Tag Archives: little bits of me

one Sunday afternoon

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my third mug of coffee, flipping through the pages of my mother’s old phone book. What I hope to glean through doing this, I have no clue.

Names had been added and crossed out. I recognize my own handwriting in it, my mother’s, my father’s. I recognize the handwriting of a family friend, who used to live in Kingston, but now I wonder if she, too, has died. Probably.

There are names in it that I don’t recognize, names beside which there are Hungarian addresses. Excavating a life becomes difficult, post-mortem – as in life, we only seem to discover the things they want us to know while the rest is buried within them, within the past.

This tracking of my genealogical history has been difficult and unsatisfying. There are more questions that arise than answers, even in this time of technology and the relentless categorization and tracking of data. I do online searches today and find nothing. Ten years ago I could plug in the name of a person and find all kinds of various hits, but now that data is controlled and funnelled through a “smart” A.I. program, only the ones it thinks are relevant pop up. Only what the world deems important comes to our eyes.

So it’s always the squeaky wheel, the loudest voice, the most vociferous opinion that we see on the platforms which for two decades provided us with a wealth of information.

Today? Not so much. I might as well hole up somewhere with a box of microfiche and get to it. I feel like answers might be found in Hungary, but my command of the language has suffered much since my mother’s death, and was never that proficient to begin with. English is my language of choice, the language I have been educated in, learned to be curious in, to think in.

In light of the discussions within my ancestral healing group over the last several weeks, I mourn that loss of language, because within the language, its context and use, are the secrets of my past, the ones I can intuit in my bones.

Words hold meanings, the memories of things. In one language a word could mean the same thing as in another, superficially, but in each language it has a timbre to it that is relevant to the people whose mouths made those words, who spoke those words, a meaning that I will never really know as a member of a diaspora.

These meanings… they can be passed down, if people choose to, but often there is too much of a burden that is carried in their wake, one each generation that comes before the next wants to burden itself with but to not pass on to the ones that come after because they want them to have a better life, a brighter outlook, an untainted future.

But with that loss, there is also a loss of rootedness, a kind of cultural and historic amnesia. It is no small wonder that we find ourselves in a world that holds itself to nothing, that consumes without thought, where everything within it becomes disposable. Some days I wonder if we’ll recover from this illness of spirit, for that is truly what it feels like.

We find ourselves living on the lands of others, people who have suffered, just as our old peoples had, at the hands of others. They are still here, listening to the murmurings of the waterways, the flailing of the trees as they fall to deforestation, to the sound of the thick blood of the earth as it is getting bled out while its face is pitted with the byproducts that make teenage acne look like a walk in the park.

Our elders had gone silent in an effort to shield us from the pains they carried over centuries. We had a chance for a new start, but without their wisdom and the knowledge of all that came before, we made the same mistakes all over again.

When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember refusing to acknowledge any worth to the words of my parents. The separation required to become an adult is a tough journey, especially if those that teach us have become complacent in the comfort of their own lives by the time they come to witness our transformation, and don’t find a good way to guide us, to lead us through by example.

Maybe they are still struggling too.

Maybe by that point we’ve already seen too much of the darker sides of humanity to want to trust anyone else in this process.

I was young and brash, yet I was also sheltered, naive, and wholly unprepared for the world and its people, especially the ones who saw me coming and couldn’t help themselves in taking advantage of me – but I didn’t know that I had this deficit until it gouged holes in my spirit. I took advantage too, in my own way. I suppose that is how I learnt, but I can’t help but feel that there must be a better way to do this.

So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, alternately staring out of the dining room window, typing this with two fingers on my phone’s keypad, listening to the birds calling outside (seagulls, crows, and another I can’t identify), to the chirping of the cross-walk signal, wondering what I will do with the rest of my day.

There is so much I want to do. I have a long list of chores that I keep ignoring, books that I want to read piling up into stacks that I may never finish reading in this lifetime, stories I have written but that have languished uncompleted, dishes piled in the sink that need washing, a refrigerator that needs to be sorted and cleared, choices to make on food plans for the week, clothes that need to be laundered and stowed, a cat litter box to clean out… to name a few.

In this overload of choices, I often choose… nothing.

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on passion (& vintage typewriters)

vintage typewriter

“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle not your lifestyle around your career.”
Anonymous

I saw this post online (if you click the photo up top, it will take you to it – I hope), along with the caption.

I really want one of these old typewriters – one is on my wish list…

But… I’ve come to find that I have made peace with the dichotomy of passion and earning a living not necessarily being one and the same…

One can be passionate about one’s work – its quality, the service it provides to those we are hired to assist, the higher purpose of the organizations for whom we work, the connections we make with inner and outer clients, our sense of usefulness in our roles… those are many things we can be passionate about in relation to earning a living.

I was stuck for so long for much of my adult life fretting about how to turn the things I was passionate about (my writing, my art, my creative pursuits, my volunteering work) into a living, so much so that I lost sight of the passion and also was in a constant state of discontent at being unable to make this shift I so wanted to make yet was incapable of defining.

It turns out that I’m damned good at my “day job” and despite having one (when I’m not unemployed) I can still engage in the things I am passionate about on my own time because they energize me and infuse me with enthusiasm.

I’ve learned that those two parts of my life are not mutually exclusive. Joy (and passion) can be found in all things.

small art 8.16.14

IMG_0144.JPG

Experiments in green.

One of my co-conspirators of the Facebook group I am co-admin on suggested we do a virtual art journal swap. We decided that each month a different colour would be featured and that those who wanted to participate could share the fruits of their labour by posting photos of our collectively created art in a group album.

I’d already started playing with green a little (with yesterday’s small art posting) and this one is today’s result.

If nothing else, at least it’s getting me to play in my sketchbook again. That’s always a good thing.

the barron

StoreyTalk_web[with Barron in L.A. at the Bert Green Gallery]

I don’t think that there is an artist who has inspired me more than Barron Storey. I am not alone in this.

There isn’t much that I envy of others, except, perhaps, to have been in one of his classrooms while he was teaching at The California College of the Arts. I am a public college fine art school drop out.

Too late now, I’m afraid, for all of that. I’m self-taught, mostly, and it’s through practice that I’ve become remotely proficient. Through much trial and failure. I suppose that could be said of most anything, in my case – lots of trials; lots of failures.

BarronSig_web[inscription in my Life After Black book, images excerpted from his visual journals]

In the midst of all of those, though, are the wild successes. Things that I’ve made that I can hardly believe came from my hands. Pieces I’ve written that I barely recognize as having been borne of my mind. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

I think artists (ALL artists… writers, painters, actors, circus performers, musicians, sculptors, mimes, burlesque dancers, opera singers…) are speaking their truths, expressing what society so desperately needs to hear but seldom voices.

That is our purpose.

a poem-ish

20140804-193954-70794617.jpg
Summer.
We’re at the height of its fiery heat,
though by the wheel’s turning we are already into the descent.
A banana tree in the back yard has grown by feet this past week alone,
one of the billowy leaves looking like a tired sojourner,
leaning heavily on the balcony railing for support.
Even the mosquitos are too wilted to mill as we wait for the sun to sink below the horizon; none come out now.
I’ve been reading the same page of my book over again without retaining a word.
I’ll try again later. Right now something cold and wet sounds good;
raspberry lemonade blended with trays of ice, swirled with some freshly cut strawberries, perhaps.
I will not complain about the heat, even as I stand in front of the fan with lifted shirt;
the air inside is so warm that standing anywhere feels as though one were in a bath without any steam.
But the glasses aren’t sweating – everything is dry, a little parched.
In a few months I’ll be lamenting the lack of warmth and aridity and sunshine;
for now I’ll bask in it, then, even if it hurts.

a-lookin’ fer love in all the wrong places

So…. I’m making yet another foray into the online dating thing again.

I hadn’t checked in on my profile in a while but the other day I got a “so-and-so wants to meet you – click on this button to view his profile” alert email.

So I clicked and got sucked down the profile rabbit hole, because if you know what these sites are like, you will know that unless you pay for a subscription (which I refuse to do) you can’t figure out who liked you by merely clicking on a tab.

Instead they make you click through each photo and force you to like/dislike a person based on their photo before you can check out their profile, but the app only lets you view their profiles once you have both “liked” each other). It’s a colossal waste of time, in my opinion, and one that I don’t particularly feel like spending a whole lot of my potential X-Files rerun Netflix viewing time on… but…

it was hot, and I couldn’t sleep…

and I had my phone in my hand while I was lying in bed one night recently and I did…

and then the chat messages started.

I get them from twenty-somethings…. which I ignore… (I used to reply to them politely but no longer do)…

I get them from the scammers…. which I block… (I actually paid for a subscription at one point thinking that I’d get better prospects and ended up being targeted by a scammer before having the chance to interact with anyone else – I figured it out quickly enough, but still… it soured me immensely on the whole thing)…

I get them from people who are looking to score (which if they would have looked at my profile would have known that I have no interest in whatsoever)…

And then I get them from another type of guy… they SEEM nice at first but then, as the texting conversation continues, you realize that they are mostly sexually frustrated misogynists who are so embittered by their previous relationships with the female gender, and have such a skewed perception of what a relationship entails, that they leave you wondering whether there is any hope of meeting a decent, kind, man.

Now let’s be clear… I’m not what a large percentage of the men are looking for on these sites, exactly.

I don’t look like Sandra Bullock – I’m more of a Kathy Bates or Camryn Manheim or Queen Latifah, none of whom really fit the profile that many of the guys on these sites are looking for (i.e., “fit”, “slender” – actually they want middle aged equivalents of someone at least one, possibly two, decades younger). Most men on there have an idealized version of what they want; whatever they had before, even though they failed to thrive in it, they are now aiming to surpass because they get a do-over and figure they deserve better… they want a “package deal” – a flawless woman.

Oddly enough, many of these same guys are the ones who can’t see how far they have to go in regard to being able to cultivate a healthy relationship (or even how flawed they themselves are). Some of the things they share make my hair stand on end. And they are the first ones to be rude and belligerent to me.

I realize I’m no raving beauty…
nor am I wildly successful career-wise…
nor do I have all of my financial ducks in a row…
nor am I on par spiritually with the likes of the ascended masters…
nor do I look anything like Jane Fonda in a lycra leotard…
nor do I have rocket science or nobel prize caliber smarts.

I guess the only way one can appreciate me is by getting to know me and finding out which of these qualities I have and in which quantity they each manifest.

But I’m definitely not some puppet woman who is just this|far from being a Stepford Wife.

Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t have “issues with sexuality” just because I think it’s weird that I should offer up an answer within hours of meeting someone as to whether I think they would be a potential bedmate candidate (because, they admit, they don’t want to waste their time on getting to know me if there isn’t a rather immediate sexual payoff).

I mean…. whatever happened to courtship, wooing and the art of seduction? I think men are slipping on the whole courtship, wooing, seduction thing, if that’s what they think they are up to.

Also, I think they need to stop watching porn and thinking that it is illustrative of what good sex is. I liked porn better when it was campy because it wasn’t used as a how-to reference.

Statistics show that a whopping 75% of women don’t achieve orgasm through intercourse. If men want women to have sex with them, maybe they have to offer more of an incentive when the results are compared to those women are guaranteed to achieve through use of an electronic device (or, if that isn’t available, self-stimulus).

One of my friends (after reading this rant, because I initially posted it to my Facebook page) said that many men consider their chatting ministrations TO BE courtship, and that (in her humble opinion, on average) men are emotionally all twelve year olds. Well maybe that is so, if taking into account their fixation on the perfect female form being the equivalent of the underwear models from the Sears catalog of yore. (This section of the catalog was a huge hit with the boys of my fifth grade class.)

I’ve learned to be alone. I’ve learned to love to be alone. I like my own company. I don’t feel the need to absolutely have someone else in my life, especially if they don’t really care to partake of my company in a holistic sense. Life is too short to spend it in mediocre company.

I sometimes think dating sites are akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.

I’m sure people meet and that some matches are successful and have longevity. It seems like it becomes harder as we get older. Many men (as my friend alluded to) are in dire need of further emotional (and personal) development, even if they are not necessarily stuck at the twelve year mark.

While there are no doubt some fabulously wonderful women out there, I’ll bet perfection is still in short number. Women also demographically out-number the men, at least here in the Vancouver area.

Fabulous feels like a myth. No one is perfect… just “close enough” – going from good to possibly great, maybe occasionally at times even stellar… but not in all things, all the time. That would be too much to expect, but I think that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect good to great to stellar in the things that make the biggest impact on our personal happiness. And only we know what those are, if we really allow for a little honest self-inquiry.

For me, it would be nice to truly be in a partnership, if I decided to become half of a couple. I’d like someone to really give a shit about the things that are important to me. Not just to nod and say “sure” but to really get why I feel so passionate about the things I feel passionate about. I’d also still like to be with someone who wants to dream a mutual future with me. If I’m going to pair up.

My expectations aren’t that I’ll be dating some guy off the pages of GQ. They can’t all be as fabulously literate as, say, the Neil Gaimans of the world but it sure would be nice if the typos could truly be blamed on autocorrect fail and that there was a certain (higher rather than lower) level of emotional maturity and optimism regarding relationships.

You have the guys who profess in their profiles to want to worship a woman – that she is all that is missing in his life (sort of like the accent furniture piece for the living room). Seriously though – who could live up to that pedestal expectation, no matter how hot they looked or how smart they were?! How easy would it be to come crashing down from that heady height and go from hero to zero with one (very human but possibly very big) mistake?

Then there are the guys who want a Bo Derek equivalent only taller and smarter and nicer – a total female clone of what I am sure they most deludedly must imagine their inner-self counterparts to be – and no one ever measures up, not perfectly, because once again this idealized person can’t possibly exist outside of their imagination.

I hate to break it to the world, but there is no Soul Mate. Truly. Not the way in which we have been taught to believe a soul mate is. By that same token, everyone could be considered to BE a soul mate, because everyone is equally flawed, only in different ways. The sooner we recognize our own flaws, the better chance we have of having a successful partnering with another person. A relationship in which there are two people with similar weaknesses along with similar coping mechanisms and the inability to communicate appropriately – in a way that can lead to resolution of conflict – will always end up failing.

I’ve had coffee dates with men who have spent our whole time together bitching about their past ex, summarizing in horrible detail all of the mean things they were victims of – because they (clearly, isn’t it obvious?) had NO hand whatsoever in the culmination of the spectacular and tragic end result.

There are so many lonely people in this world. Eleanor Rigbys abound. Not because we don’t all deserve to rejoice in each other’s company, but rather because we are incapable of perceiving ourselves as we really are, incapable of exposing ourselves to others authentically and lose hope of ever finding those who really see us and like us anyway, reciprocally.

/rant