Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dancing with Myself

This stream of consciousness from a recent concert night out that sparked a realization:
Cheering in the stadium & dancing in the club share sensory input - the roar of the bass reverberating on my breastbone. The mass enjoyment. Not wanting it to end, but knowing it can't continue. And then the inevitable, a light hand on my back. The too long silence & the spell is broken. My unred yet magical shoes stop moving of their own volition, despite my will. My hands fall to my side. And I am still.
In those instances when I'm free, part of a greater event but in my own space, I realise that somewhere along my journey I've become really independent. Mum's the word would suggest that I've always been a fearless girl - someone who would pick an adventure and go for it. But only recently has that trait come as a free choice for a woman whose life is full of love instead of a necessary strategy for a girl who believes she's the only one she can rely on.

So tonight I took myself out on a date. And I have to say, I really know how to show a girl a good time. Baan Thai for green chicken curry. Sitting at the bar wondering at the people looking so nervous in their own skin. Grateful for my yummy, spicy food and not having to hide in my journal or behind a magazine but just being in there. And then escaping to Wonder/Underland with Alice, and being fully engrossed in the movie without whispering to or wondering what's going on for who I'm with.

I still love going being with others. But what I'm realising is that I'm really good at dancing with myself. And sometimes I even prefer it. Not always. But sometimes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Somethings are harder to hear than to say

I have been accused of late of not being able to take a compliment or acknowledgement and of not really experiencing how much people love me. Or at least of not letting said compliment/acknowledgement sink in. And I'm starting to realise, I'm not the only one with this problem.

Some things can be hard to say - I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me - because we look don't want to look bad, and have no idea how lovely those words are to the hearer.

But some things, apparently, are even harder to hear - You make a difference for me. I love you. You're beautiful. I miss you.

We tend to focus on the things we consider hard to say because that fear is all about us. And, at least for me, I didn't even notice the things that are hard to hear until someone pointed out that I don't hear them.

But holy cow it gets tiring to have to keep saying it. I know I've made it hard work in the past for people to love, acknowledge and compliment me. And apparently pay back is truly a bitch.

How many times do you say "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me. I love you." before you walk away?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the swirl

Miss Lady has a thing she likes to refer to as 'the swirl' - the circular mental manipulations that we put ourselves through, the contortions and interweavings of stories and histories and interpretations that sometimes seem to swamp our thinking and lead to little more than a heightened intensity of muffin-top gazing. There's a negative connotation to it - its self-obsession, disempowering focus, resulting muddied waters.

But I'm not sure that's the whole story. I think, sometimes, the swirl can be revealing in and of itself. It can shine light in dusty corners. Like pulling everything out of a cupboard before cleaning, the swirl is a necessary stage to go through. It's the TSP cleaning on a wall that's being prepped for brand new paint. And like that pre-work, the work that follows tend to go smoother and end with much better results.

So I'm minimizing my online time this weekend. Making notes of the swirl. Sketching and thinking and walking and writing. And getting it all out where I can see what can be let go of, what's garbage that doesn't serve me, and what I can hold on to that enriches my life or simply makes me smile. I am creating a lot of change in my life this Spring, and along the way it's been useful for me to stop and take stock of the beliefs and stories I want to pack to bring along on my new adventures.

Yes, it's self-involved. But the swirl is also useful and cleansing and preparatory for great new things. And I'd suggest that at times it can even be beautiful.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Things I ♥ Thursdays: Spring Edition

It is officially Spring. And while it has felt like Spring around here for a while, what with the cherry blossoms being out in time for Valentine's Day, and the camelias beaming happily under vibrant foliage, there's a certain something about it being REALLY Spring that makes things new, interesting, and exciting.The light is spreading - inside and out. I ♥ Spring! I also love,

Serendipity - the word rolls of your tongue. It feels delicious when you say it. And the phenomenon feels as natural and delicious as the word sounds. It's practically an onomatopeia. Serendipity. Magical me-too! moments to savour.

Red wine - I used to avoid red wine, and generaly if I'm just sitting and having a glass I still prefer a nice fruity white. But there's something real and vivacious about a good glass of red wine that nothing else replicates. It's  grown up and sophisticated with a splash of daring. How else can you get daring, vivacity and sophistication in a glass?

Hot pink - not much more I can say about that. But you should see the fun shades my closet is turning! Peep toe pumps. Sheath dresses. Playful, girly me-wear.

Gardening - I know that much of the time I act like I was born for the city. But the farm girl in me still loves getting her hands dirty (and I LOVE the smell of hay - fresh cut or in a barn full of well dried bales). Actually, "still" isn't quite accurate. Gardening was a chore when I was a kid forced to garden in zone 8 only to be rewarded with turnips. But now that I have such a little space, and live in a climate where anything rewards my efforts quickly and generously, I wish for more. I long for a veggie patch with some garden peas climbing a net trellis, sweet tender carrots pulled from the soil and rinsed in the hose, herbs so fragrant that brushing against them fills the space with perfume. I spent Tuesday afternoon tidying my flower bed, planting new bulbs, digging and moving and smelling the earth. And just those few hours left me refreshed and renewed.

Hiking - I know some people will find this shocking, but I really do love putting the computer away and getting out into the wilds. Especially when the wilds include great friends, frolicking dogs, and vistas of the most beautiful spots on earth. Little Miss Sunshine, her canine companions and I meandered over both Mount Doug and Mount Tolmie this week. Can't wait to tackle some bigger hills once I can do so without losing my ability to talk at the same time. Because what is hiking with friends if we can't talk about it?

Happy Spring.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Generic Life

Somedays life seems like a romantic comedy. Or I really wish it did and try to make it fit. A comedies of error filled with self-conscious laughter. Wistful smiling glances over a shared repast. Nudges and meddling friends and miscommunications that get all cleaned up with a slow kiss. Meg Ryan cast as me, and John Cusack sweeping me off my two left feet into happily ever after. Only we never see the ever after, so how do we know it goes happily?

Other times it's a heart-rending romantic drama - all sweeping montages covering time and space, wistful soaring ballads, and people running in slow motion  - which, by the way, is WAY harder to do in real life! Decade long love affairs that never quite work out (have you ever dated a Heathcliffe? That mad woman in the attic is SO annoying!). Repudiations, and angry shouts, and slamming doors, and private longing and half-spoken half-truths. A slow fade to blech.

I even have musical days. Mostly when I'm around my mom, or have opened up my piano, and mom or I will say a word that suddenly becomes a lyric (I dare you to say 'accentuate' or 'summertime' around us). And the next thing you know the music swells and we're surrounded by a chorus line of quick-stepping, high-kickers in matching outfits and five-part harmony. Okay, that last part is a lie, but we do like to sing, and to demonstrate our vast knowledge of un-cool songs. And to harmonize. And if pressed I can imagine we would link arms and do a little step-kick-step-touch. Fun, but hard to sustain for more than a joyous interlude.

What I really imagine my life to be, though, is an epic adventure. Fabulous people in far-flung cities. Chance meetings. Serendipitous wrong turns. Momentous incidents and minuscule moments of beauty. "Out of Africa" without the cheating and syphilis. And no blazing guns either, please - I'm a pacifist, not just a dramatist. I'm Amelia Earhart (with better teeth and a black box) and Scarlett O'Hara and Molly Brown and pretty much any character Katherine Hepburn played. And I might want a man, but I sure don't need him. Or at least that's what I sometimes like to think.
I'm really excited about the adventure I'm in the middle of creating for myself. I just hope it doesn't turn into a talk show.

So, what's your genre?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

California Here We Come!

It's a busy day today, but I'm really excited about some stuff. Most of all, that it's been a while (like a decade?) since I took my sons on any kind of real holiday besides to see family, and in April BB2 is going to come with me to San Francisco.


Granted I'll be in meetings much of the time, but we're going to figure out things we can do before/after my meetings and for him to do while I'm otherwise engaged.

And, I'm SUPER excited that I get to share one of my favourite cities with him!

More big announcements coming soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't worry ...

We all know I'm a words girl, but sometimes an image captures a certain something:

Hey hey hey

I had another 'never thought I'd get to' weekend this weekend. Last month it was the attending a once-in-a-lifetime Olympic medals ceremony. And this weekend it was sitting in a room full of smiling, laughing, happy people listen to the one-and-only Bill Cosby tell stories for an hour and a half.

My cheeks hurt from smiling. My soul bro's ribs hurt from laughing.

From the moment Mr. Cosby took the stage I was grinning like a school girl on her first field trip, on the edge of my seat, clasping my hand over my mouth to muffle my guffaws. Without a curse word or a suggestive line or an off-colour remark he had the whole 1500 person audience engaged and entertained.

No gimmicks - just a genuinely funny man, a comfy chair (at least I assume it was comfy), a side table with a water bottle and glass on it, and a sweatshirt that read "Hello Friend" in big colourful letters draped over the back of the chair.

I didn't want to blink in case I missed something. I had an honest worry that

It was a pretty special opportunity. Thanks, bro.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Things I ♥ Thursdays: Pro-men shocker

So here's the thing - I love men. Oh sure, I could talk about coconut macaroons, or the gluten-free seedy bread from the Silly-Yak bakery, or movies set in Ireland. But, if I'm going to write every week about things I love, I think I should start at the top of the list, and right up there are men.

When I was 17 the boy I hoped to marry (we weren't actually dating, but for some reason that seemed a minor detail at the time) drove my 14-year-old girl cousin and I back to our grandparents' home from the local ski hill. During the 2 hour ride the banter turned to a seemingly inevitable and admittedly immature battle of the sexes, which dear sweet cuz interrupted with a naive and unequivocal "I think boys are WONDERFUL!" We knowing older teens laughed, and I agreed, and the three of us finished the ride in a happy quiet. I've never forgotten that moment. I long for my cousin to get married so I can tell that story at her wedding. And I covet her candor, then and now.

I started a post along these lines a week or so ago, but didn't have the nerve to say everything there was to say then - it was too personal, or I imagined someone having a reaction, or that I wouldn't make sense. But really - is there ANYONE out there who isn't already totally clear that in all things guy I'm a 'hell yes'? If you're a guy I'm interested in - guess what - you have a shot! That's good news! If you're a guy worried that I might be interested, grow a pair and deal with it. And if you are someone who has some concern about my liking men and talking about it ... what's that about?

I don't mean 'oh wow look - I'm hetero - who knew?' or that I want to get with every guy friend of mine (though I truly appreciate your contributions in my life). What I am trying to say is, I really like being around men. I like their strength, and their smell, and their energy. I like looking up to them (even the ones I'm taller than). I like the difference between their muscular bodies and my soft one. I like the roles they play in society, even as those roles are continually re-written. I like their paraphernalia, and their short finger-nails. From little boys to gentlemen with fedoras and canes, I like men - relatives, friends, lovers, clients, colleagues ... the whole gamut.

Just to be PERFECTLY clear, I also am not talking about sex (though I like that to); I'm talking about deep voices and warm bodies and the ability to make a car start when it wouldn't a minute ago. And I am the first one to admit that as a woman and a feminist and an independent single mom who fixes toilets and helps my son with his car (the irony is painful), I have some insanely traditional ideas about what a man is, or isn't - ideas that have to do with physical presence, and voice tenor, and having a tool box. Around what he reads, and how he thinks. In fact, I'm basically a cross between June Cleaver and Carrie Bradshaw. It's sad. I have standards and ideals and rating systems. Some of them I'm clear about, and some of them are hidden from my conscious, but I know they are there. And you better believe I have a list.

In the past I've been so pro-guy that it's gotten in the way of my female friendships. I've never actually thrown anyone under the bus to get a guy, but the impression has been that I'd do that. I won't. But I acknowledge that the impression was there. And now I say unabashedly (but not indiscriminately), I truly enjoy the company of men. I adore my female friends, and I love my mom and my sisters, and ... all things being equally I generally prefer to spend my time with men.

It's not even just talking about friends & lovers. I am so thrilled that I have two sons rather than daughters. Really masculine sons. Sons who thump on the stairs, and try crazy sports, and who - as pre-schoolers - urned every bulding block or video case into either a vehicle or a weapon. Sons who lift weights and hang with other guys, and leave stubble in the bathroom sink (okay, that's not my favourite part) and get into fights when they think something is unfair. I wouldn't have known what to do with glitter and lace and ballet classes, and I never have to figure it out. Instead I get to sit back and relish my sons and their boyness.

I know I've often gushed about my fantastic dad, but I also grew up surrounded by fantastic uncles who skied on snow and on water and who built things and told goofy jokes and preached and prayed. Who served God at home and in Africa and who loved my aunties and participated in raising my cousins. And I had two fantastic grandpas who read and prayed and took care of their families - one who left us early in my life but left stories and poems and joy and love. And one who listened to a rambling adolescent crushing on the church boys and smiled and made sure his grandgirls had all their favourite treats when they came to visit. In a large and loving family, the men were active, visible, engaged and masculine, and they set a high bar for those we'd later love by choice rather than by birth.

My earliest 'boy crazy' memory is from when I was only 5, and it was both humiliating and exciting. It was one of those moments - the moment I knew I was supposed to like boys, but never to admit it. And then I was 11, and the sweetest boy ever (wish I knew what'd happened to him) gave me a pet bunny, and invited me to be the only girl at his birthday party and then made sure his mom had a tiara and a special chair for me. A boy who wanted nothing more but to hold my hand under the table at church dinners. And then I was 12, and a bad-boy wannabe let me wear his cowboy hat and I ruined it, and he still holds it against me. The stories roll on - love dreamed of and sought after and pined over and lost. So many years and so many stories, and in many ways the pattern continues.

The only real difference is that finally I can't see any real reason to apologize for it. There seem to be people who would like it if I just gave up on love. Who think it's a waste of my energy to want to be with a man. Who believe I could just take up a hobby and the warm thrill of a man's hand on my back, or the exciting reassurance of a deep voice in my ear would never come to mind. And they may be right. But what's wonderful is that in the meantime, while I'm waiting for the man who will touch my back and whisper my name, I get to be with and learn from and adore all the rest. And I'd say that makes me a pretty lucky girl indeed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I miss you.

In the last 4 months I've lost two important men from my life - one I had 12 years of love and friendship and support and encouragement and frustration and laughter and growth with. And one I had a future we thought was full of all those same things.

No, no - don't send condolence cards, they didn't die. But I said things that I thought I needed to say, and they responded how they thought the needed to respond. And now I get to have my life without them.

It wasn't my intention to have either man go from the innermost circle of my life to not being part of my life at all. But I thought what I had to say was important. It WAS important for & to me. And they reacted how they reacted. And then ... silence.

My instinct has been to try to make it right somehow. To restore the dropped connections without resurrecting the parts that weren't working. And to make sure never to say things again. And sometimes even to take back that I get to have what I need in friendships & relationships too. Only I can't. And even if I could, I wouldn't And, we all know there is no actual taking back. Words were said. Reactions were engaged. Silence.

If you are one of those men, you know who you are and who I am. And I want you to know that I hope you're well and happy. And I love you both for all the many lessons.  And I don't take it back, but I'm sorry it hurt. And I really really miss you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Damnit, Hugh - whatcha have to do that for?

I woke up in a funk. Lingering cold. Lingering sinus/red wine headache. Big gap between what I'm committed to and what my life currently is. No cheese left on the top of my casserole.

The usual little irritations of life. And then I got to the office, and in my inbox is my daily cartoon from Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void Gallery, and once again he has slammed his pen and ink deep into the heart of the matter:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

how odd

I had a great (I thought) blog post idea. I even wrote it out last night so I wouldn't forget. And now that it comes time to type it in the little box and send it out into the world, I'm feeling shy. SHY??! What the heck. I'm hardly ever shy in real life, let alone on my blog. So weird. I hardly even know what to do with that.

I thought about just making up some other post. But I'm so struck at the oddness of this situation that ... I'm just going to carry on about it, apparently. I have actually weirded myself out.

I know I'll talk myself into posting what I have to say, but in the meantime, how about some Great Big Sea ... 'cuz 'wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind?'

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kicking the Total Life Makeover into High Gear

I've been sick this weekend - fever, aches, rattling lungs - and being largely home/bed bound has been the perfect opportunity to read a book I bought 2 weeks ago, but have been somewhat scared to read. I free fell for a few days after ending things with Cowboy last month, and then realised all there was to do was to start creating what I truly want in my life.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I truly do want, getting reacquainted with abandoned dreams, and listing what's working and not working for me. It all amounts to a Total Life Makeover that I have been talking a big game on. To be fair there have been easy changes - losing 10 inches of hair, and reinvigorating my body - and the promise of bigger changes that are really exciting.

But I falter. And I wonder how much I can jump the rails I've been on so long - the unsatisfying job, the uncomfortable home, the stumbling BBs. I wonder what the road looks like getting from chubby single mom just scraping by to having the life of my dreams.

So that's the backstory I carried to bed last evening alongside my copy of Tim Ferriss' revised and updated The 4-Hour Work Week (check out the blog here). Ferriss' main idea is something he calls 'Lifestyle Design.' And while I am not clear yet on what the whole thing means, I'm intrigued. I don't really know how it will look, but if it means that I can live my dream of be a wold-changing adventurer & also make A LOT more money, I'm definitely willing to give it a go.

As much as I loved teaching, I've never been someone whose identity was based on how I pay the bills, so in some ways Ferriss is preachin, if not to the choir, then at least to someone who has long awaited his life lessons.

So I guess what I'm saying is. It's time. I can't keep waiting for my life to start. And I'm scared. When you don't have any margins, any movement is risky. But no more risky than continuing to hate my life. I'm sure I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Gathering: Review

Ireland. Family. Love and loss. Fantastic writing. What more could I possibly want in a novel? I suppose that that's why I devoured Anne Enright's The Gathering in just under 2 days and then wanted to start all over again. I rarely re-read books - this one I will.

View on Amazon
This is not a happy story. It is no delightful lark. But it is honest, and human and raw and Irish and completely engulfing. Six generations of life happening in the way that life sometimes happens, with births and deaths and betrayals and small moments of magic. With beautiful young daughters, and complex mothers. With siblings twisted by alcohol and abuse, and dark living room corners that no one ever sits in. With dull marriages and lingering affairs and the hope for something more just around the corner.

This is a good book. A lovely, lyrical, heart-rending, saturating book. All books should be this book.

The Remains of the Day: Review

While in Mexico I had the leisure to read two great books off the Booker Prize list, which I've been working my way through for a couple years. I was kind of hesitant to begin Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day since the imagery of the Merchant Ivory adaptation has always been very vivid for me. In fact, throughout the book I never once pictured Stevens as anything other than Anthony Hopkins or Miss Kenton as anything other than the lovely Emma Thompson.

View on Amazon
It turns out it doesn't really matter what Stevens & Miss Kenton look like. One of the reasons that I've taken so long to write this review is that it's really hard to describe The Remains of the Day. On the one hand, it's a pastoral drive through the most charming parts of English village life and countryside. And it's a frustratingly taut and unrewarding love story. And it's a subtle and tentative political expose of Britain between the world wars.

I enjoyed reading it. It wasn't a page turner per se, but it was so beautifully written that each page was a pleasure.

TI♥T, but not really

It's Thursday, which normally means I'm meant to put on a big grin and blather on to the three people who might even be out there reading this tripe about all the wonderful glory that is being a chubby 42 year-old single mom. Only today it's not fucking wonderful or glorious. It's just not. Today the life of a chubby 42-year-old single mom is sucking like a giant gaping chest wound.

I'm well aware that this state comes and goes. That I'm volatile. That things change. That this too shall pass. And right now I want my carport free from BB2's broken down car so I can use it. I want all the money I've wasted on it back. And I want him to have a car, and a job, and a life that work for him. No one helped with BB2's car and now it's totally hooped from him and I trying to figure it out. And it sucks. He had to quit his job because he needs his car for the job. It sucks.

And I can't fix it. I can do lots and lot of things. I'm super awesome at making a difference for other people. But not this. And not him. And when he needed me, I couldn't do anything. And it just really sucks.

Yes, there is more to life. I had an amazing once-in-a-lifetime weekend in Vancouver and got to see some Olympians get their medals. And I participated in the amazing street party and nationally galvanizing moment of Vancouver 2010's closing Olympic weekend. I worked on my novel, finally, and I walked to work swathed in the scent of cherries and springtime. And I wore my skinny jeans. So yes, life is not all bad. But sometimes, the sucky part really sucks.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sneak preview

They lingered. The conversation going exactly as she'd hoped, and not at all as she'd imagined. Words tumbled over each other, catching on laughter and breath and dropping away into intense silence. He drew them on the fogged windshield - I'll take you to the opera, drive you to the top of a hill to watch the sunset, feed you ice cream naked in my bed. The condensation that had hidden his promises from view gathered and rolled under his point-and-drag finger, droplets mimicking the shivers running down her back. Between her cold wet toes and his heavy warm hand - idling near the crease of her right breast as he wrote - she hardly knew which sensation to focus on.
I suppose some of you might be wondering about that supposed novel I've supposedly be writing for 2 supposed years, so here's a little snippet from this evening's endeavour. Honestly, I've been totally slack about it, but that's changing now. I used to think you couldn't schedule creativity. Turns out I'm just lazy.
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