Monthly Archives: March 2012

Word and Question

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When my kids were younger, we used to play a game called “Word and Question”.  I learned this game from a book I loved as a kid, “What Katy Did”, the story of a quaint little American family and their stiff upper lips in the face of adversity.  It’s outdated, sentimental and a little maudlin, but it spoke to me at the time.  In fact, I still love Katy quite a lot, truth be told. 

Anyway, everyone gets a piece of paper.  At the top of the paper, the player writes a word.  ANY word.  Then, the paper is folded over so the word can’t be seen, and passed to the next player, who writes a question.  ANY question.  The paper is folded over once again and passed to the next player, who must write a poem in which the question is answered, using the word.

It’s not for everyone.  In fact, most people wander away.  But man, if you’re into it, you’re really into it.  It takes a certain kind of weirdness of brain to play.  Needless to say, my kids and I loved it. 

My personal favourite was the time I got the word “babysitter”, and the question was “is God real?”.

Ahem.

“God is real, God is true

God looks after me and you

God can see you on the sh*tter

He’s a Cosmic Babysitter.”

Hey.  It rhymes, and it follows the rules of the game.  And when my kids were 8 and 10, they thought it pretty funny that Mum wrote a poem with the word “sh*t” in it. 

I miss that game.  I wish I could play that game RIGHT NOW.  I wish I knew other people who would think that was fun and cool.  Also, who were tall and wanted to kiss me. 

That’s all.

Gabba Gabba – hey…

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I have a story running around in my head. It’s not a super-original concept, but I think I could have fun with it. It’s the story of someone who is unable to sustain a normal human relationship because they’re obsessed with a dead punk rocker…hmm…like Joey Ramone, Lynne? Why yes, if you insist. Let’s say, like Joey Ramone.

I think we all know how I feel about Joey. Now, I’m not obsessed with him to the point of distraction – but what if I WAS? How would that be? That’s the gist of it. How would an unhealthy obsession with a dead person affect your real life relationships? What if you were SO obsessed that you wanted to end your life to be with a dead person, or if you idealized them to such an extent that no mere mortal could ever match up, so you suffered countless disappointments? Is this a story of someone who is sane and fully aware that the icon is not alive, or someone who thinks they are actually in contact with them? And how does it end? Could death be a happy ending, for someone with an unhealthy obsession? If you truly believe something, is it true, even if it’s only true to you? Where does that leave religious faith (my definition of faith being belief without empirical proof)?

And if you think that’s all just crazy talk, I’ve got three words for you – Kim Jong Il.

I know, it’s probably been done “to death”. But really, how many plots are there? And it’s been done, for sure, but not by me.

And yes, I know Joey’s dead. No, he doesn’t talk to me. It’s fiction, people. It’s “what-ifs”.

And now, I have to go listen to some Ramones.

Namaste, Joey.

But What Does it MEAN?

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I picked up son number one from the bus station last night. He’s come down for SN2’s birthday on Sunday.

Last night, he and I were up in my room, having a cup of tea while I put my laundry away. I was showing him some weird old treasures from the top shelf of my closet, things of my mother’s, a tiny makeup case from Mexico, my 80’s neon-green hightops, and other assorted bits and bobs.

I pulled out a pair of brown shoes with heels, that I had worn to my wedding to SN1’s father back in 1987. I notice there’s something inside one of them, and I pull out something shiny.

At first, we’re not sure what they are, as they’re clipped together in a clump, but when we get them apart, it turns out they’re a pair of cheap, clip-on earrings in the shape of tiny crucifixes (crucifii?).

This begs a couple of questions. Firstly, why are they in my shoe? Why are they in THAT shoe, my wedding shoe? Why did I find them just then when my son was there? Where did they come from? I don’t have pierced ears, and they’re just really not my style. I’ve never seen them before. They’re tacky, actually; cheaply made dreck.

SN1 tries them on, of course, first in the ear, then as a nose accessory. Note to reader: there’s a reason people don’t wear nose clip-ons. He says if he ever becomes a TV evangelist, he’s so totally wearing them. I don’t want to stand in the way of his career goals (yeah, right…), so I give them to him.

On our way to bed, I say “dude, we need to write this down”. He replies “Yeah, it feels like it should mean something.”

It DOES feel like that, but I can’t figure out what!

What Do I Care?

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Why do we care what other people think?

Don’t kid yourself. We may like to think that we’re rebels, that we’ll never go mainstream or bow to popular opinion, but somewhere inside, we all care. We care what the other rebels think. We care what the other hipsters think. We care what the mainstream thinks. Now, whether we care because we want to conform, or because we don’t, is another matter entirely.

In the course of my work, every day, I talk to people who are accused of crimes. Sometimes they’re pretty big crimes, crimes that make even the rest of the inmates uncomfortable; crimes of cruel, stupid violence; sexual crimes; crimes against children. Sometimes they’re very small, crimes born of poverty, addiction, or powerlessness; petty thefts and threats.

I am not a judge, not in any sense of the word. But regardless of this, I am amazed at the number of inmates I talk to who want me to KNOW. Regardless of how large or small the allegations against them, they want me to know that they’re not guilty, or that they did it for a good reason, or that they were framed. Mostly they want me to know that they are not Bad People.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about my work, but when it comes right down to it, it makes no difference to me or to your eligibility whether you are guilty or not. I tell people “I’m not here to judge you in any way”, or “that is important information for your lawyer to have, but for my purposes, I just need to know what the charges are”.

It’s also important to remember that just being charged with a crime does not make someone automatically guilty. I know statistically that many of the people I see will, in fact, be found guilty; but some will not, and it’s not up to me to make that call.

But when it comes right down to it, they want me to know that they are not Bad People. For some reason, it is important to them to make me, someone who they will (God willing) never see again, believe that there is good in them. I have no influence whatsoever with the outcome of their trial. I will never be called as a character witness. I do not decide what their punishment should be, or for how long it will be. I have no impact whatsoever on their destiny.

And yet, it’s important.

We all care. When I get dressed in the morning to go to the gym, I wear gym clothes. Why? Because that’s what’s expected. It’s “what people do”. When I get ready for work, I try to look tolerably neat and professional. If it was up to me, I’d wear my flowy hippie weirdo clothes all the time, but in the interest of conformity and societal expectation, I tone it down and have just a tiny soupcon of weirdness around the edges. If I didn’t care what anyone thought, I’d probably be out of a job right quick.

Non-conformists care whether people think they’re conforming. Hipsters don’t want to be labelled as hipsters; to be identified with a group makes you no longer a radical rebel. The minute you’re hip, you’re lame by name. You can’t like anything that anyone else has ever heard of – you have to have liked it before it was cool. If you do like something, you can’t just like it because it speaks to you in a meaningful way. Everything Must Be Ironic.

At the other end of the spectrum are true conformists, constantly worried that if they don’t latch on to the same trends as the majority of society, that they will be labelled as outcast.

There’s a happy medium in between, I think, where most of us live, comfortably enough, in which we are aware of societal expectations; aware that we ARE in fact constantly being judged. We choose our battles, stand up for our bottom lines, blur our edges a little bit so that we can exist safely in our worlds and still maintain our personal integrity.

If we didn’t care what anyone thought, no one would ever fall in love. If we cared too much what everyone thought, we’d never create anything new or different.

I’ve completely lost track of the point I was trying to make here…

Ah! Here it is: everyone cares a little bit.

Survey Says…

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Just a question, friends. Would you be interested in reading fiction on this blog, or would that be too confusing? I could start a separate blog in that regard, and I’m thinking that’s probably the thing to do?

I want to get back into more fiction/poetry, but I know trying to follow my life is confusing enough without fiction being brought into play!

Sometimes I can’t even tell the difference myself…

Anyway, could you let me have your thoughts in the comments section?

Thanks!

P.S. I’ve set this up at http://myimaginarycolleague.wordpress.com/

Goin’ Up the County…

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Today’s adventure was a trip out to the County to visit Greg and Pierre.

Wow. You know how friends come and go in your life? People drift close, then drift away. Sometimes we never see them again. Sometimes we do, and they’ve changed, or we’ve changed, and the friendship just doesn’t fit anymore.

I’ve known Greg since our University days. We were roommates on Dupont Street. Those were some weird days indeed. Some truly wacky shit went down. Some of it we’re still laughing about.

We drifted apart for many, many years. I reconnected with him a while ago, and – BAM. How can people just pick up where they left off like that?

The beautiful thing is to see someone who is so content with life; who still has an inquisitive, questioning, unpretentious, creative spirit, and who has found a true partner in life, and – is happy. I think after a while, we can get bitter and jaded, waiting for our happy endings.

Our happy endings are right now. We make them.

We laugh ourselves sick, we talk and talk and examine and dream. We went for an excellent hike out to the Dunes at Sandbanks Park – that’s a crazy place, it’s like being on another planet.

We agreed, that visiting makes us both feel young. We missed a lot of years of laughs. We’re catching up. We’re both pretty immature, I guess.

I prefer “childlike”, full of awe and wonder and appreciation.

A simple, beautiful day with one of those people that you just hope never goes away again, and whose presence in your life has a very special shape beyond time and space.

Cheers, Greg.

So Here’s What Happened…

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That was so horrible I don’t even know where to start…

After spending days agonizing about this thing, I almost chickened out.  How horrible could it be, I thought?  Little did I know.  So I gave myself a stern talking-to and  headed out.  I walked downtown (which is a good hike from my place), and started out going to Needles in the Hay for a bit of knitting and some sisterly reassurance to calm my nerves before I went.  It’s just around the corner from the bar where the event took place.  “Come back if it’s horrible”, they said.  I hoped I wouldn’t.  I knew that I would.

Way too many women,  very few men, one former client (yikes).  I grabbed a drink and sat at a table.  “Al” (names changed to protect the innocent) came over to talk to me.  Al was perfectly nice for a 70 year old widower.  He felt just as weird as I did.  Fortunately, “Marion” came over, who was much more his age, so I jollied them along for a bit and then left them alone.  I hope they hit it off.  They were by far the nicest folks there, and I thought they were kind of cute together.

So, up to the bar I go again.  There’s a guy standing by himself at the end of the bar, so I chatted him up a bit.  Nice guy.  Appropriate age.  Not short.  Pleasant chit chat, in which I discovered we had NOTHING AT ALL in common.  This is his second time at one of these events.  Pretty much he stands at the end of the bar all night.  My chat with him was the highlight of the whole evening.  He’s a perfectly nice man – for someone else.

I pretty much decided it was a bust after three martinis in the space of an hour.  The bartender was super nice, but a bit youngish.  I asked him about local venues for folks like me, and he had some good suggestions.  It was just soooo wrong for me, he caught that. There was no funk.  No cool.  No youthful exuberance.  Just stinking middle-aged despair.  It sucked giant balls, quite frankly, and once again, it was the 50 Foot Woman in the Land of the Little People.  You think standing out from the crowd would be an advantage, but … no.  But I gotta say – I looked good.  I felt good.  I felt – too good for this bullshit.

I was heading out, and the hostess said, oh, you should talk to so-and-so (Brian?  Maybe?) who was just walking by.  I introduced myself, shook hands and he turned on his heel and walked away.  Wow.  That’s a big fuck-you, girl.  Dude was nothing to write home about, either.  I said to the hostess, I just don’t think this is for me.  I’m looking for someone more…academic?  She said, we get the odd one, but they’re snapped up fast.  No guff!  Anyway, she and I will talk more about her intro service.  The mixers, however, are just NOT for me.  I felt like a chicken at Merv’s (old Bracebridge people will know Merv’s).

I went back to knitting.  Apparently they’d just been hopefully musing that since I hadn’t come back, maybe it went all right.  Sorry, goils.  No go. 

So, Selda and I went out drinking at the Black Horse.  And who walks in but icky “Brian” and four desperate, fawning women.  I was soooo glad I wasn’t one of them…  I liked the singer.  I like the pub thing, it’s a much more comfortable venue for me.  Selda suggested I make it my new after-work pub.  I’ve been there a few times, I like the vibe, I like the music.  Apparently they get the City Hall crowd and the highschool teachers after school lets out. I gave the singer a wink and a thumbs up on the way out.  It’s nice to have friends to hang with, for sure.

So.  For the next month, I will go once a week to the Black Horse after work for a pint.  That’s my commitment.  Having a pint by myself couldn’t possibly be worse than Over 40 Singles Night.  I like me. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m sure as hell too good for that bullshit.