucking rhymes.  I think the Queen did that on purpose as a joke.  And her hair!  Don’t get me started.  It always looks like she slapped it up in a bun completed by the Queen’s pissed off lady-in-waiting and then stood in front of a fan blowing 125km/h to finish the look.

I really just want to run over and spray it down….

2. The merits of reading the news on the internet vs watching that shit on T.V.  First, I can yell at the computer, raise my fist and protest in ire and everyone just thinks I’m having a bad day with spelling.  Also, I can say nasty things or laugh out loud and colleagues think I’m just reading a memo from the boss.  I can get various viewpoints from various sources who are questionable and be like the rest of humanity, and totally buy it.  I can also read opinion pieces that inspire me to write opinion pieces that spew my opinion and include tuna salad analogies and Magenta lipstick.  And judge Meghawn Markle’s hair.  Sorry, Duchess of Sussex.  That Queen is such a jokester!

3. Taking a cue from my dog and be done with petty life shit.  Seriously, that dog has got some issues with noise, laughter, people, kids, babies and other dogs.  She can’t stand loud ringing noises from the T.V., doesn’t enjoy the doorbell, she can’t stand my son.  At all.  She hates to have someone talk to her unless it’s me, then she can tolerate me in short spurts.  She will only eat her food when the dish is COMPLETELY FULL AND NO LESS.  Will NOT roll over, give a paw or lay down – those commands are just for dumb dogs who don’t know any better.  She cannot stand having her picture taken, doesn’t like baths, insists on diving under the covers because she is cold and sits on top of my head because she knows it pisses me off.   She sits on Hubby’s legs, then growls when he tries to pet her, defends her right to be perched on the softest pillow in all the land and DEFINITELY would NEVER eat off of anything other than your fingers or her dish.

“What?! Stop looking at me, Human”

I clearly need boundaries like these.

Now that I have some clear cut topics for future posts and opinion pieces, be sure to pop by to see how I delve into the complexities of these issues…or at least the mystery of where I put my tuna salad.

Turn On The Light

It seems as though the world is turning on its head.  It’s imploding with people condemning each other to friendship hell if they vote the wrong way, and other people tormented by inner demons to the point of taking their own lives; a ‘c’ word broke up a country and caused a wide divide, and the rest of us are left clinging for dear life hoping the assholes of the universe will suddenly realize by some divine intervention that the real logical courses of action exist and will redeem themselves with unbelievable compassion.  And humanity.  We hope.

We are missing something.  We are missing the spark of human conscience that guides every person on the planet to do and be in the light.  The positive voices that were once abound with energy and forethought are being

drowned out by deaths and guns and hate.

We are missing thoughtfulness and

mindfulness.

The once thoughtful intelligent discourse that filled the air is being pushed aside by social media insta-posts denigrating anyone who disagrees, anyone who takes a side and anyone who says the sun will come out tomorrow.   Guess what?  The sun will come out, people will disagree, there will be sides and the positive voices will sing.

Humanity has taken a big punch in the gut.  Compassion has taken a backseat to shaming.  Truth is a lost art.  The gun debate rears up and then fades away as fast as it arose.  People’s attention spans are at the ultimate minimum since we repeatedly seem to forget our own history. Allies are not allies anymore.  We would rather be at each other’s throats than by each other’s sides.

It’s painful and exhausting trying to wade through the muck of negativity and shameless heartlessness that seems to be waiting around every corner.  My generation, those of us in the throes of our fifties, are looking around baffled and bewildered by utter lack of empathetic voices.  What happened?

We forgot.  With all of the technological advances at our fingertips, with self-driving cars and instant cooking pots and ultimate quick efficient non-thinking gadgets, life got easier.  We got lazier.  We forgot to take care of the little things that we once thought were insignificant, but really are the most important.  We forgot people’s feelings; we forgot that people wage war with themselves that we know nothing about; we forgot to take care of our relationships, our friends, our family; we forgot what if feels like to struggle, to extend a hand to someone, to be neighbourly; we forgot what it’s like to be scared, lost, and alone; we forgot that someone else’s thoughts and life are as just as important as our own.  We forgot that whatever personal battles we are enduring, there is always someone else battling their own shit just as hard.  We became a self-involved, altruistic society with a big ego and multiple platforms on which to perform and display that ego.

We’ve forgotten how to think.  We’ve forgotten how to care.

The screeching tires that you hear in the background is the future of humanity revving up and getting ready to careen carelessly onwards.  It will run over anyone who stands warily in the road, waving her arms pleading for a hand with a flat.   If everyone stands in the road together, maybe we can get it to slow down a bit.  And help out.  And care about the girl with the flat tire on the side of the road.  Maybe.

If you are battling something that’s too big

for you to handle, there is always a choice.

The suicide hotlines are listed here.  http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/canada-suicide-hotlines.html

Take care of each other.

Because She Said So

Two years before she died she told me that she was proud of me.  That, after reading a report I had done on a child I was seeing, she thought I was an intelligent independent woman and I would always be a little bit hers.  She said that. It was twenty eight years ago.  More than a lifetime and I still hold that near and dear to me.  I still carry it. I hold it in my hands as if it was a fragile rose ready to lose its petals.   I wasn’t hers in the blood relative sense, but hers in connection.  She had watched me grow.  Held me in her arms as I sobbed for my father.  Laughed when I couldn’t walk barefoot on the gravel at the cottage.  Washed my clothes. Washed my hair.  Let me swim in Lake Erie even if the water was freezing.  Took me for rides in her two seater convertible with the top down and the wind whipping my hair.  Let us search under the beds for the miserable cat we loved but didn’t love us back.   Christmas dinners, backyard barbeques, birthday cakes and an appreciation for evening games.  Cross border trips that included border guards looking in the backseat with me sandwiched between my dark haired, dark eyed brothers the European lady in the passenger seat and the black man driving.  The questioning look on the border guard’s face as he said “These kids yours?” We laughing hysterically as we drove on.  Fishing in Lake Erie and getting my line stuck in the rocks; halfway through a road trip to Toronto then realizing we didn’t have the tickets to a much anticipated game; a speeding ticket once we got there; singing Jesus Loves Me in the car, then me throwing up on the floor of the Ponderosa restaurant while we were in line; games of Sjoelbak (we pronounced it shoola), rummy, and my first introduction to poker.  My first drink (rye) during the move after my mom moved, my first job at her law office, my first grown up piece of jewelry, a watch when I graduated highschool.  Me picking ABC gum from underneath the tables at the Fiesta restaurant when I was five and everyone telling that story over, and over and over…..

A lifetime of memories from a woman who died too soon and she gave them all to us for nothing but by simply being a ‘little bit hers’.  And I am.  Because she said so.

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.  

 

Desk Trials

The untidiness of my home desk space remains the bane of my existence, however, it isn’t entirely my fault.  Since Hubby has been home more often, he has settled into daily occupations of my laptop and invades the space that was once my sacred den.  The once organized entity has now been overtaken with papers, hats, random books, notes and nasty sports memorabilia for which I care nothing for.

What the hell happened to my desk?!  I try to clean it up and organize it only for it to return to its unnatural messy state.   I try to hide away the sports caps and the random papers only to see them re-emerge following my day at work.  I tidy up the random notes for them only to be replaced with more random notes that have nothing to do with me.

I’m thinking of getting  a new desk and putting it in a secret location so that no one can find it.  That way, I can relocate my laptop and MY papers and MY books minus the sports caps and flyers and settle in to MY TIDY NEAT SPACE.  Better yet, buy an old desk and re-purpose it.  I could sand it down and paint it a pretty colour.   I could have a clean organized place for each one of my books and notebooks, I could have file containers and a holder for all of my nice pens.  I could even have a nice vase of flowers….ahhh….

Desk-Makeover-3_thumb1

Someone has pictured my new old desk THAT I MUST HAVE…it even has a bottle of beer to drink whilst I type!  Loves…

I know, right?  Funny.  That is never going to happen simply because I have no ‘secret space’ and in fact, I have no ‘space’ at all.  There is not one room or iota of a wall available for me to occupy unless I kick a daughter or son to the curb.  And overtake their room.  And make it into a home office…..sayyy….

That is a great idea, minus the ‘kicking a daughter or son to the curb’ part, because I’M NOT AN ASSHOLE PARENT.

If I WAS AN ASSHOLE PARENT, I would have a nice shiny new desk, in a nice shiny new room with painted walls the colour I like and with organizational files and a pretty lamp and a nice comfy chair and flowers in the corner and shelves with my books…..

WHY AM I NOT AN ASSHOLE PARENT?!

Maybe we can get someone to BUILD ME A ROOM.  Somewhere.  Not in the basement though.

I’ll see if the attic is available….

In the mean time, I’ll be playing ‘search for the missing hats’ with Hubby.

I’ll be in the attic if anyone is looking for me.