friendship

still holding

Today, the 14th of November, marks the first anniversary of the death of my best friend’s mother.

A year ago I wrote this, and I’m offering it up again today.

This afternoon (or yesterday afternoon, technically — life and schedules only allow so much leeway) I held her close and she said, “Thank you for thinking of me.” I squeezed a little harder, whispering, “I’ve still got you.” To which she replied, “I know.”

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Categories: family, friendship, loss, love, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

small talk

** This was actually yesterday’s post, but the wordpress app and I are not seeing eye to eye (on the iPad) — and apparently now online on the desktop, too!! (just lost 1/2 of this post although I saved the changes) — so it was not able to be published last night. **

You know how a few days ago I said I was going to stop some things? Well, I did and I have. To a degree. It’s hard, man! I check my e-mail today and see that someone I follow on Twitter has been quoted in The Daily Call (?),  and not knowing how big of a pit I would be falling into, I decided to take a quick look. Ha! What a mistake that was. I did manage to pull myself out after 5-10 minutes, though. Tried to scroll through my facebook feed without clicking any links and to be honest, I can’t actually remember how successful I was. But since I did get two loads of laundry done and one bed stripped and re-sheeted/linened before heading out to the city for my hair appointment, I think I did okay.

There’s a lot that goes on in a hair salon — chit-chat, gossip, the radio plays, the television is on the local 24-hour headline news station (sound off), the phone keeps ringing and people come in and go out. So as I’m getting my hair washed I can’t help but see some of the stories that are on the news and it’s all I can do to keep from allowing the water to blind me to save my sanity.

As I sat for my cut, my hairdresser and I spoke of many things, as we do, and once we got the stupidity of the news stories out of the way we moved on to other things: Fashion, the beauty industry, our children, Christmas. We discussed how the beauty business is a billion dollar industry and that even though we both find it ridiculous, it is, after all, her livelihood; how horrible we both find any number of things about the fashion industry, including the fact that women’s sizes now stretch shrink all the way down to 00 and 000, and that certain trends just won’t die the horrible deaths they deserve; my son being in grade 8 and loving his vintage adidas jacket, and me dyeing his hair black for Hallowe’en, while her boys are grown and survived some dubious fashion trends that still refuse to die. We talked about my mother’s aborted postponed/rescheduled hip replacement surgery and her father’s recent cancer diagnosis. We mentioned make-up and eyelash enhancing volumizing serum and then we laughed because we both know that I don’t wear make-up and thus have no wisdom whatsoever to contribute to any such conversation other than, “If I wear mascara, people think I’m dressed fancy!” We discussed how I already knew in grade 9 (almost 40 years ago!!) that I was wholly incapable of conversing with any of the other girls in the washroom at a dance because all they were talking about was shampoo, hairspray, and boys. She complained that it was totally unfair that I had been able to realise that, already, at age 14.

We finished up, we settled up, and we booked my next two appointments.

The realisation that I am actually able to make small talk came as a bit of a surprise to me. And a welcome one at that. Whew!

 

 

 

Categories: friendship, memories, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m going to stop

For a long time, I didn’t watch the news.

For a long time before that, I did. It was the 10 or 11 o’clock precursor to bedtime. It meant the end of the day; time to see what had happened in the world, in the country, in the neighbourhood. Then, a few years ago, I had a baby. I think that’s when I first stopped watching the news — new baby, no sleep, oddly timed feedings/pumpings, etc., etc. Then when I tried to go back to it I could no longer stomach it. It was bad news most of the time and it really stressed me out. So I stopped.

I did alright without watching the news. If there was something big happening I was sure to hear about it anyway, whether it was on the radio in the car, in the schoolyard, or on the tv at McDonald’s. HardWorker still watched the all-day headline broadcast channel before she left for work or before bed, ostensibly to check the weather or the traffic. Whatever I did happen to see annoyed me no end and it wasn’t just the content. Not a single commentator seemed able to read the sheets that were in front of them without stumbling over names, dates, locations, or the basic tenets of the english language. They make me crazy. I try to stay away from it if at all possible.

I found I was able to stay fairly stress free (news-wise) and life was good. Facebook was something I had discovered and joined years ago (after abandoning my mySpace page) and I enjoyed keeping up with family and friends from around the globe. New babies, vacation pictures, familial losses, even making new friends; it was all at my fingertips. I even joked with other school parents at SCC meetings that if the news wasn’t accompanied by kitten videos on Huffington Post it meant nothing to me. Then it all changed. People started regarding the Huffington Post as a real “newspaper”. The major networks all have Facebook pages, as do all of their regional stations. All the Posts and Times and Gazettes are there as are numerous weekly or monthly magazines. People quote Twitter on their FB pages and link to just about everything that gets published anywhere. It’s too much. Too much to read. Too much to follow. Too much to click through.

It’s too much. Sensory overload. And let me tell you, I barely link any of my accounts, I don’t check my mail every hour, and I’m only on Twitter about once a week. I HAVE A FLIP-PHONE. That’s right. I HAVE A FLIP-PHONE. I do not receive badges, banners, or updates; do not get pinged every time a new e-mail comes in; no swish or chirp when someone tweets something. It doesn’t seem to matter. When I do check Facebook there is invariably some new horrible thing that is being shared by everyone I know. When Hardworker comes home and asks, “Did you hear about …?” I have to say that I did. Whether I wanted to know about it or not. Apparently we no longer have the option of not watching the news.

Well, folks, I’m taking it back. I’m going to stop watching. Stop reading. Stop scrolling. Stop clicking through links. I’m going to stop. I know that some people will think this is no way to live in this day and age. They will call me names and tell me I’m part of the problem. I’m telling you this is the only way to live in this day and age. If I don’t stop I won’t survive.

So yeah, I’m going to stop.

 

Categories: family, friendship, media, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

I will hold you up

My BFF and I came to each other rather late in our childhood — we were 45 — but I think we have made up for the years apart and then some. We met because her second child and my one and only were in the same Kindergarten class. We have evolved far beyond school-parent friends and have melded into family. It all happened very quickly. And I am thankful for her every day.

In September, on my BFF’s birthday, her grandmother died. Annie was 99 years young and was the very definition of a Babba. She loved her children, her grandchildren, her grandchildren’s children, and her great-great-grandchildren with an unbelievably open heart. Hell, she loved BoyGenius as if he was her very own great-grandchild right from the day she met him. She had lived through some things, she had come out, and she kept on living. And loving. I loved her, and I miss her.

At the beginning of this week, on Sunday night, while in hospital fighting pneumonia, my BFF’s mother had a massive stroke. She died Monday morning at the age of 79. This second unbelievably strong woman from this family passed away so unexpectedly that we are all still reeling. Shirley was a seemingly tireless worker who took care of everyone and everything. She was the glue that held her family community together. This loss, so close on the heels of Babba’s passing and coming so without warning is like being hit by a tetherball in full swing — the force and ensuing vibration have rocked us to our cores. I loved her, and I will miss her (it hasn’t really sunk in yet).

I know that my friend will find it exponentially more difficult to come through this than I will. I know that her head and heart are filled with regret and “if only”s. I know that her heart is broken and her spirit is only hanging on by the thinnest of threads. I know that words are cold comfort and even actions may go unnoticed right now. I’m doing what I can, including driving across country this evening so I can be there with her, for whatever she needs.

As I enveloped her in my arms on Monday afternoon I promised her one thing: “I will hold you up as long as you need.” The palpable release of even a little bit of tension was all the thanks I needed. I love her and I don’t want to have to miss her.

Categories: family, friendship, loss, love | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

poetry on a thursday

Although this wasn’t written today it is fairly new; with the cool air and the autumn breeze it seemed an appropriate day to share it.

My God! Do you really not see what I see when I look at you?
The way you sparkle when you laugh, like the diamonds of early dew;
the light that glows from deep in your soul when you’re telling me something new;
the strength that emanates from your hands when you’re working with a tool;
the depth of wisdom behind your eyes that shouts that you’re no fool;
the flow of your hair, the curve of your hip that your beauty do betray;
the love that breathes and beats in your heart — it all makes me want to stay.
I wish that you could see yourself through my eyes now and then;
you wouldn’t doubt your value or your worth ever again.

This poem percolated for a few days, and I lost some of it while wool-gathering. I think it still turned out okay. 

Categories: friendship, love, poetry, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

I said no

My good friend, arguably my best friend, asked a favour of me yesterday: would I keep an eye on her house while she and her family were on vacation? Not an unreasonable request. I’ve done it before. I know she thought I would say yes but as we stood in her entryway I hesitated. Then she said, “You don’t have to say yes.” I said I would have to think about it and I would let her know — not really aware of the fact that she and the kids were leaving today, until she said, “Well, M (her husband) will still be here for another week, so you can just come pick up the key.I said no. Standing right there, about 75 seconds after I had told her I would have to think about it, I looked at her and said, “I’m going to say no. I don’t think I can do it.” (And let’s not even talk about the key, okay?)

I left, and for the next, oh I don’t know, 12 hours or so, was having all kinds of agita because I said no to her. What kind of a friend am I? Haven’t I told her time and again that she can always ask me for help if she needs it? That I will always be there/here for her? That she should never feel like she’s taking advantage of me? Yep. And I said no.

Listen, I’m still not settled. But you know what? She doesn’t want to ask me for help anymore. She doesn’t want to ask me for anything. We’ve had a not-necessarily-troublesome-but-still-not-normal (for us) relationship over the past 10+ months. It has seemed to me that she has withdrawn from the friendship, even felt like I had been cut out of her life. I questioned her about that, she said it wasn’t her intention and she would try to be a better friend. I pointed out that I didn’t need her to be a “better” friend, I just needed her to be the friend that she always had been.

So, we work together at our kids’ school, running the biggest annual fundraiser that we put on. We have to see each other, we have to go places together, we have to make it work. And it does indeed work well, we work well together. And it did work again this year. And then, it was back to this distance between us. We’d see each other at the gym once or twice a week, but that was it.

The school year ended, we had no contact for about the first three weeks of summer vacation, and then we both went out with a mutual friend for a girls’ night. I hadn’t really even known she was coming with us. We talked a bit, but we were in a group. A few days later I got a text asking if BoyGenius and I would like to join her, her three kids and two additional children at a local pool/park. BoyGenius was away so I said thank you, but no. The next week BG and I were going to swim at another local pool and I thought I’d be nice and ask them to come along. Her kids would rather stay at home with their own little pool, would we like to come there. Since her son is my son’s best friend, and they hadn’t seen each other in a while, either, we said yes. It was an enjoyable enough afternoon, but things still don’t seem right.

Another couple of weeks have gone by, her son spent 5 days/nights at my house, we all went out for dinner once, and now we’re pretty much caught up in the timeline. I was out shopping the other day and as I walked into a store, a gorgeous blouse caught my eye, and the first thought I had was how good it would look on my bff, so I bought it for her. Took it to her yesterday because I knew they would be leaving for vacation soon. That’s when she says,”Oh, since you’re here, ….” And that’s when I said no.

Here’s the thing. I know, I said I would always help her if she needed it; I said she could ask me anything; I said I would take care of her. Those things haven’t changed. They are not now untruths. I have not forsaken her. But that’s not what this was. At least not how I see it. This almost felt like being taken for granted. Or something like that. I don’t know, maybe I overthink things sometimes (definitely) and maybe this is one of those times (definitely), but I think if she had talked to me about it even, say, two weeks ago, I probably would have said yes. But she didn’t. So I said no. I mean, what if I hadn’t stopped by? Would I have gotten a text a few days later? Did she just mis-plan her time and not get it done? Did she ask someone else who cancelled at the last minute? Did she forget? I don’t know. We don’t really talk that much anymore so I don’t really know what’s going on in her life.

So here we are. I said no. And I feel bad. Sort of (definitely). Bad enough that I had to write it out. And now I feel bad about that. Like I’m somehow betraying the friendship because I’m telling you all about it. Not her. But I don’t have the opportunity to talk to her about it, and I’m pretty sure she won’t want to hear it anyway. A few months ago I got a “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?” and I responded with a “You know that’s not true anymore, right?” It didn’t go any further.

Maybe I was right all along during my childhood: I never actually had a BEST FRIEND. I had my neighbour across the street who I would consider my best friend, but I know I wasn’t hers. I didn’t stick with any particular group of friends through public school or hang with any one clique in high school. I was a floater. I think I may have been better friends with my teachers than with any of my classmates. And you know what? — it worked! I survived all the bff drama because I never had to deal with it. Until now — at age 50. Great. This and pimples, too. Welcome to adultolescence.

Whatever. I said no. I SAID NO. I’m sure I’ll feel better about it by the time she gets back in two weeks. Maybe. Probably (not). Perhaps. For sure.

Maybe. I hope so.

Categories: friendship, loss, love | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

trying all the things

When you’re a stay-at-home-parent, there are many fun things you get to do, including, but not limited to: dishes, laundry, picking up garbage, vacuuming, talking to the cat, and messing with telemarketers. I love all of these things. Okay, except for the picking up garbage part. And the vacuuming. I have done/do do (ha! I said do do!) all of these things. But realistically, one cannot fill one’s day with these things without going crazy (to say nothing of one’s soul).

So, I do other stuff. I write think of things to write, I take photographs, I bake. I read what other people have written (sometimes). I knit, crochet, tackle start various projects (both creative and household-fixative) and walk. I spent at least five years volunteering at BoyGenius’ school, for both regular programs and special events (I’ve even got my name on a plaque in the school trophy case). Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve begun to question just what it is that I’m doing with my life.

Sure, I’m raising what will hopefully be a fully cooked adult one day. Although I’m not really sure I’ve gotten to that stage yet and I’m pretty sure no one is raising me anymore. But what else am I doing? I can tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not saving the world. I’m not traveling the world. I’m not selling out shows in Vegas. I’m not winning the Master Chef competition. I’m not sleeping well. I’m not losing weight. I’m not experiencing more than 3 good-hair-days in a row. I’m not really getting any of the shit done that’s on any one of a myriad of to-do lists.

I’m trying. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing right and do more of it. I’m trying to eat better, even with two living, breathing obstacles in my way. I’m trying to get fitter, stronger (not to lose weight, per se, more to have something to do) — and as such I started walking after my knee surgery last year, I started working out with a personal trainer twice (sometimes only once) a week, and more recently I started seeing a massage therapist and taking yoga. [Let’s be clear … over the winter I didn’t walk much since it’s cold and icy, and I haven’t really gotten back into it yet … but I did recently get new shoes, so there’s that.] I tried taking a neighbourhood dog for walks every day (until her owners realized that even my ridiculously low rates were too much for them). I’m trying scrubbing the bathroom ceiling, because mould, y’all. I have spent a number of hours trying to rid my kitchen (and presumably my house) of carpenter ants. I’m trying getting paid for some of the time I spend at BoyGenius’ school (meet the new Lunch Supervisor). I tried having a best friend for a few years .. it worked out well, until all of a sudden it didn’t; I’m now trying to get used to not having one again. I’m trying to get out some … so yoga. And I also tried a “Paint Night” at my local pub — that was fun.

I’m not sure what else I can do … yes, yes, I can clean out my basement, I know. BoyGenius’ last day of Grade 5 is tomorrow and then I’ve got 2 months of limbo stretching in front of me. Here’s hoping I can figure some things out. And by the way, I’ve got LOTS to say about yoga.

Categories: friendship, parenting, Sleep, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

tired

I am tired. “Tired?” you ask. Yeah, tired. “So go to bed earlier.”

Not that kind of tired. Well, not ONLY that kind of tired. Sure, I could stand a few more sleep cycles every night, but I don’t think it would make that much of a difference. And aside from that, going to bed earlier just means I’d have that much more time to lay awake chasing thoughts around in my head.

So physically tired is one thing. Yep, I’ve got that. Head nodding, eyes closing. Sure. Just not at night.

Tired of various things.

Tired of laundry. That’s pretty serious, because I actually really like doing laundry. Usually. Right now it just seems like there’s never any progress; there is always laundry in the hamper(s), there is always laundry in the dryer, there are always at least two baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away. Too many clothes? Maybe.

Tired of being the one who has to enforce bedtime. Tired of having to ask the same questions over and over again: do you have any homework? did you brush your teeth? where is your coat? any reason these things are on the counter and not in the garbage? can you do the cat litter? Tired of things not being in the place I left them when I want to use them. Tired of being the only one who keeps track of what needs paying and when, and tired of feeling bad when it doesn’t get done.

Tired. Tired of feeling lost. Tired of feeling overwhelmed. Tired of never getting anything done because I’m doing 7 things at once. Tired of listening to broadcasters stumble over the same sentences over and over again. Tired of “Microsoft” calling me two to three times a week because my computer’s been sending them desperate messages. Tired of having too much stuff in the basement. Tired of people complaining that we have too much stuff but then turning around and giving me things. Sometimes I’m tired of being the person that knows things.

I’m getting tired of being up; being the one that smiles at everyone, the one that helps out, the one that buoys other people’s spirits. I’m tired of having great ideas for art, blog posts, poetry, etc., but having them when I’m asleep or in the shower or at the grocery store; no matter how neatly I write those ideas out in the empty space on the inside of my forehead, so I can just look up and read them later, they don’t stay. That surface is less like slate and more like cornstarch goop: solid while I’m working with it, painstakingly carving my thoughts onto that vast expanse, but turning to mush as soon as I finish, with all my words running into and over each other so as to be wholly unreadable.

I’m tired of missing people, dead or alive. I’m tired of not having anyone I can talk to, you know, other than the cat. I don’t tell the cat much, because I don’t completely trust her. My son is about to be 11 and I need to be the person he talks to, not the other way around. My partner has to talk/listen to people all day as well as having her own neuroses to deal with; by the time she gets home I’m too worn out anyway and she needs to chill. BFF? That’s a whole other story. Okay, cat it is.

Have I mentioned that I’m tired? Mentally, even spiritually, I guess. Weary. And I’m not sleeping all that well, either. I’m pretty tired of this post.

Categories: family, friendship, parenting | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

finally!

So here I am, one full week into being 50 years old. Is there any difference to how I felt a week ago? Two weeks ago? A year ago? Ten years ago? Honestly, nope. I know people make a big deal out of these “round” numbered birthdays, some of them having anxiety at leaving yet another decade behind. Not me. I’m 50. #finallyfifity #fiftyisfine #fiftyisfabulous

I feel great, just as I have felt great for the last fifty years. Sure, I have grey hair, but I’ve had that for at least twenty years already. So what? I’m a blonde (albeit dark blonde, so there’s that) so all I do about the grey is get golden highlights added to the silver. That’s actually what I say when I call or text my hairdresser: “I need more gold!” I also have some wrinkles, but you know, I also smile a lot, and those are the ones I have … around my eyes and my mouth. So what? Truth is, if I lost about fifty pounds  I’d probably have a lot more wrinkles —- everywhere! Let’s not jinx anything, but I’m having far fewer migraines than I’ve had in a long time and maybe that’s down to hormonal changes — a benefit of getting older. I have a loving and hardworking partner, a crazy cat and a perfect son. I have an amazing mother and a smart, supportive older brother. Sure, I’ve lost some people and I miss them terribly but I challenge you to find someone who’s been around for fifty years who hasn’t lost anyone. Don’t misunderstand me, it sucks. All the time. But that’s just one part of my life.

Days and weeks fly by like nobody’s business and BoyGenius keeps growing in leaps and bounds, physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychically. I walk my neighbours’ dog, I do laundry, I cook and bake, I work out with a personal trainer two times a week, I’m reading a bit more again, I try to stay involved in the school community and I think a lot. I write in my head (some people call it thinking). I have great ideas for posts, for articles, for letters of complaint or celebration, for poetry (rhyming and otherwise), for artwork. Very little of these come to fruition, not in small part due to the fact that I have these great ideas in the shower or in bed just before falling asleep, or at the grocery store. Those same ideas are really hard to remember — especially now that I’m 50! (JK, LOL) I have a son who keeps me young by forcing me to watch really bad cartoons. In turn, I force him to watch movies and shows that I like .. kind of backfires because he likes most of the same things I do. I have to keep up on video games and their platforms, anime cartoons and graphic novels. I’m busy, I’m healthy and my 10 year old keeps me young.

I had a party for my 50th birthday (while HardWorker tired to keep hers completely secret) but it wasn’t anything big. I just wanted any friends who were able to come have a drink with me at my local pub. My mother wasn’t sure that it was an acceptable form of celebration (she wanted a big bash and had a fancy dress to show off) but by the end she realised it was a good party. My family was there, of course (mom, HardWorker and BoyGenius), my cousin’s son and his friend were here from Germany, my brother and girlfriend came out on the train after work, local friends were there, high-school friends were there, work friends were there. I felt honoured and blessed. One friend who used to work with me drove three hours to have a drink and a visit with me, then drove three hours back home. I hadn’t seen her in almost 10 years. It was magical.

So I’m telling you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being 50! One of the best things is that I can actually do Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley bit without having to fake it. I’m 50! Like Talk Talk said way back in the ’80s: life’s what you make it, can’t escape it …. life’s what you make it, don’t back-date it.

And since music and lyrics play such a large part in my everyday life, even when I don’t want them to, I’m going to leave you with these other words of wisdom from one of my favourite movies (Serendiptiy) as offered by Chantal Kreviazuk: This year is going to be incredible!

Enjoy every year you get.

Categories: family, friendship, music, parenting, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

love, and circles

I wrote this in December 2013. For some reason I never published it. Maybe I thought it wasn’t finished. Maybe I just forgot. Maybe Christmas happened and who knows what else. I read it today, and I liked it. Just the way it is. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got circles of friendship on my mind.

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I am sick. It started with a feeling of just not being well, that achyness that comes with a fever. BoyGenius has had a cough for over a week already, but we had managed to avoid the stomach bug that had hit our and other area schools very heavily in the last three weeks, so I felt lucky to only be getting a cold. Ha! Within 12 hours I had such a cough that I was sure I had dislocated at least 6 ribs. Then the coughing sent my stomach into spasms and I was throwing up 2-3 times a day. BoyGenius’ cough became a bit more prevalent, then his whole thing morphed into more of a standard runny-nosed cold.

This journey began on Wednesday evening for me and I think today is Saturday. This afternoon I started having sneezing fits, dizziness, and excess tension in my jaw. But hey, my ribs are much better!

I don’t mind the whole cold/virus thing. Really. I drug myself up, use the neti pot and the peppermint oil, drink plenty of fluids, nap, watch movies with the boy and wait it out. Usually. But it’s, what, 4 days ’til Christmas? I was going to head up north to bring my mother down to our house on Thursday. Then Friday. Hasn’t happened yet. Cleaning the house in anticipation of her arrival hasn’t been finished yet, either. Oops.

There has been much couch-laying. There has been very little cooking. There has been even less cleaning. There has, however, been time to peruse e-mail and facebook. There have been lovely posts and messages from friends far and wide, new and old. There has been love, and there have been circles.

Circles? Yeah, circles. You know, people used the term “circle of friends” long before those Mexican folk-art candle holders became popular. Way back before they had “networks” they navigated. Circles are cool. I have many different circles of friends. Some of them are old (and even broken) like Stonehenge. Some are like satellites orbiting around a centre. Some are unexplained like crop circles. Some overlap in areas like venn diagrams. Some are loops, hoops or bangles, linked like chains or singular like in carnival ring-toss games.

Whatever they look like, you know what these circles do? They link us together. They carry us — our similarities, our differences, our likes and our dislikes, and most importantly, our feelings — so that we can share our lives, our loves and our hardships with one another. They let love spread out like ripples (hey, those are circles, too) and when my ripple circles meet your ripple circles they intermingle and can even send brand new ripples even further out.

Categories: family, friendship, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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