Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flashback dairy tale

I was happy. It was a solid warm purr in my belly that I carried with me. I walked tall, at ease with myself and the world. I had confidence - perhaps beyond proof - and an eagerness to see myself how he did.

The transforming magic of his look, like a fairy-godmother's wand, made my drudgery sparkle and smoothed my belly. It sparked desire on the ashes of fatigue and fear.

That magic lingered. After the joy was gone. After the fatigue returned. After the darkness descended. The magic never waned. It just got scattered in a puff of wind, focused in another direction.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

too long to tweet #IAmGreen-ish

Excuse me while I wax political: 

My Twitter timeline has been filled for the last day or so with #IamGreen tweets stating why people are choosing to vote for their BC Green candidate in our provincial election on May 9. I have debated participating in the fray, partly because I have a number of staunch NDP supporters in my timeline who I adore and respect and do not want to offend, and partly because how I vote is no one else's business. Mr. Green didn't even ask me who I voted for, and he's a politician! But I've had more than one "Vote NDP or else" type ad directed at me, and, frankly, I'm over it. 

Here's what the pundits won't see on May 10 when they sit down to analyze the 2013 v. 2017 voting results and I show up (anonymously in what I assume will be a blob of X number fewer NDP, Liberal and non-voter votes to X number more BC Green votes): the BC Greens didn't steal my vote from the NDP. The BC Greens gave me something to vote FOR that kept me from not voting at all. This is the only election since I first voted in 1986 that I have considered sitting out entirely.

Yes, I voted NDP last time around, and I imagine they thought I would this time. I'm betting that voters are like donors and it's easier to hold on to them than to get new ones. In 2013 I knew my NDP candidate and respected her work, so I voted for her. That does not give the NDP a lifetime right to my vote. I've also previously voted Progressive Conservative federally (I was young and not yet thinking for myself), Liberal federally, and NDP federally. I have no idea what I've voted provincially, but I know it hasn't been for just one party. 

This time, the Lieberals (sp. purposeful) make me nauseous, so that leaves a 2-party race for my vote. I know candidates from both the NDP and the BC Greens and have met both leaders. I also read the BC Green's policy book (before their campaign platform was announced), and read both party platforms. I have asked questions both online and in-person of the NDP and the BC Greens. From all of that I chose based on a number of factors - direct, fully-costed, evidence-based answers were a big factor, but so was party leadership, fiscal transparency, platform costing, and the BC Greens refusal to accept donations from anyone but individual voters. The BC Greens also have an exciting policy framework on intergenerational equity that makes me think at some point my sons might have a shot at good-paying jobs, affordable education, and maybe even home ownership without having to leave BC. No one else gives me that hope. 

And so on the first day of advanced voting, I voted BC Green. And just like the NDP before them, the Greens do not now have a lifetime hold on my vote. They get a chance to prove themselves between now and 2021. Whether only the party leader gets returned to the legislature, or they secure enough MLAs to achieve official party status, or they (through the magic of BC politic's renowned volatility) become the official opposition or even form government really doesn't matter in terms of their hold on my vote. My vote is a trust I place on someone saying "I'll give you this 4-year chance to prove my faith in you is justified. At the end of the 4 years we'll re-assess." That's how democracy works. 

The NDP didn't do that. They didn't prove themselves. I have zero evidence that my current NDP MLA did anything to try to effect positive change while in office. He's a nice guy, but that's not enough. Moreover, many NDP supporters have been dismissive, insulting, rude and dishonest in trying to rally support for their party. It's so unnecessary and repellant. I have a dear friend and staunch NDP volunteer who has only focused on why she LOVES the NDP - the candidates, their leader, and their policies. She makes me stop to take a closer look. This other approach - the lying, insulting, nastiness that insinuates I'm too stupid to make an informed choice or brainwashed, or ... it's a huge turn-off. 

I hope you vote. Sorry, make that I hope you get informed, and then I hope you vote. And I really hope you vote FOR something you believe in rather than from fear or ignorance. And I hope you're respectful of your friends, colleagues, neighbours and family members who vote differently.

By the way, want some non-partisan information? Check out Generation Squeeze's "Swamplight on the BC Election":


We now return to our regularly scheduled navel gazing. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

50

It's one thing when your older sisters turn 50, as mine have over the past few years. "Older" is right there in their labels, not as a put-down but as a statement of fact. When your closest and 'oldest'  (meaning longest serving) friends start doing so, however, it's a bit of a cold slap in the face. 

So happy to get to celebrate with this beauty!
Two weeks ago my darling Diva had her Canadian 50th birthday party before whizzing off for a lovely family trip to Mexico for the actual day. Diva and I have moved in and out of each other's orbits since we were 11 & 12 respectively. However, it wasn't until we both moved to Victoria, shortly before her 40th, that we really became bosom friends. In fact, celebrations of that major birthday were the first photos I posted on Facebook. And now, suddenly, in the flash of a moment filled with love, loss, grief, near misses, dodged bullets, changes, samenesses, weight lost and gained, dreams attempted and postponed, new goals and old habits, here we are celebrating 50. 

I can't believe someone took this picture before
dragging us out of there. 
The day after the Diva's party one of my earliest chums, a man I haven't seen since we were teens, also posted about his 50th birthday party. But but but ... the last time I saw him he was 16. How can this be? Even more confusing, how can the boy I sat in this puddle with be a father, husband, leading firefighter? How can things change so much while I still feel so ... me.

It still breaks my heart that Dale didn't make it. Bobby has. The Rons will, God willing. And late next month it will be my Shiney. The day after Freckles clocks out of 50 Shiney will log into it. My other half since I was 3. My sounding board. One of two people I can tell anything. She will turn 50. And then it will be only me waiting for that milestone alone. Oh no, of course not truly alone, but without the company that has done these things with me for so long - they've all gone before. 

Perhaps my incredulity is a factor of being the youngest child. I never clung to my actual youth since the teen years weren't a joy for me, but there is some call of "I'm not ready" that is seeping ever louder through my daily life. Some resistance. Some feeling of loss. I question almost constantly how I've gotten this far with so many backwards steps. I feel the heavy impossibility of fixing my mistakes with so much time gone. I dread the future having wasted so much of the past. And yet the alternative, as we all know, is even less appealing. We have lost so many too soon. I know what their families would give to see them age.

And honestly, this isn't so much about physical age. I'm very clear I lucked out on the ageing gene lottery. I haven't taken the care of my body that I could have, and yet 'almost 50' is not what shows in the mirror or in photos. But the creaking and the aches. The moaning cacophony of this body. Those too are a reality much like the shortening of time.

It turns out I have nothing to say here. Nothing new or clever or witty. I just wanted to share this impending doom that isn't a doom at all. In fact, it's quite meaningless in so many ways. "Just a number," so they tell me. "It's all in how you feel," they console.

I feel old. And I feel sorry. And, I feel oh so grateful, especially to think of all the friends I've had for lo these many years and to celebrate their milestones with them. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

songs in the key of me

I had the distinct and unique pleasure last night to accompany Mr. Green and his dad to an Arlo Guthrie concert. To be honest, I dared not admit my deep ignorance of folk music in general or the Guthrie family legacy in particular to my dates given their 6 months of anticipation. I don't know why, but as soon as Mr. Green mentioned the concert to me in October I knew I wanted to be there. And I'm so glad that just 6 weeks into 'catching up' with Mr. Green I said yes to a concert that was 6 months away. For that yes I got a lesson in melody, history and being human. 

According to Arlo, when he was a kid folk music was just his dad (the legendary Woody Guthrie, whose iconic song "This Land is Your Land" I thought was Canadian until I was at least 30 and even when I heard the other version I thought "the damn Americans would steal and wreck something that so beautifully tells the story of Canada") and Woody's friends sitting around singing sea shanties, working songs, and other assorted folk songs from around the country. What set these men apart was that they were the first ones to begin recording those ancient tunes. Apparently, they weren't necessarily songwriters, though of course there are notable exceptions. In Arlo's words, folk music now mostly seems to be "songs in the key of me." What a line. As an opening statement and commentary on modern life, in general, that'll make you sit up and listen. 

I know the picture is fuzzy. Pretend it's the blue haze of Woodstock. 
One highlight of the evening for me was the keyboardist, who we eventually learned is Arlo's son Abe. I don't think I've ever seen such a consistent scene of joy as Abe Guthrie making music. His face was both serene and excited - I've dubbed it "resting bliss face" and hope it catches on like the more usual version has. 

At one point in the evening, I was reminded why I watch and re-watch The Waltons - for the peace. For the reassurance that what has always mattered - kindness, honesty, truth - still matters. It all felt so homey and familiar despite my not knowing most of the songs. I suppose that's the point of folk music - to wrap you in a warm, soft blanket while teaching you again to be human. It was poignant and political. Subversive and holy. I cried to "When a Soldier Makes it Home" and sang with gusto to the encore, the CANADIAN VERSION of "This and is Your Land." 

There was so much great music and story that I wish I could recreate it all. I can't, of course. There was plenty of Bob Dylan, both stories and songs. A fleeting reference to Johnn Cash and the "Train Song Genre" before playing "City of New Orleans." "Mr. Tambourine Man," after a memorial tribute to the man who inspired the song and passed away a week ago.

I can't say Arlo Guthrie's voice would be my normal preference - I like my big over-singers - but that magical blend of melody, history and humanity. Oh, I wish you were there. If you ever get the chance for one of Arlo Guthrie's musical life lessons, seize it. Seize it and smile.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

the #bestlife backlash

I read a piece on CBC this week that articulated fully something that's been bouncing around in my brain for a while. Given the post's popularity on Facebook, I'm guessing I'm not the only person it spoke to. There's really two parts - the surging trend of quasi-inspiring #bestlife fitness, travel, dream job social media streams, blogs etc. and the self-editing nature of social media (Facebook in particular) that ensures we only ever see each other's highlight reels and never the struggles, drudgery or pedestrian magic of the rest of life.

I wrote about one edge of the problem in 2015, but it's continued to deepen and shift and fester since then. Let's be honest. I'm part of the problem. My home is a gallery of pinsta-gramish fauxspiration seasonally available at HomeSense: my hallway is lined with photos and art collected on my journeys (and a stunning mask my son brought me from Costa Rica), my dining room yells inspiration to grow, even my new shower curtain drips with #BESTLIFE urgency - adventure, explore, dare, freedom, wander .... 

My other blog is peserved for sun-drenched moments far from my Westcoast home, and posts pining for the same. On Instagram and Pinterest I like, pin and share cutely designed mojo-boosting mottos. I am a part of the #BestLife social media pressure squad. I've attempted to paint on a smile and ended up creating a creepy clown nightmare.  

Some of it makes me smile. Sometimes it has the intended effect of reminding me to choose what I want my life to be instead of letting my life happen by default. Sometimes, but honestly not that often.

I follow endless twitter feeds and Instagram accounts by people who have made the leap to full-time travel and berate myself that I'm not doing the same. I look at my quest list and pick only the low-hanging fruit, then chastise myself for not 'really going for it.'

My #dreamlife goals have turned into pressure and robbed me of joy in my current life. Which, truth be told, is pretty dreamy itself. Yet for months I've acted as though there's something wrong with all of it because I'm living it here and not under palm trees. because I'm not as fit as I was a year ago, because ... because ... because. Basically I've operated as though the only life that matters is an idealized #bestlife.

This exhausting striving has also tarnished the joyful memories of my time in Jamaica. I have been telling myself that those 6 months were the best my life was going to get - the best I was going to get - and it's all downhill now. Or that I can do that again but only at the cost of this life - this love, this home, this work.

Honestly, I'm over it. Which is not to stay I don't still have those goals, but they are not the ONLY acceptable life. I'm ready at last to be grateful for this life. 
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