Monthly Archives: September 2012

Icebergs

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So, I’m coming up on 5,000 hits since I moved over to WordPress from Blogspot – 7,000+ before I moved over here. That’s over 12,000 peeks into my life. That’s a little disturbing.

My life isn’t all that exciting. It’s small and compact. I’m not well-off, but I have everything I need, and most things I want. I haven’t traveled extensively. I honestly don’t get out much. I’m not a hermit, but I’m not terribly social, either. No, my life is a series of fuckups interspersed with small triumphs. I’m awkward and raw. I learn by banging my head against the wall that banging your head against the wall hurts. I’m easily hurt, and just as easily amused.

I wonder sometimes if I “overshare” on this blog, but really, this is the tip of the iceberg. Believe it or not, I’m extremely cautious about what I put on here. I’m not here to ruin friendships, slam people, or destroy my career. I try to keep it positive. What I mostly try to do is observe the world around me and learn from it. I’m not spectacularly brilliant, but I am extremely observant and intuitive, and a good judge of character.

Having to put things in writing helps me clarify what I’m thinking about. As I mentioned somewhere back in another post, I’ve got several levels of written communication. This is only one. Second to my diary, which is where I file all my negativity (NOT good reading, believe me), this is about as honest as it gets. It’s honest, but far from complete.

I have to keep in mind sometimes that ANYONE can read this. It isn’t just available to my friends, but to my employer, my ex-husband, my enemies (okay, they’re not exactly legion, but they’re out there, believe me), my dad – anyone. I think sometimes we’re not as careful as we should be about what we toss out onto the internet. I know if I was in a position to hire someone, the first thing I would do would be to google them and look them up on facebook.

It’s weird to me, this age of facebook, blogs and twittering. All this has happened during my adult life. I didn’t grow up with it. I feel like a bit of a dinosaur at times. We all know what everyone else is thinking and doing at any given time. Remember going to the post office to pick up mail? And by the time you responded to a letter, the sender had moved on from that moment in time and was now onto something completely new and different. No longer.

I know too much stuff about people I hardly even know. I want to be careful about what they know about me, and so I’m constantly examining what I’m writing here. So why do I write for public consumption at all, that’s the question.

The View from Up Here

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Yesterday, I was at a sandwich shop getting some lunch. It was “casual Friday” at work, so I was wearing jeans, a 2″ heeled boot, and a flowered blouse. Not a particularly strange outfit (not for me, anyway). Just standing in line, waiting for a sandwich, minding my own goddamn business.

Suddenly, there’s a voice behind me. I turn around, it’s a older guy, a senior. He says to me “You’re a tall girl, aren’t you?”

I give my usual non-committal response, which is kind of an “mmmm” noise. Because my other responses, you don’t want to hear, sir. I’m too polite to say what I really want to, but it starts with “f”.

See, yeah, I’m tall. I’m not bizarrely tall, I’m not circus, world-record tall, but I am pretty tall for a woman, much taller than average. Sure. Okay. I accept your observation as correct.

But, guess what? I KNOW. Okay? I know. It’s not news. It doesn’t need to be commented upon. I will not get magically shorter when the one millionth person tells me I’m tall. It is not something that is going to change, until I’m really old and start shrinking. Statistically, we don’t live as long as you shorties anyway, so that’s unlikely to happen. I am not going to be doing any special exercises, or go on height-reducing diet any time soon. I will not have my shins surgically removed. I am pretty much stuck up here. I am tall. I will not get shorter. I will not live my life in flats, not with legs like these.

But just as soon as I get comfortable with my body, someone has to go and make a stupid comment. When I was young, I had terrible posture, hair hanging over my face, mumbling, just from trying to blend in and not attract insults. It didn’t work, kids are mean. I took a lot of shit, didn’t fight back, was beaten down and miserable. We grow, though, we change and learn to empathize, become more comfortable with ourselves, and accepting of others. So now, I walk tall, I dress tall, and I feel like I cut quite an imposing figure in the world. Boots, heavy jewelery, long crazy hair. I strut, I lope. I have a loud laugh. I’ll look you in the eye. I’ll tell you what I think.

If I’m sitting down in my office and some young testosterone junkie comes in and decides to try to intimidate me, usually my first line of defence is just to stand up. It usually de-escalates the situation pretty quickly. See, because not only am I tall, I could probably bench-press you. Does that make me unfeminine? Not at all. I’m a sweetheart, a marshmallow, a big ol’ teddy bear. I’m a bleeding heart liberal pacifist. But I AM an ass-kickingly strong woman, who’s never kicked an ass in her life. I like looking like I potentially could, though. I think it’s saved me from having to endure a lot of intimidation tactics.

It’s funny though. Seniors tend to tell me I’m tall like it’s not a good thing, a little unladylike, something I should not be, or should be a little ashamed of. They feel SORRY for me, which just pisses me off. A lot of men seem to find it a little intimidating, depending on how comfortable they are with their own masculinity. I was on a random date through an online service earlier in the summer, and the first thing out of his mouth was “Wow, you really ARE tall.” Well, yeah, buddy, I warned you. Did you think I made that up? Needless to say that, although it wasn’t an absolute nightmare, it didn’t work out. Really, although the rest of his behaviour didn’t bear this out, I thought it was pretty rude, and it didn’t lead to any further dates, believe me.

Children don’t even tend to notice, because everyone is tall to them, there’s just degrees of tallness. That’s why I like children so much. They don’t even notice, and if they do, they really don’t care. When you’re five, it’s okay to say “Wow, you’re really tall”. It’s just an observation, not a judgment. Kids haven’t developed a really good filter yet.

Women, though – that’s different. Almost always, women say it with a little bit of envy. Most women I know would like to be taller. “But it’s so hard to get pants and sleeves to fit,” I tell them. Doesn’t matter. They want to be taller. Men, too.

Why, though? I don’t get it. It’s not something you get to choose. It took no work whatsoever on my part to get this way, so I can’t really claim any pride in an accomplishment. It doesn’t confer any benefits that I can see. I’m not ashamed of it, though, either. I am what I am. And what I am is someone who can wear big, loud, flowing, embellished clothes, and carry them off beautifully, and not be swallowed up by them. I wear my clothes, they do not wear me. So, it’s not a matter of pride, of blame, or of shame – just – a fact. Genetics at work. I also have Morton’s toe, mismatched feet, a bizarre amount of hair, and a huge gap in my teeth, all thanks to genetics.

How about I’ll be me, you be you, and we just delight in our differences? People who would never dream of saying to a person “wow, you’re really fat”, or “wow, you’re really blind”, or “wow, you’re sure Asian”, still feel that it’s okay. Excuse me, but how is this okay? It isn’t. But it’s your problem, not mine. I was raised better than that. Thanks Mum and Dad. Thanks for the genetics, and thanks for the manners. Much appreciated.

Namaste.

Doodly Doo

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I had a ginormous flashback today…

We had an afternoon staff meeting, a district teleconference. Fortunately, I had the foresight to put on a pot of coffee just beforehand, because I have a baaaaaad habit of falling asleep during staff meetings. I can be sitting RIGHT beside my boss, and still start to nod off. It’s embarrassing, but I’m POWERLESS. If the topic doesn’t involve the scope of my work, and/or doesn’t interest me at all, I’m gone. Can’t help it.

Let’s go into the Wayback Machine for a minutes. It’s 1982. BMLSS. I have geography class, last period. I’m a morning person. If I have to do anything important or mentally taxing, it’s gotta be before noon, otherwise I’m a lost cause.

Colleen will vouch for me. I often fell asleep in geography. The teacher (sorry, he was a super nice man, but it’s true) was indescribably dull. The classroom was always too warm. I had absolutely no interest in the subject. And so, I quite often dozed off. Colleen gave up poking me awake after the first term.

We used to draw cartoons on our notebooks to pass the time. It was okay for Colleen – she was an excellent student, and must have been a good sleeper. I’ve never been a good sleeper – I don’t think I’ve slept through a whole night since some time in the 70s. But I AM a napper without peer.

The absolute crowning moment of my geography career came during our final exam. As noted, I kind of missed a lot of the information. I had answered all the questions I could, and there was still an hour of exam left. So, head on my desk, I fell asleep.

Colleen, Colleen, Colleen – I love ya, girl. This is a woman of HIGH intelligence. A woman of academic and moral integrity, and the most loyal friend you could ever ask for. She took a chance that day. You’re not supposed to speak during exams. But she did, putting her own grades at risk. Concerned for my grade on the exam, she poked me gently and hissed “wake up!”.

To which I replied, loudly and grumpily – “I’M DONE”. And promptly went back to sleep.

I passed. Not by a whole hell of a lot, but I did. That class pulled my average WAAAAY down.

But today, during our staff meeting, I had a thought. I was starting to drift, as talk turned to statistics. We all know how interesting statistics are. So, I started to draw – and lo and behold, I was tuned back in. I was focused and as alert as I ever am. An artist I’m not, but just the act of drawing kept me tuned in.

I’m wondering, though – would it be worse to be caught doodling, or napping? I think I’ll doodle.

Not in Shining Armour, but Knights Nonetheless

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I just caught this story on facebook, and it really caught my attention:

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/09/19/homeless-men-save-teen-from-sex-offenders-alleged-attack

Years and years ago, something sort of similar happened to me. When I was a student, I lived in a rooming house on Dupont Street, near Spadina, in Toronto. We didn’t have laundry facilities, so we’d haul it down to the laundromat every once in a while.

Now, the laundromat was right next door the the LCBO. There’d often be homeless guys in there, keeping warm. I struck up a friendship of sorts with two of them, Kenny and Ace. Ace never said much. Kenny was fascinating, he had a degree in linguistics but had fallen on some bad times, addiction issues, etc. One afternoon, near Christmas, they asked me to go over to the LCBO to get them a bottle of wine. They’d scraped the money together, but weren’t allowed on the premises any more. So, I obliged. There was a quite a lineup, and I was gone for a while.

When I got back, my laundry was out of the dryer and neatly folded.

Our “friendship” continued. They were unfailingly pleasant and polite men. Six months later, I was working a summer job at Pizza Pizza. At the time, the phone centre was on Jarvis Street, south of Bloor, and when I got off work in the middle of the night, 2 or 3 a.m., I’d take the all night Bloor bus across to Spadina, then walk the two or three blocks up to Dupont Street to my place.

One such night, I was walking up Spadina, in the dark, and I heard footsteps behind me. “Hey. Hey pretty lady. Whatcha doin’? Talk to me. Talk to me, bitch.”

WHOA. Scared? You bet I was.

But suddenly, I heard another voice, saying “Hey, are you botherin’ this lady?”

Of course, it was my knights, Kenny and Ace, not in shining armour, but in grubby jeans, smelling like stale beer and pee. They walked me to my door that night, and saved me from I-don’t-know-what.

So what makes a man? That was over 25 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.

We’re all worthy, we’re all important to someone.

Not a Knitting Blog, Redux

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There’s lots of good knitting blogs out there. I read several of them. This is not one, though, as I stated in one of my very first posts. I’m a very keen knitter, but I’ve discovered that I’m more of a therapeutic knitter than any kind of an artist. I don’t know who the latest designers are. I’m never knitting what my fellow knitters are knitting. I’ve discovered that I CAN knit lace, CAN follow charts but – I don’t enjoy it. I tend towards very simple, zen-like knitting. I like to seriously contemplate the person I’m knitting for while I’m knitting, putting good energy into my “work”. If I have too many details to keep track of, I lose the enjoyment of it.

I haven’t been to my knitting social night for weeks. There’s all kinds of knitters there, from the very accomplished, technical knitters to the rank beginners. I’m somewhere in between. I’ve been knitting for a long time (think: late 70s) before some of these people were even born. I didn’t knit for many years in between there, from the early 80’s up until the turn of century, really. I’m glad it’s enjoying a comeback, because it’s so very satisfying. I feel connected with my mother and my grandma when I’m knitting. My Mum taught me to knit, and to sew, and to embroider. Only lesson I ever took was a “magic loop” workshop; otherwise, it’s just something inherited that I’ve honed on my own over the years.

Curiously, I enjoy the social aspect of group knitting, but I get distracted and often spend long stretches not knitting at all. I talk, and listen, and play with babies. It’s good “female time”, and I miss that aspect of it, a bit, but I’m not exactly starved for female company. I’m surrounded by awesome women at work, and the vast majority (but by no means all!) of my friends are women. Still, the group seems to attract really vibrant, intelligent, interesting women too, and the conversations are never boring! Lately, I’ve had (*cough*) other engagements on Tuesdays, though, so I’ve not been for a while. I’ll be back, but I don’t feel the need to go every week.

Knitting remains, for me, at least, a solitary past-time. It’s my unwinding time, my meditation, my time to think about people I love and connect with people who aren’t with us anymore.

I still have things my mother and grandmother made me: stuffed animals, afghans, articles of clothing. They are the things I always keep when I’m purging my belongings. When I make things for my family and friends, I hope that they understand the love that went into the making. I hope one day my little niece and nephews will dig out their zombie monkeys and monsters and think “oh, I can’t part with that, Auntie Lynne made it”. That one day Elliot will pull out his Jughead hat and remember his Mum. That’s what’s important to me, and I hope it is to them.

Namaste.

Ch-ch-ch Changes…

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I’m having an anxiety day.

As usual, it’s for no particular reason. My life is pretty low-stress right now – I’m well-loved, employed, work is good and I’m keeping quite busy. I’m eating well, exercising, being productive and pro-active. My house is not magazine-clean, but it’s not going to be condemned any time soon, it’s moderately clean and quite comfortable. My finances are, meh, okay-ish, as good as they ever are, really. You can’t take it with you, right? There are no pockets in a shroud, my grandad used to say. The kids are okay, as far as I know. Cats seem healthy. Friends are around, I’m getting out, having fun, making plans. Life is kind, and gentle.

So, what the fuck?

I may be slightly over-caffeinated, but that’s pretty par for the course, really. I’ve never been a good sleeper, but it doesn’t seem to ever make a difference. It’s too early in the year for S.A.D., and it sure isn’t P.M.S.!

So, why, why, why, Universe?

I’m trying to figure out what it is that’s different in my life when I feel like this. Sometimes I have some really crappy problems, and I just deal with it, and I’m happy. I don’t even have any stupid little first-world-hetero-white-chick problems right now. I live a life which, while possibly not exactly privileged, is certainly blessed, whole, and satisfying, and believe me, I’m appropriately grateful for all the gifts I have received, deserved or not.

The only thing I can think of is the one thing I didn’t think would happen to me – Empty Nest Syndrome.

Wow. For all I expound the joys of having leftovers, cleaning the bathroom less, and enjoying peace and quiet, I think I miss them. Shh. Don’t let them know. They need to be out in the world learning to become responsible, caring, educated men. They have to do it themselves, I can’t do it for them. I can’t protect them from the world. I won’t know where they are 24/7 anymore. I won’t know if they’re eating properly, doing their homework, brushing and flossing, and going to bed at a decent hour.

I think I just miss my little boys. They’re gone, and they’ll never be the same again. This is a new phase for me. I know, I’ll always be “Mum”, but I’m not on permanent duty any more. I’m in the Reserves now, available whenever needed, but mostly just waiting quietly in the background.

I miss cooking for them, laughing and arguing with them. I miss buying shoes and listening to confidences. I miss nagging them to do their chores, driving them places, going out to the movies and being shown stupid videos on YouTube.

I think things are just changing a bit too fast. Amazing things are happening in my life, I have no doubts, and no fears. But – change is inevitable, and my role in life has definitely turned a corner. I just need to settle in and get used to it, I think.

Twentieth Century Woman

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Here’s some interesting stuff.  I’m a blogger, right?  So I should be quite tech-savvy, right?

You would be quite wrong, my friend. 

Interesting stuff about my relationship with technology:

I have no idea how to text.  All I do on my phone is talk, and I don’t even really like to do that so much.  I’m not a phone person. Very few people have my cel number.  If I want to take pictures, I have a perfectly nice camera.  If I want to go online, I have a computer.  All my phone has to do is be a phone.  When I actually have it turned on and remember to charge it, that is.  Last time I replaced my cel phone, I asked for the simplest one they had, no camera, nothing.  Turns out you can’t get what I want.  What a surprise.

I have never had a dishwasher.  Well, once, but it was a long time ago and we’ve been divorced since ’99.  I am a dishwasher, and perfectly happy to be one, so long as I have a window to look out of. 

I have a rotary dial telephone in my bedroom.  Works great.

I have my brother’s old Mister Coffee which he gave me, used, when I got divorced and lost the coffeemaker.  I think it’s from the 80s.  Mister Coffee has only one button.  No display of any kind.  All he does is make coffee.  That’s all he has to do.  I love him.  He does good work.

I’m still not sure what Twitter’s all about, or how it works. I DO have a facebook account, in fact, have had one since 2007, earlier than a lot of other people of my advanced years.  Mostly got it to keep track of my kids, honestly, but I get a lot of personal use out of it.  Tumblr – see Twitter.  No effin’ idea what that’s about.  Youtube – I use that a lot, yeah.  Don’t know how Netflix works.  I watch movies on DVD or pay-per-view. I still have vinyl records, and I do in fact still have a turntable.  Not because I’m a hipster, either. Because I’m OLD.  Does anyone remember Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum in TO?  That was an awesome place.

I do a lot of shopping online, mostly because I really don’t like malls.

I know how to darn socks, mend, hem, iron and sew on buttons.  I also spin my own yarn and knit.  I frequently do all of those things.  In the past, I made a lot of my own clothes.  I’d rather iron a natural fibre garment than sweat my ass off in polyester, any day.  Plastic has a place.  I’ve got lots of useful plastic things, but very few beautiful ones.  I love aged wood, leather, beaten silver, smooth stones.  The patina of age really speaks to me, stains and marks and scars.  Shiny new stuff bugs me until it’s worn in.  After that first scuff, you don’t have to worry about it any more.

I’ve never owned a brand new car, and probably never will.  I think it’s kind of a dumb thing to buy, actually.  If I buy the same car used in six months, it’s,like, half the price. I get attached to cars, and the more they have to be loved and coaxed to stay on the road, the more I love them.  I believe in spontaneous automobile healing.  That noise will stop by itself.  If not, turn the stereo up and let it feel the healing power of the Ramones.

Most of my clothes come from Value Village or the St. Vincent de Paul.  Except pants, I can never seem to get pants that fit right at vintage stores.  Also, I draw the line at undergarments.  I always want to be the first owner on those, thanks.

In highschool, I used to wear a cologne called VSP, by Jovan.  They don’t make it anymore.  I still remember the smell, and I’m still looking for something comparable, thirty years later. http://www.basenotes.net/ID10211924.html – apparently I’m not the only one. 

I don’t own any kind of e-reader.  Loves me a book, yes I do, a real cover-and-pages, paper-smelling, dog-eared, pencil-margined BOOK of a book.

I really don’t listen to much music later than the mid-80s, except some stuff my sons introduced me to. 

Sometimes I wonder how I function in this century at all.  I admire people who are tech-savvy and up to date, but I’m not one of them.  I can, however, make you a nice pair of socks.