Ponderings of life dropped in the gap separating my emotional and chronological ages.

Location: Comox Valley, British Columbia, Canada

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Silly Superstitions

I don’t indulge in superstitions. That’s what I tell myself. Superstitions are futile attempts to control the chaos of life. To force some order over things. So, acknowledging that bad things happen, superstitions provide reasons for them. Obviously, I am so cerebral about these things and that means I am free to balk at them. But they balk back.

I live with a black cat. He twines his way between my feet in the morning, usually before the lights are turned on. That should be bad luck for him but I’m the one that usually suffers. Still, I don’t believe it’s the cat bringing omens. I suspect it’s just the black fur. It triggers other superstitions, of the itchy kind. An itchy palm could lead to money if it’s on the right, or losses if it’s on the left. I’m right handed so I figure that works in my favour. But it’s the nose that reacts the most to the black fur. And, an itchy nose is a broad spectrum indicator of things to come. It means you’re going to be mad, see a stranger, kiss a fool or be in danger. Pretty much covers my day.

Walking beneath a ladder is sure to bring bad luck, you know, the kind where heavy objects fall on your head. I don’t walk under ladders. It’s just a bad idea. I don’t think I’m offending some law of the Universe or the Gods or any one else for that matter. I simply like to keep paint cans and anvils off my head. I’m funny that way. I also try not to break mirrors. It has more to do with shards of glass lurking in my purse or flying around my bathroom than fear of seven years bad luck. Bleeding is always bad luck and broken mirrors lead to blood on the wrong side of my skin.

My mother was forever repeating the one about found pennies. Find a penny pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck; let it lie and your luck will fly. Doesn’t this speak to simple good money sense? Mind you, I picked up a penny yesterday on the floor of a ski lodge, not because I needed a penny or practice stringent money conservation rules. I regularly ignore empty pop cans cluttering up public garbage bins, and they’re worth five cents. No, I picked it up because I needed the luck. I had been half way up the mountain in the morning when I realized I had no gas in my tank. The needle was on empty, the light was lit on the dashboard, and the computer told me I had zero kilometers left on my present tank of gas as I was pulling into the parking lot at the base of the mountain. I suppose all of these gages could lead to good luck if I looked at them before crisis hit. Just like superstitions, there are little observances to be made to avert bad luck or, in the very least, to prepare for the worse. Luckily, I soon discovered I could relax and enjoy the day. I knew I would make the hour long drive back to town without being stranded by lack of gas. I had found a penny and picked it up. But I don’t believe in such things.


I’m puzzled why I take the small road past your office everyday. I don’t need to be on it or either of the roads it connects. I don’t even need to be on that side of town. Sometimes, I go miles out of my way just to drive past your office, and then what? Do I honestly have the reasonable hope, if hope can be reasonable, of seeing you?

It is just to see you. It is to have every molecule in my body gasp and leap at the slightest glimpse of you. It is to hope to hear the violins again when I sit across from you and watch the fireworks explode around your eyes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Universal Crush

Doctor Crush

On the shore of the South China Sea, in a fishing town called Mui Ne my fantasies of Dr. Ben, ten thousand miles away, are stoked and stroked by the rhythm of the sea against the shore: rushing in, pulling away, consuming the edge of land with yawning waves; grinding detritus in the mad rush to slam into the beach once again. The waves are tormented by an obsession with the shore which has lasted through hundreds of civilizations, before memory and since, for thousands of civilizations to come. The thrusting, the pounding, the relenting and withdrawing will continue. So who am I to judge it, condemn it, to try and constrain it with stories of mortal sin, original sin, the moral right, righteous mind or even spiritual evolution? I have been evolving spiritually for decades and the more I open to ‘my creator’, the more I accept, not only the condition of man, but of all life; to merge, to meld, and to absorb or be absorbed by desire. The big bang isn’t an event that happened; it is happening. The Universe is expanding and we are part of the chain of explosions that roll out in Universal Time, which is slower than geological time. From an enormous sea of hydrogen this molecule merges with that one and creates a new one which slams into yet another one to create a whole new set of molecules and atoms. It’s all part of an enormous wave that crashes back into its boundary and grinds it small, stone into dust, shell into sand. It is from this same rhythm of life that Dr. Ben and I are slamming into each other. It is a primordial drive screaming up from my molecules to crash into his and thereby know life deeper and fuller. To change, refine and evolve.

Fire would be easier. We are encased in forbidden fruit: medical impropriety, marital infidelity. This is a dangerous dalliance. This is a driving need to consume him; to be consumed by him. Submit together to the transformative power of desire. Our molecular drive to combust together. We will be shells crushed into sand on the beach, burying and scattering life’s lessons that can then only be collected in a time consuming, patient hindsight procedure of selecting fragments and discarding pieces. In a quiet contemplative work that doesn’t come easily in or after the chaos of a breaking wave.

There is a time to have ethical and moral discussions and speak of things larger than ourselves. And, there are times to wade into the ocean and leap! Arms up, unabashedly throwing ourselves in front of a thundering wave and becoming part of the explosion of sand, shells, water and debris, just to see where the Universe takes you this time.

I swam past the crashing waves into the deeper water where the rollers conjoined and separated. And the bottom dropped away. There is no land for the waves to chew, no new forms for it to refine. There is just a turbulent rolling around and under me. When I got there I looked back at the shore where my husband stood, turned and swam out deeper still. My strokes were strong and precise. In calmer water I would have been an arrow, perhaps a torpedo, but in the turbulent stewing energy I bounced over trough from falling crest, weaved from roller to rogue. I lost sight of my husband’s head, now bobbing in the shallower seas, legions of South China Sea molecules between us. I rolled and cavorted, danced a graceful, floating ballet; buoyed and supported, welcomed and embraced in the fluid Universe.


Saturday, October 28, 2006


I love and loathe power outages. The thing I love the most about them is the quietness. Everything goes quiet, everything goes dark, (why do they mostly happen at night?) dark that is, except for the snow. That’s the other thing that usually comes with power outages although around here that isn’t necessarily so. We get the big storms during the winter months…with big winds and big rains; sometimes they come with huge snowfalls. I always feel very small during these times, small and vulnerable. I’ve spent most of my life alone and been quite comfortable with it. I have even sought out solitude from living alone. I have chosen to be alone and be without creature comforts, hiking into the mountains with nothing but what a backpack can bring, and even then being ascetic about it…little food, no pillow, just the absolute essentials. I have loved it.

I have loved getting up in the middle of the night, daring to bounce into bears and found moonlight: big, beautiful moonlight shining overhead so bright it casts shadows in the open spaces; shadows of me, alive and protected by that moon and some God I don’t understand. Knowing that I am top of the food chain and I am blessed, knowing that the bears and cougars are near and may even be my audience and so I perform for them. I dance and move in big arcs just to see my shadow dance, just because I am completely free. I don’t have to worry about being attacked, or being judged or being anything but what I am. What I am is a free girl living in the Grace of God, all alone, in the middle of the night on top of the mountains.

It’s where the elders live, on top of mountains and sometimes you can hear them meeting and talking, on sunny afternoons with white clouds spread in thin strips over the sky, like banners on top of turrets announcing a very important gathering within castle walls. You can hear them whispering and talking in hushed tones. Their voices carry on the winds and I sit small underneath them, crouched over with my knees under my chin and my feet naked and resting on the cool, smooth granite beside the lake at the base of the cliffs where the elders meet.

Hugging my knees I look into the green glacial waters and look for life, look for my reflection, look for the clouds overhead and see nothing but green water so I look deeper into the silt, into the ancient dust that’s accumulated there and look to see the faces, the secrets of the mountains, of the elders, of the glaciers; and it is all hidden to me. It is green and white, it has an edge where it meets the shore and that is all I know about it. I cannot see the depth of it, or little minnows skittering within it, among pebbles and weeds. There are no crabs or crayfish, even when I turn over a stone there is no one home there. They are deeper, bigger and hidden behind veils living within the icy water, just like they are whispers over my head among the crags and cliffs on the shoulder of the mountain. I am an intruder here, I want to go higher to the other edge of the glacier that is a creamy knitted scarf made from unfinished, unprocessed wool, wrapping around the neck of the mountain. I want to walk to it, I want to be close to the ear of the old colonel and whisper, I am Here too, but it isn’t right. It isn’t my time. It isn’t my place. I am small. I am just visiting. I am allowed to rest.

My feet ache, I put them into the edge of the water. No big arm lurches out to grab me, no soft ground tries to swallow me. I have passage here. The icy water burns my feet. Again, I want to stay, my brain tells me it is good to cool them off, ice the muscles, and deflate them. It tells me to stick with it, stay the course, which is what I am supposed to do but my feet, my body screams back that this isn’t the place; this isn’t where it should happen. I still have miles and miles to go. I will have other places to cool my feet I tell myself. I rationalize that getting this cold half way through the day could lead to danger, hypothermia. What if I can’t recover from the shock of the cold, what if I can’t warm up? My brain has recovered its pride; it allows me to leave the water where I don’t belong.

All of this is with me when I get up to greet the moon in the middle of the night. I have descended from those particular heights. I am back among the trees but the elders on the mountain have not forgotten their guest, they have not neglected the celebration of the meetings, the gathering they have had, and so they send the moon to create party lights for dancers in clearings and disco balls of light for runners in trees. And because I have eaten, pasta and beans in tomato paste, garlic and water, because I have slept for a few hours and rested, I dance and pray to the elders and to God who looks out for me, who brought me here, to all who have given me safe passage in the mountains this September season. I rejoice and thank them; I am alive and I love my life. This is what it feels like to have no power when the weather is good, when I have embraced my humility and when there is no one there to prescribe to me how to be or what to be. When there is no one there to hurt me.

When the weather isn’t good, when it is angry and turbulent, when the winds rip at the trees -- I cower. I am a little girl again hiding behind her closet doors, only now I don’t cry and I don’t scream…these were the only attempts I made at stopping them. Stop the beating, the sound of fist against flesh, of crashing, tables collapsing, dishes smashing, the snorting of the boxer as he delivers his blows, the groans of his wife sucking them up. Now I just feel powerless and alone. I don’t shake, and tremble. I don’t gasp for air like I did then, but I feel like I felt then. To me when the power is out everyone elsewhere is home and together. They have candles lit; they are talking and playing games. In the shadows and the flickering light they are playing ‘I spy’ and telling ghost stories. I try to ignore that there is no light. I use the hot water that is just sitting in the tank getting cool. I draw myself a bath, a bath by candlelight where I am soothed and enveloped in a warm, caressing hug. Then I go to bed and sleep because it doesn’t matter that you have no power when you are asleep. I take cover in the oblivion of sleep and try not to think of the roof and the integrity of the tiles, try not to think of the poor trees, especially the ones nearby. Will they hold their ground or will they come crashing down, maybe on top of me? I tell myself all of this could happen, and if it does, I will deal with it then, for now I am taking cover in the den of sleep and hoping for a new day tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

National Novel Writing Month - Content

National Novel Writing Month - Content

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Trying to be Good

I have been trying to be good…it’s all a reaction to being certifiably bad, although I don’t know who signed the certificate. Technically, there wasn’t a certificate of badness. There was just being washed up on the shores of life, broken. No job, no home, no friends, family three thousand miles behind me and lost in their own chaos of living. My health was spread out on the sidewalk like puke drying in the morning sun, everyone stepping around it, holding their noses. My liver and thyroid were swollen, ulcers bleeding, severe tremors. It was all the work of the bastard inside me, no not that bastard, there was no pregnancy. Just a bitter, mean spit of a person who used to have the oval office inside my head, now just has a closet. He beat me to a thread of an existence. Hated me so much, he brought me within a sniff of death but wouldn’t let me go over, plunging head long into its abyss; he made me dangle on the edge of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he isn’t good, he’s merely misinformed, misguided and I am misunderstood. Well, not these days, now I’m a Ms., but then, I was amiss, a misstep, a mistake.

I once found a pickup truck abandoned in the middle of an intersection. The engine was off, the street was quiet. It was just coming on dawn in the late spring. Except for the carcass of a skinned dog in the back of that truck, it was empty. I was struck dumb and motionless, my mouth gaping like a fish’s out of water. I was overcome with vulnerability, I was exposed. The sun, just over the horizon, was a spotlight. Whoever did this was watching me, was laughing. They were enjoying it. And, if they could do this to a dog, then what would they do to a young woman, a woman like me? Dogs were valuable, more so than girls, I knew that. They still got beat, but nobody fucked them, nobody hated them. They were useful. But this bastard, he skinned a dog. It was unthinkable. I fled to the door of the twenty-four hour convenience store. It was locked. The clerk inside was sleeping, head down on the counter. “Show no fear, show no fear” I repeated to myself and walked swiftly out of the area.

That was just the start of it, my opinion of myself steadily decreased for another seven years after that. My isolation steadily grew. That’s when I came to the edge of death, the sweet smell of permanent oblivion tantalizing my senses, but I couldn’t let go. It was as if my foot was trapped behind me and another twenty years of bleak, grey, life, lingering stench of existence was closing in to envelop me. I couldn’t stand it. I said help, knowing I wasn’t deserving of help, knowing the door to help was closed, slammed on me years before when all I wanted was a moment of elusive peace, but I was too disgusting for even God to look upon. It was in that moment, that second of hopeless help pleading that it happened. God, the Holy Spirit, the wing of an angel, swept me up, wrapped me in a warm blanket and carried me to recovery. Then I wanted to be good. I wanted to be worth it. I wanted to be deserving of God’s love, of his compassion. Still ignoring the fact that I already was.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time Travel

Triage at catastrophic events or just plain everyday nastiness, elicits questions from the helpers to those bent and bewildered, “Can you tell me your name? Do you know what day it is?” Presumably, this is to determine their state of consciousness. Is there an unseen head injury? I always want to be the one asking the questions, never answering. Well, wouldn’t we all. But, if I was asked the question about what day it is, I would fail, without ever being bonked on the head. It’s one of those shameful secrets I keep close to me. When I go to work, I have to write the calendar date and the day of the week down on my notepad and go over it about three times, just to drive into my brain some time awareness; it’s relevant to the work I do. Even with this practice, I have been caught obviously confused regarding expiry dates and the present dates, being out entire seasons, not just months or days. Perhaps I was dropped on my head as a baby, although my parents deny it.

I still manage okay. I show up for work on time and on the correct day. I hit people’s birthdays like a dart in the range of a number as opposed to the bull’s-eye, and I seldom miss a meal. But, that’s a time schedule independent of any manmade schemes, isn’t it? Well, it is for me. Much like my sleep patterns. Work demands that I keep a twenty-four hour clock so it isn’t unusual for me to be wide awake when the world sleeps and sound asleep (or trying to be) when bulldozers and weed eaters are chalking up the decibels.

I don’t wear a watch and for most of my life have resisted societal conformity to putting one on. I’d like to say that that’s out of a great rebellion, or independent spirit. In truth though, it is because I’m seldom in the present moment anyway. I’m usually wishing for a different past while waiting for the future to get here. It’s all such a waste of …you guessed it, time. Now that I’ve collected some time in my bones and passed the half way mark of my life expectancy, I’ve moved from dabbling in time frames that aren’t here and cleverly come up with time shifting. It’s not really original. In fact, it’s a take on the old adage, “if I knew then what I know now…”

I spent my youth not appreciating myself and my beauty. Like a puppet on a marketer’s string, I was always dissatisfied with my looks. So, I was either losing weight or contorting myself into strange costumes just to look like someone else. I was forever in a tug of war with my body: hating it, loving it, hating it. But of course, twenty years later I look back and see what a beautiful young woman I was. Which makes me think that twenty years from now, I’ll look back and see what a beautiful woman I am now. So rather than wait a couple decades to appreciate myself, I’m acting as if I am twenty years older than I am, and am looking back at myself and loving me for the beauty I hold today. It’s time travel in an instant. I call that a superpower.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Elijah being fed by Ravens

Inspired by the painting: “Elijah being fed by Ravens” (1921) By Christian Rohlfs

A naked brown man sits straight in a hard chair; the bones of his square shoulders prominent. Straight arms end in his lap with hands folded over one another. He leans forward, waiting for the raven before him to share his food. Is he a well mannered pet of the bird?
Native beliefs pin the raven as a very clever trickster. Perhaps he has convinced the man that he is not a raven at all, but a thunderbird, a creator. Man waits expectantly to be fed by the mouth of God.