Thursday, February 28, 2013

storms

There are storms that are romantic. Dark and stormy nights spend safe and sound in a room with a view, a fireplace, and someone strong to hold you. Those are not the storms that will kill you, unless you’re the first Mrs. Rochester and can’t escape the attic. Those storms are the storms we chase now and then. Optional storms. Valued-added storms. Storms that keep west-coast resorts open in the winter.

The storms that really wear you down are the smaller storms, the recurring storms, the ones that just keep hitting and hitting when you’ve not yet recovered from the previous waves. These are the storms that will drown you. Not with a roar but with a whimper.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

horror

I don’t watch horror movies, but I really don’t need to – from about now until October our entry way is covered with moths. Entry way. Any windows with lights left on. Open windows with lights on inside inviting the horrid invaders.

I hate moths. A lot. I don’t just hate them. I have a physical response to their proximity – I’d call it a phobia, only I used to have a dog phobia and it was different. There was less nausea. And more reality. This response to moths is worse, because so much of the threat is the work of my imagination.

Part bat, part insect ghost, and hell on cashmere, moths have no redeeming qualities except the sound of their bodies squishing underfoot. 

Great. Now I can't look at my own blog. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

give up

So, I wrote a really lame blog post about Winston Churchill and shaky jowls and never giving up. It was 100% unadulterated cop out. Giving up is just such a non-option that it’s not even really worth writing about. I’m just scared is all. So then I spent about an hour avoiding writing and playing with the face recognition feature on my photo software. Guess I'll start again ... 

It’s kind of hard to look back and see how great and glowing and healthy I looked just two years ago, and to see how tired and bloated and not that I look now. For one picture of me the facial recognition actually suggested an acquaintance who is morbidly obese. Thanks, Picasaa. This after I walked into a consignment store this evening only to have the store clerk inform me, loudly, that "Larges and Extra Larges are along the back wall." What. The. Hell? That's how you greet customers? I'm pretty sure I could have read the huge signs. And, so much for your chances of selling me the bag I came in to look at. Also, I won't be back. Who needs that?

Anyway. Deflection. For a while there the camera loved me, and I know that there’s no way to go back and that it's super shallow. And, I know it's not that big a deal to lose weight again, but for some reason I’m afraid that going forward, for some reason, won’t be as good.

People don’t generally get better at my age. I just - I feel like life went young young young young young young NOT YOUNG. There was no warning. Nobody is ever surprised anymore when I say I have adult sons, or when they figure out my age, which all of a sudden I don't want to admit to. And that's a hard part of my identity to let go of. I can do pudgy - I know pudgy. I'm just not sure I can do pudgy and old. Maybe there's something to let go of, while I'm keeping on keeping on.

2010 - I ask you, does that woman look 42 to you? 

Monday, February 25, 2013

all that i have

Why is it that on a blog prompt titled ‘all that I have’ I have absolutely nothing to say? Is it too broad? Too obvious? Or am I just over-thinking things again. I have physical things, and spiritual things. I have what I do – my job, my hobbies, my guilty pleasures. I have stories and assumptions and memories, and things I’ve mis-remembered.

I don’t know. Maybe I should have thought about this earlier in the day. Maybe I should just fake it. Or, maybe I should just accept that after 94 straight days of blogging every day, I’m running out of steam. I could write a story instead of this post, but, I guess I’ll save that for another day.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

misunderstanding

I was going to take a break from the prompts today and just write, but then I saw this prompt in the list and did a little shuffling so I can stay on track and also say what there is to say.

Twice this week something I blogged upset people in my life who matter to me. They were, of course, misunderstandings. There is no way that I would ever purposefully write – and publish – something hurtful, and I would have thought that people who know me would know that. That they don’t know that is another issue. And yet, there it was – misunderstanding that ended up hurting people twice in one week. So I did something last night that I have never done in 11 years of blogging – I deleted a post.

I blog as a writing exercise and as an outlet. For me the blog is a place where I connect with other writers, breathe on that flickering ember of writer alive in me, and work out some of the darker spots of life that somehow get clearer when typed out in black and white.

Sometimes I write from my life; sometimes I riff on a theme or a word; sometimes I review books because what I read is as important to my writing as what I write. Always, I blog from my own perspective and my own experience about myself.

My blog matters to me only in so far as I can write whatever there is for me to right without censoring myself. I promise to write responsibly, and I insist on writing honestly. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

drowning

Like my mom and BB1, I’m a fish. I love the water. To be in a lake or a warm ocean is a pure joy for me. Swimming pools are okay, but I’m happiest in wild water. I’ve paddled kayaks and dragon boats, played in the surf, and splashed along the beach. But no matter how happy I am on, in and near the water, I never lose my healthy respect for it.

Life is much like the water. It’s great to take life on – to play full out, splash around, take chances, try new things. And, when the tide turns, or unseen under-currents threaten, it’s important to know my limits. This has been a winter of sitting on the shore watching the waves crash. It’s time now to get back out in the swirl and splash around again.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

pain

It’s time for a very flawed, very brief, very reductive lesson in Buddhism.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Dang. I still have to write another 84 words, but really that’s all there is.

Okay, let’s try this - when you have depression, particularly chronic, recurring, desperate depression, people out there in the sunshine think it’s all in your head, but it’s really all over your body. Your bones ache. Your joints moan and creak. Your muscles are fatigued without ever being used. Sometimes even your teeth whimper. You suffer. And, you have pain, and none of it feels optional.

It’s very very confusing to feel something that is ‘just in your head’ all over your body.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

effort

A while ago, somewhere in the recesses of blog time, I shared a thingy that said

‘Being overweight is hard,
working out is hard,
choose your hard.’

Or something to that effect.

And it only occurred to me tonight that that also applies to other things ... for example,
“Staying in a Fill in the Blank (job/house/relationship/life) that doesn’t fulfill you is hard.
Chasing your dreams is hard.
Choose your hard.”

Only, if you choose the chasing the dreams hard, then you end up with your dreams, so the hard is worth it. Whereas, otherwise ... you just end up one more of those all-too-common people who have nothing better to talk about than how much they hate their job. It’s a thought in progress, but I thought I’d share it while it’s percolating.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

food

Today, after a hectic morning, I had a fun visit with Freckles, the niece, and my menfolk. I don’t get a lot of time with Freckles, so it was fun to go for tea, go shopping, have a nice dinner at home, visit, giggle, catch up. And, it turns out that it’s possible to socialise – even with family members – without eating endlessly and recklessly.

It was really quite illuminating to go to Venus Sophia Tea Room, because I knew Freckles would love it, and just have tea. Or to serve supper for seven and not apologize for the lack of dessert. With days like this who knows – it might turn out that food is just fuel and not some bizarre self-sabotaging indulgence that never really satisfies.



Monday, February 18, 2013

seeing red

The little bull sits under the cork tree and sniffs a flower. He is an icon of childhood, and of peace and contentment. He bucks the trend, breaks expectations, cherishes peace, fails to respond to the stimuli a bull is supposed to respond to. He is the anti-hero.

Ferdinand is lauded for his commitment to peace and contentment. But he’s also one of the few strong images children have of the upside of introverts. As a society, we reward extroverts. We tell our children not to be shy, to ignore their innate instincts about who to trust. We watch them grow and tell them to go, butt heads, snort and play with the other kids. But, I’m for Ferdinand. For the kid who sits quietly pleased with his own company. Bravo, little bull. Bravo.



"... When he got to the middle of the ring he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies' hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled.

He wouldn't fight and be fierce no matter what they did. He just sat and smelled. And the Banderilleros were mad and the Picadores were madder and the Matador was so mad he cried because he couldn't show off with his cape and sword. So they had to take Ferdinand home.

And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.

He is very happy."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

spiral

Sometimes I wish I could sit down with our friend William Butler Yeats and ask him about that old widening gyre. Did he curse us with it, or was it just there waiting for him to point out to us? 

Can we escape it, or are we doomed to keep on cycling and cycling, centrifugal forces pulling us further asunder until, endlessly, things fall apart. Is it possible to slow the spin? Or to strap ourselves in so that we avoid the eventual collapse? Are we, at best, improving on the previous cycles? Bathed in blood. Innocence spent. I can see why Romantic poets smoked so much opium.


The Second Coming
W.B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

space

It’s a little bit funny when the prompts turn up at exactly the right time to tell you about what’s on in my life. Such is the case with today’s prompt “space.” This morning BB2 and I hopped in the car, headed up-island, and are now snuggly ensconced in our own little cabin at Beach Acres resort in Parksville.

We’ve explored Parksville, enjoyed lunch at my favourite cafe, shopped for replacement swimsuits (DOH!), played a game of pool, enjoyed a drink in a very charming British-style pub, and are now all set for steaks, fries, and movie night.

We abound in space. The space of our very sweet cabin, but also the space – that is, the freedom – to roam when we need to. The space that has both STG and Mastercard say “enjoy! Have a great time.” The space of knowing what is needed when. The space for each other to relax, work together, work things out as they come.

I hope everybody reading this has such space.

Friday, February 15, 2013

heal

They say that time heals all wounds. That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But they don’t know about those slow suppurating wounds, the ones that fester under the surface, the ones that you peel back the skin on to keep alive. They don’t know the patient perfection of digging underneath a scab, the slow ooze of fresh crimson. The pleasure of pressing firmly on the purple-blue bruise, of keeping the ache present after its cause has left.

Time passes and it takes more and more effort, dredging up the pain, digging, pressing, peeling. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps we heal in spite of our own best efforts. But some pains are too exquisite to let go.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

pen and paper

I spend my days online, blinking, wavering pixilated screens blasting my eyes to fatigue and my brain to a near seizure state. The ease of communicating online is both its biggest selling feature, and its biggest detraction. For some reason, a blank screen is fraught with danger.

But a blank page and a full pen, therein lies a whole world of possibility. A blank page calls out for the writer in me, for the cool pressure of hand on paper and the scritch scritch scritch of a ball point pen. A blank page can become a story or a sketch, it can hold dreams and secrets. Writing with pen and paper is an act of comfort and creation.

I wonder why I don't do it more. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

sandwich

The butter sizzles hot and nutty in the skillet. Soft bread browns slowly, as white and orange cheeses soften, meld, flow onto the pan, and harden to perfection in a golden aura. It’s only a grilled cheese sandwich, and it is so so much more. It is childhood in my hand. It is comfort and satisfaction. It is perfect.

You know why they say “The greatest thing since sliced bread”? Because sliced bread is FRICKING AWESOME. Only when you’re a celiac, sometimes sliced bread isn’t that great. Sometimes sliced bread that I eat is grainy or crumbly or dry or all of the above.

But when you get just the right amount of butter. When you layer the cheese just so. When you heat them patiently together as the tomato soup simmers. When the bread is fresh and light. That is more than a sandwich. That is a celebration.




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

can you hear me?

Today in Canada is Bell's 'Let's Talk' day, which is meant to open conversations and remove stigmas around Mental Health. If I were the only member of my family who struggles more with mental than physical health, I might find days like this easy to ignore. 

But, as anyone who has been around here long knows, I talk openly about my struggles with depression. I do it because reading about other people who battle depression has made a difference for me, and I want to make that difference for others. And, I do it because there are people who for many reasons can't or won't speak up. It seems like almost all of those reasons boil down to not feeling heard, not feeling it's safe to speak, not having the words to really share what their particular mental health challenge is like. I hope in time each person has a safe place to share their experience, and that being heard means getting meaningful support.  

Depression is just a part of daily life at our house. How was school. How was work. How are you feeling. How are you feeling, at our house, is not idle chatter. It's a check in. After BB2 was hospitalized following his second suicide attempt, we made a deal - he would always tell me when things were getting that bad, and I would always support him getting the kind of help he believes makes a difference. We shook on it. 

I'm not a saint or a martyr. I made the deal because I'm his mom and I'm the wall that can't fall down. I stick to it because focusing on helping him keeps me from having to look too closely at myself.  I do it because I'm one of the main reasons he struggles - nearly all children raised by a mom with depression struggle with depression and/or addiction themselves. I do it because he'll let me.

BB2 is a man of honour; I know that when he promises something, he's good for it. He's held up his side of the deal, and I've tried to hold up mine. But, sometimes, I wish more people really understood - I wish people understood we're not just moody or 'having the blues.' I wish people understood that every case of depression - even repeated relapses in the same person - plays out differently. I wish I trusted other people to be vigilant and compassionate and there. 

Like me, BB2 will probably never be completely free of depression. Like me, in the good times, he'll probably still see it waiting in the shadows. And like me, he has a strong voice and a way with words that will be his best tools for self-advocacy and shining a light where others can't. Like me, he has a lot of support, even when we sometimes can't see it. 

And so we share our stories, for those who can't.

PS. Thanks to BB2, who read and approved this post. :)
They're not all down days :) 

Monday, February 11, 2013

yesterday's post

I forgot. I've been forgetting a great lot of late, but this is my first time in 81 days forgetting this. I was so near the end. So ready to celebrate the consistency of blogging every day for 100 days. So ready to experience success. But when I woke up this morning, really finally awake, I remembered that I had forgotten. 

Technically, I suppose I blogged yesterday because I wrote a post over on The Mountain Bike Life. And I suppose, if the point of the exercise is for me to write consistently over a period of time, then that piece of writing counts. 

So why then do I feel like I've already failed? Why is this just one more piece on the slag heap of failed attempts.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

words

I don’t know why the words get so jammed up in my mouth. I choke and sputter and spit them out, coated in confusion and tasting of loss. In my head they are icy-smooth and creamy, clear and meaningful - promises of something better.

Words, my bread and butter, and my downfall; my passion, and my nemesis. These uniquely human nuggets of meaning have so much power to create and to destroy, with so little middle ground.

Candy-coating the truth doesn’t make it any less bitter. Writing it only removes the delivery – the words still hold their sharp tang, their lip cutting edges.


Friday, February 8, 2013

starvation

There are many ways to starve. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the biggest tragedies of our society. We are starved for love, for affection, for connection. We yearn to be ourselves, and to be known and accepted as that self. We hunger for knowledge (though it’s always surprising how few seem to as eagerly pursue wisdom).

We live in such a constant state of want that it’s no surprise how few of us experience and express our gratitude, how full our lives are, and the many ways in which we are truly rich.

We starve – physically and spiritually – stuffing the emptiness with mental and physical candy floss.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

drink

The moscato slips across my tongue sweet and silver and light and washes the stress from my aching brain. It glows caramel and lemon, as cheap and comfortable as the clothes you scrub your floors in. I think I should develop more refined tastes, learn about the intricacies of the French terriors, distinguish the legs and noses and lingering aromas of something robust and classy.

But I love this easy sweetness. Why should I fight past the shriveled tongue and feign an adoration of over-dry shiraz? I am no vinophile. I have come late and tired to my appreciation of an evening glass. And so I drink the gentle grape – liquid candy in dancing light. And I toast to cheap wine and simple pleasure.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

test

Testing the microphone. The lips the teeth the tip of the tongue. The lips the teeth the tip of the tongue. Some nights I’m ready to roll out the barrel. Some nights I hide in the corner. A lover of the limelight, and the silences in between. Praying for the balance of yes and no, of company and solitude, of gratitude and striving for more, of light and dark.

And always, always, remembering those nights. Some nights. When someone else is the one to bring me back to that all important matter of who I am, who I am, who I am.


Writing project prompt: Test

AND

Write at the Merge prompt:
I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
from Fun, Some nights

AND

image courtesy of leo.jeje (via Flickr Creative Commons)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

insanity

They say that it’s insanity, this repetition of actions and thoughts and patterns. Insanity, or perhaps just habit. Or a circular argument. Nobody thinks the zen monks are crazy for carefully tracing circular paths in their isolated gardens. Repeating their motions, perfecting the moment and the motion and the result.

It’s not crazy, the search for perfection, or for happiness – not that they are one and the same, or even on the same spectrum. It’s not insane to fall down 99 times and get up 100. To dream after the death of a thousand other dreams. It’s not crazy. It’s the best kind of human.


Monday, February 4, 2013

movies

When I was a child I dreamt of acting in the movie. More importantly, I dreamt about winning an Oscar, of breaking the bonds of my little life, of proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was special and worth watching and listening to.

And then I dreamt of singing in the movies, though I knew that musicals never won Oscars, I thought I could be one of those rare double threats – an actor and a singer. No slashes. No privileging one talent over the other. I would be an amazing singer. And I would be a compelling actor.

That dream eventually mutated into writing. Meryl Streep faded into Diablo Cody. A screen play or an adaptation - either would be fine, as long as I got to wear a beautiful gown, walk the red carpet, and have my talents recognized.

I love the movies – I love the move-going experience. The big screen, the popcorn, chocolate snacks that you can pop into your mouth by the handful. But always and forever there’s a little piece of me that gazes up at that screen thinks ... that could have been me. I coulda been a star.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

mirror

Out flew the web and floated wide
The mirror crack'd from side to side; 
"The curse is come upon me," cried 
The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Mirror mirror – trouble-making yes-man of the wicked witch. Shadowy tunnel to wonderland. Downfall of medusa. Taunter of Belle with images of loved ones she cannot see or comfort. Peeping tool of peeping Merlin.

So many traditions and tropes. So many reasons to look the other way. Mermaids own mirrors as symbols of their vanity, and their devious duplicity. But are there fairy tales in which mirrors are a form of torture? Treachery, yes. Isolation, misery, cold-hearted cruelty, entrapment - I suppose those are all their own form of torture.

Sometimes it’s looking in the mirror that is the problem. Sometimes, as with our poor Lady of Shallot, it is in looking out at the world too clearly.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

confrontation

It starts gently enough ... a question, posed as though the asker hasn’t already decided the answer. And then repeated, with more insistence. Perhaps some time passes. Other subjects are discussed. The matter is dropped, and left to fester.

But it invariably returns. Louder. It blocks out the common ground; the safe zones become fraught. The person behind the assertion disappears, becoming only the idiocy of the opposite, reduced to the difference between.

I don't understand people who seek out and create conflict. I don't understand why someone would want to advance the cause of hell on earth. 




Friday, February 1, 2013

too much, and not enough.

It’s a very sad and scary thing to step on a scale and have it send me tumbling. I understand now why my doctor has told me not to do it, that my recovery from depression has to be more important to me than a number on a scale. But I needed to know – I’ve seen pictures of myself lately where I only recognised myself by what I was wearing. How did that happen? Fool that I am I was sure that the number would just be knowledge.

I know now that I am not strong enough to have it not matter. And that, for today, my intelligence, my accomplishments, my talents, my sharp wit and my tender heart are nothing to me - I’d trade it all to change that number back again. It’s pathetic – a true waste – how much energy I spend adjusting my heaving girth, sitting or standing or laying to free my mind from its relentless noticing. How I direct STG to hold me just so, pretending that maybe he still sees the healthy girl he met. That I sit at my desk trying to distract myself from the repulsive feeling of my sagging gut stealing across my lap. That I hold my chin at a particular angle to keep from feeling my neck collapse on itself. That I pretend the tingling in my ankles is from something other than trapped fat and fluid.

It’s a scary feeling that the only thing that fills the gaping emptiness is more. Cookies. Donut. Ice cream. Salt. Fat. Sugar. All while the person inside this spreading body continues to shrink. I know it has to stop. That I am more, and that even my body is not as disgusting as I imagine it.

But, for today, I am sad and scared and so so sorry. I wish I had appreciated my healthy body enough to hold on to it. I wish I knew how to turn things around. I don’t need advice. I don’t need more knowledge. I just ... need to strop. And I’m terrified that I can’t.
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