Monthly Archives: November 2016

Walking, remembering, the footsteps of those that came before us

One of the cats, Leia, awoke me at the crack of dawn this morning. She didn’t know that today should be treated as a weekend day, and was up at the same time as usual, protesting about her food bowl not being filled with enough food, quickly enough. I shushed her and tried to get back to sleep, but to no avail.

I was up a little after 7, shuffled out to the kitchen to make some coffee and toast some slices of bread, rub them with garlic and smear them with a bit of butter. I sat in on a teleconference call with Jill Badonsky at 9:30 this morning, who mobilized on the tail end of the US election.

I don’t even want to write about that here. I’m still in shock at the amount of prejudice of all kinds streaming out in the aftermath. I have no words for how it makes me feel. In many respects, I am grateful to be living up here rather than there, but there is so much work to do, work that was previously done and accepted as de facto, but clearly there has been as much erosion to it as there has been to the California coastline and the arctic icecaps.

Anyway, back to Jill. My aches and pains are physical in nature, rather than emotional, so even though the push for the work was different, the result benefitted me equally well. My right shoulder has been hurting me since my fall at the end end of July. Another fall last month (on October 20th) reinjured the area that hadn’t yet fully healed (and perhaps created new injuries) and so the pain is once again keeping me from sleeping well, from moving fully, from being strong on my right side. I’m not sure whether one of the medications (a branch of statins that I’m taking for high cholesterol) is contributing to the pain or whether it really is just a question of those injured ligaments taking long to heal properly.

All I know is that I’m growing weary of the pain that I’m in, constantly, and frustrated by the constraints in mobility that these injuries have caused. This body, that I expected to have full and perpetual mastery over, and faith in its resilience to heal itself forevermore, is beginning to show me that my haphazard treatment of it over the years is now biting me in the ass (figuratively, and literally – if only you could have seen the size of the badass bruise on my right butt cheek from my fall on the 20th – it was impressive).

Changes in diet and exercise (though the exercise mostly consists of walking and working a till at my second job, thus standing and moving for hours on end during the evenings and the Sundays that I work there rather than sitting in front of a computer monitor, which is what I typically do when I have some free time – to write) have let me drop a handful of pounds, but I have so much more to go. I fear that it will be quite some time before I have the time and energy to integrate more of it into my daily habit.

I have to believe that there is still lots of time.

Upon waking this morning, I read an announcement that Leonard Cohen has passed. I am saddened by the loss of his creative genius even as I realize that we have our inevitable mortality to contend with. He was 82, still young by many respects. Younger than my mother was when she died, though she was perhaps a few years more frail that she might have wanted to be. She watched me struggle through most of my life throughout most of hers, and in some ways I am grateful that she didn’t have to witness the wave after wave of challenges that continued to lap at my door (and do, even now).

I’ve come to make peace with the fact that life will continue to provide those waves, whether or not I want them. They will come in all forms, and I have no control over them. All I have control over is how I tend to the results they produce within the small scope of my life. All I have control over is what I put out into the world. I say that loosely, because on some days I don’t have any control at all. My reptile brain kicks in and reacts to things in less than favourable ways and I then spend days, weeks, even, regretting what I’ve put out there. However, I can’t take those things back; I can only learn from them going forward.

I got paid yesterday and then paid some bills, picked up some medication. All said, I currently have fifty dollars and change until my next pay check next Thursday. This is my life. But yesterday, on my way home from a doctor’s appointment (at which I received the prescription renewals for the medicines that I would pick up later in the evening), I stopped at A&W at the train station to pick up a burger. I’d been craving one all week but since I paid rent recently, I really didn’t have a lot of money to go around for extra expenditures. I was standing in line waiting my turn when a man that I used to see regularly panhandling downtown stood beside me and asked me if I would buy him something to eat. I was silent for a few moments, and then said “Alright. What do you want?” He told me and walked up to the counter with me to place his request alongside mine.

I am always torn when I do this. I’m sure he’s probably as broke as I am, on any given day, except that I work a full time job and another part time one so that I can continue living in a nice home, to be able to buy good food and provide for some of life’s creature comforts to myself and my son, things like high speed internet and cable, and cell phone service, and in my case, books. I got my new cell phone bill yesterday and it’s in the neighbourhood of $208. I bought a book at the Book Warehouse on Broadway, too, but I’m glad I picked it up because I felt the need to escape into a fictional world after the goings on of last week, and this one happens to be one created by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (entitled The Long War). I read in the doctors’ offices, on the train. It’s good medicine.

Today I plan to write some more on The Story Wrangler. I have a scene in mind, and want to flesh out more of the plot before forging further into the story. I wish I had the discipline to write to an outline. In some respects, I’d like to see how others have constructed them, be shown visual pictorials of their processes, so that I can better grasp what their process looks like. I tend to let the characters take the reins, for better or for ill.

I have this underlying sense of what the story is to be – how it feels in my body as it’s coming into its own – but I don’t yet have the words or the thought forms to articulate them. This is actually really difficult to explain, but maybe it will make sense to other writers. In many ways writing a story is for me like walking through a lucid dream with a video camera. I know that I’m recording what I am seeing, ostensibly outside of myself, but also that I am in control of what is unfolding before me. Somehow the two are not mutually exclusive.

Time to make another chai tea and get writing. Peace to all of you. xo

The only constant is change


bee-kindI’m on vacation today – sort of. I have a 1:45PM follow up appointment with the cardiologist and then start work at the grocery store at 6PM. Tomorrow is a stat holiday so I won’t have to wake up early (though I probably will anyway, because of last weekend’s time change and the cats waking me).

Yesterday I got a text from Gabriel just after 2PM letting me know that Vader had brought in a bird. He’d mangled it quite a bit by the time it arrived indoors, and the bird got loose in my room. He warned me that there was blood on the netting on my window (which he had opened to free the poor thing) and that he’d cleaned the blood off of the window. I braced myself for where else I would find the poor little creatures remnants. Sure enough, there were tiny little droplets on my headboard, on my quilt and one at the very top of my flannel sheet. I found more on the top book of the stack that sits on my night stand (which is right below the window opening). There were a few matted feathers on the floor next to the night stand, and another one by my mirrored dresser, which apparently was the first thing that it tried to fly into (thinking that it was a window). It flew behind the dresser, and Gabriel needed to usher it out (with my besom, no less).

Minutes before, I had just been ruminating on a post that I’d read about letting the sacrifices begin (it had been a tongue-in-cheek remark about virgins, sacrifices and the election). I thought that perhaps we needed to make more of them, and was thinking on what constituted a sacrifice. For Catholics (which I am by baptism but not by adherence, except that I think Mary is the bomb), Lent provides a way to perform a sacrifice by giving something up that is beloved. I thought further that perhaps we have become so comfortable in our affluence (because really, when compared to even a century ago, many of us in the western world are incredibly affluent in comparison) that we have a great aversion to experiencing discomfort of any kind.

I know this because I’ve experienced discomfort many times, and each time it required making an adjustment to what was rather than what my expectations were. It made me all the more grateful for the little that came my way, and forced me to focus on the good that surrounded me rather than on the things that dissatisfied me. This is not to say that I wasn’t focused on improving my circumstances, but that while in the thick of unpleasant experience, the only way to surmount the pull of its darkness is to reframe it in some way, and to focus on the steps that can be taken to make them better.

I realized, when I was having a bad go of things, how crucial the people that surrounded me (near and far) were, that without their help I would have been so much worse off. I learned how to reach out and ask for help, and receive it graciously. Not everyone in my circle was willing or able to help, either, but even knowing that they were supportive in spirit helped.

There will be suck in every person’s life, sometimes worse than others. Many years ago, when I went to a weekend workshop put on by Carolyn Gross (Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos), I pulled a bumper sticker (she was offering them the way you would a blind card pull) that read “The only constant is change”. The truth of this struck me at the time, and I carry it with me today. The changes may feel minute but they happen, whether we want them to or not. It is our responsibility to work toward building the sorts of change we wish to come about, tiny step by tiny step, if that is all we are capable of.

I think that this human embodiment is an incredible gift. We develop strengths and weaknesses over the course of our lives and have an opportunity, if we so choose, to build on the former and weed out the latter. Fortunately, this is not a one mistake sport. Sometimes the results are disastrous, because we don’t have the needed skills at the time to overcome the obstacles, but they always provide a learning experience, if we choose to sift though the debris and find them. It doesn’t even mean that we will be exempt from making the same ones over again… sometimes it takes several goes before the necessary adjustments are made.

So I leave you with that thought, and wish you all strength, love and hope. xo