Sunday, October 28, 2018

fu is good motivation

An old, old draft with still current truths:

There are those moments - infrequent and powerful when I'm REALLY riled up right now. I just experienced something that I think is sneaky, under-handed, and only explainable as either ass-covering or finger-pointing. I'm so angry I could spit - preferably in the perpetrator's face. And yet, in the hour or so since I've figured out what happened, I have gotten more done than I ever do in the last hour of work. My reminder just popped up to tell me to go home (yes, I set a reminder to tell me it's time to go home - my home time matters to me), and I couldn't believe that between 3 and 4:30 the time just went poof! I've experienced this before. There's some part of FU, a phrase I often experience viscerally even if I don't say it out loud, that is accompanied by 'I'll show you!' 

It first happened in one of my earliest university voice lessons. I was in new territory, with an extremely intimidating teacher, Barbara, in a very warm, small room doing what I thought was my best to belt out whatever song she'd chosen for that day. The window was open to give us some hope of a breeze and fresh air, and suddenly I heard it - the voice of a boy I'd only just met (two weeks into university as we were) but already developed an enormous crush on. He was dreamy, and soulful, and distant, and so very very lovely and I heard him laughing with friends as he exited the cafeteria to sit at the picnic table outside the rehearsal room. 

Mid-phrase, my voice shrank to a pretty, melodic whisper. Barbara stopped playing, swivelled in her chair and all but yelled at me,  "What do you call that? If you're going to turn into a mouse just because a boy is outside, just get out now and stop wasting both of our time!" 

I just knew he'd heard. I was embarrassed - beet red instantly, angry at being embarrassed, and so very very ashamed. I couldn't leave, or he'd know who it was that stopped singing for him. I couldn't let her treat me like that. I couldn't ... I couldn't ... I couldn't do anything but sing. 

And so I did. At the top of my lungs. In a powerful voice I didn't know I had and only seldom have accessed since. She smiled, said that was more like it, and wrapped things up for the day. 

He was still sitting outside when I left. Said hi, and that I sounded great. And I tried not to die even more with the confirmation that he'd heard the whole exchange. Still, he said hi. And he thought I sounded great. And I knew, that for at least that moment, I did sound great. 

It happened again when I returned to university after 7 years as an unhappy housewife. The professor who dared tell me I didn't have what it took and that it was always going to be easier for the smarter students, had to re-write the marking strategy for an exam when I was the only one to ace it and the majority of the class failed. 

It's a funny reaction. I wonder what life would be like if I didn't have to have something to prove in order to do my best. The truth is, I think I am doing my best the rest of the time. But in those moments of furious proof-making, I wonder who really lurks inside me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

bad math

"I thought she was 'the 1'," he sighed.
The calculation in my brain instantaneous.
I counted my frozen breath.
"1" - the difference in the friendly smile that did not reach my eyes;
"I thought you were the 1; sometimes I still do,"
I did not reply. 

His 1 and my 1 had never quite equaled 2.

In fact, we are told that 1 plus 1 should equal 1.
That whole numbers are comprised of 2 other wholes.
And when it doesn't add up,
(1 equals 0) plus (1 equals 0)
Equals 0.
Oddly, 2 minus 1 also equals 0.

We never talk about the minus 1.
Or about the infinity that exists between 0 and 1.

We are cordially invited to plus 1,
Preferably "the 1."
So we push on, looking for the next 1.
Are you "the 1"?
Are you "the 1"?

"You told me countless times 
you didn't believe in 'the 1',"
I didn't reply.
Because I know that sum.
He didn't believe in "the 1,"
Like I didn't believe in Infinity.
Like an unbeliever can't believe
Until they see the proof.

Friday, July 20, 2018


I had a conversation today that was beautiful and bittersweet, honest and forgiving, brave and tender, and in which I was lovingly reminded that the real me shines and sparkles and is a light.

It broke me all over again. In the best way - in the Leonard Cohen way. And it reminded me of this song that I just heard on Wednesday. 

 Sometimes what isn't everything is also enough.

When you were young
Where did you hide
When the ghosts under your bed made you cry?
Just yesterday
Where did you run
Did you lose your way before the day’d begun?

You were lonely for a while
Did you find your mother’s smile
And did it shine on
Shine on

Where did you think
You’d be by now
Did it look like somewhere else someway, somehow?
When you drove away
Was there a sound
A simple melody that turned it all around?

And the moment you were gone
Did you hear your favourite song
And did it shine on
Shine on

Sometimes it hides
In the hardest times
A most beautiful blessing in disguise

Even on the darkest days
There’s a spark to light the way
And let it shine on
Shine on

Appears on ‘So Let’s Go
By Alan Doyle

Friday, May 18, 2018

for a minute

For a minute there
I forgot who I was.
My age.
And the shape of me.

For a minute there
I forgot about history.

Math has never been my thing.
They say it's just numbers
They are just numbers.
It's just a number.

But the numbers.
They add up.

And I
I use words.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

after the empty nest

As a parent, and especially in the decade or so in which I was, without design or expectation, my sons' primary parent, my main goal has been to raise (and to become) happy, healthy whole people living lives of choice. I've never actually articulated it as such, but from where I sit now I can see that's been the hope, dream, work, intention - for my sons as well as for me. I've never been attached to how they make their way in the world or who they love, just that they be happy, healthy and whole and that they have the confidence and tools to create life (we're all a work in progress) rather than letting life happen to them. 

DS28, as DS7 (?) - when tree climbing was free and easy
Yesterday, as I mowed the lawn using a mower that DS28 got to run two weeks ago - the only mower I've ever started on the first pull, thanks to his work - I realised, something has shifted. I've been an intermittent empty-nester for 8 years now, with one or the other son moving back in as they needed. I've worried and fussed and offered unsolicited advice. And sometime in the last year, that stopped.

Oh, I still worry and fuss, but it is so clear that they no longer want or need my unsolicited advice. They are healthy, functioning adults, and even more than empty nesting this shift brings me both deep contentment and a confusing sense of loss. Having identified so deeply and so long as a mom first, I now have to reimagine what "mom" means for these men.
DS26, as DS1, exploring in the kitchen

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure my sons need me in some way. I'm just not sure what that looks like. Sunday dinner and board games are wonderful. Trading chores (I sewed his pants while DS28 worked on the mower and the yard) is nice. But anyone can do those things. What is the mom role for independent men making their way in the world, especially as/when they have partners to walk alongside them? 

If they should choose to become parents themselves in the future that will be another shift; for now, perhaps it's enough to watch from the sidelines for a while. To speak when spoken to. And to be a quieter version of head cheerleader, knowing they'll let me know if they need me. 

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