Archive for December, 2007

By Definition

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I got a phone call from my friend last night. She said, “I just read your latest blog. Thought I’d better call.” Oh boy. Is it that obvious? (Thank you Cylia, for looking out for me.) Okay, I’m looking at the word resume, and it’s definition in the dictionary. Resume = A summary of one’s qualifications and job experience. But I cannot find the accent key to make that word differentiate from THIS word. Resume = Return to an activity or a position. Every cell in my being is balking at both these words right now. Yes, I am unemployed. In the summer, when my idle days really started to kick in, I gleefully changed that from unemployed…to unemployable. I refuse now to get back on track, not the donkey track anyway. I don’t want to go round and round in the same circle in the dust, that withered, old carrot in front of me. What I need to do is come up with a new credo for who I am now. These past six months of working for no one and learning how to LIVE, definition = have LIFE or continue in LIFE, and not being defined by what I do to earn my living, has felt so absolutely right.

Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.

It’s time I re-connected with the outer world aka get out of my head and get a job. Time to pay for the roof over my head and the food in my mouth. So I need to play around with a new definition of what I want now. One year my friend Roslyn and I picked BRING IT ON! as how we would tackle the summer. The dog’s sick and the vet bill is going to kill me. BRING IT ON! I’ve got a love interest and I’m kinda’ jittery. BRING IT ON! I feel like quitting my safe job and trying something else that scares me. BRING IT ON! Perhaps that’s the place to start. That will be my acronym and I will advertise who I am and what I want now.


I am willing to work three days a week for an exorbitant amount of money. The position must be fascinating, involve creative thinking, with interaction between amazing, fair, fun, and calm people. My contribution must add something of benefit to this world.

I am grateful to accept a patron who supports my writing.

I am agitating to have a syndicated column a la Anna Quindlen’s NY Times Public & Private, in which I will write about my observations on anything I want. What really spurs me? Put me on a plane, or make me walk! But Ireland is next while my hair is still red.

I have had a re-occurring dream for more than twenty years of the same unforgettable man in a long dark coat. I have never seen his face. I am ready for that man to knock on my door while I’m awake.

Did I cover everything? Gainful self-responsibility? Delirious abundance? The writing life? And the man in my dreams? Bring It On!

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Good Life

What Does It Take?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I was beginning to think…what does it take? Another plane? A diversion? An emergency? Hitting the wall financially? What does it take to finally come home again and know that this is it, this time is the right time to settle down? A little faith is the answer. I am home now and I feel it, and I am going to dig deep. That is the direction that I am going to go further. Ontario was good, the timing of the visit to see my family was right. No one lives in Niagara Falls any more though. But I was happy to see the Niagara River again, to sit in the car and stare at the miles of river, ride alongside its banks until it’s swept over and disappears far below, only powerful mist driven upward by its force.

Above the Falls, not that far upriver, I saw the big, steel scow still lodged on the rocks. It has been stuck there since 1918. When I was a kid I was rivetted by the sight of it. There were two men in that barge when it got too close to the Falls. They were going to be swept over until they hit the rocks. We heard that one of the men was SO SCARED that his hair turned WHITE! Just like that! Before your very eyes. Fact or exaggeration?

(I thought of that years later, after a hair-raising birth at the Niagara Falls Hospital. I never wanted to go there, and I was heading up the highway, in labour, towards my hospital of choice in Hamilton, when my water broke. Knowing I would not make it, I turned back, only to arrive at Niagara Emergency unscheduled, where they did not believe that I was having my baby RIGHT NOW. (I’m so far into this story that I’ll have to keep going, it was never my intention…) When the medical staff finally got it that it really was happening, I was thrown (literally) onto a wheeled stretcher, raced down a hallway and then thrown again onto a delivery room table where my son was born immediately. After the birth I made my way to the washroom, leaned into the mirror, and stared at my sad, shocked face. I was 23, my hair was red. There above my forehead in the mess of curls, were a few strands of stark white hair, glinting in the harsh light above the sink. They had not been there before. So, I thought, it really could be true.)

We drove past a miniature brick house, our childhood home, that had been so spacious at the time. When it’s your whole world it never seems that small. Also, the house I had rented for me and my passel of kids years later, for the grand sum of 140 dollars. The reason being, it was dilapidated and top to bottom a very ugly, faded pink. (And, I am just lucky.) Driving past destination points: a swimming quarry, the oldest, tallest, widest tree that stood alone in a meadow, a favourite picnic spot along the river, the fine, white sand of Crystal Beach on Lake Erie that had thrilled me as a kid. I was surprised at how accessible and how short a distance they were from where we had lived. It had been such a big deal to go to these places with my parents. They had managed to do a great leap, from England to Canada after the war, but planning an outing in the car and driving 20 miles together as a family was one fraught with… anticipation? (Us kids.) Drama? Gloom? Resistance? Irritation? (My parents.)

All the small communities within townships between Fort Erie and Niagara Falls and Hamilton, all the signposts that announced the population and there at the crossroads would be a church, a hall, a post office, a general store, had a certain look. The repetitiveness of it was soothing. This was place, this was history, this was a certain constancy that hadn’t changed and wasn’t changing. The weathered buildings from the four extreme seasons, definitely different architecture from the west coast; squat houses, smaller, older, brick with porches and surrounded by the brown broken stalks of what would have been the gardens of summer.

I had been born here and had at some point gone down these roads or ones like them. I recognized them now for what had been my home, my past, my history, but the nostalgia I felt was not mine to own. Apart from the distinct, encapsulated and burnished childhood memories that I hold tightly, this was not my place any more. Having left long ago, these travels through my hometown, watching the river, and standing in a storm on that same beach at Lake Erie, were experienced now as a visitor, or seen through the long lens of memory.

So I sat again, on another plane, coming back to here. And I thought, I am 40,000 feet high, and I cannot touch the sky. Or the ground. And right now we are hurtling forward 500 miles an hour. I couldn’t touch my childhood, and I cannot touch the future. Forwards or backwards it all comes out the same. What’s it going to BE…HERE…NOW?

A little faith.

Good Life