Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bats in the Belfry

Facebook is the only place to be at 12:30 at night and you’re alone in your apartment. This was my conversation Friday night and Saturday night. It's mostly me talking to myself. This is what writers do. We talk to ourselves. And then, when all else fails, we research. There were, thank God, a few treasured friends there to hold my hand. Love you guys.


ME: Here's how to give an old woman heart failure. I can't sleep. I decide to get up and turn on the light and read some more of this terrible book I'm reading and there is a FREAKING BAT flying around the room. A freaking BAT! This is an older building but there are no holes in the walls or creepy crawly little niches anywhere I can see. The screen door is closed.

I did what anyone would do and screamed. Just a little. Then I saw it land on the screen part of the door and tried to close the other door to trap it. Which did not work so it flew directly at me so I ran screaming to the apartment door and tried to figure out what to do. I opened the door and tonight, Friday night, I can't hear a single party going on anywhere. Who do I wake up at 12:30 at night to rescue me from a bat?

Can you call 911 for a bat?

Anyway I think it flew down the hall as I saw a spot moving down at the other end. Either that, or it's still with me... somewhere in the livingroom.

I'm not turning out the lights again.


Rodents with wings. Dear God. They are so freakin' creepy. Crawling along the ledge of the window with their elbows. Ow. Ew. Oh just ew. There's something horribly primeval about bats.
This could not be the blood sucking variety right? What the hell!

oh my God.... is the bat here or is the bat down at the end of the hall? Where did the bat come from? 
Don't they live in colonies? Like are there more freakin' bats?

Jesus. I'm never going to sleep again.

Vincent ran into the other room and hid under the desk.

Tell me bats aren't some kind of omen.
This was not a little bat.

 "European and Western folklore consistently translates the appearance of a bat as a bad omen and they are even seen as being the embodiment of evil. Bats are often thought to be an indicator that a house is haunted or worse. There is an old German myth that if a bat flies into your house, the devil is after you."

Oh why not just send me off the deep end.... I'm half-way there anyway.

So.... am I going to go down the hallway to see if the bat flew down the hallway or am I going to stay here with the lights on all night? Those are my two choices.

Give the bat a name. This way, it's not so scary. Ebeneezer the bat. Ebeneezer is just a brown bat by the looks of it. He's about a foot long or a bit with knobbly knees. Oh... My... God…

Where is this thing? Frig. Frig. Frig.

Okay.... I am going to go down the long long hallway and see if I can see the bat. If the bat is not there then it is still in my apartment and I can't... oh my god.... No. I can't go down the long long hallway to see if I can see the bat. The bat will start flying again. It will land in my hair. But I need to know. Okay. Rational mind. Find calm rational mind and go look for the bat. Put your hand into the garbage chute room and turn on the light. You need to know where the bat is.

No. i don't need to know where the bat is.

Yes. You do need to know where the bat is.

No. i. Do. Not. Need. To. Know.

Silly girl. You do. You do. Now just do this.


There is no bat down the end of the hallway. There is no bat in the garbage chute room. I know this because I actually crept my fingers around the corner of the door and turned the lights on and then I opened that door and I looked. No bat. So the bat is here isn't it? It's still here. I only imagined it flying down the hallway. The calls are coming from your house.

I guess I'll just hyperventilate for an hour and sleep during the day.

 "The habitat range of the big brown bat is in the southern parts of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and throughout Alberta.[7] Males are solitary, whereas females "gather in maternity colonies in the spring and summer", consisting of up to 75 adults with their offspring.[8] "
oh yeah... oh yeah...75 adults WITH offspring....

There's a colony somewhere. Its. A. Colony.

 I'm in an apartment building in the city. We don't get bats. Who the hell gets bats in an apartment building?

 I do. That's who.

This is just a harbinger of evil. Nothing serious. Just a freakin' omen of death and hauntings. Yeah. I'm sane now.

EK:This sounds like a most harrowing night for you and I'm sorry you had to deal with the bat. I can imagine how freaked out you must have been. I wouldn't want a bat flying around my place either. Did you ever see it again? The good news is that whenever I've heard of a bat getting into someone's place, I've only ever heard of it being one bat. I hope you managed to get a bit of sleep and to get your normal heart rate back.

ME: I slept with the lights on. Made it through the night. I'm trying to tell myself its a nice bat. Bats are misunderstood nice things.

EK: Lol! Yes, they are misunderstood.

SS: Look at it this way, you have your own resident pest control and it's eco friendly.

ME: Fine. Next time you sleep over you can have the bat.

MC: What the f i woke up this morning , and one of the first things i read is your bat story if my mother were alive that would have killed her for sure ,having to deal with this intruder is no laughing matter , so sorry this happened to you the question is how did it get in without you seeing it , very weird to say the least get help today from the people who run the complex .

ME: Neighbour is checking around to see if others have seen this bat.

CB: OMG!!!!!!! I hate bats I'm scared to death of them....get on the phone with ur landlord have something in place for tonight....

ME: Lights. Lots of lights.

SB: Sounds like the night from hell, Sylvia. Poor you. :( If you cannot find help google on how to get bats out of your house. Likely some handy tips. Personally I'm not afraid of bats so I would try my best to guide them out of the house as I am sure they would prefer not to be in your space either. Good luck. :) (Oh and don't believe all that nonsense about bad omens. In some cultures they are considered good luck and a sign of a long and healthy life.)

ME: My rationale brain is saying stop this nonsense sylvia. the irrational brain is not listening.

MC: Ok cool head is needed for today, you can do this...

ME: The bat went to visit my neighbour. He also freaked out. He had the bat at 1:30 a.m. the night before. This means there are bats. Or there is one bat who can crawl through the crack at the bottom of the door perhaps. This bat seemed to have been too big to do that. Now I'm not usually scared of bats or snakes. I can pick up a snake quite easily. It's the unexpectedness of the bat inside. I can handle a bat outside. Flying about eating mosquitoes. Not in the livingroom. I remember a friend with a bat. I tried to help rescue her from the bat. She was living in an old house in the glebe. I am traumatized for life from that episode. We wandered down to her basement which was old stone work. We shone a flashlight into a crack there.... and scores of beady little eyes were looking back at us. Bat colonies. No. No. No. Sleeping with the lights on. My neighbour doesn't know how the bat got into his place. Like me, the doors and windows are secure. Jeez....

CB: That is so weird but i tell you i would have a call into my management asap before tonight,,,,,,i dont do bats

ME hmmm....

"People seldom notice small cracks or gaps on higher buildings, but a 1/2″ crack in a mortar joint 30 or 40 feet off the ground becomes a superhighway for bats to enter a structure. Since they are nocturnal and for the most part very quiet animals, they often use attics for years before the odor from the build-up of droppings alerts us to their presence.... If you had bats flying inside your home this means that you probably have bats living somewhere in your walls or attic...."

oh for frigssakes....
 "Bats may look big when flying around, but they can get into or out of an opening about the size of the end of your little finger. "

 "You could start plugging the openings once the bat colony leaves on a feeding trip, but you will risk trapping the young and infirm ones still inside the home" ... sigh

"There are two types of bats in the Ottawa area predominantly. The little brown bat and the big brown bat." This was the BIG brown bat. Of course....

 "Winter roosts tend to be natural subterranean locations such as caves and underground mines where temperatures remain stable; where a large majority of these bats spend the winter is still unknown." 
Well... now they know. They friggin' roost in the walls of Sylvia's apartment building.

"Female big brown bats form nursery colonies to rear young. The size of these colonies can vary, but usually fall within the range of 20 to 300 animals. Bachelors roost alone or in small groups during this time."  Please tell me that my bat is named Ebeneezer and not Elspeth.

JH: Well now you know all there is to know about bats!! See something positive! You learned something you never knew before.

ME: oh yeah... positive thinking... i'm right on that.
oh yeah...

CB: O M G!!! I cant even,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

ME:  I can't even either....

CB: You call the landlord

ME: Neighbour is calling. or e-mailing. it's saturday. office is closed.

What are the odds that the bat would leave his place and come to my place?

CB: Lol

ME: I mean what are the odds? It would have to decide to come to my place. It would have to make an effort to find his door and crawl under his door and then crawl under my door. I just don't think those are reasonable odds. If that bat decided to do that then that bat is "thinking" and "conniving" and "deciding" things. This would have to be a very very intelligent bat.

CB: Hmmm i think there is somewhere else its getting in i have heard they can get in the tiniest cracks

ME: Oh. My. God.

Why is it? I'm just asking... If indeed nature gives us all sorts of signs and portents, do other people get hawks, doves and bluejays and I get a freakin' bat? If that is a sign from the universe I bloody give up.

CB: Lol,,,,,,na it means you are a true witch heeeeheee

JA: Bats are cute----

ME: Okay. I'll capture Ebeneezer and his colony and bring them over to your place to live in your diningroom? :)

JA: Oh no, I am finished with bottle feeding bats and putting them back in the fridge for another week. Ottawa Wildlife Center many years ago.


I feel like cromagnon-woman, sitting in my cave with a stick waiting for dusk and the creatures of the night. Did it or did it not leave the apartment? If I open the screen door is it an invitation for Ebeneezer the bat to leave or for Ebeneezer's friends to come in? Is it better to talk to the creature or run like the wind itself? And why is it that bats particularly like to hide behind paintings and I happen to have paintings All. Over. The. Place. ? These are the questions that bother me. Not a lot of things across some Sea. Like North Korea. Or the South China Sea. No. The only thing that matters is if Ebeneezer is here or not here. There's a lesson in that. Attend to one's own nightmares. They're quite enough.
CB: One solution give me your paintings,,,,,,,Lol!

ME: The part about that is taking them down. I can just "feel" those long claws hanging off the frame waiting for me.

CB: On that note,,,,,,keep em,,,,lol

ME: Where is batman when you need him?

CB: Lol in the bat cave....or maybe after dark hangin out on your wall lol

ME: Well at least he'd be better lookin' than Ebeneezer

When the night has come And the land is dark And the moon is the only…

ME:  No I won't cry. I won't shed a tear. As long as Vincent the dog stands by me... Except he hides under the desk....

I'm thinking... there might be room for the two of us under the desk...

Definitely not enough room for the cat though....

Well hell. The cat can just fend for herself. She just sat on the diningroom table looking at the damn bat. She didn't bat an eye.... hahahahaha.... I'm thinking I need a life.

CB: Looks like u have an exciting life going on there 😊

ME: yeah... my batshit crazy life...

 "chiroptophobia" is the fear of bats. See. We've all learned something today. Next. Fear of women who fear bats. This little known phobia is called the chickchiroptophobia.

The sun.... is going down....

They just don't make brooms the way they used to. These stringy little plastic things. How the hell is that going to work against a giant bat with a wingspan of a pterodactyl? Really?

"Bats come out an hour after sundown." They know this. Why they know this I don't know. Ebeneezer didn't show up until midnight last night. This is passive aggressive behaviour on his part. Any self-respecting bat would show up on time to frighten the life out of people. Actually, this is an important distinction between the little brown bat and the big brown bat. The big brown bat is a sociopath whereas the little brown bat is merely narcissistic. The big brown bat has no empathy whatsoever. The giant flying fox is actually a bat but is known to be a sly bastard with a penchant for sneakery. By far the most endearing bat is the bumblebee bat. This little bat however has the Napoleon complex due to its short stature. Never put a bumblebee bat at the head of your battalion because it will decrease bat morale. It does not put the bat into battalion. Try a flamingo instead. They are adorable. The Egyptian fruit bat is not adorable. it likes to eat dates. Never a good idea to agree to meet an Egyptian fruit bat at the local bar. Also, the Honduran white bat is racist. Just so you know.

If I attach the dust pan to the broom maybe that will increase my batting average?

The sun really is... going down...

Okay. Where were we? The Hoary bat is endemic to Hawaii. There are more hoars in hawaii than on the mainland. This is likely due to their access to better brands of make-up and mascara and ink tattoos. These hoary bats are cheap but not easy. The spectacled flying fox of Australia spends its adolescence in nursery trees. It develops a deep inferiority complex as a result of having to wear spectacles when all the short-nosed fruit bats don't have to. Probably on account of having short noses.

CB: I wonder if hes bringin his possee tonight,,,,,PARTY! 🎉🎊🎉🎊

ME: So... It goes without saying that spending time with the spectacled flying fox of Australia can be tedious. But worse still is this bat: This long-eared split-nosed bat is seriously skilled at echolocation. He will repeat every single thing you say to him. This can also be tedious.

CB: Lmao.....cute lil fukkers.....NOT

ME: oh yeah... adorable... i can't wait to open up my bat rescue operation

CB: Sylvia aka Batgirl yeeehawwww!

ME: You think the black-widowed spider was scary! Wait til you see the Batwidow!

The sun sets at 8:24 p.m. An hour later is 9:24. Ebeneezer will show up much later at a fashionable hour. Hopefully he'll remember the appetizers.

AB: I remember, waking one night, thinking how nice it was that someone had turned on the ceiling fan. Then I realized I was staying in a cabin without power.

ME: Well... now we have thunder and lightening. Could it be more perfect? I mean really? How perfect a setting can we get? The dog is already under the desk.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dragon's Den


On the streets of Ottawa, the dragons and the spiders roam. They were not butterflies. They were not bumblebees or birds. They were monstrous creatures of tangled webs and fire. We cannot say a single thing that isn’t politically-correctly “nice,” so instead we make monsters and parade them in front of crowds. The monsters of course are us, looking at the monsters we create. 

I cannot tell you lately how many dragons I have met whose singular purpose is to break the very soul of the people they know. I have seen the carnage. They are the people of the lie. Sometimes they come in tidy well-groomed packages and other times they are simply crumpled ruins with tattoos and stained blue jeans. You can never really know. I only know there are more than we realize. More than we care to know.

I don’t know what breaks the dream in a child so much so that they will never swim to the crest of a wave or float on blue sky mirrors; that they would only surface at the foot of the wave where the light can’t reach and where the undertow takes whoever they can catch into darkness. I once was curious to know. I don’t need to know anymore. What is… just is. A soul is lost, forsaken but still walks and speaks and lives beside us, among us. I no longer believe in redemption. It is an archaic contrivance suited to a different time when people still believed in miracles. There are no miracles for monsters.

Outside on the streets I hear the car alarms. Usually one every other day or so. Maybe we humans need alarms. Don’t jab me. Don’t poke at me. Don’t mess with me. Loud horrible noises will ensue. But no. We carry on quietly amid the catastrophe that is the world right now. We keep to our own lane. We watch for encroachments. We keep the lights on. We do not invite strangers into our space because it is all we have. We are, above all, busy beyond busy. There is no ebb nor flow to life, just a constant flow of rapids where there is no time to think, to ponder, to question, to dream. It is its own form of insanity but socially acceptable of course, in the end achieving little but its own boast.

I remember days making daisy chains under a hot August sun in fields of green. I remember a different time. Even a different time full-grown when there was time to breathe and catch the drift of air from the beating of a sparrow’s wings. Was it so long ago now?

Friday, July 21, 2017

And so it goes

It takes me time to do things. The trip to the store, up the wide hot street takes longer than it normally would in this weather. This damn weather. “Can’t complain,” they say in the lineups. I look at them and think, “I CAN complain.” I can complain as much as I bloody want to complain. In fact I can stand on the street corner and curse about the heat at the top of my lungs if I so choose. I can do any of it. And I don’t make false comparisons like “oh, it could be worse. It could be winter.” I fucking complain in winter too. In fact, I “LIKE” to complain. It’s the only thing worth living for.

It burns up through the soles of my sandals as I wander along; the pavement. The sun is so bright it hurts to see even through sunglasses. Assorted people cluster in and out of view, dressed in some outrageously silly things—skirts of lace and leather, shorts that ride up and show dangling private things, tattoos that have seen better days fading and stretching on plump arms. A man compliments me on my dress but it is not a dress. He wants some change. He has figured out that flattery must work on old women. I don’t give him any change. I tell him it is not a dress and give him the once over. He is short and quite thick in the manner of a thick man with a thick neck and a thick intellect. I do not pity him. He is an accident of birth. His parents did not want him to grow up to beg for change on hot street corners near the improvised spittoon. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they did. Maybe they thought it would be better to be a thick man on hot pavement than a thick man working for low pay in a warehouse making money for some rich guy. Maybe they are proud of him. In the manner of thick men with thick intellects, he is not ashamed. He is only marking time picking marks. I was not his mark today.

About half-way there to the store is a bench. I find it with some relief but a strange arrogant woman, thin as rich in violet lace is adjusting her shoe, taking the entire bench. I ask her politely for some space and she ignores me. So I sit down anyway, a deeply uncomfortably close. She moves over saying nothing. The body movement of an invertebrate reacting to stimulus. I don’t know if she is human. I don’t care. I watch an old woman in her wheelchair puttering towards us. I think she’s going to run over the young girl there with long lashes and blond ringlets but she zips around her. The light changes and the young girl and the old woman cross the street. The old woman won. I think she smiled.

A man is walking his beagle. The dog is panting and anxious. It doesn’t investigate anything, just worried about getting there. Wherever “there” is. His owner is on his cellphone. Did it matter to the dog that the owner was even there? He did not reach down and touch the hot fur of his head. It mattered only to the dog because it was chained to him. It mattered only to the dog because maybe there would be an end to this hot pavement, this sun relentless, this traffic noise, this cacophony of scent. It mattered there would be water somewhere soon. Maybe not. How could it know? It could not.

In the store the air-conditioning smacks into me. I react immediately, as I do to the cold, breaking out into hives. I can feel the flush on my face, the red splotches on my arms. I have long since given up worrying what others think. So I’m strange. I have a strange allergy. I am here. I am human. I look at the watermelons and wonder how I might carry such a thing home in my cart. If I dropped it, would it boil like an egg on the sidewalk? I walk past the watermelons to look for berries. I can’t find a single kind made in Canada. I wonder at the foreign hands picking berries for my pleasure. The cramped backs hunched in fields. In the hot sun. Dreaming of begging for change in rich countries maybe. I don’t know. I buy the raspberries. The cucumbers are on sale. Three for the price of two or one for the price of three or five for seven dollars. I don’t care. I pick two.

There’s a woman looking at the bread. Her cart blocks everyone. She can’t decide. We begin to line up waiting for her as she fondles the raisin bread. I finally go over and move her cart to the side. She doesn’t even look up. I think I hate her. I just do. I don’t know why. A well-dressed man in a hurry gives me a look to thank me. Coward, I think. I’m feeling slightly dizzy with the cold reaction. I want to find a place to sit. There is none. So I wander the aisles looking for HP Sauce. There is none. 

It’s a line-up from hell. In front of me a woman and her husband and daughter are buying seven things. They are in the wrong line-up for seven things. I want to point it out but then I think what would Socrates say? Would he wonder about anything at all in this world? He would not. This world is not for those who wonder. The daughter wants to buy a chocolate bar. Her father gives her a stern look so she puts it back.

I buy my coffee and my cucumbers and some cranberry juice and 9 other things. I buy the chocolate bar the girl wanted to buy. They are standing near the cash arguing about something so  I wink at her and give her the chocolate bar secretly. It amused me to do so. She looks stunned but does not give it back. She quickly stuffs it into her pocket and pretends to ignore me. I will never see her again. None of it matters. None of these people matter. At least not beyond the small moment.

I have to cart my cart home. I hate that. The wall of heat follows me home. I have had enough today. I just want a cranberry juice. I want a fan to catch a breeze from the sky and lift me to cool light and silence. But I turn on Netflix and watch a movie about a man who did something and then the end. Sometimes the movies are about women who did something or groups of people who did something. They always end. 

In the middle of the night I wake up in a panic. I wonder if the girl was a diabetic. I can’t sleep after that. At least it’s cooler. The sounds of sirens are less pervasive. I can almost hear the rustle of leaves but that is imaginary. There is no breeze. It is still stagnant with the hot night.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don't feel like this everyday people. I'm simply writing as it flows, being fully human as I am, I experience dark and light. Some people can't handle that. So. Live with it.



Dark before dawn

Today was garbage pick-up and recycling pick-up day. The sound of large annoying trucks, sirens from assorted vehicles and whatever the hell that Justin Bieber song is, wafted through the window. And seems to be continuing. The assorted wildlife of Rideau Street cursed and screamed and yelled for most of last night. Assorted black or white cars, stereos blaring stop and start mostly in front of the building across the street. Some woman is screaming at her child about how she cannot buy him anything at the moment. Just now two dogs being walked got into an aggressive-like altercation while their owners tried being polite and shouting at the same time. I heard an angry sparrow on the tree outside my window. Someone in hard shoes is clacking their way down the sidewalk. In the city, peace comes from sealed air-conditioned apartments and nature videos on television. The longing for green solitude just a memory, a vacation, a brief respite inside the cement their souls have hardened into. I thought I saw a bluejay but it was a recycling bag caught fluttering at branches. It is a wilderness here. It has evolved beyond irritation into a silence of the soul.

Better I should return to my paints. I could paint the grey man on the grey sidewalk who digs into the bins for grey bits of food. I could paint the grey glass of grey buildings that scrape the grey sky until it bleeds pools of rain. And the gutters that run with the detritus of cigarette butts and candy wrappers and the tears of the addicts who tremble and shake. I could paint the old drunken man who shaved half his head and soils himself while he begs for a cigarette or a kind word but the kind word isn't really what he wants. He wants a bottle and a place to be for just the night. One night. The ones in suits and designer shorts wear earphones and spend their gaze on iphones. They search but don't find. They see but don't look. They love but don't know love. Better the man in the gutter, his fingers in the grey dust who sees you as you pass; who cuts you with his pain, his disenfranchisement, his humanity. Better the man who watches, shadowed eyes, scanning, moving panther between the cars, his hands hidden, face flat with a seasoned indifference. Born to it. Bred to it. And he hands out little packets, quick like a bird, disappearing magician hands into dark pockets.

And the women, sheathed black like sleek crows shuffling that odd gait that speaks to what has happened to them as little girls. As little girls in the hands of monsters whose acts are proscribed by traditions foreign, mad, bad, hatred of the feminine. Fear of the feminine. There is nothing there in their eyes that can be read. Sometimes I catch a smile but it is rare here, as if there is some cage we cannot see around this part of town, this block, this place, these women. They do not want to know you. They live in a fear I don’t understand. But they don’t see it as fear but as duty, as dignity, as an act of deference to an unseen God. And I wonder what God was there when the little girl cried? What God would deserve such deference? What God would wear black and drag the hem of that garment through the snow and slush trailing a kind of despair, a kind of haughtiness, a kind of penitence? A skeleton of love. A tribute to resignation. To duty? To deference? To The Man.

“Yo the Man,” he said slapping palms.  He laughs hyena-like; a whooping animal, a wounded creature. A man loud with the right of the gender of his birth. I see him on the street. I hear him every night in an apartment above me somewhere. I have once seen him in the elevator. He is quick with a smile but his eyes move back and forth so much so I could almost hear them shifting, gliding in their sockets. They hide something. Those eyes. They hide something I don’t want to know. I smile back. I make no comment except to say the weather is fine. And he smiles frighteningly. 

I always talk in elevators. How can you not? About the weather. About something people are wearing that they are inordinately proud of. About the children who do not smile ever here. They are serious little souls with wide eyes. One young teenager seems riveted to my hair when I wear it out long. It is as if he has never seen long hair before. I ask him if he plays on a team because he is standing there awkwardly with a basketball in his hands. He says “no” and looks at the floor. He gets off on my floor but he does not live on my floor. He makes his way to the stairwell. I am slightly amused. 

At the end of the hall when I head to the garbage chute a woman is carting in groceries. Her son is with her. He is about 5 years old. His name is Hemmie. Short for Abraham. Her cart tilts and falls to the floor and I say to him, “oh, I hope the eggs are not broken. The chicken would be sad.” He looks at me seriously and explains that “there is no chicken.” And I laugh and say, but “who made the eggs then?” And he looks confused. “There is no chicken,” he explains again. His mother tells me not to correct him. She says it laughingly, even lovingly. But I had a sudden flash of a future man: Little Hemmie who was not to be corrected grown into manhood. Yet now, he is ripe with the curiosity and certainty of a child. He is ripe with the opportunity that life allows, for a short while.

I want to take his mother by the hand and sit with her. I want to tell her about the 70s here. About how we as women had to fight for so many rights and how we cried sometimes. But how could she understand? Her battles are monstrous compared to ours. Yet she is a proud woman. And who am I to say that she is wrong, sheathed as she is? For have we not lost sight of what mattered? We women? Does this woman not have a certain dignity? A certainty? She is not unhappy. She does not care about how hard I might have struggled in my life to come to terms with sexism.  The coffees I refused to serve; the fight for wage equality; the insistence on personhood. How lost the cause. Because I see them. The young girls there on the street. Did we do battle for their right to be objectified? To objectify themselves? I don’t remember now what it was all about. Sometimes I want to shake them, these Kardashian girls with whiney voices. Don’t you see what you are doing I want to say.

I like her though. Hemmie’s mother. She smiles at me. She is not on an iPhone. She has clear and intelligent eyes and is warm with laughter. We will not be friends though. The divide is clear on her part. Polite but no further. I wear my hair long perhaps. I see that she is happy in her world that I could not abide. But that is me. That is my prejudice, my hard-fought struggle to gain what little ground I have. And I in turn, cannot imagine the struggles she has gone through. Far worse I’m sure than mine. I leave her behind as I wander back up the hallway, the acrid smell of some spice I don’t recognize there yet again.

Yesterday I went to the window because a man was yelling. His voice was loud and deep and he kept yelling. He was a block away making his way down the sidewalk. “You’re a fucking bitch! You’re a fucking bitch! You’re a fucking bitch!” He said over and over again. I looked to see who he was addressing but there was no one there. He was screaming to himself, pasty white chubby striding at an unfathomable pace down the sidewalk, his backpack wobbling at each step, his beard skyward. He said everything three times. “You don’t fucking know anything. You don’t fucking know anything. You don’t fucking know anything.” He never breaks stride. “When the wolves come don’t come to me. When the wolves come don’t come to me. When the wolves come don’t come to me.” No one else breaks stride. They glance up, move on. They must be used to it. I will never be used to it. I hear him blocks away but cannot make out his words anymore. Partly because there is a man across the street. He is retching horribly. I don’t look. I can’t look anymore.

I don’t like the city. Around me of course are the happy and content, the middle upper classes walking their designer dogs and laughing with each other. The retirees and the students and the ones in between who are too busy to actually be where they are. I see them, the happy ones. I’m not all bleak with the world. My neighbour is a kind man. A good man. He has lived in his apartment 30 years. Retired from a government job he had for 25 years. He has routines. They are very important to him. I don’t much care to know beyond a nod anyone else in the building. People tire me. I am tired of them. I did my best most all these years, helping, hoping, holding hands. But I am old now and disillusioned with people. There is not enough time, love or understanding left in me. And the problems people have seem beyond redemption now, at a certain age. If you’ve been a narcissist, a fool, a user, a selfish idiot, a sanctimonious arse, a neurotic control freak, a greedy monster for 40 years, it’s unlikely now you’ll change and I don’t care to help you do so even if you want to. I do not ask to understand you and I do not ask you to understand me. Let it be. 

Of course I do not mingle with the happy ones. In my grief I look at them as if they are mad. I can’t relate. I try not to hate them.

Today I got an e-mail from a friend who says “I think of you often,” and I just wonder if that was true why he did not pick up the phone, in all those times he thought of me so often, in the seven months since last I heard from him. Am I to be grateful and gracious and respond with all the manners I’ve been raised with? Am I to be grateful he even thought of me at all? If I am not grateful I’ll end up all alone. That’s beyond funny in a dark kind of way. Aren’t we widows supposed to be grateful for even the slightest indication of interest by anyone? No. I think not. Go away. I’d rather keep the company of my small dog and cat. They are better beings than humans. They don’t make promises they have no intention of keeping. They love you even when you’re sad and have been for a long long time. They love you even when you have nothing left to give, when you aren’t who you used to be. They love you without an agenda.

In truth, the only ones I relate to now are my fellow widows. They know things. They know things I have yet to find out. They have learned to deal with the inappropriate comments, the outrageous behaviour and the pain of silence they’ve been forced into. They know things and I am grateful for them. They know things about the people who come in to fill the void that others have left behind in their desperate effort to keep away from all that grief. They have to get on with their happy lives after all. Lives you no longer can relate to. Lives you know are as vulnerable as a lighted match in the wind. You almost cringe to see their happiness. It is not a given. You do not envy them. You just wait. You do not wish them what you have gone through but still you wait. Because that seems to be what happiness is, ephemeral, a silence before a storm, a waiting room.

The ones that come in, the selfish and the dangerous people who use and abuse and control, feed on the vulnerability of loss to serve their own agendas. And there are many agendas. And oddly, my widows do not think it necessary to forgive anyone despite having had the same nightmares. My widows. They say “fuck them” and move on.  And so I say “fuck them” and move on. I feel relieved that I don’t have to forgive anyone if I choose not to. Forgive them they know not what they do. “Fuck that.” Some people say that forgiveness is the antidote to bitterness, so I respond as I’ve learned to, “fuck that.”  It is not a fairytale world. Ask the old man on the street who sits on a bench and cries. No one knows why he cries. But he does. I want to tell him what I’ve learned. I want to tell him to say “fuck that.” I don’t of course. Some things we really can’t say. I just know that forgiveness is a luxury of the deranged. There is no God patting you on the back. That God died a long long time ago. Personally I think that God died from grief. Even he could not handle a prayer that said "Our Father who art in heaven, I think of you often.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Crow'd Sourcing

Somedays I would be discouraged, about politics, about people, about the powerlessness of effecting change in even my small corner of the world from corporate and individual greed and cliques of fame and power in a world that glorifies it.

On those days I would go out in the afternoon and feed Alphonso and Francesca, the crows. They would sweep to the tree by the deck and watch and if I closed the door they would then go down and pick up the bits I'd thrown them. Sometimes they would allow me to stand in the door but no more. I would marvel at the world they lived in, flying high, riding wind trails, dancing in the sky. Near dusk I could hear them in great groups following above the roil of the river to their sleeping place, a velvet violet sky behind them. They would come back the next day and the cycle would repeat. i would wonder then about the affairs of men, women, the great strivings, business, busyness rush and fuss, the bad things people do to other people, the nastiness of gossip and lies and innuendos. The horrible pain even we were given unwarranted by dishonest and delusional people. How someones we would help and sometimes we were in the hands of monsters of mental health issues beyond help. How far past the point of truth have we gone that such things exist? How can a crow have a better life than a human in this world?

And Himself, finding me crying on the deck in reverie would hold me in his arms and dance me into the kitchen where we would slow step while dinner burbled on the stove and the dog was whining for attention. He would say, Speak Truth to Power. It is the only thing a person has. Always speak truth to power. Because he always knew what i was thinking by the way i was either tired, angry, sad or afraid, or because he lived, as I lived inside his heart, a whisper there, where our souls chatted; in his heart room.

The world is very much with me now. Himself and his arms are memories and I recreate them every day now to find the solidness of his wisdom, the comfort of his touch and the sweet sweet laughter always. We knew priorities and it wasn't money. It wasn't things. It wasn't anything more than truth in love and what came strongly from that faith in each other. For it was a faith in its way. A faith that grows from trust, honestly, love, and time. So much time. I suppose maybe we are only allowed happiness for a time. It should have been more but it wasn't. It is only what it is. We had this time. And that is all the time we had.

I would now rather be a crow. Except for the carrion part maybe.

Monday, June 12, 2017


They, whoever "they" might be, say that when someone dies a person is idealized at some point; where all their flaws and problems disappear and are replaced by a shining angelic memory bearing no resemblance to the person in question who died.

Himself of course was a shining angelic human being. Unfortunately. He had his faults and yet peculiarly enough, his faults meshed perfectly with my faults. Where I was sometimes ruthlessly rational, he was philosophically esoteric. Where he was ruthlessly rational, I was artistic. He made the coffee. I cleaned up the coffee grounds he left on the counter just to torment me, day in and day out. On our wedding day he left the toilet seat up. I've yet to forgive him this. Where I was messy, he was tidy. Where he was clever, I was stupid. Where I was clever, he was more clever unfortunately. I've yet to forgive him this also. Where he was a detailed and tidy artist, I did dots. He hated my dot paintings. I've yet to forgive him for this… also. He would also call everyday from work to discuss absolutely nothing at all. This drove me nuts. I miss that call; the call about nothing that was really about everything. It was everything.

But that man could run circles around any man I've ever known in terms of intellect, compassion, wisdom and humour. I include in that my father who was remarkable in so many respects. Yet George had a gift for understanding the human condition unrivaled. He was curious and gifted in that curiosity. It was not the sad trappings and mechanics of this world that humanity has deluded itself into thinking matter; but matters of philosophy, spirit, emotion and the stuff of life. He could not take an engine apart and put it back together. But he could spy out the essential being of anyone. And he did it with infinite patience and without bragging. He would drive anyone insane with his questions. They would roll their eyes and look at me as if to say, what is wrong with this man? Why is he asking questions to which the answer is obvious and known to everyone? And I would just smile because I knew that if they only answered and listened they would come out of the conversation a far far better person than they were before. The thing is of course, they wouldn't know that unless they took the time. And unaccustomed, if not afraid, of the slow patient search for meaning in conversation, many could not.

Himself was an unassuming man. He was awkward at times. Shy. You would have hardly noticed him in a crowd, at a party. He would let the people do their bravado, their ego thing, their vanity and pride and machismo stuff. He would simply watch. And they had no idea how much he was learning; how much he saw what they tried to hide; how much of the why he understood. His insight was second to none. He was a meek man in a good way, in the way that makes a man great. Not just good but great. I knew so many who had no idea; but I knew it. And I was a lucky woman. He had no illusions about the things he was not good at and was humbled by those who knew what he did not know. He was wise enough to know his own limits without apology. He was a man who turned the other cheek. He had no vengeance, no anger, no bone to pick. He lived an honest and kind life. He forgave where I never would.

Oh, he never made much money. We were always scraping here and there. If only money were given to the good in people; we would have been wealthy. And we were, in the ways that give a person peace in this world. The wealth of love, the quiet of untroubled rest at night, the certainty of knowing we could handle whatever happened next together. I'm not in the least religious but I'm reminded of that quote, "For what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" If I had it in me, I would create a religion called George. But of course, he would be mortified by that idea. Humble men are like that.

And so am I creating a shining angelic memory? No. You would know that if you knew him. I did.

Rest easy my love. You have earned the right not to return.