Sunday, 13 June 2021

Becoming



Begin at the end, they said. 

And so she turned her face towards the full-bodied moon and howled. 

And then again when the moon was gone, to call it back to her night skies. 


Make love, they said. 

And so she found a man with the heart of a lion. 

One who roams the wild, alone, and yet alongside her wildness. 


Collect the bones, they said. 

And so she dug deep, pulling remnants from her chest which no longer served. 

Bones to be honoured and then buried in the woods to be returned. 


Listen, they said. 

And so with eyes closed she brought silence to the screaming world around her. 

In the white noise the words she needed to hear became clear. 


Raise the children, they said. 

And so with a softening she turned to her inner child in remembrance. 

Standing tall for those who are not yet grown and yet someday will be. 


Be grounded in belief, they said. 

And so she questioned and answered and kept her friends close. 

Building a forest of strength, so like a tree surrounded she would not fall in the storm. 


Walk the earth, they said. 

And so she ventured, journeying far but always returning. 

Sometimes staying close, to find new secrets in the familiar and the known. 


Sleep, they said. 

But she was not yet ready, and so drifted and dreamed alongside the stars. 

Asking questions amongst them until the dawn brought awakening to her soul. 


Feast, they said. 

And so she did. 

On all the world had to offer, 

And in return she learned and grew and

Became.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Six Degrees


They say the world is a small place, but sometimes the reality of that statement hits you so hard and in such unexpected ways that you have to stop for a minute and take stock. Living in a small town (which has played host to my family for four generations in varying capacities), those six degrees of separation shrink to about two. It’s not even people sometimes; even a location can spark the wheels turning. 


Small towns and their inevitably slow pace of change sometimes make the years and the scenery blur together so much that I don’t even notice them, but as I paused outside of one of Kamloops’ well-known eateries the other day with my friend D those six (or two) degrees got me thinking about how much *has* actually changed. 


The Art We Are serves up latt├ęs and lunches to a hungry artistic crowd, and their neighbour Botanical Scene is busy making everyone’s homes greener, but the building that houses these popular spots (The Freemont Block) has a history that traces its roots back to immigrant John Fre[e]mont Smith. This foursquare brick building was built by Smith in 1911 after he found success in… well literally everything. Alderman, shoemaker, prospector, businessman, Smith’s list of achievements could go on for days, but you all have access to Google, so I’ll let you discover more about him yourself! 


My history with the Freemont Block starts circa the early/mid-1990s. By that time the building was occupied by the Camera House, another downtown staple, whose schtick was  - you guessed it - cameras and the accoutrement that goes with them. My dad was also a photographer and, in typical small town fashion, did business with the Camera House - so once and a while I was sent down the block from our West End home to see “uncle” Barry for more film for pops. Favourite memories: one of their employees, Brian, always talked like Donald Duck for us errand-girls; if Dad came with me, he could always be talked into a slice of cake at Swiss Pastry or a donut at Tim Horton’s down the block; and spending the pocket change dad paid me on 5-cent candies at Erwin’s!


The next chapter of this building’s personal connection came to me in high school, when I met my BFF, A. Over the years A and I have discovered that we shared a LOT of the same childhood hangouts, ranging from our brief time in a Catholic private school to being on rival soccer teams, and yet it took us until an art class in Grade 10 to actually be in the same place at the same time. There were Skittles involved this time around, so clearly it was meant to be. I don’t think we knew right away, but we later made the connection that her parent’s yoga and bellydance studio lived above the Camera House for a few years - just a few degrees of separation away.


A more recent late night stroll making sure that my original A bestie (yes, apparently I have a small A-squad) got back to her hotel safely revealed another connection to the brownstone. A (the First) spent most of her childhood in Kamloops, and may have ditched the Interior’s sagebrush for coastal surf, but she inevitably winds up back in good old Kamloops - at least for a time. On one of these sojourns she was working towards one of her many degrees, and needed a place to stay, and apparently the place of choice was a cool downtown loft. I heard the stories at the time of the XXL Christmas tree that toppled, wardrobe simplification techniques, and the boating adventures that are the only way to get through overheated Kamloops summers, but somehow I missed the fact that her exposed brick walls were none other than the familiar Freemont Block! 


And that brings us back to today: standing on street corners, wondering what small bits of history lie hidden amongst the brownstone and bricks, while we wait for pastries. At this point, I don’t think that I could be surprised by any fewer degrees of separation with the world, but I still can’t help but wonder… 

Sunday, 30 May 2021

1985


The internet can be a funny place, full of interesting trivia, connections to far away friends, and (maybe most importantly) funny animal videos. And yet, sometimes what the nostalgic web reveals can pack a bit more of a punch than we expected…


No, I’m not talking about Facebook Memories - they’re a whole other bag of mental gymnastics-inducing depressing or joyful moments which fully deserve an entire blogpost of their own. Rather, recently I keep stumbling over a particular music-based clip trending inevitably from the newest-fangled web portal of amusement (TikTok) which makes me laugh for a second until the cringes set in. But not for the reason you’re thinking - but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 


In said clip the Tiktok-er (is that what we call them, idk?) has an unfortunate revelation about the aparent drabness of their life while listening to the classic nostalgic banger “1985” by Bowling for Soup. The song begins on a positive note, led by and upbeat drum beat and catchy guitar riffs, but as the band begins to wax eloquent about lost opportunities and sour memories the listener begins to think that the song is about them…


Were any of these kids even alive in 1985?! I sure wasn’t, and even though I’ll always have a fondness for the mid-decades of my childhood, my high school years, and even my 20s (as an amalgam for what the band’s singing about), I’m going to call bullshit on lamenting all the things in life that have gotten away. Staunch disbeliever in FOMO, here, if you couldn’t already tell. 


Sure, there are always going to be missed opportunities and a certain sense of “how did we get here from there” as we get older, but sitting there and whining about the choices we made isn’t going to get us anywhere. So you didn’t dance on Whitesnake’s car (an opportunity to hard-pass on, IMO); so you married a CPA (presumably he likes other things than finance…); so you bought and paid for that yellow SUV (way to stand out in a parking lot!), but none of that has to be a negative if you don’t want it to be. There are new places to find music other than MTV, that antidepressant is doing its job to boost your serotonin levels, and you bet your ass there’s a podcast (or twelve) out there to satisfy your craving for radio sitcoms. 


Limits went out the window with the millennium, so here’s to having access to a way bigger world of opportunities than were available in 1985 (or even 2005). So, Debbie, rather than hitting the wall, maybe it’s time you broke right through it.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

She

 She was told: 

You’re too loud.

Smile more.

Do as you’re told.


But the furrow in her brow was a warning of what was inside. 

Lips pulled back and teeth bared, 

(as she complied, with a smile)

Her howl shook the room. 


Turning to her 

sister

mother

daughter

And to the Moon, 


The voices outside her now silenced in response

As her bloodied footsteps walked away


To the trees, who echoed her howls with whispers

To the paths, where her hands were unbound

To the waters, washed with stones

Where her voice became soft once again.





Sunday, 16 May 2021

Lost in Sagebrush


I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s classic novel American Gods earlier this week, and it got me thinking about journeys. In the novel, Shadow Moon, our stalwart(ish) protagonist has just been released from prison, and he has a plan: move back to Eagle Point, kiss his wife, and live happily (quietly) ever after. Now, this is the beginning of a lengthy novel, so you know from the get go that things quickly go awry for Shadow, and he falls in with an unexpected crew in the form of some wayward gods of the Norse, African, and Egyptian persuasion. 

Shadow goes along with their scheme to regain their power because he has nothing better to do than to ride along and see where the road may take him, much as he has his entire life it seems. On this journey it is revealed that he is not really living, not taking in the meaning the his life, and doing far too much of what other people want rather than thinking about whether that is what *he* actually wants. Hmm. 


Far be it from me to fall into the over-used adage of “fear of missing out”, but Shadow’s (and our) revelation has something deeper going on than simple FOMO. Shadow might be taking the journey, but what is he getting out of it? He’s sure not particularly interested in the outcome and Wednesday’s joke about him becoming King of America holds no ground, so why is he even bothering to walk the road? For that matter: has Gaiman (through his magic-ladden world) revealed something integral about human nature - that we’re all walking the same roads, towards many of the same goals, but are we asking the right questions of ourselves and of the world along the way?


I would argue that a lot of us aren’t. It’s all too easy to fall into the same patterns of behaviour and ultimate life goals that we’ve been raised with since birth and see endlessly mimicked by society around us: grow up, get a job, start a family, make our mark on the world, ad nauseum until death do us part. But, a lot of us never ask why - mostly because it’s easier not to. If we question too much we end up breaking our relationships and our lives, because most people don’t want to hear the questions being asked, much less contemplate whether making a change and taking a side road is an actual option. 


In fairytales, too, (our childhood guides into the ways of the world) we are told not to stray from the path lest the will-o-the-wisps and goblin market lead us astray into the paths of ever-hungry wolves. Keep to the highways and byways through the woods, and only stop at Grandmother’s house before returning safely home. Even in the stories where the rejected child sets out from home to quest for a better life, they set foot to well-trodden path, walked by millions of unrequited souls before, in the hopes that they will find the (practically expected) glory, riches, or satisfaction. 


What many of these fairytales seem to miss, and what Gaiman hints at, is the fact that some of us are far more than simple questing rejects: by living through life’s challenges we have become wolves. Maybe not in the traditional sense of fur-covered beings, but of wild things that cannot be contained by the walls of civilization and who cannot look on humanity as a simple living organism. Beings that need to run free along the natural paths of the forest, led by pure instinct and internal fire alone. Wolves that howl not just at the moon, but for the sheer joy of freedom and of Self. Like Shadow Moon, we must occasionally run (or maybe saunter, since who’s rushing towards the End) alongside the earthly gods and sacrifice what we thought we held dear to find the way forward through the mists and out the other side of the forests. Along the way we have seen too much of the other side to go back to the paths that came before, and maybe it is in that discovery we find the spark that keeps us questing for ever-new paths and states of being. That spark which keeps us howling at our own Moons.




Sunday, 9 May 2021

And Just Like That...


... four years had passed, and ne’er a word was seen on this blog… But that’s all about to change. That’s right, people, this bitch is back! 


Maybe it was binge re-watching Sex and the City for the first time in almost a decade, seeing Carrie Bradshaw put pen to paper (or MacBook, more precisely); maybe it was the coming of true Spring vibes with Taurus season, hard on the heels of a fiery Aries-month of birthday celebration and much reckoning; and maybe it was just time to take a look back, not in anger but in fondness and remembrance. 


This blog has always been a bit on the random side: vacillating sharply from love-lorn gushing over fashion artistry (that I’ll never be able to afford) to scathing critiques of the people and places I despise (which could truthfully be an entire blog unto itself). And thus it shall continue, in the sheer randomness that inspired it from day one until now. How about we blame that on my Gemini Venus, shall we? 


So let’s start with this new chapter with a little redux, because, as Carrie Bradshaw so wisely said “They say nothing lasts forever. Dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.” And what is a blog but a friendship with yourself and with the world - putting it all out there in whatever messy, haphazard, and random form it is, and hoping that the people who get it feel the same, find meaning in your words and creation, and hopefully even in you. 


And that’s where this story starts: on a random Wednesday night in June 2008, when my BFF, A, insisted that we were going to the movies. Looking back, I can’t believe we had the energy to go to a movie that started at 9:55 PM, but we were mere girls of 20 and late night frappucinos still packed a kick back then. Off we went (presumably with our purses loaded with illicit treats, as one does when young a broke) and thus my obsession with Sex and the City was born. From the opening scenes of the streets of New York, to the absolutely overwhelming fashion by the legendary Patricia Fields, from the handsome boyfriends/husbands to the surprisingly hip soundtrack, I was hooked. But it was the girls - Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha - who sold it. No matter how well they were (over)dressed, no matter how perfect their lines and their drama, they felt real. Their heartbreak, their laughter, and most of all their friendship hit the mark. 


Watching the film again (because if you’re going to do a redux, you do the redux right) with A and then starting the series again on my own felt like coming home. Not just because I was back where I started, though that was undoubtedly true as well, but because we were back starting again. 


And that’s where this story leaves off (but even more accurately starts again): with a little bit of nostalgia, and a whole lot of heart.