"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.





 


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

Faith


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. 

Right...

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.




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Field


I went to the field yesterday. This is a seven-acre piece with stream and small forest attached to the farm that I grew up on. For me, the field is a portal to quiet while the world reels and grinds from the callous posturing from juvenile, dangerous egos. I can see the barn through the trees which is both a delight, and a source of tremendous sadness that I don't expect will ever disappear. While I am glad that my father is not around to experience this arrogant, political, humanitarian crumbling, I continue to struggle and wonder about the lead up to his death and the things we all could have done had we been a family that communicated at all. There's that done.

The field itself is a soft landing from difficult, surreal considerations; it is so full of life. As a hay field, it's terrible and needs to be reseeded, but as a meadow, it is astounding. I stood in the middle of it and was amazed at the industry going on at all levels. There was buzzing at ground level through remnant clover and wildflowers seeded by wind and chance over the past decade. My calm started with a Monarch butterfly, one of many, sitting, posing on a disc of Queen Ann's Lace. His orange and black wings remarkable against the white. The late afternoon sun caught him and lit him up as he took off to somewhere else, following what looked to be some drunken flight plan betted out on chance. There were dragon flies with heads tricked out with nature's best flight helmets, and myriad other bugs that were impressive, of names I do not know. There were birds chattering in the forest, and several downs around the field where deer had slept. I know there are deer in the far end of the forest so I did not go there. No need to disturb them in their home. 

I worked for a time, clearing bush, sung to by the stream whenever I shut the chainsaw off. I freed one tree from some vines that had it bent almost to the ground, and was delighted when it sprung up to full height like a patient coming out of deep hypnosis: "Hey! How's everybody doing? I like your hat! Uhm, what day is it?" I left when the shadows began to roll out from under the grand spruce trees at the west end, feeling the good kind of tired from physical work. 

I shake my head and wonder at all of the lunacy, troubled to have the world tip so badly. I know so many kind people who are frustrated, finding the crevice between the political agenda and the needs of the human heart difficult to straddle. There is nothing for it but to remain passionate and loving, but perhaps with a new intensity, vibrant and robust enough to counteract the startling and divisive meanness . If that should be our demise then so be it, but to give up, withdraw from protecting and caring for this beautiful earth, and the kindness here, well, that's a complicity I can't endure. There is too much at stake here.






Monday, 17 July 2017

Pacing


There are mysteries winding through this world of ours that bow and arch just out of my reach. They hit the ground, change a thing, and then vault into the ether, leaving their handiwork for us to puzzle over. One of these mysteries messed with a friend of mine not too long ago and I have been pacing and trying to figure ever since. 

One minute, a fellow is primed and busy, and the next he has a hard disagreement with machinery. His familiar reality of the world and time tips into a completely new paradigm, confusing and gut-wrenchingly strange as he wakes into it. And here I am, at my desk watching the rain-soaked leaves of the trees nodding and shifting in the last thoughts of the evening sun. There he is, in the hospital room, rallying, but with a helluva fight on his hands; unfair on a herculean scale. He is surrounded by family. They are mighty, but also wonderfully soft; kind like he is. Damn it if there is anything I can figure to do.

I am on the outer edge of that family's social circle. I had only met the man twice. Everything about our meeting was strange, like it was important for some reason. To have been there on the day of the accident; to know that there was only a trickle of a few hours until the beginning of the biggest challenge of his life, bothers me, worries at me like some idea or a theory that I just can't see. I can't solve for x. I can't find the criminal. There is nothing to swing my sword at.

So I meditate, and I send my love to him and to the whole family, and I pace. I try to sort it out but it won't sort. I know others have been through similar scenarios but this is not the time. I don't want to hear of those. Maybe later, but right now, this is the one I am lost in. This is the only mystery I am trying to solve. I imagine most of his friends are twisting themselves in an effort to find an answer also.

Nothing for us but to wait. Still, I clench my jaw. I grab the sides of my head and in a flash, try to imagine what in hell he is going through at that very moment. I can't imagine. I can only sift through what I am learning about the world and myself from this, and continue to try to tap into that one good stream that connects us all to send him and his family everything that I can. It seems a pathetic gesture, but in the confines of time and healing, there is nothing else.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Me Now There Then


On a recent sunset ride, I heard the songs of spring frogs, males hollerin' for their honeys. It sent me back to when I was a kid on the farm. I remember hearing my father pulling into the driveway one evening, home from the city. I went out and saw him standing behind the car, the trunk open, his hands were on his hips and he was looking out towards the pond. I remember his shirt and tie, his brown suit pants and leather shoes. He was handsome, but troubled. He had something on his mind. I walked to the back of the car and saw a new bike lying in the grass, pink with white tires and a white banana seat, my size.  He didn't know how to give it to me and I didn't know how to take it, but I eventually pulled it to standing and rode it up and down the driveway for the rest of the evening. I listened to the frogs in the pond singing their hearts out.

It would be nice if the rules of reality were forgiving. It would be nice to be able to slide back in time on the sound of one of those frog songs, step through back into me at that time, knowing what I know now. I would put the bike down, thread my arms into my father's and ask him what was on his mind. I would do the same with my mother and get the two of them to open up and talk to each other. I would sit with them in the kitchen until the barriers got cracked and crumbled. I would help them navigate their awkwardness at vulnerability and we would begin a new, vibrant dynamic, loud and boisterous like those bloody frogs. As a result, my father would still be here. Both of them would still be living at the farm, the house renovated to let in gobs of light. They would be fiercely in demand by grandkids and good friends for nothing other than fun. They would have a goat or two and a passel of dogs that would cause trouble on the evenings when they would host a theatre group in the barn; their own Chautauqua. Mom would have swapped out her apartment upright for a proper grand piano. Dad would write and fish, and my heart wouldn't ache so much.




Friday, 2 June 2017

Carousel



The leaves are out on the big maple tree across the yard from my apartment. It's not a tree with a single, grand trunk, but two good ones, then limbs and branches continuing off of those. Its silhouette makes a compelling puzzle of the night sky; stars and planets winking at me through the breaks. The sky seems to rotate faster than you think. Of course, it's not the sky that's moving but the illusion is part of the show.  Each wink marks time as it threads through the tree, like fairy lights around a fast carousel. It is easy to dread this speed; easy to fret about what needs to be done as if it makes a difference, as if the constellations will change because you're worrying. 

It would be curious to hang on tight and accelerate the spin to see into the future, then back the ride up to the moment with the help of a reliable carni. But the thing I'm realizing is that the glory is in the reveal, the process. It demands getting yourself to a place where you can see and really be in the world as you maneuver through the quotidian tasks of the day. Then, and only then, can you experience the ineluctable discovery of the very thrill of you;

 YOU ARE THE PRIZE!  

Once you grok this, your life turns into the sensual, exhilarating experience it was meant to be. This doesn't mean that there is nothing but cotton candy from here-on-in, but there is less emptiness, less of a compulsion to simply make it through the day, become numb. 

As Bill Hicks said, "It's just a ride."

If you're head is down, mind toiling, seething, you're going to miss the best parts, plus...plus you'll probably drop your fucking ice cream.



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Ascent



I am cycling up a winding hill. Deep into the first rising turn, a crow stands pecking at some prize, cocks his head to look at me like a wise-guy at a bar. He hops once, exuding more annoyance than fright as I approach, then he opens his glorious back, wings reaching with feathers like divine velvet armour in this late-day sun. He rises, angles high in the air in front of my bike, then slips to the grassy shoulder with no more strain than a sigh; a display of ease and finesse as if mocking my effort. Crow lifts off again and watches me continue up the grade while he swoops and twirls in the close forest, then sets down on the road ahead of me as if to say,

"See how easy this is with wings? See what I can do?"


I nod and laugh. My bike feels perfect, like it's a part of my body. I take in the sweet spring air and in this sacred moment, feel my heart fill, as if to say, 

"See how thrilling it is to be alive?  See how much love I have?"




Friday, 12 May 2017

Leroy


There is nothing better than good conversation. To sit with another and share ideas, thoughts without the dictatorial calibrations of time or any secondary agenda is rare and precious. I have noticed of late that we are often better at talking than listening, sometimes eager to unleash our own concerns like rice out of a sack without a spit of hesitation. And that's a shame. It's a shame because we are cheating ourselves out of the sacred experience of getting to know ourselves, of recognizing the soul that is ours in its naked truth responding to another, sheltered only by our belief and the intrinsic desire to be authentic. The thing is, this kind of discovery takes guts. Not everyone is ready, but when you are, and you go through it, you are keen to run into others. There is little else but the hope of this to summon the strength to throw back the sheets and test your shadow in the new day's sun. Everything else is tedious.


When I was a kid, we had large groups of people out to our farm. Few came from my father's corporate world. Most came from the Quaker part of our family life and were made up of myriad personalities seemingly separated by minute and monumental differences as the day is long.  As a kid, many of the people in our meeting made me want to yawn and roll my eyes. There was, however, one man who always stood out, whom I was always glad to see. His name was Leroy, emphasis on the second syllable. He was married to a lovely woman named Pearl, and the pair, though humble, had more class and spice than any other couple I could name.  Leroy was absolutely authentic, the real deal, and if you were in a conversation with him, you were too. He wore a straw hat in the summer, less to keep the sun off of his head than to prevent, I think, the sun from being outshone by his smile. Such a smile he had! To him, I was not a bother. He was interested in what I was up to. We would talk and he would laugh the most delightful laugh. Not a big belly laugh, but something lighter, as if he was a conduit of joy from the heavens. We would discuss all kinds of things, and when we parted, I felt special. I felt seen. I'm not sure how we would have met outside of the strangeness that was our farm.  Whatever the machinations behind it, I am grateful for our bond. He was like an angel sent to rescue me from losing my mind, from feeling invisible, like a spectre.

You don't have to connect deeply with everyone in the world. You can't. Some humans are sleepwalking, hardly aware of the tender heart beating inside of them. The grander swath, hopefully, is learning, growing, and stretching toward the goal of openness and the ability to sense the rich poetry of life: the deepest love, the most vibrant consideration of humanity, and the fired desire to care and caress.  The hard part, the risk, is committing to being open and vulnerable, but then knocking against another's armour: the closed body language, the words of defence and distance, and a self-righteous air worn like fancy tack on a parade horse. There is no grace in whittling away someone's worth. There is no power in declining an offer to be present and truthful. But it is hurtful. Traumatic, even. Behaviour likened to a bully. It's disappointing to have such an experience, especially from someone you've known for some time, but when you think back, you realize that you have stretched so much further. You have outgrown them and the need for armour. You have nothing to hide and everything to give. According to the way this poetry works, you DO have the difficult task of seeking out new souls in similar step. Hard to find this late in life, but the option to settle is, well, it's not an option. I do have a few good friends, helpful and supportive, but busy in their own lives. I look forward to running into that special one, that person who lights me up, where neither of us want to rush off to anything more important, because what is there that could be? 

I am grateful to have known Leroy. He bookended the start of the most charged parts of my life, strewn with beauty, hopeful narrative, and tragedy enough.  Surprisingly, now, I am grateful to have gone through the challenge of the past years, as dark and insurmountable as they seemed at different times. I couldn't be who I am with what I have to offer in any other way. So, when you're ready, you with your sacred soul, whomever you are, wherever you are, send up a flare! I'll make tea and we will have ourselves a long, luxuriously rambling conversation out in the sunshine.










Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Courage


One trick I have when walking into a challenging social situation is to pretend I am someone else. The someone depends on the situation. Usually, it's a fictional character. I don't do this all of the time. More often than not, I am me, but if there's a room full of challenging personalities, or some sort of overwhelming interaction in the works, I might reach back into a Cormac McCarthy novel and wind myself around one of his characters:

"Officer, I do agree I was moving with a certain marked intensity. Just tryin' to get clear of my history...keeps snappin' at my boots.  I reckon if I were to keep on, I would only run into the back end of it eventually. Here's my license and insurance."

Or Kathryn Hepburn:

 "You are an absolute gift! Cherish the energy you must have to speak so clearly and for such duration without hardly a breathe! Such a strong voice...clarifying the clarified so we are not left to the random, unbridled peace of our own thoughts.  What a waste that would be. Care for a toffee?"

There are, however, situations in our lives that demand the authentic us and nothing but. To venture in with anything other than our truth and vulnerability is to cheat ourselves and squander the opportunity to make ground in our struggle forward. I found myself, recently, laid bare, open and honest, having shrugged off the usual pleasantries and tired conversation that I now find suffocating. From deep, deep inside came words that should have been said well back in my history. I felt them coming. I stood down and let them come, all the while terrified. It was like an exorcism, something more powerful than me. Once the words were out, I stood amazed that I had said them. Stunned that I had had the courage, finally, to get this out, to demand another to be accountable. This would never have happened years ago, deep in that history, but I am not the person I used to be. Not even close.  

This event shook me. I felt like I had been in a fist fight. I was almost sick. I figured myself unravelling and tumbling into chaos, rolling towards my ultimate demise until an objective third party, wise, thoughtful, made the observation to the contrary. I had stepped up. I had done something new. This was a big deal for me. Very big. McCarthy could not have done this. Hepburn neither. This was pure me.

In the words of David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest), "The truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you."

I do believe he was on to something...and I ain't done yet.






Friday, 14 April 2017

Cycling Clothes are Ridiculous


After my ride, a seat by the pond: cat tails blown on paper stalks, soon to lean out of the way for new green. Bird chatter. Pairs running sorties for nests:

"Honey I got that twig you wanted."

Wind sidling through the trees, dropping down to test the water and send new ripples across the surface.  Behind me, naked maples catching the sun's heat make a point of ignoring me.

"Eyes closed everyone. She'll go away. They all do...and what the hell is she wearing?"

I can hear the frenetic scurrying of squirrels:

"Hey. Someone took my fucking twig!"

"Relax. Would you relax? Have a nut."

Subtle shifting along the forest floor. Everyone knows what to do. 





Monday, 27 March 2017

Wrapped


I'm sitting in the audience waiting for an afternoon concert to get underway. There is a choir, and two dear friends are playing in the accompanying string chamber orchestra. The venue is a big old church, brimming with old church smell and the whispers of human endurance through historical political change. Then there's me: I've been angry lately; waking up and wanting to put my fist through a wall. Here, I'm sitting, constantly scanning my body, unclenching fists, relaxing shoulders, letting my jaw go so nobody notices. Everything seems like such an effort. 

                          The music starts. 

The one requirement of classical music is that you open yourself to it, let yourself be vulnerable. This music doesn't work if you use only your ears. Your heart's the thing. Otherwise it's like looking at a painting with your eyes closed. Open yourself up, the notes sift through your soul like the fire or caress of whatever story is being told.

                                  Like life.

So, I'm open and notes from Beethoven's Mass in C find their way in and settle me down. 

It feels good. For a moment, I am aware of where I am in space and time. I grab onto a note and wrap myself around it instead of letting it disappear up into the ether. I want it for myself. I want to use it as a weapon against this anger. Use it to pry open these fucking knots forcing me to ruminate over the unchangeable, the dealt hand. I'm trying to shake loose offhanded, arrogant comments that have made the last chunk of time like trying to travel on stilts while someone swings at them with a bat. Powerful. I am amazed at how powerful. 

                                  Words.


Why am I so damn angry? Why the desire to spit fire now?


 I feel empty. I feel like a sucker, like my tiny victories happen in the wrong arena after the crowd has left, but somehow this is supposed to be good enough. I should just run along now. No idea how long this scenario is going to last. It seems different than the others.  Deeper. Get the knots undone and use the freed rope to climb down to terra firma.



I'm holding onto this note for now. Its nuance makes the rest of the world seem ridiculous but without it I feel no grounding. I can't be the only one, but it sure as hell feels that way.










Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Weekend in Port Stanley



In all of this floundering, an opportunity to get a breath; a weekend in an old villa with ten people in mid-March: Painters, writers, photographers, two pilots, a communications expert, and two lovely young students.  The gathering, suggested and convened by Liz Kuzinski, a talented landscape and portrait artist. We are all tripping over ourselves to get there, packing, car pooling, navigating through capricious curtains of weather; sun one minute, then snow the next; the asshole wind shoving the van like a bully at recess.

We arrive and peel off our Zeitgeist armour at the door. The villa is comfortable, huge, and inviting like a favourite sweater. Knowing Liz, I am confident that I will be fond of her other invitees  and I am right. There is nobody I am hesitant to sit next to. The conversations throughout the weekend cover the wavering strengths and weaknesses of humanity, interspersed by long, therapeutic courses of laughter. One painter, Robin Grindley, has only to tilt his head and the rest of us are on the floor. On Saturday, we head out like a cartoon cloud with numerous feet sticking out the bottom. We explore the town, lacing our way through the shops despite the cold, arrogant wind coming off of Lake Erie. We run to watch as the lift-bridge raises and lets an ice-covered fishing boat through into the safe harbour.  Back to the house and an evening that fills with more people coming for dinner. I run into old friends of my family, a couple who had started an organic farm(Orchard Hill Farm) decades before it was the in-thing. This blows my mind.

The evening empties out into morning. We rouse, have breakfast, and linger, nobody keen to vacate. Time, the dictator, finally wins. We pack, load our van and leave the villa, but don't head straight home. One of the pilots is a volunteer with the Museum of Naval History in Port Burwell and has promised us a tour of the HMCS Ojibwa. How often do you get such an offer? Carl, our pilot, talks us through the sub, detailing the mechanism, the world scenario when the sub was in use, and the finesse required to live and work in such a rig. Me, I could not get over how little space there was. Hardly enough room to change your mind. I was floored at the engineering that went into this beast; a remarkable display of the ingenuity of man. I was also tremendously sad that all of this effort was sweated in order to fight a war against other humans. 

It should be noted that Carl, well over six feet, hit his head six times during the hour.

The weekend was over. I found it powerful, wonderfully unique in that the winter light and the vastness of the lake out the south window made it seem like the villa did not exist in real time or space. To be in a strange house, meeting people, running into old acquaintances, and then having a tour of a submarine, well, you'd think I was telling you about a dream I had.

Whatever it was, I was grateful for the break. 



Monday, 27 February 2017

Scenes



As frustrated as I am with life right now, I still take joy in the little scenes that happen when I am out in the world. Today I rose from a fitful, almost combative sleep in time to catch an early train into the city. I was grumpy and chewed my coffee with a certain disdain during the drive to the station. I waited on the platform with Trump amount of people; seemed like a million, might have been fifty, all sleepy, many screen-hobbled. All of us wondering what we were doing at the train when we should be down at the harbour where our ship would come in. The train is full. No seat for many of us. I didn't complain. I'm an adult.

I pretended to be lost in time and space, standing there with my gear on the floor at my feet and my hand on the closest steadying pole. I tried to get fascinated with the safety warnings running along the tops of the windows. I crouched to look out at the lake as we passed. I pretended not to notice the totally ridiculous photos that this one woman, seated near me, was looking at. You would not believe... We arrived at Union and detrained, me frustrated because I was still grumpy. It was as if I hadn't really taken a full breath yet and didn't exist completely. This was all a movie. Then finally...

You can call it fake joy and you can take that to town and wail, but the servers at the Starbucks this morning triggered in me the feeling of a good pulse. Vibrant, attentive, Off-Broadway flamboyant, they teamed up to take my money and give me coffee, a breakfast sandwich, and the trade-marked and, yes I know, fictional feeling of being part of something hip. Play along with me. I felt better. I chose a seat one space away from a slightly older woman. I sat and before I had finished my chow, a gangly kid in a hoody, patinaed in a sorry attempt at rough demeanour, asked me for spare change. Remember, I was feeling better. I was included in hipness. I gave him a buck. The kid thanked me and moaned his plea to the lady. Without hesitation, she summoned the voice of some vile character from perhaps a Stephen King novel and spitted,              


                    "Whadda YOU think?"


 

I assumed she had the breakfast-vitriol sandwich. I did not make eye contact but feel sure that I caught a glimpse of her head rotating. Our boy made fast steps away.

I finished eating, walked towards the main entrance and stopped to do up my coat. There were three important-looking construction workers wearing white helmets, standing, arms folded, low talking in short sentences out in the middle of the hallway. They seemed to be trying to solve something. I looked down and happened to see an allen key on the floor behind the seat next to the wall. I grabbed it and walked toward them holding the shiny "L" for them to see. 

"Looking for this?"
"What is it?"
"Allen key. You guys looked like you were missing something."

They stood and blinked for one beat, two beats. 

"It was supposed to be a joke. I figured you could finish the whole project now that you had this."

They relaxed, glad that I wasn't a lunatic. They laughed. I laughed. We laughed. There was much laughing. Fella on the end leaned over, 

"You can keep it!" 

"Excellent." I pocketed the key. "The day is mine!"

Three little scenes, all in the space of thirty minutes. Three little connections made, except for angry Marge, that helped me ground and balance.  I realize that I am grateful for this more and more lately. Plus, I'm one allen key richer.