"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

We're Out of Conditioner


The most attention that I ever paid to the world of Jesus was through Christopher Moore's book, 

Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. 

Now, don't get all in a sweat. Moore's book, though generally funny, is historically accurate as far as Jesus's age and location as he grows up, and is poignant where it needs to be. I love the book because it told the story, but didn't make me feel like shit. I didn't have to be afraid, and I didn't have to feel guilty. I felt bad for Jesus, but didn't sense that I was a despicable piece of garbage when I was born and had to spend the rest of my life suffering and repenting because of it. I grew up as, what I call, a hesitant Quaker. This self-realized moniker wasn't because of the religion, exactly. No, it was more to do with our family and the extra ladels of guilt that I got just living under the same roof, but that's for another time. Or, never, but because of it, my spidey-senses can see guilt coming a mile away and I clock my perspective, slightly. For example:


Recently, I found myself in a church for an event, and as it unfolded, I found myself gazing at the sculptures of famous religious icons positioned evenly along the side walls, and in larger scale, at the front and above the stage.  I sensed the purpose of this: Anyone finding themselves daydreaming, or tempted to shift their focus from the activity up front, discovers Jesus in varying stages of pre-death, near-death, death, and post-death, surrounded by groups of concerned apostles, all swathed in flowing tunics. I imagined the sculptor running into his store room to grab yards of fabric to gather and lay across Jesus to get the balance right and add a splash of colour; maybe something that brings out Jesus's eyes, or the highlights in his hair while he posed in whichever terribleness he was enduring. I could clearly see a side-view of Jesus's thigh, torso, or arm in each display that reminded me of a client sliding off of a massage table. I was too far away to be able to describe the look on his face here, but the throng of attendees showed great skill at improvising whatever angst, sadness, surprise that the sculptor needed. 

"Okay. You in the back with the mint-green sash, eyes up please. Stop checking your phone! ...thank you...aaannnddd, break for lunch everyone!"



Up front, from above the stage to the peak of the arched ceiling, was a wood carving of God who had his hands raised in such a way that I imagined him listening to Snarky Puppy's We Like It Here, on his earbuds. Below him were various characters, angels, agents, involved in the story. I imagine posing for the artist carving out these figures would have resulted in some stiff necks as they were turned at odd angles, like faces pressed against the windows of a very full bus.



Directly in the middle, was a larger-than-life, 3-D wood carving of Jesus cowering under his friend's raised hand pointing up to the Dad. Jesus's Dad. The God Dad. I don't know who the friend was. Big fella. Reminded me of Paul Bunyan in a very nicely tailored dress. Looked to me like someone was in trouble, like maybe report cards were sent home and, well, you take it from there. Nothing like having an enormous, clear depiction of FEAR in the centre of the stage, you know, in case you weren't sure.



One icon that I do have great respect for is Mary, because, not only is she the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of God, and I will be confused about that forever.  Am I the only one? She must be exhausted. The sculpture, almost life-sized, to the side of the stage, was beautiful. Her head was tilted slightly and her palms facing out as if to say, 

"All I did was ask you to clean your rooms. Why is that so difficult? And who left their bike in the driveway?"

But in this zeitgeist, I could also imagine Mary saying, 

"Whadda ya mean, you still have WAR and POVERTY? Just what the hell...and yes I said 'hell,' what don't you get about this whole LOVE dealio?"

Then, she would shake her head, go inside, and have a bracing cup of tea with God, who is her son, and the father of her son and I want to know who was in the writing room that day.


Balancing the statue of Mary was a statue of another Jesus on the opposite side of the stage. This time, Jesus looked healthy and relaxed; dressed in comfy-looking robes as if he had just had a long, hot shower and was now waiting for his hair to dry while he did the crossword (Three-letter word for Trump. Also, Mary rode one into Bethlehem.). 

I won't tell you what I imagined him saying, but it was not terribly positive about the U.S. government and the morons supporting the NRA. OOPS! Didn't mean to let that slip. He's also irritated with constant iPhone updates. But mostly it's the NRA.



It was interesting to see these depictions. I don't want you to wonder if I am flippant about religion; that should be obvious.  I do, however, like the idea of Jesus and Mary as real, wonderful people. (I do wonder if Joseph is in therapy. Between the immaculate birth and God, that's got to be hard on the self-esteem.)  I'm not quite sold on God yet. There is way too much hate and suffering on this beautiful planet for me to swallow that story whole right now. But do I believe in LOVE? 

YOU BET!

That's the part I fully accept, once it's sifted out from all of the judgement, and damnation and hellfire, and guilt and more judgement. Me? I think it's all about love baby! For that, I don't need a carving, or a sculpture. That, I can feel in the centre of my chest, the moment I lay eyes on 

YOU!




Monday, 23 October 2017

These Two Gods Walk into a Bar...


These are strange times. If this is news to you than there is a raft of memos that you have missed, dating back to when the orange man began campaigning for office. You've either been in a coma or I want some of the drugs you've been taking. Climate change...okay, don't go away. I'm not going to read you the latest menu of completely avoidable stresses in our world right now. You don't need that. Nobody needs that.


Personally, I haven't been able to listen to the news for months. Every time I take a chance and leave the radio on, when the news anchor speaks, my brain launches itself against the back wall of my skull, and not in a fun, mosh pit kind of way. It's painful. I had a short conversation with a friend about our present days. I wondered out loud if mankind had ever experienced anything similar or if I was merely feeling precious and ripped off. He replied by suggesting the World Wars. I agreed, but as I went away and chewed on this, I felt my brain screaming, throwing virtual coffee cups and jumping on virtual hats. We know better, don't we?


Don't we know better? Didn't we learn?


It's not a big secret that my own days are rough. I'm still trying to sort out my footing around some monumentally challenging chunks of life (what kind of fuckwad tells you you're not funny?) at the same time as the world spins down its remarkable coriolis toward, whatever.  The black dogs keep hogging my bed, so my sleep is fitful at best. I sleep with the window closed because the sound of morning traffic sets me on edge, but that means that my lungs are full of black dog farts by morning. There is nothing more toxic. When I wake up, I make myself get up, open the window and take a deep breath; 


Oh, goodie. Another day.


I take a swab of the news from Twitter, The New Yorker, and set about trying to be okay with it, but I can't anymore.


Our world is excruciating.  Really, this is stupid in the most vibrant definition of the word:

Marked by lack of thought, reason, or wit and what don't you get about climate change and oh-my-god-you-elected-fucking-Trump.


And in which book does it say, 

The racist ass-hats shall inherit the earth?



Humans, who can be startlingly lovely, creative, breathtakingly beautiful, can also be monsters, here, in Syria, and sprinkled throughout the world – and why we have this chummy relationship with Saudi Arabia is, well, how many ways can you say hypocritical? 

 

On the whole, mankind prefers change to happen glacially, often with some archaic violence: Chess, but with live humans because we're not mature enough to use our words. Even the risk of our planet's demise has to be strung out, because, you know, there's that economy of unsustainable, moronic growth to consider. I'm sure that in a decade or two, when we're all sitting in a culvert eating grubs, we're going to laugh and laugh and laugh. (Do any other women have the urge to call these bone headed men out and send them to their rooms until they get their testosterone sorted out? And I'm talking about from all over the world, and in every religion.) 


God help you if you call anybody out on anything. I mean, how is it that we still have drive-thru's? Is it not a simple, pretty obvious idea to NOT run your car while you're waiting for your doughnuts? People love their blinders, and their warm duvets-of-complicity, except now, it's inconveniently too warm for either.


I know I'm not the only one struggling with this. I have stepped in to support friends brave enough to risk vulnerability in this zeitgeist. 

I get it.

I feel it.

I can taste it.

It's all over my floor and hurts like Lego when I walk on it.


Recently, I stopped at the Quaker Meeting House (yes, my actual roots) to have a talk with God, who I am pretty pissed with, by the way. No sooner had I sat down on the steps than this car pulls up, a man gets out with a set of bagpipes and begins playing in a clearing on the lawn. The timing was impeccable.


Okay so God, or whatever, has a sense of humour. Very funny. But what to do?


Seriously, what to do? What do I make of this?



Well, to be honest, I don't even want to be here, but people get all excited and uncomfortable when you say that. The only reason I'm still around is that I have two amazing boys, young men now, who I am bonkers crazy about. I would do anything for them and am pissed that the world is in the state that it is around them. If I hear one more person toss out some, 

"Well, there's nothing you can do about it," 

and my special favourite,

"Oh well, that's all in the past," 

I will shirt you in public. 

 

Maybe that's the key. Maybe a sense of humour is exactly the thing. This is absolutely the time for agency, but instead of fighting and marching, perhaps we need a more creative, less timid approach. Perhaps your idiot, neanderthal friend who throws his fast-food garbage out of his car window needs to have his head shaved oddly and his beard filled with gum.  The complicit moron who buys flats of Nestle bottled water could learn by having Twizzlers shoved into her tailpipe and be forced to sleep on a bed of Dunkaroo's.  And Mr. Gadget-Pants, who uses his leaf blower instead of a rake, should have the damn thing filled with flour and cooked peas, and the whole community of local bagpipers show up and play for him incessantly until he screams "uncle." 


If we can change simple minds about simple things, then perhaps we can slowly rise to consider not being dicks to each other on a broader, global scale.

Right?

Maybe?


I am putting my therapist through her paces. I also must offer her a nod to my still being here. We've covered some rough ground and I would not be surprised to find her showing up in a sweat suit and cleats soon, because instead of trying to normalize this life, I am bent on sensing and feeling the raw, clear clues about the direction of the world and my place in it. 

This is not business as usual.

To accept and feel compelled to normalize this clenching, grasping world scenario is, I think, an act of the fiercest delusional lunacy. Talk about drinking the Kool aid!  I can't bear to resign myself to simply enduring. My brain is not wired that way, and the black dog farts would suffocate me. If I can somehow find an opportunity to wake people up and bring us together in the midst of all of this bullshit, then I will feel useful; like I had a tiny victory despite the odds. This is a tall order. But if you've met my kids, then you know why I need to meet it. 

Everything else is meaningless.

 
Everything.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Lighten Up Cha-Cha-Cha


I'm trying to lighten up (sorry about yesterday's post). Really, I am but it seems now and again, the Tsunami of Despair washes in through the windows of this dull building, knocks me on my ass and gets sand everywhere. I moved in here to give my mom a hand. Ladies and gentlemen, my mother; a woman who defines family as, "Those people whom you avoid at all costs." My therapist (and everyone else) wants me to move out of here because she thinks this location is part of my problem. She might be on to something so I have revised my morning affirmations from, "Help me support my mother," to, "Get me as far away as possible before I start flinging myself over my balcony." I'm only on the second floor so in order for me to check out via flinging, I would have to throw myself over the railing repeatedly. Sounds like a lot of work, so I'm keen on the new address instead.

My therapist also suggested that I go back to ballroom dancing which was a thing that my then-husband and I used to do. We were really good at it, garnering compliments from our instructor at the time. My then-husband said that he did not want to continue because every time we went out in public dancing, we "made a scene."  I though that was an odd thing for an actor to say, but, fine, we stopped. 

Originally, last week, I was going to go do another centurion bike ride up north. My therapist said, 

"So, you. Alone. On your bike."
"Yes."
"No. You're not doing that. You're going to go dancing. You know, dancing? With other people?"

I knew she was right. I'm learning that she's usually right. Almost always. Okay, so far, always.

I found the website of a local chapter of the Arthur Murray chain. I figured that, what the hell, this could cheer me up from the bashing I've been taking from that fucking tsunami. Tired of having so much water up my nose. I filled out their online form. One of the questions was, Where do you see yourself dancing? There was no context provided so I wasn't sure if they meant, in my kitchen, in line at the bank, or at Carnegie Hall. I decided that, on the edge of a volcano might at least express my need for this experience to be positive even if it wasn't exactly what they were expecting.

I was nervous before my dance assessment. It's been some time since I've tried to be graceful. I made sure, though, to make a note to myself before I entered the building, not to spit or behave in any way as I do on my bike. No sneering while passing somebody during a waltz. No throwing orange peels on the floor, and, Absolutely NO SNOT ROCKETS. I repeated this a couple times to make sure.

I went in and met the instructors who are all young and lovely and without malice. Not ONCE have I seen any of them roll their eyes at me, and that place has mirrors everywhere so I would notice. The assessment went fine. It's basically a how-do-you-do, and to see if you can navigate on your feet without hurting anybody. I was okay. I moved, upright, at varying speeds with a decent sense of rhythm. The more significant denouement happened the next day during my first lesson when the portal from the past opened up in my head and I started to really move with the music. 

I was pretty damn excited. There was a bit of tsunami water sloshing around in that portal but not for long.  I had my second lesson last night and we were able to skip ahead into some of the grittier parts of the dances, where all of the fun lives, and I could not have been happier. Of course, I wish I had never stopped back when, but I'm here now, so be it. I'm not sure where this will lead, but it's keeping me off of my balcony. It feels good to be dancing again. I'm not giving up my bike yet although I must say that I would rather tango than bust my hump on another 50k ride by myself. 

I know. This is a shock for me too.

I still have to get out of this apartment. That will come. I could end up shacking up with some crazy Flamenco dancer down by the river. Who knows? 

I have to add, that I feel it's strange to be doing this while such a chunk of the world has had its ass kicked by hurricanes. Don't worry, I get the irony, but I'm of no use if I'm flinging myself over the railing, over and over and over again. It probably wouldn't work anyway. I imagine I'd just get really good at landing. I'm fighting the fucking tsunami in an effort to find my niche and be of more significant use. Seems to be an ongoing search but in the meantime, slow-slow-quick-quick-slow, I gotta go. I have some scene-making to catch up on!





Monday, 25 September 2017

Beans and the Abyss


I am teetering on the edge of the ridiculous abyss. I manage, for swaths of time, to foray towards lighter, simpler dynamics but these always seem to manifest only in a forced, feigned effort to pull back; settle, and I begin losing my mind. I am wired to struggle against complacency. I know this after over five decades of life strewn with varying reactions to varying, often remarkable scenarios. My focus, like any human, is towards broader contentment, but I continually find myself battling with the painfulness of what are, in this paradigm, unrealistic dreams. Success would be resigning myself to the level of, this will do. But I can never manage it because I can't convince myself of its worth on a cellular level. It feels, well, wrong.

I can't be the only one experiencing this, can I? There must be others out there who find themselves, now and again, standing in the grocery store in the bean aisle (8, I think)when, for no discernible reason, all of the colours on the labels appear more vivid. The rest of the store falls away and the well-researched music playlist becomes incoherent data meant for torture. There is nothing but these shelves of beans and I am terrified. How did I get here? (How did Chick Peas get here?) This is what life has become, and, in that moment, breathing stops being autonomic. Should I try more fiercely to trick myself so that I look forward to the tedium of present-day human expectation? Must I lower my sights so that the insane loops of mindless activity thrill me? How about telling myself a juicy lie upon waking in the morning, like, "This is fun!" Or distracting myself with, "Let's see how many cans of beans the abyss will hold, and show it on Youtube!" Viral? You bet!

I think part of the problem is that I sense that we are better than this. We are better than warehousing our elderly, letting this growth economy drive us out of our minds, and expounding on fighting disease as long as it involves donating money instead of changing lifestyle. We know that education should be free, unless of course we are compelled by our arrogance to nurture a robust stratum of oppressed for us to blame things on. I know, blah, blah, blah. This isn't rocket science. We have succumbed to too much financial competition and not enough fleshy, heartfelt caring. (Oh, and by the way, thank goodness for rocket science!) And why the hell is Wellness such a growing industry? Shouldn't we be good at this on our own by now? Shouldn't belly dancing while surfing be the hot thing instead, or discovering the delightful hologram capabilities of cauliflower?

And just what the fuck does the term Mental Health mean? Does it mean tucking in and riding with the zeitgeist? Or, does it mean acknowledging a nod from something deep inside that knows that all of this is nuts? Because this is nuts.

Well, I am fucking bored of it all. Aren't you? I crave something different. There has to be...there IS more than this, I know it. We've been living long enough that we should be so much better at it:

Nobody should have to take a fucking knee. 

I should not be dreading the days as I do. I want to be excited instead. I know I have to be more realistic, but it would be nice if the real part of the word didn't blow so badly. And, also, if the abyss wasn't so, you know, abysmal. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that it won't be found by settling for less. 

This is not fine.

And please don't tell me that, "this will have to do," because it can't, and I will wrestle you in the parking lot on that point and I will win and you will be embarrassed. We have the greatest capacity to make good change. If we don't, and we wait, I fear many of us will lose our balance.  






Friday, 25 August 2017

Reincarnation


The Canadian Geese are starting. Sergeant Guillaume, in charge of the Uxbridge Chapter of the Fifty-Six-Trillionth Brigade of Wildly Annoying Canadian Geese, or, WACG, is rousting younger prospects, feathered Branta Canadensis with leadership potential for the coming migration south. This morning, I overheard the sergeant talking with a squadron of three hopefuls as they flew over my roof this morning. 

"Okay men, necks out, feet up. Look sharp."

"I'm not a man," the starboard flier said.

"I beg your pardon?" Guillaume yelled.

Louder this time from starboard, "I SAID THAT I'M NOT A MAN. I'M A FEMALE. I'M A GOOSE. NOT A GANDER." 

Guillaume looked over to her. "Ah. Right." He turned and looked to the two other geese on his port side. "What about you two?"

The private closest to him responded with, "About what sir?"

"About what I was just talking about," Guillaume said, irritated.

"Aaa, we couldn't really hear you. You know when someone's talking but they're facing AWAY from you and the sound is all garbaldy?" the private whined.

"Garbaldy? What is your name private? " Guillaume demanded. 

"Salieri, sir," he stated.

"First name?" Guillaume snipped.

"Antonio, sir," the private offered, as quick as he could.

Guillaume faced front and they continued flying for a moment. Then, he turned and asked the name of the third private, in formation behind Salieri.

The private did his best to force his head even further forward, almost wishing it to move ahead off of his neck in order to deliver the information.  "Frederick, sir," he said, just this side of yelling.

"Last name please," Guillaume asked, pissed that he decided to give up drinking when he did.

"Banting, sir. Frederick Banting." 

Guillaume coughed, though geese don't normally cough. He shook his small, bulbous head and furrowed his imaginary eyebrows. He reached into his B-3 flight jacket and popped a cigarette into his beak, then patted his pockets for a lighter. A flame appeared in front of his face, held by the starboard goose. He extended his head toward it and pulled on his cigarette like you would a straw. The end caught. There was smoke. Guillaume nodded to the goose. She closed her lighter and put it in her pocket.

"Thank you private," he said, keeping his seed-shaped eyes looking ahead. "May I ask YOUR name?"

"Of course, sir. It's Arc," she said.

"Arc, eh? Arc. Arc." he repeated, then looked over at her. "Oh God," he spluttered.

"What is it sir?" she asked, slightly unsettled buy the look on her sergeant's face.

"You're first name, private–it wouldn't be Joan, by any chance, would it?" he asked.

"No sir," she replied.

"Oh thank the lord," he said, almost singing.

"No, it's Joan-of, sir." 

"Fuck me and the pond I was born on," Guillaume said, out loud, but as a prayer to himself.

"Oh no. What did I do?" Arc asked. "How is it that you know who I am?"

"Oh, now, don't worry. It was just a hunch," he said and raised his shoulders and tilted his head in a nuthin'-to-see-here kind of flourish.

"A hunch sir?" she asked.

"You have an unusual name," he offered, more seriously this time.

"Do I sir?" she asked, her voice rising in question, then, "Yes, I suppose it is odd," in agreement and almost to herself.  She paused. "IS it odd sir?"

Guillaume squinted because he had smoke in his eyes. He drew hard on the cigarette, pulled the smoke into his beak and then inhaled it through his nose, er, the little nose-holes on his beak. "Arc? –may I call you Arc?"

"Yes sir. Of course sir," she replied, crisp and shiny.

"We're geese, right?" he said, like it's no big deal.

"Yes sir. We are sir. Most definitely," she affirmed.

"Well, why ...STEADY FELLAS," he yelled. "GOLF COURSE AHEAD. WATCH FOR BALLS. AND HONK JUST BEFORE ANYONE FOLLOWS THROUGH ON A SHOT."

The squadron increased altitude and continued on course.

"Well, did someone put something in my coffee this morning? I've got Antonio Salieri and Frederick Banting on my port side, and Joan of Arc on starboard. Seem odd to you?" he asked.

"Sir?" Arc said.

"Those aren't regular Canadian Geese names," Guillaume said with a bit of in-case-you-didn't-get-the-memo dusted on top.

"Funny, sir," Arc answered. "I was just talking about that with Ella this morning at breakfast."













Monday, 21 August 2017

Eclipse


Wasn't it nice for everyone in the path of the eclipse to take a breath and look up? Even the U.S. President, who did so without any safety glasses? Nobody was yelling at each other. There was only the sound of the crickets trying to figure out if their shift had started or not. There is a clue here. You'd have to be blind not to see it.




Friday, 18 August 2017

Nausea


Cycling the other day and stopped at the top of a small hill to check my phone. I looked over and noticed the sign at the Quaker Cemetery with the quote from scripture:

          Be Still And Know That I Am God. 

Within three seconds, I was a sobbing mess. There was a sound I made, an almost primal howl that startled me. I got off of my bike and undid the cemetery gate as quickly as I could and walked in. I needed to get away from the road and hide my weeping from the traffic. I leaned my bike against the fence and walked deep into the gravestones, my hands holding the top of my helmet as if I was preventing my head from flying off into the ether. This came out of nowhere, or wait, maybe it didn't: 

I can't listen to the news anymore. I started dialing that back when Trump took office because it was effecting my health. I get my news from specific news feeds, The New Yorker, and lately, my dear school mates south of the border who are living in this nightmare surrounding the Charlottesville riot. The level of hate unleashed by Trump and the Nazi right is vicious, and terrifying in its righteous ignorance. It is visceral, and it makes me nauseous. There's a shattering, brittle edge to this hate. It skirts any of the tenderness, the soft poetry of the human heart that I believe we all have. This  wonderful vulnerability is wasted, compressed and locked away to make room for the bellowing, hard hollers of clumsy minds, steeped in the ugliness of the worst kind of privilege. It is shameful, and brutally easy. 

I walked among the Quaker headstones and of course, thought of my father. My frustrating relationship with him as father and uber-Quaker has left a trail of guilt and regret that I wrestle with daily. The Charlottesville riot would have broken his heart as I feel that it broke mine. I am frustrated and impatient with a world that I figured was done with this atrocious kind of blinkered thought. 

         Be Still and Know That I am God.

I saw this all the time as a kid. It used to drive me nuts because of the lack of balance in our house. Now, it's as if it's calling me back to my roots; something. Do I believe in God? I don't believe in a biblical God, but I do think that there is something. I do believe in spirit. And I believe in the power of love, the graciousness of considering others, and the deep, core setting that we all have for meaning and connection. 

This weeping clearly didn't come from nowhere. Things aren't right here and my body knows it. My soul is struggling with it. I walked out of the cemetery, and over to the Meeting House. I wept at the loss of my father, and I wept for my two boys who are kind and loving and don't deserve to be exposed to such hate: This is not what I wanted for them. It's not okay. 

But what to do? Well, nothing worthwhile has ever come from hate, so keep creating in the name of love, absolutely. I do feel, as emotionally difficult as these days are, that it is important to stay plugged in and current so as to better protest this lunacy. Don't ignore it. Don't be complicit. We know this from history. 

The second most terrifying words, next to any Nazi hate speech are,

 "Oh, well, there's nothing I can do about it!" 

In fact, those words may be even more chilling.