The Things We Leave Behind

September 4, 2016 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The things we leave behind — buildings, people, experiences — rarely disappear altogether. When we look back, we find ruins. Remnants. Echoes.

Hope Chest

I’ve moved a lot since I graduated from Grade Twelve. At least twenty times. I downsized every time! I gave away things. I gave up things. I sold things. I lost things. I don’t miss most of those things.

I gained as much as I lost!

There are two things I miss.

Two manuscripts.

Words. I miss words.

Words that I wrote.

The first is a short story I wrote when I was sixteen; there was an unicorn and a black rose in it. For years after, I searched out information on black roses. (This was before the internet). Were they possible? Could you grow pure black roses? This was a topic I researched from 1975 until the 1990s and I still don’t know the answer. I know you can create black roses by dying them. I know that there are red and deep purple roses that will look black in certain types of light. But to grow a genetically perfect black rose; still impossible I fear.

But back to the story. I sent it into Seventeen magazine. I got back a form rejection slip with a very encouraging note written on it in someone’s handwriting. I’ve lost the note as well. I remember thinking “Now, I am a writer!”

The second of my words that I lost was a romance novel.

I wrote it as an experiment. I wanted to see if I could write 50,000 to 70,00 words. This was the length of a Harlequin romance novel back then.

My first draft. My only draft. I write shorter now: blog posts, essays, memoirs. I’ve not attempted anything longer. Maybe I will. Maybe this November. It was a typical 1980s romance. It was probably staid and priggish. My friend Twyla liked. She was the only one who read it. I did nothing with it.

Though, it might be in my hope chest. So might the short story.

I’ve moved the hope chest here, there and everywhere but I seldom explore deep in its depths. There are bombs in there – my wedding pictures, my parent’s after-divorce letters and other such emotional flotsam and jetsam!

I try to stay away from bombs even though there might be treasures also strewn within the minefield!

Thus, these things I’ve left behind may never be found!

Image result for bomb emojiImage result for explosion emojiImage result for bomb emojiImage result for explosion emoji

I was born in 1949, and by the time I was 10, I figured out that my hope chest was not aimed in the same direction as everybody else’s was. And that life was going to be very, very complicated. And that I could either be provocative and declamatory, or shy, retiring and scared. ~Dorothy Allison

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Book Quotes: Shiny

July 31, 2016 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions, and more. (Author’s note)

Shiny

…she was the one artists would want to draw…She was the one who would someday know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portuguese and Basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire. (p. 24)

It wasn’t a Gothic cemetery; there were no mossy angels weeping miraculous tears of blood, no crypts or curses or crumble. No poets or courtesans were buried here; no vampires slumbered belowground. … Even the dead loitering here spoke of dull things, like the one who worried she’d left the stove burning when she died. (p. 45)

(Goblin Fruit pp. 1 – 55)

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Lips Touch: Three Times
by Laini Taylor
Toronto: Scholastic, 2009 Lips Touch

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A Year’s Worth

August 2, 2015 at 8:15 am (Blogging) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I published my 365th post last week and just wrote an amazing blog post about blogging that I lost as I was trying to save it!!

I don’t think I can recreate it.

It’s been a hard year. The blogging has been okay but life has been annoying.

There have been lessons learned – like always copy your words before you hit save draft!

I’ve been blogging since September 22, 2008. My one goal when I started was to blog weekly. I’ve done that. This is the first time I’ve lost a completely written post. I am feeling frustrated. I am eating while writing. It calms me. Thankfully, I am eating watermelon which is healthy. (The cat thinks she wants to try some). Damn, it was a good post – the ones that get away always are.

What happens in a year?

This is what I write about. My life. My interests. I write memoir. I write using other people’s challenges and memes. I write about yearly occurrences – expect another International Pirate’s Day post in September.

I write for fun. I write for obligation – if only, obligation to my self. In the beginning, my posts were longer and more structured. Now I am more comfortable writing off-the-cuff (like now!).

I can write off a frustrating occurrence like losing a damn good post and keep on. This is good. Especially if it means I eat less junk food along the way.

I write to learn. After seven years, I’ve gotten better at photography, writing and thinking. What inspires me. Today, I inspire me. I lost. I went on. I recreated something. I didn’t give up. Yay me!

I write, therefore I am.

I write in spite of it all (the lost post WAS better).

Birthday Cake

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One Singular Sensation

May 17, 2015 at 8:15 am (Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you could have a guarantee that one, specific person was reading your blog, who would you want that person to be? Why? What do you want to say to them?

This is a hard question. How do I narrow the possibilities down to just one?

There are fellow bloggers to consider; people like Jen and the Paperback Writer. People I’ve actually corresponded with and could possibly meet.

There are the famous I’d like to meet. Those I feel like I’ve known forever like Bernadette, Broadway actor extraordinaire whom I’d like to have seen on stage as the witch in Into The Woods. Susan, whom I’ve followed since Thelma and Louise first rode off into the sunset (and Geena, of course, who is such a smart woman and strong feminist). Jodie, whom I watch grow up on screen since I was just a wee bit like her. They could help me understand how one lives a happy, happy life in spite of all the idjits out there.

Then there are the historical women like Mary Shelley and her mother who had such interesting lives despite society’s views on their womanhood.

And what about all my fellow spinsters out there? I don’t have enough time to explore them all.

The answer to this question changes daily, nay, hourly, or by the minute!

Tilted Angel

My choice right now would be someone alive and kicking, someone nearish to my age so we could be life-long admirers of each other’s works. I would have liked to have had her childhood (she grew up in a funeral home) and I get her references because we have the same cultural markers in our lives. I shall start following her on facebook because, in this day and age, I can.

Her name is Alison Bechdel and I have read her comic since the beginning though heaven knows how I (a young woman in rural Saskatchewan) ever first discovered it since, Dykes to Watch Out For, a cartoon strip that ran for twenty-five years, between 1983 and 2008, ran mostly in alternative newspapers.

Her view point is not mine. Her life style is not one I aspire to. I like that she, as all these women do, shows me a different world that is, in many ways, exactly like my own.

So, here we have today’s (this minute’s) one singular sensation whom I would like to be reading my blog.

 

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The Attic

February 1, 2015 at 8:15 am (Fun) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Shirley Jackson, in her book Life Among the Savages, writes longingly about the first house she raised her children in. It was old, it was large, it had five attics one of which could only be accessed from above one of the others.

I am intriqued by attics. Exciting things happen in attics. Scary things happen in attics (ghosts like to live in attics). Attics are for hiding in and exploring. One could lose days, weeks, months, years trapped in an attic with only one’s imagination for company.

SC Funeral Home 01

What type of houses have attics?

Century old farmhouses have attics. Houses newer than 100 years old very seldom have attics. Attics need space and air to grow. They need time to ripen.

Manor houses have attics. Former owners, who use to have a lot of money now only have memories and attics to store those memories in.

Seaside cottages have attics. There must be a place to store unused beach chairs during the off-season and a place to dry swimming suits in the summer with room for beds and reading and day dreaming.

Haunted houses have attics. It’s a common fact that ghosts like attics to reside in. Basement are too damp and the rest of the house is too busy accommodating the living. Ghosts, on occasion, will stomp through a kitchen or preen in a bathroom mirror but at daybreak they prefer an attic to retire to.

What happens in attics?

Adventures happen in attics. Hours are wiled away as corners are explored, trunks are opened and new friends are made. Cats slink in corners and bats rest in the rafters.

Doors open to new worlds. Are you in the past, present or future now? No one really knows anymore and no one really cares.

In a blink of the eye children grow up and move away only to return with their own children in tow. Old men wear hats. Dresses have bustles. Which queen is it in that picture? Whose baby carriage was that? Is that really old great-aunt Mildred in that picture? She looks so young and witty there.

Half-asleep, drowsing in the attic heat, young girls discover love.

SC House 01

What gets stored in attics?

In this corner there are dress up clothes. There are luxurious wedding finery, tiny little baby blankets and grandfather’s stovepipe hat. What shall we try on first?

In this box are old toys. There is a tea set, a train set, many, many dolls and a worn teddy bear. Who will come alive first – that creey doll or that patchy tan teddy bear?

Like a maze, there is old furniture everywhere. We wind our way around old chairs, duck under the oak table and pause, wondering if we should dare open the ebony wardrobe. The little one stops to pet the hobby horse. The older ones are intrigued by the steamer trunks. What journeys have they been on? Why does no one travel like that anymore?

All these trunks, scattered willy-nilly, hither and yon, hold such treasures and wonders within.

Whose love letters are these?

Key Hole Window

Does anyone have an attic (or two, or three) that I could explore?

February’s posts will be inspired by the Ray Bradbury Noun List.

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My iPhone Lies

March 23, 2014 at 11:40 am (Life, Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am a late adapter. That means that I am never the first one to explore new technology. I got my first cell phone (a SmartPhone) in August of 2012 – less than two years ago. However I did jump right in and get an iPhone as my first phone. I was seduced by its image.

Peace Blue Zebra Case_Cell Armor

My iPhone lies. It says I am sophisticated. It tags me as a Sex in the City gal.

It tells people that I would be completely at home living in New York City, attending Broadway plays on a regular basis and spending the rest of my time hob-nobbing with other New York City writers.

When I was much, much younger the thing I wanted to be most was a writer living in New York City. A Carrie, if you will. Though back then Carrie was Helen Gurley Brown, the penultimate editor of Cosmopolitan, who evolved from Arkansas to Manhattan in the 1960s. She went from poverty to literary fame, from small rural town to what was then the literary capital of  the United States.

All the greats, all the women writers I admire, spent time writing and living in New York. Sylvia Plath went to Smith, worked at Mademoiselle and eventually ended up in London. London, England – another city I wished to use to live in. I was too poor to aspire to Smith but if I could write well enough perhaps I too could end up somewhere amazing. I envied her path in life but not her end. Why are the writers we so often admire so tragic?

Then there was Dorothy Parker, witty, not so pretty Dorothy who wore glasses and only wanted to be sophisticated and feared not admired and loved.

So there we have it, a capsule of New York City’s sophisticated writers from the beginning of the 20th century to its end. I’m a big fan of smart and liberated women no matter what century they lived in.

In reality, am I  a Carrie, a Charlotte, a Miranda or a Samantha? I am older then the oldest of them now. The older I get the less I want to move though New York City, London and San Francisco still haunt my books and occasional dreams. These are on my TBR lists. (TBR = books to be read eventually). I’ve downloaded this Cocktail app on my iPhone.

According to these quizzes:  1, 2, 3, and 4 – I am: 1 = Miranda; 2 = Miranda; 3 = Samantha; and 4 = Miranda.

So, mostly, I am a career centered Miranda with a bit of sex positive Samantha thrown in for fun. I can live with that!

Miranda, somewhat like me, is the pragmatic career woman. Though I wouldn’t say that I am highly ambitious, my own life and career does comes first. However, I will always put my iPhone down to enjoy a cocktail with the girls. I am strong-willed, determined and independent. I want what I want but finding the means to achieve what I want is where I run into trouble.  I like to control my life and my space and each time I move it gets harder and harder to do. I want security. I want to be in a place where I’ll know that I’ll never have to move again and I would love to have a relationship with a stable, self-sufficient employed man.

What book character am I?

There are too many to name. I seem to reinvent myself with every decade. My music tastes evolve. I read more widely in many more genres. I get pickier about what I watch on television. I seem less and less to fit in with the norm – not that I ever was miss popular small town wife and mother to be.

I was always slightly different from everyone else but I got very good at passing as normal (or whatever normal seemed to be at the moment).

There is a certain power in names. I renamed myself for this blog. Here, my name is gigi (no capitals please). gigi’s inspiration is e. e. cummings, and the 1958 musical, Gigi.

gigi would not feel uncomfortable living anywhere in the world. She would be friendly while still maintaining her independence. She would be a woman of means who would age gracefully. She would love to wear vintage clothes and wouldn’t care what people said about her unconventional life.

So, as Helen Gurley Brown said:

“After you’re older, two things are possibly more important than any others: health and money.”

And Dorothy Parker opined in her poem, Resume:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Myself, gigi, can only hope to one day be as witty and suplime.

Here’s to life – wherever and however you end up living it.

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Following the Stats

January 12, 2014 at 8:15 am (Blogging) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The new year has started and I am overly consumed by statistics. Work is ruled by stats as we look at how we performed over the last year and here, at my blog, WordPress has sent out their annual stats report.

I am conflicted about how useful stats are. In university one of the most interesting books I read was a slim tome called How to Lie with Statistics. It was first published in 1954! I’ve looked at the value of statistical reporting differently ever since I read this book. Still, this is the world I live in – a world that wants me to track everything statistically. I most prove my worth with numbers!

In 2013 my blog was viewed about 11,000 times compared to 2012’s 24,000 views. But then in 2013 WordPress changed how they collected this data. They now look at views vs visitors where they use to just count each view. It’s hard to think about 11,000 individuals reading my words over the year. Did they enjoy the words? Did they understand what I am trying to say and to do? Do they like my words? Do they like me? Do I blog to be liked? Should I blog to be liked?

My most popular post is Polytechnique (the movie) for both years. I suspect that this is because of the heart graphic that illustrates the post. The heart graphic is a very popular image search result in Google. My best ever day was June 25, 2012 with 817 views. Most visitors who find me via searching come mostly for the heart border and lily or tiger lily pictures which are common images/pictures that I use on my blog. I love taking pictures of lilies.

In 2012, I had visitors from 145 different countries which dropped to 138 countries in 2013. Which countries stopped reading me I wonder? How many countries are there in the world? Google says around 196 – could I get a reader from every country? Does anyone? Yes, I could get more visitors by publicizing my post, following others or interacting via comments more but is this what I want.

1837

The question becomes “Why do I Blog?”

When I started my goal was to write a blog post a week and I’ve mostly done that. Occasionally, the post is a short “no post this week” and 2013 had a lot more photo meme posts than any of the other years. 2013 was a bad year – I dealt with a lot of major & minor issues this year but I still wanted to be committed to writing a weekly blog post. Photo memes, like this and this, helped me do that. Plus, I found a lot of interesting blogs to read by seeing who else was participating in these memes.

When I started blogging I used more words and less pictures. Now, I use less words and more pictures. I’m proud that in just over 5 years, I’ve written 283 posts and have 137 drafts (mostly just short point form ideas) to draw from.

My goal is not to blog for the stats. My goal is to write a blog post per week as long as the muse entices me too.

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Thanksgiving Prayer

October 13, 2013 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , )

Pink Roses

We remember this:

We have food while some have none

We have each other while some are alone

Food offering:

All you demons and hungry ghosts

Whose desire is never satisfied

Share it with us

Be at peace

We are grateful for this food —

The work of many hands

And the sharing of other lives

(p. 72)

The True Secret of Writing

by NatalieGoldberg

N. Y. : Atria Books, 2013

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A Poetry Interlude

May 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm (Goth, Meme, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

One hour in a time machine. Where to?

Today’s post is brought to you by Plinky; a daily prompt service provided for us by Automattic.

I give to you – a Villanelle.

Time Travel

Backwards. Forwards. Anything is better than standing still.
Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go?
There is too much quiet. I am inert, motionless, still.

Climbing up, heading beyond, growing over the hill;
Time is standing still and I am slow, late for the show.
Backwards. Forwards. Anything is better than standing still.

There is nothing and nothing. I have no free will
To be anywhere but here? To go with the tide’s flow?
There is too much quiet. I am inert, motionless, still.

There were cries. There were screams. Freedom? (Bastille).
Who would I have been? Far, far away and ever so very long ago.
Backwards. Forwards. Anything is better than standing still.

I was not, never was, one of those dressed to kill
Never there in the frost, snow when a boat hit an ice floe …
There is too much quiet. I am inert, motionless, still.

I am drawn to the cold, a creature enamored, heartless, chill …
I am Distance. I am Time. I court Death. (You know).
Backwards. Forwards. Anything is better than standing still.
There is too much quiet. I am inert, motionless, still.

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Things That Make Me Smile: Words

March 6, 2011 at 11:57 am (Blogging, Meme) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Words, words, words; words are some of my favourite things.

Words inform:

Words delight:

Words elicit laughter:

Words tell us what you believe in:

Words reassure:

Words instruct:

This post is for Weekly Geeks: 2011 – 9 which is titled, “That word we never use.

This week’s challenge has four parts:

1 – I would like to make you all parents and send you over to Save The Word.org to look at all the words that are either not being used enough or are due for a cull probably within the next couple of years. Adopt a word.

As you can see in the photo above, the word I adopted was gelicide which is a noun. It means a frost and is used in the following sentence so that you all can get a sense of what gelicide means.

Those poor garden gnomes – they’ll die from gelicide if we don’t bring them inside.

I encourage you all to rush over and adopt a word – it was a fun and rewarding experience.

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2 – What is your pet peeve word? – The word that makes you grind your teeth with either it’s over use or being used out of context.

I have no pet peeve word per say but grit my teeth every time some one misuses the plural, that is, they write sister’s when they mean sisters.

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3 – What is a word you adore, or a word that you feel is not used enough. Irrespective of meaning or even era it’s a word that you just love.

The word I adore I have not been able to find in any dictionary. That word is sundelightful – I fell in love with it the minute I read it in a book. I wish I could link to the book but it’s been decades since I discovered the word and forgot the referenced book.

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4 – Lastly what is your opinion on word culling or the rise in “text speak” that’s happening now.

I’m in favour of words so I have no problem with new and evolving languages. I wish I was better at learning languages as I love to pepper my speech with foreign words but will only do so if I can explain the foreign word or phrase that I am using.

Words, words, words: I love words. When I went back to school in my thirties (shh – I’m old, aged, ancient, decrepit, experienced, mature, geriatric, antique) I discovered the multi-volume print edition of the OED. I could spend hours sitting and exploring all the words stored within. This is something I covet; I want to own the print version of the OED. Does anyone have a spare $1, 595.00 + (today’s price) that they do not need and could give to me?

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