This is Max. Who seems to think he is going to win the war for the couch. I lay down, scooting him off or attempting to share. He moves grudgingly, leaving to crouch on the floor with his back to me, waiting for me to get up. As soon as I do, he is back, curled up in my residual body heat before I’ve even taken two steps. I get a drink or go to the bathroom or get my other glasses or grab the fuzzy blanket and come back to start the cycle again. As of this photograph, we’ve done this dance four times this afternoon.
Five years ago, I was in school. My project beer, a chai spiced English old ale, was fermenting away. The end of school was in sight, and I was becoming increasingly anxious about finding work. Who wants to hire and old broad?
Four years ago, I was employed. Magnotta hired the old broad. I got to work with people who made me laugh, and others who did not.
Three years ago, I was in Australia, cruising the Ocean Road in a convertible with my best friend. I was getting ready to start work at Side Launch when I got back to Ontario.
Two years ago, I was settling in at Side Launch, finally. I’d found a rhythm, a groove. My chai spiced porter was brewed and in the fermenter.
One year ago, I was reeling from the unexpected, getting fired/laid off/packaged out/ whatever you want to call it.
Today, I am gimping around on a broken ankle, but working in a place that is stable, and does not seem like they are going to let me go anytime soon. I was afraid while I was at home, feeling like they would get rid of me before my probationary period is over. But no, I got sick days, and paid for most of it.
ugh. There was a point to this when I wrote it in my head at work. It’s gone.
What the what. I am having a really hard time getting my shit together the last few days. Is it the weather, grey and damp? Have I hit a wall? Or have I had too much sleep? Words aren’t coming and my brain feels soft and spongy.
I look around and think, I should be writing, I should get the beans out of the garden, I should do yoga or go for a walk. I should finish the rag dolls I cut out, I should embroider some bookmarks like I’ve planned. I should finish my coffee and close the window against the soft rain that just started. I should brush my teeth and have a shower.
Instead I stare blankly out the window at the rain, count my chin hairs over and over, and develop a deep dislike of the word should.
I never thought I’d miss a garden, until decades past the last time I had one. It wasn’t really my garden. It was The Garden, caps intended.
The Garden at my childhood home was big. I’d say at it’s peak, it took up at least a quarter of our 2 acre lot. There were flowers along the edge, marigolds in front of cosmos, but the rest was utilitarian.
Long rows of strawberries, four currant bushes, and a row of raspberry canes for jam. Tomatoes for canning, cucumbers for pickles and relish, peppers, beans, carrots, peas to freeze. The garden made enough food for a family of four to eat well over a long winter.
It was a shit ton of work. Prepping the soil, planting, weeding, harvesting, preserving. I have memories of spending days and days hoeing between rows of plants, picking and shelling peas, hulling strawberries, peeling tomatoes.
But I also remember days and days of doing sweet fuck all, lazing by the pool, exploring the forest, or bicycling around the neighbourhood with my friends who had also been set free to go feral over the summer.
And now I have a garden. Mostly vegetables, with a few flowers. Keith always says its too big, but he said that last year, and we’ve now expanded it by a factor of three.
I think it was the second or third thing I ever wrote for Chris was a story about telling time by red fruit. It was Uber nostalgic, wondering if I could get that feeling back.
I did. Being unemployed right now is giving me back those long lazy days of slow. Time is moving differently than it did last year. Gone is the need to know what day it is, although it would be good to remember so I don’t miss any more writing sessions. I watch the garden every day, pulling weeds and talking to the cucumbers, wondering where the peanuts went (I blame chipmunks, but it’s also possible they are planted with the beets).
Slow gardening is telling time through what’s ripening. The rhubarb is ready, so I’m keeping a lookout for strawberries. Maybe next year we’ll plant a row.
Keeping sane with Firefly Creative Writing…
Writing last night. I didn’t really want to be there, really. I didn’t bail though. Who knows what epiphanies I would miss, what would spark from someone else’s prose. It wasn’t easy. My internet was messed up, with just enough of a delay that made responding to anyone awkward, that after I read something the pause was long enough to make me think that it was crap, no one liked it and was trying to think of something good to say. (I know that’s not so, its just my brain being an asshole).
I did a fuck poem from one of the photo prompts. The photo was of what looked like embroidery or stitching, white/cream on a rust red background saying what fuckery is this. There were other pictures that called me, a river, a graffiti’d blue door set in old stonework, but I went with the fuckery, so I could write a fuck poem.
And for the first time, the fuck poem was very unsatisfying. It felt obvious. Instead of being a cathartic purge of the negatives, it only seemed to highlight them, and make them sink deeper into my skin, to become more real.
Fuck that Shit. (See what I did there)
I’m going to switch it up for a while, to write delight poems. Look away from all the little things that annoy and anger. Look towards those things that will help bring a lightness of being, that will make me smile and feel ready to combat the dark.
Delight x 19
Delight in the forsythia cuttings flowering as they take root in the green room.
Delight in the taste of sourdough French toast made by my dearest love, topped with maple syrup, berries and whipped cream.
Delight in the blue blue sky visible between the clouds scudding by.
Delight in the shimmer of glitter dust as it swirls around in a glass of Pilsner, giving the beer life and dimension.
Delight in the silence of the house, so quiet I can hear the soft snore of a sleeping cat.
Delight in the warmth inside.
Delight in the garden, in the alienness of the rhubarb unfurling itself pink stalk by pink stalk, each containing a knob of wrinked green leaf that slowly stretches to catch the sun.
Delight in a new writing space neither inside nor outside, but in a liminal loveliness where I can be in the outdoors without black flies and mosquitoes.
Delight in the garden taking shape under our hands, the overgrown thickets cut back and replanted, restoring an order that is pleasing to us.
Delight in the hammock outside under the magnolia tree.
Delight in the goldfinches, now almost fully yellow again, swooping and diving around the back.
Delight in the ominous grace of the turkey vultures soaring in the updrafts.
Delight in the little purple flowers that spill over the flower bed on the east side of the house, and pop up all over the lawn.
Delight in the first dandelions, yellow and bright.
Delight in the tight bud of a red tulip.
Delight in soft alpaca yarn running between my fingers as I knit, taking shape into a wide shawl to wrap around my shoulders against the spring chill.
Delight in the 100 Day Project progress, embroidered circles containing small benchmarks. This is not what I planned but it has morphed into something I need, not unlike the origins of the photo-a-day project.
Delight in the taste of a Hermit cookie, subtle spices and sweetness and memories of childhood and another little yellow house.
Delight in the how my body responds to manual labour, muscles easing and contracting as I shovel dirt from the trailer to the rock garden, the warmth and smoothness of the shovel handle in my hands.
I am an insecure weirdo. And a writer.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who thought she wasn’t creative. She knew she used to be, when she was younger, but a lot of us were other things when we were younger, before sex and productivity and consumerism narrowed our focus.
The woman knew she had skills, she had logic. She could program a computer, troubleshoot a problem, follow a pattern or a recipe. But talent? No. And you need talent to be creative, right?
Then one day, because a colleague had a crush on a TV star, the woman found herself in a room with a writer. Not just a writer, a writing coach. Not just a writing coach, a woman of easy charm and smiling eyes, who through writing a few simple lists, showed the woman that she is creative. That a skill practiced enough can be a talent. And that the purpose of creativity is to not be perfect.
Over the years, the woman worked with the writing coach, delighting in the layers of herself she found underneath the responsible adult. She learned to scribble in the pristine journals, to start anywhere other than at the beginning, to finish before the end. She learned that sometimes close enough really is good enough. And more importantly, the she learned that the knowledge that the first efforts will be crap is the exact reason to make those first efforts rather than the reason to never start.
Wabi sabi, bitches.
Preachy and judgey.
And that’s just me to myself. Social media expands this. Expand your horizons. No, whatever you feeling is fine.
Witness this! No, not everything needs to be witnessed! Self care! No, look after others! No, stay home! And I could go off EI if I got paid by how much I had to listen to “when this is over” and “normal” and “new normal”.
Fuck. This. Shit.
All I can do is shut it off. No one wins, and it’s all just big a circle jerk with no happy ending, everyone leaves frustrated and tired.
You do you. I’m gonna do me.
It’s 9:18. I missed the Morning Coffee Sessions with Chris that started at 9.
Why did I miss it? Because I started watching a series of stupid Facebook videos and didn’t stop. Oo look, another one, maybe this one will be funnier than the last. Oooo and another. And another.
For fucks sake.