internal combustion.

23/05/2011 § Leave a comment

And we talk of getting older.

“I don’t know, I just can’t seem to sleep in anymore,” says big B.

“I don’t have that problem, yet, but I am sure I will at some point.”

And I don’t know if I will.

Canada is picture perfect. The drive in the SmartCar from Port Perry — a small and artistic town — to Ottawa — Politcal, capital “p” — was like sitting in a stationary moment with a Hollywood reel of pretty landscape rolling by. Clean cut-outs of tree profiles and neatly trimmed ridges of terrain. My heart fluttered and tears began to well. I had missed the country side, noticing that parks and bare feet in a city did not beat the want of greenery.

“Are you going through your Post-Trip Funk, still?”

And I pretend that I’m not, but I notice weird things. Like dogs on leashes and no wine bottles in corner stores, but in small town counties all over Ontario, they run booze out of roadside gas-stations. And it makes me wonder.

Backyard digging holes for outdoor campfires made me feel a bit more at ease. Barefoot and barely fed, we open fine white wines with a twist instead of a pop and I am thankful for this and I don’t know why.

“Grab the smorkit. It’s under the microwave.”

And a rush of temporary comfort tumbles through.

We roast marshmallows with her decor sticks because there are none to find in sidelined forests (like the good old days). Those days are gone, yes, we are in bare feet, yes, I remember that, but barely. And we need to catch up but I have been in a loop.

Of course, the night ends with deep talks between big B and wee b and I get nostalgic and she knows it. Last time we had endured this was in a different place reading journal entries from high school. Now, we are calm, but we are both a little broken. Life is changing fast and we are not there. Or, perhaps, we walk a different road, yet parallel.

“It’s crazy, I am a mom!” says one friend.

“Yeah, I guess we all have our own changes happening,” I said.

And it is good. Right? Tell me it’s ok and that I’m doing ok.

“You are doing just fine. Just be you.”

And I exhale.


peace in port perry

21/10/2010 § Leave a comment

There is one willow tree beside the pond in Port Perry and I found it. Weeping.

I sat with my legs stretched in front during my “pensive” moment (away from everyone, inside myself).

The branches of sleepy leaves sheltered me from the sub-urban sprawl that barricade the pool. I didn’t want to look at the monotony of architecture and I didn’t want anyone to look at me whilst I sat. Thinking.

My mom picked me up from the last-stop Oshawa GO Station late at night, around 7:30pm, with Bella in the backseat of her two-seater SmartCar. Cherry Red.

The dog was excited to see a new but familiar face and I was happy to put my feet up on my luggage at my feet. She managed to wedge herself onto my lap, pressing my face between her body and the seat. She Smells Like A Horse.

“Mama, I can’t breathe.” But, oh could I laugh.

After squeezing Bella back into the trunk she wedged herself into a crook on the floor. Collapsable Dog.

Over hills and twinkling street lights we drove in a darkness that only exists beyond the city’s borders. We Drove And Drove.

“Almost there, girl.”

My parents’ place is funny. It reminds me of many memories mashed into one: the farm house, the condo in Carleton Place, the downtown apartment in Toronto, the chilly Hastings flat South England. Some how for some reason, it still feels like home. Perhaps it is because they have had the same love seats since I was 6 years old, one of which was my bed for a year when we lived on the farm.  They’ve got good bones. Mama Always Said.

The next day, we sipped morning coffee and took the pup to a field so she could fetch her frisbee. The field is down the paved highway from the pond, a vast space with banks of cookie-cut houses, but  a view of fall-bitten trees and a colour-changing sky. I tossed the pink and floppy disc into the air from my black dollarstore gloves and watched her fly. Bella Is So Fast.

Chicken Pot Pie for lunch.

Pops came home after school. He had a long day but he still wanted to question me.

“Have you read Beatrice & Virgil? It’s good, you’ll like it. You like Kingsolver? You should try Hopkinson, you’ll like her. Are you o.k.?”

Homemade Lasagna for dinner.

We took Bella for her evening run in the field.

“Keep up, girl, did you forget how to walk with me?”

Oh yeah, I forgot.

Dusk was not dark, but red. Bella is a dark-chocolate black. We played pup-in-the-middle to exhaust her. Before we lost her without light, we snapped on the leash and walked home. Very Fast.

We watched television programs on the computer as an adaptation to this changing world. Hawaii 50, Castle, no, no Castle, NCIS, did we watch that one? The Future.

“Hey, did you want dessert? Your mom made an apple-pizza thing. There are only two left, but you can have one.”

“No, pops. I already got my peace.”


Mama dropped me off at the first-stop Oshawa GO Station this morning. The sky and trees were red. Cherry Red.

I thought of the weeping willow tree. Still Green.


10/05/2010 § Leave a comment

What would Joan Didion do?

The very sentence probably would make her laugh in a curiously uncomfortable way, but at the same time feel that all too warm feeling when you know you have made an impression on someone. She has impressed many with her elegance in prose, but I wonder if she knows that her words saved me in during some of my darkest days.

Didion grew up in Sacramento, California, but she didn’t turn into the conventional sunshine-y, valley girl. As she notes, home was filled with dust-covered momentos and moments of mental collapse, she developed a darkness within to shut-out the light.

She has evolved a clear and persistent talent of introspection that, on her best days, would be overwhelming, like a curiously, over-analytical machine. I don’t even know how she got her thoughts on paper.

I had recently borrowed Slouching Towards Bethlehem from L, upon her recommendation, based on the fact that I have read 3 Didion books to date, starting in November 2009. This will be my fourth.

Her prose is inspirational, it’s real and raw and touched with a sense of irony, transparently twisted around political undertones. I write this post as an homage, a thanks.

Although I am not religious, nor do I like to make religious references to people or ideas, I would like to reclaim the b-thumping bracelet brand as a catchy, secular (?), thought process in healing. WWJDD? I do it for every initial I can interject in its place: Y – for you, M – for mom, I – for I, and O – for Oprah (whatever she does, I do the opposite. The Oprahsite? No.)

One of her — Didion’s, not Oprah’s — Personals essays is called On Self-Respect, and I don’t think I need to summarize the gist of it. However, there are parts that need to be shared, the parts that pulled me off the couch that I didn’t move from — for two days — and made me feel normal again, like I wasn’t just a spoiled brat who just couldn’t get over it. I still am not, but, because of her, or at least her words, I am getting better.

Even though I had been reading all of her essays in Slouching, it was her opening line in On Self-Respect that grabbed my attention, and, for a moment, I didn’t need glasses:

Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes one-self.

Wham. I didn’t know what hit me, I didn’t even know if I knew what I just read, if it even made any sense at all. I reread that phrase over and over, and like a mathematical equation, I wrote the basic structure of her words to decipher its meaning. I discovered, through her hidden code, that I, too, might not like myself, not because I was cruel or mean, but because I was losing my self-respect.

My pity party was coming to a close.

A couple pages later,

We flatter ourselves by thinking  this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give.

She was psycho-analyzing my life right before my eyes, right there in black-on-white. Praytell!

To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.

By George, I think she’s got it.


my first snow

09/05/2010 § Leave a comment

Today, I woke up with a purpose, perhaps woke up a little too early, but nonetheless, with a purpose: to get over it and be the b I have always been.

Recently, I have not been having dreams, or only remember snippets of them. I remember drowning in a sea of apple juice, I remember climbing a tree with some friends, but they were merely snapshots of something more complex, but it didn’t matter, even in my dreams I was inside a cloud.

Coming back so much has happened — maybe not happened, rather finalized — that it was difficult to wrap my reality around it. I remember having coffee and conversation with C who said, when the topic came up, b, you strike me as a strong lady.

It was funny, because I didn’t feel strong on the inside, I felt like jelly, like I had been pulvarized by a meat-tenderizer, I felt weak, almost pathetic. I had wanted to cry for far too long.

Then, I realized that strength is drawn from moments of “weakness”. The lower you go, the higher you come back up. For so long, my entire sojourn, I pent up all of my tears and fears inside the cloud, let it expand, let it consume me. I put up barriers between me and other people, good people, intriguing people.

Coming back to Canada, heat hot in my chest, I couldn’t pretend anymore. I needed to let it all out.

This April was the driest April in 100 years. Water was locked inside the sky, the heat from the sun stirring the lakes and oceans, pulling the moisture from the surface into its clutch, not wanting to let it go.

Last night, the cold-front had moved in to temper the accumulated vapour in the clouds. To put a stop to the water being sucked away from where it needed to be, here, on the ground, falling where it belongs, the way the cycle is supposed to be.

This morning I opened the curtains, a little too early in the morning, but with a freshness, an ease of tension, something had broken.

It had snowed.

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