"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, 27 December 2017

Hilarity in 2018?

I don't know how this coming year will play out. I don't have the stamina for another 2017. The man across the hall is dying of brain cancer, yet the new KFC is almost ready for business here in town.

Do you see the problem?

In my own life, I am subject to soul-crushing loneliness, perfectly fuelled by the busyness of others and my own robust inwardness. I don't fully exist, so every morning, I am charged with devising a clever phrase – an existential carrot, poised to lure me into participating with the day.

–I'm writing this because I know that I'm not the only one draped with this problem. I'm just not sure where you are, and if your facade is as strong as mine, I probably can't see through it. Nice job though! 

High-fives all around!

Don't assume that I'm not fighting this; I am. At least I was. Sorry to rain on your day. You have my permission to stop reading here and go complain about the cold. The KFC will be open shortly and you can go sit in the drive-thru, because we still have those. 

I have no idea how this is still possible considering the state of the world.

Why in hell should I fight? What is going to be so different about 2018? Is there something that you know and I don't? Are you, for once, going to take me seriously? Of course, you could simply donate to the cause, and there, you're all done. You'll get a t-shirt and a dope medal for your valiance. How glorious! That way, you don't have to risk engagement, and you can still refer to me as "sweet," in passing. (The best one was someone who thought of me as, the happy girl. I almost laughed out loud.)

Pick up a flat of Nestle, bottled water on the way, because you're that skilled at avoiding any involvement at all. 

Truly, this is a miraculous time!

I have done work; lots of it. I know that I am worthy. I know that I am enough. It's just the planet that's wrong. I can hardly stand it. Everything is in passing, which starves the days of punctuation.

Yes, I will try to come to your event/opening/performance, because there is a part of me that hopes that this freak perspective/affliction passes.  That part is growing smaller though, and yet it demands twice as much energy from me. 

I'm ready for that one tumbler to click and release that perfect idea down into my head; you know, the one that changes everything? It had better come soon. –no reason in particular. I just don't want you to have to roll your eyes so much. The strain must be unbearable.

Hey, so, sorry there was nothing funny in this post. Of course, that's all perspective, right? If you clock things a little, maybe to the left, and pull back, the whole charade is mind-blowingly hilarious! So – there; I guess I have nothing to apologize for.


Friday, 22 December 2017

The Trail

Today, a fox and I shared the trail; both of us respectfully avoiding each other. I was glad not to be in a mall or anywhere near a store. The fox, I imagine, was glad not to be part of a coat, for sale in the same mall/store. 

For that brief few hours on the trail, we loved each other, and the snow, and the quiet.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Winter Solstice Again

Feel her.

Feel her roll, and sigh,
Gently, gently feel her under the stars,
Shifting, turning, sighing in the dark;
Deep, deep in well-earned slumber.

A shame not to look on her, to not
Be there and watch as she dreams,
Remembers the summer's work,
Autumn's glory, and
Delights in themes of spring's surprise.

Hold her close, our earth, in all her beauty,
As we nod tonight to the sun and its return.


This moment of change, tipping toward
The blink of dawn;
A flicker, now charged to beat the last,
Marking the coming of puffed days,
Fuller and fuller of trumpet's call;
Duty, adventure and the hunt for love's blush.

The night gives way, with each of her turns,
Until, once again, she finds the longest day
Adorned in sun's tender shadows.

But now, tonight, we are a half from that,
And though eager to pass right to spring,
Slow here at winter's door.

Take stock of yourselves.

Soften your edge, and rest.
You too have turned;
Weathered the seasons, some easily,
Others with great effort.


All of us.

Be grateful for these, and look to them relentlessly
Summoning the very best that is in you:
Your strength, your brilliance, and the 
Realization of just how powerful you are.

And you really are.

Those triumphs you had, those successes;
Bring them forth again to revisit;
Sharpen their images and reinforce how
Important they are, each and every one.

Through all of this adventure comes opportunity,
The gift at just the right time to
Tap into something bigger than all of us;
A wellspring of love, rooted deep within the earth.
It's always been there, turning with her, but now,
Tonight, we can feel it tugging at us,
Offering its embrace and guidance as this 
Dark gives way to light.

Take it.

Shake free of the past.

Brush off the old dust and tedium and
Emerge to the new light with all of the
Love, and grace, and beauty;

Fill your lungs.

You are remarkable.

Stand and raise your glass. 
Welcome the sun, the lengthening day, and the
Fresh chance to move ahead with clarity,
A fierce, reenergized heart, each, and the
Fondness, and respect we have for each other Here, and those dear to us presently elsewhere–

To the sun!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Hear That?

Learning. So much learning! And at the centre of it all is the fact that I cannot tell you that I love you, because we just don't do that.

What if I wanted to tell you how sad I am? Or you wanted to tell me? What if that young man ripping the sugar packet open with his teeth is tortured with an enormous pack of dark dogs that you can't see, breathing their hot breath down his neck? It's hard to, out of nowhere explain that, but if you put a hand on his back, he may tell you about how much he hates them. He may just fall apart in your arms.

What if, instead of marching on through the streets, a woman simply stopped, stood, and held her head in her hands. Anybody. Somebody's mother. What would happen? Would you adjust your earbuds and look away, or, would you step in and make contact? 

A holy moment perhaps? Anything?

Listen. Could you listen?

This Sunday is the thirteenth anniversary of my father's suicide. I love you. I love you and would you listen? 

Every year as I revisit this event, the brutal Hemingway ending that sent shock waves all along the timeline of my life, I try to figure out if we are any further ahead. We are not. We are terrible listeners; stunningly so.

I know a handful of people who are good at it, and one of them I pay.  Goddamn it.



Try. Please.

Stop talking. Stop stepping on my sentences. Now I have to take them home and shake them out, and I can't get away from you fast enough.

Stop preaching. That's a lovely speech you're giving, but the dogs don't care. You know nothing about these dogs, do you? How can you? They don't belong to you. In the middle of your speech, the young man is edging towards the exit. You've made him feel invisible, and ashamed because, well, that was a great speech. Seriously. If he was any sort of a decent human, all of your advice would have worked and the day would be dogless and sunny, right?

Did you hear him at all? I know he didn't speak, but he told you his whole life story in the way he was breathing, gasping. You invalidated his pain in the space of two sentences.

Yes, there are worse scenarios, but her story is unique. She is the only one with her DNA that has that specific history of emotional and environmental influences that have made her life what it is. Telling her to count her blessings will only make her hate you. She has counted her blessings, in fact look at the worn corners from her rifling through them every day. She knows this should be enough, but it isn't and now she has the guilt of this on top of her own torture. She would die if she could.

And that's the problem. So you need to figure out this listening deal. 

I lied earlier. I don't revisit the event once a year. I go through it repeatedly. My father is with me every day. I know him better in his death than I did in his life. 

I won't go into the details of my childhood, Dear Reader, except to say that my parents were the worst communicators. Add gin to the mix and there was the perfect storm. But I know my father struggled. I know that he tried.

Let's leave it at that.

My God you are beautiful. I love you, do you know that? My heart is full of you. 


Did you hear that?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Perspective: A Christmas Story

I find myself spending much of my time trying to figure out how everything works on this planet. I lose hours parsing the secrets of the universe, karma, ancestral shortcomings, and especially, Zumba. I'm curious as hell, and hopeful that it's not simply chaos...and fucking Zumba. That would be the worst.  For example:

Recently, I was to attend a Christmas choir concert in town here. Minutes before its start, I pulled up in front of where I thought I should be, but the vast choice of available parking spaces clued me to the fact that I was at the wrong church.

Remember, small towns have their guilt covered. This town has four churches, plus the Quaker Meeting House, for all of your sin and redemption needs. I knew better than to waste time guessing and risk being  abominably late and damned to hell–more than I am already. I flagged down a friend. We made quick jokes about how glad I was that this wasn't my wedding, or my funeral that I was going to be late for, and he told me where the right church was.

I got the better address, drove there, found parking a block away. I quick-stepped it to the main road and walked across towards the church. As I stepped up onto the sidewalk, I found myself walking in sync with an elderly lady bent over her walker, heading for the same event at a glacial, uncertain pace. I noticed her husband (could have been just a strange man, but my gut told me, husband) standing beside his car, watching her with a worried look on his face. The lot he was in, closest unloading zone to the church, was full, so he was charged with finding a space elsewhere while his wife, freshly egressed, was left to fend for herself on these mean, guilt-laden streets.

I made eye contact with him to let him know that I would accompany her and not to worry. I leaned down and asked my new friend if I could help her into the church.

"Well, that would be very kind of you," she said, looking up briefly with red-rimmed eyes. "I don't know how I'm going to get up those steps."

She was lovely. I assessed the layout and let her know that there was a side door and probably an elevator, so not to worry about the steps. We took our time, she and I. I could tell that she hated this. She didn't want to be late, or a bother. She just wanted to hear the damn music. Either that or she had money on the soloist inhaling a fly before the half. It was not my place to pry.

We persevered to the side door. I opened it, then reached down and lifted her front wheels over the door sill, and we were in; basking in the glory of the church lift. 

Oh it was such a wonderful shade of–grey! 

I wasn't sure how to make it go, so a friend came down the steps and fiddled with the controls. There was no manual. You'd think there would be a handy Book of Elevations, because that would be some welcomed holy hilarity, right? 

It took us a while, but finally the door opened and my new friend walked in, fully trusting us, complete strangers, like a lamb to, well, that thing.  I stepped in to ride up with her because she seemed frail, but her husband arrived right on cue. I flourished him ahead in my place, and stood down. The door closed slowly to allow for any stowing problems, and also, you could have a quick nap before the ride. Also, a good idea to eat before you load in. Get the picture? Slow door! 

At the same time as my pals launched, the choir members began coming up the stairs from the basement in a fierce, tight line. They were dressed in black. They had folders, a mission, and reeked of scales and harmony. I tried to step into a gap and sneak up the stairs but I almost lost a leg. I looked past them to the top of the stairs, keen for news of my new friend's safe arrival, and then resigned myself to wait. As I stood there, one of the choir members glared at me with a robust dollop of disgust – me in my red jacket, hanging out by the church elevator, you know, in that way as if I was one of those lift lizards, wasting time, ridin' for free on The Saviour's dime. Every town's got one. 

"Why don't you just walk up?" she said, in an accusatory tenor voice.

I was so surprised that I think I snorted, or choked, or both. 

"Why don't I just walk up?" I immediately tried to explain that I had met a complete stranger on the sidewalk and had just helped her into the lift, you know, like Jesus would have done, –and then I heard a harsh, matronly SHUSH.

Not only had I been unjustly judged, I had been SHUSHED as well! 


I stood back, and if I had been wearing hockey gloves, I would have dropped them and then shirted my accuser. AND the SHUSHER! We would have had ourselves a Christmas Donnybrook in B Major with Accompaniment!

"I give up. I'm going home," I threatened. 

Why don't I walk up?


My thoughts at that moment were less than jolly. It's frustrating being misjudged and then denied your efforts in defence to, you know, set the record straight. I settled down, pouted in my pew, and read the messages on the stained glass windows that reminded me that I was a sinner, but that I could be delivered from evil, or probably to evil if I rode the fucking lift down. 

The concert went on. I sat quietly and without fuss, but all the while I kept trying to figure out what had happened. It started with the wrong church, but the timing was perfect for me to discover my focused friend embarking on her own. Nobody else had come along. If I had not arrived when I did, she may have attempted the stairs and that could have ended badly. 

So? Was it the universe? 

Was it karma? 

Of course, I could be missing the lesson completely. Perhaps it was my goofy great uncle Ephraim arranging for my new friend to get me to slow down enough so that I could learn how to throw a punch in a tight space and still get to my pew looking freshly pressed. Never happened, but it could have. 

I don't know what it was. At least it wasn't Zumba, and for that I am grateful.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 24 November 2017

What's That in Your Eye?

I watched Richard Linklater's Waking Life, recently. It came out in 2001. I don't know why it took me so long to find it, but, later, in perhaps a longer post, I will explain how perfect the timing was. I've been replaying parts of the movie in order to process the sometimes complex theories described, but it is the Holy Moment, that stands out for me. 

The oddly animated movie shows two men, Caveh Zehidi and David Jewell, discussing cinema and literature. Caveh explains the idea of God and moments in time – Holy Moments, and says,

 "We walk around like there's some holy moments and there are all the other moments that are not holy..."

 There is more discussion and then they decide to try it, to have a holy moment with each other. They stop talking, and look into each others eyes – and I went out of my mind. 

The effect was powerful. Even as a spectator, far away on the other side of the computer screen, I could sense the thrill of the characters committing to the process, then the delight of exploring the details of the connection, as if they had walked into a fantastic new room. Jewell speaks of the layers he experiences and admitts to being drawn in by Caveh. It felt sacred, even to me; an honour to witness.

Personally, I want to clarify that when I watched this, I grokked it not as "Holy," as in the annoying-letting-children-suffer-God from the bible. For me, this Holy Moment was about the tremendous, remarkable power that we have to deeply love, connect with each other if we are brave enough to open ourselves to it. The vengeful, judgemental God that requires you to stand on your head has nothing to do with it. This, I think, is the power of the cosmos; the deep thrum of the universe rippling its way into the core of your body through the core  of another. This is the unwavering gaze. This is what got me into trouble, but also what revealed a previously cloistered, untapped depth that I didn't know I had. That gaze. It's not a stare. Rather, it's an invitation to open up, to be vulnerable, and to deeply feel. It is accepting, empowering, and everything else falls away.

As beautiful as it is, the truth is that not everyone is willing or ready to risk this kind of a connection, and frankly, sometimes it's just not appropriate to try to gaze into the eyes of whoever happens to be next to you. It could be an officer handing you a ticket. It could be an NRA supporter. Or, you could find yourself drawn to the most remarkable, shocking case of pink eye – nature has boundaries that serve us. Look away! But if you get the chance, have a Holy Moment on me, and let me know what happens. I happen to believe that this kind of drawing-together is exactly what the world needs right now, you know, without the pink-eye, and definitely without the guns.

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? 


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 


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.



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.


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. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Many adventures, I'm sure, have started with,

 "I'm pretty sure this is the right road, I think."

I've never been a stellar navigator, easily distracted into the hypnotic passing of telephone poles, or the life happening on the other side of my passenger-seat window. I decided to take a drive to Lake Huron recently, and, for a while, managed to stay on the main routes, but traveling solo can be challenging; I can't drive and read a map at the same time, so the while ended on the way out of Owen Sound. Here, I fell to the bait of a soft liquorice road skirting south of the main route. Most of the traffic was scrambling to go west, but this other route was beckoning, as if the imps had a secret to share with me. 

There was no Oh-God-hurry-so-we-can-have-our vacation–urgency on this route in comparison to the other, but I picked up a little speed on the way out of town and crossed–into a painting. The sun was fetching up the rich tones of green, the new yellow in the wheat, and the reds, whites, and blacks of the cattle and horses. The land stretched out flat up here after the hills and the Blue Mountains that I had come through. The fences were square and neat. I passed farms at the height of their beauty with full gardens, enjoying this day; the up-ride against the coming down of winter's cold. I came to corners where there were three or four houses maybe, and people out enjoying the day after whatever and wherever their work took them. I thought them lucky and wondered if they did too.

Then, I found the secret. I came upon a field with a herd of beef cattle, all relaxing; some standing, others their legs tucked underneath as they rested like great steamer trunks  on a pier. There was a woman standing out with them and I will admit, she and the whole scene took my breath away. She had a kerchief on her head, a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. She was holding a long pole, like a walking stick. She was standing, arms crossed, with the pole tucked in her right elbow.  She was looking at the cows, standing there, with the sun drawing down her back. I could not see her face. She could have been merely looking. Or she could have been reciting poetry. Or singing. If you've never been around cattle, well, they are attentive. When they are calm, you are calm. You can't help it. Their breath is sweet like the upper notes of a field of clover. They watch you with those fast-ball-sized eyes with the most feminine lashes, and listen with perfect ears the size of tacos!

I almost stopped the van. I could hear the sounds in my head; the cows chewing, swishing their tails. I could smell their sweetness mixed with the afternoon breeze, laden with whatever else it had moved through on the way there. The woman stood and looked. She was beautiful. I could feel the ground underneath her boots and the sun on her back. The whole scene was paint-worthy. It was as if it was planned, choreographed just for me. 

Lake Huron was nice, but it was the gift of the woman in the field with the cattle that made my day. I am grateful to have witnessed it and to have a past that enabled me to imagine the sensuality of that moment; sounds, smells, thoughts and that calmness. Thanks to the imps and the lure of that liquorice road. How lucky to have taken the wrong route! 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Oh the Hilarity

I was back at the field yesterday. It's a good distraction from the search for a better job, a more inspiring place to live, and a soul mate. Plus I get fresh air. I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and after three hours, had cleared an inner sanctum in the middle of the forest. There was an old tree that had fallen across the stream. I had intended to take the chain saw to it and pile it's parts up and out of the way, but the more I cleared the scrub from around it, the saplings and drifts of goldenrod, I realized how beautiful it looked and left it whole. I decided against an evening fire, preferring to hide in the dark and watch the crew change from day-beasts to night-beasts. I lit a cigar to keep the bugs away and watched the Sikorsky-like dragon flies run their sorties to snag dinner. Bats rolled and twisted higher up, dark like black satin, the birds quieted, and the spruces to the west posed still like a silhouetted back drop in some stage play. The moon was up, showing only half; bright though as if someone had ripped a hole through into daylight. Jupiter was nestled deep in the forest branches. I saw the space station pass and then decided, after the speed bump taste of my third cigar, that it was time for sleep. 


I have a Hennessy Hammock instead of a tent. It's a hammock with a mesh cover, and then a separate fly that sits above it to keep you dry from dew and rain but it allows you to see what's going on around you. There is a velcroed access approximately half the length of the hammock along the bottom. You open the access and shove in your inflated, foam-filled Therm-a-rest pad that, ideally, is supposed to offer firmness to your sleeping experience. Sleeping bag goes in on top of this. There is a handy hanging pocket for keys, flashlights, whatever you need close by.

Sounds great, huh? 

Well, it has been great in the past. Last night, I realized that my Therm-a-rest had a leak, and like a man in a state, could not stay stiff. Also, I did not have the contraption stretched out enough so I found myself sliding down towards the lowest sag-point, the bottom of the catenary curve.  I would pull myself up, and then slide back down as if in some physical slapstick sketch worthy of Mr. Bean. Several times, I realized that my flaccid Therm-a-rest was off-centre and sliding out from under me. I raised my hips up in an attempt to reach underneath and pull the floppy no-show back to home position but ended up winding my sleeping bag around myself until it felt like I was wearing the lower half of a mermaid suit; I could barely move. In addition, with all of these Cirque-de-Soleil maneuvers, I was working up a sweat. I found the opening to my sleeping bag and threw a leg out, only to find the night breeze chilling, so I pulled my leg back in. 

I repeated this routine over and over again. I did not sleep at all. I DID see a shooting star, and considered evacuating this ridiculous sleep-taco, which is a better name, watching the sky for a bit, then retiring to the back of the van which is what a person with sense would do, but I persisted. I heard something pad through and peruse the sleep-taco then leave. It could have been a rabbit, or a fox, or a Jehovah's Witness coming to call, then not. Shortly after, I heard light hooves approach, stop, then I heard the calf-like grunt of a deer. It turned and fled, and I think I heard deer-laughter. 

The eastern sky began lightening. I was in the middle of another, adjust-everything-until-you're-sweating-or-you-pull-a muscle flourish, when I realized that the sleep-taco access was open and the Therm-a-rest was half out, making a droopy break for it. 

Okay. I give! Enough already!

I grabbed my boots from deep down in the sleep-taco abyss and got the hell out. I threw the sleeping bag and Therm-a-disappointment in the van. I took the sleep-taco down as every mosquito in the county tucked into me for their breakfast. Moments later and a pint down, I was driving out towards the road. I HAD planned on staying for the day and over the next night, but I don't think using a chain saw on five minutes of sleep is something celebrated in any safety manual. Plus the bugs, and that derisive, Pan-ish laughter!

I was on the road before 6am, and basically solo. Most adults were still asleep in their non-taco, uber-comfortable beds.  This was good because I did not have the stamina to navigate the cottage traffic gridlock that would manifest later. I put on some Bach and, came up over a hill to see the sun, full, and intense, and red like a hot stove burner! It was beautiful, and it was all mine! I spoke out loud about how grateful I was in that lovely, special moment. I felt full, and present, and keen to get my life back on track. I really was grateful. Life is such a gift. 

...Then, I spent the remaining drive home, taking that very gift away from the blood sucking mosquitos that had stowed away in the van. Bastards all.