A replay of a favourite… in honour of last nights attempt to watch a horror movie without hurting the one I love next to me 😉

 

I am not someone that you want next to you when enjoying a horror flick.

As anyone who has ever had the pleasure of my company in such a setting can attest to, it’s not fun.

I startle easily and violently with my go-to response being to lash out. I strike, hit, punch, and grab whoever is nearest with lightning speed reflexes.

It’s actually quite impressive, I think. My companions, they tend to disagree.

 

Ten Truths I Have Discovered Through Horror Movies

 

  1. Any encounter with a homicidal maniac is always accompanied with either complete silence or stereotypical eerie, chill-inducing music. Always. (ps, this helps know when to cover your eyes when you’re watching, just sayin)
  2. Your odds of being murdered in a horror movie are directly related to your gender. Female equals kill stock. Males will go too but if you’re female, the odds are stacked against you. If you are pretty, you go sooner.
  3. The caveat to #2 is that females also have higher odds of being the last survivor. This may have something to do with point #4.
  4. Your overall attractiveness and bra cup size will dramatically increase the chances of you losing clothing during your struggle to survive the aforementioned homicidal maniac…and your odds of needing to run *bounce bounce bounce*
  5. We have gut instincts for a reason. Developed over thousands of years to help us stay safe. Why almost no one in horror movies chooses to believe the creepy feeling they have when the porch light goes out and the wind chimes play is beyond my understanding.
  6. The same stupidity and knack for poor decision-making that gets a person in trouble will also help them survive – against all odds, if they are the big name star (who is needed for the sequel).
  7. An adult-sized person can successfully hide behind a tree sapling.
  8. Forests at night are scary. Always. There are no helpful woodland creatures like in Bambi, just predators hunting you as you run at top speed through the trees – and somehow manage to not run headfirst into any of them.
  9. The concept of safety in numbers only works if you all stay together! Do not, under any circumstances, leave the herd to go get a beer. You will not be “right back”. But your body will be found later (accompanied by eerie music or silence – see point # 1 above).
  10. I should not watch horror movies.

It was the first day of middle school for me in yet another new school. Another first day that found me, as was now routine, being brand new and knowing not a single person. I never got used to it but by that point, I had perfected the art of not letting my painful shyness and anxiety show. I took my seat near the back of the room and tried to look like I was busy doing something so that my awkwardness and discomfort at being surrounded by everyone else reconnecting with their friends after summer break wasn’t too obvious.

A girl near me who was the only other person not chatting and laughing caught my eye and asked me if I had a pen to borrow. the teacher walked in and the room grew quiet just as I handed her a pen and said a quiet “here you go”.

“There is no talking in homeroom. Miss, you will be joining me after school today for detention.” Ms. Sage spoke clearly and loudly over the shuffling of bags.

Welcome to room 7-211.

I was mortified and I wanted to crawl under the desk. All eyes were now on me and I could feel the tears hot and stinging in my eyes. I had never had a detention before. I was a good girl. I never did anything wrong or got in trouble. Assignments were never late. My marks were always perfect. I never drew attention to myself. In one sentence, Ms. Sage had impacted me in a way that I couldn’t make sense of. With her words, she showed me that she judged me based on a split second and that glimpse of my actions was not in line with who I was. I wanted to argue and explain but that would have just brought more attention. So I sat and nodded, trying to make myself as small as I could. As invisible as I could.

That moment was a stark contradiction to how that year ended for Ms. Sage and I; and to this day, she most likely has no idea how much she affected me. For the good.

 

Room 7-211, named for Grade 7, Room #211, was my homeroom and the way our school functioned was that every morning, all students went to their homerooms for first period, which was 20 minutes. It was intended to be a time for students to be briefed on daily notices from the office, schedule updates and to get ready for the day essentially. But that was a blip for Ms. Sage. She would run through the sheet of information that was on her desk from the office in record speed and then we were to do silent reading for the remainder of the period.

Her room had two racks of paperbacks in the back. The kind of racks that were made of metal and that spun on a single tall rod. They were filled with books of all genres and lengths. No graphic novels (this was the eighties and it would be years before those came along), no comic books or romance novels. They were filled with novels that she brought in and changed out regularly. To this day, I have no idea where she got them all. Some had stamps from city libraries with “discard” written across and all were clearly used. Maybe she had bought them, maybe they were donated, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that from that first day when I didn’t have a book to read, I found a treasure trove of books I had never seen before.

I was already an avid reader. I lived in my books. I loved being lost in made up worlds and stories that were anything but my life and the things that I didn’t want to exist in, but did. Since I was a little girl and had learned to read, it had been part of my day so I welcomed the chance to have a safe, familiar thing to do each morning in a place where I was definitely not comfortable.

That year was magical for 20 minutes every day. Those moments lost in new found adventures were my solace and it didn’t take long for her to notice. By Christmas, Ms. Sage had started to walk by my desk every couple of weeks with a book she had pulled from the racks and she would place it next to me as I sat reading. She never said a word as she did this; she would simply put it down, pat it and nod at me. That would be my next book.

Bradbury, Tolkien, Asimov, Bronte, Fowles, Poe, Steinbeck. Frank. I devoured them, fell in love with them. I was mesmerized by the nuances of styles and imagery, by the different ways that each author crafted and danced their words to fill the pages. Her picks for me never failed to incite something inside of me that I hadn’t felt before. One day she dropped a book of poetry on my desk and yet another world opened up. We rarely spoke one on one and I never asked why she would pick books for me.

The last homeroom of grade seven and as we were getting ready to leave she spoke, her voice cutting through the chatter of the students. She looked at me and said “Please come see me before you leave.” I groaned inside. All eyes were on me and there was laughter and the singsong of “you’re in trouble” from a few around me. I gathered my bag and trudged to her desk. She was writing something and without looking up she said, “Go to the racks and you can pick out three books to keep.”. She never looked up at me but she smiled.

To this day, two of those three books still sit on my bookshelf. The third was lost somewhere along my years and when I finally settled where I live now, it was the first book I sought out and bought at a little used book store in town. It’s not the original but it still holds a place in my heart – and shelf – along with those other two. Everytime I look at them or read them, I think of her and wonder if she has any idea how she shaped who I am today with those few moments. Those books she placed on my desk broadened my views and sparked fires that I hadn’t known existed within me.

Thank you Ms. Sage.

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We live in a culture that spoon feeds us contradictions right from the beginning.

On the one side, we are told to never settle or accept less than what will make us truly fulfilled and happy. The mere hint of settling in life is an abomination against our potential and our dreams that burn like little sparks of amazeballs inside of us. We were meant for more than to just go to work and die. You can be anything that you want to be when you grow up. The only limits are the ones that you place on yourself. Never give up. Keep striving and reaching for the stars. Mediocrity and complacency are the slow death of our souls’ brilliance.  I could go on, but you all know the speech.

Flip over to the other camp and you have the face slap that hits us all at one time or another. All of a sudden, the lessons learned and internalized from years of inspirational posters with perfectly graphic enhanced words of wisdom are shot down. We are told to get our heads out of the sand. To be realistic and be grateful for what you have.  That the reason you are unhappy is because you are never satisfied – what is wrong with you? You’re greedy. You would be happier if you would just stop searching and instead, appreciate what you do have. Stop all that wanting and seeking for more, different, better, simpler… insert your preference here. Then, at some point, we may even get the cherry on top tossed at us – Everyone is unhappy and dissatisfied, what makes you think you should be any different? Just think about everyone out there who has it worse than you.

So where does that leave us? Sure, we have the drive or the lack of it inside of ourselves. But we also have everything around us that leaves us like the proverbial squirrel in the road. Not sure what to do or in which direction to go. Like that ill-fated tree rat, we stall and do nothing, hunkering down and waiting for who knows what; and we all know how that story ends. The often remarked “no one gets out alive” adage assures us that death will eventually come along and finish our story for us, the way IT wants.

We can sit and watch that hapless squirrel l and determine, from our safe vantage point that offers a different perspective,  that both directions have potentially good or bad outcomes but staying there has an almost certain outcome of bad.

We have people in our lives that fan the flames of our desires with us, often times for us. These are the people who see your flames flickering out and pull out the moss and twigs and lichen (or dryer lint and balled up tissues – we all roll the way we roll) and they nurse the flames back to life with us.  If you have them, those people in your corner are indeed something to be grateful for. Our society has even developed to the point where you can hire people to be there for you and stoke your fires. People who can help keep you from sliding into the pool of complacency and stagnation. What a time to live in.

To return to the dilemma of complacency though; how do you know which side of the edge you are sitting on? Do you need to kick yourself in the pants – or have someone else do it for you – to get yourself out of the Swamp of Sadness that surrounds you because you feel like there has to be more out there? (bonus points if a vision on Artax and Atreyu just flashed in your mind there)? Or are you mature and informed about your life, options and potential enough to simply be making an intelligent decision to be okay with where you are and to understand the difference between a dream and a fantasy for your goals in life?

For each of us, it could go both ways at any given time. Eventually, like the squirrel, you will run out of time to decide though and there are no do-overs. Just ask pancake road squirrel if you doubt that. Sorry to say that there isn’t an easy answer or one that can apply to everyone. Just don’t be complacent about questioning complacency in your life. That’s definitely not something to be complacent about.

My son looked at the man sitting across from us in the emergency room. It was hard not to notice him. He was handcuffed,and a large, tired looking police officer was standing next to him, trying his best to not engage with him.

My son and I had been sitting in the waiting room for 3 hours by then. Sent here, fast-tracked, by his therapist that afternoon when he could no longer assure her during their meeting that he would be safe. I had driven us straight here from that appointment.

A phone call made while on the way to ask my older son to make dinner for his other brothers.

No, I wasn’t sure how long I would be.

Yes, it would be hours most likely.

No, I didn’t know what would happen.

I would call him later, I promised.

Thank you, I said while trying to sound as normal as possible.

The handcuffed man in the waiting room yelled profanities at the police officer. At the people in the room, at the walls who he accused of listening to him and recording him. He laughed loudly when he wasn’t screaming. He was shaking and spittle flew from his lips as he jumped in the chair trying to get out. Then he stopped, and he cried. He sobbed and he asked the police officer to shoot him, to kill him, to make the voices stop yelling at him, to make the walls stop staring. The police office stared straight ahead and avoided eye contact with anyone.

I stared at the floor, at my son, at the ceiling. Anywhere but at the man who had now wet himself and was silently sobbing and whispering “stop stop stop” over and over. I prayed that they would take him in soon. Away from this room.

A nurse came over with a wheelchair and spoke with the officer. He nodded and turned to speak to the man.

“It’s time to get fixed up, come on, in the wheelchair.” He tried to help him to stand and the man cried harder. “Stop stop stop” now replaced with “I’m sorry” repeated like one long word that never ended.

They wheeled him away. His sobs turning to screams and profanities, threats of violence and death to the nurse as he disappeared down the hallway and behind a set of doors that need a swipe card to allow access.

I let out the breath I hadn’t know I had been holding. I heard my son sigh loudly and he stood.

“I can’t do this.” He was shaking and his voice cracked, close to tears in a way I hadn’t heard through the weeks of angry rage that was the usual lately.

“I don’t want to be like that.” He sat back down and I saw the tears roll down his face. I had no words. “and I will be.” He leaned forward in the chair, his elbows resting on his thighs.

His hands were clasped, fingers twisting against each other as he shook. His knee bouncing with restless energy and fear.

“I promise I’ll be okay. I won’t hurt myself. I promise. Please just take me home. I’ll go to the therapist everyday. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.” His voice was edged with anger now and I prayed that a nurse would come for us soon.

I spoke to soothe him. I told him that we would just talk to someone, that he knew that he wasn’t okay and that we had to do something – something more than what we were, because what we were doing wasn’t helping enough.

I told him that he could get better.

That he would get better.

That this was a good step in that direction and I pleaded with him to just stay a little longer here.

To just give it another half hour.

He sighed and slumped back in his chair.

Three more half hours later and a nurse came for us. They took him to a room alone and me to another to talk with a doctor.

Sorry, they said, there was a more urgent case that came in to psychiatric assessment unit and they couldn’t help how long we had had to wait.

It’s fine, I answered.

Sorry, they said, the only doctor who could do an assessment on my son had just left for the day an hour ago. All they could do now was keep him overnight and try to have him assessed the next morning. Sending him home was not an option, they said. His therapist considered him an imminent risk so they were holding him.

Can I stay with him tonight? I asked. No.

Can I say goodbye to him? I asked.

They brought me into the holding area. Locked metal doors that all opened towards a central nursing desk.

The noise of fists and feet banging against one of the doors from the inside was deafening. The nurses moved about, oblivious it seemed.Threats of death to the nurses, screams, sobbing, all reverberated from so many rooms.

The doctor took a key and opened a door. My son sat on a bare mattress on a floor. A single blanket next to him. he was wearing a blue hospital gown.

“Can we go home now? I promise I’ll be okay.” his voice cracked.

We both knew he wanted to be.

We both knew he wouldn’t be if he came home that night.

I stayed with him for as long as they would let me. Then I said goodbye, promising to be back first thing in the morning.

He stood to say goodbye and he hugged me. Tears that his angry 16 year old self would not let fall hovered on his lashes. I turned and left as my own tears fell.

We both knew that tonight, at least, he would be okay. And that night, that was what mattered the most.

 

I started NaNoWriMo this week. If you don’t know what that is, you can check it out here. It is a month long novel writing extravaganza essentially. Where people who are already too busy with living life commit to writing 50,000 word by the end of the month. It’s inspiring and motivating and – fingers crossed – will get you to finally produce that great novel that has been waiting to be birthed for who knows how many years.

I did it a couple of years ago and did finish and I do have a very rough first draft of what could be something good. They really need a follow up month for actually editing and completing because apparently that is also a stalling point for me.

 

The first time I did it, I was almost derailed a few times by a case of “paralyzed by perfect”; this is what I came to know my nearly insurmountable need to edit and proof and perFECT my writing as I was actually writing. First draft? What’s that? It must be perfect from the moment go, or it’s not even worth starting, right? Wrong. Hard lesson learned. This is a trait that has been an issue for me for way more years that I care to admit. A trait that I never really saw as a problem until one day just over 20 years ago.

 

Years ago, I was picking up my son from kindergarten. Kindergarten, keep that in mind. Meaning he was about 5 years old. The door opened and all the kidlets started streaming out, except mine, who was standing there being held back by the teacher. Uh oh. That’s never good. My mind was racing with what could he have done? This was my oldest who, even then, was always well behaved, polite, the quintessential oldest. She waved me over and said she needed to show me something and invited me in.

She came over and showed me the single page colouring sheet that the kids had been asked to colour. It was a simple line drawing of a flower. She explained that 15 minutes in, everytime she looked over at my son’s colouring sheet, it was only covered with a very small amount of colouring and she didn’t know what was taking him so long. Then she saw him stand up, fold his paper in half, walk to the garbage can next to her desk, place it in and take a new sheet and return to his desk where he started to colour again. Clearly something was up. When she went to look in the garbage can, she found almost a dozen colouring sheets with a few strokes of crayon on them; with one stroke of colour on each that was just ever so slightly outside the lines.

He had been throwing out his page every time it was not perfect. She said something that has stuck with me every day since then. That she told him something she had never had to tell a child. “It doesn’t need to be perfect.”.

 

This year, two days in, I have had to literally tell myself – out loud – that it doesn’t have to be perfect and to just keep writing. Even when it feels like every fibre of my being is screaming at me to stop, go back, and correct that horrendous grammar goof that I know I just slammed into the keyboard. You know what though? I left it there. That error, glaring and huge and WRONG.

It’ll give me something to do in December.

PS. Son 1 is still happily seeking perfection day to day but is no longer paralyzed by it. At 27 years of age his motto now is “Nothing is perfect.” But he still tries… those genes run strong 😉

PSS. I didn’t even run a proofread on this. Okay, I did run a spellcheck – baby steps to learning lessons 😉

It’s November 1st and this year that means it’s novel month for me. Fingers crossed that I don’t hate writing by the end of the month but for now, it’s just excitement and optimism.

 

Not sure what it is? Check it out, there’s still time to join up and get going. I did it in 2016 and have a wonderful rough draft of a novel that I keep promising myself I’ll get around to polishing. It worked for me once to kick me in the proverbial ass so here I go again!

 

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there are still days that I don’t care

that “why” will never be answered.

i still ask it.

of you.

of the universe.

of my goddesses.

of the wind, the moon, the ocean.

i whisper it, scream it, dance with it, sleep with it.

 

there are days that i own the lie of my question.

days that i put down my crafted

protection of pretending that

i don’t know.

moments when i reach in and hold the truth

and lift it out of my shadows

where it stays curled up,

away from where it can hurt me.

 

there are days that i love you for not leaving

in silence.

days that i still hear your voice,

your answer.

screamed at me,

whispered to me, shown to me.

it was your answer and you surrendered it.

you were done carrying it.

 

there are still days that i ask though.

because there are days that it feels better

to leave the answer

floating in its gossamer vessel of nonsensical,

hidden.

because the truth in my question

is that i know the answer to “why”

and it doesn’t change the ending.

You know…. I have spent the last week or so trying to figure out why I’m so “weepy”. Meaning, quick to have tears just sitting there and having them just overwhelm me without warning and for , apparently, no reason.

Then it hits me a couple of days ago that maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with grief and an upcoming date that hurts – a date that should be a celebration of a person’s life but instead now will always be “he would have been… today” .

To clarify, I am an expert-level crafter of the state of “I am fine” until I am so not fine that I am an expert-level mess so for me to do what I did a couple evenings ago is a huge thing.

I was chatting on the phone with my sweetie and I got overwhelmed with ugh and grrr about the topic (which was a mundane one to be honest) and I started crying. For. No. Reason. According to my reason-to-cry-meter which I have (and which is perfect by the way).

And here’s the thing… instead of trying to stop or getting angry that I was losing my shit, I just said ” You know what, I’m just sad this week because of X and I’m emotional. And I’m done trying to not be sad. I just am.”

And an amazing thing happened. No, I didn’t miraculously feel better, but the heaviness of it all became different. Why? Because there was just the sadness and the heavy to feel. The weight of the ever-present push to not let it get to me or to be fine wasn’t quite so present all of sudden. Those words I spoke, “I just am.” weren’t defeat, they were acceptance.

Surrender isn’t always about giving up.

Sometimes it is simply giving in – sometimes for just a moment – and letting it be how it is. That alone makes the load a little lighter.

There was a day when

you were not there,

and then,

all of a sudden,

you were.

I looked at you and I was

overwhelmed by the sense of disbelief

of how that happened and how

It.Just.Is.

 

There was a day when

you were here,

and then,

all of a sudden,

you weren’t.

I looked for you and I was

overwhelmed by the sense of disbelief

of how that happened and how

It.Just.Is.