Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Through the Doorway

I had all the symptoms of serious malaise. Exhausted (though I prefer the word enervated)coupled with a mild depression(I say mild because I've had a serious relationship with severe) with the "what's it all about Alfie"-ness of the situation just about doing my head in and feeling I was wearing a cloak of invisibility. I want to snap "who cares" at anyone who dares ask me how I am, but I'm better brought up than that so I resort to "i vant to be left alone" a la Garbo but without her money or her gorgeousness and with far more manners. I couldn't force myself out of it and I refuse to medicate.

I just hated leaving Toronto this time and all my good family/friends and lovely clients there. I spent some marvellous five hour lunches/dinners with some where we got caught up on all the doings.

I wouldn't trade living here for anything but I'd like to package up the dear ones and move them in here. So funk happened. A blue funk of loneliness and a lot of work and deadlines and the why-mes waiting around for me to convert them into why-not-mes.

And today is a biting sun-drenched indigo day on the bay and I awoke and got up at dawn. My dreams had been astonishing. Albeit about someone else (other facets of myself as I've learned). I was telling this other someone to "Suck and chew the marrow out of life."

A message obviously for me.

Early this morning, I walked through the shadowed doorway into sunlight and an astonishing lifting of spirits. I feel renewed, refreshed and ready to start some serious sucking and chewing.

Bring it on!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best Movies of 2011

I don't have television so there are no Oscars for me tonight apart from on the web. Maybe it is my age, maybe it is a deterioration in the overall quality of most movies but I view Oscar night now as a long drawn out yawn with too many commercials, a sycophantic host and self-congratulatory side bits which border on extreme narcissism.

I have a lifelong passion for the movies, going way back to when my uncle owned a cinema in a small town in East Cork and I got to see !!free!! every movie he showed. The A movie, the B movie, the newsreels, the cartoons and the serials on Saturday afternoons. I also have quite an enormous collection of movies. Some I never tire of watching.

One of my biggest disappointments of this past movie season was The Artist. I just don't get what all the fuss and hype was about. I found it melodramatic and cliched. And if that was the point, so what. Not a good point pour moi. A close runner up to FAIL would be Midnight in Paris, with an appalling Owen Wilson (attempting to channel a jaded Woody Allen) in the lead and featuring cardboard caricatures of the greatest literary figures in Paris as a supporting cast. Please. I was seriously offended.

On the other hand, I loved Monsieur Lazhar an amazing story of a Grade 6 class in Quebec whose teacher commits suicide. The child actors in it were brilliant. I also loved Beginners which starred Christopher Plummer as a widower coming out of the closet after 45 years of marriage. Hugo was a delight, loved loved loved Martin Scorsese's homage to movies through the ages and even caught his own (a la Alfred Hitchcock) cameo in it. The 3 D effects were incredible.

Tree of Life and Bridesmaids were also in the enjoyable lineup of movie pleasure for me this past year.

But overall a disappointing season but some of that can be blamed on the unavailability of good foreign film showings here in Newfoundland. To my mind, there is nothing like the big screen of a movie theatre for showing such treasures.

Friday, February 24, 2012

To Live Alone

According to statistics, the majority of adults in the USA and Canada now live alone. A fairly new demographic that is just about invisible judging from the media. No one wants to talk about it or write about it, it seems, apart from some fearless bloggers that tread outwards into uncharted territory. My blog buddy Ronni Bennett wrote about it yesterday and she was also featured in a piece in the New York Times on Wednesday.

I wrote about it recently:

Sometimes lonely.
Selfish, some say.
Why not?
To choose
The perfect space
In all the world
For one
Such as me.
By me.
Old house.


Living Single

As of 2000, the most common household type in the U.S. is a person living alone. - Hobbs, Frank. 2005. “Examining American Household Composition: 1990 and 2000.” U.S. Census Bureau.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

After Midnight

A shaky Leo sat down by the fire yesterday afternoon and told me about something that happened while I was away. As instructed, he took Ansa for a walk three times a day, the last walk being around midnight.

Last Friday at midnight, he walks her down the shore to the Delaney House, an old house that's been there for well over a couple hundred years. Small, tight, and freshly enhanced with a family of three, including a baby, in the last couple of years. Ansa was doing her business by the rocks when she suddenly barked. Leo, who had been watching her, looked up just in time to see Billy Delaney running along the shore just about to crash into the two of them.

“Wearing his waders," said Leo, his eyes round and frightened in the memory of it, his mouth trembling, “and that awful old cap of his, a dirty old tweedy thing, should have been lumped out years ago.”

“Ansa started to howl, just a bit, and then Billy...” he tried to go on.

“What, Billy did what?” I said.

“Well Billy ran through me. And it hurt.”

“Billy ran through you? What?”

“I could hear the crunch of old waders on the stones and he ran through me and I fell down because my chest hurt so much and my legs went all rubber on me and wouldn't hold me up and Ansa was making an awful crying sound.”

“And what about Billy?”

“Oh he was gone, right gone, right quick. But I could still smell him, he never gave himself a good washing.”

“So Ansa licked my face, and I managed to stand up, but I couldn't walk properly at all. So I managed to make it over to Annie's by the crossroads and told her what had happened. It was going on for nearly one o'clock in the morning then, and I was drinking the cup of tea she made me with lots of sugar for the shock and then she goes ahead and calls Father Korea. I tried to stop her but she wouldn't listen. So next thing Father Korea comes on down with his prayerbook and his holy water saying he thought I'd have to be dying for him to be taken out of his warm bed on a freezing night like this.”

“You can't be serious,” I say, laughing in spite of myself, petting my brave Ansa.

“Oh, but I am,” and Leo has never looked more serious and is slightly offended at my laughing, “and he says all these mumbly-jumbly prayers over my head and sprinkles holy water all over me, and tells whatever is inside me to leave forever.”

“Did it work?” I ask.

“On I'm still fair haunted with it all. I don't know about it working.”

“You're sure it was Billy?” I say.

“Oh no doubt at all, not a doubt it was Billy, drunk as always, gallivanting like a mad man around the place.”

Billy has been dead for eight years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming Home

One has to go away. Even if it is for a day or two only. Just to miss it. To feel the lack of it in the bones. Home.

I've been gone for nearly 2 weeks. You should have seen the dog once she saw me, quivering from head to toe. As I do. At first she doesn't believe her eyes. She shakes her head as if to get rid of her waking dream. Then it is as if she shouts:

It's you! It. Really. Is. You!

And then she throws herself on me. Paws on my shoulders, tongue all over my face, hair, hands. Oh, to be so welcomed. Everyone should be welcomed like this. It is worth all the days of being away.

I light the fire. Together, we warm ourselves in front of it. She brushing against my legs. Whining ever so softly. I glance at the couch where my favourite cushion (an aran one, knit by me) looks askew and slightly mangled.

This is what has comforted her. The normally off limits couch and its cream coloured cushion, licked and kneaded and still bearing the faint outline of her head.

She catches my look at the forbidden territory and hangs her head in shame.

I hug her.

It's alright, I whisper. When I'm away, you're allowed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Odd signs around Toronto.

On the back of a Hummer:

Who do unreal men love?

Condominiums are cluttering the downtown skies in various stages of undress being babysat by mighty cranes. One sign read:

And I will damn well marry Charlie next Saturday.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Innies and Outies

No I'm not talking belly buttons. Though I'd like to. Curious things, aren't they? All shapes and sizes. Connections to those who gave birth to us. I lost mine. Seriously. An emergency appendectomy of a slash and burn variety. I tell startled medical people now when I'm having a test that I'm from Venus. We do it differently there so I was hatched from an egg. It gets a chuckle. Or not. Depending on the personality of the technician.

Are you an innie or an outie person? I learned the terminology years ago when my romantic little heart set up a couple as being possible partners in love. They were both extraordinarly attractive and outgoing and to top it all off were both named Joanne. One was a client, the other was my tenant. They had their first date and tenant Joanne told me thanks but it would never go anywhere as client Joanne was an outie and she was an innie. Client Joanne was into motorbikes and extreme sports, tenant Joanne was into reading and theatre and playing her cello.

Well, this was all news to me. But I pay attention. As I do. And was startled to discover that my family and friends and relationships could be so classified. Now, before you start in on me, I do know that opposites attract. And I too have been smitten with the hell-raising fellows who never cut open a book from one end of the year to the other. But on the whole, my longest lasting friendships and relationships have been with innies. Those with an inner life, not predicated on the latest wevs* (fashion, car, star, mag, movie, TV show, cookery guru, etc.) but on their own dreams, aspirations and personal evolution.

And yes, I do know that there can be a mix of innie and outie in a lot of us. But I think most of us do lean one way or the other.

For instance, I find it is my innie friends and family who totally enjoy my haven in Newfoundland and are content to be with themselves without outer distraction and stimulation.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mixed Feelings

My power animal {totem} is the owl given to me by a shaman many, many moons ago and supplemented by many little owls who have come to live with me over the years.

The price tag of moving away from nearest and dearest is quite high. I am reminded of this when I am with family and old friends in my present little sojourn in Toronto.

There are times when I can't even say goodbye, it sticks in my throat so much. There are certain friends that when I walk into their homes after a length of time it feels like we sat down yesterday. That is the way it was with a friend today. We just pick up where we left off. I have a few friends like that, how lucky am I? My friend in Dublin is the same. We just pick up the thread of the last email or phonecall and carry on across the kitchen table. The language of the heart. No barriers, no doors. Our lives to each other is as an open book.

I think it helps to cement friendships when you go through the tough times and out the other side over the years. With this friend, we say goodbye to each other before the night is over so I can slip away quietly when the time comes. Or I would cry. Or she would say: "I hate that you moved away, I hate it hate it hate it but I understand why you did it."

The rest of the week is more of the same, tomorrow is a mix of work and meeting an old, formerly estranged friend for dinner. A reconnection that lightens my heart when I think about it.

And the highlight of the week is a date with Grandgirl for dinner and show on Sunday. Just the two of us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ireland's Shame

I found this piece incredibly distressing. Ireland's court system needs to be thoroughly overhauled when it comes to prosecuting rape.

This is the headline:

Alleged rape victim arrested in Ireland for refusal to testify. Eastern European woman was told by judge to stand in front of three accused and point out her alleged assailants.

The victim was forced to stand in front of the accused and identify them.

But that wasn't all.

The men, who have not been named for legal reasons, were acquitted last week of rape, false imprisonment and assault. But campaigners have condemned the treatment of the woman, who was told by the judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, to stand directly in front of the three accused and point out her alleged assailants.

The woman, who is from eastern Europe, became so distressed that lawyers later complained they had feared she might collapse in court. When she failed to appear in court the next day, a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Police officers found the woman at her home, where she had apparently attempted suicide, but after receiving medical treatment she was arrested and spent a day in the jail cells of Dublin's Four Courts

Yes, she was put in jail. The victim was put on trial. In the interim she also attempted suicide.

Read more about it here in The Guardian.

"One of the main reasons for this high fallout rate is because complainants decide not to put themselves through what they say is a re-victimising experience."

And based on personal experience and anecdotal data, 90% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported exactly for these reasons.

Shame on you Ireland!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Five Glorious Things

{Picture was taken near my house in Newfoundland before I left}

I'm in the great city of Toronto for some days. Reigniting connections, spending time with family, cruising through the changes in infrastructure since I was last here in September.

My needle was stuck and I was devoid of feed for my blog, whether it was revisiting past writing, fresh writing, any writing. Daughter put me in touch with a new editor, as my last one and I, well, best to say we had far, far different perspectives on how my stories should present themselves.

1. To prepare for the editor, I reviewed some of my short stories and was a little charmed at how the distance from the writing of them made the re-reading of them fresh and interesting. I honestly did not remember how some of them turned out so was deliciously surprised. Does that sound vain? Who cares?

2. I had lunch with a dear old friend yesterday. He is off to Mexico on the weekend, so meeting with each other was a priority. A lingering 3 hour lunch at a wonderful Jewish restaurant which he had never been to where we caught up with life's doings and beings and felt intensely satisfied with how relatively stress free life is today after years and years of angst, problems, death and suffering of cherished ones.

3. I had dinner with another long established friend. This time a 5 hour dinner where we covered the grounds of the persecutions of our ancestors, in my case the Irish Famine Genocide, and in hers the Anabaptists of Switzerland who made their way to Pennsylvania and onward to Ontario. She shared a wedding experience in France where the charming custom is for the bride to enter the church alone and proceed up the aisle talking to relatives and friends on her way. This was followed by a week in Provence for all 350 guests. Her vivid description of her time there had me enthralled.

4. Timewise, I lagged a few minutes after Grandgirl in my returning to Daughter's house last night. But she quickly joined me in my room where we behaved like two schoolgirls with secrets and jokes until the wee hours, not aware we were preventing Daughter from getting to sleep down the hall.

5. Calendar is full both with social and business meetings while I'm here. I am replenishing, topping up the batteries of friendships and family.

I am so very lucky once I stay where my hands are.

Monday, February 06, 2012

How Can I Leave Thee?

Look. See here. I can do gorgeous, you wanna see gorgeous? I'll lie here so perfectly still in the snow. I just won't move until you snap your fingers. Once for get up. Two for sit down. Three like you just did for lie down. In. The. Snow. See? Gorgeous.

I saw the suitcase. I know you're off somewhere. Leaving me. So I have a plan. For the next few days I'm going to be so perfect. Hugging you. Heeling you. Leaning in on your shoulder and closing my eyes in bliss. Does you in, doesn't it? Those tears of guilt start to roll down your cheeks.

You might just change your mind.

I'll help you unpack.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Frozen Conversation

It's not as if he wasn't expecting it. He'd seen herself and Gabriel (what kind of silly-ass name was that anyway?)lurking behind the fishplant on more than a few occasions.

She looked flustered when she saw him across the road, waiting for them to emerge. He thought he was discreet, sucking on his cigarette, one eye squinted against the evening sun when the day got late and his feet got tired and he got sick of saying hellos and howareyas to the foot traffic on their way to the shop or the plant. She just about ordered him back to the house. Not inside it. Never inside it. But outside it.

He just wasn't expecting the tone of voice she'd used, the icy feel of it. Calling him a nuisance and a pest. She'd sat right there, next to him, in her lilac sundress in the heat of the summer, tossing him those snowballs of wintry words.

The chairs never forgave her.

Friday, February 03, 2012

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

What is it with the pink and blue thing anyway? This distinction between boy babies and girl babies? I know it never existed when I was a child and my mother kept popping out babies every few years. I remember yellow being popular and blue for all babies. And baby gear being gender neutral (rompers for all!). And my baby sister being dressed in navy and my own babies in black and white. And my daughter making up her daughter's nursery in all the colours of the rainbow. Dramatic, true colours and not pastels. As I did mine, in my time, in brilliant turquoise and emerald green.

I was mulling over these thoughts after a friend told me it was important to know the future grandchild's gender for "decorating and clothing" reasons. Whut? What can one respond as this thinking is so prevalent and I'm getting a little tired of the lone voice crying in the wilderness thing. Girls are still soft and fluffy and delicate and need to be pink-cushioned and sugared and spicied?

Are we so regressive? I was relieved and validated, therefore, to find this excellent post today in Sociological Images.

And am I alone in thinking this early colour sorting has an effect on the babies themselves - studies have shown that people react differently to babies. Pink babies are held, talked to and cuddled more, blue babies are not. Early conditioning. Not a good thing for the lonely little boy baby and his future emotional availability.