Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a load of shit

It is my birthday and hoorah!!, I have been given a load of shit from my husband, Steve. It is lovely to come home and see it simmering on the driveway, ready to be shoveled into various garden plots. Along with the shit I have the full cooperation of my man, who will spend the next few nights with me out in the yard. What more could a girl ask for?

This may appear to be a somewhat overly practical gift for a woman to
receive, but to me it is a hundred flowers, scads of butterflies, ivys and
honeysuckles climbing the fence, etc etc.

Life has a lot of shit in it. But sometimes shit is a good thing.

a few good men

I seem to want to talk about women and men. All my life it has been that - women and men, a great divide. What men do to women what women do to men. How sex is power of a sort, especially to those who have no other power. How men and women have the ability to give the greatest gifts to each other, and how men and women so often destroy each other - (I know it is not only men and women, it is men and men and women and women too.)

But my man did something brave this week. He stood up to his peers, to those who really do have power over some of his life. He spoke the truth about women and religious hierarchy and the loss of soul because of spiritual abuse. He didn't say too much. Just enough to make the room quiet.

And maybe he lost a chance. But he got another chance. A chance with me. Well done my lovely man.

Friday, April 18, 2008

on not being watched

One of my values in life right now is to live as if I am not being watched. Children know how to do this. And I see it when I am with a person who is completely free. Then I feel free. I want to be that for others.

We impact each other. Recently a study illustrated that we are influenced to eat in the manner our friends eat. If we hang out with people who eat nachos every night we might also begin to eat nachos every night. Point being, we are not as autonomous as we think.

So, I want to be a modifying, non-anxious presence in the (often anxious) lives of people around me. I want to be that, and to be that accidentally. Which can only happen if I am, actually, a non-anxious person.
Like you, I am under constant pressure, invitation, drive, whatever - to achieve, to accomplish, to use as many options as possible, to know bright people. Every choice I face has to be considered in light of the direction I want my life to go, which is counter to the pressure I feel.
That my choice is moving toward gentleness may be invisible to anyone but me, for a time. I am going to trust that the whole will speak. And I am trusting that living as if I am not being watched will free others to live that way too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sweetness and tears

I wake today one year from the Virginia killings - and spent my first hour of the day on the phone with a dear lifetime friend who is waking with new knowledge of a tumor.

A Klatskin tumor is a cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the biliary tree) occurring at the confluence of the right and left hepatic bile ducts.
Treatment and prognosis
Because of their location these tumours present late and therefore are usually not resectable at the time of presentation. Complete resection of the tumour offers hope of long term survival and of late there has been renewed interest in liver transplantation from deceased donors along with adjuvant therapy. Prognosis remains poor today.

When these kind of realities are in my focal consciousness, I want to love 'my people'. I lose what ambition I have to succeed or be known, and and I want to find a way to tell my children and their children and Steve that they are my treasure. And I have a great treasure and more to come.

I am sitting at my desk trying not to cry but my eyes are not cooperating and I am ruining my makeup, such as it is. Lately I am thinking that nothing matters but people - relationships.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

rats and man

Listening to NPR I heard this quote from the Kinsey sex book (you know the one): When cheese crumbles were sprinkled in front of copulating rats, the female rat was able to be distracted but the male rat was not.

So what would be news about that I wonder to myself. Hmmmm. My birthday is coming up. Great sex? or Great dinner out? mmmmmm
I remember the Christmas I was teaching in Calgary and I was so weary. I told Steve he had a choice. He could have a beautiful clean house with decorations and a few really nice Christmas moments, or a fairly healthy bit of sex. That was the Christmas we didn't put decorations on the tree.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I learned a new word yesterday: femicide. It was used in telling the story of the thousands of women of all ages who have been and even now are being brutally raped in the conflict in the Congo over the last ten years. Women - girls, mothers, grandmothers - repeatedly raped. Then rejected by their families and husbands who often move to a new area and take a new wife, these broken women and confused children struggle to cope. Eventually the fragile remains of families break apart and the society is dismantled.

The term femicide was not used to discuss the death of women so much as the utter crushing of women's hope, spirit, initiative, and a terrible disintegration of a sense of self having any kind of value. And the complete eradication of any possible normal life in the future.

Let me state up front that I recognize life is not easy for men. Men have battles on every front, and often experience soul crushing moments. That said, I fiercely aver that women in every culture, even ours, live with a level of femicide that men can hardly grasp. There are many ways to kill a woman.

Dominate her with a towering male physique, especially if it is looming over her, or in her space, or if it is accompanied by yelling or not letting her leave a room. Develop a personal system of grading women, known or unknown, and evaluate them on a private 'sexy scale.' Treat her ideas with disdain. Send around pictures of grossly obese women in bikinis just for laughs (got one of these today).

Okay - none of those is rape. But as a woman let me say (my new opinionated self) that being dominated by male size or opinion or sexuality or personality is crushing to a woman. I don't have to listen to the women around me (but I do) to know this - I have experienced it.

I will also say that I know men who, while they appreciate the beauty of the body, and have healthy sexual urges still seek to know women as people of worth. These men are in my home and family and friendship circle. As a woman I need these men to fight for me. To not assume that my life is equal and free just because it is 2008. To be a woman is to be at risk. Sorry if you don't like that - it is my reality.

Friday, April 4, 2008


The beach was cold. Once in a while the sun shone mercifully. The wind was almost always vicious. But we could not resist the pull of the ocean tides and so my daughter and I walked a long way every day and found marvelous signs of life: a 3 foot blue shark, dead; a scotch bonnet shell; many blue and pink man of war (we pondered whether a plurality of man of war are men of war? or man of wars? settling on a simple man of war as in two deer); and quivering sea slugs we threw back into the surf.

And there were other signs of life. The two legged kind of life - trucks driving up and down the beach, bottles and litter and tide torn underpants and plastic bubble wrap and balloons and more. I felt deeply discouraged by the evident selfishness and carelessness of my fellow humans.

We are burying the earth's crust in litter. Plastic, tin, and all kinds of crap. I walked into a Dollar Store and left in disgust. We need discount stores. But almost nothing in the Outer Banks Dollar Store is worth having. Tacky trashy petroleum based trinkets for sale so cheap we can afford to fill our carts and after one use toss them out. If the store had been filled with milk and cheese, hearty breads and fruit, maybe shoes made from recycled tires ... anything worth having, needed, useful - then it would be a store of value. As it is, a Dollar Store as I saw it on the beach front is mostly a purveyor of enticingly colorful, immediately disposable, non-degradable crap.

I guess, really, Macy's is the same - only it offers enticing crap for the upper class. What are we doing? I remember shopping with my father in law in the 1970's. He was a great Canadian socialist and environmentalist, always championing simplicity, a man before his time. He would buy a package of batteries, for instance, and then calmly stand at the checkout counter pulling the packaging apart, until having peeled off the plastic and cardboard, he would hand it all to the cashier and say, "I just want to buy the batteries, not the rubbish." Always one to enjoy a good embarassing situation, I would laugh. And all the way home he would give me his rant on our garbage dumps. (He had a particular liking for me - I think he was amazed that his son could do so well - laughing.)

So ... I hang my head and confess that I am as much at fault as anyone. The chagrine I feel when my garbage cans get full doesn't change the reality that I contribute much to the existence of a burgeoning dump site. Recycling and using cloth bags for shopping makes a small impact. But as I walked the beach with my daughter and her daughters I wondered if the day will come when my people would be unable to find a pristine place to sit and wonder at the beauty of this glorious blue planet.

I don't want to be reduced to moralizing or awfulizing. Driving home from the beach my two granddaughters sang us the entire High School Musical One and Two. I suggested they might one day be on American Idol. Kyra, ten, was clear with her answer. "Oh, not me, Mimi. I love to sing but my life is dedicated to animals. I don't have time for American Idol." Touche.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

further on lock downs

I grew up in Southern Ontario, Hamilton. I remember, now, how when we were kids there would be air raid sirens and we were taught to get under our desks. This was the early sixties, some fifteen or so years "after the war" (read in John Cleese accent).

So there we were, dozens of little kids in various hand me down clothes (before the days of Gap for Kids and double incomes) and home hair cuts, crouching under our desks, some terrorized, some grinning. But all safe, for of course, our desks protected us from the possible A Bomb that might fall. Having been given this kind of education, I now regularly enact forlorn practices to protect myself and those I love.

When a wild storm is blowing I stay inside ... often peering out of the glass window that could actually implode and be the death of me. When I am afraid I am being followed by a potential rapist murder I walk purposefully and carry my car keys in my hand, which, on second thought being a Prius owner would only be able to make blunt red marks on his skin. And in some way I actually believe the security process at airports will keep the assassins off my plane.

The truth is, I think, safety is an illusion. There is no safe place ... there is only a feeling of safety, which is not to be underestimated in value. We make each other feel secure by making and keeping promises. By staying close by. By being predictable at least to the point of trustworthyness.

I tell Steve (husband) that when things are going badly, all I need is for him to smile at me. If he can smile I have the courage to go bravely into the future whatever it is we are facing.