"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!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Don't Sweat It

I've run into another narcissist.

Fuck me. 

I seem to attract them like gravy to a white shirt. Initially, our interactions were fine. I figured that she was simply being kind, you know, like someone making sure that the new girl was comfortable. Then I realized that she had the listening skills of a grouper, which is only impressive if you're under water. She greets me with various epithets, none of which anyone else in my social circle uses. There's really nothing terrible about, "Hey sweetness," but if you fire that off in a condescending tone, like I'm ten, something dark and bad rises in my core; something that I don't have complete power over. I hear whispers of, 

"Tarry–not in your comfort because it will not save you," 

...coming from somewhere inside my own head, inside a rotted trunk behind a torn curtain, I think. I have, however, learned from the past and, instead of getting myself all in a sweat about it, I have decided to have some fun.

For example:

The next time she comes toward me for a hug but looks away at someone else (which is glass-chewingly irritating), I will be ready. I will take two smooth steps to the left and put an alpaca in my original spot. Nothing is funnier than a surprise hug to an alpaca, right? 


Later, when we're in mid-workout and I head for my water bottle while saying, "I need a drink," and she says, "hydrate," in a way that makes me seem like a complete moron, I will open the emergency exit door and let the North Sea flood in. Not enough to drown the alpaca (I'm not a monster!) but certainly enough hydrate the room. The North Sea always gets a laugh.  See?

When we are partnered during the workout and she crushes my groove (which seems to flourish with all of the other partners), I will pull a phoenix maneuver; burst into flame and then rise again when our turn is over. I know, right? 

Finally, at the end of the workout when she asks me if I'm "having fun yet," I will rotate once and then appear in a cape and boots high atop a great, fierce black stallion, his mouth frothing as he fights the bit. I will brandish my sword (because that's what you do when you're atop such a horse), my eyes indistinguishable from lava, a flock of ravens rolling and twisting through the sky portal that has opened up above us, and I will say, 

"Why yes. I am having fun. Thank you for asking!"

Remember, it's important to be polite. Always.

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."
"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


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.


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


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


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.


Monday, 14 August 2017

The Hawk

I startle a hawk out of the fence line next to the road. I'm on my bike, pushing down a hill and making almost no sound. She is busy with something, or he; dramatic in whichever sex. Considering the area, next to a large forest and across from a corn field skewered apart by a secondary, wobbly paved road, I would bet the hawk had a rabbit, or, yes, I would bet on the rabbit. I would win your money.

She rises up out of the deep grass like spume from the top of a focused wave. I am surprised, thrilled. The hawk flies so close that I can see intricate detail on tail feathers as she hurries to pull them back from disarray; browns, reds, and blacks with a sheen that reminds me of velvet, or soft, soft suede. We were in each other's space; a momentary infraction forgiven both ways. The hawk was big enough that, factoring my speed and trajectory, and her, being a hawk with the requisite beak, talons and flying ability, she could have taken me out, tipped me over and sent Cervelo and spandex sliding miserably toward gravity's stop and my date with a large tube of Polysporin. My only threat is as a giddy idiot, speechless at how close she is, how fast we are both going, and how cool it would be if she continued in flight beside me.  I am not her spirit animal; she does not have the same guess-what-happened-to-me-today, wishes to remain in sync.  

I watch her fly ahead and then arc across to the forest on the opposite side of the road. She was gone as quickly as she appeared but that was all the time it took to bring me out of myself and marvel at the miraculous.