- your husband's old tourist shirt that says Banff Canada, which has an odd sort of stain in the centre (grease? Creosote from a bridge? Stain from the deck?), and
- a pair of capri pants that are old, ratty and 2 sizes too large,
- stained blue crocs that you usually wear in the garden, but you have tidied up all the shoes, and you can't find a pair of slip ons, or your nicer crocs, and you are too tired to go all the way upstairs to put your socks on, so that you can wear your Merrells. . . .
- most of your hair in a pony tail, except for your bangs, which are horribly greasy, and the bits at the back of your head, which always fall out, and that one layer at the front, on the left side, which the hair dresser must have cut too short, as it will not stay, and you can't find a bobby pin anywhere, and
- with 2 zits on your face (I've named them Fred and Larry, I expect they'll need their own postal codes soon).
Why is that when you see the one person in your community that you need a favour from, who is looking at you as if you are some spectacular new version of slug that seems to be fascinating, but no one would actually want to touch it? And why is when you try to strike up a conversation about, well, anything to distract them from the way you presently look, why is it that you can't put two words together in a sentence?
And why is it I never run into anyone when I am suitably dressed, which is, let's face it, about 90% of the time?
Really - why is this?
I have spent most of this week trying to be silent, and trying not to think, as much as I could.
This has been a strange experience for me. But in the exhaustion of going around and around and around: what is in the here and now, what is coming, what will be, I finally threw up a stop sign. Truthfully, I finally threw up my hands. The thoughts and the feelings and emotions come up and around, and buzz through my brain exactly like a broken record player, leaving me thinking "wasn't I just here?".
I was reading an article in Macleans Magazine a few weeks ago, it was about Wayson Choy's book Not Yet. It was the headline: No Wife! No Son! No Daughter! You Die Alone.
The words were those that Wayson heard as he lay in that place between life and death. They are, I think, the questions we all ask. I have long maintained that no one comes into this world alone, and no one should leave it alone. I have been privileged to sit with the dying. Not just with Gabriel, but with others. A lady, some years ago, as I did palliative pet therapy. Maggie and I sat with her those last 2 hours, holding her hand. There were no words, just the presence of another person. A last companion to stay on earth while she left it. A duty to those around us, to hold their hand and wish them God Speed.
I read the article about Not Yet, and the title struck me upside the head. Without children, I will die alone. Now, perhaps not alone, in the sense that Mr. Spit may or may not be with me, others may or may not be with me, but when I am gone, there will be nothing left of me in the world. I will be gone in a way that those with children never can be.
Years ago, my mother was ill. Ill enough that dying became something we were talking about. I was about 16, and learning about mitochondrial DNA. Our mitochondrial DNA is living memory, matrilineal record. Unlike the rest of our DNA, that is a mix of both parents, our mitochondrial DNA is only from our mother's. Think on that for just a second. Look at your children. Deep within their cells, deep where we cannot easily see, you reside. Just you.
Within our cells, there resides the stories of who we are, and who we were. Within me there resides the story of my mother falling off the roof as she waited for Santa Claus, a pet skunk named Miss Pew. The story of my grandmother's china that sits in my china cabinet. Deep within my cells cries a reminder - remember where you have come from. Who we come from is part of who we are.
No Sons. No Daughters, you die alone.
It occurs to me, perhaps more people would file their taxes early if you got a bonus for doing so. Maybe a 10% Tuesday, or a file one, get the next one free.
(Alas, quicktax is annoyingly right, all the time)
The very height of rudeness.
You are familiar with the skirt index, the higher the hemline, the better the economy. Did you know about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model index? Why yes, American Blonde's predict better times ahead. (This year's model was a blonde Israeli)
Finally, we come to the underwear index. In times of economic prosperity, the sales of men's underwear are steady, but flat. The sale of men's underwear drops off sharply in times of recession.
It seems to me the cure for economic doldrums is at hand, within our reach. Everyone, go buy your husband some underwear! Don't have a husband, buy some for your brother, your boss. After all, it's patriotic to help the economy.
All we were to do that term was read the books, and turn in one essay a week. The essay questions were complicated, and the essays were to be 999 words. Not a word more. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but neither has ever been my strong point. I am loquacious, wordy, inclined to the use of too many adjectives and adverbs. I modify my sentences, using punctuation to break my thoughts. My thoughts are not short. I went to the English Master, in his office, that first week, and confessed that I didn't think I could do this. He smiled, told me it would be a particular challenge for me, but he was confident I would rise to the occasion.
I find myself struggling to keep the word count of this blog down, especially now. Brevity requires a sort of confidence, an idea of what you want to say, and then an ability to distill those thoughts into the smallest amount of words. It is judicious application of bottom to chair, fingers to key board, writing and re-writing. Ruthlessness, eliminating what you think is the elegant turn of phrase, into something that is simple and sparse. The discovery of a new type of elegance: an elegance that is characterized as much by what is said, as what is not said. Negative space in an essay requires surety of thesis and thought. You must know exactly what you want to say, and nothing more. It is the lack of clarity that contributes to wordiness, as you circle in and approach your thesis, without ever quite getting there.
With no surety of my thoughts, such briefness and brevity is impossible for me. I am forced to write too much, trying to get my hopes and fears and thoughts out there. They come at me all at once, and I am unable to isolate a single thought, fear, dream, to only write about that. Things are now so tangled that I can not separate and examine.
I am almost mute now. I simply cannot bring myself to face the enormity of a life with no children. I cannot face that these scrap books will not be flipped through by my descendants, that Mr. Spit and I will die alone. I think of Wayson Choy's book Not Yet, the voices of his ancestors in his head as he lay dying, "No marry, no son's, no daughters, you die alone". And I hear these words, and I am mute. My posts this week will be brief, and light. I have not retreated, but I have little to say. I need to untangle enough, perhaps just one emotion, so that I can hold it up to the light and remove its power.
In a sense, this will be an entire week of Monday Miscellany. I beg your patience.
I have just finished reading Jay Bybee's memo to John Rizzo. Jay Bybee was the US Assistant Attorney General, John Rizzo the then acting General Counsel of the CIA, way back in 2002.
It was strange reading. Strange because much of my professional life is composed of writing similar pieces, not in the sense of condoning torture, but in the sense of looking at a piece of legislation and teasing out of it what my employer must do. It was easier for me to at least understand that this memo was prepared in a particular milieu. It was one more document that involved reviewing the statutes, gathering information, reasoning a course of action.
Indeed, I read through the descriptions of torture (your office has informed me. . . ), read through the research on torture (It appears you have conducted an extensive inquiry. . .), establishment of the pre-eminent legislation (Section 2340A makes it a criminal offense . . . ), and then interpretation of the legislation.
It is 18 pages of stuff, and I must confess, while the descriptions of the 10 types of torture left me uneasy, so too did the descriptions of the suspects activities. It is foolishness to simply assume that Mr. Zubaydah, the third or forth in control of a-Qaeda, was going to furnish information on terrorist threats when approached with a nice smile and pretty please.
And yet. Much has been written about means and ends, and I'm not going to re-iterate it. Other's far wiser and more eloquent have written about the dangerous ground we stand on when we say that our ends justify our means. There be dragons.
No, perhaps if the pages were filled with unease, it was the last line that left me cold: Please let me know if we can be of further assistance.
Now, I suppose that this is the standard ending of letters. Certainly, I write many a memo, e-mail, letter with the same line. But after reading 18 pages of prose, that stretched the definitions of torture and prolonged mental harm and the phrase due diligence to almost the breaking point, I was left cold.
It was a dirty exercise to research. It was wallowing in filth and depravity to review the legislation and find loop holes. It was torturous wording to find excuses. And all of that was bad enough. It was great human tragedy that this memo was all in a day's work for someone. It was contemptible that the Attorney General became the lap dog of the CIA, and presented no review of perceptions or morality or literature, that they bent the existing legislation to the point of breaking it, all to support the need for torture. It was, and still is, reprehensible that at no point in 18 pages, someone couldn't find a place to put a paragraph suggesting that torture puts the American government in bed with the worst of the world: names that live in infamy, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Genghis Khan. It is an abject moral failure of all of us that this report could even exist.
I posit: The only thing necessary . . . . .
My dreams lately have been vivid, technicolour movies, that seem so real I struggle to believe that I was asleep. Right after Gabriel's death, my head would hit my pillow, and I would struggle to pray. I would whimper, "Father, this hurts. Hurts, hurt, hurting." My usual ability to articulate so absent from both my conversations and my prayers. This not so right now. My prayers are long - not words, but sentences evolving into paragraphs. My head hits my pillows, and the cares, the pain, the burden and the sorrow my days, of Gabriel's death, 3 subsequent miscarriages and an inability made of iron that bars me from conceiving again. Over and over I say the same words, the same thoughts. Over and over I tell God that I am confused, hurting, sad. My sense of justice is offended, and I am confused about what happens next.
The dream was so real, I could hear the argument with a familiar person. Indeed, the argument was an old one, as much a part of the dance of my relationship with this person as it had been for the last 20 years of my life. I could believe that I was wide awake and dreaming if only because the argument could have occurred in real life. His abhorrent behaviour, lacking consideration for others, my attempts to procure justice, his threats. He was threatening this time about my son's birth and death, threatening to report me for having my baby at home. No, I awoke, screaming, "My son was born in the hospital. We did everything we could do to keep him safe. No, you can't threaten me. No, I won't let you make me feel powerless and small. I won't let you twist things into your version of the truth."
Perhaps because I seldom remember my dreams, perhaps because my dreams do not stretch into waking, because it is so rare to wake up and struggle to remember what was sleep and what is awake, because my dreams do not often carry over, and almost never in such technicolour vividness, I am left with a feeling of unease, disquietude. My dreams seem so disconnected from my waking feelings, those of ennui, listlessness, dissatisfaction. What ever it is that I am doing awake, I wish to be doing something else. I am never quite content. My dreams are filled with strange and confusing realities, so different from my life.
I woke myself up, and carried on, running errands. I went to visit a friend in the hospital, ignoring my hesitancy to return to the place that I had delivered Gabe. Reminding myself that this was now, and that was then, and a hospital is merely a building, with no power to harm me. It was simply a place, and places have no power apart from that we give them.
It was not until I finished visiting, walking out to my car, that I remembered the first part of the dream. And when I think back, that night, and even now, I am surprised. This has never happened. I have dreamt of being pregnant, but never of holding a child.
In my dream, I had been holding a baby, a baby that was vomiting everywhere, and as I held it, with others all around me, as they commented that this was hard, I cradled a red headed little baby girl in my arms, and I thought "You are mine. I don't care what you do, I don't care how hard this is, you are mine."
Suddenly I hear:
"There are better ways to castrate yourself".
Conversations that you don't want to overhear.
Sorting through photo's, as I sort through memories, trips, friends, weddings.
Wishing I could organize my thoughts and my sorrows as easily.
In the interim, cover your mouth when you cough, tidy up your used tissues and STAY HOME if you are sick.
that's all dear readers.
I gave up lattes for lent. I didn't think this was going to be hard, until the barista at my favourite place looked at me, shall we say, sceptically. I did make it through, although it was rough. The point of giving up something for lent is two-fold - to remind ourselves of the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to remind ourselves that we are only human. When I give up latte's, I remember how easy it is to become dependent on things, how easy it is to need things, to much. Want to know what it really is to be human? Fast for 24 hours. The hunger pains remind us how small and weak we really are. Lent is a period of humbling, and dare I say it, re-ordering our world.
It's good to remember the sacrifice, the pain and the betrayal that set us all free. After Gabriel's death, the Resurrection is much more real to me. But, that's not my problem. My problem tends to be the control I want over my life. I want my life, my way, and that's not a particularly Christian way to live.
I was sitting in Church on Sunday, thinking about Peter. I was particularly thinking about his denial of Christ, twice before the rooster crowed. On Easter morning, as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection, it's particularly easy to wonder at Peter - not so much the denial, but his fear. I have always assumed, somewhat sensibly, that Peter denied Christ out of fear. After all, as he was denying Christ, the Romans, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisee's, they were getting ready to kill him. I can see him thinking that it was not a safe time to stand up for your convictions. Standing up for his convictions was going to get him killed as well.
But, I wonder if it was something more than that. It occurs to me, things changed pretty dramatically for Peter on the first night of the Passover. I would imagine, in spite of all Christ's teachings to the contrary, his suggestions that his time was short, his inconvenient statements about his death, that Peter had perhaps come to believe that this vagabond life with Christ would go on, if not forever, well, for a much longer time. It was, probably not exactly comfortable, but known. Peter knew what the shape of his days would be, or at least he thought he did.
And in an instant, a blink, the dipping of a piece of bread, it all changed. Satan entered Judas, Judas betrayed Christ, and the chain of events that led to not just the crucifixion, but the Resurrection began in earnest.
And so I sat in the pew, thinking about Peter. Thinking about my own tendencies, my own human nature. Wondering if some of Peter's denial simply came from a need to try and get back to where he was, to what was stable.
I wondered, then and now, if Peter's denial was as much a denial of his association with Christ, as it was a denial of the circumstances he found himself in. If the denial was a way of closing his eyes tightly, and opening them again, to see if things had gone back to the way they were. A way of saying I refuse to accept this reality, I want things back to the way they were. When we look at this, it seems perhaps silly, Christ, the only man to defeat death, the man who tore the veil between God and man in two, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, the source of power, and Peter was worried about what would happen next.
We have the benefit of hindsight now, we can see what the crucifixion accomplished. Peter had no such benefit. It's easy to look back and think that Peter was a bit wimpy, but on Sunday, as I thought about transitions, I wouldn't say I was thinking of Peter as a wimp.
And what does all of this have to do with Latte's and lent? Not much really, just a reminder that I really have no control over my life. And that it's easy enough to miss out on the Resurrection, if you are stuck in the same old place.
- The tulips are coming, the tulips are coming.
- And . . . Almost all the snow in the backyard is melted.
- Mr. Spit got loads of chocolate for Easter, and I got lovely roses.
- I got tons of scrapbooking done.
- The cars with noisy stereos are back. . . .
I graduated high school at the age of 18, really almost 19. I went from a graduating class of 5, to my first biology class, that had 400. I went from a restrictive and demanding high school, to the freedom and unease of University.
If I had it to do over again, I probably would have spent my first year at a smaller school. The change was overwhelming, and this was my first introduction to how well I do not handle change.
By March of that year, I had ended a relationship with a man I thought I was going to marry, flunked Calculus and Statistics (this was the first time I had failed anything), determined I was not going to be able to go into the faculty of business, and said good-bye to a little girl that had been a huge part of my life.
If my hands were empty, my heart was full - of confusion, fear, trepidation and the whole black hole of unknowing. I have come to hate those who look at the young and tell them that their entire life is before them, words that have envy dripping poison from them. To be 20 and have your entire life before you is too big a responsibility. Every decision becomes paralyzed, imbued with too much power and responsibility. There is no freedom to simply be. In all things, all actions, all decisions, you must consider that terrible prospect of the future, and all too quickly, the future is sacrificed, dripping hopes and dreams and feelings, on the altar of the present.
I became almost paralyzed - struck dumb, in words and actions. My boarding school education that prepared me to do hard things had quickly turned everything into a hard thing. The weight of success weighed heavily on me, the expectations of others, of myself overwhelmed me. I needed to succeed. It seemed as if everyone else was more together, more with it, and knew where they were going. I wasn't choosing one route on the map, I had a map of Africa, and a map of Europe, and then every morning got another one. I was, to chose a single word, lost.
In the middle of this, I ran into an older lady from my church. It was pouring rain, and I stopped to give her a ride home. She brought me into her kitchen and gave me a cup of tea and a towel to dry myself off.
And she asked how I was.
Suddenly, it all spilled out, the hurt, the confusion, the heart break, the black hole of nothingness. That I didn't know where I was going, but I didn't feel like I could stay where I was. She listened and nodded. If she had done nothing else, the listening and nodding would have been enough.
She told me that I was going through a transition, and that transitions are always hard. For everyone. This was the first time a grown-up had told me that transitions were hard. That nothing in life prepared us for them, except the actual experience.
I am a process driven person. I move from item to item on my list. And on Tuesday, we threw out the list. I'm somewhat back in that place again. Of loss and confusion, and a black hole of nothingness.
But I have Elsie's words. Her promise, that things will resolve themselves, that they always do. She told me that night that I would find, in a few years, that things had resolved themselves. Perhaps not the way I hoped or wanted or expected, but that things would settle themselves. She was right. It took less than 2 years, I was married, working, and things did not seem so lost and confusing. I think she winked at me the day I got married. Her way of saying, gently, I told you so.
That was the gift she gave me that day, of 86 years of life experience, of many, many times that she had been lost and confused, and of the way things resolved themselves. Like her irises that came up each June, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but always blooming, when they were ready. Things work out she said, patting my young hand with her much older, worn, vein-y and translucent one.
Not the way she wanted them to: a fiancee killed in the war, a baby that died, a marriage that ended too soon with a death, but that things worked out, given time. Now was not forever and the work of a life time did take an entire lifetime.
At 20 I couldn't believe, I wanted the answers before I'd asked the questions. At 30, I know: give God time to work.
Your homework was to report back on dealing with rude comments. Truly, you all did badly. No one seemed to answer! Really, enough dear readers. Do your homework!
This Week's Lesson - Rude Conversations
It continually astounds me, the sorts of things that people will discuss in public. Truly, dear readers, do you think that those around you want to know the ins and outs of your marriage, or your body? Honestly, enough.
But, that's not quite the point of this column. I was recently at a lunch with a group of colleagues, and I found myself wanting to crawl under the table. I'm not even sure I want to write about what they were talking about. In fact, I don't. Sufficed to say it involved matters best left behind a closed bedroom door.
Perhaps I'm a prude, perhaps merely respectful of what should stay between husband and wife. I'm not sure. Whatever I am, a crowded restaurant is not the appropriate time or place to discuss this part of your relationship.
An uncomfortable conversation may be conversation that you think is inappropriate to time or place, it may be overly personal, it may be racially charged. Whatever it is, the point of uncomfortable conversation is that it makes you feel uncomfortable. Here are some suggestions for getting yourself out of the conversation.
Decide When to Stand Up
Perhaps it's just me, but I won't sit silently through conversations that insult people. I won't stand by when someone insults an ethnicity, a gender, a type of disability. This doesn't mean that I will stand up and have a rant, but I find a comment like "I find it offensive to call a person from the Middle East a Paki. Please don't use that term in front of me." to be quite effective. You would be surprised how often this silences their comments.
Obviously those of us in the IF/Dead Baby world are aware of an entire series of comments about those subjects that cut to the quick. I think those are worth an entire column of their own.
Change the Subject
Interject at a pause, somewhat firmly, and ask about the local sports teams, the weather, really anything. All you need to do is change the subject. You might have to do this twice. Sometimes it can even be effective to look up and smile and say, "Ok Kelly, that's enough about you, let's talk about Fred now. Did you hear that he recently held a poetry reading. Fred, why don't you tell us about it?"
Make a comment about the subject being discussed
Try to inject a bit of humour - "oh my tender ears", or "my, that's a mental picture I don't need." Don't be mean, but do be a bit firm. If the conversation is particularly sexually charged or scatological or blue, and their are small ones around, it's perfectly acceptable to say "Please, not in front of the children, that's a conversation I don't want to have with them."
Leave the conversation
Can you excuse yourself from the conversation? Move to the other end of the room, the table? All you need to do is politely excuse yourself? "Oh, I think Susan in the corner needs to speak to me." or, "Oh, I must go and ask Dawn about her recent Nobel Prize. Please excuse me."
If you are the hostess
And you over hear an inappropriate conversation, you need to speak up. It's not ok to let it pass. Your job is to make all of your guests feel comfortable. All of them. That means you do not allow one guest to ruin your event.
"Oh Helen, let's not talk about that, I wouldn't want to upset Aunt Myrgatoyd."
Dear Readers, do try this week. Your homework has nothing to do with this topic. Your assignment is to sit down at a table with your family and friends, and eat a meal, with all the correct silverware. Report back.
"You can't divide by zero".
This was, I will admit, news to me. Astonishing, I know. Honestly, I had made it through 12 years of grade school and I did not know this. I don't think it will ever really make sense to me, that you can't divide by zero, but there you have it: incontrovertible mathematical fact.
We have just finished our fourth medicated cycle, and still no luck. We have done chlomid and blood tests and an HSG. We've analyzed sperm and blood work, changed hypertensives. We've added metformin, increased the metformin, peed on sticks, and the very bottom line is, I'm still not pregnant. There's no good reason for this, I'm ovulating, the sperm is good, my uterus is reasonably hospitable (the pre-e thing aside). I'm not pregnant. Truthfully, we didn't think that getting pregnant would be a problem. We expected to be heading into the danger zone in a pregnancy at this time, not still struggling.
The gynecologist, will of course send me to an RE, after a suitable wait (this is Canada after all). And then, maybe, I guess, we could move on to IUI's. And it's not wrong to move on to IUI's, but in my heart of hearts, I think I might be done. I am tired, beyond tired. I am weary. I'm not ready to move on to something else, but I can't stay here any longer.
I have, for years, argued with Mr. Spit about why dividing by zero should give you a real number. And my odd logic doesn't matter. You can't divide by zero. Incontrovertible mathematical fact, and I've argued about it. Only me.
So, I come back. The ride of infertility is a long one, with many exit points. The problem is, none of them seem to be clearly marked. Perhaps we ride around and around, and for some of us, I think maybe we fall off in exhaustion at some point. Certainly, I'm falling off in exhaustion. I am done with the tears and the chaos and the hurt. The payoff just isn't worth it.
I think I might have had more fortitude, were it not for pre-eclampsia. But, it does seem to me, when the pregnancy will be so hard, well, some of it needs to be easy. And none of it is. And I am tired. I am tired of giving my all to get pregnant, knowing that I'll be giving my all to stay pregnant. Knowing how hard this is right now, and it isn't all that hard, at least not compared to what it's going to be.
And at some point in the last few weeks, without knowing all the answers, without understanding, at some point, I could hear God asking "Do you trust me? Do you trust me even if you never had another child? Do you trust me if the only child I ever give you sits in an urn on your shelf? Do you trust me even then?", and a more gentle "Are you ready to be done now? To lay down this dream of a child of your own?"
I didn't want to believe what God was asking me. I didn't want to believe that he was really asking me. I wanted to believe it was really more of a hypothetical question. I wanted to believe that this wasn't me. After all, I look around, and there are lots of people with children. God doesn't seem to be asking them if they would still love him with no children. The question for them is, at best, hypothetical.
But out on my porch, that afternoon, the question wasn't hypothetical. The question was real, and it demanded an answer. I took a deep breath and I said yes. I said that I didn't know how I would do it, I don't have that much strength, but with God's help, yes, I would trust, even with no children. It was then that I realized I didn't have to stay on this ride anymore. It was then I realized that I could be done now.
I don't know where to go from here. After all, for 2 years now, I have been pregnant, grieving my son, or trying to get pregnant. I don't know what to do with all the spare time. I don't know how to give up the life of tears, chlomid, going from hopeful to hopeless every 33 days. I don't know what to do now that I can find a new job, start volunteering again, move into my craft room permanently. I've thought, spoken, dreamed of being pregnant, and I just can't do it any longer. I'm done. We're done.
I believe that you can divide by zero, even if I know my belief to be false.
I do know this. When we know something for long enough, belief comes. I know this: belief can be fickle, I can believe what I want, it is what I know to be true that matters.
You can't divide by zero. You just can't. And I am done. Gabriel may well be our only child.
I know that many of you will think we are giving up to soon, that we should not give up so easily, that we should adopt. If adoption was the answer for you, I am thankful. Right now Mr. Spit and I need to grieve that we may never again hold a child of our making, that we will never see our child in our home. We need some time to sit with this sorrow before we can look ahead.
- There is a sign, well billboard really, for an insurance company that I pass on my way to work each morning. It asks if you turned the iron off. I'm now so paranoid, I've thought about going back home to check - even on days when I haven't used the iron! This isn't normal, is it?
- I finally finished the San Diego scrap book - about a year after the fact! That just leaves me San Francisco. Which leaves me a question. I leaf through Gabe's scrap book about once a month, but hardly ever look at our other scrap books. Do you look at yours?
- It's finally getting to be spring here, maybe. Gabriel's garden is totally uncovered (but no tulips or daffodils poking up.) The sun garden, where I need to be planting my sweet peas is still covered in snow. Sigh.
- I finished an entire sock at first aid. I need to take more of those classes!
~ Henry Ford
The CPR guidelines have changed fairly dramatically. If you haven't taken a first aid course in the last 3 years, it's time for a refresher.
When I was a little girl, one of my favourite summer occupations was to watch the clouds. We would lay on our backs and imagine what those clouds might be. I remember this, the feeling of summer, the buzzing of flies and mosquitoes, of lazy summer afternoons, with nothing more interesting to do than pester my father for two-bits for a Popsicle from the store. The smell of grass and roses, laying with our heads just out of the shade of the crab apple trees, so that we could see the clouds. Elizabeth, Morgan, Shelby, Adam and me.
My mother called me tonight. Her oldest childhood friend is laying in an ICU bed in Toronto tonight, the victim of a drunk driver. Tonight, one of her sons, a resident at the same hospital will sign the paper work to remove her from life support. Tonight, not far from our breath is a prayer that she will pass smoothly from this life into the next. Not far from my lips are the Anglican prayers for the dead - the same prayers that Charlotte knew as the daughter of an Anglican priest.
My mother told me all of this, and I was struck. When the friends from our childhood die, a part of us goes with them. A part of our history, the shared remembrances, who we were, what we were, where we came from, it goes with them. A part of my mother's life, a part that cannot be re-lived, it dies tonight with Charlotte. With Charlotte's death, a part of my mother's life comes to a close.
I have never met her, but the stories of her and my mother, they live on. Her mother's wedding gift to my mother sits again on my bookshelf. I fished it out of the china cupboard. It seems fitting that it has the words to Aulde Lang Syne on it.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.
Your homework from last week was to try Mrs. Spit's patented personal question strategy? How did you do? Buttons to those who tried it. I'd love to hear your results in the comments.
As some of you may have noticed, today is April Fools. (And for what it's worth, the inside of your monitor is not building up negative ions and experiencing micro-etching, but the pug is really cute).
I thought it might be worth it to be tackle April Fools, given the day. Accordingly, here are the etiquette lady rules for a polite celebration of April Fools.
Rule Number 1: Know When it Ends.
Celebration of April Fools ends at 12:00 p.m. No more jokes after this. While you may allow any "unsprung" jokes to play out, no new jokes. And for pity's sakes, if they haven't been sprung by the end of the day, spring them yourself. What's funny on the morning of April 1, isn't funny on April 15.
Rule 2: Maintain People's Dignity and Property.
Obviously a joke is made at the expense of someone. That's fine. But, jokes about race or colour or gender or physical ability aren't funny. They're bigoted and intolerant. Jokes that destroy property that is not your own are not funny. Jokes that poke at a sensitive spot or person are in poor taste. Consider the affect on the person as much as the humour, and judge accordingly. If in doubt, consult a good friend. Consider all the angles.
Rule 3: Be a Good Sport
Let's face it, you know what the day is, even if you forgot and left yourself open. If you really don't like the day, warn people well in advance. Consider staying home.
Obviously, at some point, someone is going to pull a prank on you. Laugh at it. Consider it a bit of an honour - obviously someone was thinking of you. Enjoy the cleverness of the prank, even though you are it's victim. Be a good sport.
Rule 4: Plan Well
I'm not sure what's worse, a bad sport, or a joke that doesn't play out correctly. If you are going to plan a joke, plan it well, and remember what my father used to say - KISS, Keep it Simple, Stupid.
How to get yourself gracefully out of a rude conversation.
Did you know that the inside of your computer screen is electronically charged? And that over time it can build up negative ions? In the search for better spyware software, I found a program that cleans the inside of your monitor for you (I'm not sure about you, but I wasn't so keen on taking my computer apart to eliminate the micro-etching from the charges.) Even on a relatively new laptop, I was pretty pleased with the before and after.
At any rate, it's always nice to see better, so I figured I'd share my find.