Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Looking for the Crack that lets the Light In

The days are shorter again. As if November isn't dark enough the world is turning upside down with anger, fear and uncertainty. Donald Trump was just elected President. I can't begin to understand that many people voting for hate, except to say that I presume they felt it was better than the status quo that Hillary Clinton represented.

The absurdity of this election has me convinced that there is more truth in alt news and conspiracy theories then there is in the mainstream media. Everything in the mainstream media feels like distraction and disinformation. How can anyone know what the truth is? Who really pulls the strings? What does it all really means for the common "pleb". 

I don't pretend to know a single answer to the important questions. I am just feeling around for a crack down here in the darkness, hoping eventually that I find one large enough to let some light in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Impending doom or just an anxious "doomer"?

Is the world at war? Is the sky falling? Or am I just a crackpot “doomer”? The news has me so anxious lately I just need to vent....

I am a bit of a news and politics junkie and I don’t just read mainstream media, I often read the blogs and news of supposedly less credible news agencies, so there is a possibility I am just becoming a paranoid conspiracy theorist.  While the modern media gives us many more voices I am increasingly finding it hard to know who and what to believe is truly going on in Canada, let alone the rest of the world. That being said I am finding it hard to not believe that the world is at war and on the precipice of a catastrophic economic collapse. 

The South China Sea is becoming increasingly militarized as China looks to secure more islands, even if it needs to build them, supposedly to gain control of the oil and gas deposits there. The US is also increasing its presence in the region to support other countries in the region like the Philippines and Malaysia. Of course this “support” is not altruistic; oil and gas are involved after all.

The Middle East which never seems to take a breath between conflicts is as bad or worse than it’s ever been. Israel continues to expand its settlements. The inmates are running the asylums of  Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan which of course is more the fault of the super powers then the jihadists that have sprouted up everywhere in the vacuum Russia and the US leave behind each “intervention”.

As for the “super powers”, did the Cold War ever actually end? The US and Russia are in a proxy war at the very least in Syria as each country supports a different group of despots. I read a report recently that several Russian jets and a helicopter “buzzed” an American warship numerous times in the Baltic Sea. Which then has me wondering why an American warship was in the Baltic Sea?

The European Union is dealing with a migrant crisis that is unprecedented. I find it interesting that it is Greece and Italy that seem to be dealing with the brunt of this situation. Greece looks like it has become a refugee camp as everyone else in Europe apparently has the option of closing their borders. Talk about being kicked when you are down. The tourist industry was about all Greece had left. I doubt anyone wants to holiday in Greece right about now. 

Of course it isn’t just Greece experiencing economic collapse, world economies are all trending down. Venezuela and Brazil have joined Greece, and Italy, according to the news, is almost there. How long before the rest of the western world joins them? Who really knows what is happening in China? 

 All this political and economic uncertainty is happening in a world trying to deal with increasing environmental crises, not the least of which is global warming. Billy Joel may have been right when he said, “We didn’t start the fire, it’s been burning since the world was turning”, however I for one want the world to stop! Some one for the love god hit pause! What is it about human nature that causes us to be so selfish that we won’t make a single solitary change until it is our house burning down or the gun is pointed at our family? 


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dorothy Shoemaker Awards 2014- First Place- Forgotten Hero

Good Morning family and friends, here is the story and few words I said before I read it last night. There are so many things I would change about the story now. Ha. But I sat on my hands and just cut and pasted what I sent in. Thank you for all of your love and support!

I believe stories are what enable us to understand each other and even ourselves. We form our identity through stories, especially the stories we tell ourselves. When you are battling depression you are battling a story of yourself that is distorted, incomplete, and has you stuck. You have framed yourself as the villain or the victim or both. Now don’t stop taking your meds if you are clinically depressed or have bi-polar like I do!  That’s important! But if you ever find yourself in the grip of depression I believe the most important thing you can do for yourself  is pay attention to the story in your head. Everyone has the power to tell a new story or at least  re-frame their old narrative.

Forgotten Hero

Depression is a colourless place, like living in a monochromatic painting.  Every day is a foggy November morning.  The world is all browns and greys.  This morning is a foggy November morning.  Driving to work is slow in the fog.  The weather makes my mood seem justified, but even sunshine can’t burn through this low.  

Despite my temporary colour blindness I know the traffic light is red and I stop.  Red has always been my favourite colour but it seems to hold less beauty, less power, less significance now.  The wind shakes the street light.  Red, Red, Red.  I try to think about the colour. Hold it in my mind.  Dig up a positive association.  I think of red penny candy.  Swedish berries in a big glass jar at the corner store.  I picture my five year old hands counting out the rosy gummies into a small paper bag.  My first pair of running shoes, white with a bright red swoosh.  I picture my feet zig-zagging the large tiles of the Sears department store, showing my Mother how fast I can run.  I remember how my Grandmother loved to wear red.  I think of her smiling brown eyes. I try to remember her in one of her red dresses. I can’t hold the picture in my mind without thinking of how I miss her.  My mind wanders off course.  What would she think of me now?  My life?  My choices?  Emotion bubbles to the surface, I try to push it back down but I can feel my stomach clench and my eyes water.  I stop the negative self-talk by focusing on the world outside the window.  A plastic bag races across the street and on to the boulevard before sticking to a hydro pole.  The plastic bag is red.  Tears begin streaming down my face.  I feel like that red plastic bag pinned helplessly against the pole, at the mercy of the wind.  A car horn informs me the light is green now.  I drive through the intersection and pull over feeling myself tense and resist the overwhelming wall of feeling falling down onto me. 

“Fuck!” I yell it as loudly and as violently as possible, pounding myself on the chest several times.  “Fuuuuuuuck!  I bellow again stretching out the word as long as I can.  “Wake up Katherine! Wake up!” I shout as traffic whizzes by shaking the car slightly.
Calmer now, “You can’t start the day this way, let it defeat you before it begins.”  I slump over the edge of the steering wheel.  “No, no, no”, I repeat gently rocking myself. 
I will not get stuck.  I will not mentally flog myself.  I will not make myself the antagonist of my own story.  I used to be the hero of my story.  Once upon a time I could paint pictures of myself slaying life’s dragons. 

My parents separated when I was young.  I lived with my Mother most of the year, in a small apartment, on a Court off Chandler Drive. Chandler and its handful of side streets  was and is a neighbourhood filled with apartment buildings , triplexes, and a smattering of semi-detached houses.  It was in the 1980’s, as it is today, a magnet to new immigrants and single parent families because of relatively cheap rent.  So many battles fought and many won on the climb out of poverty.

At 11 my most prized possession was a bmx bike.  It was silver with a metallic red stem, brake levers, pedals, pegs, and wheel rims. A decal across the bottom tube of the frame read wildcat in red, orange and yellow flamed writing.  A black number plate adorned the front with the number 24 in bold red contrast.  It was beautiful and I felt like the don of the neighbourhood whenever I rode it.  It was a special gift for several reasons.  Firstly, it was a boy’s bike and although I always coveted boy’s toys and clothes my parents rarely acquiesced to my non gender conforming ways.  Secondly, it was, I imagined, an expensive gift given my family circumstances.  I spent many hours bunny hopping up and down curbs and competing with the neighbourhood boys to see who could catwalk the longest or jump over our home made ramps the highest.

In good weather my routine was to ride my bike home from school and park it under the back stairwell of our apartment building. I didn’t lock my bike that time of day, believing it would be safe for the few minutes it took me to walk up to the second floor apartment, drop off my school bag and grab a snack before heading back out to play.

One fall day my routine was broken when after returning to the back stairwell all I found were a few dried leaves where my bike should be. My stomach felt like it was full of stones and my head feather stuffing.  I froze in horror.  I was starting to fear I might stare at those leaves forever when the first floor hallway door flung open and into the stairwell came 5 year old Sharon. The opening of the door startled me and I screamed causing her to scream and then laugh when she recognized me.  I turned around to see Sharon leaning against the open door bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, her short black braids and colourful red bobbles bouncing up and down as well.  The fright freed me from my paralysis and I side stepped around her tiny frame, and ran through the door way and down the first floor hall.

“Where are you going?” Sharon shouted after me.

Where was I going? My mouth could only form two inaudible words, “my bike.”

I ran out the front door. No one was out on the Court. Someone had to have seen something!  I ran across the lawn of the corner triplex and continued to run up Chandler.  I didn’t know where I was running to, but I didn’t stop until I heard a voice call out.  “Where are you going in such a hurry child?”

It was Sister King standing at the bus stop. She lived just across the hall from me and I loved her sing-song voice.

“My bike. I can’t find my bike. It’s been stolen.” I replied finally stopping and speaking in between quick breaths. “It can’t be far, I only left it for a few minutes.”

“Well, the only bike I’ve seen was being rode by one of the young Johnson boys.  Saw him as I was walkin’ to the stop.  Deliverin’ his papers I suppose. “

“The Johnson’s”, I huffed.

Before she could say more I was running again.

“Careful girl!” she shouted after me.

Brian and Bradley Johnson were twins that shared the job of delivering the local paper.  At 13 they already had reputations as neighbourhood thugs.  They constantly fought with each other when they weren’t fighting with someone else and were usually implicated in any petty theft or vandalism in the neighbourhood.  Fueled by adrenaline I confidently marched across the front lawn of their semi, followed their driveway to the side of the house and opened the gate to their yard.  There in the back corner was my bike, its back tire with the red rim peeking out from behind a picnic table with a piece of wood panelling partially covering it. Shaking with anger I retrieved the bike and started back to the street.

As I came out of the yard, there at the bottom of the driveway stood the twins, arguing about something. Their dirty blonde hair obscured their faces as they wrestled to the ground, curses and incomprehensible grunts filled the air. They didn’t see me. I was about to make my retreat home when their older sister Barb came out the side door to ask, “What the hell is going on?” Not caring that her question was directed at the twins, I yelled back “just taking my damn bike back from your loser brothers!”  I emphasized the “damn” and “loser” for dramatic effect.   I gave my bike a once over and hopped on. I never saw their reactions; it was enough to imagine their stunned expressions.
We tell stories.  We squeeze our lives into plot graphs. We sort through our various settings, analyze our cast of characters and look for influence.  Where was the rising action, the main conflict?  Once upon a time I was the hero in my stories. I battled demons that were outside myself.  Now I battle inner demons and struggle to explain my own incomprehensible feelings. Is depression the cause or the result of my current story?

I need a new story. 

Outside the car window the red plastic bag is no longer pinned against the hydro poll. I didn’t see its daring escape. As I pull away I imagine it flying up into the sky, cutting through the morning fog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The pit of Carkoon

I don't know if anyone in the Star Wars universe ever committed suicide by throwing themselves into the belly of a sarlac, but I often think that falling into the pit of Carkoon sounds appealing on bad days.
Today is a very bad day. I am not however going to throw myself into the belly of the beast. Even if I should trip or fall in, I promise to fight my way out. Today I am Boba Fett. Boba doesn't die like a chump. Today might just change everything.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Taking off the Ring

I took the ring off today
Not a wedding ring
An earring
Still it had meant something

For a little over 20 years I wore it
In the top of my left ear
A reminder of a promise
A promise broken first by me

The silver hoop slipped out easily
Its absence exposing my prominent fleshy vestigial
A naked primal helix
A nod to ancient ancestors

Even the physical body will hold on to what it no longer needs
As if clinging to a memory of what was
Not accepting the promise of now
Afraid of what will be

Thursday, September 25, 2014

All I am is a Story

Ok here I go again. The only thing I love more than writing appears to be destroying by fire or the delete button anything I have written. How and why is this fresh start going to be different? Well I think because I might finally have enough patience and compassion for myself to allow for imperfection. And maybe because of this new found compassion I have a renewed belief in the power of story to heal. And lastly I have been reminded as of late how important it is to pass on our stories. All I am is a story. All I have is my story. All I can really give is my story. Here is my story.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Cross your legs and sit like a good little Indian, said my Kindergarten Teacher. Stop making so much noise, you are acting like a bunch of wild Indians, said my Grandmother. I watched westerns with my Father, the Indians were impossibly savage or impossibly  noble. Growing up Indians were some mysterious other I didn't know or at least I didn't think I knew.  My Father's black hair, dark heavy lidded eyes and dark complexion never made me think he was Indian because Indian's were the unknowable other. Why had I not known? Why had he not known?