Write a Blog Post

Write a blog post

It needs to be done

Write a blog post

People are waiting for one

Write a blog post

You have nothing else to do

But write a blog post

It can only be you.

Memories of Drowning and Other Stories

 

So, I’m now an official Indie author.  My book hit the Amazon jungle on Sunday.  I’m not sure how I feel about it, yet.   It’s like taking a little piece of your soul and throwing it up in the air, waiting for somebody to catch it.  And hold it.  And like it, just a little bit.

The silence is what’s awkward.  Not knowing if people will like it and hoping nobody takes it and trashes it into nothingness.   It’s weird, really.  I’ve been flung into the virtual abyss with nothing, not even a life jacket to keep me from going under…scary place, this cyber universe.  But I did it to myself.  I put myself out into the big wide world to see what’s what…no point in turning around and running back home.  Might as well hang out a bit and see who gives me a nod.

So, I’m going to be annoying.  I’m going to make a complete nuisance of myself and be in your face and stare at you until you get all uncomfortable and move around in your chair looking for the nearest exit.  I may even follow you to the door…but I’ll be out here a while, so send me back a coffee or a donut or even a warm blankie, will ‘ya?

It’s a bit chilly out here…..

The Power of Words

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore
I heard this quote a couple of weeks ago when I was re-watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I knew I loved it and had to use it. I just wasn’t sure when or in what context. I do now.
A lot has happened, not just in the world, but in my little world. Free speech has become a focal point of conversation and not just in the verbal sense, but more in the written form of expression. Opinions, good or bad, warranted or totally off-colour, have been splashed all over the place. It’s as if people have lost all sense of common sense and simply spew whatever the hell they want and hide behind the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’. It’s like if you spread that phrase, it covers you from any backlash that may come your way. I disagree. There remains a sense of responsibility when writing anything and publishing for the world to view. That responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the creators and the publishers. There is a responsibility at its basic sense, to the intended audience of your diatribe. You are responsible for your words and expression and how to portray your opinion without slander, prejudice or discrimination. At least, that’s how I see it.
Je Suis Charlie’ has become a theme song, an anthem; almost a patriotic stance on free expression of ideas and creative thought without fear of persecution and violence. When the men and women in France were slaughtered in the name of terrorists seeking some kind of twisted ‘revenge’ for portraying caricatures of their prophet, the world stood up and raised hands in rage and ire. A horrible tragedy that only exacerbates an already tormented world. The global environment took to their pages, took to the streets and took to social media proclaiming the terrorists have crossed lines not only killing innocent people, but also in thwarting the freedoms we hold near and dear; they have killed in the name of their prophet over animated caricatures. Ones they found offensive and blasphemous. The freedom to print and write and draw our opinions and publicly display those opinions is a right to all persons in a democratic society, offensive or otherwise. The option to object to the offensive material, to demonstrate and disagree is an option these terrorists decided to ignore. Instead, they chose violence.
The world profusely declared Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to your opinions and views. Disagreement of those views is allowed, and welcomed. If we do not have differing opinions, we do not have valuable discussion and discourse on what is ethical and what isn’t, what is right and what is wrong and what is allowable in a civil society. Physically threatening the creators of the ideas, in the name of disagreement, is abhorrent and criminal. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ I will rant along with everyone else.
Just when I think freedom of expression has reached a valuable and justifiable position, I read an article like Pathetic in Pink. This article appeared in a local newspaper, The Northeast Avalon Times and has caused a backlash of epic proportions. Moms of little ‘white girls with blond hair and blue eyes’ everywhere, me being one of them, were appalled, disheartened and angered by the author’s words. They were spelled out paragraph after paragraph, denouncing the colour pink; the apparent ‘superiority complex’ that these little four year olds possess as they prance around in their convertible Barbie cars and princess tiaras. The author states, “I actually dislike little girls with princess wands and blonde hair. I react to them the same way I do when I turn over a log or a stone and find creepy albino bugs wriggling around underneath.” That’s right. She compared little girls to creepy albino bugs. She called the late Princess Diana a “suicidal, bulimic, pitiful, manipulative neurotic”. The late Princess publicly suffered from depression, a debilitating mental illness and the author’s description of a beloved Princess, while offensive, is ignorant as well. Princess Diana brought world-wide attention to the growing AIDS epidemic among children. Her charities continue to raise money and assist children in need in third-world countries and her memory is living on through her sons. I personally think Harry is a hoot. Not bad for a blond-haired blue eyed Princess.
After this article hit Facebook and the torrent of angered moms roared, the slightest of defenses arose, I believe from the author’s camp, saying this article was supposed to be ‘satirical’, and a column on modern parenting. I’m not laughing. Neither are a lot of other people.
Freedom of the press? This article was her opinion of how she views what she calls ‘princess girls’ and their ‘pinkness’ is repulsive to her. If she was trying to sway people to acknowledge that gender stereotyping is wrong and that children should not be compartmentalized into one single hollowed-out hole, but should be allowed to play and be who they are without prejudiced and judgment, then just say that. Why go on a journey of offensive language portraying CHILDREN as superior princess-wannabes who have ego issues and attitude problems?
I’m all for freedom to express your opinion in any form you like, but I’m also an advocate for objecting to those opinions and the freedom to disagree, peacefully. So I’m disagreeing. Strongly.
The author has refused to comment on her article and I find that disturbing. Were you aware the backlash that awaited you when you wrote this? Don’t hide behind a banner that was forged through bloodshed and say ‘Je Suis Charlie’…freedom to express my opinion. Where does the responsibility lie? Take some. When the opinion borders on language so offensive as to set off a firestorm of ire, I think that banner is waning a bit and there needs to be discussion. From both ends.
Je Suis Charlie lives on in all forms of expression and when we disagree, we are opening dialogue, inducing change and forging freedoms for all in the future, but it also comes with a responsibility. When you use the public forum to express your opinion, be prepared to justify and clarify. Take this opportunity to attempt to explain the intent of the article, instead of letting it stew in the collective conscience. Peaceful and constructive discourse is a cornerstone of democracy and just as the author has a right to her opinion, so do the public in responding and disagreeing if they so choose. I don’t hear anyone asking for a recanting of the article nor for an apology. I hear outrage, disappointment and a defense for pink-wearing, fairy-winged blond princesses, everywhere.
Words arecapable of inflicting injury, and remedying it….”

I Wish You Could See What I See

 

I wish you could see what I see
The sun coming up over the horizon winking a bright day ahead
The birds flying in peaceful motion, floating along in the breeze
I wish you could see what I see
The helping hand of a neighbor looking for a lost cat
The song of a child dancing alone along the street while no one watches
I wish you could see what I see
The joy from a struggling student gaining a passing grade
The pain from a mother’s face as she buries her son
I wish you could see what I see
The tumultuous struggle of an insecure person
The quiet confidence of an average girl
I wish you could see what I see
The perfection of the imperfect
The absolute in the power it brings
I wish you could see what I see
The acceptance of different
The compassion of understanding
I wish you could see what I see
The beauty of silent observance
The choice to remain indifferent
I wish you could see what I see
The pain of unintended words
The scars those leave behind
I wish you could see what I see
The smile that stayed forever in a memory
The twinkle of the eyes that betrayed hidden feelings of love
I wish you could see what I see
The ocean’s blue waves crashing the shore
The whispered hiss of the spray against the rocks
I wish you could see what I see
The peaceful end only death can bring
The start of a new day that only a life worth living can give.

sunset

 

Over the Fence

A wooden fence bordered the frayed sandy path that ran along the property lines in the backyards of the row of townhouses where I lived. Beyond our back fence, there lay a barbed wire fence, laden with greenery and big overhanging trees. From where I stood in my backyard in the burgeoning twilight, the greenery took on an ominous presence. They seemed beckoning to me; mocking our lack of yardage and lush vegetation. Teasing me with open handed limbs knowing I could not pass the rusted barbed wire placed on the top. I wanted so much to hop the fence and wander aimlessly in that backyard. To touch the overhanging tree branches, to feel the cold leaves of the green ferns, to walk barefoot in the cushion of the grass, luxurious and cool under my warm feet. I yearned to explore the secrets the big maple tree stood to protect, the dark spaces under its trunk a haven for hidden treasures and buried dreams. The rooftop of the house owning the backyard was a grey shingle that sloped on an angle to the yard as if leaning over it protectively, ensuring I was aware of its masterdom over the lawn I yearned to grasp and explore. It warned me of impending doom lest I fall to the temptation and crawl through the hole in the bottom of the thick chain link I knew was there. I had watched neighbouring kids bend and crawl, their t-shirts snagged from the jagged edge of the cut steel link then scurry atop that opulent grass, their feet barely touching as they went. I’m sure the owners had some idea as to the hole, but no one ever made any attempt to fix it. The fence served to keep us out, however, allowed the smaller few into the domain. I remained an admirer; a true patron of the green ferns lending their hands to mine across the dusty path.
I watched that backyard grow for eighteen years, its owners changing hands, the green ferns more lush with each passing year, until finally, I could only see the rooftop. The overgrowth finally enveloped the barbed wire fence, barring my vision of the green lawn I was confident was still there. The green lawn I still yearn to wander barefoot across.

chain link night
I dream of standing in my faraway backyard at twilight, looking out at those green ferns and the dark shadows hovering over the grass; that yard that harbored so much of my childhood and longing for greener surroundings.

The Barn

white-wood-black-barn-old-wooden-grass-hi-274116

I remember being in the presence of an old barn.  This was back in the seventies when the summers were hot and seemed to last a whole year, not a mere few months.  We with nothing more to do but to wander aimless and reckless, our shorts hiked up and our faces flushed from the heat, trudging through yards and barren forest looking for adventure.  Or shade.

There stood before me a large black structure, the wood rotted and the inside dilapidated. The tall A-frame of the roof pointing skyward as if noting the direction of heaven.  The window at the top was gone; replaced with just a wooden bi-fold door hanging off its hinges.  The wood was split and left hanging, the wind blowing the shards innocently, as if afraid to blow too hard and break them. The grass lay brown and dry, the summer quickly turning into fall the leaves having fallen, dried up brown and withered away.  The dirt road was dry and gravelly, the stones crunching when we walked upon them.  There was a gaggle of us, the kids.  We were dispersed in age, the older ones herding the younger ones around the barn discovering it’s secrets and noting its dangerous allure. We were alone out in the country. Of course, near Chatham the country is everywhere around the outskirts of town.  I couldn’t have been far from where I lived.  I can’t imagine my mother ever allowing me to stray too far from her sight.   The attraction to the old building was in its mystique.  The rotting wood that once housed what exactly?  Animals?  Hay?  Corn?

   I’m not sure I was ever inside the barn.  The large looming face stands resolutely in my memory, however, any ideas of lofts or ropes or any items deemed ‘barn materials’ seems out of reach to me.  Was it a dream I had and I thought it was a memory?  Maybe, as the motives for attending the scene secretly remain hidden within the black rotting wood.

My brother seemed to have been the catalyst for my presence at the site.  My cousins were there as well, but more as outlying extras in a movie set.  Their milky dreamlike movements float through my mind and I can see their smiling faces looking down at me, mocking my existence among the big kids.

My memory of the old barn ends there.  I have no idea how we managed to travel so far outside of town, or even if it was that far out.  I just remember the feeling of freely walking about and curious as to its existence.  I know it’s no longer standing out in the country, but it’s nice to visit from time to time….

I Can’t Believe You’re Reading This, Can You?

I haven’t blogged in a while.  It’s not that I haven’t had the inclination or the desire, it’s just that I’m having a hard time coming up with something interesting to say.  I spent the better part of yesterday trying to come up with a blog-worthy topic and ended up playing endless games of spider solitaire and…ugh.  I can’t say.

I just wrote a whole speel about the-place-that-shall-not-be-named that I had to strike-through.  It was nothing earth shattering.  I didn’t just divulge state secrets or tell you where Hoffa was buried. It was just about candy and …you know, the usual.  And not candy as in ‘drugs’…  Sorry I led you on about that.  Gag order and all.  You understand.

I perused the Freshly Pressed site last night whilst daughter was keeping the puppy company and found a cornucopia of topics peeps wrote about.  I even recognized a few bloggers I visit.  Wow..awesome dudes and dudettes.  The topics were great and every time I stumbled upon one, I did a face-palm and exclaimed ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’  Yes, why indeed.  Was it because I’m not as creative as these obviously dedicated writers and bloggers?  Was it because my brain has been on vacay lately and my mojo seems to be gone for an extended hike up Signal Hill?  Maybe it’s the lack of something missing in my diet that is preventing me from producing my wit and wisdom with all to share.   Too much chewy candy.  That’s got to be it.  Ugh.

Well, I should get moving and return to topic-hunting.  In the meantime, occupy yourselves with this compilation of Bruce Willis singing (badly) on his old show Moonlighting.

Thanks for stopping by!

My Factory Gig

woman worker

One summer I worked in a car parts factory on the outskirts of town.  Close to the Detroit border, our town was booming with new factories supplying car parts to the American companies from the sweat of their good Canadian neighbours and we were more than happy to oblige.  I was about seventeen and was responsible for putting shiny new bumpers into plastic bags and moving them along the conveyor belt. I wondered how many parts the factory supplied given this was a mere one insignificant portion of a whole car, but I didn’t have time to ponder the complexities of building an entire shiny vehicle.   I was a fill-in for someone who had called in sick.  I don’t really remember how I got the job exactly, just that I had to be there from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon with a half hour lunch and two fifteen minute breaks.

My first day on the floor I was shown the conveyor line.  Glittery new bumpers hung from the ceiling and were floating by.  I was to grab one, inspect for scratches, put it into a large plastic bag and hang it back on the line.  Easy-peazy…I guess.  I started in and my hands instantly became scratched along the edges of the bumpers.  I was thrown a pair of work gloves and started again. One guy noticed my two left hands and my slow ambling at getting the bumpers into the plastic bags.  Instead of berating or calling me down, he stepped beside me and helped me out.  He never said a word.  Just made it look easy and showed me a tip about inspecting the bumpers at a quicker pace.  He couldn’t have been more than twenty himself.  I was grateful for the lack of conversation at my obvious awkwardness.

I ate my lunch outside with some of the women from the factory.  They were older, some married and had kids.  I must have looked green and pretty shiny myself, still in high school and dumber than the bumpers I put into the plastic bags.  They wore kerchiefs around their hair and wore bland uniforms, some stained with paint from the bumpers.  Their hands looked rough from handling car parts all day and they smoked their cigarettes while eating sandwiches.  They didn’t seem to mind the quick pace of the factory or that their lives were so regulated by a boss that neither knew them nor acknowledged their presence.  They just seemed content to be working.  The young man that had given me a hand on the line came out for a cigarette.  ‘You’ll get used to it’, he said.  ‘Don’t worry about being slow right now.  It’s better to check for scratches and be right, than to be quick’, he assured me.  I felt better after that little pep talk. The women continued to eye me with long suspicious looks and mocked disdain, wondering how I got into a factory job so quickly with no union ties and no family around the business.  I wondered that myself, I told them.  Just lucky, I guess.  We all headed back in to get back to our lines.

My luck was short-lived.  I was told after my shift the following day the person I was replacing was coming back.  ‘Thanks for filling in, but we’re okay now.  We will call you if we need you again.’  That never happened.  I learned a few things about my very short time in a factory.  I felt awkward and slow and the name Norma Rae was what every woman was whispering around the factory floor.  Work that was repetitive, extremely fast paced and one that demanded strong arms, hands and a quick eye cemented my belief that I was no factory girl.  Norma Rae would have to live on without me.

I suppose had maturity and desperation been on my side, I could have made a more valiant effort in sustaining what little employment was offered to me, but my heart wasn’t in it.  At seventeen, a factory was not where I wanted to be.  I think that summer I moved on to becoming a waitress/counter person girl at a local restaurant.  It proved to be more my speed, although my awkwardness would rear its ugly head at the worst times.  I almost dropped a pizza on a table of customers and a freshly brewed pot of coffee inexplicably ended up on the floor…but, the tips were okay despite my clumsiness and I didn’t have to worry about scratched bumpers….and no, I did not suffer any bruised chins.  Thanks.