Tuesday, August 28, 2012

over 30 random facts about me

Time for some levity, so this blog will be chocked full of irrelevant things you probably didn't know about me, and were still able to live happy, fulfilling lives.

my 'jewel' is green and dangles

  • I have a tiara. Not a plastic pink one, but a shiny bronze one with one very small jewel. It's difficult to find in my hair if it's curly, but I know it's there and that's what counts. I bought it for myself. I realize this goes against my ego slimming mediation and yoga practice, but I'm okay with that, so far. Raj (my meditation coach and yoga teacher), if you're reading this (which is not likely, I  don't think he is the blog reading type), it's best you find out now that I'm  superficial and vain and hopelessly attracted to shiny things.

actual size MUCH larger

  • I have a scar on my bum from a very large pair of sewing scissors that my grandmother had left in a big cushy chair that I flung myself into -wearing a brand new pair of blue corduroy pants - when I was 14years old. They got stuck, and I was so mortified about having scissors in my in my bum that I hopped up and ran to the bathroom and pulled them out myself. I should have had stitches, but my 14year old dignity could not have endured that so I did my own first aid, first to my butt, and then to my new pants. To this day I have never told anyone in my family, and my grandmother went to her grave not knowing the humiliating injury I suffered in her home. I have to say I wasn't very skilled at either, and the pants looked very poorly mended and the scar remains, although the nearby hip replacement scar is much more impressive.

  • I talk to my pets, my plants - indoor and outdoor, not because it is good for them, but because I can't help myself. I also talk to my car, my bed (mostly terms of endearment when I crawl into it at night), many inanimate objects, and because I'm Canadian I say "thank you" to bank machines, and "sorry" to sentient and non-sentient, animate and inanimate things. 
  • Growing up I wanted to be a Veterinarian, (and an Artist, but could never imagine making my living with Art, I wish now I had tried to at least) but there were only a few schools in Ontario, and they were difficult to get into. I went into science instead, and after my Biology degree I studied Nursing, which I loved, and filled my life with many, many animals. 
  • I can't work as a nurse in this country because bureaucratic obstacles, so I'm looking at going back to school.

  • My car's name is Laverne. She's a 13year old Honda Accord with almost 250,000km ( 150,000miles in American) on her. She is the best behaved 13year year female I have ever known, and I adore her. I have put bumper stickers on her that leave no doubt that I am a "liberal-la-la, hippie-tree-hugging-granola-eating freak.

  • I secretly yearn for an opportunity to use my "Nearly-Ninja" Hapkido skills on real life bad guys. I swear I'm a pacifist, but just one punch, or a kick or two... is that too much to ask? 

  • I've been learning to sing for the last year because 40 years ago my Brownie leader told me to mouth the words when we sang - I was forever scarred and certain that I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but this year thanks to a friend and a marvelous voice instructor I have done what would be unthinkable for me. I sang, by myself, in front of an audience (okay, a very small audience of fellow singers, all much better trained than I, but still, an audience). I shook like a leaf and it gave my voice great vibrato, the total body red blotchy rash was a little trickier to explain. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and I'd do it again, hopefully with less shaking and blotchiness. For the full story of my singing career see here

my hair if left to its own devices
  • I fuss way too  much about my hair. It's a Leo thing I've been told, still it's way more important to me than it should be (Raj, I really hope you're not reading this - my zen like facade is fading fast...). I do have a friend, and occasionally my kids who know this, and give me encouraging complements about how fabulous my hair looks on any given day. I'm not sure these comments are completely sincere, but hey, I'm always happy to receive them.
  • I'm a Leo, and a Dragon and a Number 1 in Numerology - ergo I'm vain, stubborn, bossy, fabulous, loyal, fiery, passionate, susceptible to complements, love presents, glitter and all things shiny.

  • I have been taking photographs my whole life, and was a late convert to digital, I still prefer the look you get from film, especially black and white. 
  • I also draw, paint, sculpt, collage, zen doodle, doodle doodle, make jewelry, make multimedia pieces ( mixed media is my favourite - it's like cooking, with art)
  • I love to cook, meal preparation, however, is not my favourite.
  • my favourite meal is one that someone cooks for me, past that I'm not too fussy (well... no eggs or bananas, and pineapple on pizza is just wrong) 
Steps onto soap box
 these opinions are entirely my own, and you may disagree with some or all them, and that's fine with me, but this is my blog, so you're going to get my opinions (with and without the tiara)
  • I don't eat pork unless I can find humanely raised meat (I love bacon, and miss it), this is the case with beef and chicken as well. I believe eating something that was treating badly, or terrified when it was killed is bad for my karma/soul/humanity, and also those involved in producing such meat.
  • I am Pro-Life for my own body, so far, but that is a Choice I make for myself, I think every woman deserves to be able to make this choice for herself and I would never force my belief on another woman. Men legislating woman's bodies should be run out of office and have their testicular contents publicly examined and critiqued.
  • I believe Capital Punishment is morally wrong and damages the souls/karma/humanity of all of those who are involved in ending another's life. Also those who are on death row are a disproportionately low income African Americans who had less than adequate legal representation. 
  • I think a society that proposed to legislate a woman's body, legally kill adults who are no longer a threat, and eats food from animals that were inhumanely treated is seriously flawed and backwards and should not be tolerated. As a first world nation with so much of the world's wealth, and so much power, we should be embarrassed and ashamed of such arkaic behaviours.
  • I think that, regardless of gender, two people in a loving committed relationship should be able to marry. I think it is ridiculous that this is even a debate.
  • I think the witch hunt for immigrants of Mexican decent is something we should be ashamed of as a country. I am an immigrant, but am treated well because I am white, this double standard is simply another form of racism cloaked in cowardly legislation.

am now steps off of soap box

  • I write poetry. More specifically I read, write, live and breathe and think in poetry. I started about 10years ago, no idea why. 
  • Okay, change that - my astute friend David pointed out what got me started. I discovered Viggo Mortensen as an actor (and thought wow! hot!), found out he wrote poetry (and all sorts of really attractive things that I mention further down) and thought WOW REALLY HOT, and after I read his poetry I thought I'd like to try it. I then read more poetry, and wrote more poetry and it has been a continuous cycle ever since. 
  • I should add all the poets I love, but this blog is already long enough; I DID meet Franz Wright a poet I love and THAT was awesome, and I once exchanged Mary Oliver quotes with Sister Helen Prejea, the nun who wrote "Dead Man Walking"and I was bouncing around clapping my hands like a fool for days after that. 
  • David Whyte is the hottest poet alive, and I would LOVE (LOVE, LOVE) to go on one of his poetry tours through Ireland.
  • Don't get me started on authors I adore.
  • I've been published and had two promises of a book fall through, (not much money in books of poetry) so I am still keeping my day job. Neruda says it best (love Neruda)


And it was at that age . . . poetry arrived
man with a horse = sexy
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, not silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me.

Irish man who reads Neruda aloud =sexy
I didn't know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
Something knocked in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
wrote gorgeous poetry = DAMN sexy
the darkness perforated,
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.

Old Spice Guy on a horse, still sexy

  • Nothing is sexier than a man with an accent reading Neruda
  • A man on a horse is almost as sexy as a man reading Neruda
  • A man on a horse reading Neruda would just be overkill, but I'd still be willing to listen

  • I LOVE Horses, I love their grace, strength, beauty personalities (well not all personalities). One day I will own my own and ride everyday.

  • I LOVE being beside large bodies of water, and one day will have a small home near the water, with my horse, dogs and cats. Ideally the ocean, but any large lake will do.

  • I study Hapkido, Yoga (Hatha, Kriya, Svaroopa, Iyengar, and Kundalini), Meditation (Mindfulness, Guided, Mantra, Focused and Movement), and Tai Ji. I read books by the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, and Thích Nhất Hạnh, and am still not even slightly Zen like.

maybe  I'm more Zen like than I thought..
  • I want to swim and scuba dive near dolphins and whales.
  • I love being scared on Roller Coasters, in horror movies, and in books. I get right into it and jump, scream and punch those poor sods who are sitting close to me.
  • I purposefully make myself do things that frighten me, like singing, and Improv Acting, and going down into caves etc, and generally love what I discover about myself after doing that thing that frightened  me. 
  • Going into underwater caves is still RIGHT OUT, but sky diving is not....

her face is nicer, but my arms look lke this
  • I apologize to any bugs I kill - not silverfish though - but mostly I carry outside things like moths and spiders.

  • I am in the best physical shape that I have ever been in, and weigh less than when I got married - my measurements, if I could remember them, are likely quite different.
  • I hate my nose.
  • I read Tarot cards and Palms, and I have a real crystal ball (not that I use it for anything but decoration, but one day.....)
  • I cry when other people cry, at movies, during tv shows, the odd commercial, when I watch live performances, while reading, and when really happy - my kids tolerate this weakness gracefully (read: groan and roll their eyes)

  • I ADORE Gustav Klimt's  work.  I love art, and believe it's necessary to live.
  • Beethoven (and hundreds more musicians) gives me goosebumps. 
  • Musicians are my Rock Stars, okay lame, but anyone who can play an instrument, compose music or teach music is pretty damn awesome.

  • I have a serious crush on Viggo Mortensen, who, would appear to be the perfect man - poet, father, painter, social activist, multilingual, musician (band with his son, how cool is that?), horse lover/owner, photographer, actor, publisher - what's not to love? Also, he is pretty easy on the eyes. His fatal flaw? He is a Montreal Canadiens fan, but I'm sure he'd get over that for me....

  • I have a bionic hip - okay a plain titanium one with no special powers, the other one may need replacing too, but I am putting it off as long as possible. Having a metal hip gets me the full body pat down at airports.
  • I am excellent at falling for complete narcissistic, misogynistic jerks, usually ones with an accent - Irish or Spanish so far.
  • I feel guilty about not being able to provide well enough for my kids.

  • I am fiercely proud that I am Canadian, and may move back there when my kids are finished school here.

  • I sleep with 6 pillows, a couple of cats, and a large greyhound named Fezzik (he sleeps in his own bed and spends the night farting and slurping)
  • I get migraines and they have caused 16 mini-strokes in my brain, and a pixel sized blind spot in my right eye. I always wonder if I'm having mid-age memory glitches or having another little stroke. So far I've held it at 16 and am generally compliant with my neurologist, except for the Hapkido part (my hip surgeon shakes his head as well...)
  •  I'm left handed, left eyed, left eared and my legs, I think, are ambidextrous, although when sparring, I kick more with my right leg. My left brain is likely the size of a raisin and gets bullied by my right brain. I process everything visually - which makes it nearly impossible for someone to give me directions over the phone.
  • I have an excellent sense of misdirection (or a terrible sense of direction, but I prefer to focus on the positive)
  • Six years ago I was in a major rollover car accident - it rolled 5 or 6 times and caught fire - I managed to crawl out with only minor injuries and some really cool scaring on my left elbow which apparently hit the ground with each revolution.

  •  I have a larger than average head. I broke a board with my head once - something I did not share with my neurologist.

  • I've broken lots of boards with my hands and feet, I think my Martial Arts teacher likes to show people that if this middle aged woman and break boards, just think what you could do....

  • I write, sing, read, eat chocolate (dark only), drink coffee and laugh every day.
  • I stay up too late, and get up too early - hence the love of coffee - when I was in Belgium whenever they brought you a coffee they brought a little cookie, cake or piece of chocolate with it, that's what I call a country with it's priorities in the right place.

  • I want to inspire people, I'm just not sure how to do that yet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

morning after the long night

"It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children. "
Oriah Mountain Dreamer 

We've had a long night. It's been a long for a few weeks actually. 

My son, while still abstaining from drug use still has the manifestations of an active addict. Lying, manipulating, self-centred thinking, and stealing, and then more lying. The only time he appears to be his old self is when he's purposely manipulating me because I have given up believing anything he says. 

So, last night grew from a frustrating afternoon, to a confrontational early evening, to what appeared to be some sanity - later this turned out to be manipulation - to more confrontation, to door slamming, swearing, and then storming out of the house with a promise to cool down and be back by midnight. 

Did you notice how beautiful the fog was at sunset last night?

My dog woke me at 330am - not impressed with this new behaviour - and on a whim I checked my son's room. No one there. There's a protocol to follow here. First call him, obviously - no answer, check the GPS on his phone - not working, likely phone is off, then come the decision to escalate or to go back to bed. 

I think about the devastated parents I know who got the 430am call from the police that their clean and sober son, but obviously still in the grip of addictive thinking, had decided to break into a gun shop. He had just turned 18. He is in prison with 3 felony charges. He is not going to have a high school senior year. He will not be home for a long while. I think about my friend's son, who after one beer dove head first back into active addiction, was lost for 5 days and eventually found nearly dead in a bad neighbourhood in Chicago full of heroin, with multiple organ and brain damage.
I decide to escalate. I call the emergency pager for his rehab group, I call the police, I text his sponsor, I text people that may have seen him. I open the call and text logs for his phone. 
The police officer is very polite - this IS Naperville after all - but not too concerned. I tell him what I know, give him a description, friends' names addresses and phone numbers. It's 4:45am and I have nothing more I can do. I sit on the bed and stare at my hands until 5:30, then start getting ready for work. At 6am I check the GPS on my phone and it says he's home. Out in front of our house is the same police car, same officer and he has my son in the backseat. He had been 'crashed' at the friend's house. He is unrepentant, sulky, and defensive. I can think of nothing to say to him. We stare awkwardly and I thank the police officer and go back inside to get ready for work.
At 6am the sun was about half up, there was a morning fog not yet burned away by the sun and the dew on the plants was particularly beautiful. It felt like we were in a poignant scene in a movie, there should have been music, or maybe complete silence, and just us, the police car, me in my pjs and a sweatshirt, my son, and the officer, just standing for an eternity in this beautiful foggy sunrise before we turn and walk to the house and the officer sits back in his car.

The difficult night and morning made this fog and dew somehow more important to me, if that makes any sense. So, I pulled out a time honoured coping mechanism of mine and started taking photos, some of which you see here.

It seems surreal that after such a difficult night that the world could look so beautiful. That the birds still sing, the fog mades everything seem dreamlike and precious. I'm reminded of Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"  - how,' meanwhile, the world goes on', in spite of your despair, meanwhile it offers itself to you, all its beauty, harshness and excitement. Meanwhile....
 Wild Geese - Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Meanwhile, my world goes on, I go to work, I drink my coffee, meanwhile I do what needs to be done despite the previous night's grief and despair, because sometimes that's all you can do, is take a step, and then take another step. All you can do is look around and remember you are not alone, you are part of this beautiful and sometimes harsh world, and it is the world that is waiting for you to step forward, and announce your place; to take your place in the fire, to have your heart broken open so you can be really alive in your 'one wild and precious life.'  Or maybe that's one or three too many metaphors, I blame David Whyte  completely, him and sleep deprivation.

In the end that's all we could ever do. 

The Invitation - Oriah Mountain Dreamer 
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to
be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can
disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

the truth will set you free, but it will piss a lot of people off

Forgive me Gloria Steinem, but right  now all I really want a man, on a great big horse, to ride up and rescue me.

I'm sorry, but sometimes this life gets to heavy to carry by myself and I regress from my fiercely independent "Sisters are Doing it for Themselves" self, and daydream about someone sweeping in and taking care of me. Someone who would, as Maurice Sendak says in "Where the Wild Things Are", "love me best of all".

I feel a bit like a spoiled princess stomping her tiny foot (for me it would sensibly sized foot in stylish, but sensible shoes, no glass slippers here), but I really want to be someone's, anyone's -- okay, scratch ANYone's -- first choice. I'm not perfect, but I have tried to be mindful and compassionate in my relationships with family and friends.  I am sometimes successful, and sometimes I crash and burn quite spectacularly, but I do really try to stay compassionate in my intentions and have my words and actions come from there. This is sometimes difficult, because I want to feel sorry for myself, I want to be the victim, so I don't have to take personal responsibility for aspects of my life and of myself that I don't like. Yes, it stings when people react unkindly, but I can only be responsible for myself - I HATE that. ..... Okay, I only hate that sometimes, when I'm stressed and I'm tired and I would LOVE to blame other people. Ultimately that doesn't work well for me. They say resentment is like drinking poison in the hope it will harm the other person. It doesn't, it just eats you alive until you're the bitter mean spirited person that you were resentful of.  I know other's actions are a reflection of themselves, as mine are a reflection of me, I know this in my head. In my heart I sometimes feel like an unloved child, or on days that I'm really feeling sorry for myself, I feel unlovable. 

So where does this leave poor me? Still without a man to rescue me. I've tried dating. It was nothing short of disastrous each and every time. One date, "Barry" who seemed wonderful online, was spewing political rants with in minutes of my sitting down (and I do mean spewing, bits of saliva and all), but at least he paid for my soda water (I'm even a cheap date...), "Chuck" and I met at a Starbucks, and after he physically got up stood with his back to me while ordering his coffee, to make it crystal clear that he would not be buying me a coffee, we sat down chatted about how marvelous he was, how great his car was (it actually was a very nice little Audi), and when next week would I have an open afternoon to have sex with him. What I thought was a get to know you, he thought was a booty call arrangement. Should I be flattered that after talking with me for 15minutes he thought I was okay to have sex with? Anyway, if I'm going to put out, I at the very least require a meal, with dessert and coffee.

Okay, so men are not exactly queuing up to ask me out, much less show up on horseback; perhaps there's a protocol here that I'm not following. I've had 3 men tell me that they had lusted after me - one of them after he'd been married to someone he met on line to for about a year. So perhaps I'm looking for a Sugar Daddy on a horse? That sounds eewwie.

And here's where I start shoulding myself to death. I should have spoken up earlier in my marriage, maybe we could have started working on things 14years ago when it started to go wrong instead of pretending everything was fine. I should have left my husband and never moved here. I should have firmly, and compassionately stood up for myself countless times with countless people. I should have done a lot of things. I should have known better? I tried. Really I did. All I ever wanted to do was to make for my children a home like my cousins grew up in. My mom's sister had three kids, and was married to one of the best men I've know in my life. I loved having such a wonderful extended family. I look at them now, and they've been through some rough times - my Uncle dying 20years before we thought he should being the hardest - but they are still the loving, close happy family I watched growing up. So with my own kids I thought, if I couldn't have that growing up, I can at least give it to my family. It was a plan. I married a nice guy, I had three kids, stopped working before the second was born so I could be a full time mother to them. Then I tried to put down roots somewhere - my cousins grew up in only one house, on a street where every neighbour knew each other, where they could bike to school. There was a problem, with no job to hold me anywhere I had no say in where we moved when my husband got transferred, which was a lot. Still I kept trying to make that  life that existed only in my head.

So here I am. No family except my kids. All my extended family in another country, and while my Aunt and my cousins are friendly to me, I'm not their family, they don't invite me to holiday dinners or family celebrations. We have made ourselves a village here, and my kids have many stunt parents, mentors, and friends who support and love us, and we love them. I still long for my own family, for the extended family holiday dinners, for cousins for my kids to have and horse around with. It's nice here, but it's lonely too.

Honestly I don't really want a man to come in a rescue me. I know that if one should try to, I would most likely mock him, steal his horse and ride off. 

Maybe I just want a horse, and a plan of escape.

Or maybe just the horse, I'll figure out the escape route as I go.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.