Buying My Own Toys

December 13, 2015 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve written before about the reality and consequences of buying my own toys.

How once I had bought myself the Thumbelina doll I had so desperately yearned for at seven and what happened to her.

I’ve written about the reality of being poor during the holiday season.

I don’t remember making Christmas lists or visiting Santa to ask for what I wanted. We were poor. I knew we were poor and I understood I was to be grateful for what I got no matter what it was. I remember wanting a Thumbelina doll so bad and never getting one.

I’ve always been poor. I’ve never made more than $3,000 a month (not poor for a year or two) and I’ve lived on less than $7,000 a year (poorish). I say poorish because I’ve always had adequate food & shelter. What I’ve wanted for is the extras like raspberries in January or the latest fad toy.

So, when I can I indulge myself in silly things as inexpensively as possible.

Troll plus Frogs

Like this troll. Growing up, in the 1960s, I yearned for a troll doll or a million like my friend Laura had. I loved their long, wild, vividly coloured hair and cute little physique! Laura also had a troll castle or at least I remember it as being a castle but according to the ubiquitous internet there is no such thing! My memory is not wrong ever (LOL)!

We spent many an afternoon upstairs in the cop shop (her dad was our small town police officer) playing with her naked troll dolls. I don’t remember her troll dolls having clothes or belly jewels. Anyway, everyone knows naked dolls are best!

I just remember how badly I wanted one. And now I have one. She lives in the kitchen keeping watch with her two frog friends beside her. I got her and the frogs for free. They were some of the lost and unclaimed tchotchkes that somehow ended up in the high school library when I worked there. Teenagers carry around the strangest things! At the end of the year anything unclaimed was repurposed. Thus, I acquired a troll doll with not too weird blonde hair and a trio of frogs, one legless – poor thing. Adults collect the strangest things!

WW1

I also have some Wonder Woman stuff. She’s my favourite Super Hero! She’s strong and independent just like me! She belongs to a community of like-minded women. She’s been around for a very long time. She’s a hero after my own heart.

WW2

The doll was acquired in 2004 when I was old. Way too old for Barbie dolls. I paid around $25.00 for her. She was part of a trio that also included Batgirl and Supergirl. Looking back, I should have bought all three.

I’m not the only women who yearns for Super Heroine figurines as the new 2016 collection implies.

Wonder Woman is guarded by Mama elephant and I’ve never used the Wonder Woman pen and pencil set.

Collection

I’ve bought toys for myself for over thirty years now. The crystal unicorn was a gift to myself when I was still married. The MASH jeep invokes feeling of nostalgia for a 1970s TV show that was fun and provocative. Cawper, the poppet, is recent and makes me smile.

The Lego warrior I spent way too much money on. She was one of the mini figures in the series that included the librarian. I wanted the librarian so badly that I spent over $100.00 on buying the series mini figures. I never got the librarian but discovered I liked the warrior woman almost as much. She is guarding the baby elephant in the photo above!

Gumby_Pokey

Ah, nostalgia. It is the reason for most of my toy purchases. Like this Gumby and Pokey that brings back warm memories of sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons and having fun. Everything old is new again. My parents told me this once or twice. I didn’t believe them then. I didn’t believe that history repeats itself. The older I get the more I see the truth in this statement.

Rey_StarWars

Here is the latest toy I bought myself. Rey, from the new Star Wars movie. She cost under $20.00 and I bought her partly because I never owned a Leia doll. I was a teenager when the first Star Wars movie was released and was not buying toys for myself then.

Star Wars then!

Star Wars now!

Star wars Forever?

I leave you with a chocolate death star (Lindt really missed the mark here; this could have been a marketing bonanza).

Chocolate Death Star

Not matter how poor I get I will keep buying myself toys that make me smile.

 

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Pet Pictures

November 23, 2014 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have for you this weekend a simple post because LIFE has become (once again) overwhelming. Enjoy these pet pictures of my previous pets that were mentioned in last week’s post on Secondhand Cats.

First, he is a very blurry picture of Willie, probably taken with a point & shoot camera. Extreme close-up for the win. I think the photo may have been taken when we were under the bed. He was a very patient cat. 🙂

Willie

This next picture was the one I mentioned trying to find last week. It is Willie and Joey on my bed. I can just hear Willie saying to Joey; “Did you wash your face yet, young man?”

Willie & Joey

The white stuffed cat in the background is a pajama pillow. Yes, I kept my pajamas in it.

The next picture is of Truce, again taken on my bed in my second bedroom.

Truce

The room, to me, screams 70s. The colourful pillow was made by eldest sister, there is a jewelry box and radio in the headboard and the pillow to the right is a souvenir pillow I stole from my grandparents. This picture fits right in with Alisha’s weekly travel theme which for this week is colourful.

See you next week for Book Quote Sunday #11.

 

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Death Is Your Gift

October 19, 2014 at 10:22 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“And I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”  (T.S. Eliot)

Mount Pleasant Cemetery_SC

I was a Cemetery Girl. This was before goth was a thing. As a child, my best friend and I use to wander the local graveyards exploring and reading the gravestones. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was a pleasant way to spend a coolish Fall afternoon.

It was usually Fall when you would find us in the graveyard. Leaves would be falling and the world’s axis was spinning into winter and long, cold days of nothing to do. Fall is my favourite season. It is cool. School is starting. There is a quietness in the air. Halloween is just around the corner.

Most of the cemeteries we haunted were country cemeteries; the closet one was a block outside of town. The other one we visited regularly was a mile out. We hardly ever saw anyone else there. It seemed a shame. There was so much beauty and peacefulness there and everyone else was missing it.

We come upon an old woman in black, holding an umbrella against the sun, sitting in front of her husband’s grave on an overturned bucket. She speaks to us in her own language, pointing at the face on the black headstone, crying into a hankie. Lisa gives her a fresh bottle of water. (p. 244)

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Toronto:Random House of Canada, 2010

Country Cemetery (Dahlton)

I still haunt graveyards. I’ve taken pictures of cemeteries all over Saskatchewan, in Scotland and recently in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m always going to regret not being able to get to explore the historical cemetery at Skagway.

Death intrigues me. No, how we process death intrigues me. No, the history sitting around in graveyards entrances me. I am an explorer of the past. I like to explore what use to be.

I also wonder about what is beyond – beyond the shadows, beyond death. What is the next step? Knowing the plan calms me. I like to know the steps, what to do, what ie expected of me at each turn. Don’t surprise me. I hate surprises!

Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery

I delight in exploring cemeteries and graveyards. Did you know the two terms are not interchangeable? A cemetery is an area set apart for or containing graves, tombs, or funeral urns, especially one that is not a churchyard. A graveyard is a burial ground, associated with or beside a church.

I also delight in reading books about the death industry. I enjoyed the television series Six Feet Under and always wanted to live in a large, Victorian funeral home.

The latest funeral industry book I bought is Caitlin Doughty’s book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caitlin oversees the blog The Order of the Good Death that I regularly read and has a series of videos about death and the way we (as a society) deal with it. Scroll down this page for the book video.

I am a cemetery girl. I haunt graveyards. Death is my familiar. I fear not.

 

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Summer Lemonade

August 3, 2014 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I went to a funeral recently in an old country church. You know, a small church way out in the country that only seats a handful of people. Well, at least in my memory it’s way out in the country. In reality, it seems, it’s borders right on the highway. Not a main highway, for sure, just a less traveled secondary highway but still, in my memory, this particular church is way off in the middle of nowhere absolutely surrounded by trees.

Country Church

It was a particularly beautiful summer’s day. The sky was a crystalline blue. There was a slight breeze. The mosquitoes stayed away. The congregation was full of family who loved and missed the deceased.

The deceased was the mother of one of my childhood friends. We were tomboys together. My friend was not there. She had died years ago, in her early twenties; she was the first of my peer group to die. Her death was a blip on the radar screen of my life. She had moved away before first grade and I, then in my twenties, hardly had cause to remember her.

Her mother’s death was more poignant though not at all surprising like Tammy’s death was. We expect the old to die.

Inside

The funeral made me think of long ago summer days. Tammy’s mom and my mom use to take Tammy & I & my younger brother out on drives. Our moms were both alone, divorced, and raising young children by themselves. My mom had no car and did not drive. Tammy’s mom would borrow her dad’s car or her older sister Viola’s convertible and we would drive the endless country roads of my youth. I miss just driving with no destination in mind.

There was no rhyme or reason to where or when. We would just drive. We would end up at the lake or we would end up picking berries somewhere – the edge of a field or the start of an endless woods. We were young, Tammy and I, the world seemed endless.

There were trips to Viola’s farm where we would stay for supper after being at the lake. Viola was at the funeral, she is in her nineties now. She doesn’t remember me. There were horses at the farm, endless trees, and what seemed like an all-encompassing quiet. Country quiet is different than city quiet. Here, I hear the birds and the wind. There, I hear cars on pavement and trains rumbling by.

Churchyard

It seemed then that Tammy and I would be friends forever. We started Kindergarten together and in the summer we would set up a lemonade stand to make money. We were poor and needed the cash to buy paper dolls.

There were optimal places to set up our lemonade stand. The best places were in front of the post office or drug store. Everyone went there. It was where the old people congregated and the old people were always willing to spend a dime on a warm, watery glass of Kool-Aid lemonade. We were not fancy. We were practical. We got the supplies from her house or my house and re-used the Tupperware plastic tumblers until we had sold ten glasses worth. All we needed was a dollar. With that we could get one paper doll booklet that usually had two paper dolls and four pages of clothes. We could play with them all afternoon without getting bored and go back the next week-end to start the cycle anew.

These are the paper dolls I remember best. The King and Queen of Hearts, Romeo & Juliet, Robin Hood and Maid Marian. (Click on the link and scroll down). Story-tale paper dolls. The paper dolls stayed at Tammy’s house. I don’t remember why. Maybe because I had a bratty baby brother plus two older sisters and all she had was a brother who was older. Maybe I was just a push-over. Probably a bit of all these reasons.

Tammy moved out of the country the next year and though I saw her again when we were entering our teens, we were never ever really best friends again.

I went to her mother’s funeral because I hadn’t been able to go to hers. I went to say thank you for the drives and the memories. It was appropriate that it was a summer funeral because it was that summer freedom and joy that Tammy and her mother gave to me.

Cross & Stone

Now. Now that I am old, when I pass a lemonade stand hosted by young-uns, I stop. I have a glass of watery, warm lemonade from a paper cup (we are more germ conscious now) and I remember hot summer days and long country drives.

It is not a straight line that got me here!

 

 

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My First Royal Wedding

April 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm (Faery tales, Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Does every little girl dream of becoming a princess? No. I did not. It seemed to me that being a princess was not very fun; it consisted off sitting around a lot, getting your picture taken by everyone and being pretty. Plus, if you weren’t born a princess you spent your childhood locked in a tower or having to do all the housework for an ungrateful family. Neither option seemed like a lot of fun. I wanted to be Annie Oakley not Princess Anne.

Does every little girl dream of becoming a fairy princess; emphasis on the faery? Again, mostly no. The older I get the more I am intrigued by the difference between fairy and faery.  The true fey world, in my mind, is a little dark and scary, like Charles De Lint‘s Newford tends to be.

I’d rather live in Newford than Disneyland.

Why all this talk about princesses? Well, you’d have to be totally disconnected from any media or my big sister not to know that there is an upcoming Royal Wedding this month.

Wills and Kate are tying the knot and according to estimates, anywhere from one to three billion people world-wide may watch the spectacle on television. I will probably not be one of them as I have to work that weekend. I will watch highlights, I will purchase People the week after and I will wish the young couple well even though I’m ambivalent about the monarchy.  My monarchy, being Canadian I do feel a certain possessiveness towards them.

I was thirteen the winter that I witnessed my first Royal Wedding spectacle. Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973. The wedding was televised and was seen by a television audience estimated at 500 million viewers. A piffle considering how many are estimated to watch Prince William marry Kate.

But I was one of those in the television audience. I shouldn’t have been. I grew up poor and though we had just moved into a bigger rental house, I did not have the access to the media that a good portion of the North American audience now takes for granted. We had one television set and two channels, neither of which was showing the royal wedding in its entirety.

Not even the CBC felt the marriage of the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth was important enough to interrupt the day’s schedule of regular television. It was a Wednesday, what else more important could have been going on?

The wedding was on cable, a new concept in television. We could not afford cable. Thankfully, the neighbours could.

We had just moved a month or two before the royal wedding. Across the street from us lived the high school principal, his wife and their six kids. They had five boys and a very young daughter. Their oldest boy was in my class. Their young daughter liked to cross the street and sit with me on the front step and we would blow bubbles. She was three or so.

They were very catholic. It was a small town. Though we knew the family before we moved we had not interacted much as they were Catholic and we were Lutheran. After we moved, my mom and the principal’s wife became part of a circle of friends who celebrated life changing events together and though the circle is smaller they are still friends.

To condense this long saga to something more manageable; we were invited to their house to watch the wedding that Wednesday evening after supper. Only my mother and I went to join up with the principal’s wife and their young daughter. None of the boys/men were interested in watching this historical event. Imagine that!

I remember sitting on the rug, holding an enchanted, starry eyed young lady in my lap only half-listening to my mom and the principal’s wife chatting about the wedding.

The young princess was just 23 and looked beautiful and regal in an embroidered Tudor-style dress with a high collar and medieval sleeves. Her bridesmaid was her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones, while her youngest brother, nine-year-old Prince Edward, was her pageboy. My grandparents had in their home a family portrait of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (who I knew as the Queen mom) and the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones was Princess Margaret’s daughter. This portrait hung over my grandparent’s couch for as long as I could remember.

The royal wedding felt to me like every other family wedding I had ever attended.

Since then, I’ve watched part of Charles and Di’s wedding as well as Andrew and Sarahs’.  I’ll watch highlights of the current royal wedding this month as well. The spectacle of all this is very enchanting even to me who has no aspirations to the same.

As I said, I’m ambivalent about the monarchy and how it relates to my life.

Imagine what would happen if THE MONARCHY WAS DISMANTLED; read Sue Townsend’s novel The Queen and I for an amusing, witty look at what might happen in this situation and imagine how Wills and Kate’s life would be different without all of us watching.

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Too Soon Gone

March 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm (Goth, Memoir) (, , , , )

Gordie: “Although I haven’t seen him in more than ten years I know I’ll miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?”

This has been a week for weeping. I heard, via the radio, that a childhood friend died a week ago today. It is been over thirty years since we graduated together and almost forty since we could have called each other friends. One grows up, the world turns and everything collapses into a speck of dust no bigger than a pinpoint or a heartbeat.

Death is different in a small town. You are closer to it. When you see the same small group of people everyday, it is easier to notice when someone is gone.

He was my age – a little younger; I was a spring baby, he was a winter. We both grew up in the same small town and ended up here in my city. This is not surprising – this is the city that most of us ended up in.

I grew up here, in town. See that small lot to the right of the pine tree, this is where our house was; this is where me, my two older sisters and younger brother grew up. That pine tree use to be smaller than the Fire Hall.

I was mostly a tomboy then. The crowd we, my younger brother and I, ran with was a rough-and-tumble crowd. Why be inside? Most of us didn’t have television sets, the internet and computer games hadn’t been thought of yet. So we ran, fought, climbed trees, explored the boundaries of our small town and ventured out into the countryside. Some of us lived in town, a few of the others were less than a mile out (this was when we still thought in miles not kilometres).

There was no one available to drive us around and so we walked. We walked and ran and laughed and I have no idea what we spent our days doing. I only know that it was fun and there was laughter and we all belonged together.

We use to have the run of the town/countryside. Poverty glued us together. There was no money for extras and sometimes no money for necessities; it was a land of hand-me-downs, gardens, canning and toil. The crowd I ran with consisted of children of substance framers not successful farmers. Even when the farming boom hit in the 70s these families were left out of it as my single parent mother was.

We ran together until we all moved from the elementary school to the high school; that would have been grade five or thereabouts. We were big enough now for after school jobs but not big enough yet to have access to cars (even though the farm boys knew how to drive before they legally were allowed to). We were changing. We were growing up.

I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t go back to being twelve despite the fact that until I turned thirteen growing up in that small town was perfection.

The funeral was Friday. I did not go. I did not send a card. What could I say about a man that I have not known since he was a boy? How could I convey the perfection that we had then and let slip away?

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Scotland: Before and After

August 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , )

The most important thing you need to know about me is that I am a homebody. It took me decades to finally get an apartment that feels permanent and cozy and me. I live alone. I support myself. I enjoy my space even though it’s not perfect – I could use some outdoor space and I so need a cat.

I have always preferred to study life through a window, to have a barrier between me and the pain. I trust no one with my spirit.

Making arrangements to travel to Scotland affected my body in various physical incantations. This is how I am: when I am stressed it shows on my body. I internalize my concerns rather than voicing them and then, over time, I start noticing bruises. Planning this trip (and all my planning was emotional, I used a travel agent for the practical planning) took a lot of courage. My brain kept yelling at my body. My monthlies stopped completely until a month after I was back from my trip. I got bruises. I got extremely painful gas. I couldn’t sleep. It felt like colic – no wonder colicky babies are constantly crying. I wanted to curl up under the bed and hibernate until I could actually get on the plane. Once the deposit was paid, there was no way I was going to cancel. I was going to Scotland despite what my brain was blackmailing my body with.

A good friend, knowing me all too well, bought me this magnet. She, who is a traveler, an adventuress, gave me sound, practical advice and never ignored my fears, no matter how irrational they seemed.

You will not fit in. That’s OK. You’re not Scottish, you’re Scottish-Canadian. And that’s a cool thing, once you accept it!!! Take anything with you that you want to show to Scotland. For me, that was a photo of my aunt (and I took others but hers was essential). For other people, it’s a stuffed toy or a favourite book (but not so favourite that it can’t be replaced if absolutely essential—although nothing seems to happen to those super-special things, except maybe adventure).

Take your debit card, just because ATMs are convenient sometimes and even though they’ll charge you fees, it’s still better than a cash advance. Make sure you have a four-digit pin, and call your bank and your Visa to tell them which countries you expect to be traveling to and when so they don’t shut down your card. Do you have your camera charger? Extra memory?

And yes, you can buy anything you need in Scotland. I might cost more but that can be OK.

She’s the type to just save up the money, buy a ticket and go. She stays in Hostel. She’s half my age. Is that what makes her brave? I remember being braver. I remember big plans to travel the world. I was going to go places and study history. One of the reasons I went to Scotland was for the history – I love exploring the past. The past is easier to capture than the present and less terrifying than the future.

Yes, I do enjoy watching The Tudors… 🙂

There is a certain elegance to the past. Certain things were not discussed – did you know that in many European cities you have to pay to pee (this I found out at the Toronto airport as I made new friends with the others in my tour group). What I discovered by leaving home and leaving my comfort zone was that there was nothing I couldn’t figure out if I had to; and that the problems you worry and plan for are never the problems you encounter – never even worried about having money for the toilets or what I would do if there were an eight hour delay in Toronto. (I read. I made friends with my fellow travelers. Ultimately, I coped.)

My brain stopped yelling at my body, for the most part, the minute I got on the tour bus.

I enjoyed the trip. I enjoyed the people. I conversed with some Scottish strangers. As always, I solved my own problems as they came up as my friend had reassured me that I could.

When I was back home for about a week, I emailed her tidbits of my happiness. I said that I had amazing news and an amazing time.

She asked me, in jest, if I had met a Scottish Laird with a library and fallen in love (as much with the library as the Laird – she does understand my heart).

I am home. Have been home now for almost three months. I am starting to contemplate another trip. I anticipate my brain will still, foolishly, yell at my body. I will be brave and travel anyway.

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Making Friends

June 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , )

I know that I am not very good and making or keeping friends. I don’t know, not for sure anywhere, if this is more due to nature or nurture. I always was a quiet child. I hide a lot and when I no longer hide, I worked. I had a few friends as a child. We were mainly friends because our mothers were friends and we were all poor and had no fathers, or absent/dead fathers. We spent time together doing things with our mothers or because our mothers sent us all out to play together.

My best friend was just down the alley. Her mom was a widow. Our baby brothers were born three days apart in the same teeny, tiny hospital (less then 20 beds). Evenings the group of us, me, her, my brother, her two younger brothers, would meet in the alley after supper and play tag or hide & seek until it was bedtime. In the summer, the meat market owner’s grandchildren would join us and the cop’s kids from down the street would be part of the group when we had a cop in town that had kids around our age. I didn’t feel alone as much as a child. I had proximity to just enough socialization and when it got to be too much I would go and hide somewhere with my books and read.

I seemed to need to hide, to break off from the group more than the others ever did and I had a hard time coping with more than one friendship at a time. My friends were broken into categories. There was my BF who I hang out with the most because she and her family were closest and we had brothers in common. T, whose mother had a car and who us, my mother, brother & me, explored the countryside with. T was more of a tomboy than me and definitely more of a risk-taker. She hang with the town’s rough crowd the older we got and that scared me. She married young and was dead before she was twenty-five. M & I hung out at church, she taught me how to smoke and one summer we built a fort just outside of town. We grew apart because she started to shoplift and steal. I was too timid to spend my life scared. I find it ironic how much of my emotional life I still spend scared.

All my other childhood friends, like the cop’s kids, moved out and on.

These were friendships of proximity and likeness. They all moved on, both physically or emotionally by the time I turned thirteen.

I have trouble letting go. I get stuck in patterns; invested in staying who I am. My habits haven’t changed much over fifty years – I’m still quiet, I still read too much, and I still have trouble trying new things. I’m not sure I can explain it but if I was this sort of child now, I’d likely be diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.

In my opinion, it’s a good thing I never was labeled thus because it forced me to learn how to step outside my comfort zone; and I still can’t say how much of who I am is just because of my nature.

I grew up poor. We were on public assistance all my childhood and there have been times as an adult, I’ve relayed on government support. I learnt young that it was best not to offer information or answer the phone. I was always worried that I would say the wrong thing and we would end up worse off then we already were. It was a childhood filled with secrets and lies and it didn’t matter if I was at my mother’s house or my father’s house. At my father’s house, we were told to never answer the phone and his lies centered on his alcoholism. Even now, I write out my phone scripts and I still like to have a plan when I’m talking to family. My eldest sister, who I’ve tried to explain this to, doesn’t really understand how stressful I find talking on the phone.

I know who I am. I’m kind of goth, quite morbid, a little artsy, a major bookworm (books are easy, books are safe) and a fan of Musicals. But most people don’t really see me; they tell me I’m strange and “cute” which really means odd and why don’t I try to fit in more (be more like them they mean).

Sometimes, I wish I could and I’m good at being inoffensive and invisible.

Maybe, too much so.

My brother-in-law has tried to set me up a few times. He’s concerned (confused) as to why I seem to spend so much time alone. The last time he was here he compared me to a Taxi, implying that i was content with being alone, because my light was off. If I wanted a fare (company), I’d advertise for such by leaving the metaphorical light on. This metaphor annoyed me and it took me months to be able to articulate why – it’s because it’s not that simple. What if you don’t know how to turn on the light? What if the light’s broken? What if this is the wrong way to advertise? For me, life always seems more complex then it does to everyone else, even the people I know care about me and want to help. If I can’t articulate this to them, how can I communicate with strangers?

It doesn’t help that, as a woman, I get men assuming I want to interact with them.

I was standing at my apartment door, last week, laden down with groceries, getting my key out, when a young man approached me. He said, excuse me and I turned thinking he wanted directions. I’m too polite. I need to learn how to ignore them. He goes on about watching me walk, doesn’t want to sound like a pervert and my mind shuts down. He finishes with, something, something, do I want to f***, and I say no and thank him for the compliment. Later, all I can think is how vulnerable I feel and scared, why didn’t I just go in and why did I thank him for basically ruining my day. Then, I think he knows where I live and what, about me, made him think that I’d say yes to an offer like that. Do I look that needy? I had a stalker, briefly, when I lived in Montreal and I don’t want another one!

This is why books are safer and why alone feels better.

I look at the few friends I do have and did have. The ones I trusted most and felt most safe around were the ones I connected with in University, in my Writer’s groups. The ones who didn’t assume the only fun, meeting places were noisy, smoky, expensive bars. The ones, like me, who need days, weeks and months, to process and articulate their thoughts; the ones who can be quiet and together, writing and talking. I don’t know how to find that here. I want a group that I can hang out with at coffee shops and write with, talk honestly with, and debate ideas with but also ones who I can be quiet with.

My friend, Avis, found this through blogging. She meets up with local bloggers and somehow finds the courage and money to travel to blog conventions. But then again, she dialogues on her blog with her readers and I do not. I love your comments and read them all but it seems silly to answer just to say “glad you understood or I agree.” I only add to conversations on my blog and others’ blogs if I feel like my comment adds to the dialogue.

I worry that I will turn out to be not too good at this social media thing either. That I will tell too much, learn too much, be too needy and just shut down completely. This is why I blog mostly anonymously, so that I’ll have an escape hatch if I need one.

I feel like, a lonely little kid, going up to strangers and begging: “will you be my friend?’

What got me going on about all of this; I can feel you wondering…

At the beginning of the month, I wrote to a friend (via Facebook. I know her in real life but she’s in another city right now pursuing her work dreams), about my upcoming trip, that I was –

“Still scared. What if I don’t fit in? What if nobody likes me?”

She answered, very truthfully, that “as for people liking you, well, I figure the less you stress about it, the better you’ll be.”

Then, she went on to try to get me to stress less by writing: “Meanwhile, I’m concerned about the ash. Stupid volcano. If you feel comfortable, I’d feel a heck of a lot better personally if I knew which flights you were on. I want to know if I need to worry about you or not, and since you don’t have nearly enough people worrying about you and I’m apparently doing it anyway (I’m on a four-times-daily minimum ash watch for your trip already!), I’d love to volunteer for the task. If you’re not comfy giving out that info, that’s fine. I just figured I need to at least ask and give you time to contemplate.” Did I mention, she understands who I am and respects that. I hope she’d say the same thing about me.

Still I stress even when I know I shouldn’t.

When I came back the first thing I wrote to her, inserted innocuously, into the middle of another message was that “I made friends on my trip :-)”

What I meant was that she was right and that though these peoples would not be forever friends, like I hope she will be and that I am capable of making friends out of strangers.

I meant that, because of her, I know how to make friends and that there are strangers out there who will “get me” if I make an effort to know them.

Her reply to my innocuous remark, made me smile –

“Tell me about your friends!!! 😀 Are they Canadian or everywhere-ian? Or Scottish? Some old lord with a manor featuring a hidden library just fall head over heals in love with you and ask you to get married and then he dies and you inherit the estate and library and it’s all awesome?” Did I mention she “gets” me?

So, even though today’s post started out to be mostly a rant, it’s ending in a much better place.

Here’s to introspection and friendships; may you have as much of both as you need.

>

> A message for a new friend, from my recent Scotland tour…

Hi Marjie, I got your Facebook invite but I’m having trouble finding you. If you’re reading this could you email me from the email you used to set up your Facebook account so I can search for you that way. Thanks.

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Chain Letters

July 26, 2009 at 9:58 pm (Fun) (, , , , , , )

I hate Chain letters.

World

Chain

They never work well for me!

For those of you who don’t know…a chain letter consists of a message that attempts to induce the receiver of the letter to make a number of copies of that letter and then pass them on to as many friends as possible.

When I was much younger, chain letters were hand written on paper. They could be exchanged hand-to-hand but were usually mailed. For some reason, they are frowned upon by the Post Office.

So if I hate them so much why do I bother answering chain letters? What’s the appeal? Most chain letters I get promise luck or something more tangible, like a new recipe or a pretty postcard. I like getting mail. I get very little outside of bills. 😦

afairfieldbeachCTpostcard

Recipe chain letters have been around since the 1930’s  and after a quick google search, one of the oldest examples of a chain like game that I was able to find is called “How Far is Near“. I also found an comprehensive academic study on the evolution of chain letters written by  Daniel W. VanArsdale. He states that chain letters have circulated in some form or other for over a thousand years. Wow. It was the twentieth century letter writers who added the making of copies and the giving of deadlines. Which sounds very much like what are business minded forefathers would have thought important. Copies! Deadlines! Efficiency!

Go look at “How Far is Near“. Notice the conditions and deadlines. “Give it to 7 friends in 5 days.” Why? Because if you do you  will find love and if you do not, if you break the chain, you will have bad luck in love. Scary, to those of us who believe in Karma or are superstitious.

The latest twist on this trend are chain letters that are essentially forwarded emails. My latest email of this type compelled me to forward it to at least 8 people. Honestly, I don’t have that many contacts in any of my email lists. My emails are for business and family. Since, this particular email came from a family member, they’d had already forwarded it to everyone I knew. So, there went any promises of good karma for me!

I will say that I am not particularly superstitious though my ancestors were. However, my grandparents left their beliefs and superstitions behind once they left the Old Country; once here in Canada their main goal was total assimilation into the customs of their new home place.

I do believe in Karma. I believe that what we do, what we put out into the world, affects what happens to us. So, I try to keep mostly positive actions in my life. I try to help others out as long as the helping comes at little cost to me. And mailing out a chain letter or postcard or two costs me little.

This simple task reminds me a little of my youth. Exchange chain letters, those asking for something in exchange for getting something, were first mostly popular during the second world war and prewar period (around 1935 – 1945) when my mother was young and had a surge in the 1970s when I was a teenager.

They are, it seems, popular once again in certain circles. At the beginning of the summer, my sister, a reader like me, sent me a book chain letter. My mission was to send one book to the person at the top of the list, copy and send the letter to six people and by the end of the summer I would have 36 new books (new to me) to read.

Book ClubThat’s what was supposed to happen in theory. Yeah, right. I did what I was supposed to do.  I sent off a book and six letters. Within the month, I got four of the letters back as not willing to participate and the other two are lost in the ether. No new books for me.

But then again, I didn’t really expect it to work. What I learnt today, trolling the web, was that most of these chains are mathematically impossible to complete. Which is a bit of a comfort. It means it’s not just me not getting surprises in the mail.

I don’t have good luck with chain letters which is why I usually choose not to participate. So I can’t fault my friends for their choices here. But it makes me sad that I have nothing to look forward to in my mail box. The one that is usually empty except for bills.

It also feels like this action, the not getting of books, it just another reminder that I have no friends. No friends who are willing, or not too busy, to cheer me up with a small surprise through the mail. I want a cool aunt (or friend) who will send me something just because (and it doesn’t even have to be something new or big).

I need more of a social life. I need more friends. I feel like Wall-E hiding under a rock, quaking in fear, wondering if these new creatures just outside my reach will be my friend.

MeFrogs

Hello, my darling. Hello, my baby. Hello, my ragtime gal.”

Michigan J. Frog

One Froggy Evening.

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Circling

March 15, 2009 at 9:13 pm (Memoir) (, , , , )

Google image search

Google image search

You say you are back in the area where you grew up. If you have family members there, perhaps they can include you in some of their circles?

A comment on my last post leads to this post (go read the comments, if you want, & come back). The prominent part of the comment is posted above. I feel the need to explain why this action isn’t feasible in my life. To do this, I need to explain small towns in Saskatchewan and a bit about how I was raised.

If you look at the map, to your left, you will notice a lot of place names. My province has two major cities, many medium cities and hundred of small towns and villages. I’d give you population numbers but I don’t have them. Most of the smaller centres are not on this map; where I grew up is one not included here.

Let’s just say the city I live in now (a major one) has more than 200,000 inhabitants and the small town I grew up in has about 1,000. Right now, I am about two hours, by car, away from family. I choose to not own a car. This is the bane of my mother’s existence. There are many reasons I don’t own a car and I will eventually blog about that! I am considered quite odd for not coveting this essential symbol of the North American car obsessed culture. This is just one of my eccentricities.

In the winter, I go home for the major holidays, usually by bus. Winter, this year, started around the beginning of October and is not over yet. It has not been this cold for fifteen years. Brrr.

Members of my family came into the city about once during that same time period. My mom was just in for a doctor’s appointment and my sister stayed overnight after she attended a concert. I took the day my mom came in as a vacation day and drove them around and I barely saw my sister. She got to my place around one a.m. the night she was in and left by seven…so there was no time to socialize. We both had to work that day.

That’s part of the problem. Why my family comes into the city, I mean. They have busier lives them me (husbands, children, hobbies, sports etc). They come into the city for quick day trips packed with planned activities.

I go home to visit them and hang out at their houses (I have an apartment) and involve myself in their tasks (cooking, cleaning, walking the dog). Their friends are where they are. As stated, in last week’s post, I’m trying to widen my circle of acquaintances. It’s not feasible for them to include me in their circles anymore than they are.

I do have a few nieces and nephews in the city. I don’t feel I have the right to just insinuate myself in their lives. They would, I think, feel spied upon. Yes, I know, part of the problem is that I have trouble asking others for favours. Not just asking family; asking anyone. I’ve been managing on my own for 90% of my life. It’s a hard habit to break.

It doesn’t help that the car culture has changed so much over time. I’ve never owned a car. As a teenager, I didn’t need one. My peers and I stayed close to home. Most of us only came into the city for appointments and school sponsored trips. My nieces and nephews, on the other hand, think nothing of hoping into a vehicle and coming into the city to party and meet friends.

Look at the map again. Most of these places are just an hour or two apart. In Montreal, I thought nothing of hoping on the Metro and traveling two hours to visit a friend. Here two hours alone on the highways and back roads of Saskatchewan can feel like an eternity. An eternity that I need a vehicle to access in the first place.

An eternity, especially in the cold, dark of a winter evening which can start anytime after four p.m. So, instead of venturing out I choose to stay home where it is warm. It doesn’t help that the bus system is crap and I’m too cheap to spend money on a taxi. Seeing the problem yet?

Yes, it’s me. I’m cranky and cold and tired of winter and way too set in my ways. And, I suspect, I’m not the only one feeling that way as Saskatchewan comes to the end of (another) long, bitter, cold winter.

I like all the seasons. Honest, I do 🙂





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